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Students who attend a private school through Ohio's EdChoice Scholarship Program still take the state's achievement tests each spring. The results are reported to the state education department, but nothing much else is done with the data. The results aren't reported publicly. The achievement and progress of voucher-bearing students isn't analyzed. The program's impact on student academic performance isn't assessed. To its credit, the Ohio House of Representatives wants to change that.

In February, Governor Ted Strickland proposed that any private school that enrolls a voucher-bearing child would have to administer the state's achievement tests to all of its students, even those kids whose parents are paying out of pocket for their education. While the results of those tests might tell us something about the private schools participating in the EdChoice program, it would tell us nothing about the impact of the program on the voucher-bearing students specifically. Under the pending House version of the budget bill, the state's test would only be administered to voucher-bearing students but the results of those tests would be publicly reported in a meaningful fashion. Specifically, the education department would be required to compile and report the performance of...

At least that's how it appears to me. Almost everyone else has moved onto the stimulus and the economy, but not SCOTUS. See this report from Ed Week blogger Mark Walsh??on yesterday's hearing in Flores v. Horne. First, note this veiled reference to growth models:

Kenneth W. Starr, the lawyer representing Republican state legislative leaders who are seeking relief from a federal court order that effectively is forcing the state to spend more on ELL programs, told the justices that English learners "are, in fact, making progress" under the program funded by the legislature.

This drew a sharp response from Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who cited detailed test results showing that English learners in the Nogales, Ariz., school district, where the class action began in 1992, still lagged their peers around the state.

"You are right," Breyer said to Starr during the oral arguments in Horne v. Flores (Case No. 08-289). "They have made progress, but they aren't quite home yet."

"But not home yet, your honor, is in fact the key question. What is home?" replied Starr.

Now, let's pause for a moment. As Joshua Dunn, co-author of Education...

Amy Fagan

Our president, Chester Finn Jr., and our distinguished visiting fellow Andy Smarick have penned a very nice piece in the Washington Post today about the crisis in urban Catholic schools and the need for the Obama administration to step up and help ??? with stimulus funds, education tax credits or scholarships, or by simply voicing concern and support.

They write:

America can no longer be distracted by the ideological battles surrounding educational choice and competition. The issue today is simply our willingness to save vital institutions that have admirably served poor children for generations. Republican administrations have pushed this issue as far as they were able to--but without great success. We are audacious enough to hope that, for the sake of hundreds of thousands of at-risk children, this Democratic administration will put its shoulder to this wheel and push until there is movement.

It had been a while since I glanced at our reader polls for recent Reform-o-Meter ratings, so I just took a look. (You can too: see here, here, here, here, and here, and click on "view results.") The pattern is consistent: our readers are always at least a tad tougher on the Obama Administration than I am. In the end, it doesn't add up to a different cumulative rating-both readers and I consider Team Obama "Neutral" on education reform so far, which, let's face it, is pretty disappointing. But the readers are edging toward a "chilly" outlook, while my needle is leaning toward "luke warm."

What's it going to take for the R-o-M to get warm again? Strong appointments for Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education would help. So would a reversal of the Administration's decision to rescind scholarship offers from 200 needy District of Columbia families. And smart moves around the Secretary's "Race to the Top" incentive fund and his $650 million slush fund (I mean "innovation" fund) would help too. For now, it's clear that President Obama continues to straddle...

Amy Fagan

The massacre at Columbine High School happened ten years ago, on April 20, 1999. Hard to believe it has been that long. It's revisited, remembered and analyzed in several stories, including the Denver Post here and here, the Star Ledger, the Associated Press, a piece by MTV.com, and coverage by CNN and ABC.

A friend just forwarded me this excellent blog, "Serenity Though Haiku." The site has an admittedly particular political bent ("surviving the Obama years," if you were curious), but it straddles all political lines with this fabulous succinct pronouncement on the DC voucher situation:

Hypocrite

DC vouchers, gone!

Public schools are good enough

But not for his kids.

Oh, snap.

President Obama and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland are pushing their school reform agendas hard. Sitting in Ohio, one can't help but compare and contrast these efforts. There are similarities but also some interesting differences. Here's what we see from the Buckeye State.

Where there is agreement: Both the governor and the president want to spend more money on public schools; both, also, want new investments in early education. These are long-standing Democratic positions so no surprises here. But--and this is new--each is seeking more seat time in schools for kids. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could have been speaking for both Strickland and Obama when he said recently, "I fundamentally think our children are at a competitive disadvantage. The children in India and China who they are competing [with] for jobs are going to school 25, 30 percent more than we are." Gov. Strickland wants to add 20 days a year to Ohio's school calendar.

Where they disagree in kind: Both Strickland and Obama say they see quality teachers and better teaching as pivotal to improving student achievement. Here, Strickland's plan is less bold than Obama's, but controversial enough that it has garnered the ire of the ...

The Post turns in another great editorial on the DC scholarship program. Using????as the jumping-off point????a new Heritage report on the school choice decisions of members of Congress, the Post calls out Senator Durbin, Mayor Fenty, Del. Holmes Norton, and Secretary Duncan (but for some reason leaves out the president, despite his choice of a private school for his daughters). Evidently, nearly 40 percent of our federal legislators have chosen private schools for their kids.

The Post editorial board has been relentless.????Good for them.

Two of my favorite people in education reform are launching a new organization designed to tackle one of the most pressing challenges in urban schooling: the disappearance of inner-city Catholic schools. Aquinas Education Partners, named after the great Catholic saint and theologian Thomas Aquinas,* promises to bring new ideas, renewed energy, and much more to this invaluable but beleaguered sector of American K-12 education.

This effort couldn't have two better founders.????Scott Hamilton has been a top-flight education reform leader for years. He did stints at the White House and the US Department of Education and helped launch Massachusetts' highly successful charter school sector from inside the state's department of education. He was one of the first people on the scene of the Edison Project, played important board roles for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the California Charter Schools Association, and served as the managing director of the Pisces Foundation.

In this role, he helped two young teachers create the KIPP Foundation. Though school leaders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin and philanthropist Don Fisher are rightfully given great credit for KIPP's launch and development,...

Jay Greene had a lot of smart things to say in this Wall Street Journal op-ed, but I found his opening paragraph unpersuasive:

On education policy, appeasement is about as ineffective as it is in foreign affairs. Many proponents of school choice, especially Democrats, have tried to appease teachers unions by limiting their support to charter schools while opposing private school vouchers. They hope that by sacrificing vouchers, the unions will spare charter schools from political destruction.

I challenge Jay to name one person he knows who supports charter schools but opposes vouchers because he or she hopes to appease the unions. I hang out with a lot of these folks and it's clear to me that most of them oppose vouchers either because of queasiness over church/state issues or because they don't want public funds going to schools that don't face any public transparency or accountability requirements. (By the way, maybe our sliding scale??would change their minds on that point.)

But Jay is right about his larger point: charter schools are the true existential threat??to the education establishment, and the unions are acting accordingly....

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