Paul E. Peterson

    Author Website:

    Author Bio:
    Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Senior Editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. Peterson is a former director of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and of the Governmental Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He received his Ph. D. in political science from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Foundation, and the Center for Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is the author of the book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning (Harvard University Press, 2010). Peterson was a member of the independent review panel advising the Department of Education’s evaluation of the No Child Left Behind law and a member of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force of K-12 Education at Stanford University. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers have been among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.


Cuban Schools: Too Good to Be True

What explains claims of Castro’s educational excellence? Almost certainly, cheating on the tests.

Cuban Schools: Too Good to Be True

What explains claims of Castro’s educational excellence? Almost certainly, cheating on the tests.

Public Support Grows for Higher Teacher Pay and Expanded School Choice

Results from the 2019 Education Next Poll

WINTER 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 1

Shuttering Schools in Chicago

“Ghosts in the Schoolyard” by Eve L. Ewing, reviewed by Paul E. Peterson

SUMMER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 3

The Achievement Gap Fails to Close

Half century of testing shows persistent divide between haves and have-nots

SUMMER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 3

Public Support Climbs for Teacher Pay, School Expenditures, Charter Schools, and Universal Vouchers

Results from the 2018 EdNextPoll

WINTER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 1

Have States Maintained High Expectations for Student Performance?

An analysis of 2017 state proficiency standards

FALL 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 4

The Politics of Choice When the Public School was Born

A review of Public vs. Private by Robert N. Gross

SUMMER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 3

Partisanship and Higher Education: Where Republicans and Democrats Agree

In our most recent public-opinion survey, we find sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans about the value of a bachelor’s degree (as distinct from a two-year associate’s degree).

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on school choice, Common Core, higher ed, and more

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

Changing Our Teens One Family at a Time

A review of “The Vanishing American Adult” by Ben Sasse

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

What Do Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools?

EdNext poll compares charter, district, and private schools nationwide

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

How Satisfied are Parents with Their Children’s Schools?

New evidence from a U.S. Department of Education survey

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

Common Core and vouchers down, but many other reforms still popular

WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1

Not Leaving, Just Changing Jobs

This is the last issue of Education Next for which I will serve as editor-in-chief.

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

The End of the Bush-Obama Regulatory Approach to School Reform

Choice and competition remain the country’s best hope

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

After Common Core, States Set Rigorous Standards

Forty-five states raise the student proficiency bar

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

The Ideal Blended-Learning Combination

Is one-third computer time about right?

SPRING 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 2

The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on testing, opt out, common core, unions, and more

WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1

CREDO Reveals Successful Charters’ Secret Sauce

What are the general lessons to be learned from the many case studies of successful chartering?

SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

States Raise Proficiency Standards in Math and Reading

Commitments to Common Core may be driving the proficiency bar upward

SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

Government Should Subsidize, Not Tax, Marriage

Social policies have influenced the rate of growth in single-parent families

SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 2

No Common Opinion on the Common Core

Also teacher grades, school choices, and other findings from the 2014 EdNext poll. Full results also available at education

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Accountability for Students: Exit Exams

An excerpt from What Lies Ahead for America’s Children and Their Schools, a new book edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Richard Sousa

U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests

It’s not just about kids in poor neighborhoods

FALL 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 4

Despite Success in New York City, It’s Time for Charters to Guard Their Flanks

School districts and teachers unions are fighting charters with renewed energy.

SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 3

The Education Iron Triangle

An excerpt from Teachers Versus the Public

Common Core and the War on Self-Deception

Learning the truth about schools helps the school reform cause

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Information Fuels Support for School Reform

Facts about local district performance alter public thinking

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Charter Schools Survive a Biting ‘Rain of Terror’

Charter schools, once little more than glass miniatures, are proving to be the toughest, most enduring of all education reforms.

Winter 2014 / Vol. 14, No. 1

The 2013 Education Next Survey

Americans React to Common Core and Other Education Policies

WINTER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 1

Despite Common Core, States Still Lack Common Standards

Students proficient on state tests but not national

FALL 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 4

Middle Class Students Trail Peers Abroad

The America Achieves study reveals in an alternate way an international achievement gap that my colleagues and I have been identifying over the past three years.

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

The Impact of School Vouchers on College Enrollment

African Americans benefited the most

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

Revelations from the TIMSS

Half or more of student achievement gains on NAEP are an illusion

Spring 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 2

Reform Agenda Gains Strength

The 2012 EdNext-PEPG survey finds Hispanics give schools a higher grade than others do

Winter 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 1

Is the U.S. Catching Up?

International and state trends in student achievement

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

Running in Place

Americans are learning more but are not catching up to the rest of the world

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12. NO. 4

Not All Teachers Are Made of Ticky-Tacky, Teaching Just the Same

The true import of the Chetty study

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

Neither Broad Nor Bold

A narrow-minded approach to school reform

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

The International Experience

What U.S. schools can and cannot learn from other countries

Photos: Additional images from the Education Next-PEPG Conference

WINTER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 1

Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?

The latest on each state’s international standing

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

The Public Weighs In on School Reform

Intense controversies do not alter public thinking, but teachers differ more sharply than ever

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Eighth-Grade Students Learn More Through Direct Instruction

Students learned 3.6 percent of a standard deviation more if the teacher spent 10 percent more time on direct instruction. That’s one to two months of extra learning during the course of the year.

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

The Case Against Michelle Rhee

How persuasive is it?

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

A Battle Begun, Not Won

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been. For the other side of the debate, please see Pyrrhic Victories? by Frederick M. Hess, Michael J. Petrilli, […]

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Happy 10th Anniversary, Education Next!

Over the decade, we have witnessed—perhaps contributed to—the advance of school reform.

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Wasting Talent

Everyone’s local school needs to do better

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

Teaching Math to the Talented

Which countries—and states—are producing high-achieving students?

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

We Know Our Schools

All school evaluations, like all politics, are local

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Meeting of the Minds

The 2010 EdNext-PEPG Survey shows that, on many education reform issues, Democrats and Republicans hardly disagree

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

State Standards Rise in Reading, Fall in Math

Most state standards remain far below international level

View the Underlying Data

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Competition and Charters Spur Innovation

School markets are creative, not static

Summer 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 3

Charter High Schools

Promising results from charters that educate teens

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

A Courageous Look at the American High School

The legacy of James Coleman

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

A Recession for Schools

Not as bad as it sounds

Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

What Happens When States Have Genuine Alternative Certification?

We get more minority teachers and test scores rise

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

Few States Set World-Class Standards

In fact, most render the notion of proficiency meaningless

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

The Persuadable Public

The 2009 Education Next-PEPG Survey asks if information changes minds about school reform.

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Powerful Professors

Research can change the political agenda…if the circumstances are right

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Virtual School Succeeds

But can we be sure about the students?

Summer 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 3

For-Profit and Nonprofit Management in Philadelphia Schools

What kind of management does better than the district-run schools?

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

What Is Good for General Motors

For years, our public schools have paid as little attention to personnel costs as General Motors has.

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

The Home-Schooling Special

Today's choicest choice

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

The Next President Had Many School Choices

Will he provide similar opportunities for others?

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

The 2008 Education Next-PEPG Survey of Public Opinion

Americans think less of their schools than of their police departments and post offices

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

Today’s Education-Industrial Complex

Why aren’t schools an issue in the 2008 election?

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

Excellence Reformers Need to Make a Choice

Is accountability the reform of the past?

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

Good News for Presidential Candidates

The public supports a wide range of education reforms

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

A Lens That Distorts

NCLB’s faulty way of measuring school quality

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

What Americans Think about Their Schools

The 2007 Education Next—PEPG Survey

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

Politics First, Students Last

A well-heeled commission issues a weak-kneed report

Summer 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 3

The Entrepreneurs and the New Commission

Changing minds in the education establishment

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

The NCES Private-Public School Study

Findings are other than they seem

Winter 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 1

Learning from Catastrophe Theory

What New Orleans Tells Us about Our Education Future

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Is Your Child’s School Effective?

Don’t rely on NCLB to tell you

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Vouchers in New York, Dayton, and D.C.

Vouchers and the Test-Score Gap

Summer 2001 / Vol. 1, No. 2

The Supreme School Board

Vouchers on Trial

A view from inside the courtroom

Summer 2002 / Vol. 2, No. 2

Ticket to Nowhere

In the wake of A Nation at Risk, educators pledged to focus anew on student achievement. Two decades later, little progress has been made

Spring 2003 / Vol. 3, No. 2

Voucher Research Controversy

New looks at the New York City evaluation

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

The Brown Irony

Racial progress eventually came to pass—everywhere but in public schools

Fall 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 4

The Children Left Behind

Now it is certain, on its third anniversary, that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is a monumental achievement. The accountability provisions of the law shine a bright light on the performance of schools across the nation, forcing many of them to attend to long-ignored problems. But new evidence confirms what was known when the law […]

Spring 2005 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Johnny Can Read…in Some States

Assessing the rigor of state assessment systems

Summer 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 3

Let the Public In

How Closed Negotiations with Unions Are Hurting Our Schools

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Keeping an Eye on State Standards

A race to the bottom?

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Of Teacher Shortages and Quality

Good teaching—the kind that can routinely raise student achievement—is the most valuable of all education resources. When a teacher inspires, children learn, even when the building is antiquated, the Internet is missing, and classes are bigger than usual. So teacher quality matters. A lot. Yet the standard measure of quality today, the teaching credential or […]

Spring 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 2

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Both Teachers and the Public Back Janus Decision by Supreme Court

When it comes to agency fees, the nays have it by a clear majority. No less than 56% of the general public and 54% of public school teachers are opposed.


Latest NAEP Results: Obama Administration Fails U. S. Students

Student gains registered over the Obama years were trivial at best, far short of those accomplished during what must now be referred to as the halcyon days of the George W. Bush Administration.


The Rebound in Charter Support — But Also a Widening Partisan Divide

Charters are making a rebound—at least among Republicans and African Americans.


Secret Finding from PDK Poll: Support for Vouchers is Rising

The just released PDK survey of U. S. adults reveals an upward shift in public support for vouchers of 10 percentage points over the past four years, with 8 of those percentage points gained since 2015


When it Comes to Education, Are Californians Unique?

The Californians who participated in the 2017 Education Next survey of American adults have views that are different from the national sample on only a few issues.


American Exceptionalism Isn’t a Modern Idea

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of it in the 1830s


The Research on Charter Schools: An Introduction

Two professors from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government give a quick explanation of charter schools and other education policy issues facing the Trump administration


Pence, Trump, and the Ed Reform Agenda

With Donald Trump set to enter the Oval Office, Vice President-elect Michael Pence seems likely to shape the federal role in education for the next four years.


What Was Accomplished in the Era of Reform via Federal Regulation?

For all their differences, George W. Bush and Barack Obama shared a surprisingly common approach to school reform: a regulatory approach.


Teachers More Likely to Use Private Schools for their Own Kids

These teachers, moreover, support similar choices for other parents and oppose agency fees currently imposed on many.


James S. Coleman: Education’s North Star

For half a century, Coleman’s work has altered the shape of education research, school politics, and school policy.


Why Do German Students Learn More, When Their Schools Get Less Money?

Back in 2000, U.S. and German students at age 15 were performing at roughly the same level on international tests . By 2012, German 15-year-olds were outscoring their U.S. peers by 32 points in math, a difference representing more than a year’s worth of learning.


Republicans and Democrats Disagree on the Relative Importance of Reading, Math, and the Arts

Americans have generally agreed on what should be taught in the public schools, but partisan debate has increasingly turned the core curriculum into a political football.


‘No-Racially-Disparate-Discipline’ Policies Opposed by Both Teachers and General Public

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.


Why Do Two Good Polls Get Different Results?

Gauging public opinion on parental opt-out, charters, Common Core and vouchers


Common Core: How Much Do People Know About Its Real Impact?

Are opinions about the Common Core driven by the public debate broadcast in the media or are they rooted in direct knowledge about what is happening in schools?


Public Supports Testing, Opposes Opt-Out, Opposes Federal Intervention

If those in our nation’s capital want to modify federal education policy along lines preferred by the public at large, they will enact a law that resembles the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate.


Diane Ravitch, Union Shops and the Education Next Poll

If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger


Teachers and the Public Oppose Agency Fees Charged By Teachers Unions

Judging by a recent survey, a plurality of the American public and an equally large share of teachers oppose forced union payments.


Racial Controversies Are As Misleading Today As They Were When The Moynihan Report Was Written

In its Spring issue, Education Next takes note of the 50th anniversary of a 1965 publication issued by the U. S. Department of Labor entitled “The Negro Family.”


Nathan Glazer on Revisiting the Moynihan Report

Fifty years ago the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report that identified a surprising rate of growth in the percentage of African American children born into single-parent families.


No Child Left Behind and Testing Help Hold Schools Accountable

Annual, statewide testing should be saved, and it can be if moderates in both parties fight off special interests.


Can an Online College Course Live Up to Students’ Expectations?

What we learned by teaching “Saving Schools: History, Politics and Policy in U. S. Education,” our first Massive Open Online Course


A Rescue Plan for the Black Family

Far from addressing the marriage problem, the federal government exacerbated it.


School Vouchers Help Low-Income Minority Students Earn a College Degree

For the first time, we are able to show that vouchers may have a long-term positive impact on college graduation rates.


Simply By Forming an Exploratory Committee, Jeb Bush Places School Reform on the National Agenda

In 2016 neither Jeb Bush’s Republican primary opponents nor Hillary Clinton nor even Elizabeth Warren will be able to ignore the poor state of the nation’s schools. For they will be facing a candidate with the strongest school reform credentials any presidential candidate has ever had.


Do Teachers Support the Vergara Decision?

Courts have yet to reach a final verdict on teacher tenure and seniority rights, but the court of public opinion has already made a clear determination.


Demonstrate College Readiness If You Want a Federal Grant or Loan

Before receiving a federal grant that never needs to be repaid (as is the case with Pell grants and some loans), the recipient should demonstrate that they are worthy of support by passing an appropriate set of examinations.


What Parents Think About Their Public Schools

If one judged public opinion by conventional public discourse, one would soon conclude that parents in the United States are neatly divided between devotees of district-operated schools and choiceniks determined to avoid them. But Americans are a good deal more practical than that.


Comparing PDK and Education Next Polls

Differences between the two polls derive from the questions that are asked and the way in which they are posed.


Political Polarization Needlessly Divides the Public on Common Core and NCLB

Political polarization is making it increasingly difficult to sustain support for policy undertakings a majority of the public supports.


Saving Schools—Launching My MOOC on HarvardX

On September 8, “Saving Schools” launches. Four (free!) mini- courses on “History, Politics and Policy in U. S. Education”


Teacher-Tenure Decision Is NOT an Abuse of Judicial Power

Vergara precedents are multiple, judge’s actions restrained


Playing in the Right League

Instead of being complacent about our international standings, we should focus on ways to get our students up to the top leagues.


U. S. Adults Perform Below International Average in Numeracy, Literacy and Problem Solving

The United States once had the best educational system in the world, but that day seems to have faded away. Unfortunately, the United States can no longer live on the great educational system it once enjoyed.


Can Education Polls Be Scientific? Or Is It All Interest Group Politics?

Sampling the public can be done pretty accurately by sophisticated polling firms, and all three of the just-released surveys have that in common. But even though sampling can be done in a scientific manner, question formulation in survey research is an art form.


The Public Supports Accountability and Common Core Standards

While many in state capitols and Washington, D.C. are placing bets against state and national accountability systems that range from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards, the public remains faithful to its long-standing commitment to hold schools, students and teachers accountable.


Latest Results on Common Core and Other Issues in EdNext and AP Polls

A comparison of the two polls reveals that responses depend quite a bit on how a question is posed.


While K–12 Schools Resist, Digital Learning Disrupts Higher Education

Although digital learning is making definite advances, it has yet to disrupt secondary education.


Readers Comment on Obama’s Failure to Close White-Black Test Score Gap

A number of people have commented on my finding that the black-white test score gap on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)’s long-term trend survey has failed to close during the Obama years.


Black-White Test Score Gap Fails to Close Under Obama

Student achievement, after rising steadily during the 1999-2008 period, has come to a virtual halt during the Obama Administration.


Peter Flanigan: A True Friend of School Choice

School vouchers never had a better friend than Peter Flanigan.


Randi Weingarten Provides a Teaching Moment

Why is Weingarten accusing Zimmerman of taking the law into his own hands after a jury of six women found that there was reasonable doubt that he was guilty?


Common Core State Standards: Do You Need To Be Proficient In Order To Be Proficient?

Too many people ignore international comparisons and set low expectations for U.S. students and their schools.


A Reply to NCTQ’s Defense of its Rating System

We will not know much about teacher preparation effectiveness until we can link teacher training directly to student achievement.


Do the NCTQ Rankings Identify Schools of Education that Produce Graduates Who Are Effective in the Classroom?

The National Council on Teacher Quality, in conjunction with U. S. News and World Report, has issued an ambitious report evaluating the quality of teacher preparation programs in schools of education across the United States.


Carnoy and Rothstein Disgrace the Honest Marxian Tradition

How do Carnoy and Rothstein manage to raise U. S. educational performance to international standards simply by adjusting for the social-class background of its students?


Did Republicans Win the Fiscal Cliff Battle?

Conventional wisdom says that Obama put one over on the GOP. The real story is quite otherwise.


Predicting the Future of American Education in 2013

Predicting what will happen in 2013 is a fool’s project. Consider 2012.


Sandy Hook

At this holiday season, ordinarily so joyful, all of our hearts are filled with sadness, thoughts, and prayers for the families of those 27 children and adults who lost their lives in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Charter Schools Top Story of 2012

According to research gathered by the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force, charter schools provided the fodder for more news stories in 2012 than any other educational topic.


If Johnny or Susie Cannot Read or Write … Neither Will Graduate from High School

Do graduation rates from high school have anything to do with student proficiency in reading and writing in 4th and 8th grade?


Are Americans Losing Confidence in Their Teachers?

Poll reveals less trust in teachers, especially among swing voters


Vouchers Help African American Students Go to College

Matthew Chingos and I have just released a study that for the first time makes use of data from a randomized field trial to identify the impact of school vouchers on college enrollments.


When It Comes to Student Achievement, States are Changing Big Time

Some states are improving much more rapidly than others


In Remembrance of Elinor Ostrom: the political scientist who won the Nobel prize in economics

Noted Indiana University professor, Elinor Ostrom, died this week at the age of 78. I cannot better express my appreciation for her life and work than by re-posting what I said at the time she became the first woman–and the first political scientist–to win the Nobel prize in economics.


Another Real Winner in Wisconsin—Real Clear Politics

My colleagues and I went out on a limb yesterday when we wrote an op-ed piece saying that teacher unions were in trouble. So I watched the news last night with a worried eye after CNN told me that the exit polls in Wisconsin showed a tight race.


Special New York Whines Report: In times of crisis, private schools stealing public funds

A unique survey of schools by our New York Whines on-the-scene reporters has revealed a misappropriation of public funds for private schooling in schools across most of Europe. 


Dumbing Down the GPA: It’s the Unsophisticated Bright Kid who Suffers

It is not the under-achieving students in urban centers who perpetuate the ongoing crisis in American education. They are simply doing their best to survive the challenges of family, neighborhood and circumstance. The threats come from the mindless educational potentates who have captured control of the best public schools in the country.


Will Stanford Join the Digital Learning World?

Readers interested in digital education should go to the very end of Ken Auletta’s article on Stanford’s president, John Hennessy, in the latest issue of the New Yorker.


Why Most People Do Their Yoga at Home

Matthew Yglesias concludes that “affluent American parents will continue to foot the bill for their kids to get schooled in person” rather than making use of online learning. But you could conclude that Americans—both affluent and otherwise—will be insisting that their children take their high school classes online so that they are not bullied or embarrassed in the classroom when they are not as skilled as others.


Digital Learning in Utah: Devil is in the Details

Can school districts be vehicles for introducing a choice-based system of digital education?


The President’s Bully Pulpit and School Reform

Should presidents talk about student achievement or jobs for teachers?


You Can Deny the Truth of My Critique of Broader, Bolder Theory, But Why Can’t You At Least Spell My Name?

In an ill-considered rebuttal, blogger Valerie Strauss denies that BBA disparages the value of school reform. She even denies that either BBA or Ladd ever meant to say that income had much of an impact on achievement.


Rich and Poor—Both Can Learn

Family income is associated with student achievement, but careful studies show little causal connection. School factors—teacher quality, school accountability, school choice—have bigger causal impacts than family income per se.


In the Digital World, Every District Can Compete with Every Other

In Utah, new legislation has given school districts the opportunity to attract high school students from throughout the state to their online course offerings.


The Right Role for the Federal Government

Give parents the information they need to pick their school of choice


Teacher Unions, Mac the Knife, and Dollar Power

During the 2010-11 fiscal year, the NEA invested $18.8 million dollars in a bewildering array of grateful non-profit groups and organizations


Resist Those Calls for the Formation of a Third Party

A lot of people, unhappy with both the Obama Administration and the Republican alternative, are searching for a middle way.


What Do the Latest NAEP Scores Tell Us about NCLB?

Did the federal law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), close the education gap?  Now that Congress is talking about reauthorizing NCLB, it struck me that it would be worthwhile to see what the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tell us about the direction the nation has moved in the years since the law was passed.


Views of EdNext Readers In Line With Those of General Public (except on Teachers Unions)

Ed Next readers—or at least those who participate in our polls—are not all that different from the public at large, except that they seem to know more about the issues and are thus more inclined to take a position on them. That’s what we discovered when we asked the same questions of readers as were posed to a representative cross-section of the public as a whole in 2011.


Jeb Bush, Melinda Gates, Sal Khan and the Coming Digital Learning Battle

The debate between blended and online learning will continue. Too much politically is at stake for it to be otherwise.


Regardless of Who is to Blame, Accountability and Merit Pay are Taking Some Heat in Texas

I am encouraged when Sandy Kress tells me that the moves away from accountability and merit pay that have taken place recently in Texas were forced upon Governor Rick Perry and Robert Scott, the state’s education commissioner, by legislative pressures beyond their control.


Is Rick Perry Abandoning School Accountability and Merit Pay?

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott was in enemy territory recently, telling the folks at Massachusetts’s Pioneer Institute (including some who favor Romney, such as myself [full disclosure] ) about the virtues of the Texas education system, a topic of national significance now that Rick Perry’s chariot has leaped to lead position in the Republican presidential nomination race.


Do Rich People Know What’s Going On in Their Local Schools?

The savvy, well-heeled people who populate our affluent suburbs are expected to know what is going on. Those who send their children to public school settle only for the best. Not surprisingly, most are happy with what they get. Yet it turns out that many, probably most, of the schools in affluent neighborhoods deserve no better than a “C.”


Public Wants Single-Sex School Option, Even Though Professors Do Not

If there is no evidence as to which type of schooling is to be preferred, why not let parents choose which type of schooling is best for their child?


Power to the Principals

Podcast: Paul Peterson and Chester Finn discuss a study of Chicago principals who were given the power to choose which teachers to fire.


Obama’s Jobs Bill Takes from States and Cities as Much as It Gives Them

Now that President Obama has let both the expenditure and revenue-raising shoes drop, it is clear that the costs to state and local governments of the new jobs bill could very well equal—perhaps exceed—the benefits they might receive.


An Easy Way to Calculate the Rising Cost of Schooling

Information on the cost and performance of the Wellesley Public Schools may be available somewhere else in the vast reaches of the internet, but to quickly access accurate information you have to go to


A Year Late and a Million (?) Dollars Long—the U. S. Proficiency Standards Report

The U. S. government just provided the public with much the same information Education Next shared with readers a year ago: A comparison of state standards in reading and math at the 4th and 8th grade levels.


With a Math Proficiency Rate of 32 Percent, U.S. Ranks Number 32

Thirty-two percent of U.S. students in the class of 2011 were proficient in mathematics when they were in 8th grade. Coincidentally, that places the United States in 32nd place among the 65 nations of the world that participated in PISA, my colleagues and I report today.


NCLB Waivers

Podcast: Paul Peterson and Chester Finn discuss efforts by Arne Duncan to give states some leeway with respect to NCLB.

08/08/2011 Tells Me How Much I Pay—and What I Get

Now that I know how much is being spent, I realize little more is to be gained from spending more.


No Matter How You Ask the Question

School vouchers rebounded in 2011


How Obama Will End the Debt Crisis on His Own Hook: The NCLB Precedent

Substituting presidential preferences for explicit laws passed by Congress is an extraordinary invocation of executive power, but Secretary Duncan says it is necessary to take such actions because of the NCLB stalemate. That stalemate is small potatoes compared to the debt crisis.


GOP Candidates on Education

Podcast: Paul Peterson and Chester Finn discuss education policy and the Republican candidates for president.


Shouldn’t the Public Sector Share the Pain?

If the right cuts are made, the public sector can remain equally effective but operate in a more efficient manner.


President’s Approval Rating Turns Negative: Not accidentally, bipartisanship does too

Two numbers that have come out since last Friday are depressing the chances for action on federal education policy. Everyone now knows that employment ticked upward to 9.2 percent, but few have noticed that Obama’s Real Clear Politics (RCP) job approval rating, positive for most of 2011, turned negative early Sunday morning.


School Board Wagnerian Opera—Why Not?

Would it be possible to get some opera company – perhaps students at some adventurous school for the performing arts – to do a school-reform Ring cycle?


Rhee’s Popularity Rises with the Public, but Not with the Powerful

Michelle Rhee’s public popularity has shifted upward, but the elites who chair the committee set up by the National Research Council to assess Rhee’s chancellorship are holding firm to their anti-Rhee convictions, no matter what the evidence.


Do Merit Pay Systems Work? What Can We Learn from International Data?

Recently, Education Next released a path-breaking, peer-reviewed study by Ludger Woessmann which estimated long-term impacts of merit pay arrangements for teachers on student performance. Even though the study was executed with great care and sophistication a group which receives funding from teacher unions has persuaded a reviewer to write a misleading critique of the paper.


Measuring Michelle Rhee’s Accomplishments

A Response to Ginsburg’s Concerns


The Longevity Increase—What?

Teacher union leaders are outraged that the Watertown, Mass. school committee has rejected a negotiated contract that would give them a longevity increase. That’s extra payment for just “Being There.”


Michelle Rhee v. Her Critics

What’s the evidence that Rhee was no better than her predecessors? And that other cities are doing just as well?


Taking the Measure of Michelle Rhee

Podcast: Paul Peterson analyzes two new reports on Michelle Rhee’s performance as D.C.’s Schools Chancellor and describes his new findings on the gains made by D.C. students.


Why Mayoral Control Works: Evidence from New York City

It is hard to imagine a school board finding a way to reverse its decision within a three-month period. But for Bloomberg, the price was too high. If he was to keep his own mayoralty on track he had to master the problem at Tweed Hall without delay.


DC Children Can Thank Boehner— and Randomized Trials

Boehner deserves a thank you from the children of the District of Columbia for knowing how to play the one best policy card at his disposal. But Boehner could not have played that card had he not had convincing evidence that the voucher program he was trying to restore had been effective.


Educating Rita: Digital Learning in the Sixties

“Educating Rita” makes the case both for digital learning and for end-of-the year external examinations.


Are Experienced Teachers Really That Much Better?

Unions like to concentrate big salary gains—and pension benefits—on the more experienced teachers, because those are the teachers who tend to have clout within the schoolhouse and inside the union.


A Pedagogical Divide in the World of Digital Learning

Digital learning is coming but the battle over its form and content is just beginning.


The Education School Master’s Degree Factory

Simply by giving up the extra payment awarded to teachers with master’s degrees, school districts in Florida could save better than 3 percent of their teaching personnel costs without losing any of their classroom effectiveness.


Every Number Needs a Denominator

One judges a country’s educational system capacity to challenge its most talented students by calculating the proportion of its students that are advanced in math, science and reading, not the raw number.


Eliminating those Pesky Education Earmarks

With the Democratic walk-out in Wisconsin, all bets are off on what only recently seemed to be the possibility of a bipartisan consensus on what to do about No Child Left Behind. But that does not mean that 2011 will not see significant action on federal education policy.


When It Comes to Collective Bargaining, States Should Follow the Feds

I am hopeful that the president will endorse a policy that has enabled him to take initial steps to reduce federal deficits. He should not disparage governors who seek similar authority at the state level in order to help solve their own pressing fiscal problems.


National Democratic Party Supports Attack on the Democratic Process

The unmitigated partisan harangue is annoying. Far more disturbing, however, is the refusal by Democratic legislators to participate in the democratic process simply because their views are currently in the minority.


Cheating Can Be Eliminated

The real scandal is not the cheating by the teachers or the principals themselves, bad as that may be, but the head-in-the-sand administration by the school district.


Public Not Yet Decided As To Whether Teachers Unions Are Good For Schools Or Not

According to the 2010 Education Next poll released last fall, 33 percent of the public thought that unions had a generally negative effect on schools in their community, while 28 percent thought they had a generally positive effect.


Are Wisconsin Schools Better than Those in Texas?

Education in Wisconsin is a hot topic these days. Paul Krugman has shared with us the thought that low-spending Texas is as a result burdened with rotten schools. The Economist tells us that on test score performance Wisconsin students rank 2nd in the nation, while Texas is 47th. But, as a shrewd blogger from Iowa points out, the Wisconsin advantage disappears, once you look at each ethnic group’s test score performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress separately.


In an Age of Collective Bargaining, Can State Governments Govern?

As the extra-legal actions taken by the Democratic senators in Wisconsin persist into their second week, and as Indiana Democrats are following suit, the risk to orderly government in these states continues to intensify.


In Wisconsin, It Is the Beginning Teacher Who Should Be Outraged

The graduating class from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin should be outraged at the illegal sick-ins and out-sized demonstrations that have disrupted the educational process in Madison, Milwaukee and beyond. Until pension and health benefit policies stop gobbling taxpayer dollars, their chances of getting a good job with substantial salary increases will be negligible.


Wisconsin Democrats Abuse the Quorum Call

Today we are seeing Wisconsin politics at its worst. A state long known for policy innovation is now witnessing a seldom-seen but dreadful abuse of basic democratic practice—the abuse of the legislative quorum call.


State of the Union: The Return of Big Bill

Can Barack Obama turn himself into Bill Clinton? Yes, he can, we learned from this week’s State of the Union address. Bold initiatives are out. Nothing is bigger than a grape tomato.


Translating the State of the Union Address

Due to political exigencies, the true meaning of State of the Union speeches can be detected only by careful textual analysis. The following is an interpretative translation of what the President really had to say about American education.


No Matter How Hard You Try, You Cannot Deny U. S. Math Performance is Terrible

A few weeks ago, I, together with Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, issued a report showing that the United States ranked 31st in the world at bringing 15 year olds up to an advanced level of math achievement. Since the study caught the attention of the mainstream media, it could hardly expect to escape scrutiny. Still, I had not expected a critic to characterize our work as “deceptive,” the adjective chosen by University of Georgia’s Jeremy Kilpatrick.


Graduation Rates Higher at Milwaukee Voucher Schools

In 2009, Warren estimates, 82 percent of 9th grade students in voucher schools graduated from high school, while just 70 percent of 9th graders in the Milwaukee Public Schools did.


Predict 2011 and Win the Ed Next Fortune Teller Award

What do you think will happen in 2011? What will not?


To Repeat Myself, Kids Should Have the Right to Vote

It is with considerable umbrage that I read Michael Kinsley’s claim that he is the first red-blooded American to urge that kids be given the right to vote. I called for that election reform 20 years ago.


The Best Books of the Past Decade According to Ed Next Readers

In August 2010, Education Next invited readers to pick the three best education policy books of the past decade from a list of 41 books. A total of 4,343 votes were cast.


Google vs. Education Next Voters: What of importance happened last year?

According to Google Race to the Top was the story of the year. Yet according to those readers who voted in the Education Next poll, the release of data on teacher performance by the L.A. Times was the most controversial event.


Nevermore Perched Outside My Chamber Door

When it comes to education, teacher unions—and their left-leaning allies—are never wrong, no, never, nevermore. Any assiduous reader of the New York Times—if only that and nothing more—would so conclude.


Are the Rhee Stories in DC and the Teacher Evaluations in LA the Best or the Worst Stories in 2010?

Clearly, the events in Washington, D. C. and Los Angeles have split our website readers down the middle, and the battle will continue to the very last day of 2010.


Worst Event for Education in 2010? Voting is Close in Ed Next Readers Poll

The Ednext poll as to the best and worst in 2010 education has become very close, with no consensus emerging.


Can Movies Be Bad for Education?

According to early reactors who have voted in the Education Next poll of the best and worst in 2010 for American education, “Waiting for Superman” and the other recently released documentaries rank next to the stimulus package as among the worst things that have happened this year.


Race to the Top is the Best of 2010; Shutdown of DC Voucher Program the Worst

I just voted for the best and worst education developments of the year from the list just released by the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force (KTF).


Getting the Policy Environment Right for Digital Learning

As states begin to expand their virtual education programs, some basic principles need to guide their choices, if digital learning is to have the transformative impact that I have elsewhere argued is entirely possible. On December 1 the Digital Learning Council broke new ground by recommending 10 such principles.


Broader, Bolder Book: Arguments from an Attorney

If one wants to read a fleshed-out version of the broader, bolder case for reforming our urban schools without doing anything about their internal operations, there is no better place to go than to David Kirp’s forthcoming book, Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives.


After the Election, What Will States and Districts Do?

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 23) about how the Republican landslide will affect education policymaking at the state and local levels. Will state and local governments figure out how to downsize? Can they accomplish reform through reallocation?


Brookings, Baseball and Value Added Assessments of Teachers

I have always been suspicious of consensus documents with multiple signatures. They have the patina of authority but usually produce pabulum. So it was a pleasant surprise to read the latest consensus document from the Brookings Institution on “the important role of value added” when assessing teacher performance.


How Our Best and Brightest Measure Up

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. discuss a new study finding that U.S. schools are producing a smaller percentage of high-achieving math students than are schools in many other countries.


Why Don’t Liberal Elites like Women Leaders–unless from the professional left?

No sooner does Mayor Bloomberg appoint Cathleen Black to head the New York City school system than elite liberals withdraw their long swords from the scabbard.


The New Congress and Education Policy

Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk about what the election results are likely to mean for federal education policy.


Let’s Teach Math to the Talented Online

Thirty countries do better than the United States at teaching math to the talented, my colleagues and I reported this week. What can we do about it? The other breaking news story—Joel Klein’s departure as chancellor of the New York City school system to take a job in digital learning—gives us a clue.


Accountability for Online Learning

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about how online learning can solve its two accountability challenges – how to ensure that the student is submitting his own work, and how to ensure that courses are of high quality.


Republicans and Education

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about what Republican victories in November might mean for education policy, particularly at the federal level. Will Republicans in Congress embrace Obama/Duncan education reforms or will they become the party of local (or state) control?


After Rhee

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about what the defeat of Adrian Fenty in last month’s mayoral primary is likely to mean for education reform in Washington, D.C.


At the Movies with Paul and Checker

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about Waiting for Superman—the movie and the movie reviews.


Three Reviews of “Superman”: How the Media Spins the Story

Flying home from Minneapolis last Friday gave me the opportunity to read, back to back, reviews of “Waiting for Superman” in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. I learned as much about the newspapers as I did about the movie.


What do Americans think of the Nation’s Schools? How Widespread is the Support for Charter Schools?

Education Next and Phi Delta Kappan both released their annual polls last week. When it comes to evaluations of the nation’s schools and assessments of charter schools, they report results that are strikingly similar.


Did the Education Next Reader Poll Predict the Race to the Top Winners?

We did a bit better than chance, it seems.


Nine out of Ten RttT Winners are Blue States

At the end of round one of the RttT contest, it appeared as if politics was irrelevant. The focus was on which states had a good reform strategy. Only two winners were identified. Round two tells a different story. Congratulations must be given to the state of Georgia, for it was the only Red State winner.


Online Learning Is On the Upswing—In the Public Mind At Least

Of all the innovations and policy reform proposals in education, it is online learning that is gathering public support most rapidly. In just one year—from 2009 to 2010—the percentage of Americans who think that high school students should be given credit for courses taken online has jumped from 42 percent to 52 percent.


Mathews on Saving Schools

In his commentary on my book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, Jay Mathews doubts that he will find any time soon “something of the new electronic era that significantly increases achievement in reading and writing for all kids.”


Supporters of Race to the Top Outnumber Opponents, but Plurality of Public Has No Opinion, Education Next Survey Shows

According to the 4th annual survey conducted by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next, which will be released on Wednesday, a larger percentage of the public supports Race to the Top (RttT) than opposes it.


Summer Session in Steamboat Springs

If one goes by the nightly network fare on American television, intellectual engagement by the American public is at an all time low. So when one sees signs of cultural health and well-being, it strangely warms the heart.


Who Won the Race to the Top Poll—and Why

Nearly 400 of you took the time to cast your vote, and, on the basis of your vote, I am willing to predict that the Duncan Administration is going to hand out awards to well over a majority of the contestants.


Race to the Top Round 2

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about how many states are likely to win Race to the Top grants and whether politics will come into play.


In New York City, the Issue Is Reading, Not Gaps Between High and Low Performers

On Monday morning, two New York Times reporters captured the front page with their worries about the racial education gap in New York City, despite clear signs of gains in minority graduation rates. The reporters provide the reader with a host of mostly misleading state-provided test-score data, because the State of New York mis-constructed the proficiency scales on its statewide tests, thereby rendering interpretation of scores over time virtually impossible.


Will We Have the Best Courses Online in Five Years?

Within 10 years, half of all high school courses will be taken online, say Clay Christensen and Michael Horn. Bill Gates has now trumped that prediction with an even stronger one: within five years the best higher education will be available on the internet.


If Obama Beat Clinton in Colorado, Nancy Beat Barack in Washington

In the Clinton-Obama tug-of-war, the Obama team gave education reformers something to cheer when they won the Senate contest in Colorado. But the bigger victory this week went to the Clinton-Pelosi-teacher union coalition in Washington.


Common Standards Remarkably Uncontroversial

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about the politics and economics of the Common Core standards.


After Bucking Unions, Obama Administration Breaks Ranks with Civil Rights Groups over Charter Schools

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about why civil rights groups have been reluctant to embrace charter schools, even as a new Ed Next poll shows that support for charters is rising among minority parents.


Republicans to Save Obama’s Education Reforms—and Perhaps His Presidency?

Despite the rapidly changing political scene, there is reason to expect new action on the education policy front as soon as 2011 pops up on your electronic calendar.


No, Al Shanker Did Not Invent the Charter School

In its recent story about Wendy Kopp, the Wall Street Journal reminded readers that economist Milton Friedman invented vouchers, and that teacher union leader Al Shanker was supporting charter schools as early as 1988. Even though it is fashionable enough to credit Shanker for jump-starting the charter movement, Shanker did more to block charters than to advance the idea.


Lending Federal Dollars to States Will Bankrupt Us All

Christopher Edley, dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, has proposed that the U. S. government stimulate the economy by loaning money to near-bankrupt state governments.


Small Schools Work After All, A Good Study Shows

After all that sophisticated criticism of the replacement of large schools with smaller ones, it comes as a total shock to learn that students are more likely to graduate from high school in New York City if they attended one of the small high schools.


U. S. Department of Education Study Measures Impact of Switching Schools, Not Impact of Attending a Charter

The Mathematica study of charter middle schools, just released by the U. S. Department of Education, finds no achievement gains within two years for students who won the charter lottery as compared to those who did not. Ordinarily one would take such a study seriously. But as Marci Kanstoroom pointed out some years ago, the study was set up in such a way that it could not possibly tell us much about charter schools.


One Learns More by Listening than Talking

Is the stand-up lecture the better educational method? Or should students be encouraged to engage in problem solving, sometimes on their own, sometimes with the guidance of their teacher?


School Vouchers in DC Produce Gains in Both Test Scores and Graduation Rates

One should not under-estimate the impact of the DC school voucher program on student achievement. According to the official announcement and the executive summary of the report, school vouchers lifted high school graduation rates but it could not be conclusively determined that it had a positive impact on student achievement. Something about those findings sounds like a bell striking thirteen. Not only is the clock wrong, but the mechanism seems out of whack. How can more students graduate from private schools if they weren’t learning more?


Virtual Education and Common Core Standards

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about whether common standards create economies of scale for virtual learning products.


Is the Public School the Symbol of Democracy?

“The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny,” wrote Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1948. Many of my friends would swear by such words even today.


Evaluating a Charter High School by Going to Commencement

Mystic Valley Regional Charter High School has been around long enough that an evaluation is in order. On graduation night, the school passed with flying colors.


Bang for the Buck from Race to the Top

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (June 16) about why $4 billion in prize money is causing so many states to enact reforms and whether those reforms will stick.


Obama Overturns Roosevelt: What was once forbidden is now required

The Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative won plaudits for encouraging states and school districts to expand charter school operations and develop merit pay plans. But those positive ideas were undermined by the Administration’s inclusion of an extraordinary, undemocratic requirement that teacher unions support state initiatives.


Are Shaker Heights Schools a Success? A Reply to Kahlenberg

The journalistic commentary on my recently released book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, has been better than expected. Even Richard Kahlenberg, writing for the New Republic, finds the writing to be “spry,” providing a “sweeping narrative [that] takes on all the great controversial issues in American education.” But Kahlenberg offers one line of criticism so misleading it requires a response.


State Proficiency Standards by the Numbers

Do you want to know how your state’s proficiency standards in reading and math compare to those in other states? That information is available today on this website.


Teacher Bailout Bill, R.I.P.?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about the belt-tightening that will hopefully take place if the $23 billion edujobs bill dies in Congress.


What I Learned at Harvard’s Merit Pay Conference

At a conference held at Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, which I direct, a fine paper was presented this morning by the Munich University economist Ludger Woessmann on merit pay in 28 industrialized countries around the world.


A Case for Merit Pay: It’s Easier to Identify Good Teachers than to Train Them

A just-released paper prepared by Matthew M. Chingos and myself for a Harvard conference on merit pay shows that Florida teachers who majored in education in college are no better at teaching math and reading to elementary- and middle-school students than those who did not.


Will Technology Grow or Shrink the Achievement Gap?

In his commentary on my book Jay Mathews doubts that he will find any time soon “something of the new electronic era that significantly increases achievement in reading and writing for all kids.”


School Finance Lawsuits in Red and Blue States

Video: Chris Berry talks with Education Next about how politics influences the way states react to school finance lawsuits.


How Well Did Ending Social Promotion Work Out in New York City?—Some Further Thoughts

One always learns from readers’ blog comments, even if one disagrees.


It’s the Old Teachers, not the Beginning Teachers, who are Well Paid

Who is the teachers union in Florida protecting with all of its political power? Is it the poorly paid, beginning teacher whose salary teacher unions work hard to enhance and protect? Or is it that of the old-timers who capture organizational power and use it for their own purposes?


Is New York City’s Decision to End Social Promotion Beginning to Work?

When Joel Klein became the chancellor of the New York City schools, one of his first actions, back in 2004, was to end social promotion in third grade. With the latest NAEP reading results just in, we now have some longer term basis for assessing that effectiveness of that policy.


Democrats and Republicans Respond Differently to School Finance Rulings

In a new study published by Education Next, Christopher Berry and Charles Wysong add a partisan flavor to the adequacy lawsuit story. They find that, relative to what would have happened in any case, expenditures forced by court orders depend on which political party is in power.


The National Center for Education Statistics Got the Same Answer We Did—More Than a Year Late

Recently Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadon and I compared 2009 state proficiency standards with one another. Shortly after our report was released, a reporter asked whether our results differed from those released last fall by the U. S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in “Mapping State Proficiency Standards on to NAEP Scales: 2005-2007.”


Florida’s Class Size Amendment: Did it help students learn?

If a state mandates that every school reduce class sizes, will students learn more? To that question, a just released study of the Florida Class Size Amendment says “No.” Telling schools they must reduce class size yields no benefit, it reports.


Big, Fat, Debt-Ridden Governments Ruin Baseball Games

You know government is too big when Toronto’s baseball team is forced to play its home game in Philadelphia just so G-20 leaders can use the Metro Toronto Conference Center.


Is Race to the Top a Fair Competition?

Rewarding laggards for promises, instead of achievers for their successes, rewards state and local officials for the very behavior one wishes to discourage.


State Standards are Low; Do We Need National Standards?

In the report on state proficiency standards Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadón and I released today, we show that state proficiency standards are not about to rise rapidly to world-class levels. It is true that the standards in reading rose noticeably between 2007 and 2009, but in math they slipped. Overall, the change in standards, for better or worse, does not amount to much. Does this mean that we should establish national standards?


Three New Books on Virtual Education: Competitors or Complements?

Education Next has spilt a lot of ink over three recent books on virtual education.


Will the Common Core Standards Set the Bar High Enough?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (May 12) about how state proficiency standards in reading and math have changed over time and whether the Common Core standards effort will lead to higher expectations for students.


Why Is Race to the Top Rewarding States With Low Proficiency Standards?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (May 6) about why Tennessee and Delaware, which received very low scores in a new evaluation of state proficiency standards, nonetheless were the big winners of round 1 of Race to the Top.


Adaptive Learning: Putting an Idea into Practice at the School of One

Time magazine touted “the School of One” as one of the 50 top innovations of 2009—the only educational innovation to be given that honor. I stopped by to see the folks putting together the School of One at a New York City middle school last week to see how new technologies that help teachers adapt to each student’s learning level actually work in practice.


Educational Research: Getting Better—and More Powerful

Can research influence policy? Most cynics think not, but when studies are of high quality, they can make a difference—at least in the long run.


My Apologies to Andy Rotherham, Even Though He Is a Poor Prognosticator

The other day, when I stoutly defended my ongoing support for school choice in its voucher and charter forms, I indicated that blogger Andy Rotherham claimed I had changed my mind about vouchers and charter schools. But when Rotherham denied saying any such thing, I concluded, upon reflection, that my memory had served me wrong.


Have My Views Changed?

Education Week reporter Debbie Viadero and blogger Andy Rotherham suggest that I have (along with Diane Ravitch) abandoned my support for vouchers and charters. Such claims make for good story lines, but the reality is otherwise.


See “The [New Jersey] Cartel” in a Theater Near You

Today, I finally watched “The Cartel,” a documentary produced by Bob Bowdon opening in theaters around the country this month. Is “The Cartel” worth watching? Absolutely, especially if you live in New Jersey.


Do U.S. Students Spend Enough Time Learning?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (April 21) about whether American kids need a longer school day, a longer school year, more time on task, or more customized learning experiences.


The Case for an Alternative Masters Degree in New York

New York’s governor, David Paterson, has taken a lot of heat lately, but he certainly deserves an accolade for having a Board of Regents that appointed David Steiner as the state’s chief educator. Thinking outside the box, Steiner has persuaded the New York Board of Regents to consider giving Teach for America and similar organizations the ability to offer their own master’s degree programs, thereby depriving schools of education of their current monopoly.


News from Florida: Can teacher unions become a third political party?

Governor Crist has vetoed the merit pay bill as part of his plan to run as a third party candidate for the open Senate seat in Florida. What’s interesting about the latest development is Crist’s decision to form an alliance with teacher unions. Unions are typically hard-line Democrats; are they now ready to abandon a long-standing relationship in order to provide the financial backbone of the Crist campaign?


Hurrah for Middlebury’s Venture into Virtual Language Instruction

Middlebury College has announced it is creating online foreign language courses for high school students. Capitalizing on its historic standing as one of the country’s premier centers of foreign language learning, the college will create foreign language courses for folks in their tender years when language acquisition comes most readily.


Florida Governor Vetoes School Reform Bill

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (April 15) about why Florida governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill passed by the legislature that said that teachers should be paid based on performance and districts should be able to dismiss ineffective teachers more easily.


Is Braveheartism Contagious?

When Education Next ran its Braveheart story on Michelle Rhee, Beltway insiders scoffed, saying it was only a matter of time for her, just as it had been for the medieval Scottish nobleman. Teacher unions have too much clout to be confronted directly, went the conventional wisdom, and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is just too clever for this political neophyte, it was said.


E.D. Hirsch and Civic Education

Video: Nathan Glazer talks with Education Next about E.D. Hirsch’s new book, The Making of Americans.


What We Can Learn from Utah’s Open High

In Utah, around 7 percent of the students are now going to charter schools, creating financial conflicts of interest between district and charter schools, as both sides are trying to persuade the state legislature that they need more of the dwindling pot of state dollars. Into this mix has walked the Open High School of Utah, a charter school that is offering a virtual education that is based almost entirely on curricular materials available free-of-cost from open sources.


Will NCLB be reauthorized this year?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (March 23) about whether Republicans are likely to work with Democrats on reauthorization.


Can an Education Bill Save the Obama Presidency?

March 18, 2010 was a red letter day. On that date, for the very first time, more Americans disapproved than approved of the way President Obama was handling his job as president. Obama needs to move beyond divisive partisanship if he is to re-cement his relationship with the American public. The President’s education bill gives him the opportunity to rediscover the middle ground.


A Lot to Learn from Catholic Basketball

Since 1985, every senior on the basketball team at Cincinnati’s Xavier College subsequently earned a college diploma. So says journalist John Branch in a front-page story in the New York Times. The credit is given to Sister Rose Ann Fleming, the team’s academic adviser. I am sure she is more than deserving of the praise she receives, but, unfortunately, the reporter misses an opportunity to look more deeply into Catholic academic traditions.


Saving Schools, Then and Now

Podcast: Paul Peterson talks about his new book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, in an interview with Education Next’s Mike Petrilli.


Obama’s Education Strategy Makes Good Political Sense, But to Boost High School Graduation Rates, Something Bolder is Needed

The Obama Administration’s governing skills shifted upward this weekend. Making education the centerpiece of the Administration’s second year is a vast improvement over the first-year focus on endless spending, health reform and cap-and-trade. The President needs to take one step further, however, if he wants to find a way to lift four-year high school graduation rates from 70 percent to 100 percent.


Saving Schools and Virtual Schooling

Video: Education Next’s Paul E. Peterson talks about his new book, Saving Schools, and about the advantages of virtual schooling, with Nathan Glazer.


We Need Fewer Teachers, Not More

In Sunday’s NYT, Elizabeth Green explains beautifully the challenges of classroom teaching. She says we will need millions of additional teachers to cover baby boom retirements, and wonders how we can find enough good ones. The answer is that we can’t.


The New Normal for Federal Education Spending

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about whether the federal share of education spending is likely to remain at 15 percent and whether the $1 billion bonus for reauthorizing ESEA this year is likely to be awarded.


A Virtual Race to the Top

Now that the first round of Race to the Top awards have been announced, we can appreciate the impact that this new federal initiative is having on stimulating new thinking at state and local levels. Promising money to states if they come up with sensible ideas seems to work more effectively than punishing schools and districts for low performance. But some of the truly bold new ideas in education today are escaping the attention of RttT policymakers.


Has Integration Made Raleigh’s Schools Great?

Video: Nathan Glazer talks with Education Next about whether the policy of assigning students to schools to achieve socioeconomic diversity in Raleigh-Wake County has worked.


Diane Ravitch on “the Nature of Markets”

Ignoring basic economic principles, Ravitch asks us to keep intact our hopelessly disabled school system, now stagnant for half a century or more. She thinks she can get American schools to adopt her favored curricular reforms—even though they have refused to do so despite her multi-decade advocacy.


Choice and Residential Segregation

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about a new Fordham Institute report identifying 2800 public schools that only prosperous kids can attend. A more choice-based public school system, such as the one endorsed by a new Brookings Institution report, would provide more opportunities for poor kids to attend better schools, they note.


What’s Next in Education: Common Ground or Battle Ground?

Are the right and the left coming together on education policy? President Obama’s budget address is encouraging, if ambiguous. Looking elsewhere, one also finds mixed signals. Consider the two reports that came out last week, one on charter school segregation by a UCLA group headed by Professor Gary Orfield, the other a Brookings report headed by Grover Whitehurst, the widely respected former head of the Institute of Education Sciences.


How Vouchers Came to New Orleans

Video: Michael Henderson talks with Education Next about how Louisiana managed to pass a voucher law.


Obama is Getting the Message

A few days ago I urged the President to shift education upward on the national agenda. Now it appears that he had already anticipated the upset in Massachusetts and was beginning to make the grand pivot even before election day.


Washington Post Wrong in Calling RttT the Largest Federal Education Expenditure

The $4.35 billion or so dollars spent on the Race to the Top, coupled with the extra billion now proposed by the president, is small beer compared to the $75 billion dollars that the stimulus package handed over to local districts for programming as usual. Yet the Administration has succeeded in persuading the allegedly skeptical, tough-minded reporters in Washington that RttT is the biggest federal education program ever mounted.


If Only Obama Had Made Himself the Education President. . .

Even more than the current presidential approval rating of 48 percent, Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown’s morning-after celebration just one year to the day after Barack Obama took the oath of office tells us that something has gone wrong with the President’s governing strategy.


How Much Teacher Unions Spend in Your State

Teacher unions are quietly undermining charter and merit pay legislation that is supposed to help states “race to the top.” To exercise such power, a hefty cash box comes in handy.


Studies Find No Effects

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Jan. 7) about whether randomized field trials in education should be abandoned, since they so rarely find that the treatments have any effects.


New York Times on the Wall Street Journal: The Stove Pot Calling the Mixing Bowl Black

In what is certain to be the top hilarity story of the week, New York Times columnist David Carr “thoughtfully” reveals what he sees as the drift to the right on the part of his company’s great rival, the Wall Street Journal.


Focus of School Reform Shifting to Teachers

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about whether teacher quality is eclipsing accountability and choice as a reform strategy and what role research plays in this.


Are Middle Schools or Middle Schoolers the Problem?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Dec. 10) about why it is so hard to talk to adolescents
about school and what schools can do to encourage parent involvement.


Technological Innovation is Our Best and Final Hope for Saving High Quality Math and Science Education

More than half of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are immigrants, wrote Paul Kedrosky and Brad Feld in a Wall Street Journal editorial last Wednesday. Kedrosky and Feld cite this fact to argue that visas for talented foreigners are desperately needed to sustain the growth sectors in the American economy. Their point is well taken, but the fix is only short term. The United States needs to begin growing its own creative talent by educating the best of our young people in science, math, and cognitive science skills from an early age.


Biggest Spender in Politics: The NEA

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Dec. 4) about what the National Education Association is buying with its campaign contributions, which total $56.3 million and exceed the campaign contributions made by any other organization in America.


Is the Decline of the Mainstream Press Bad for Education?

Education is the top in only 1.4 percent of news coverage by television, radio, newspapers and news web sites, a report issued by the Brookings Institution tells us. Should we be distressed? Perhaps, but we shouldn’t be surprised.


Race to the Top Versus the Money Chase

The National Education Association (and its local affiliates) gave $56.3 million dollars to state and federal election campaigns in 2007 and 2008, more than any other entity. The much smaller American Federation of Teachers tossed in another $12 million dollars into political campaigns. This enormous cash nexus that swamps anything any business entity has contributed creates a huge problem for Arne Duncan.


Saving Jobs or Stimulating Reform?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 24) about the effect of the stimulus package on education, a sector that has proven to be very good at job creation.


Election Postmortem

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 19) about what the results of the 2009 off-year elections mean for education.


Will Congress Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 4) about a bill passed by the House that would send $8 billion to states to boost the quality of preschools and expand the number of preschool spots for disadvantaged children.


Stimulating Stagnation in Education

According to a New York Times report, the Obama Administration admits that over half of the jobs it created or saved by its stimulus package were in the field of education. Had that money really been spent in ways to promote educational productivity, it would have been faithful to the investment goals of the stimulus package.


Voters Choose Neighborhood Schools over Socioeconomic Diversity

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 29) about Wake County, North Carolina, where voters earlier this month elected new school board members who have pledged to undo the county’s controversial policy of assigning students to schools based on income (to achieve diversity).


In Memoriam: Theodore Sizer

What is most important is that Sizer, as establishment a figure in education as any, never forgot what was most important: searching for the successful ways of educating the next generation.


The Nobel Committee Isn’t the Only One Giving Speculative Prizes

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 22) about wishful thinking in the education reform community. Do school reformers need to temper their enthusiasm about the reform du jour?


Instead of Creating Charters, Just Incarcerate the Students

A Massachusetts state commission has solved the high school drop-out problem. Just incarcerate the students. That’s the thrust of its recommendation.


Nobel Prize Winner Elinor Ostrom and Her Theory of Co-Production

The selection of political scientist Elinor Ostrom as worthy of a Nobel prize in economics has been as astonishing to many economists as was the choice of President Obama as peacemaker of the year. In her case, the question is not “What has she done?” but “Who is she?” To those of us influenced by her work, however, her selection has been deeply satisfying.


Will Michelle Rhee Triumph?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 14) about education politics in Washington, D.C., where Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee recently fired 229 teachers.


Will the Federal Role in Education Double?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent speech, the future of federal education spending, and making NCLB’s successor tighter about ends and looser about means.


Charter Schools Narrow Achievement Gaps in New York City

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk about Caroline Hoxby’s random assignment study of student achievement in charter schools in New York City.


Evaluation of D.C. Voucher Program

Video: Patrick Wolf talks with Education Next about his “gold standard” evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and about the likely future of that program.


Liberating Learning

Political scientists Terry Moe and John Chubb have shifted their bets from that spoke of the school-reform roulette wheel named “school voucher” to one marked “technological innovation.”


How Much Support Is There for Merit Pay?

Opinion on merit pay has yet to consolidate in one direction or another, as a lot of people have yet to make up their mind.


Charter Schools, Unions, and Linking Teachers with Student Achievement Data

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. discuss the week’s education news, including an announcement that a charter school in Massachusetts has signed a collective bargaining agreement with its teachers, an agreement that includes merit pay.


When it Comes to Supporting NCLB, It’s the Way You Ask the Question That Counts

In polls, the way you ask the question can sometimes determine the answer you get. If the public has no strong opinion, they can be swayed by the question itself.


Polls Seem to Differ on Charters, But In Fact They Agree

According to the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, 64 percent of all Americans “favor the idea of charters.” But according to the Ednext poll, only 39 percent “support the formation of charter schools.”


Health Lessons from Schools

If the public-school analogy holds, the public option in health-care insurance won’t create a system of choice and competition, as the White House claims; it will slowly — or not so slowly — give way to a (nearly) single-payer system.


When It Comes to Charter Schools, What Do Americans Really Care About?

A look at the latest Ednext poll convinces me that the charter school movement needs to do one and only one thing to succeed—prove that charters can be effective in the classroom.


Rhetoric and Reality in the Education Stimulus Bill

Video: Interview with Paul E. Peterson on the education portion of the Stimulus Bill


Voucher Controversy

Video: Hoover Institution senior fellows and members of Hoovers Task Force on K12 Education Terry Moe and Paul Peterson comment on the controversy surrounding the Washington, D.C., voucher program.

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