The Education Gadfly

We heard through the grapevine that the The??National Council on Teacher Quality,??a national research and advocacy organization based in??Washington,??D.C., is hiring! They're on the prowl for a??project manager and multiple research analysts to work on teacher preparartion studies.

For the project manager position, they're seeking someone with at least five years of professional experience who demonstrates extraordinary organizational skills and is able to manage the processing, analyzing and storage of large amounts of research data. This person will oversee a staff of three people to start (a number which may expand considerably with time). He or she must be able to work at a fast pace and take deadlines very seriously.??No previous experience in the fields of education or education reform is required.

For the research analyst positions, they are hunting for candidates with strong academic records from college/grad school. ??Applicants must be computer-savvy, in terms of both websites and Excel. They need to have the will to go to any length to find an answer to a question; demonstrate superior quantitative and analytical skills; show excessive attention to detail; have an obsession with accuracy; and able to work fast--superfast.

More information is available on...

Though this WaPo headline says that the "GOP [is] Leaving ???No Child' Behind," the rise of Representative John P. Kline to ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee might be more nuanced. The sense is that Kline is a federalist, emphasizing "maximum latitude" to states on education. He says he doesn't just want to "tweak" the law, but to take a look at the whole thing. But his reported reaction to a conversation with Secretary Duncan makes it sound like Kline isn't so federalist after all.

"He feels the same sense of urgency I do, that we need to get dramatically better," Duncan said later. Duncan said he told Kline that he wants to push for higher academic standards but giving schools more flexibility to achieve them--"be much looser at the local level, let folks innovate." Duncan said that message "seemed to resonate with him."

Whether those "higher academic standards" occur at the national level in Kline's vision for NCLB is unclear but that it sounds like Kline wants to flip the law on his head--set standards at the top but let states figure out how to meet them--is more "reform realist" than states' rights. Kline...

Alex Klein


"I have been a principal for 11 years and I've never had the ability to pick my own candidates. There's nothing more exciting than seeing the lines of teachers waiting to be interviewed." --Michael Lazzareschi, head of the new Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence, RI

Providence Journal: Providence schools implement new approach to hiring


6 of 114 : The number of Boston elementary and middle schools that meet national physical education standards--125 and 225 minutes per week for elementary school and middle school students, respectively. About 25 percent of the city's students received no formal P.E. instruction last year.

Boston Globe: Boston's schools go lacking in phys-ed


It looks like some states are moving in the right direction on reform in order to access Race to the Top funds. But we have to remember that these reforms, though important, aren't free; they cost $100 billion. So the question is: Are we getting enough in return for this investment?

I take a look at that question here, ultimately wondering whether each new charter school should cost four and a half times as much as each new F-22.

The Education Gadfly

Enjoy the first video in our summer "Fun Fact Friday!" series. Each week we'll present an interesting education fact in a fun visual format. This one takes on the myth that class size is inversely related to student achievement.

Fun Fact Friday! - Student/Teacher Ratio from Education Gadfly on Vimeo .

SOURCES FOR THIS VIDEO (added July 11, 2009)

Student teacher ratios, for primary school level: World Bank, 2007

Quote about students doing better in smaller classes: ???Class Size Counts: The research shows us why,??? by Daniel Gursky, American Teacher, April 1998

PISA math scores: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Programme for International Student Assessment, 2006 results...

Overheard in DC is a feature of, a blog about all things happening in our nation's capital. Each week, readers email in snippets of funny conversations they "overheard in DC" and every Friday, DCist picks a few they think take the cake. Take a look at one of this week's winning entries:

Outside the Air and Space Museum:

Kid: "What's the Department of Education?"

Dad: "That's where the Principal of the United States lives."

Arne Duncan, Principal of the United States... has a nice ring to it, no?

Find out in this NYT interview with the founder of TFA: "Corner Office: Charisma? To Her, It's Overrated."

A plan unveiled today in Australia tackles a popular suggestion that's been thrown around in the US: putting "super teachers" (as the Aussies call them) in the worst schools, and compensating them with higher pay, a smaller class load, and the opportunity to mentor other teachers. This attempt to address the issue of teacher quality, long realized to be the number one determinant of student success, with realistic organizational reforms, sounds reasonable. It takes on numerous problems at once: staffing hard to staff schools, staffing hard to staff schools with good teachers, who typically escape to greener suburban pastures as soon as possible, shifting the compensation scale to reward excellence, and providing career advancement without moving quality educators from classrooms to administrative roles.

The one thing missing, at least from what I can find out, is how these "Highly Accomplished Teachers" will be determined and chosen. As we've seen with American forays into determining teacher excellence with government metrics (i.e., the Highly Qualified Teacher provisions of NCLB), it's difficult to measure something so amorphous as teacher quality with the tools available to a huge sprawling bureaucracy. Piloting of the measure will begin this fall....

Gadfly is here and it's great! First, Checker considers the speech topics of Secretary Duncan. Though playing no favorites--he seems to be ripping on everyone, albeit with great politesse--there's yet to be much walk to match that talk. What should we make of this? Then learn what's going on with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's latest school reform plan, the Senatorial stalemate in New York (though, as of this morning, that might be coming to an end), new school report card metrics in Texas that turn failing into passing, the end of school districts with no schools in New Jersey, and some crowd-controlling, classroom-trained trivia hosts in Massachusetts. Then, get the latest on Summer 2009's Harvard Educational Review, a USC study on charter management organizations, and Joan Baratz-Snowden's proposal for reforming tenure. Don't forget the podcast, in which we bid a sad farewell to Christina "NPR-voice" Hentges, who participated in her very last episode this week, and Rick gives her life advice from some old Irish proverbs... or something.

Don't miss it!...

Alex Klein


"To have Cesar Chavez listed next to Ben ludicrous." --Peter Marshall, an??Evangelical minister,??on the controversial Texas history curriculum

EdWeek: Texas Panelists Question Minority Heroes in Curriculum


$259,500,000 : The deficit the Detroit Public Schools system is running this year. DPS is considering bankrupcy.

Detroit News: DPS moves closer to bankruptcy