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Education-policy wonks should take a long look at The Long Shadow, a book based on a twenty-five-year study by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Following 790 Baltimore first-graders in 1982 until their late twenties, this book offers a rich research account of what policy analysts across fields have long tried to figure out: How can low-income children rise out of poverty and into the middle class? The sobering answer is they don’t. Kids born into poor families grew up to be poor themselves. Nearly half of the children in the study had the same income status as their parents; and only thirty-three children of families in the lowest-income bracket moved to a high-income bracket by their twenties. The education picture isn’t any sunnier. A mere 4 percent of those from low-income families had a college degree at twenty-eight (compared to 45 percent of their higher-income peers). The long shadow of poverty stretches further for African Americans: 40 percent of blacks who dropped out of high school were now working, compared to 89 percent of white high school dropouts. Women fared worse than men. Black and white women both earned less than their male counterparts, but white women tended to be better...

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared that states with NCLB waivers could wait until the 2015–16 school year to start tying test scores to teacher evaluations. It’s a very welcome bit of reasonableness, widely heralded, that grants overwhelmed states a reprieve and allows steadfast locales to stay the course. Effective implementation of the new Common Core standards is Job One—this is a time to support teachers as they stretch themselves and their students to meet the new, higher expectations. The Secretary’s decision will help.

On Thursday, a North Carolina trial court judge held unconstitutional a state voucher law that allowed public money to pay tuition at private and religious schools. The decision is frustrating for choice proponents—and not just because it leaves hundreds of families in last-minute limbo. Nevertheless, some light shines through. The ruling was based on the lack of regulation and accountability at these schools. Pass a provision requiring them to test kids and report the results, and the legal reasoning disappears. There’s also the imminent appeal.

New York City’s United Federation of Teachers supported a Saturday march against aggressive policing, pitting one city union against another...

The New York chapter of the United Federation of Teachers participated in an anti-police brutality rally this past Saturday, prompting the question of what exactly does the union stand for: teachers or a political agenda? Fordham’s vice president of research and coauthor of Fordham’s union-strength study, Amber Northern, explained to Fox viewers why the UFT’s decision to support this rally undermines their chief cause.

As Northern puts it, “the zebra is showing its stripes.” 

This post is an excerpt from a speech I gave last week at the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s state of the schools event.

We’re in the midst of the biggest backlash to education reform in a decade, if not a generation. While some in the movement believe we need to just improve our message, or find new messengers, my sense is that our challenges run much deeper. If we’re going to succeed over the long haul, we need to take a hard look not just at how we’re selling, but also at what we’re selling. We need to look at our reform agenda and ask ourselves: Is it working? Do the pieces fit well together? Does it diagnose the problem correctly and offer the right cures?

This is where we’ve made our biggest mistakes: getting the diagnosis wrong. Specifically, we have diagnosed all of our schools as having the same disease, and prescribed the same medicine for all of them.

In many of our reform conversations, there’s been a lot of tough talk about “failing schools,” and the need to “blow up the system.” And heaven knows there are some terrible schools out there, and...

  1. Week Two of Common Core hearings got underway yesterday here in Ohio, with testimony focused in support of Ohio’s current standards and opposing HB597 seeking to repeal them. Here is a sampling of coverage: Gongwer’s coverage of testimony is not as thorough as Chad’s Twitter-mania, but very good nonetheless, focusing on the testimony of folks in-the-know on how the Common Core was created and adopted in Ohio. (Gongwer Ohio) Marc Kovac focuses on the testimony of school officials from around the state urging Ohio to stay the course on Common Core. (Youngstown Vindicator) I’m not sure how many more ways there are to opine in favor of Common Core, but editors in Cleveland continue to do so. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Public media reporter Andy Chow notes that those in-the-know folks were here specifically to rebut misinformation given in earlier testimony. (StateImpact Ohio) Ever the political animals, Gongwer decided to ask the repeal sponsors how they rate their chances of passage. I can’t tell if the answer is optimistic or simply dogged. (Gongwer Ohio) Meanwhile, the Granville Schools board of education passed a resolution on Monday opposing the repeal of Ohio’s New Learning Standards, not
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  1. It’s a bit harder to be optimistic today than it was yesterday, since Reynoldsburg Schools has filed an unfair-labor complaint against the local teachers union. It may be tit-for-tat, but will that really help reach a successful conclusion to negotiations? (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. On a brighter note, first round Straight A Funds are already hard at work in 27 districts in Appalachia, providing additional paths to dual enrollment and college credit for high schoolers. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. State Superintendent Dick Ross speaks highly of the Straight A Fund in the article above and of the innovation it is fostering in schools across Ohio. Yesterday, Superintendent Ross was in Toledo to tout the early promise shown by the Third Grade Reading Guarantee as well, especially in combatting dropout. (Toledo Blade)
     
  4. Why yes, there is a statewide race for auditor going on in Ohio. Why do you ask? Probably because the two campaigns traded barbs over funding for charter schools yesterday. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  5. Speaking of politics and Youngstown, editors at the Vindy opine on the new legislative assault on Ohio’s New Learning Standards and mince no words. The effort is “fueled by politics” and HB597
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  1. I’m going to start today with some tiny rays of sunshine. The headline of this story gives you all the background: data scrubbing in Columbus City Schools has now been proven to have kept hundreds of children from being eligible for vouchers for the last several years. Wait, you say, that doesn’t sound like sunshine. What IS sunshine is that everyone – and I mean everyone – wants to fix this problem for families…if they can figure out how. “Whether you agree with vouchers or not, the fact is, it is law right now, and everyone should have equal access with the right criteria,” says Democratic state rep. Kevin Boyce. “That wasn’t the case, so folks were cheated out of it. I’d like to find a way to correct that.” This is a sea-change in attitude, putting students and families first and setting politics aside for just a few moments. I am hopeful that with bipartisan support from city hall to the school board to the statehouse, help can be found to get vouchers to families who should have had them all along. Fantastic. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. I am perhaps less optimistic that whoever allowed that “scab” headline to
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  1. Chad and Fordham are namechecked in an editorial from Cleveland, opining on the status of CMSD’s academic and organizational improvement efforts and what is still to be done. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. There is mention in that PD editorial of the district’s third grade reading results this year. Editors there, and in Columbus as well, raise concerns over the use of alternative tests to potentially boost passing rates. Honestly, it’s the editor’s final thought that resonates most with me: “Those strenuous efforts should be the new normal.” It’s more about the work ahead of those tests than the tests themselves. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We told you a couple of months ago about a plan to outsource the placement of substitute teachers as needed this year in Dayton City Schools. Perhaps it was just a negotiating tactic – who knows anymore? – but that plan has been shelved in favor of retaining the services of local union substitutes. There are some caveats, some strict new service goals that must be met, and dental insurance is out the window, but I’m sure everyone is happy with the situation. Hmmm…. Where’s the emoticon for “dripping sarcasm”? (Dayton Daily News)
     
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  1. Week One of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio ended yesterday. Goodness me I’m tired. Here are some reactions to and coverage of Day Three. Just as hearings were starting yesterday, it was reported that the board of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District had voted the night before to support Common Core in Ohio and oppose HB597. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Coverage in Columbus focused on concerns about standards and testing opt-out provisions in the bill. (Columbus Dispatch) As noted in the Dispatch article, committee members heard the first non-proponent testimony yesterday, in the form of “interested party” testimony from StudentsFirst. This seemed to open the door to some testy commentary from members both on and off the record. (Gongwer Ohio) Finally, the folks at Gongwer were aware of the Common Core polling results showing decreasing support for “Common Core” and this piece discusses these results in the light of testimony given so far. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Fordham’s good friend Tom Lasley of Learn to Earn Dayton penned this commentary in support of Common Core. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Yesterday, we told you that it seemed some encouraging news related to Reynoldsburg’s
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New York State just released the results of its 2014 statewide math and reading exams—the second year the state purportedly aligned the tests to the Common Core. Compared to 2013, math proficiency rates rose 5 percentage points, but reading was flat. Both friends and foes of the Common Core sought to spin the results to say whether the reform is working, but it’s way too early for such judgments. On the other hand, it’s not too early to investigate out how Eva Moskowitz and her team are getting such incredible results at her Success Academies, which doubled New York City proficiency rates in reading and tripled them in math.

Much is afoot in the Louisiana court battle over the Common Core and aligned exams. Hearings over the last two weeks have brought mixed results for Bobby Jindal. Plaintiffs’ lawyers won’t be able to depose the governor. But the judge rejected the state’s request to throw out parts of the suit, deciding to hear the full merits of the case, and thwarted Jindal’s attempt to use his executive powers to repeal the standards and suspend the PARCC test. Needless to say, the Pelican State’s purely...

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