District Replacers, Drama Standards, and Cranky Composing

A new era of city school leaders?

Big happenings on the urban-schools front. In recent weeks, numerous cities have announced they’re looking for new district leaders. In Boston, the search is on for Carol Johnson’s replacement. New Jersey, having just taken over Camden, is looking for someone to fill the top job. Baltimore’s Andres Alonso just announced his departure. Indy is looking for a new schools supe. Detroit is searching for someone to take over now that the emergency manager has retired. Oakland is in the same place.

So will these cities’ leaders take the same path as their predecessors over the last half century and choose another set of “district fixers,” those who mistakenly believe they can turn this irreparably broken institution into a high-performing organization? (Sadly, probably yes.) Or one or more of these cities could decide to build The Urban School System of the Future and choose leaders dedicated to bringing the failed urban district to an end and replacing it with a true system of schools. (Prayerfully, and this Nashville report, p. 30, gives me hope…)

Common Core as soap opera

So much drama going on with Common Core these days. Lots of states are having renewed conversations about the merits of standards. Checker pens a very strong pro-CCSS piece that explains how they came into being and how they fit into the much longer history of standards. The head of the AFT says we need to slow down on implementation and not yet tie consequences to the new CCSS-aligned assessments. TNTP’s Tim Daly says push ahead.

Distance makes the blogging grow frustrated

Rick Hess, back from a Cage-Busting sabbatical, returns to his blog to set fire to the rain, taking down two research orgs, the secretary, DFER, and Merrow. I’ve been increasingly bothered by the group-think that’s set in across the ed-reform landscape, so I’m thankful Rick is showing that well-informed contrariness has a valuable role to play in our world.

-Andy Smarick

This blog entry first appeared on the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog.

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