Big news out of Detroit. ????Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb is making some tough but desperately needed changes--closing????nearly 30 failing schools. ????I think he's been reading Flypaper!

Here's my previous post about Detroit and why such bold action is needed.

Apropos, Secretary Duncan is visiting the Motor City today; I can't wait to see what he says. I'm betting he'll build on his Brookings speech on closures/turnarounds and mention the state's charter cap.

I apologize that the Reform-o-Meter has been slacking as of late. I have suffered from a nasty cold for the last two weeks, which has cut into my productivity, blogging and otherwise. But the Administration marches on and so must our analysis of it.

Today's topic is former McKinsey consultant Tony Miller, recently nominated by President Obama to be the Department of Education's Deputy Secretary. As I already told Education Week (from my sickbed!), it makes sense to hire someone for the "COO" spot who can keep the trains running on time. He's dabbled in education a bit--working with the Los Angeles school district and also the one in Malibu--but mostly he's a business guy who understands turnarounds and implementing complex procedures.

Here's hoping that he brings a breath of fresh air to the Department, which is in constant need of someone asking, "Why do we do it that way?" But here's also expecting that in the end, few bureaucratic procedures will actually change. (That's because the answer to my question is typically "because the Inspector General is making us do it that way." If the Obama Administration can rein...

Latifah Coleman, 17 and an 11th grader at Mound Street Academies in Dayton, Ohio, shouts at a school choice rally in front of the Statehouse in Columbus on Wednesday morning. "I was going to a public school but it wasn't really helping me," she said. At Mound Street "more teachers sit down and talk with me. They're helping me to graduate."

The biennial budget passed by the Ohio House of Representatives last month would mean major funding cuts to all charter schools and funding reductions of nearly 75 percent to the state's virtual schools????????all but guaranteeing those schools, which serve 24,000 students in the Buckeye State, go out of business next year. Today, in protest to the funding cuts, approximately 4,000 people held a rally at the capitol.???? Chanting ???????My School, My Choice! ??????? the group marched four blocks to the Statehouse lawn and heard remarks from parents, teachers, and lawmakers????????including Senate President Bill Harris, whose chamber is now deliberating the budget bill and who has personally vowed to protect school choice in the Buckeye State.

About 4,000 people...

The US Senate held a hearing on the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program today. Watch the video here.

The parent and student testimony is moving. You can't help but be touched when hearing these young people talk about what would've happened to them were it not for the program.

Kudos to Sen. Lieberman for chairing the meeting and Sens. Collins, Ensign, and Voinovich for their comments. ????Interestingly and sadly, Sen. Lieberman said that Mayor Fenty, Chancellor Rhee, and union leaders were invited to testify, and they all declined.

Big ups to Jeanne Allen from CER for her twittering (find her at JeanneAllen).

Update: ????Good Post article and????editorial....

Diane Piche is headed to the Dept of Ed to be DAS in the Office of Civil Rights. ????Diane is sharp, experienced, and a big ed reformer. ????Congratulations.

ED Week folks on top of the upcoming US Senate hearing on the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

From the Washington Post:

In his quest to transform American education, President Obama appeared yesterday to put his faith in pledges from some of the interest groups that helped scuttle reform in years past, but the industry's promises fell well short of the White House's expansive claims.

"This is a historic day, a watershed event," Obama said after a meeting with lobbyists representing??teachers,??administrators, bus drivers,??and textbook publishers. "Over the next 10 years -- from 2010 to 2019 -- they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national education spending by 1.5 percentage points each year."

Oh wait, just kidding...this was the health-care announcement from yesterday. Education costs will continue rising as usual. (Once we get past the recession, that is.)

While Andy grows increasingly pessimistic about the education stimulus, I am starting to see some more reasons for hope. (Of course, it would be hard for me to be even more pessimistic than I was when Congress churned the law??out of its sausage-grinder.)

Why??do I think this monstrosity might actually do??a little bit of??good? I spent some time last week with leaders of state-based education reform organizations (through the Policy Innovators in Education Network, which Fordham helped to launch). And sure enough, I heard bona fide stories of state legislatures contemplating doing politically difficult but reform-minded things because they think it will help them snag "Race to the Top" funds.

The best example in Maine, which is considering becoming the 42nd state with a charter school law. The argument that might finally push legislators over the top is their desire for more federal cash. Note this press release from the (optimistically-named) Maine Association of Charter Schools:

President Obama and US Secretary of Education Duncan have made expanding public charter schools a priority of their education policy. According to Newsweek, "Duncan recently warned that he may withhold federal education stimulus money from states that

Amy Fagan

Interested in learning more about amazing "no excuses" schools that are changing the lives of disadvantaged students? David Brooks raves about these schools in his recent column and recommends some relevant reading material--including David Whitman's Sweating the Small Stuff, which Brooks praises as "a superb survey of these sorts of schools." Congrats to Mr. Whitman! We couldn't agree more (OK, yes, we published the book). Check it out. The other book Brooks recommends??? Whatever It Takes, by Paul Tough. He calls it a "gripping account" of Harlem Children's Zone (which is the subject of much of his column).

And the praise just keeps on coming. Joel Klein mentions Sweating the Small Stuff in a recent column that he wrote as well. Check it out here.

Laura Pohl

Students at Dayton View Academy walk silently through the school halls.

One thing that sets apart Fordham from other education think tanks is our sponsorship of charter schools in Ohio . This week I've had the opportunity to tour two of these schools in Dayton, Dayton View Academy and Dayton Academy , as well as two charters sponsored by other institutions. Talking with the students, teachers and administrators and seeing them in action has been a good reminder that beyond all the education policy talk in Washington, there are real people living, learning and trying to make a difference. Here are photographs of a few of the students I met.

(To learn more about Dayton and its education challenges, I recommend reading this interesting Dayton Daily News opinion piece by Terry Ryan, Fordham's vice president for Ohio programs and policy.)

Dayton Academy students Chloe Tate (left) and RaeAunna Curlett (right) demonstrate how to use EdPAD portable computers.

Lunchtime at Dayton Academy

Listening to the...

Last week's Fordham Institute and Catalyst Ohio report, Checked Out: Ohioans' Views on Education 2009, still has people talking in the Buckeye State.???? On Sunday, Fordham's own Terry Ryan discussed the survey findings on the Ohio News Network's statewide public affairs program, Capitol Square.???? Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch editorial board questioned components of Governor Strickland's education reform plan in light of the survey: one should be surprised that Ohioans have relatively little faith in the state government to fix education. Asked which entities they would trust to decide how to spend tax money for schools, 47 percent said they would trust their local school districts most. Another 22 percent would trust individual schools most. Only 17 percent said the State Board of Education. The least faith was placed in the governor, at 3 percent, and lawmakers, 4 percent.

Many education reformers argue, and respondents to the Fordham survey seem to agree, that improvement is more likely if states set performance standards and give school districts and principals plenty of latitude in deciding how to achieve them.

How unfortunate, then, that Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed education plan is heavily prescriptive, setting detailed formulas that mandate precisely how