As I predicted, Arizona governor Janet Napolitano got a big bounce on the education secretary front from the news that she's not likely to get the nod for the Attorney General job. United Negro College Fund president Michael Lomax is now viewed as the most likely higher ed alternative. And New Mexico governor Bill Richardson's star is rising too (my campaigning is clearly paying off).

Other mentions today: Colin Powell (out of the "top contenders" race for the first time), Hugh Price, Caroline Kennedy, Peter McWalters, Wendy Kopp, Tim Kaine, Ted Mitchell, Linda Darling-Hammond (with her first mention today), Jim Hunt, Erskine Bowles, Jim Shelton, and Alan Bersin....

The Institute of Education Science's final Reading First evaluation report is out today, and the news is mixed. Schools receiving funds from the program saw their students' decoding skills improve, but not their comprehension skills. Not surprisingly, Margaret Spellings focused on the former, and the press focused on the latter. And in his last hurrah, IES director Russ Whitehurst, the subject of a new Education Next feature, sided with the naysayers: "It is a program that needs to be improved," he told the Washington Post. "I don't think anyone should be celebrating that the federal government has spent $6 billion on a reading program that has had no impact on reading comprehension."

Well, let's keep a few things in mind. First, children can't learn to comprehend if they don't first learn to decode, so we shouldn't minimize the real gains made there. Second, as Whitehurst has admitted before, this is a study about the impact of Reading First funds, not its instructional methods. The schools in the "control group" may not have received federal dollars for reading, but many likely borrowed Reading...

Several news outlets are reporting that President-Elect Obama is likely to nominate Eric Holder to be his Attorney General. Many speculated that the job might have gone to Arizona governor Janet Napolitano. Which now begs the question: will she get the education?? job instead? It's not a sure thing; she might also be tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security. (And I still think Bill Richardson is going to end up at ED.) But I bet our insiders give her a bump up today.

Janet Napolitano photograph from Governor of Arizona website

It's a good question. When he made Linda Darling-Hammond (cue: Mike groaning) his lead education advisor, we thought the odds were good. Now former (only literally--he's still one of us in spirit!) Fordhamite Liam Julian speculates on National Review Online .

Chicago superintendent Arne Duncan maintains his big lead today in our education insiders poll. Former South Carolina state superintendent Inez Tenenbaum has solidified her hold on the second-place spot, a proposition that makes libertarians nervous. (Frankly, I'm not thrilled about it either.) Meanwhile, our group is warming to the prospects of Michael Lomax, the head of the United Negro College Fund. He's a higher education expert, and look--he's a fan of KIPP! But come on people, face it: it's going to be Bill Richardson, trust me.

Other folks mentioned today: Mike Easley, Freeman Hrabowski, Kathleen Sebelius, Hugh Price, Bill Richardson, Peter McWalters, Ted Mitchell, Wendy Kopp, Tim Kaine, Erskine Bowles, Jim Shelton, Alan Bersin, and Jon Schnur.

Flypaper readers know that I've been partial to the selection of former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt as the next secretary of education. But now that he's taken himself out of contention for the job, I have to look around for another favorite. And I've found him: New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. There are two things I like about Richardson. First, he's very strong on charter schools, which is why Fordham found New Mexico to be the second-best state in the country for school reform a few years ago. Second, he's pro-accountability but anti-No Child Left Behind, because, as a governor, he sees the perverse incentives it's created at the state level. Here's a man who could credibly bring governors together to work toward common national standards and tests, while also explaining to reformers in Congress why they should temper their instincts to try to regulate their way to nirvana.

It's true that his campaign platform played heavily to the teachers unions, what with its call to raise salaries across the board. But that just makes him an appealing consensus candidate. (Obama is not going to pick...

Fordham's newest book, A Byte at the Apple: Rethinking Education Data for the Post-NCLB Era, is now available for your reading pleasure. And what book on education data would be complete without a music video? Check out our take on FERPA, the latest YouTube sensation!

Yes. indeed, there are rifts nowadays, rifts almost as wide as the Great Rift Valley within both political parties when it comes to education policy, particularly at the national level.??That's??probably necessary, as both parties go through some??soul-searching and repurposing. But this weekend it feels as if the anti-reform crowd may be winning among both Democrats and Republicans.??Friday brought two distressing hints.

First, we learned that the nascent Obama administration has picked Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond to lead the policy side of the transition operation at the U.S. Department of Education. She is a??pleasant and??smart woman but she surely does harbor a lot of retro ideas about education. She's Public Enemy #1 of Teach for America, for example, and for twelve years (since her report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," came out) has been the nation's foremost embodiment of the view that improving teachers ought to be America's chief reform strategy, the heck with standards-and-accountability on the one hand and school choice on the other. If her policy views dominate the new administration's education-policy stance, groups such as Democrats for Education Reform might as well take a...

Our ten Washington insiders are back at work today, making their predictions for who will lead the U.S. Department of Education. And not much changed over the weekend, though Arne Duncan has certainly solidified his overwhelming lead:

But there is some interesting news to report. Among the honorable mentions today* were Michael Lomax, the head of the United Negro College Fund, and Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. Lomax brings higher education experience, which is a commodity the Obama team might value. And Richardson needs to find a home if State goes to Hillary Clinton. He's already led the Energy Department and served as Ambassador to the U.N. And while he said plenty of nasty things about NCLB on the campaign trail, at the state level he's been strong on accountability and charter schools. (We found New Mexico to be among the most reform-minded states a few years ago .) Oh yes, and he's Latino. Let's see if his star rises.

* The others were Caroline Kennedy, Beverly Hall, Peter McWalters, Ted Mitchell, Tim Kaine, Erskine Bowles, Jim Shelton, Alan Bersin, and Jon Schnur....