Amy Fagan

Seems one group of charter school students were entertained by not one, not two, but three special guests yesterday. ??President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited a group of 2nd graders at the Capital City Public Charter School in Northwest Washington, D.C.

ABC and CNN and other news outlets all reported on the special reading time--the first couple read a copy of "The Moon Over Star" to the children.

Hmmm....suppose it's not a bad sign to see charter schools making the radar screen early-on in the administration....

Ohio's history is rich with inventors: The Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison were born here, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame is located in Akron. Perhaps, then, it's that Buckeye spirit of creating something new that inspired Governor Ted Strickland to re-invent the wheel when it comes to recruiting new teachers into hard to teach districts and schools.

One aim of Strickland's audacious education reform plan is to entice "excellent undergraduate students" to become teachers. Great! The governor could start by amending Ohio's licensure and collective bargaining rules to make the Buckeye State compatible with Teach for America and The New Teacher Project. Ohio already sees hundreds of its top college students apply to TFA and TNTP each year, and applications are on the rise. If Ohio opened the doors to TFA and TNTP, then some of this talent and energy could stay in the state as teachers and Ohio would benefit from an influx of these teachers from other states. Plus, the effort wouldn't cost taxpayers much money beyond teacher salaries as TFA and TNTP leverage private dollars to fund the programs.

Instead, Strickland is...

There's a lot of talk about bipartisanship right now, what with the stimulus bill making its way through Congress and President Obama obviously yearning for Republican support. GOP leaders, after providing not a single vote in the House of Representatives, are making it clear that they will play ball if the president addresses some of their substantive concerns-which has certain liberal pundits worried that Obama will give away too much.

What a difference an administration makes. Dial back the clock eight years and there was another president seeking bipartisan support for the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. But rather than hanging tough on his principles and negotiating away as little as possible, he seemed almost eager to give away the store.

That's the thesis, at least, of a new Policy Review article by Rick Hess and me: "Wrong Turn on School Reform: How to get back on track after No Child Left Behind." We argue that NCLB should be seen as a triumph of liberal education reformers in the mold of Education Trust rather than a conservative victory. While the law has paid important dividends-particularly in galvanizing a left-of-center reform movement epitomized...

My composite rating so far is "luke warm."

As loyal Flypaper readers know, last week we introduced the Obama Administration Reform-o-Meter. This handy contraption analyzes the reform-mindedness of key administration decisions, from policy pronouncements to personnel decisions and beyond. I offer a rating, from Ice Cold to Red Hot, and the Flypaper community gets to weigh in, too. I also weight each event by its importance on a scale of 1-10.

So how hot is the new administration when it comes to education reform? We've taken two readings thus far, first for Arne Duncan's selection as Secretary of Education (an 8 in terms of importance), and then for the President's stimulus plan (a 5), which I equated with the House bill.

Readers' composite rating so far is "neutral."

I rated the first as "Warm" and the second as "Chilly" for a composite ranking of "Luke Warm." Flypaper readers agreed with me about Duncan but were tougher on the stimulus, weighing in with a solid "Cold" reading, for a composite of "Neutral." Either way, the bottom line is that President Obama...

That's the gist of this Washington Post column by Jay Mathews, and was also the gist of a Gadfly column I wrote last summer. Mathews cites a forthcoming paper by Craig Jerald (a friend of mine who is formerly of Ed in '08, Education Trust, and Ed Week 's Quality Counts):

He quotes a 2005 paper by economists Peter Kuhn and Catherine Weinberger for the Journal of Labor Economics: "Controlling for cognitive skills," they said, "men who occupied leadership positions in high school earn more as adults. The pure leadership-wage effect varies, depending on definitions and time period, from 4 percent to 33 percent." A Mathematica Policy Research study also shows that although math had the biggest impact of any skill on later earnings, playing sports and having a leadership role in high school also were significant factors.

Mathews using this point to beg school districts not to cut sports programs in this time of fiscal austerity. I agree, but I would use this point to beg schools not to cut history and literature and art and music from the curriculum in order to make...

Amy Fagan the main focus of these two recent write-ups.

First, Diane Ravitch suggests in a New York Daily News story that while Caroline Kennedy won't be serving in the U.S. Senate, she may very well have a vital role to play in saving New York City's Catholic schools, "which are in the throes of a fiscal meltdown." Ravitch writes that Kennedy attended a Catholic school herself, "cares deeply about children" and "is knowledgeable about education." Even more, Ravtich continues, Kennedy helped raise nearly $240 million for the city's public schools--an amount that, if applied to the Catholic schools, would mean none of them would be forced to close. The need is clear, Ravitch writes, as many desperate students, parents and teachers wait for parish school closings scheduled for June.

The second write-up is a DC Examiner piece that looks at recent national stats on Catholic schools. ??Specifically, it discusses a recent report by the White House Domestic Policy Council, which found that urban faith-based schooling options have declined some 20 percent in 20 years. also quotes our own Mike Petrilli!...

Earlier we looked into Arne Duncan's eyes and got a sense of his soul. But what about his team? Who is likely to get jobs in the new administration? This Week in Education's Alexander Russo pondered that question yesterday. (Alexander's not so great at lots of things, like accuracy, or thoughtfulness, but he does know how to dish gossip.)

Let me fill in a couple of holes in Alexander's analysis with a bunch of unreliable, secondhand information. First, let's start at the top (or at least near the top). I've heard more information in recent days that makes me think that the Linda Darling-Hammond as Deputy Secretary rumor is true. Jon Schnur, I understand, has agreed to take a job; I'm not sure which one but Alexander is probably right to surmise chief of staff. (He was spotted "behind the glass doors" in the inner sanctum of the Secretary's office the other day, so maybe he's already playing that role.) Andy Rotherham, too, is almost certainly going to join the administration. Note to Alexander: it wouldn't take a very high profile job for Andy to "lord" it over me, as my official title at the Department...

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down for a series of one-on-ones with the national education press yesterday, and their stories are starting to paint a picture of the man, his policy leanings, and his priorities. What do we know about him?

1.???????????? First, he's definitely a liberal. That's not meant to be pejorative; I LIKE liberals! (Which is a good thing, considering where I live.) He's giddy about the federal largesse in the stimulus package ("It's a historic chance to make things dramatically better," he told the AP, and "We have a chance to make education in America dramatically better - and, for a whole host of reasons, it has never been more important that we do that," he told USA Today). And he has no problem with the government taking responsibility for the needs of poor children. "If they're hungry we need to feed them, if they don't have clothes you need to give them clothes," he told Education Week. And he's also willing to live his values; he and his wife are looking for a ??"great public school that's diverse."


That's what House Appropriations Chairman David Obey has been saying, but I've been skeptical, arguing that these new spending levels (on education at least) will become the "new normal" and that interest groups will push hard to maintain them. Today came confirmation of this theory. Note this quote from Mary Kusler, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators, that appears in this USA Today story:

Title I and IDEA "are areas where they cannot cut back three years from now."

"Cut back"? We're looking at $140 billion in new spending for education, and the establishment is already asking for more.