Almost thirty years ago, in February 1989, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama gave a talk that was later turned into an article that was later turned into a book, with the provocative title, “The End of History?” With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, western-style liberalism had triumphed over Communism, and had already fended off Fascism. As a recent article in the New Yorker noted:

If you imagined history as the process by which liberal institutions—representative government, free markets, and consumerist culture—become universal, it might be possible to say that history had reached its goal…. There would be a “Common Marketization” of international relations and the world would achieve homeostasis.

It’s a strange time to be using The End of History as an analogy because, as we now know, the end of the Cold War was not the End of History at all, but the end of just one chapter.

But it is fair to say that for a decade or two the world did achieve some sort of homeostasis, perhaps a break from history instead of its end. Democracy was on the move, global trade boomed, and the world became...


You’ve seen plenty of comments and speculations on what last week’s election means for K–12 education (or will mean if they ever finish counting the ballots and filing lawsuits.) But not until this week did you see the conclusion by my friend Jay Mathews that education should be left to the teachers and the politicians should butt out.

Jay is right about more or less everything. But would you really leave war exclusively to the soldiers or entrust health care entirely to doctors? I’ll wager not. Yes, of course they’re on the front lines. They have to do the heavy lifting and incur the casualties—and we should all be grateful, the more so because they (well, infantrymen, not neurosurgeons!) get little compensation for it. That does not, however, mean they should be in charge of the big policy decisions or left to do their own thing without guidance from policy types.

We don’t expect military units to do their own thing in the field, or decide which fields to enter. (If they did, I doubt you’d find them guarding the Mexican border right now.) It’s true that one of the innovations in Iraq was to give...

Carrie Wagner

For the first three weeks of the year, Erin Woods did not say a word to her students during precalculus class, and they were furious. She was their tutor last year, and they knew she was great at Math, so why would she not help them? In fact, she was under strict orders from me to observe and observe only.

Erin is a Math Fellow at City on a Hill Charter Public Schools, for which I am the Director of Teacher Development and Licensure, and was in her first weeks of City on a Hill’s Urban Teaching Fellowship. As a fellow, her priority for the first three weeks was to learn by watching every move of her mentor, Joanie Decopain. During those crucial weeks of putting in place classroom expectations and the systems and routines that students will follow for the whole year, Erin watched silently and absorbed every detail.

Pure observation—so rare for teachers who have thousands of interactions with their students every day—allows teaching fellows to pause and reflect on “teacher moves” that might otherwise go undetected and unexamined. As an observer, Erin took notes on what she saw and recorded questions to bring to Joanie for...


When West Virginia teachers walked out on strike this February, education received a lot of attention in the national news media. Reports on strikes around the country over the next few months provided some unusually vivid insight into the way reporters think, talk, and write about education. Frederick M. Hess and RJ Martin at the American Enterprise Institute took advantage of this opportunity to publish a study on coverage of the strikes; they found headlines to be “remarkably impartial”—although details embedded later in most of the articles skewed treatment disproportionately in favor of the strike.

To understand how the media presented this story to the nation, Hess and Martin analyzed every article covering the strikes from five national newspapers: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. They evaluated whether each headline and lead supported, rejected, or was neutral toward the strikers’ cause. They also tabulated who was quoted in each article, what position each speaker took, and how much information on teacher compensation was included.

Of fifty-nine total headlines, fifty-six were neutral toward the strike. The authors offer this Wall Street Journal example: “West Virginia Teachers Go On Statewide Strike.” The remaining...


A recent report published by the United States Census Bureau uses survey responses on parental interaction, school engagement, and extracurricular activities to give insight into the educational outcomes of America’s children. The report offers a sobering glimpse of how parental interactions with children dominate education outcomes.

Researchers Brian Knop and Julie Siebens used responses from the first wave of the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a monthly survey administered to a nationally representative panel over several years, though for the purpose of this report panel responses were limited to those of parents or guardians. SIPP collects household economic and demographic information, as well as information specific to the well-being of individuals, such as home conditions and food security. For this report, Knop and Siebens used child-specific well-being indicators to influence their findings on the daily experiences of children today, disaggregated by age and demographic factors. Researchers controlled for the sampling and non-sampling errors in survey responses.

Positive parental interactions are correlated with a child’s well-being. And overall, parents reported frequent interactions with their children—except in regular reading at home, which was much more common among white children than black or Hispanic. In all race categories, at least...

  1. Fordham’s latest annual analysis of Ohio school and district report cards—Checking Ohio’s educational vital signs—was released on Tuesday and garnered a bit of media interest. First up, somehow the report’s findings got subsumed into Dayton Daily News’ Path Forward series. Specifically, Aaron’s suggestion to “drive more resources to the handful of Big Eight schools that are getting the job done” in order to improve academic outcomes for students. That’s one thing to focus on, sure. (Dayton Daily News, 11/13/18) While the Dayton Daily News was focused on a solutions-oriented (and Dayton-centric) view, statewide public media focused on the problems highlighted by the state’s report cards. To wit: “About 60 percent of students are leaving their high school experience without the knowledge and skills really necessary to do well in college and also in technical careers”. Oh yeah. That. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 11/13/18) As befits its position as a news outlet of record for state government, Gongwer focused on Aaron’s recommendation to the new governor and General Assembly of how to fix the readily-apparent problems. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/13/18)
  2. Beacon Journal reporter Holly Christensen has a fascinating piece this week regarding a new initiative called LIFE Project, a
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the eighth in our series, under the umbrella of empowering Ohio’s families, and the first to be published following the election of Mike DeWine as Ohio’s next governor. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Remove the statutory provisions that confine startup brick-and-mortar charters to “challenged districts” (the Big Eight, Lucas County, and other low-performing districts). Currently, this policy allows charters to start up in just thirty-nine of Ohio’s 610 districts.

Background: Ohio has more than 300 public charter schools (a.k.a. “community schools”) that educate over 100,000 students. Though online (“virtual”) charters have received much attention of late—much of it deservedly critical—the vast majority of charters are traditional brick-and-mortar schools, almost all of which are located in the major cities and serve primarily disadvantaged children (see figure 3; charters are signified by orange dots). The last detailed evaluation...

  1. We have discussed the Move to PROSPER initiative here before. It is an effort to improve the lives of families in poverty by moving them to “higher resourced” areas via subsidized housing and other supports. Here is a profile on one of the first ten families taking part in the program—folks who moved from the East side of Columbus to Gahanna. Things sound pretty good for them, which is awesome. Given that fact, I can only assume that life is less awesome for many/most/all of the thousands of families just like this one who remain living on the East side of Columbus. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/12/18)
  2. Speaking of things that are less than optimal, editors in Columbus opined this weekend about a “lack of leadership” from the elected board of Columbus City Schools in regard to their non-decision on right sizing district buildings and saving money. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Continuing the theme: Columbus City Schools finally has a deal with its new supe, Talisa Dixon. It starts with one day of work per week from January through early March. Full time after that. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Dr. Dixon’s scheduled departure before the end of the current school
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  1. Saying that right sizing schools and saving money is a “distraction” from trying to stave off a “state takeover”, the elected board of Columbus City Schools voted this week—from the depths of its enormous, empty, $4 million white elephant of fur-lined Batcave—to ignore all the recommendations of their latest facilities task force. Again. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/7/18) Committee members quoted in this follow up piece seem to concur with this assessment and, inexplicably, say that their time was not wasted. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/8/18)
  2. Speaking of both distractions and wasting of time, the elected board of Lorain City Schools wants to check out all the receipts (and emails thereto) regarding the district CEO’s recent trip to Texas. They are hopping mad that he visited charter schools down there and are imputing any number of motives, while conveniently overlooking the fact that he had to go that far to find some best practices that might work to turn desperately underperforming schools around. (Elyria Chronicle, 11/8/18)
  3. Speaking of public records requests, the ABJ dug deep into the specifics of the contract between Akron City Schools and the company responsible for producing the upcoming documentary on the district’s I
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Christy Wolfe

In September, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded grants in four of the six Charter Schools Programs (CSP): State Entities, Developers, Credit Enhancement, and Dissemination.

Congress appropriated a total of $400 million for these awards for FY 2018, including funds for active awards previously awarded. Due to increased funding in recent years, more states than ever have access to start-up funding—thirty-one states have State Entity grants and charter schools in an additional seven states were successful in receiving Developer grants. Many states are also seeing charter school growth through grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools, but awards were not made for that program during FY 2018.

This year, the program awards are a bit more complicated because, for the first time, two competitions were run under the new requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Let’s take a closer look at where the money went:

State entity grants: Funds to open charter schools and build statewide sector quality

The State Entity grant program plays a key role in not only awarding subgrants to schools, but also providing funding for technical assistance and strengthening the quality of authorizers in a...