Not on Iraq, but on No Child Left Behind .

The Obama administration can get off to a good start by revising NCLB. First, it should eliminate the goal of universal proficiency by 2014, because it is unattainable. Period. No state or nation has ever achieved 100% proficiency. Second, it should recognize that the federal government is best at providing accurate information, such as what children in each grade need to know to be abreast of international standards (that is known as the curriculum) and whether our children are meeting those standards (that is, testing); third, the administration should expect states and districts to fashion appropriate reforms and remedies in their schools.

One thing we have learned since the passage of NCLB nearly seven years ago is that Congress is not the right place to decide how to fix our schools.

Responding to Checker's and my argument that the NEA and AFT were not essential to Obama's sweeping victory, Fred Klonksy, president of the Park Ridge Education Association, writes,

The four million members of the teacher unions were not essential to Obama's victory? These two don't have a clue.

Tell the thousands of union teachers from solid blue states like New York and Illinois that spent their weekends in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin and turned those swing states blue how they weren't essential.

Wonkers like Finn and Petrilli still don't get it that key to this election was what the pols call the ground game. We in Chicago know it wins elections: canvassing, identifying plusses and minuses, getting out the plusses on election day. A grass-roots movement won this election. And the NEA/AFT were in it, from the one in ten delegates at the Democratic convention, to the millions of dollars that were raised and contributed to union PACs, to the teachers in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago that has voted Republican for a 100 years, but that went for Obama on Tuesday.

Go ask the Obama people if he's "so


Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP and current KIPP superintendent in Houston, gives Obama a few words of advice in the Houston Chronicle .

Obama should:

1. ??Open up and simplify alternative education pathways. The human capital shortage is certainly a hindrance to bringing great charter schools to scale--but there are things state and federal legislators can do to help. Steven Wilson explained how in last week's Gadfly .

2. ??Choose a reform minded secretary of education. We couldn't agree more . This secretary needs to motivate and inspire--and choose the right reforms to back up the rhetoric. As usual, Mike was weeks ahead of the competition when he contemplated the right mix of education background, firm grasp of politics, and superlative management skills to fill this key cabinet spot.

3. ??Focus on early childhood education. To my mind, the jury is still out on whether or not we should be scrambling over this one. Despite some anecdotal evidence in support of childhood programs, Checker, amongst others , has been quite critical of universal preschool. Obama endorsed the idea this summer but??(not surprisingly)??we haven't heard much on the topic lately. At...

Lord knows the Obama girls deserve a puppy, maybe a whole litter, as their reward for enduring the miseries of their dad's campaign and mom's frequent absences. (It sounds like they've got a terrific grandma , however, who will be moving to DC with them.)

I trust the family will pick an adorable and politically correct pup. (A beagle would seem especially appropriate, considering that most of them are white and black and brown.)

The White House , after all,??is an easy place to keep a dog. Plenty of backyard, good fences, scads of squirrels, and lots of staff around 24/7. (I suppose even the long-suffering White House gardeners and groundskeepers might have more difficulty with a pony on the South Lawn , though it might make the Obama kids even happier.)

And it will surely be a treat for the country to have two cute youngsters at the White House again after what seems like an awfully long spell with those post-adolescent twins .

Still, being a kid at the White House, for all the superficial glamor and appeal, is not...

Perhaps David Brooks wants to get in on Mike's parlor game, guessing the next Secretary. From David's column today, about his dream Obama administration:

... there won't just be a few token liberal Republicans in marginal jobs. There will be people like Robert Gates at Defense and Ray LaHood, Stuart Butler, Diane Ravitch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jim Talent at other important jobs.

The Education Gadfly

We heard from a reliable little bird that Judith Winston, the Department of Education's former General Counsel and Under Secretary under Clinton, has been tapped to lead Obama's education transition team. Ms. Winston wouldn't confirm or deny the information to the Gadfly but said in a phone call that the transition team "announcements should be made tomorrow or early next week." Hmmm.....

Guest Blogger

Fall intern Molly Kennedy offers up this reading:

First came Michelle Rhee's plan to swap teacher tenure for higher pay. Now comes Pittsburgh Public Schools with another type of possible financial incentive: bonuses for top-notch teachers who choose to work in lower-performing schools. Currently, contracts with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers are based on years of service and education level and don't take location into consideration. Many urban districts have a hard time attracting high-quality, experienced teachers, who have have more say over where they teach as their seniority increases. "It's not an easy issue to address," said Dr. Linda Lane, the deputy superintendent for instruction. You can read more of the article here.

The Education Gadfly

DC media speculation has begun in earnest regarding where Sasha and Malia will attend school and Mike is getting in on the action, recently quoted in DC City Paper's Loose Lips blog .

It's here and it's hot. Leading off this week is Ascend Learning President and Ed Sector Senior Fellow??Steven Wilson. What's he musing over? The scalability of superstar charter organizations. Sure, there aren't enough super smart graduates from top ranking universities to go around but there are other options: legislation that nudges top grads into classrooms, new models made for mere mortals, and more... Up next we tackle the election (of course). Republican or Democrat, you'll find reasons to cheer and fear in this list expectations for the next four (or eight?) years. According to Kevin Carey, who guest co-hosted the podcast this week, one thing we do know (and should cheer) is that Obama is definitely a "self-identified smart person"--and so is Kevin, or so he claims! (You'll have to listen to find out.) Later on, you'll be confronted with more insanity from Wake County, NC and the football crazed antics of a few counties in Georgia. But don't stop! We have an SR for everybody. Stats lovers will find first-year results of the Mathematica teacher induction study. Philanthropists learn about new ways to give with ...

The Education Gadfly

After two years of campaigning and endless punditry and prognosticating, we finally know that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. So now we need something else to talk about. Here it is: who will be the next Secretary of Education? Does fellow Chicagoan Arne Duncan have the inside lane? Will former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt be the go-to grown-up? Could New Leaders for New Schools founder Jon Schnur bring reformers into power? Or is there a surprise candidate lurking in the heartland?

Cast your vote by 6:00 p.m. Friday and enter to win an autographed copy of Checker Finn's Troublemaker! Just email us your best guess to [email protected]. If multiple people pick the eventual nominee, books will go to the first three entrants. So vote today! Winners will be announced as soon as the nomination is made.

Clockwise from top left: Jon Schnur, Arne Duncan and Jim Hunt...