While the Buckeye State's K-12 education establishment is hoping for a federal bailout to keep it afloat, Ohio's state colleges and universities are busy taking real steps to cut costs. Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut recently announced the University System of Ohio Virtualization Program. Through a three-year cooperative purchasing agreement with VMware, Inc. to "virtualize" software and technology support services, colleges and universities in the state will save an estimated $130 million. And the move is good for the environment, too. The agreement is expected to result in eliminating 25,000 computers from college campuses, reducing the University System's CO2 emissions by 111,000 tons, which the Board of Regents says is equivalent to removing 37,500 cars from Ohio's highways or planting 500,000 trees....

The Education Gadfly

Checker appeared on NBC Nightly News Jan. 9 to share his thoughts on education reform and President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.

Should the federal government bail-out state education budgets? Or would budget cuts be good for schools? The debate goes on. Consider these comments from AEI's Rick Hess, in response to Andy Rotherham's rebuttal to our National Review piece:

I totally concede Andy's point!?? These kinds of cuts can absolutely lead to stupid changes (remember what "Chainsaw" Al Dunlop used to do in his corporate restructurings, for instance) or the ways that school systems do last hired/first fired, "shutting down the Washington Monument," and thermostat adjustment.??The Detroit auto industry has been teaching this lesson for 3 decades.

The reality, however, is that you almost never get smart restructuring without an external shock, such as an eroding market share and/or tough market conditions. I'd say, instead, that we were arguing that the economic crisis could provide a necessary but not sufficient condition. You're right that sufficiency would be a product of the tactics, smarts, and organizational strategies wielded by states and districts--and that past practice offers little cause for optimism. In fact, the only scenario that offers me less cause for optimism is to presume that the fiscal crisis has been alleviated since then we'd get the


Spellings offered this advice to Duncan in this morning's Washington Post:??

To:??Arne Duncan, education secretary-designate

From:??Margaret Spellings, education secretary

Re: Advice

Congratulations. I don't want to hurt you, but I think you're a great choice. You're the right guy at the right time. I look forward to working with you and know you to be compatible, tough-minded and someone who does what's right on behalf of kids. You'll need those characteristics as secretary.

Stay strong. Don't let anything deter you from your mission of ensuring a quality education for every single child in America.

Love or hate it, No Child Left Behind has changed the conversation about education forever. It's about the needs of kids and it's right and righteous.

Guard against anybody who wants to walk away from our need to serve all children. We can't go back to the days of not caring enough to find out how our schools are performing. High standards and accountability for results are here to stay.

Finally, treat education reform as the bipartisan issue it should be. . . . You have a tremendous number of friends and allies on both


When U.S. Senator George Voinovich retires at the end of his current term in 2010 it will signal the end of progressive Republican education reform in Ohio. Voinovich announced today that he will not seek reelection to a third term as Ohio's senior Senator. His public service goes back to 1967 when he was elected to the Ohio House.

Voinovich's stellar reputation as a school reformer comes honestly. He got a cold bath in bleak urban public school performance while mayor of Cleveland for 10 years. As mayor and then as Ohio's governor for eight years he argued change was needed, especially for children trapped in dysfunctional school systems like his hometown's. The Cleveland Public Schools were declared bankrupt by the state auditor's office in 1996 and the district had a dismal 34 percent...

The Education Gadfly

....just a sec....we haven't actually won the 2008 Weblog Awards yet! But you can help us get there by voting for Flypaper in the Best Education Blog category. Voting ends Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 5pm. You can vote once every 24 hours so vote often and spread the word. We'll be sure to thank you in our acceptance speech if we win!

Yesterday's Education Daily carried the headline, "Experts: Uniform standards could gain ground in 2009." Consider this quote from uber-pundit Jack Jennings of the Center on Education Policy: "Two years ago, I wouldn't have given nation??al standards much of a chance at all, but I think the atmosphere is changing. Teachers, administrators and legislators are thinking about it, as long as the federal govern??ment doesn't dictate the standards."

Perhaps achieving national standards and tests isn't such an impossible dream, after all.

Not surprisingly, our editorial arguing that budget cuts are good for schools has stirred plenty of commentary. It's also exposed a rift between lefty education reformers and those of us on the center-right (not to mention loopy libertarians). Expect more such rifts in coming months and years.

Consider this two-fer from Education Sector. Kevin Carey, writing at The Quick and the Ed, simply refuses to believe that tough budget times could convince schools to make tough decisions and trim their fat:

Underlying the larger argument is the idea that the public schools will implement a whole suite of needed reforms if only we can put them under sufficiently terrible financial stress. I am aware of no evidence to suggest that this will work...Are there any examples--any?--of a state or school district that has ever responded to a fiscal crisis with reforms that actually benefitted students in the long run?

Eduwonk Andy Rotherham* picks up on this line of attack in his own response:

In education tough times can often just force??mediocrity and there is little??evidence that scarcity forces good fiscal decisionmaking.?? Rather, across the board cuts

Amy Fagan

In this Washington Post piece, the co-founders of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program, a growing and well-known network of 66 public charter schools serving children of color, mostly from low-income families) give some key advice to the President-elect on the topic of education. Among their recommendations, they write that Obama should set a goal that within 10 years every child in America will be on track to earn a college degree or completing career training. They also call for national learning standards and assessments, explaining that the current "maze of state standards and tests" make it hard for great teachers to share ideas, and prevents true comparison of student, teacher and school performance. And, Obama should definitely follow through on his promise to double federal funding for public charter schools that have proven to be effective, they urge.

Photograph by Schlusselbein2007 on Flickr...
Amy Fagan

If any American is in any way skeptical of placing education atop the nation's urgent priority list, they should read this article by USA Today's Greg Toppo. Apparently a new federal study found that an estimated 32 million adults in the USA - about one in seven - have dangerously low literacy skills, such that it's difficult for them to read anything more complicated than a children's picture book! The revelation comes from the Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy, a survey of 19,000 Americans ages 16 and older.