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The OECD has released its annual grab bag of international data from thirty-plus developed countries, overflowing with interesting factoids about participation in education, spending, class size, and more. To dive right in: 1) About 70 percent of all OECD students who enter post-secondary education graduate; in Japan, that number is about 90 percent, while Hungary and the U.S. flounder at 52 percent. 2) Between 2009 and 2010, public expenditures on educational institutions fell in one-third of OECD countries (surprise, surprise), including the U.S., Italy, Estonia, and Iceland. 3) Between 2000 and 2011, teacher salaries rose in almost all OECD countries (France and Japan were the exceptions), and then fell between 2009 and 2011. 4) Across all OECD countries, the average age at which mothers have their first child rose from twenty-four in 1970 to twenty-eight in 2009 (though the Duchess of Cambridge is skewing the numbers at age thirty-one). 5) Together, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. receive over half of all foreign students. 6) On average, OECD countries employ one teacher for every fourteen students in upper-secondary school (Portugal has the richest ratio, one teacher for every eight students, while Mexico breaks the scales at twenty-eight). At 440 pages, there’s plenty more information to dig into. (Cue the traditional wise cracks about the inaptness of the report title—but at least we no longer have to take a nap while it downloads!)

SOURCE: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development,...

At first blush, this AFT-commissioned survey (which was conducted by Hart Research Associates and determined that parents disapprove of current education-reform initiatives) is a head-scratcher. It “finds,” for example, that just 24 percent of parents support school choice—dramatically fewer than other recent polls report. The latest Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll, conducted in August 2012, found that 66 percent of Americans supported charters and 44 percent are warm to private school choice. And the 2012 PEPG/Education Next survey concurred: Sixty-two percent of Americans favor charter schools. So why the disconnect? Could that much have changed in a year? Unlikely. Instead, it’s more a question of semantics. The AFT’s poll asks parents to choose between “good public schools” that offer “safe conditions” and an “enriching curriculum” and private schools paid for “at the public expense.” The former—naturally—won the day. Other AFT questions are riddled with the same problem (see Terry Moe’s excellent book for more on how question framing pre-determines answers). Readers who want a more accurate overview of how Americans feel about school choice, education reform, and the K–12 system writ large: peruse the two surveys linked above or our own look at schools’ belt-tightening strategies from August 2012.

SOURCE: Hart Research Associates, Public School Parents on the Promise of Public Education: Nationwide Survey Among Parents of Children in Public K-12 Schools (Washington, D.C.: American Federation of Teachers, July 2013)....

By the Company it Keeps: Tim Daly

It’s hard for me to overstate my level of respect for Howard Fuller. Early in my career, Howard was more legend than real person—someone I read and heard about. In Milwaukee, he was held in such esteem, longstanding rules were changed so he could become superintendent of schools. In that position he showed extraordinary compassion for disadvantaged families and enormous political courage by publicly supporting the city’s first-in-the-nation voucher program. After leaving that post, his dedicated himself to expanding the educational options available to low-income kids.

Howard Fuller

I got to know him in 2003. I was working for a coalition of organizations that supported charter schools, the Charter School Leadership Council, and I was housed in the offices of the Black Alliance for Education Options, which he chaired. On numerous memorable occasions I got to see firsthand his fervent but eloquent support for choice in schooling that made him famous. He was truly inspirational.

But I soon got to see another side of Howard. When it was decided that the national charter movement needed more than a loose coalition of groups speaking on its behalf, a large, extremely diverse group of individuals and organizations came together to form a new stand-alone nonprofit. Everyone agreed that only one person had the...

The View Edition

Tanned and refreshed, Mike’s back in the saddle, this time joined by Fordham media relations and outreach manager Michelle Gininger to talk Common Core tests, Wisconsin’s Act 10, and school accountability in the Sunshine State. Amber digs into the statistics on child well-being.

Amber's Research Minute

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 2013).

StudentsFirst has made a thoughtful contribution to the burgeoning literature on school governance with its new policy brief Change the Leadership, Change the Rules: Improving Schools and Districts through Mayoral and State Governance. In it, the group argues that school boards have been largely ineffective in urban areas and examines two main alternatives: mayoral control and state control—the latter preferably via the “recovery district” model. It’s a short and snappy synopsis.

The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project has produced another worthy read: Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education is organized around three theses: inequality is on the rise against a backdrop of low social mobility; the U.S. is experiencing a growing divide in educational investments and outcomes based on family income; and education and smart interventions can help—such as those outlined in Caroline Hoxby’s Expanding College Opportunities project and Ben Castleman’s Summer Melt study. While the facts themselves are not new, the report offers an accessible and logical assemblage. Dig in!

On Monday, Michigan governor Rick Snyder chose finance expert Jack Martin to succeed Roy Roberts as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Martin enters the ring with four decades of private- and public-sector experience under his belt, including stints as CFO of the U.S. Department of Education and emergency manager of Highland Park Schools (another troubled school district in the Detroit metro area). What’s more, he is himself a DPS graduate. Martin is surely well credentialed and...

This dense yet eminently Tweetable report offers factoid after factoid to describe the state of child welfare in America—and, by default, the challenges facing education reformers and others. The compendium pulls from twenty-plus federal sources and highlights seven categories of child welfare, including education; health; economic circumstance; and family, social, and physical environments. In 2012, for example, 64 percent of children ages zero to seventeen lived with both parents. (Just 4 percent lived solely with their fathers—the same proportion as lived with no parents at all.) Two percent of eighth graders—and 9 percent of twelfth graders—reported smoking a cigarette daily. And 8 percent of youth from sixteen to nineteen are neither enrolled in school nor working. While the report is a belt-notch above 200 pages, the education section is digestible—if not groundbreaking: The authors report that reading to young children positively affects school success (happily, 83 percent of those ages three through five who weren’t yet enrolled in preschool were read to in the home at least three times per week). Hispanics continue to make strong gains in reading and math. But NAEP reading scores in general have improved little—save at the eighth-grade level. While not new, these are still notable findings—and a great reminder not just of the work ahead on the education-reform front but also the context in which those efforts occur.

SOURCE: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 2013)....

By the Company it Keeps: Tim Daly

Ethan Gray is the executive director of one of my very favorite organizations. CEE-Trust, an initiative of the extraordinary The Mind Trust, convenes and collaborates with reform-minded, city-based education groups, like foundations and advocacy organizations. The goal is to bring about transformational education change in America’s major urban areas.

Ethan Gray CEE-Trust

CEE-Trust’s explicit focus on cities is noteworthy; rather than focusing on state or federal policy—or even the district’s activities—it seeks to generate and support fundamental reform via an array of metropolitan leaders and a cross-sector approach. Its members are some of the most important and exciting groups in the business.

But CEE-Trust has been successful to date and holds such promise largely because of Ethan. He’s as sharp as they come, highly collegial, and remarkably entrepreneurial. Recognizing his great, budding talents, my colleagues Sara Mead and Andy Rotherham scooped him up early, and he’s been excelling ever since (see Sara’s recent piece on Ethan here).

Urban districts have been so dysfunctional for so long and are so enmeshed in their cities’ politics and power structures, I’ve been of the mind that meaningful change in inner-city education would require drastic state action. But CEE-Trust and its members have given me...

Bold Assertions Edition

Dara and Daniela—covering for Mike “Never-Returning-from-the-Beach-Because-These-Fruity-Drinks-Are-Too-Good” Petrilli—throw down on NYC’s transfer high schools, California’s potential NGSS adoption, and MOOCs in K–12 education. Amber is upbeat about early-college high schools.

Amber's Research Minute

Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study, by Andrea Berger, et al. (Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research, June 2013).

GadflyBusted! The Big Apple’s “transfer” high schools—the city’s schools-of-last-resort for struggling teens—saw more students drop out than graduate in 2011–12—seventy-eight more at the forty-four such schools surveyed, to be exact. By contrast, last year at the same forty-four schools, 619 more students graduated than dropped out. The schools’ principals attributed the flop to midyear changes in graduation requirements (tightened to match state requirements), while city officials—claiming that their own policy changes were “minor”—cited increased Regents standards, instead. For our take, see this week’s Education Gadfly Show.

School districts considering arming their teachers and administrators may need to think twice: Insurance carriers have threatened to raise their premiums or revoke their coverage altogether. This is not universal (Texas, for instance, has made it fairly easy for districts to arm employees and insurance providers have hardly batted an eye—now, whether these employees can actually use their weapons is another matter altogether); nevertheless, it is certainly an important development in the guns-in-schools debate.

As contentious as the New York City mayoral race is, the turbulence in K–12 education facing the new leader is more. New York City public schools must deal with implementation of the Common Core standards and the hard-fought (and still-controversial) teacher-evaluation system—and let’s not forget the conundrums of whether or not to continue the Bloomberg-Kline-era reforms, whether to close the city’s failing schools, whether to allow charters and traditional...

High school graduation, college enrollment, and college graduation: Of all youngsters in the land, it’s no secret that low-income and minority students have the longest odds of achieving this educational trifecta. One intervention geared toward evening those odds is the creation of Early College (EC) High Schools—academically rigorous schools that, in partnership with colleges, offer college-credit-bearing courses. There are presently 240 such schools in the U.S. (ten of them in Fordham’s home state of Ohio, and one of these in our home town of Dayton), primarily serving low-income and minority youths. But how well do they work? According to this study by the American Institutes for Research and SRI International, they’re doing quite well indeed. The authors exploit the lottery-based admissions of ten ECs to estimate their impact on high school graduation, college enrollment, and college graduation for three cohorts of ninth-graders (who enrolled in years 2005, 2006 and 2007). The study finds that 77 percent of students admitted into an EC had enrolled in college itself one year after high school, whereas 67 percent of non-EC students had done so. Moreover, 22 percent of EC students went on to earn a two- or four-year degree, compared to 2 percent of the comparison students—and 20 percent of EC students earned that degree by the time they graduated high school, compared to 2 percent of the comparison students. For low-income and minority youngsters, the schools’ impact was even greater: Minority EC students were twenty-nine times more likely...

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