Martin West and Ludger Woessmann have published a fascinating study in the winter edition of Education Next. Its conclusion--that there is a positive correlation between the prevalence of private schools and high test scores--is something that is widely argued but not so widely proven. West and Woessmann compared PISA scores from 2003 with the number of private schools in 29 countries to find that,

a 10 percent increase in enrollment in private schools improves PISA math test scores by more than 9 percent of a standard deviation, nearly equal to a half of a year's worth of learning. For science and reading, a 10 percent increase in private school enrollment generates an improvement of more than 5 percent of a standard deviation--more than one-fifth of a grade-level. And in educational spending, a 10 percent increase in the private school enrollment leads to a $3,209 reduction in spending per student--on average, more than 5 percent of the total education spending per student through age 15 for OECD countries.

The part, however, that caught my eye was how they controlled for the causes of private school proliferation. They recognized that a country with a high average income or commitment to...

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the cram industry in India and asked a simple question: what will it take to get American students to start respecting education again? These Indian students choose to go to these military style cram schools, which cost an exorbitant amount of money (to the tune of $1,500) for many Indian families, with the understanding that getting into and graduating from an Indian Institute of Technology (there are seven) is the ticket to financial and intellectual success. Interestingly, our close friend Diane Ravitch commented on my post and said that these cram schools have nothing to do with NCLB testing. She's right, of course, although that was not my point in that post. Today, Forbes published Diane's??stupendous critique of pay-as-you-go programs for students (i.e. paying students to show up, behave and get good grades)--and she starts her piece by talking about cram schools (I'd like to think I inspired her, but probably not :)). She takes my question and goes further:

Interesting, isn't it, that while students in other countries are paying $1,500 a year for the chance to learn more, many American students will be paid that same amount just to do


Sol Stern describes Bill Ayers thusly: "[A]s one of the leaders of a movement for bringing social-justice teaching into our public school classrooms, Mr. Ayers is not a school reformer. He is a school destroyer." Hard to argue with that. Stern, who is writing a book on Ayers and his history in the legacy of public school education, specifically his influence on social-justice teaching, recounts the history of Ayers' involvement in Chicago politics and Chicago schools in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. He's "not just a guy in the neighborhood," asserts Stern; Ayers "still hopes for a revolutionary upheaval that will finally bring down American capitalism and imperialism, but this time around Mr. Ayers sows the seeds of resistance and rebellion in America's future teachers." In short, Ayers uses his position as a professor of education at the University of Illinois to inculcate his students with the notion that they are revolutionaries sent to the schools to brainwash students. This is destructive, indeed.??

Stern's conclusion?

If Barack Obama wins on Nov. 4, the "guy in the neighborhood" is not likely to get an invitation to the Lincoln bedroom. But with the Democrats controlling all three branches of government, there's


McCain claimed so last night, Obama disagreed, and now Fast Company's blog gets to the bottom of it (taking the analysis a step further than Marc Fisher in the Washington Post ).

(HT to the Corner .)

As Campaign K-12 reports, last night's presidential debate was a bonanza for education. The candidates mentioned the word 21 times--which would look particularly impressive were it not for Joe the Plumber's 26 citations. (Maybe four years from now Joe the Teacher will break through.)

The folks at Ed in '08 are no doubt hung over this morning from a raucous night of partying. (I know what that's like.) For not only did Bob Schieffer target the last question of the last debate to the education issue, he teed it up in a manner that must have made Eli Broad smile.

The question is this: the U.S. spends more per capita than any other country on education. Yet, by every international measurement, in math and science competence, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, we trail most of the countries of the world.

The implications of this are clearly obvious. Some even say it poses a threat to our national security.

Do you feel that way and what do you intend to do about it?

The discussion that ensued may not move the dial on the percentage of Americans who consider education their topic election issue,... stupendous. I know we say this every week, but that's because we tend to routinely out-do ourselves. This week is no exception. First up, you'll find Checker's thoughts on who should replace Russ Whitehurst at IES and??Mark Schneider at NCES. It seems the administration exodus has begun. Then, Barbara Davidson from StandardsWork writes a thoughtful piece in the guest editorial spot. Her recommendation? Bring social studies back into the curricular picture. Later on, you'll find the next episode in the Nebraska safe-haven law saga, insanity in Mexico, and an insightful review of??Douglas J. Besharov and Douglas M. Call's piece in Wilson Quarterly. What else? A look at how NCLB is unfairly penalizing schools for special education students and a stellar podcast, where Rick tells us he wants to retire and move to South Dakota. Why? To raise rutabagas. All this... and more....

According to Joel Klein, former Wall Street execs have another option: the classroom. Guess, we'll have to wait and see math teacher alternative certification programs are overwhelmed with??Gordon Gekkos.

...I will. It's a safe bet that education won't be a big part of tonight's presidential debate, so if you need to ponder what an McCain or Obama administration should or could do, two NY Times blog entries from earlier this week have some interesting thoughts.

Lance Izumi charges that Obama's wish-list of education programs makes him seem "oblivious to the fiscal reality he faces," and argues for McCain's "alternative view of the way Washington should finance education":

According to his campaign Web site, Mr. McCain believes: "Funding cannot be effectively apportioned in Washington, but it shouldn't be a state-level official or district bureaucrat either. The money must be controlled by the leader we hold accountable: the school principal with a single criterion to raise student achievement."

On the other hand, Bruce Fuller has a radical suggestion for a future President Obama:

If Mr. Obama is serious about public investment for innovation--focusing on inventive teachers and schools that truly boost student performance--he must cut ineffective, yet politically entrenched programs. Take, for example, Washington's Title I compensatory education program, which channels $14 billion each year to schools that serve students from poor families.

President Bush

Amy Fagan

Wide-ranging presentations and lively discussion today at the AEI/Fordham conference on judicial involvement in education!

During this afternoon's panel on discipline, special education and district management, Richard Arum of NY University told us that school discipline litigation has been increasing over time and that 11 percent of teachers, 55 percent of administrators and 73 percent of administrators with 15 years of experience have been threatened with lawsuits. About 14 percent of administrators have actually faced one, he said. Samuel Bagenstos of the Washington University School of Law took issue with the notion that litigation is exploding however--noting that there's actually "shockingly little" litigation surrounding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Meanwhile, Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who was moderating the panel, wondered aloud whether schools can fix discipline problems without court involvement. Alan Bersin, California State Board of Education member and former California Education Secretary, told us that court decisions actually leave educators with a lot of flexibility in this area but school leaders remain cautious.

Earlier in the day, other distinguished panelists discussed No Child Left Behind, school funding and school desegregation issues. All of their papers are available here, along with more information about the daylong...

This deserves the Ig-Nobel prize. Will these 3247 misguided folks, mostly academics (of course!), also sign the "support Osama Bin Laden" statement? How about Aldrich Ames? Maybe Charles Manson? The Benedict Arnold Memorial Support Group?

Update: Ayers has popped up on our radar before. (See here and here too.)

Update 2: Fordham Board Member Diane Ravitch takes Deborah Meier to task for signing the Ayers petition. Deborah responds.