Big things are underway in Baltimore's schools, despite a hiccup during in the last week. Here's my take in a Baltimore Sun op-ed.

Ever since The Education Gadfly critically reviewed NYC Schools Under Bloomberg and Klein: What Parents, Teachers, and Policymakers Need to Know, we've been bombarded with messages from aggrieved contributors and editors of that 172-page volume (which you can find??here) charging that we were unfair. (One of the editors will have a "letter to the editor" to that effect??in this week's Gadfly.)

They didn't set out to write a "balanced" analysis of the Bloomberg-Klein regime in New York, they insist; they set out to criticize it. And that they surely did, across a host of topics and issues. We at Fordham have a lot of friends and colleagues in New York of whom we're very fond and with whom we've worked very closely over the years,??and it's been no secret for many months--years, actually--that some of them find myriad faults with the mayor and schools chancellor while at our end of the Acela we find more to admire than to criticize in those two officials' handling of K-12 education in the nation's largest city. So be it. One may regret the friction but it's not necessarily healthy to agree about everything.??

Anyone looking for a reasonably comprehensive...

Amy Fagan

There's much talk of common education standards these days; recently the Obama administration pledged to put some money towards the??tests that will assess those standards. In this CNN segment from June 15, Mike sheds some light on the topic and what we might expect??as the common standards effort moves along.

Duncan writes about turnarounds????in Ed Week commentary.

What he describes--moving out adults but adhering to the same collective bargaining agreements and following the same traditional district rules--sounds more like a 5 or 6 than a 10.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last night that he's making a big bet on the NGA and CCSSO Common State Standards initiative, putting up $350 million to fund the tests that will be used to assess those standards. He told the Associated Press:

Resources are important, but resources are actually a small piece of this puzzle. What's really needed here is political courage. We need governors to continue to invest their energy and political capital.

To that end, he said in his speech:

The fact is--higher standards will make some of your states look bad in the short term--because fewer students will be meeting them.

So I will work with you to ensure that your states will not be penalized for doing the right thing.

And in reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the administration will work with you and with Congress to change the law so that it rewards states for raising standards instead of encouraging states to lower them.

I always give NCLB credit for exposing the achievement gap but the central flaw in the law is that it was too


Congratulations to David Whitman, who not only is heading into the Administration to write Arne Duncan's speeches , but also just won the prestigious "American Independent Writing Prize for the Most Significant Book of the Year" from American Independent Writers for Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner City Schools and the New Paternalism .

As the publisher of said book , we are very proud of David's accomplishment. Now that George Will , David Brooks , and AIW have heartily endorsed the book, isn't it time that you give it a read yourself? Head to Amazon today and order this gem before your summer vacation commences.

We've long lauded Massachusetts' standards as setting an example for other states. This week, Fordham trustee and former MA Commissioner of Education David Driscoll explains why in this Pioneer Institute video (it's the first video on the page). Above all, these testimonials (other key players in that state's standards movement have also weighed in) emphasize that these benchmarks should not be lightly thrust aside in the face of mounting 21st Century Skill pressure. Check it out!

Type "Ohio" and "brain drain" together into Google and you get 86,600 hits.

In 2007, Ohio saw 6,981 more resi????dents between the ages of 25 and 34 leave the state than mi????grate into it.

In 2003, the Cleveland Plain Dealer found that individuals with master's degrees are more apt to say farewell to Ohio than those with bache????lor's degrees, and those with doctoral degrees were twice as likely to leave.

Despite these grim statistics, Ohio desperately needs to hold on to its best-and-brightest college graduates. The economy in deep recession, with the state facing a $3 billion budget deficit.???? Workers with a bachelor's degree earn more, and pay more in taxes, than their high-school-diploma-holding peers. Yet, Ohio is lagging nation????ally in keeping and attracting col????lege graduates - the state ranks 30th nationally in the number of citizens between the ages of 25 and 34 with a bachelor's degree.

Ohio's future prosperity demands that we do a better job of keeping and engaging our best and brightest. They will generate the economic vigor, new technologies, and other kinds of economic development that will spur the jobs and...

ED lands another honest-to-goodness reformer. Michael Robbins, formerly of SEED and continuously a good egg, is joining the Department to work with Peter Groff in the????Faith-Based and Community Initiatives office. Michael has an interesting background having worked both in the schools world and community development/public service. He'll be an asset.

For selfish reasons, I'm especially pleased by his particular placement. The Bush administration started the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives effort to recognize and expand the invaluable contributions of local groups, including those motivated by faith. During my time at the WH, I was always impressed by OFBCI's work; their events and conferences were enormous and substantive, speaking directly to the popularity and importance of the subject.

Moreover, at the intersection of faith-based organizations and education stands inner-city Catholic schooling, a priceless American institution that's on the ropes and deserves attention. One of my small accomplishments inside the government was this report, which, among other things, tries to make the simple case that disadvantaged city kids need great schools so we should protect those we have irrespective of their provider.????

So in my opinion, that the Obama administration maintained OFBCI is encouraging, that...