Guest Blogger

A post from guest blogger and Fordham writer and researcher Emmy Partin .

It's frustrating to be a charter-school supporter in the Buckeye State. Charter performance in Ohio is, overall, barely equal and too often inferior to that of the district schools with which they compete. According to the latest data from the state, some 64 percent of Ohio's urban charter schools are rated "D" or "F" by the state, compared to about 50 percent of their district peers.

There are exceptions. In Fordham's hometown of Dayton , 6 of the 10 highest achieving public schools are charters. There, charter school students not only outperform their district peers on traditional measures of student achievement (47 percent of district students attended a school rated "academic emergency" while 28 percent of charter students were in such a school), but also on the state's new value-added growth measure (68 percent of Dayton charter students met or exceeded overall state growth expectations while only 37 percent of district students did). And there is more hope on the horizon. Ohio's first KIPP school opened its doors this month, and a trio of high-performing charters in Cleveland recently announced...

Check out his interview here, and get a quick and helpful overview of his book, Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism.

I suppose we'd been warned, weeks ago, that the New York City Department of Education was watching us. So I shouldn't have been surprised by the voice mail from Commissioner Joel Klein's personal assistant (a woman with a lovely British accent) that arrived just hours after I wrote this post.

As you may recall, I tweaked Commissioner Klein for refusing to admit that his "Balanced Literacy" reading program in use across the district was a fraud.


We connected late yesterday, and Joel voiced his strong disagreement. Didn't I know that New York City and Boston both got better reading results at the fourth-grade level than any other city--and that they both use balanced literacy? Didn't I see the latest research (referring to this What Works Clearinghouse review) showing that Open Court and Reading Mastery are lacking in evidence of effectiveness? He argued that New York City is actually doing quite well, thank you, in the decoding department, as indicated by strong fourth-grade reading scores. Where it falls down (as illustrated by poor eighth-grade scores) is in helping students develop comprehension. And that's why he's become boosterish on Core Knowledge as...

If this sort of empty rhetoric is the most we can expect to hear about education for the rest of the campaign, it's time to declare the Ed in '08 initiative a failure.

I was surprised by how strongly Rick Kahlenberg attacked the new Ed Sector report on interdistrict public school choice, since the study really has nothing new to offer us other than some really neat maps. Instead of keeping things in proportion, we get Kahlenberg waxing poetic on the basic standards of "Social Science 101" and methodology nitty gritty in an excessively long winded diatribe. Of course, Dillon actually spends quite a bit of time explaining her choices (try page four, which Kahlenberg calls "the fine print in a sidebar"-it's actually an entire page-or the Appendix). I've extricated his two main points from the overblown rhetoric: Dillon makes two inappropriate assumptions, which cause her findings to be unnecessarily pessimistic, and she's giving fodder to choice's opponents.

Kahlenberg doesn't like Dillon's first assumption, a 20 minute driving time as her outside radius for...

Liam Julian

Ben Wildavsky's Wall Street Journal review of Real Education is much better than this. One point: Wildavsky worries that in Murray's system, capable students will be tracked, early on in their educational careers, into academically undemanding courses and eventually similar jobs. Those who, with a little tough love and nurturing and fine teaching, could have become doctors and lawyers will end up mechanics and plumbers.

While determinative tracking is a bad idea, it is not a bad idea to allow pupils who want to be mechanics and plumbers--regardless of their academic potential--to be... mechanics and plumbers. Instead, we shuttle them as 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds into college-preparatory classes that they don't enjoy and they feel are wastes of time. Seriously, let's give these near-adults some educational and vocational options and quit shoving college down their throats. Murray's book makes some solid and compelling points about this that Wildavsky ignores.

Liam Julian

Kevin Carey treats Charles Murray unfairly. Carey, reviewing Murray's new book Real Education, writes:

Yet an active strain of educational hobo-phobia remains, a persistent, largely sub rosa muttering that perhaps too many of the wrong kind of people are being allowed inside the ivy-covered walls. It's not respectable conversation outside of conservative circles, due to its unvarnished elitism and 0-for-the-last-60-years-and-counting historical track record. But it lives on, and now has a new standard-bearer in the person of Charles Murray...

Come on. Besides being boring, this is just drips with all sorts of overpowering nasty implications. The rest of Carey's review is similarly accusatory and haughty without ever??even approaching the realms of cleverness or originality.??The??article certainly is not as infallible and a priori right and just its author--The EduOne, shall we call him?--seems to believe.

Update: And really, why would any publication??ask Carey to review Real Education? That's like asking me to review Das Kapital.

"Senator wants all schools to open on same day"

According to the AP article:

Sen. Thomas Gaffey, a Democrat from Meriden, is upset that some schools are opening this week while others are not.... Gaffey says it makes no sense to hold classes for a few days this week, only to send students and teachers home for a long three-day holiday weekend.

Here's a suggestion, Senator: Run for school board. Then you can weigh in on these weighty issues. Otherwise, butt out.

Kudos to New York City for launching a new pilot program to put Core Knowledge in ten city schools. But what's the matter with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein that he can't get himself to admit that the "balanced literacy" program in use throughout the system is hogwash? "I view it as building on but not in any way repudiating [balanced literacy]--our results speak for themselves."

Mr. Chancellor, a couple of months ago you admitted to me and 300 of our closest friends that "Month by Month" phonics was a big mistake. Why not acknowledge that balanced literacy is screwy too? (Read this report to understand why.)

Sol Stern gets the last word: "I can finally say something nice about one of Klein's curriculum choices. Unfortunately, it's just a few schools in the sixth year of his administration. But at least it looks like he's educable."...

Following up on yesterday's post on Baltimore's K-12 culinary reforms, here's a look at the types of "food" that Baltimore students presumably were ingesting before the changes.