We're fifteen minutes into Fordham's big debate on universal preschool, designed to discuss Checker Finn's latest book,??Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut.??Here's the line-up:


Chester E. Finn, Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute


Steve Barnett, Co-Director, National Institute for Early Education Research

Neal McCluskey, Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute

Sara Mead, Director, Early Education Initiative, New America Foundation


Richard Colvin, Director, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Teachers College, Columbia University

Checker is using his opening comments to restate the same arguments he made in this Washington Post Op-Ed. In short: universal preschool provides a subsidy to people who don't need it, and doesn't provide enough intensive preschool to the poor kids that need it most.

Here are a couple of Checker Finn originals, though:

Pre-school is pre-Coleman. It's still focused on resources and inputs instead of outcomes and results.


Head Start has spent four decades denying it's a pre-school program.

The gauntlet has been laid down....

Laura Pohl

DC Opportunity Scholarship Program graduation ceremony, Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington DC

Jordan White, a graduating senior from Georgetown Day in Washington DC, would make any parent proud. She studied AP Psychology and Mandarin Chinese in high school. She organized a school "breakfast club" around her love of orange juice. She received a full scholarship to attend Oberlin College starting in the fall. And for all these accomplishments, Jordan says she's got the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) to thank. The program provides scholarships for low-income families to send their children to private schools in DC. Congress decided to cancel OSP funding starting in 2010. The program now faces a steep, uphill battle for survival, a fact that hung plainly in the air at last night's OSP graduation ceremony. Jordan used part of her graduation speech as a plea to keep OSP alive.

"I'd like to say to the decision-makers on Capitol Hill and of the District of Columbia--before any political decisions are made against a program such as this, look at us here today! Talk to us! Listen to us! Hear what we say and feel what we mean!"...

Mad love for charteralliance and edreform for twittering during today's congressional hearing on chartering. I'm telling you, I'm bought into this LoJack twittering business.

And while you're at it, show the Gadfly some love, too.

Potentially interesting charter school hearing on the Hill today.

Mayoral control of schools coming to Detroit?

Testifying before Congress, Secretary Duncan came under fire from a few Dems for upping the Teacher Incentive Fund and slightly reducing Title I in the 2010 budget. The marginal decrease in Title I is easily explained by the enormous increase it received in the ARRA mid-year, but, of course, there will always be some people who think that more money is needed no matter what. If ED stays to the right of those folks and those opposed to any type of teacher merit pay program, it's moving in the right direction.

Loyal Flypaper reader (and American Institutes of Research VP) Mark Schneider has suggested a great new contest idea: Name the education sector's best aptonym!

As??recently popularized??by this New York Times blog, an aptonym is defined??as: "A??proper name that aptly describes the occupation of the person, especially by coincidence."

"Cutter & Sons, Butchers" and "Dr. Childer, Paediatrician" are examples of aptonyms.

Mark suggests Roy Romer as an aptonym. (If you know about Romer's career trajectory in recent decades, you'll understand why.) And of course, we have perhaps one of the best cabinet-secretary aptoynms of all time in our former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

If you're a fan of the Alliance for Excellent Education, you might think that Bob Wise should count. And if you are devoted to reform math, tracking, or PISA, then Tom Loveless might fit the bill.

Who else? Post your suggestions below; the purveyor of the most apt aptonym will win a free copy of witty David Whitman's book, Sweating the Small Stuff. Let the games begin!...

Amy Fagan

The American Enterprise Institute is holding an event next Tuesday entitled, "Schoolhouses and Courthouses: Does Court-Driven School Reform Deliver?"

The focus? State court judges have used the "education clauses" of their state constitutions to deem education funding inadequate and force states to dedicate more dollars to it. Has increased funding led to commensurate gains in student achievement? If not, what would it take for these investments to deliver? Stanford University's Eric A. Hanushek and Alfred A. Lindseth, a senior partner in the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brenna, will discuss such questions. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will respond. Our pal Rick Hess will moderate the chat.

You can find more event details on the AEI website.

Back in March, Checker, Mike, Amber and I wrote a paper called When Private Schools Take Public Dollars: What's the Place of Accountability in School Voucher Programs? We proposed a sliding-scale mechanism: the more money a private school receives from voucher-bearing students, the more accountable it should be to the public.

We suspected this model would work well for start-up programs, but not as well for existing ones.?? And this week, Wisconsin showed us why. The state legislature's Joint Finance Committee (discussing the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program as part of budget talks) will force all schools to the far end of the scale if its recommendations pass (see detailed language here, specifically in paper 642). Alan Borsuk reported in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that, among other things, this agreement would require participating private schools to "give standardized tests and report the results, employ teachers who have at least bachelor's degrees and meet the same minimum hours of instruction as public schools."

There are two issues here: first, requiring all schools to follow the same rules and, second, the content of those rules. Let's look at the issue of the schools themselves first. We devised the...

There isn't much hope at the moment for meaningful, statewide education reform in the Buckeye State, but there are promising things happening at the local level. Last night, the Columbus City Schools' teacher union approved a two-year contract that includes a new program to pay effective teachers more money to teach in low-performing schools and ties existing merit pay efforts to value-added data. Reports the Columbus Dispatch:

The agreement creates an annual $4,000 bonus for teachers selected to work in certain schools.

Superintendent Gene Harris would hand-pick teachers for classes identified as academically struggling based on testing data.

Teachers with at least five years of experience, two years of improving students' academic achievement, and their principal's recommendation would be eligible to apply for the new program, according to the tentative contract. The deadline is Dec. 1 for the 2010-11 school year.

The program would allow Harris to match teachers' talents to schools' needs, she said.

"I think it's very exciting because individuals would have the opportunity to go into this and say, 'I want to be a change agent,'????????" Harris said. "I would not be arbitrary on this. I want to make good


Just a day ago, I expressed encouragement that Secretary Duncan's ARRA threats may have started making a difference on state policy. Alas, NH, possibly moving backward????on charters, has taught me the value of skeptiscism.