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The Education Gadfly

The National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C.

So says Jay Mathews in his Washington Post column today--at least when it comes to education policy.

If you like the education policies (JUST the education policies) of the current president, you will like the education policies of his successor, no matter which man is chosen. If you don't, you won't.

How can that be? Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) seem to be very different people, with contrasting views of President Bush. But if you examine carefully what they say they want to do about schools, it is just more of the same.

Mathews rightly points out that surrogates to the candidates chat about a lot of the same ideas, from charter schools to non-traditional routes to the classroom to accountability. And both candidates have been careful to avoid talk of ???scrapping??? No Child Left Behind. And he's not the first to notice that there's a ???Washington Consensus??? in education that's long-standing and hard...

Guest Blogger

Fall Intern Molly Kennedy offers up this reading:

In New York City the programs for gifted children have been in the middle of a tug-of-war between multiple parties, with critics labeling them ???bastions of white privilege??? but proponents seeing them as a reason to stay in the city's public school system. This year, the number of children entering these programs has dropped by half -- despite Mayor Bloomber's 2005 State of the City promise to ???maintain all of the city's existing gifted programs while creating more in ???historically underserved districts.'" Read more here. ...

Ted Mitchell and Jonathan Schorr of the NewSchools Venture Fund take to the pages of Education Week to praise Sara Mead's and Andy Rotherham's new blueprint for promoting education innovation via the federal government. Now, I could lambaste Ted and Jon* for holding the same utopian views as Sara and Andy when it comes to Uncle Sam's ability to do right in education. But I'm just not in the mood today. Instead, let us celebrate the fact that Democrats are debating how to improve U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement , not how to eliminate it. Because when we created our little office six years ago, we worried a lot about whether another Administration would eventually try to kill it. If Team Obama wants to make it better, I'm ready to declare victory!

* But I can't help but make the ???Petrilli argument ??? one more time, with respect to the ???political futility??? of trying to harpoon the Historic Whaling Program . Don't get me wrong, this initiative is a boondoggle, through and through. (???Whales: The...

You gotta love California. Seems the Golden State, worried that their wee toddlers' arms are too short for proper tree-huggery, will inculcate them with the prerequisite environmentalism another way: through their stomachs. That's the story coming out of San Diego's Neighborhood House Association (NHA) Head Start program, where their 3 and 4 year olds will be fed "organic and nutrient-dense" delicacies to satisfy that noon-time hunger. What's on the menu? No breaded frozen fish sticks or cinnamon muffins for sure. These tots will get "fresh salmon, shrimp, homemade hummus, healthy whole grain bagels and rolls, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables."

Sounds delicious... for children old enough to eat with proper utensils. I'm all for kicking processed, breaded, fried, and canned foods to the curb. But fresh salmon? And hummus? For three year olds? It's a bit ambitious (I've yet to meet a three year old who'll eat mashed chick peas), but I'll give 'em points for effort since school food is??notoriously disgusting.

With California's budget woes in mind, the plan has bottom line benefits too: NHA Director of Nutrition Services Kristine Smith, RD explains: "We balanced our new menu with...

This week, we start off with a double header on the education system's economic woes--and what to do about them. First Checker explains why districts have so much trouble cutting the fat. Enlightening, surely, but not too surprising. What is surprising, though, is that he used this argument back in 2003, the last time our education system was facing a budget crunch (if you don't believe me, go read it yourself!). Seems somethings never change. Then guest editorialist, and political director for ConnCAN,??Marc Porter Magee gives us six suggestions for what states can do to trim their budgets. Instead of bemoaning the sad state of bugetary affairs, he argues, we should take advantage of the recession-caused political will to start cutting where cutting is needed. Further in, you'll hear about the Bush Administrations last NCLB gasp--new regulations, specifically, and most problematically, upping graduating rate reporting requirements--and an Ed Trust study that tries the same argument without any more success. You'll also find out about the proposed??gay high school in Chicago and subsequent uproar. Reviewed this week is a new book edited by Rick Hess (who reveals on the podcast that...

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