Additional Topics

  1. In case you missed it, Republication presidential candidate Donald J. Trump visited Cleveland yesterday and spoke at a charter school in the city. The candidate’s remarks were mainly about education plans and promises should we elect him to the top office. This is really the only coverage I could find that stuck to the education theme. But if that’s what it takes to bring the Beacon Journal’s ace inkhound Doug “Dog” Livingston back onto these clips, then so be it! Welcome back, buddy! We missed your brass and sass. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/9/16). Doug’s been out of the education reporting game for a while, covering politics (bleurgh) for the ABJ instead, so he probably hasn’t had an opportunity to read Fordham’s recent downbeat report on Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program. These folks have read it, and framed the candidate’s call for expanded vouchers with it…like a shroud. First, the Standard Examiner out of Ogden, Utah. (Standard Examiner, 9/8/16). Second, the Villages Suntimes News out of Dog knows where. (Villages Suntimes, 9/8/16). As per usual, the candidate didn’t exactly stick to one theme, and a couple of his national security-related comments took over the Dispatch’s coverage. But the
  2. ...

The big summer stories edition

On this week’s podcast, Mike Petrilli, Alyssa Schwenk, and Brandon Wright discuss this summer’s ten biggest education stories. During the research minute, Amber Northern examines the effects of paying teachers for performance.

Amber's Research Minute

Alison Wellington, Hanley Chiang, Kristin Heallgren, Cecilia Speroni, Mariesa Herrmann, and Paul Burkander, "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years," Mathematica (August 2016).

The big news to emerge from the forty-eighth annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools is that when a public school has been failing for a number of years, Americans would prefer to try to fix it by a six-to-one margin rather than to close it. More than any other finding in the poll, PDK says this result “exemplifies the divide between the reform agenda of the past sixteen years and the actual desires of the American public.” I’m not completely convinced. If school choice of any kind weren’t so utterly foreign to the experience of an overwhelming majority of Americans (nearly three out of four of us have no public school of choice available whatsoever), I’d be more surprised by the result. You’d likely get a similar ratio if you polled 1,221 adult Americans, as PDK has, and asked, “Given the option, would you like to have your home’s leaky roof and faulty wiring repaired? Or would you prefer to have your home condemned?” Without some clear sense of the alternative, you’d likely opt to stay put too. But let me not quibble too strenuously. The finding is noteworthy enough and surely says something about the disconnect...

A new report uncovers some good news about narrowing socioeconomic gaps in kindergarten readiness.

It compares the early life experiences of incoming kindergarteners in 1998 with those in 2010 using two large, nationally representative data sets called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS). The data include survey information from a child’s parents and his/her teachers, as well as results from assessments of skills administered multiple times during kindergarten and elementary school.

Analysts examine, among other things, various readiness gaps at the tenth and ninetieth percentiles of the income distribution. For the most part, the data showed many encouraging signs: Across the board, analysts found that both high- and low-income young children in the 2010 cohort were exposed to more books and reading in the home than their 1998 peers. They also had more access to educational games on computers, and they engaged with their parents more both inside and outside the home.

These developments took shape despite the fact that other negative shifts in family characteristics have occurred in the twelve years between samples. Among families at the tenth percentile, the likelihood that a mother was married at the time of a child’s birth dropped five percentage points; fathers in...

Jonathan Butcher

Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice

Those debating reforms to American education should remember this memorial to Sir Christopher Wren, architect of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Wren is buried inside his masterpiece with no marking other than the inscription: If you seek a monument, look around.

Some education reform advocates are starting to wonder whether the long battle to increase parental choice in schooling (among other things) is really making a difference, particularly in light of the growing criticism of public charter schools. Despite recent victories giving students more opportunities in education, Robert Pondiscio recently accused reformers of “cowardice”—of having lost their will to fight.

Yet in states around the country, families and advocates still struggle on students’ behalf. Parental choice in education has seen great successes, and stories of students’ changed lives and parents’ acts of courage are all around us.

Let’s start in Washington State. In 2015, a successful union lawsuit shut down the state’s new charter school law. Prior to the ruling, unionized Seattle teachers went on strike just as the school year began, leaving charter schools the only public schools in the city open for business. District schools forced students to stay home, disrupting their...

  1. The ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the Ohio Department of Education regarding the parameters of an attendance audit is not exactly on the boil at the moment. More of a medium simmer. To fill the time until the next flare up they are hoping for, the good folks at the Dispatch give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the kerfuffle has evolved. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/5/16)
     
  2. Here is a very nice look at KIPP: Columbus, a top-notch charter school (if I do say so myself) here in the capital city. The source is unusual, but the piece is definitely worth a look. Full disclosure: Fordham sponsors KIPP. (Smart Business News, 9/1/16)
     
  3. The Dayton Daily News acknowledged Ohio’s rather disastrous showing in the recent “Fault Lines” report of the 50 most segregating school district borders, including the high ranking ones between Dayton and two of its suburbs. There is no analysis or discussion here; just the fact. But I guess the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is one. (Dayton Daily News, 9/6/16) I am a little remiss in discovering this piece, but the timing couldn’t be more fortuitous. The
  4. ...
  1. A broader-than-usual list of guests, including our own Chad Aldis, appeared on All Sides with Ann Fisher earlier this week, talking about charter school oversight in Ohio. It was awesome, without any reservations at all from me. You should all love it. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 8/31/16)
     
  2. Reports of the demise of charter sponsor evaluations in Ohio appear to have been premature. State supe Paolo DeMaria announced yesterday that rather than pursue the clearance of a new rule on sponsor compliance, the tabling of which caused no end of angst (see All Sides, above), ODE would move forward with evaluations keeping their old rule in place. I doubt this is the end of the story. Chad says, pragmatically, ODE is “making the best out of a situation that was less than optimal.” Indeed. (Dayton Daily News, via AP, 9/1/16) Chad is also quoted in the Dispatch coverage, but final word must go to DeMaria, who says, “If I can get certainty, rigor and compliance, I’m going to go with that option.” Yes. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/1/16) The PD, in typical style, puts yesterday’s decision into context of the full sponsor evaluation framework. Plus it includes a link to
  3. ...

Two years ago, I matriculated from one of the most liberal, activist college campuses in the country. In the months leading up to graduation, I fantasized about jumping head-first into a vocation fighting for social justice. I knew that I had a passion for policy and a healthy interest in education issues (my mom is a school teacher). It was as clear to me then as it is now that education is the key to equality of opportunity.

Eager to put my beliefs into action, I landed in the realm of education reform. Over the last few years, I have been fortunate to meet wonks and policy mavens from all walks of life, all of whom hold in their hearts the best interests of students. Having found the perfect union of my interest in education policy and my desire to help make the world a little better, I figured the rest would be smooth sailing. It was not until earlier this year that I noticed the growing chasm that has formed between two reform camps.

Some on the Right (including a few of my colleagues at Fordham) have argued that if the reformers start pandering to liberals, conservatives will feel...

It's been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad summer for education reform. After many years of bipartisan support, key elements of the reform agenda—higher standards, better teachers, test-based accountability, parental choice—are starved for oxygen in both the Republican and Democratic party platforms. Earlier this month, the NAACP further upset the apple cart with a call for a moratorium on new charter schools. Not to be outdone, a "platform" released by the Movement for Black Lives (a group of organizations organized by Black Lives Matter) issued a scorched-earth condemnation of every aspect of the reform agenda, which it characterized as "a systematic attack…coordinated by an international education privatization agenda, bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists…and aided by the departments of education at the federal, state, and local level."

Response to this series of stunning attacks and political reversals has been muted. The usual groups have told journalists where and how they disagree with the antis. But there's been no outcry of support for the agenda items under attack, and certainly not from any political leaders, prominent columnists, etc.

This week, by marked contrast, the atmosphere inside the edu-bubble was set alight by—wait for it—John Oliver. The British comedian recorded a "takedown" of charter schools that was...

  1. The dulcet tones of our own Chad Aldis are included in this public media report noting that three other online charter schools are staring down the barrel of the same type of attendance audit the state’s largest online school is currently contesting in myriad ways. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 8/29/16)
     
  2. Meanwhile, state senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown) opined on the need for passage of legislation making Ohio’s online schools more accountable. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/29/16) In related opining news, editors in Akron urge the governor to get involved in the charter sponsors review rules kerfuffle. (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/30/16)
     
  3. Back in the real world, it seems that the threatened teacher strike in Cleveland has been averted. I believe a final vote of the rank and file is still pending, but hopefully will turn out for the positive when it happens. Whew! (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/30/16)
     
  4. The Youngstown School Board held a special meeting on Monday…or did they? (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/30/16) Outside the fiddle section, there are still not enough drivers for the school buses. (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/31/16)
     
  5. In Youngstown suburb news, Howland Schools has implemented an odd sort of busing change this school
  6. ...

Pages