Lots of interesting stuff at next week's national charter schools conference, including speeches by Secretary Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and Joel Klein. Check out the massive agenda here.

I'll be talking about my book during one session, and Mike is on a panel about Catholic and charter schools. If you're attending the conference, drop by and say hello.

A new report from CEP shows consistent gains on state tests for all groups of kids in the NCLB era. I suppose I should be skeptical about this and find the dark cloud somewhere, but I'm still naive enough to believe that data showing students learning more is a good thing.

There's a lot of buzz in the policy community right now around scaling up high-performing charter schools and turning around low-performing public schools. That's mostly because??Arne Duncan has been talking up these issues and indicating that he wants to put big bucks behind both efforts.

I'm more enthusiastic about the former than the latter, but there's reason to be skeptical about both. That's because I don't hear a lot of straight talk (except on Flypaper, of course). Let me try to offer some.

First, when it comes to scaling up great charter schools, we usually ask the wrong question: how can we take a fantastic charter school and replicate it many times over? The right question to ask is: what??kind of charter school model lends itself to scaling-up? And my answer is that such a model wouldn't rely entirely on??"superstar teachers" that are inevitably in short supply, particularly outside of a handful of hip cities where lots of young people want to live. Instead, we should be looking for charter schools that get solid results with mere mortals, perhaps through creative...

Big things are underway in Baltimore's schools, despite a hiccup during in the last week. Here's my take in a Baltimore Sun op-ed.

Ever since The Education Gadfly critically reviewed NYC Schools Under Bloomberg and Klein: What Parents, Teachers, and Policymakers Need to Know, we've been bombarded with messages from aggrieved contributors and editors of that 172-page volume (which you can find??here) charging that we were unfair. (One of the editors will have a "letter to the editor" to that effect??in this week's Gadfly.)

They didn't set out to write a "balanced" analysis of the Bloomberg-Klein regime in New York, they insist; they set out to criticize it. And that they surely did, across a host of topics and issues. We at Fordham have a lot of friends and colleagues in New York of whom we're very fond and with whom we've worked very closely over the years,??and it's been no secret for many months--years, actually--that some of them find myriad faults with the mayor and schools chancellor while at our end of the Acela we find more to admire than to criticize in those two officials' handling of K-12 education in the nation's largest city. So be it. One may regret the friction but it's not necessarily healthy to agree about everything.??

Anyone looking for a reasonably comprehensive...

Amy Fagan

There's much talk of common education standards these days; recently the Obama administration pledged to put some money towards the??tests that will assess those standards. In this CNN segment from June 15, Mike sheds some light on the topic and what we might expect??as the common standards effort moves along.

Duncan writes about turnarounds????in Ed Week commentary.

What he describes--moving out adults but adhering to the same collective bargaining agreements and following the same traditional district rules--sounds more like a 5 or 6 than a 10.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last night that he's making a big bet on the NGA and CCSSO Common State Standards initiative, putting up $350 million to fund the tests that will be used to assess those standards. He told the Associated Press:

Resources are important, but resources are actually a small piece of this puzzle. What's really needed here is political courage. We need governors to continue to invest their energy and political capital.

To that end, he said in his speech:

The fact is--higher standards will make some of your states look bad in the short term--because fewer students will be meeting them.

So I will work with you to ensure that your states will not be penalized for doing the right thing.

And in reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the administration will work with you and with Congress to change the law so that it rewards states for raising standards instead of encouraging states to lower them.

I always give NCLB credit for exposing the achievement gap but the central flaw in the law is that it was too


Congratulations to David Whitman, who not only is heading into the Administration to write Arne Duncan's speeches , but also just won the prestigious "American Independent Writing Prize for the Most Significant Book of the Year" from American Independent Writers for Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner City Schools and the New Paternalism .

As the publisher of said book , we are very proud of David's accomplishment. Now that George Will , David Brooks , and AIW have heartily endorsed the book, isn't it time that you give it a read yourself? Head to Amazon today and order this gem before your summer vacation commences.