Flypaper

Tomorrow morning, we'll learn a good bit more about what Secretary Duncan has in mind for the Race to the Top. Documents related to state applications will be released by 10am. You should be able to find them here.

If you'd like to know what I'll be looking for, read here.

The Education Gadfly

Join us Wednesday, August 19, for a panel discussion on how the changing education policy landscape is affecting both charter schools and voucher programs. The Obama administration is aggressively pushing to expand the number of charter schools available to American families. Meanwhile, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program looks to be on its way out and other voucher programs are facing new challenges. Will the voucher movement survive and thrive in this climate? Does it need to? Are charter schools the future of school choice? Has their promise been overstated? The following top experts in the field will share their opinions on these and other key questions:

  • Kevin Carey, Policy Director, Education Sector
  • John F. Kirtley, Chairman, Florida School Choice Fund
  • Gerard Robinson, President, Black Alliance for Educational Options
  • Susan Zelman, Senior Vice President, Education and Children's Content, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The moderator will be??Michael Petrilli, VP for National Programs and Policy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Here are some important details.

"With charter schools ascendant, is there still a future for vouchers?"

Wednesday, August 19

4 PM - 5:30 PM

Light refreshments served

Registration begins at 3:30 PM

Thomas B. Fordham...

My article in last week's Education Gadfly ("Sarah Palin, anti-intellectualism, and the plight of??the liberal arts") generated more reactions than anything I've written in a long time. I received a lot of emails from folks who agreed with the premise that neither political party is standing up for a comprehensive curriculum in our k-12 system, and are frustrated about it. For example, here's a comment that Whitney Tilson just ran in his daily email:

Petrilli is right on the money - I can't tell you how many times I've heard certain reformers denigrate "higher order thinking" and "problem solving" as just more union code words for an anti-accountability agenda.?? The problem is, when they insist that all that matters is basic skills and proficiency tests, they sound ridiculous to parents and teachers, and that limits their effectiveness.?? Basic skills, just because they're easily tested, are NOT all that matter, and our pursuit of more and more accountability needs to not be accompanied by a dumbing down of the accountability systems so we can have an easier time measuring and can make an argument against those who inappropriately assert that everything is unmeasurable.

But don't worry, plenty of you...

Will Compernolle

Quotable

"The world of education is the sector of the economy so far the least changed by technology. Ten years from now, that won't be the case, and these online lectures are the cutting edge of that." --Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder

Washington Examiner: Bill Gates: Better data on student, teacher performance will raise achievement in US schools

Notable

38 : The number of pages in the New York City Department of Education's rebuttal, defending its graduation rate. Its graduation rate is being questioned after it has climbed to the highest level in decades (56% in 2008).

NYT: Comptroller Questions Graduation Statistics

Yesterday, I was pretty excited about some events in Baltimore. Then this article appears. Are we really about to mess around with the formula of a superb school? The article's first sentence says it all.

Baltimore's most successful middle school is laying off staff and shortening its school day to meet demands of a teachers union contract in what is one of the first major disputes over teacher pay between a charter school and a union.

I can understand the differences of opinion on what to do about America's worst schools. But can't we all agree that when it comes to America's best urban schools we ought to replicate them to the extent possible and, barring that, just do no harm?

Eduwonk's insight a couple days back is applicable.

Secretary Duncan visited a school in Baltimore yesterday to celebrate the city's impressive gains on the state assessment. ????Baltimore is no longer the lowest performing district in the state. ????Much work remains, but this is good news. ????(Check out my previous posts on Baltimore--about which I'm pretty bullish.)

Please note, though, the important comment in the article by state board member and chief of NCTQ Kate Walsh. ????Looks like she's been talking to Petrilli.

Alex Klein

Quotable

"Am I optimistic that they can avoid it? I am not." --Ray Graves, a retired bankruptcy judge who has been advising Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools' emergency financial manager

WSJ: Detroit Schools on the Brink

Notable

1554 : The number of New York City public school teachers given the rating of "unsatisfactory" this year. The 2005-2006 school year saw 981 get that rating. Overall, about 2 percent of the teachers, both tenured and not tenured, received a "U" rating this year.

GothamSchools: More than 500 extra teachers rated "unsatisfactory" this year

Education Week takes a look at the response to Secretary Duncan's call for turning around 5,000 failing schools.

It's been awhile since I outright fawned over President Obama, so I'm going to let this one fly without any restraint or reserve: His speech to the NAACP last week kicked butt. It was transcendent. It was inspirational. It was honest, direct, bold, and, I hope, important, maybe a turning point.

Don't just read it; watch it or listen to it. (I was driving home from the Delaware shore last night and caught it on public radio; I'm glad I did.) Because it was the interaction between the president and his audience that was so powerful. Here's a sample:

The state of our schools is not an African American problem; it is an American problem. (Applause.) Because if black and brown children cannot compete, then America cannot compete. (Applause.) And let me say this, if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve the education problem, then that's something all of America can agree we can solve. (Applause.) Those guys came into my office. (Laughter.) Just sitting in the Oval Office -- I kept on doing a double-take. (Laughter and applause.) So that's a sign

...
Will Compernolle

Quotable

"We're doing this because we're stuck - we have kids coming out of windows." --Emily Heckman, parent of a child whose school may cut parent-paid teacher aides because of complaints from teachers' unions.

New York Times: Parent-Paid Aides Ordered Out of City

Notable

$50,000 : Cost of the press box at Hylton High's baseball field.

Washington Post: Hylton High Sports Fields Eyed for Signs of Sex Bias

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