Flypaper

Forms of weighted school funding (WSF) are gaining traction in Ohio at the state and district levels. Emmy Partin nicely summarizes the State Board's upcoming vote on a version of WSF, which she notes includes "weights for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient students, and gifted students." Unfortunately, the plan is flawed. Emmy writes:

The [recommendation of the school-funding subcommittee] ultimately falls short of a true WSF plan, however. The subcommittee report continues central office control over real spending decisions and does not empower school leaders closest to the children. Nor do the recommendations call for funding to follow the child from school to school. Unfortunately, as written, the recommendations are a missed opportunity and may simply result in funding the education status quo to the tune of $1 billion more per year (see here).

Developments in Cincinnati look more promising, as the CPS board and interim superintendent plan to restore WSF in 2009-10. (Under former superintendent Steven Adamowski, Cincinnati began WSF in 1999, only to discontinue it in pieces over recent years, well after his departure.) Reports the Cincinnati Enquirer:

With student-based budgeting, the money follows

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Amy Fagan

David Whitman, author of "Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism," wrote a piece for the Huffington Post Wednesday. In it, he broke down the looming battle that Barack Obama will face in the education realm. The Left is essentially divided into two camps - those who support school reform (including the emphasis on accountability and tracking in No Child Left Behind ) as the best means to close the achievement gap; and those, including unions, who ??favor more out-of-school interventions (like adding health clinics or expanded preschool programs) along with dismantling much of NCLB. Obama, Whitman wrote, so far has managed "to keep a foot in both camps," but soon will have to "pick and choose among his priorities." Welcome to the presidency!

Whitman noted that the six inner-city secondary schools he profiled in his book were all extremely successful in closing the achievement gap ??-- because they consistently puts the needs of the kids first. By contrast, he argued, "the nation's dysfunctional inner-city high schools are designed to serve the interest of adults."

Whitman wrote:

It's often said that radical school reform is impossible without the involvement of the

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Amy Fagan

The buzz about who'll be the next education secretary seems to be picking up a bit. The AP reports that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine says he doesn't want the job. Apparently, he mentioned it during his monthly radio show this morning, restating his intent to remain in Virginia through the end of his term in January 2010....

Amy Fagan

The AP reports that Arne Duncan, Chicago Public Schools chief, did indeed meet with outgoing Education Secretary Margaret Spellings this morning. In an interview with the AP, Duncan said the visit had nothing to do with the possibility of being chosen to serve as the next education secretary. But, of course, Duncan is among a few names being circulated as likely candidates for the post. He told the AP: "I was just meeting with Secretary Spellings; we're hoping she comes to Chicago next week to talk about some of the work that she supports in Chicago." He said he has "no idea" when the education post will be announced. He also chatted briefly about what needs to be addressed in education and expressed high hopes for Obama's plan. You can read the whole story here....

We know it was tough to be Gadfly-less through Thanksgiving (although we hope our sumptuous video menu helped tide you over). Good news: we're baaaack. This week, the top slot features a guest editorial from Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass of Massachusetts' Pioneer Institute on the future of the MCAS. Recent recommendations on how to amend this top notch test to include "21st century skills" seem more likely to backtrack the assessment than actually hop it into the 21st century. Then check out some unbelievable stories from Florida (Carvalho's head is still in the clouds), California (Thanksgiving an occasion for violence?), and New York (the clock's run out on those Rubber Room reserve pool teachers).

You'll also find a lively discussion on this week's podcast (featuring not only guest co-host Dave DeSchryver but also Monty Python) and two letters to the editor from Michael Casserly of Council of Great City Schools and Andy Smarick of the U.S. Department of Education. The former loved Eric's op-ed from two weeks ago and the latter wants to clear up some confusion surrounding NCLB's recent four-year graduation rate regulations. Finally, take a...

The Education Gadfly

Arne Duncan loses 7 percentage points today, but it hardly matters given his substantial lead. Caroline Kennedy scoots up the big chart today, inching past Ray Mabus, whose support is increasing ever so slightly. Word on the street is Freeman Hrabowski doesn't want the job . John Deasy's name was mentioned for the first time today, but no one gave him enough votes to get him on the board. Given that he recently accepted a position at the Gates Foundation , it seems unlikely to us that he will be tapped, but stranger things have happened.

Who has retired from the spotlight? These names have had their moment on stage and have been heard from no more: Napolitano, Huckabee, Richardson, Canada, Lomax, Oprah. Powell, who is now at 2% of the vote, falling from 13.5%, may be about to join the group.

I'm not siding with those who fear the red pen, but colors can matter ??? here's a description of a study which found referees in fencing were biased toward those wearing red (rather than blue), and the same writer points to other research showing that hockey and football players wearing black uniforms act more aggressively, and are perceived as being more aggressive. But what I really want to know is, does the color of school uniforms affect test scores?

Field hockey photograph by KamalSell from Flickr

Jeb Bush must be tiring of the grueling hours and thankless hard work of life in an education think tank, as Politico reports that he may seek a Senate seat. And Florida's outgoing (Republican) House speaker says, "I think Jeb Bush should run and if he does I think he'll win." It would be interesting to see whether education would continue to be a central issue for him there, as it has been in the past.

Jeb Bush photograph from jeb.org
Amy Fagan

Over at the AP, Libby Quaid is reporting that Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan is supposed to have coffee with outgoing education secretary Margaret Spellings tomorrow morning at the Education Department! According to the story, Duncan's camp says he's in town for a dropout prevention meeting and simply wants to stop by and invite Spellings to a Chicago schools event. Hmmmm??????perhaps. But perhaps there's more to chat about?????? Duncan's name, of course, is being floated for the next education secretary, and he is the clear leader in Fordham's daily tracking poll on the matter.

Margaret Spellings picture from Department of Education website

Dunkin' Donuts coffee picture from Dunkin' Donuts website

Arne Duncan picture from Chicago Public Schools website...

Amy Fagan

Teachers in Australia are being told to avoid using red pens to mark their students' work, because the color can be seen as aggressive. Huh? I had to re-read that one, just to make sure I understood. Apparently the advice ??? given out to about 29 schools as part of a Queensland Health kit ??? has caused quite the brouhaha. Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle called it a ???kooky, loony, loopy, Left policy.??? And Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations President Margaret Black made an impassioned plea to scrap it. ???We're calling for our children to grow up normally, including their work being marked with a red pen," she said.

The intensity of it all sounds like a debate over global warming or financial bailouts ??? not the use of a red writing implement.

The Courier-Mail of Brisbane and Queensland actually put together a photo gallery of ???red pens in action,??? warning that ???images may disturb some users.???

Some see the red pen situation as no laughing matter, though. According to the courier mail article:

???

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