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Is Education Obama's Ace in the Hole?

In the backroom of Johnny's Half Shell, a Capitol Hill watering hole, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes sounded pretty sure of himself. No Child Left Behind would be reauthorized, he vowed, and it would happen before the end of the year.

"I've talked to leaders on both sides of the aisle, and they want to do something this year," said Barnes, who co-chaired the Commission on No Child Left Behind.

Post-Election Imagining

With another election come and gone, I find myself imagining a movie about five wonderful public schools with unionized teachers serving mostly low-income African-American and Hispanic students in America's biggest cities.

But I imagine in vain.

After the Dust Clears

After the election of 2008, I thought the stars were aligning for some serious changes in the way the federal government treated public schools.
Gone were the architects of No Child Left Behind. A president who had repeatedly said we should not judge schools or children on the basis of one test was elected to office.  The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was up for reauthorization, and I was hopeful things would change.

In the Front Lines, They're Singing Post-Election Blues

The morning after last Tuesday's election, I found myself sitting in a classroom in Pittsburgh's Carrick High School with about 20 teachers. It was dark outside and classes would not begin for another 45 minutes. But the teachers were there. Coffee in hand, they talked passionately about ways they could reach their most troubled students: ones who were homeless, disinterested, hungry or in trouble with the law.

There was nothing unusual about the event. In fact, it happens every day. No one was waiting for Superman. They were simply rolling up their sleeves and going to work.

5,755 and Counting

I thought the number would be 1,000.

That would be the number of America’s sons and daughters dead in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that would catch our attention and end our involvement.

I was wrong. This morning I read the names of two more children, both 21 years old, who were the 4,417th (Iraq) and 1,338th (Afghanistan) war deaths. 5,755 and counting.

I appreciate the New York Times’ willingness to publish, daily, the names of our fallen soldiers. Their families deserve our thoughts and thanks, and I wish every paper in the country would follow the Times’ lead.

Waiting for Sanity

This fall brought not only the start of another school year but plenty of noise about schools as well.  A movie, a manifesto, and a mayoral election in DC all amplified the ongoing debate about who the real education reformers are.  Noise and more noise.

How Right He Had It: A Reflection on Ted Sizer and Horace's Compromise

The start of school, the impending anniversary of Ted’s passing and a photograph brought me back in time and provoked me to write this reflection.

Developmental Sciences Critical to Student Achievement

Teacher-education programs should includes the basics of developmental science in their training programs, according to a report released this month by a panel convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teachers Education (NCATE).

The panel, co-chaired by Dr. James P. Comer, a Convener for The Forum for Education and Democracy, found that too few teachers enter the profession with a firm grasp of the importance of developmental sciences on student learning.

Not So Smart, ALEC

The recent headline in the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press was sent to me by my good friend Carl Glickman:  “Low-income Vt. students rank No. 1:  Report faults state on education reform.”

It seems that despite the gains made by the kids in Vermont, ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) gave the state an “F” for education reform.  Incredulous, I decided to check out ALEC’s web site for verification.  Guess what, while they give Vermont their #1 “performance ranking” they actually give Vermont a grade of “D”, dead last, on education reform.

I have often thought that debates about public education go on in an ‘evidence-free’ zone, but this takes the cake!

Blame the Kids

It’s funny how the start of school also marks the unofficial start of the fall campaign season.  What isn’t funny is how so many politicians running for office blame kids for our faltering economy.

It’s an all too familiar story—when America has a problem, we often choose to blame the victim. That seems to be exactly what is being done in the rhetoric on the campaign trail these days.  If only our schools will improve the economy will improve.  If kids step up their games, study harder, get better grades and test scores, somehow this will make everything all right.


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