Consider that these sorts of politics might be in play. There's little doubt that the Obama political operation will want Governor Strickland to still be Governor Strickland in 2012. And there's little doubt that Governor Strickland sure could use several?? hundred million dollars in discretionary federal education funds to help him maintain his popularity. But there's also little doubt that the Governor is pushing against education reform in almost every manner possible. It's going to be a game of chicken. Who will blink first: Ted Strickland or Arne Duncan? Stay tuned.

Amy Fagan

David Whitman, fresh off of being honored by the American Independent Writers, has now done an interview with about his book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. EdNews Senior Columnist Michael Shaughnessy asks David, among other things, why he wrote the book, why it has had broad-based appeal, and what paternalism has to do with education. Here's a snippet of David describing the schools that he examined and wrote about:

When you spent time in the schools I studied, you couldn't help but be struck by the fact that they were highly-prescriptive institutions???they meticulously supervised student behavior. They were not just academically demanding schools but schools that sought to relentlessly shape the character of their students. But I do want to be clear about one thing: The new paternalism works only when it is combined with intense caring and commitment--it is not just about the supervision of students. The students have to know that their teachers and principals care deeply about them and their future.

Amy Fagan

Just to let you know: the National Journal is launching the Education Expert Blog on Monday, June 29. Nat Journal folks will pose a different question at the beginning of each week to a group of education experts--including our own Checker Finn--and these connoisseurs will respond throughout the week. The dialogue is sure to be dynamite!

Amy Fagan

Well, well, well. Looks like our Mike Petrilli is unstoppable. This week he burst onto the scene in the land of cheese and football. The land of the Green Bay Packers! That's right. Mike wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette. He didn't exactly mince words though ??? he criticized Wisconsin for having ???some of the easiest tests in the country??? and for ???playing games??? with the implementation of No Child Left Behind. Hmmm??????.well, at least he didn't botch the name of their football field!

Alex Klein


"If the Senate passes something that differs by one word or more it is saying to the city: We want to resurrect the Soviet Union, we want to bring back chaos.... What [the senators] are doing is just saying to the parents, the students and the future of our city - 'We're going to destroy you.' That's the only possible explanation." ??--New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

'Soviet' schools if mayor control is lost, says Mayor Bloomberg


84,348 : The number of California high school students enrolled in independent study. This represents 4% of the 2 million California high schoolers. Most attend 231 independent-study high schools scattered around the state.

Researchers Spot Exotic New School Species in California


Two weeks ago, our friends at released a report highlighting the academic progress made by students in Ohio's "Big 8" (large urban) districts and charter schools in those same cities.?? It's fair to lump these two groups together, and to compare them with one another.?? The vast majority of students in urban charter schools hail from those eight districts.?? Yes, there are some stragglers from the suburbs, but not nearly enough to invalidate such research.

Today, the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, also our friends, followed up's work with a ??report of its own (not yet available online that I can find) comparing academic achievement, preparation, and progress levels of students in the Big 8 districts with students in the Buckeye State's seven statewide e-schools.?? OAPCS found similar results between the two groups, perhaps providing cause for saving e-schools from the budget chopping block.

The problem is, e-schools don't get their students from the large urban districts like most brick-and-mortar charter schools do.?? In fact, last school year just 22 percent of students at statewide e-schools came from such districts.?? A fairer comparison can be made between e-schools and...

Who better to report on the ???????brain drain??????? than college students themselves????? Check out this story from FOX affiliate , aka The College Network, featuring such luminaries as West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, III , and Fordham's own Terry Ryan .

The White House Fellowship program, arguably America's best career-development opportunity for those interested in public service, today announced members of the 2009-2010 class. Two of the 15 winners have substantial K-12 reform experience. ????Beginning in September, these highly accomplished (and very fortunate) individuals will spend a year working at the highest levels in the federal government and learning tons about leadership and service.

Congratulations to this year's winner, and here's hoping some future winners are reading this right now...

As I wrote in today's Education Gadfly, this new policy paper by the Broader Bolder coalition on school accountability is "eminently sensible."

That's a big surprise, for in the past this coalition has appeared eager to refight old battles about whether schools can be expected to help poor kids reach high standards. Now, however, it's arguing for a broader look at school success--what might be termed "test scores-plus." They would keep test-based accountability, tweaked in various ways (with progress-over-time measures, better assessments, a more robust NAEP, etc.) and supplement it with school inspectors. These inspectors would guard against lousy practices, such as "an undue emphasis on test preparation," and catch schools engaged in good ones, like "a collegial professional culture in which teachers and administrators use all available data in a collaborative fashion to continuously improve the work of the school."

I don't know; this sounds reasonable to me. What am I missing?

One of the planks I use in my arguments against using turnarounds as the primary strategy for improving urban districts is this IES study. Researchers went looking for successful turnaround tactics that have a robust research base and came up empty. I recommend this study to anyone optimistic about the future of turnarounds, but I'll quote a couple passages here:

The panel did not find any empirical studies that reached the rigor necessary to determine that specific turnaround practices produce significantly better academic outcomes.

All recommendations had to rely on low levels of evidence as defined by the Institute of Education Sciences Practice Guide standards. ????We could not find any studies that fit the high-quality experimental and quasi-experimental study standards of the What Works Clearinghouse and that would provide the strongest evidence of causal validity.

Readers should note that the case research on school turnarounds and the business research clearly indicates that there is no specific set of actions that applies equally well to every turnaround situation.

I bring this up because the new administration is tasking IES with getting back into this business. Via this RFP, IES is looking for researchers to develop and test practices...