Digital Learning

The Education Gadfly

Mike and Rick raise the bar this week, discussing high achievers, Duncan's digital promise, and the textbook-company oligarchy. (Oh, and Rick confesses he has a reform-crush on L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa). Amber tackles minority-teacher retention and Chris dives head first into an NCAA lawsuit.


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Yesterday, the New York Times began a series on technology and education (?Grading the Digital School?) on a decidedly downbeat note: the huge investment in digital technology ? nearly $2 billion a year in software alone, according to the paper -- may not be improving student performance.? [pullquote]?We've jumped on bandwagons for different eras without knowing fully what we're doing. This might just be the new bandwagon.?[/pullquote]

The Arizona school district that reporter Matt Richtel uses to illustrate the lengthy discussion (a front-page story in the Times' Sunday print edition) is the 18,000 student, K-8 Kyrene School District, which has invested $33 million in its digital system since 2005. ??Hope and enthusiasm are soaring,? writes Richtel, ?but not test scores.?

Despite the headlong rush to digitize our schools, there is, as Larry Cuban tells Richtel, ?insufficient evidence to spend that kind of money. Period, period, period.? ?Cuban also pooh-pooh's the ?student engagement? argument for computers. ?There is very little valid and reliable research that shows the engagement causes or leads to higher academic achievement,? he says.

Even Kyrene Superintendent David Schauer has his doubts, telling Richtel, ?We've jumped on bandwagons for different eras without knowing fully...

Guest Blogger

Which of the five states competing to be America's next Education Reform Idol did the most to advance charter schools and private-school choice during the 2011 legislative session? Consider our analysis below, and attend our event Thursday morning (8:30-10:00AM) to see key players in all five states defend their records in front of a panel of ed-reform celebrity judges?Jeanne Allen, Richard Lee Colvin, and Bruno Manno. And click here to cast your vote for Education Reform Idol.


Florida passed three major choice initiatives this year: A charter-school bill that makes it easier for high-performing charters to expand, a pair of voucher programs for students with disabilities and students in low-performing schools, and a digital-learning bill. The digital-learning bill is especially impressive, allowing students to attend publicly funded digital charters as well as requiring districts to offer part- and full-time digital options in grades K-12.


Illinois's Charter School Quality Act allows charter schools to be approved by an independent commission instead of individual school districts. This is expected to be a boon for many rural and...

Guest Blogger

Now that we've reached the age of digital learning and the online university and racism is a thing of the past, is there any place in our society for cursive writing? It's good, though, to see that even academic elites can open up to new things.

-Joshua Pierson, Fordham Intern

The debates surrounding Ohio’s biennial budget and other education-related legislation during the first half of 2011 were intense, and it’s no wonder. The state headed into the year facing a historic deficit, federal stimulus money was vanishing, and school districts were preparing for draconian cuts. Meanwhile, despite decades of reform efforts and increases in school funding, Ohio’s academic performance has remained largely stagnant, with barely one-third of the state’s students scoring proficient or better in either math or reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Achievement gaps continued to yawn between black and white students and between disadvantaged youngsters and their better-off peers.

 Revised considerably by the General Assembly, Governor Kasich’s budget plan (House Bill 153), a 5,000-page document that both funded the Buckeye State through fiscal year 2013 and included dozens of education-policy changes, was signed into law on June 30. The Ohio House and Senate were also engaged during the spring in passing other legislation that impacts schools.

It’s time to take stock. To what extent have Ohio’s leaders met the challenges and opportunities before them in K-12 education? What needs to happen next?...

The Education Gadfly

The following is a guest post from Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida's Future, on why Florida should be considered the reformiest state at our Ed Reform Idol event next week. Contestants from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin will explain why they should be named the 2011 Ed Reform Idol winner throughout the week.

Don't forget to join us for Ed Reform Idol on August 11 at 8:30AM or watch the webcast live to see which state wins!

This year, Florida launched a new chapter of bold, transformational education reform. As our schools reorganize around the success of every student, the culture of reform in the Sunshine State continues to center on the simple premise that all students can learn. In 2011, Florida challenged the status quo once again and passed landmark teacher-quality legislation, the comprehensive Digital Learning Now Act, and expanded educational choice for families.

Florida's historic teacher-reform bill was our first victory of the year. This legislation recognizes teachers' critical roles in preparing students to excel beyond the classroom and modernizes the teaching...