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Back in early January, when the full scope of the Great Recession was just starting to become clear, and the stimulus bill was but a glimmer in President Obama's eye, Checker Finn, Rick Hess, and I argued that bailing out local school districts would be a big mistake, because it would forestall opportunities for reform:

There's scant evidence that an extra dollar invested in today's schools delivers an extra dollar in value - and ample evidence that this kind of bail-out will spare school administrators from making hard-but-overdue choices about how to make their enterprise more efficient and effective...Education, then, cries out for a good belt-tightening. A truly tough budget situation would force and enable administrators to take those steps. They could rethink staffing, take a hard look at class sizes, trim ineffective personnel, shrink payrolls, consolidate tiny school districts, replace some workers with technology, weigh cost-effective alternatives to popular practices, reexamine statutes governing pensions and tenure, and demand concessions from the myriad education unions.

Kevin Carey, writing at Quick & the Ed, referred to that as the "school poverty gambit" and later the "Petrilli school bankruptcy theory of education reform." And he...

The Power Point presentation during the release event of the Condition of Education this morning certainly wasn't dramatic--NCES prides itself of just presenting the data, not analyzing it. But don't be fooled; there's very interesting stuff in there. The hard copy version should be required desk-side material for all ed reformers. It's chock full of all of the basics.

Do yourself a favor and spend 20 minutes or so using this accessible online feature to browse your way through it.

TFA's recruiting prowess continues to impress. ????The list of colleges where 10 percent or more of the senior class applied includes????Spelman,????Yale,????Princeton, Wellesley,????Brown, Chicago,????Harvard,????Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Duke,????Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and William & Mary.

Ed Week's Michele on why some states haven't yet applied for SFSF dollars. This is a very interesting example of why federal policy-making is such uncertain business. Given that stimulus was goal number 1 of the ARRA, why didn't Congress take these state budget issues into account? (I got an email from a staffer for a midwest governor who confirmed that these budget schedules are the hold-up.)

Ed Week's Robelen on Sotomayor and education.

UFT-run charter in NYC both good and lagging?

Lots of discussion about MD's exit exams. ????Should we be happy that so many seniors will still be graduating, or is this a sign that the tests are meaningless?

NC may reduce the number of state assessments....

Alex Klein

If you read your hometown's newspaper regularly, you're bound to see an op-ed or editorial every so often on an educational topic. Today, your odds were much higher--many dailies featured guest opinion pieces on teachers from superintendents, mayors, and wonks, and a few regular columnists chimed in as well. Let's dig in for this first installment of the Ed-Op Round-Up. (We've termed it "Ed-Op" for "Education Opinion"--and because it's kinda neat that it's the inverse of "Op-Ed.")??

Editor's Note: The views of these authors and publications do not necessarily reflect those??of the trustees, officers or staff of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The Tennessean:??This Tennessean editorial looks back to??President Obama's March 10 speech on education??in which he "caught Democratic loyalists off-guard with a strong call" for merit-based pay. It continues:??

This is truly a matter in which teachers and their union should take the lead. Teachers know best the challenges facing education, and they know it would be wrong to base merit pay solely on test scores. But if government officials are offering more money for salaries, professional organizations could set the standard. It requires the courage to take a few risks. ... The key is

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Here's some background info on some recent ED appointees. ????Russo weighs in, including a blog critique.

All good things must come to an end, including our illuminating, sometimes raucous, usually respectful debate about whether the Massachusetts Miracle proves teachers unions to be not such a barrier to school reform that some reformers claim. (If you missed it, see each episode, in order, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And don't forget to read the comments, especially from the latest installment.)

I started the debate by pontificating about something Diane Ravitch said, so I'll give her the last word. (Sorry Greg.)

But I can't help but get my two bits in first. What this whole discussion made clear to me is that we need to be very careful about labeling teachers unions (or any opponents or proponents of reform) as "strong" or "weak." There is a widespread impression that Massachusetts has a "strong" teachers union because it is a "strong union" state. Yet we've learned during this discussion that the union got rolled, time and again, in the implementation of the 1993 reforms. They used all of their regular tactics, and lost, because of an exceptional array of leaders willing to take...

President Obama?? has selected federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court. Education Week's School Law blog has a nice quick summary of her background. My first reaction is, "wow, another Catholic." She would make six, and she attended Catholic schools, too. The legislative and executive branches have found themselves utterly incapable of staunching the bleeding from Catholic school closures in the inner-city. Maybe she'll turn her judicial activism to solving this problem from the bench.

P.S. Bona fide school law expert Joshua Dunn, an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, co-author of Education Next's Legal Beat column, and co-editor of the forthcoming Fordham/Brookings Institution Press volume Schoolhouse to Courthouse, has this to say about the appointment:

Since she won't change the ideological balance of the Court, her most likely influence on controversial education decisions will be on how she influences Justice Kennedy. ??There is some speculation that Justice Kennedy has sided with the liberal bloc in many cases because Justice Breyer has carefully and amiably wooed him. ??Such pursuits on the Court do seem

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And this is definitely one of them. NY Times Magazine reports that in many southern states, proms are still segregated. Yes, you read that correctly. Per "tradition," Friday night is the "white kids' prom" and Saturday night is the "black kids' prom." I have no words to adequately describe how off-the-wall this is so I will refrain from trying.??Read the story for yourself here.

Ohio's charter school sector is a bit like Night of the Living Dead, or so says Fordham's Terry Ryan in this Dayton Daily News op-ed.

Last school year, 326 charter schools operated in the Buckeye State. Fifty-three of them were rated "F" by the state and served less than 150 students apiece. For a myriad of reasons, ranging from poor academic performance to unsustainable financial models, most of these schools should be shuttered. Yet they continue to operate, limping along like the walking dead, hurting students, employees, and communities alike. What should be done about these "zombie" schools????? Says Ryan:

Closing a charter school is hard and painful work. Last year, the Fordham Foundation worked closely with the leadership of two Dayton charter schools to help close their doors after more than eight years of serving families and children. At both the Omega School of Excellence and East End Community School, responsible adults struggled with the difficult decision to close their doors because they cared deeply about these schools and the children in them.

But the schools ultimately were shuttered--Omega closed and East End merged with the

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