Flypaper

Get out that trusty Reform-o-Meter because Team Obama is finally showing some heat. For his very first visit to a public school as President, Barack Obama chose a charter school-Capital City Public Charter School,* located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC, just a few miles due north of the White House. (Politics K-12 has great coverage here.) Granted, he went there to sell his not-so-hot stimulus package (to second-graders, no less!). And granted, as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes, it was "a good day to get out of the White House."

Still, these sorts of symbols and signals matter (though not too much; I rate it a 2 out of 10 in terms of significance), and charter schools are certainly in need of some immediate POTUS loving. That's because the Senate version of the stimulus bill doesn't include language guaranteeing charter schools access to the big bucks that are about to flow to other public schools. So surely the Obama folks have to know that using a charter school as a photo op and then cutting the same charter school (and its peers) out...

Suzannah Herrmann

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's bold education plan to overhaul the state's K-12 education system seems devoid of knowledge of some of the good things happening around the country, or even in Ohio. My colleague Emmy pointed this out in regard to the plan's teacher recruitment initiative (it seeks no help from Teach for America or the New Teacher Project), and it seems the governor is doing the same when it comes to revising the state's academic content standards.

The plan proposes to overhaul the current academic standards to make them "vertically articulated," "rigorous," "focused," and "coherent." The governor has thrown into the hopper just about every trendy education notion that he and his advisers have ever encountered. He yearns for standards that incorporate both solid...

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Carmel Martin to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. So, in the spirit of "personnel is policy," what does this indicate about President Obama's dedication to reform? I don't know Carmel very well, so I'm going to have to rely on secondary sources. First, let's check her background. According to the press release:

In the mid-90s, Martin was an Associate in the Education Group with Hogan & Hartson L.L.P. After her tenure there counseling school districts, colleges and universities, Martin moved to the United States Department of Justice where she focused on enforcing key provisions of Civil Rights Act. She has served as Counsel to both Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Jeff Bingaman before becoming the Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the Center for American Progress in 2004. Martin's most recent work has been with Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 2005 until December 2008. As Chief Education Advisor, she has counseled the Senator on all education issues and also led negotiations on all education legislation.

There are a few...

Amy Fagan

Seems one group of charter school students were entertained by not one, not two, but three special guests yesterday. ??President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited a group of 2nd graders at the Capital City Public Charter School in Northwest Washington, D.C.

ABC and CNN and other news outlets all reported on the special reading time--the first couple read a copy of "The Moon Over Star" to the children.

Hmmm....suppose it's not a bad sign to see charter schools making the radar screen early-on in the administration....

Ohio's history is rich with inventors: The Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison were born here, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame is located in Akron. Perhaps, then, it's that Buckeye spirit of creating something new that inspired Governor Ted Strickland to re-invent the wheel when it comes to recruiting new teachers into hard to teach districts and schools.

One aim of Strickland's audacious education reform plan is to entice "excellent undergraduate students" to become teachers. Great! The governor could start by amending Ohio's licensure and collective bargaining rules to make the Buckeye State compatible with Teach for America and The New Teacher Project. Ohio already sees hundreds of its top college students apply to TFA and TNTP each year, and applications are on the rise. If Ohio opened the doors to TFA and TNTP, then some of this talent and energy could stay in the state as teachers and Ohio would benefit from an influx of these teachers from other states. Plus, the effort wouldn't cost taxpayers much money beyond teacher salaries as TFA and TNTP leverage private dollars to fund the programs.

Instead, Strickland is...

There's a lot of talk about bipartisanship right now, what with the stimulus bill making its way through Congress and President Obama obviously yearning for Republican support. GOP leaders, after providing not a single vote in the House of Representatives, are making it clear that they will play ball if the president addresses some of their substantive concerns-which has certain liberal pundits worried that Obama will give away too much.

What a difference an administration makes. Dial back the clock eight years and there was another president seeking bipartisan support for the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. But rather than hanging tough on his principles and negotiating away as little as possible, he seemed almost eager to give away the store.

That's the thesis, at least, of a new Policy Review article by Rick Hess and me: "Wrong Turn on School Reform: How to get back on track after No Child Left Behind." We argue that NCLB should be seen as a triumph of liberal education reformers in the mold of Education Trust rather than a conservative victory. While the law has paid important dividends-particularly in galvanizing a left-of-center reform movement epitomized...

My composite rating so far is "luke warm."

As loyal Flypaper readers know, last week we introduced the Obama Administration Reform-o-Meter. This handy contraption analyzes the reform-mindedness of key administration decisions, from policy pronouncements to personnel decisions and beyond. I offer a rating, from Ice Cold to Red Hot, and the Flypaper community gets to weigh in, too. I also weight each event by its importance on a scale of 1-10.

So how hot is the new administration when it comes to education reform? We've taken two readings thus far, first for Arne Duncan's selection as Secretary of Education (an 8 in terms of importance), and then for the President's stimulus plan (a 5), which I equated with the House bill.

Readers' composite rating so far is "neutral."

I rated the first as "Warm" and the second as "Chilly" for a composite ranking of "Luke Warm." Flypaper readers agreed with me about Duncan but were tougher on the stimulus, weighing in with a solid "Cold" reading, for a composite of "Neutral." Either way, the bottom line is that President Obama...

That's the gist of this Washington Post column by Jay Mathews, and was also the gist of a Gadfly column I wrote last summer. Mathews cites a forthcoming paper by Craig Jerald (a friend of mine who is formerly of Ed in '08, Education Trust, and Ed Week 's Quality Counts):

He quotes a 2005 paper by economists Peter Kuhn and Catherine Weinberger for the Journal of Labor Economics: "Controlling for cognitive skills," they said, "men who occupied leadership positions in high school earn more as adults. The pure leadership-wage effect varies, depending on definitions and time period, from 4 percent to 33 percent." A Mathematica Policy Research study also shows that although math had the biggest impact of any skill on later earnings, playing sports and having a leadership role in high school also were significant factors.

Mathews using this point to beg school districts not to cut sports programs in this time of fiscal austerity. I agree, but I would use this point to beg schools not to cut history and literature and art and music from the curriculum in order to make...

Amy Fagan

.....is the main focus of these two recent write-ups.

First, Diane Ravitch suggests in a New York Daily News story that while Caroline Kennedy won't be serving in the U.S. Senate, she may very well have a vital role to play in saving New York City's Catholic schools, "which are in the throes of a fiscal meltdown." Ravitch writes that Kennedy attended a Catholic school herself, "cares deeply about children" and "is knowledgeable about education." Even more, Ravtich continues, Kennedy helped raise nearly $240 million for the city's public schools--an amount that, if applied to the Catholic schools, would mean none of them would be forced to close. The need is clear, Ravitch writes, as many desperate students, parents and teachers wait for parish school closings scheduled for June.

The second write-up is a DC Examiner piece that looks at recent national stats on Catholic schools. ??Specifically, it discusses a recent report by the White House Domestic Policy Council, which found that urban faith-based schooling options have declined some 20 percent in 20 years. And....it also quotes our own Mike Petrilli!...

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