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  1. Editors in Youngstown seem to have reached their limit with ongoing by-the-book efforts to fix the academic ills of the district. They opined this weekend that “the word dysfunction has become synonymous” with the district, said the state “can no longer sit back and let the status quo prevail”, and urged the state to “not wait for community consensus” and act now to restructure the district to benefit children who are “suffering”. Wow. (Youngstown Vindicator)
  2. Speaking of weekend editorials, editors in Toledo decried the “circus” of Common Core repeal hearings and urged Governor Kasich to stop the wheel spinning by declaring that he would veto any such repeal bill should it reach his desk. (Toledo Blade)
  3. Speaking of last week’s hearings, public radio reporter Andy Chow wanted to get clarification of a potentially incendiary comment made by the sponsor of the repeal bill about the number of “intelligent people” who have or have not testified on certain aspects of the Common Core. To wit: how about hearing testimony on a standard-by-standard basis with pros and cons from “intelligent people” on each side? I’m sure it would be an endless and unwieldy process – and Chad’s
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Michael Usdan

There is little that I might add to Checker and Mike's wonderfully fitting tribute to Graham Down. They captured the very essence of a remarkable, multi-faceted, true Renaissance man.

Graham and I were personal and professional friends for better than three decades and crossed paths often in foundation offices as we both constantly sought revenue for our respective organizations: Graham for the Council for Basic Education and me for the Institute for Educational Leadership, which I led for twenty years. Indeed, our tenures as leaders of our respective organizations overlapped for almost two decades.

Despite this ostensible competition and eternal scrambling for scarce funds for our non-profits, we developed a unique and wonderful friendship with good natured, irrepressible humor. I unfailingly would tease Graham about his "Bronx accent" and the decline of his beloved British Empire. He in turn would respond to my taunts (in an infinitely more refined and articulate way) with acerbic comments about the immaturity of the American colonies.

Graham had superb people skills. His leadership of CBE was notable for many reasons. Most importantly, his special ability to bridge and connect diverse individuals and ideologies stands out in stark contrast in the contemporary, polarized education-policy...

  1. Say you’re someone who wants to open a charter school in Cincinnati, but say that your sponsor was warned in no uncertain terms by the Ohio Department of Education that your school was not allowed to open for a number of, say, very good reasons. What do you do? The folks at Hope4Change took what we’ll call a “counterintuitive” approach.  (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  2. Week Three of Common Core hearings was short and sweet compared to previous iterations. I am sorry that I missed this editorial from Cleveland opining in exasperation at the “circus-like” nature of the hearings to that point, but honestly nothing about that description changed yesterday and it’s still a valid comment. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) A revised and amended version of HB597 was debuted yesterday. Gongwer’s coverage focuses on details of all the changes, and takes time to predict more committee hearings in the future. (Gongwer Ohio) Public radio’s Andy Chow discusses the changes in the bill made yesterday but notes that no further hearings or next steps were announced. (WKSU-FM, Kent) As it has done for the last two weeks, covering in the PD remained focused on the issue of ID in the
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Tony Fischer/Flickr

[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of personal reflections on the current state of education reform and contemporary conservatism by Andy Smarick, a Bernard Lee Schwartz senior policy fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.  The previous posts in this series can be seen herehere, and here.]

Andy’s odyssey: Part four

The most convincing argument against conservatism is that by defending longstanding institutions it ends up protecting longstanding injustices.

Yes, there is a prima facie case for preservation: It’s sensible to safeguard things that have stood the test of time—libraries, respect for elders, voluntary community associations, the Western canon, charity. But enormous harm is done by protecting old, immoral institutions, like serfdom, honor killings, and the denial of women’s suffrage.

A corollary of the preserve-first approach, that change should occur gradually, promises wise, prudent adjustments. But it too can injure grievously. Ending the military targeting of civilians—once a common wartime practice—needed to happen immediately, not slowly. This understanding is reflected in Gladstone’s adage, “Justice delayed is justice denied;” Goldwater’s admonition, “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is...

A fern between two Mikes: The Vergara fight goes coast to coast

A fern between two Mikes: The Vergara fight goes coast to coast

Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane discuss the growth of Vergara-like fights nationwide and the pros and cons of taking the tenure debate to the courts.

This is the year when nearly every state must begin using assessments aligned to the Common Core, or other “college-and career-ready” standards, Education Week notes. And unlike last year, “this year’s achievement results will be a cornerstone of states’ public accountability reporting.”

The United States ranks third (trailing Switzerland and Singapore) in competitiveness, based on several factors, including “an excellent university system,” according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. In education, the U.S. is seventh (of 144 countries) in higher ed; in primary ed, the U.S. ranks thirty-sixth.

All students in the United Kingdom will learn computer coding as young as age five starting this year due to curriculum changes. In the U.S., “very few elementary age students are learning to code in U.S. schools, though the nonprofit is trying to change that,” reports Education Week.

Heard the one about how U.S. schools have never been more diverse? County-level maps produced by the Urban Institute show schools are actually less likely to be diverse than before. Blame housing patterns.

The New Yorker rediscovers “Up the...

  1. College Board Senior Advisor and Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow at Fordham Kathleen Porter-Magee talks to the Plain Dealer about the replacement for Ohio’s New Learning Standards as proposed in HB597. Sounds like an inevitable mess should the bill pass. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  2. Week Three of testimony on the aforementioned HB597 begins – and maybe ends? – today in the House Rules Committee. Editors in Canton opine again against the bill, calling the campaign against the Common Core in Ohio “misguided”. (Canton Repository)
  3. Something else that editors in Canton are supportive of: teacher evaluation. (Canton Repository)
  4. Yesterday, we told you of registration problems for dozens of students in Mansfield, an untold number of whom are still sitting at home days after school started. There was a veiled intimation in that piece that a closed charter school was to blame. Today, the veil is off and without evidence or numbers the district blames the charter – which closed back in June – for failing to send complete records. While I am sympathetic to the work that is created by incomplete records, a couple of questions come to mind: 1. How many of these students
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Long before today’s education-reform movement was born, indeed long before A Nation at Risk, there was the Council for Basic Education (CBE), founded in 1956 by such notables as Jacques Barzun, Hyman Rickover, and Mortimer Smith. They believed, as do we, that “there is an intimate relationship between a healthy democracy and the ideal of excellence in education.”

For nearly half a century, CBE fought the good fight for excellence in American K–12 education, for rigorous standards, excellent teaching, and curriculum built upon serious content. For decades, it was very nearly the only voice to caution about the excesses of progressivism, relativism, and equity-at-the-expense-of-quality.

And for more than twenty years, from the dawn of special education to the enactment of Goals 2000, this invaluable organization was captained by A. Graham Down, who passed away on Saturday, a day after celebrating his eighty-fifth birthday at his beloved Cosmos Club.

Equipped with a plummy Oxbridge accent, as befits a superbly educated gentleman—history, music, education, and more—who moved to the U.S. from England at age twenty-five, Graham was as close to a Renaissance man as we have known in person. A dedicated and accomplished musician, widely read in many fields,...

Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)

VIDEO: Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)

Elizabeth Green’s new book, Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone), takes a look at the science and art of being and building a great teacher. But policy questions abound: Can teacher-preparation programs churn out the number of effective new teachers our schools need every year? Should it be harder to become a teacher? Is the real issue “teacher quality” or “quality teaching”? And if the latter, what can governors and other policymakers do about it?

This is a conversation and discussion with Green on her new book and on what makes a great teacher—and great teaching.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s offer to subsidize full-day pre-K programs came with a number of strings attached, and many religious organizations are refusing to play along. The city is tying funding to, among other things, regulations on after-meal prayer, displays of religious symbols, and references to religious texts. Many faith-based preschools would, of course, benefit from some extra cash. But perhaps mindful of a certain sacred text’s condemnation of money as the “root of all sorts of evil,” some are advising caution.

Driven by high rates of youth unemployment and the Internet, vocational education may finally be poised for a revolution. Two big changes are eliminating the biggest culprits of stagnation—low status and a lack of innovation. Nineteen-year-old auto mechanics, for example, can out-earn not only college-graduate peers but the median pay of all U.S. workers. And competency-based education MOOCs are allowing prospective laborers to learn skills at their convenience and in whatever order or manner works best for their careers.

Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, in a New York Times op-ed over the weekend, argued that socioeconomic diversity should be one of the cornerstones on which charter schools...