State Policy

Edutopia: Inside George Lucas’ Quixotic Plan to Save America’s Schools

It was just about a year ago that I first started paying attention to Edutopia. They’ve been around for years, but they weren’t on my radar screen. Then suddenly, they wouldn’t stay off it. You couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing their ubiquitous underwriting credit on NPR, with its sublimely confident tagline “What Works in Public Education.”

Voice in the Wilderness: Save NCLB!

Despite the bashing the ten-year-old federal law has been taking--much of it deserved--on the ground, in the provinces NCLB has succeeded in beginning a much-needed change in the culture of public education: from a system focused on adults to one looking behind all the curtains to see how kids are doing. It hasn't been a pretty launch, of course, but the ship is only barely out of port.

E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy

In a new book, The Making of Americans, E.D. Hirsch explicitly connects the idea of cultural literacy to the subject of civics—“the role of a common system of public schools in educating a citizenry to the level necessary to maintain a democracy.”

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.

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.

Back to Basics

For five good reasons, conservatives should take seriously the potential of the newly released (in draft form) “common” education standards to strengthen U.S. education.

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.

A Pernicious Parlor Game

So, the announcement of the round one Race to the Top finalists is upon us. In the run-up, a pernicious parlor game in edu-policy circles has been “name the RTT finalists.” Thankfully, it’s about to come to a close. Unfortunately, it’ll be followed by “name the RTT winners.”

Will the Common Core Standards Prove Safe and Effective?

Even though they still haven’t seen the light of day in draft form, much less been joined by any assessments, the evolving “common core” standards project of the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is already being laden with heavier and heavier burdens. This is enormously risky and, frankly, hubristic, since nobody yet has any idea whether these standards will be solid, whether the tests supposed to be aligned with them will be up to the challenge, or whether the “passing scores” on those tests will be high or low, much less how this entire apparatus will be sustained over the long haul.

Atlanta Grades

A story last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that fully 191 schools in the state of Georgia, 10 percent of the total number of elementary and middle schools, are up for investigation for altering test answer sheets. The next day's story put the count at one in five Georgia public schools.

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