As Eric just reported, Loudoun County is playing games with its stimulus dollars. Specifically, it's asking schools to return county dollars and replacing them with federal dollars, presumably to help plug holes in other areas of the county's budget. The net result is that school spending is staying roughly the same. (Unlike the WaPo, which reported on the story,??I don't see the problem here, but I digress.) While Duncan has warned that these sorts of shenanigans will be dealt with swiftly and harshly, Loudoun's decision might not be such a bad thing.

Duncan made it clear that there were some serious reform strings attached to the stimulus dollars. The county is still using the feds' money and is still subject to those stipulations. But by supplanting instead of supplementing, it's not using the old trick of buying more reform with more money, which is typically how the unions and other status quo supporters have been forced into swallowing it. As Bruce Fuller explains, "[You] need bright, shiny new dollars to assuage skeptical teacher unions to experiment with merit pay." But in this case, the county has now handed Loudoun schools shiny new dollars with...

Nope, no new Department picks to withstand some reform-o-meter treatment, but a dog. A Portuguese water dog, in fact, which will shortly take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We speculated??and we wondered and now we know: Malia and Sasha are getting their puppy at last. They've apparently named him "Bo" after "Bo" Diddley, rock n' roll great. (And (s)he is a present from Senator Ted Kennedy.) Nothing like a little bit of feel good fluff news for an early Monday morning.

The Education Gadfly

C-SPAN's archived video from Thursday's Marguerite Roza event on budget cuts and education reform is now available. Don't miss it!

As we head toward Easter Sunday, it's worth noting that hope is alive and well in the education reform world when it comes to President Obama's stimulus bill. While it's true that I don't generally share the optimism on this one, I also would prefer the optimists to be right.

I've already offered plenty of reasons to believe that the states won't be able to marshal these dollars toward meaningful reform, but here's one reason that they might: the emergence of smart, focused, passionate education reform advocacy organizations at the state level.

The best known of these include EdVoice in California and ConnCan in Connecticut, but new ones are popping up every day. These aren't think tanks. They are no-nonsense advocacy organizations that know how to drive a policy agenda.

I've gotten to know a bunch of them through our work with the Policy Innovators in Education Network, which Fordham helped to create (along with the Center for American Progress, the Center for Reinventing Public Education, and Education Sector). If anyone at the state level can figure out how to use these stimulus dollars in...

At least when you can watch Fordham's event, "Can Budget Cuts Catalyze Education Reform?" on C-SPAN right now! (And for the next 90 minutes.)

Diane Ravitch is not as enamored with mayoral control as Arne Duncan is. Read her new New York Times op-ed to see why.

Amy Fagan

Fordham's April 9 event--"Can Budget Cuts Catalyze Education Reform"--began airing on C-SPAN at 10 am this morning (watch it streaming online here or buy it on DVD here). It was a great event/discussion with featured guest Marguerite Roza from the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education. The video should be up on our website later today as well. In the meantime, you can take a look at her PowerPoint presentation and enjoy the following pictures from the event.

Marguerite Roza spoke in our conference space in downtown DC.

A C-SPAN camera focuses on Fordham President Checker Finn.

Checker Finn, left, and Dwight Holmes, Senior Policy Analyst, School Finance & Economics Unit at the National Education Association


If you haven't read this week's Gadfly, you should do so ASAP! Up first, Paul E. Barton, formerly of ETS and author of "'Failing' and 'Successful' Schools: How Can We Tell?" explains the grand illusion that is NCLB. Not only does it create an illusion of "high standards" and "equal treatment" (the subject of two recent Fordham Reports, The Proficiency Illusion and The Accountability Illusion) but it also creates an "identification of effective schools" illusion and a "proscribed remedies will fix education" illusion. Want to know what he means? Read it here. Then Mike investigates how Education Secretary Arne Duncan's background as a big city superintendent seems to be influencing his policy decisions, specifically that he views the local level as the preferred locus of power for education.

Then, find out why the NJ pension system is one big Ponzi scheme, we should give Rhee kudos for her work on a new teacher evaluation system, mayoral control is no panacea, the Boston Teachers Union needs to get a clue, the union at two Catholic schools in Staten Island is in for some rude awakening, and one school in...

Russ Whitehurst, the former head of IES (the body responsible for the DC voucher study), gives a thorough and authoritative explanation of the final report's release. It parallels the argument I made here.

If we're right, Secretary Duncan was unjustly accused of stacking the deck. Regardless of your view on the voucher issue or party affiliation, this is wrong. This business of accusing political opponents of bad motives and nefarious behavior hurts reputations and degrades policy discussions and the political process.

To be clear, this cuts across party lines. For example, it was unfair to insinuate that the GOP governors who raised serious concerns about the long-term effects of education stimulus funding were merely positioning themselves for 2012 or, worse, didn't care enough about kids.

The Education Gadfly

Check out Mike's recent appearance on FOX News. He discusses an issue that's sure to raise heated debate around dinner tables across the nation: lengthening the school year! Arne Duncan favors it . Find out if Mike does.....