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"Moving Up" is The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's charter school sponsorship accountability report for 2011-12. Through it, we hope to help readers understand the complexities of charter schools and better appreciate the hard work of the teachers, school leaders, and board members who serve not only the schools we sponsor but also the schools around the state and nation that are working to make a difference in the lives of children. This year's report features an in-depth look at the struggles of two Fordham-sponsored schools in Dayton; it is researched and written by former Dayton Daily News reporter and editor Ellen Belcher.

Diverse Schools Dilemma

Modern urban parents face a quandary: Will the public schools in their walkable, socioeconomically-diverse communities provide a strong education for their kids? Mike Petrilli sheds light on this question and more in his new book, recently profiled by the Washington Post and USA Today. Through the lens of his own effort to find a school for his sons, Petrilli takes the reader through the ins and outs of making one of the most important decisions a parent can make. Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews says, “Every parent who has struggled with choosing a school should read this book. It is deep, up-to-date, blessedly short and wonderfully personal.”

The book’s official publication date is today, November 13. It is available for purchase in print, as an Amazon Kindle eBook, and as a Barnes and Noble Nook eBook....

Student Nomads: Mobility in Ohio's SchoolsShould urban parents send their kids to socioeconomically diverse public schools? That’s the question at the heart of Mike Petrilli’s new book, recently profiled by the Washington Post and USA Today, and the topic of a lecture he’ll give at 8PM ET next Wednesday, November 14, at the Hill Center on Capitol Hill. Two neighborhood moms (Candice Santomauro and E.V. Downey) will offer comments, too. Register now for a timely and important conversation; be sure to come by at 7:30PM ET for a reception beforehand.

See you there!

The Fordham Institute, a high-performing organization with a long track record of innovation and excellence within the domains of media relations and social media, is looking to take our communications to the next level with two new members: a media relations and events manager in D.C. and an external communications and research associate in Columbus, Ohio.

Media relations and events manager; D.C. office

The successful candidate must be a dynamic, mission-driven, and experienced media professional who is savvy and knowledgeable in traditional media, social media, and education reform. Reporting to the Executive Vice President, the Media Relations and Events Manager will work collaboratively with other members of Fordham’s communications team and its senior leadership to develop and implement communication strategies and events programming. If you are an innovative thinker with ideas on how to broaden Fordham’s impact and promote our school reform principles, research, analysis, and ideas, we want to hear from you. If we are describing you, take a look at the details.

External communications and research associate; Columbus, Ohio office

The Columbus, Ohio office of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is searching for a fellow Gadfly: an independent-minded advocate for education reform. The External Communications and Research Associate must have at least two years of experience in strategic communications, possess strong writing and editing skills, and have creative strategies for promoting research and policy ideas to state lawmakers, educators, researchers, and media. For more specifics, please see...

...The education system can make all sorts of achievement gains but still fail because of the substandard education too many Hispanics receive.

In the words of a former republican president, they got thumped last night. While this is not the space to recount Republican failures in both the presidential and senate races, this much is clear: They cannot win national elections anymore by merely appealing to white voters. The last president who won with the percentage of white voters that Mitt Romney achieved was George H.W. Bush in 1988 (both received 59% of the white vote). However, Bush Senior received over 400 electoral votes; Mitt Romney won 206. The white share of the electorate is currently dissolving at a rate of about 3 percent every election.

And this is just the beginning of the demographic wave. According to the U.S. Census, racial and ethnic minority births now account for more than 50 percent of all births in the country. Hispanics, now 10 percent of the electorate, are the fastest-growing segment of the population—and one-third are currently under the age of eighteen.

The challenge that Republicans face is similar to the challenge facing the education system: Hispanics account for 20 percent of the public-education population, and the number is growing. Unfortunately, the graduation rate for Hispanics is 10 percent below the national average, and the dropout rate is a staggering 17 percent. So just as the Republicans can win as great a proportion...

Bellwether Education Partners

I love my job, and I’m looking for someone to join the fun and become the newest member of my Bellwether team.

Maybe you?  Maybe someone you know?

In short, I work on 1) a wide array of really interesting research and writing projects (including blogging here!) and 2) an even wider array of initiatives designed to help ed reform organizations get better at various parts of their jobs.

That means in the span of a few days, I might work on projects related to teacher preparation, charters, educator evaluations, Common Core, common assessments, blended learning, nonpublics/choice, accountability systems, SEA reform, and portfolio management.

I’m looking for someone to lend a hand on all of this stuff.  S/he would do lots of research, help write and edit, and serve as a sounding board and thought partner.  S/he would also have the chance to think up new projects and new approaches to existing work.  There’s much room for entrepreneurialism and professional growth.

I’m hoping to find someone sharp, creative, hardworking, dedicated to this work, and nice.

The position will provide the opportunity to dive into the major issues of the day and get to know many of the most important and influential organizations in the field.

And this person will get to be part of the amazing Bellwether team.  I...

The votes are in

Is education-funding “blackmail” fair play? Did teacher unions come out on top? Mike and Dara rehash Tuesday’s electoral results while Amber asks whether increased voucher accountability makes a difference.

Amber's Research Minute

School Choice and School Accountability: Evidence from a Private Voucher Program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Download PDF

Thirteen profiles (of quality school leaders, innovative big thinkers, and stellar teachers) comprise this volume by former College Board president Gaston Caperton (with Richard Whitmire)—and provide quite a “who’s who” in education: Mike Miles and the Harrison County School District’s pay for performance system is featured, along with David Steiner and the Relay Graduate School of Education and Chris Steinhauser and the Long Beach School District. Into each narrative, Caperton laces lessons that he’s garnered over his long career in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors on how to achieve great, equitable schools for all. None of it is mystical, which doesn’t mean it’s not worth heeding: Improve teacher quality by recruiting top-flight candidates. Increase rigor with high expectations, consistent use of data, and comprehensive AP programs. And embrace accountability. He also lauds inner-city exam schools. While not breaking new ground, Caperton utilizes his knowledge (and Whitmire’s fine storytelling capacity) to provide an encouraging set of strategies and examples that point toward a more equitable and effective education system.

SOURCE: Gaston Caperton and Richard Whitmire, The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools (New York, NY: College Board, 2012). ...

Trick or tweet?

Mike channels Darth Vader and Checker channels, well, Checker, in a Halloween edition of the podcast featuring all sorts of treats: charter schools, the Common Core, and the political appeal of ed reform. Amber explains why Fordham’s latest study on teacher-union strength is a must-read—all 405 pages of it.

Amber's Research Minute

Gary Orfield is at it again, although this time with a twist: This book, edited by Orfield and Penn State professor Erica Frankenberg, focuses on how suburban areas are handling an influx of poor and minority students—and how they might handle it better. The book profiles six suburbs (located outside Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and San Antonio) as well as Beach County, Florida (which encompasses West Palm Beach and Boca Raton). Each case study analyzes demographic shifts, how the districts are combating their schools’ achievement gaps, and what the political and cultural hurdles are to achieving true racial integration (Orfield’s long-time end-goal). (Prefacing these chapters is a welcome analysis and discussion of the demographics of suburbia at large—showing that, across the board, it’s less homogenous than many people suppose.) The Resegregation of Suburban Schools is a worthy contribution to the academic literature on suburbia and a thought-provoking read on the morality of desegregation. But look elsewhere for concrete policy ideas. In these pages are only vague proposals for affirmative-action programs when hiring educational professionals, amorphous “involvement” of civil-rights organizations like the NAACP in the suburbs, and an increase in magnet schools and student-exchange programs (i.e., busing across district lines). The recent attempts to extend integration programs to the suburbs should stand as a lesson: Racial integration—while a nice idea—can quickly bog down. It might be time to start thinking of diverse schools as one...

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