Today on , Checker explains why he finds reforms in LA, NY and Denver promising instances of thinking outside the box. It's all about the numbers--of the test score and dollar variety. When the old ways aren't working, shouldn't we try something new? Absolutely.

It still makes me gag to see people I think well of--Roy Romer, J.C. Watts, Joel Klein--sharing a letterhead with the lamentable and reprehensible Al Sharpton. Much as I agree with the core principles of the Education Equality Project and pleased as I would be if they and the Strong American Schools (aka ED in 08) crowd successfully persuade the moderators to inject education into the two remaining presidential debates,??Sharpton's name on that press release carries a most unpleasant whiff of racialism, anti-Semitism, exploitation and corruption that taints the entire venture. (See here and??here.) Aside from all that, the paltry place that education occupies this election season is symbolized by the letter's pleading tone.??(Please, sir, could I have some more?)??Sure it would great to hear the candidates say more on the topic--after they've dealt with the Wall Street meltdown, terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, health care and climate change....

No, I refer not to the failed bailout, but to the extension bill or "continuing resolution" needed now that Congress has failed to pass a 2009 budget prior to the end of the 2008 fiscal year (today). This summer, Mike offered "three cheers for broken government," noting that a continuing resolution would at least let Reading First survive another year, defying its recent death. Unfortunately, Ed Week's Alyson Klein reports that it might not be that simple:

But the stopgap bill doesn't mean federal funding of the program will be continued. The money would not be allocated to school districts until July 1. If Congress decides to eliminate the program when it returns to the education spending bills in March, schools won't receive any new Reading First money.

The extension "is essentially a moot point," said Richard Long, the director of government relations for the Newark, Del.-based International Reading Association.

So Reading First may really be dead after all, unless our new president dares heed Mike's plea to fund programs that actually work....

Amy Fagan

Oklahoma is trying an education venture some say will help kids stay in school and do better: removing one or perhaps two critical grades and creating separate schools for them. Ninth-graders in Coweta this year are the first to occupy a campus that's just for freshmen and Cache Public Schools plans something similar. Sand Springs Public Schools in Tulsa County placed prekindergarten, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students all in their own buildings, with the aim of focusing on the years that are the "biggest hurdles in the schooling process," said Superintendent Lloyd Snow. ??Supporters say such setups can help ease difficult transition periods, cut down on discipline problems and prevent kids from falling through the cracks or dropping out. Seems like it could be a worthy endeavor, though supporters didn't offer any hard evidence (at least in the article) of their claims. Coweta Superintendent Jeff Holmes said he expects to see results this year. You can check it out for yourself here.

Mike may catch the attention of governors and superintendents, but school boards are deaf. John Deasy, Superintedent of Prince George's County, is set to resign. We hope his replacement is as reform-minded and result-oriented.

Update: I am not implying that the school board forced Deasy out (they did not) only to joke that Mike, who has caught the eye of district officials in the past (see above examples), was shockingly not consulted!

Update 2: Seems I'm not the only one who thought Deasy's departure looked a little fishy.

This blog has seen various commentary on why Michelle Rhee's plan, "Capital Gains," to pay students for good behavior and good grades was a bad idea (try here to see the ongoing conversation). Liam, in particular, was vehemently opposed to it in its New York City and Washington DC manifestations. Well it didn't work (or had "mixed results," ahem-hem) in NY and it doesn't appear to have worked in DC, either. When will Fryer, the plan's mastermind, give it a rest?

Today's Washington Post reports that behavior has improved but grades have not. The program has now completed a two week test run (where it appears no money was rewarded, only the points system was implmented to demonstrate how the system would work) and started officially (in all its glitzy, perverse incentivizing glory) yesterday. I enjoyed, in particular, this tidbit:

Betts and his staff did a two-week trial run this month to give teachers practice with the scoring system and to give students an idea of what would be expected to earn points. He said that the sixth- and seventh-graders were "right into it" and that attendance and punctuality ticked up. Grades did not.


Looks like Catholic schools are taking on a new role in urban France.

(We've written on the importance of Catholic schools in the US, too.)

Guest Blogger

A post from guest blogger and Fordham writer and researcher Emmy Partin .

Common sense prevailed today in the Buckeye State with a court ruling that dismisses the latest legal shenanigan of charter-school foes here. Last September, then-state Attorney General Marc Dann sued to close a handful of charter schools on the grounds that their poor academic performance and overall mismanagement put them out of compliance with the state's charitable trust laws.?? Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Michael Tucker disagrees:

"This court concludes... that New Choices [charter school] is a political subdivision. Given this conclusion, there is simply no charitable trust role for the Attorney General either by statute or at common law."

As we noted when the case was first announced, Dann's lawsuits were never about rescuing kids from bad schools. They were political maneuvering, pure and simple.?? E-mails revealed that the legal strategy was offered to him by his cronies at the Ohio Education Association.??And the OEA, in return for Dann's filing the suits, agreed to drop its own lawsuit against the state for allegedly failing to monitor charter schools properly.??With today's ruling and the fact that...

Alyson Klein at Education Week 's Campaign K-12 picks up on my "scalpel " post to dig into the likely candidates for Barack Obama's knife, were he to win the presidency. ??After referring to "my" list of federal education programs that don't work (actually, it's the Administration's list, based on a systematic review of their evidence of effectiveness or lack thereof), she writes:

But many of the programs on this list are absolutely, never ever going to be on the chopping block during an Obama administration and not just because Congress isn't likely to go along with the cuts, but because Obama himself has championed them.

She mentions the Teacher Quality Enhancement grants, Even Start, and the Parent Information Resource Centers. And surely Klein is right--Obama is unlikely to kill any of these. Which is a real shame, coming from a candidate who argues that budgeting should be based on our "values." Yes, we value teacher quality, and an even playing field, and parental involvement. But we should also value results, and these programs haven't achieved them, over many many years. So which matters more? A program's intentions, or its outcomes? Senator Obama?...

Check out the latest battle over school choice in the comments section here .