I LOVE this idea. Putting ads on the outside of school buses is a no-brainer. Municipal bus systems have been doing this for years, and since the advertising is targeting to people outside the vehicles--not kiddies on the inside--how can anyone complain?

Though I'll admit that I'm not terribly concerned about advertising inside buses either. In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, the local school district was experimenting with BusRadio, a service that pipes in pop hits to the tykes, in exchange for big bucks for schools. (And yes, there's advertising too, pre-screened to ensure that it's age-appropriate.) But alas, the Consumers Union and the National PTA complained, and the service was promptly cancelled. (This is the same debate communities have been having about Channel One, the classroom TV equivalent, for decades.)

I know, I know, I'm not going to be crazy about advertisers going after my son either (at 14 months, he's watched almost no TV so far, partly for this reason). But done right it's fairly innocuous. And this argument, aired in the Montgomery County bus debate, just makes me laugh: "Detractors argue students could...

Amy Fagan

In tight financial times, it seems that people come up with all sorts of ideas for raising money. Apparently some New Jersey leaders want to allow school districts to raise money by selling ads on the sides of the buses they rent or own, according to a report in the Press of Atlantic City. State legislators have introduced at least three bills since January that would allow school districts to raise money by selling ads on the sides of their buses, according to the story. Supporters said it would simply be a way for schools to raise cash without having to drain taxpayers' wallets. The idea initially surprised me, but according to the story, apparently at least a dozen other states allow some form of advertising on buses. What do you think?

Photograph by kevindooley from Flickr

Yesterday we launched our new feature, Questions for Linda Darling-Hammond. The idea is to pose queries that she might face at a Senate confirmation hearing, in order to flesh out whether she is a reformer or not.

Today we turn to statements from the 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future, which??Darling-Hammond wrote as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

1. Dr. Darling Hammond: In What Matters Most, you expressed concern that ???well-prepared urban teachers and teachers of color are in short supply.??? A recent Education Next article found that states with ???genuine??? alternative certification programs have a greater representation of minority teachers in their classrooms. Twelve years later, have you come to believe that these streamlined routes to the classroom are worth supporting?

2. Dr. Darling Hammond: In the same report, you wrote that ???literally hundreds of studies confirm that the best teachers know their subjects deeply, understand how people learn, and have mastered a range of teaching methods.??? Can you point to a single rigorous study???one that would meet our panel's rigorous definition as ???scientific??????that indicates that the best teachers...

What a confluence of events when Alfie Kohn, Matthew Yglesias, and Rick Hess take up that question all on the same day.

Alfie Kohn gets it started with an article in the Nation that's (another!) defense of Linda Darling-Hammond, but also goes after "reformers" writ large:

For Republicans education "reform" typically includes support for vouchers and other forms of privatization. But groups with names like Democrats for Education Reform--along with many mainstream publications--are disconcertingly allied with conservatives in just about every other respect.

Yglesias, writing on his blog, disagrees:

I would... deny that this is a "conservative" agenda in any particular way. I think there are two aspects of education policy debates that have substantial linkage with the basic left-right ideological conflict. One concerns levels of spending. The right generally wants to spend less on social services (such as education) and the left generally wants to spend more. Another concerns centralization. The left generally supports federal action, national standards, and a strong center to prevent slippage whereas the right tends to favor decentralization as a means of weakening state capabilities. Nothing on Kohn's list is relevant to the issue of spending, where


In a letter to the New York Times, LDH takes issue with David Brooks' (and others') depiction of her as a non-reformer:

Since I entered teaching, I have fought to change the status quo that routinely delivers dysfunctional schools and low-quality teaching to students of color in low-income communities. I have challenged inequalities in financing. I have helped develop new school models through both district-led innovations and charters. And I have worked to create higher standards for both students and teachers, along with assessments that measure critical thinking and performance.

I sought to amend and reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act to incorporate these kinds of assessments, while preserving its commitment to closing the achievement gap and ensuring quality teachers. I have also fought to overhaul teacher education programs and close weak ones.

As director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, I was an early advocate for cultivating and rewarding excellent teachers while dismissing those who, with mentoring, do not meet standards.

Real reform will require all of these things, plus the kind of unifying vision Barack Obama has demonstrated - moving beyond the polarizing debates that prevent


A new value-added study in Louisiana has found that teachers certified under non-traditional programs, The New Teacher Project's training program in particular, are more likely to be effective. The New York Times editorial board thinks this is great news--and perhaps a model for other states.

A taste from TNTP's press release:

The state-sponsored study, led by researcher Dr. George Noell of Louisiana State University, uses a "value-added" model to measure the effect that teachers from the state's preparation programs have on student achievement. ??The study examined seven programs, including both university-based certification pathways and alternate routes to teacher certification such as TNTP's program.?? Each was given a performance rating based on an "effect estimate" of the teachers they produce.

TNTP's Louisiana Practitioner Teacher Program earned especially strong results in the preparation of effective math teachers, with a mathematics effect estimate of 3.1.????This effect estimate is greater than the average degree to which poor students typically fall further behind each year in achievement. "In the year that new TNTP teachers teach poor students, they, on average, help those students close the math academic gap with more economically advantaged students," said Dr. Noell. This is

Laura Pohl

The Great Education Debate - Resolved: America Needs a 'Broader, Bolder' Education Reform Strategy. Held at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute on Thursday, December 11, 2008. The debate panelists were:

For the positive

Peter Edelman, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Marshall "Mike" Smith, Senior Advisor, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

For the negative

Douglas Besharov, Joseph J. and Violet Jacobs Scholar in Social Welfare Studies, American Enterprise Institute and former Director, U.S. Center on Child Abuse and Neglect

Eugene Hickok, Senior Policy Director, Dutko Worldwide and former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education...

Kevin Carey spent a whole week writing about the Finns, and never once mentioned Checker Finn. Kevin, what's up with that?

Neither team. By audience applause, and Checker's verdict, it's declared a tie.

Peter Edelman urges us to fight poverty. We're a wealthy nation, after all. Doug Besharov points out that the best way to fight poverty is through better education. And we ought to learn what works best under what conditions. So if there's not enough money for everything, let's spend money wisely, do solid research,??and learn something from it.

And that's a wrap.