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.

We've long lauded Massachusetts' standards as setting an example for other states. This week, Fordham trustee and former MA Commissioner of Education David Driscoll explains why in this Pioneer Institute video (it's the first video on the page). Above all, these testimonials (other key players in that state's standards movement have also weighed in) emphasize that these benchmarks should not be lightly thrust aside in the face of mounting 21st Century Skill pressure. Check it out!

Type "Ohio" and "brain drain" together into Google and you get 86,600 hits.

In 2007, Ohio saw 6,981 more resi????dents between the ages of 25 and 34 leave the state than mi????grate into it.

In 2003, the Cleveland Plain Dealer found that individuals with master's degrees are more apt to say farewell to Ohio than those with bache????lor's degrees, and those with doctoral degrees were twice as likely to leave.

Despite these grim statistics, Ohio desperately needs to hold on to its best-and-brightest college graduates. The economy in deep recession, with the state facing a $3 billion budget deficit.???? Workers with a bachelor's degree earn more, and pay more in taxes, than their high-school-diploma-holding peers. Yet, Ohio is lagging nation????ally in keeping and attracting col????lege graduates - the state ranks 30th nationally in the number of citizens between the ages of 25 and 34 with a bachelor's degree.

Ohio's future prosperity demands that we do a better job of keeping and engaging our best and brightest. They will generate the economic vigor, new technologies, and other kinds of economic development that will spur the jobs and...

ED lands another honest-to-goodness reformer. Michael Robbins, formerly of SEED and continuously a good egg, is joining the Department to work with Peter Groff in the????Faith-Based and Community Initiatives office. Michael has an interesting background having worked both in the schools world and community development/public service. He'll be an asset.

For selfish reasons, I'm especially pleased by his particular placement. The Bush administration started the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives effort to recognize and expand the invaluable contributions of local groups, including those motivated by faith. During my time at the WH, I was always impressed by OFBCI's work; their events and conferences were enormous and substantive, speaking directly to the popularity and importance of the subject.

Moreover, at the intersection of faith-based organizations and education stands inner-city Catholic schooling, a priceless American institution that's on the ropes and deserves attention. One of my small accomplishments inside the government was this report, which, among other things, tries to make the simple case that disadvantaged city kids need great schools so we should protect those we have irrespective of their provider.????

So in my opinion, that the Obama administration maintained OFBCI is encouraging, that...

Amy Fagan

A piece in today's Wall Street Journal describes how some schools systems are using high-tech systems to track students' performance in great detail, emailing each grade home to parents as soon as the teacher logs it in. Montgomery County, MD., is highlighted in much of the story--it spends about $47 million each year on data-driven technology, which it says has helped nearly close the achievement gap in early grades and more quickly identify minority students with academic gifts, steering them into challenging programs. But not everyone is thrilled--some groups say gifted students and students with disabilities are the ones losing out as the district spends millions on technology, focuses on closing the achievement gap, and frequently uses standardized tests. It's certainly an interesting debate. Check out the story here and a good number of reader comments here.

A few weeks ago on Rate That Reform, I reported the story of a little girl in California who was not allowed to give a history presentation on Harvey Milk because his sexual orientation made the material too sensitive. And they used a loophole in the sex ed regulations (i.e. they classified her history presentation as sex ed) to do it.??The girl's parents, the ACLU, and others objected, of course, and the district did let her give the presentation finally, though during a lunch period and only to students whose parents had signed a waiver. You can read the update on the story (and see a copy of the presentation for yourself) here.

What I actually find interesting about this story is the issue of parental opting-out. A plethora of questions arise. In what subjects is this appropriate? And how far can a parent go? Could a parent, for example, opt their child out of history class because they don't agree with the curriculum's rendering of events? Or science class because they don't believe in evolution? (These seem ridiculous...but they're the logical end of the argument if opting out is taken to the extreme.) Futhermore, how large...

Looking for a Friday afternoon read? We're here to please. This week's Gadfly features an editorial by Fordham Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Andy Smarick. When and which personal experiences matter, he asks, when it comes to elected officials? The Obama Administration has made much of Sotomayor's, but will she rely on them, specifically her many years at Cardinal Spellman (Catholic) High School in the Bronx, when faced with voucher- and faith-based-schools-related decisions on the bench? Find out why she should here. Next up is a semestral of Recommended Readings on everything from the possible inflation of NYC's math scores and the burgeoning number of portfolio-tested students in VA to the good ideas of Tony Bennett (no, not THAT Tony Bennett, state supt. of Indiana--though he's no less dashing!) and the NY Post's over-active analytical trigger finger on NYC's student-pay plan. You'll also find a trifecta of Short Reviews. Learn more about Carnegie's latest report on math and science, EdWeek's Diploma Counts 2009, and the rotten side of Bloomberg and Klein's Big Apple. Finally, don't miss the podcast, featuring guest co-host Andy...

Alex Klein


" teacher has been implicated in this mess. It's all the principal and assistant principal. Cheating? Yes, and that is an understatement. It's the students who were cheated by the administrators."??--Robert Moseley, DeKalb County, GA, chief deputy superintendent

DeKalb principal at school in CRCT probe resigns


20% :??The percent of time the younger of two teachers spent focusing on one of the 27 children in the class. The older teacher never focused on a single student more than 9% of the time.

Study: Time Changes How Teachesr See Students--Literally

We've shared a bit about our work as a charter school authorizer and education policy and advocacy organization in the Buckeye State.???? Fordham is also active in the Dayton community, supporting projects aimed at improving education in our hometown, something the Fordham Foundation has being doing for decades.???? One such effort is Project KNOTtT, a multi-state transition-to-teaching grant program that recruits high-quality professionals with bachelor's degrees to become teachers in hard-to-staff schools and subjects.???? In Dayton, Project KNOTtT focuses on getting teachers into the city's charter schools (and the need is great: nearly one-third of public school students in Dayton attend a charter school).???? Fordham helps recruit professionals to the program and serves as a liaison between the program staff and the schools (both those we authorize and those we do not).

The program is administered by a terrific team at Ohio State University.???? Following is an excerpt from an OSU newsletter about one of the many success stories to come from the program:

Robert Chenault of Centerville, Ohio, spent the majority of his career in pharmaceutical sales and sales


David Whitman, all-around smart and nice guy and author of Sweating the Small Stuff, a stellar tale of great urban schools (published by Fordham), is joining the US Dept of Education in the communications office. Good to know that a reformer will be helping ED develop and sell the reform message.

Along similar lines, I spent some time this week with one recent ED appointee and another about to come onboard (sorry, can't spill the beans yet). I'm encouraged by this second wave of appointments.