1/10/2007

We've Moved Around The Corner

OK, I guess it's time to get out of here and move over to the new site at EdWeek.org.

You can find it here, or at "http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek"

My favorite part of the new digs so far? The EdWeek disclaimer:

"The opinions expressed in This Week in Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications."

Don't Forget The Teachers, Says LDH

"Whatever one thinks about the 5-year-old federal law," writes Linda Darling-Hammond about NCLB in a commentary from this week's EdWeek (A Marshall Plan for Teaching), "it’s clear that developing more-skillful teaching is a sine qua non for attaining higher and more equitable achievement for students in the United States."

UPDATE: Teacher quality could also be addressed through the still-unfinished HEA reauthorization, reminds another EdWeek article.

Speaking Truth To The Powerless

It turns out it wasn't just me (and Rush Limbaugh) who noted Oprah's harsh comments about poor American students last week. In Tuesday's Chicago Tribune, columnist Clarence Page notes that just because Oprah's comments "delighted conservative commentators... doesn't mean she's wrong." According to Page (Oprah's `truth' shouldn't hurt), "Liberals love to speak 'truth to power,' but the powerless need to hear the truth too."

Rotten Apples Of 2006

Gerry Bracey's 2006 Rotten Apples report is finally out (downloadable doc here), featuring the usual assortment of outrages and misdeeds.

Bracey leads of with Spellings' infamous "99.9 percent pure" declaration, followed closely with the Barbara/Neil Bush donation laundering operation.

Morning Round-up January 10, 2006

In Testing for Gifted Programs, a Few Knots NYT
A new admissions process for highly coveted gifted-and-talented programs in the New York City elementary schools has been riddled with glitches, including last-minute notice of entrance exam dates in some areas.

Hearing on school takeover by mayor set
LAT
A state appeals court panel Tuesday scheduled an April hearing for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's lawyers to defend an invalidated law that would have given the mayor substantial authority over the Los Angeles public schools.

School choices satisfy, study says
JS Online
University of Colorado researchers are issuing a report that says low-income parents in Milwaukee are happy with the range of choices they have for their children. The report also says those parents select schools in ways that aren't much different from higher-income parents elsewhere.

NCLB Watch: Week One

A week ago, nearly everyone was predicting it would be 2009 before NCLB got renewed. Since then, things have gotten a little messier, but the basic dynamics are clear. A powerful set of folks folks (Spellings, President Bush, the Chamber, the BRT) are pushing for a quick NCLB reauthorization this year. Other folks (Miller, Kennedy especially) are also pushing for reauthorization-- and lots more cash. Meantime, NCLB opponents (the 100 groups that signed the letter) want to see NCLB revamped substantially and don't seem particularly concerned about when it happens -- though of course the sooner the better. Last but not least, some folks (Dodd, Ehlers, Fordham, New America) want to focus on national standards, which many of those who want to see NCLB reauthorized (Bush, Spellings, Chamber, BRT) consider something of a threat to a timely reauthorization. Got it?

UPDATE: Joanne Jacobs rounds up the blogs' coverage (via Education Wonks). And EdWeek's David Hoff reminds us that there's another group of folks who want some movement sooner rather than later: schools and districts operating under the current version.

1/09/2007

Exclusive: Romer To Head Gates/Broad '08 Election Push

Sitting in a DuPont Circle Starbucks, who do I run into but former LAUSD superintendent (and CO Gov) Roy Romer, making cell phone calls across from me. He wants to know what I'm doing with a laptop attached to a digital camera (you all know the answer to that one). I want to know what he's doing in town besides going to the NAF event (see below). Turns out Romer is getting set up to head a Gates/Broad initiative to make sure education gets a substantial and meaningful bit of attention in the 2008 election cycle. You read it here first. I think. More details to come.

More On The Education Industry

Did you know that 2006 was a tough year for K-12 education stocks, with several companies like ProQuest, Educate, Plato Learning, and LeapFrog down big? Not me. Hell, I've never even heard of most of these companies, much less know what they do or how they're performing on the stock market. But that's what you get when a friend sends you Class Notes, a 25-pp industry report that's put together by some analysts at RW Baird and Co and includes fascinating info on the education industry. It's not just about publicly traded companies, either. There's stuff in there about the budget process and the earmarks (see previous posts). You can check it out here: Class Notes 1-07.pdf)-- at least until they tell me to pull it down.

Friendly Faces

Thanks to everyone who came up and said "hi" yesterday in DC -- it was great to see so many familiar faces from the past (Kate Laguarda from PSA, Manish Naik and and Henry Duvall from the Council, Larry Snowhite from Houghton Mifflin, and to meet lots of new folks (Heather Podesta on her birthday, Kate Szostak from Dodd's press office, Lindsey Luebchow and Justin King from New America, and a slew of helpful people from the EdSec's press office including press secty Katherine McLane). The rest of you? See you next time.

A Teacher Uses The N-Word -- Over & Over

A white Jefferson County public schools English teacher was suspended for 10 days for using the n-word towards an African-American honors student, and this local news clip takes the unusual step of letting the teacher explain -- at length (and with visual aids) -- the different possible pronunciations of the word. Video NSFW click below.

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All NCLB, All The Time

Democrats Push for Changes to NCLB Law NYT
Democratic Congressional leaders on Monday called President Bush’s signature education law too punitive in its sanctions on public schools and pledged to increase educational spending, signaling the stance they will take this year in negotiations over the law’s renewal.

Bush, lawmakers meet to plan next phase of NCLB AP
President Bush pushed for renewal of the No Child Left Behind education law Monday in a meeting with congressional leaders but was noncommittal on their request for more money to help schools meet the law’s requirements.

'No Child Left Behind' Law Up for Renewal NPR
The Bush administration is using the law's fifth anniversary to urge reauthorization without changes. But the process won't be as simple as the adminstration once hoped. Plus: A Principal's View of 'No Child Left Behind'

1/08/2007

New America Makes A Splash

Whether or not national standards happen, New America in partnering with Senator Dodd and Fordham has carved out an interesting bit of space that otherwise could have been filled (or ignored) by other center-ish education groups -- and I'm not just saying that because I've done some work for them. The main press room was full at today's event, and the overflow room was overflowing. Ehlers couldn't be there, but Dodd gave a speech featuring sarcasm and wit (as well as a concluding call to action that seemed straight out of the climactic monologue in The Girl In A Cafe). Pictured here, the victorious staffers -- MaryEllen McGuire (Dodd), Michael Dannenberg (New America), Rachel Post (Ehlers), and Taniesha Woods (SRCD/AAAS fellow in Dodd's office) -- all headed back to work rather than to happy hour, this being DC. Missing: Mike Petrilli (Fordham).

Do NCLB Opponents Create A "Petrillian Dystopia"?

Check out Eduwonk.com for the new NCLB logo and the news that the USDE is serious about trying to get NCLB reauthorized this year. (True enough, from what I saw at the Spellings event this AM). And you gotta love Andy's warnings for NCLB opponents about the possibilities of a "Petrillian dystopia..."

Politics, Schools, and The Gap Between

"Over the years, I've talked to a lot of political folks who think once the legislative battle is won, the fight is over and they can move on to the next legislative battle," writes Mike Antonucci in a post that riffs off my "mission statement" on the gap between educators and policymakers: Intercepts: Alexander Russo Gets It Right (I Think)" I've talked to a lot of education policy folks who think the power of empirical evidence is enough to get their chosen reform enacted. I've talked to a lot of education reporters who don't understand me when I tell them things like the battle over charter schools is not about charter schools, but about collective bargaining and union membership."

Competing Agendas, "No" On National Standards, New Faces

Everyone's staking out their turf today in DC, where there are something like five education events (CAP, White House, Spellings at the Chamber, New America, Heritage, etc.). The highlight of the Spellings event was hearing the call for a 2007 reauthorization and strengthening of NCLB, and Spellings' guardedly dismissive comments on the short-term need for national standards (more on that later).
Great also to see familiar faces like Susan Traiman and Bill Taylor and D'Arcy Philps and EdWeek's David Hoff (back on the federal beat), as well as meet "new" folks like David DeSchryver (right) and that Edison dude Doug Mesecar (pictured left), who are much more important (and good-natured) than I originally reported.

Monday In DC

If you see this slightly devilish-looking person wandering around with a laptop at the events in DC today , please come up and say hello. However, be warned that I may blog about what tie you're wearing.

Three Takes On NCLB Anniversary

How Bush education law has changed our schools USA Today
A cornerstone of Bush's domestic agenda and one of his few truly bipartisan successes, it took what was once a fairly low-key funding vehicle (it was known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act before Bush borrowed the catchy name from the Children's Defense Fund) and turned it into a vast — and contentious — book of federal mandates.

Pupils still far behind despite law Chicago Tribune
Despite pumping more than $4 billion in No Child Left Behind funds into Illinois, most of the law's intended improvements have either fallen flat or have not been enacted fully.

Next round begins for No Child Left Behind CS Monitor
Achievement levels are creeping up toward the 2014 deadline when all public school children are supposed to be "proficient" at math and reading, and the racial and economic achievement gaps have narrowed slightly in a few cases, but not at all in others.

1/07/2007

The Week In Review (January 2-7)

On The Hill
Off To The Races With National Standards
Looking for ways to mess up your boss's next two years? Consider signing him or her up as an original cosponsor of a new voluntary national standards bill. (See also: Flip-Flopping Finn).
PLUS:
$1B In K12 Earmarks Further Imperiled
First-Week Proposals On The Fritzwire
Website Exclusive: CRS Previews Reauthorization

Blogs & Media Watch
Now That's What I'm Talking About
The Knight Science Journalism Tracker "sifts the Web for the day's newsiest science stories, summarizes the topic, and assesses the work of one or two of the reporters before linking to the other takes on the story...making it easy for reporters and editors to read and judge the competition." Education desperately needs one of these.
PLUS:
A Tempest In Andy's Teapot
EdWeek.org Gets A New (Wide) Look

Best Of The Rest
Why Oprah's School Isn't In The US
Wondering why Oprah didn't decide to build her new school here in the US rather than in South Africa? Me, too.
PLUS:
Banana + Anacaonda = Bananaconda
More USDE Officials Head For The Exits

Site News
Pimp My Blog
Washington Post's Four Best EdBlogs

$1B In K12 Earmarks Further Imperiled

On Friday, the House voted to make lawmakers identify which earmarks are theirs, endangering roughly $64 billion in earmarks -- including about $1B in K12 earmarks left over from last summer. Reporting that earmarks have tripled in size over the last 12 years, the NYT describes impact of the change here. The list of education earmarks left in limbo is here (under "innovation and improvement"). It runs from recognizeable programs like Troops to Teachers through a long list of $75-750K local items. Guessing which lawmaker pushed which items doesn't seem that hard, but as you'll see there are some outfits like KIPP and Communities In Schools that have figured out how to get several bites at the apple.

First-Week Proposals On The Fritzwire

Lawmakers love to introduce proposals during the first few days of a new Congress -- staking out territory, announcing their arrival on the scenee, and giving voice to their constituents' and supporters' priorities. Most go nowhere. Some get wrapped into larger efforts or added to spending measures.

Thankfully, there's a resource for tracking all these bills -- it's called Fritzwire and you can get addded to the list by emailing Fritz Edelstein at fritz@publicprivateaction.com.

Some of the most interesting-looking on Fritz's extensive first-week list include: S. 114 (Obama, Illinois), introduced to authorize resources for a grant program for local educational agencies to create innovation districts (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). S. 152 (Boxer, Cal.), introduced to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a program to help States expand the educational system to include at least 1 year of early education preceding the year a child enters kindergarten (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). H.R. 35 (Ehlers, Michigan), introduced the "Science Accountability Act", to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require the use of science assessments in the calculation of adequate yearly progress (Education and Labor).

1/05/2007

Banana + Anacaonda = Bananaconda

Never heard of a Bananaconda? You need to get out more. The creature -- part banana, part snake -- is one of many popularized in Scranimals and wildly popular among kids according to several recent news reports including this one. Other creatures include Hippopotamushrooms, Potatoads, Broccolions, and --my favorite --Toucanemones.

Fordham's Follies

More thoughts about Fordham's "Insiders" report: Much as I love her, since when did Michele at AFT become a power player? And that Edison dude -- is he really one of the top folks? Other folks who should have been included (besides Dannenberg and the others I named before): Dianne Piche and Bill Taylor at CCCR, Kati Haycock at the EdTrust, someone from the Department.

UPDATE: AFT Michele says she's not sure she should have been on the list, but thinks I should have. At least until she reads this post. (The Insider).

UPDATE 2: As predicted, Michele didn't like this post very much, but even when she's mad she's funny. Click "Enjoy!" to see her Jib-Jab caricature of me.

Off To The Races With National Standards

Tired already of the 110th Congress and looking for ways to mess up your boss's next two years (like I did with Feinstein and the Clinton health care legislation)? Consider signing him or her up as an original cosponsor of a new voluntary national standards bill. Republican Congressman John Vernon Ehlers (left) is joining the irrepressible Chris Dodd in introducing it on Monday. The 24-page legislation, called The SPEAK Act, amends NAEP and focuses on solely on math and science. It is, like NCLB, nominally voluntary, but could provide as much as $600 million in federal funds that states would be hard-pressed not to apply for. There's a 2:30 event at New America on Monday that will include supporters include New America Foundation and Fordham Foundation, Former Governors Engler & Wise, and the Council of Great City Schools. No sign of the Sector, AEI, CEP, Heritage, or CAP (much less Miller, Kennedy, McKeon, or Enzi). So far, Dodd and Ehlers are the only cosponsors, and the bill language and summary are embargoed, but you've got all weekend to think it over.

Rounding Up The Weeklies

It's Friday, and that means that The Gadfly, the NewsBlast, and the Equity Express are all just out and full of week-end reading. The Express reminds us to read these stories about teacher quality (When a Teacher of the Year takes on a failing school Christian Science Monitor, and Group targets ineffective teachers San Antonio Express-News). The Gadfly asks Is No Child Left Behind's birthday worth celebrating?. The NewsBlast points to (and summarizes) articles on topics like enlisting students in reform, Waldorf, and more.

Morning Round-up January 5, 2006

Sex-Ed Plan Could Revive Heated Debate From 2005 WaPo
Montgomery County school officials previewed new middle and high school lesson plans yesterday on sexual orientation and condom use, topics that could refuel the debate on how much the county's teenagers need to know about homosexuality and premarital sex.

Police prepare for the worst JS Online
But Columbine and other shootings prompted law enforcement agencies to realize first-on-scene patrol officers must be ready to enter a school, mall or another public place to take out a shooter and stop the killing.

Infection fear shuts some R.I. schools Boston Globe
Rhode Island officials canceled school yesterday and today for more than 20,000 students in three communities because of a suspected case of meningitis and the death of a second-grader from encephalitis.

1/04/2007

A Tempest In Andy's Teapot

Given how many times I've rained on Andy's parade, it's no wonder that he'd be eager to try and return the favor. Given my math skills, laziness, and general ineptitude, it's not that hard to do. But that's not really the most revealing issue...

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For example, I wonder how the EdWeek reporter who complained to Andy (I'm guessing it wasn't much more than one) feels about being used like that -- and how the rest of the newsroom feels about having someone's gripes aired in public.

I'm not even really sure the concern has an substantive merit. EdWeek already has two or three other blogs up, all written in-house, so it's not like I'm going to be their only blogger (or that they might not add a jillion more).

Most of all, we should all keep in mind during these next few weeks how insecure the EdWeek announcement must be making Andy. He knows that his readership is going to be eclipsed almost immediately. This in turn could seriously endanger his chances of becoming Secretary. So we should all try and be nice to him if we can. And we will. If he only lets us.

Now That's What I'm Talking About

This is something that would help the education beat tremendously -- but no one seems to want to do yet despite my repeated entreaties (aka offers) to do it: a site that tracks and dissects media coverage on a certain beat every day.

As Slate's Jack Shafer explains, the Knight Science Journalism Tracker "sifts the Web for the day's newsiest science stories, summarizes the topic, and assesses the work of one or two of the reporters before linking to the other takes on the story...making it easy for reporters and editors to read and judge the competition." No one does this regularly, or thoroughly enough on the education beat -- not EWA, not Hechinger, and not me (though I'm willing).

Discriminating Teachers On NPR

Those few of you who may have been listening in to NPR's This American Life last month or during the holidays will likely have been as upset as I was by the segment describing the mistreatment of a little Muslim-American immigrant girl by her teacher, her classmates, and her school -- a horrifying situation that ultimately led to the involvement of the USDE taking action against the school. Click here and look for the 12/15 show (episode 322 called Shouting Across the Divide.)

EdWeek.org Gets A New (Wide) Look

The Wall Street Journal isn't the only paper getting revamped these days. Just unveiled this week (in conjunction with an "open house" that makes all their content free), EdWeek's new online look is really WIIIIDE, with three hefty columns in a row instead of the old-school two-column look (as in this blog) or two narrower columns on each side and a bigger middle one (as in the NYT site). And, like lots of homepages these days, it's nearly overwhelmingly busy.

I wish the middle/new content section was bigger than the other columns so that it was clearer visually that that's where the good stuff is, but what do I know about website design? There's lots of new multimedia (pic galleries, audio) to check out, and the three-column format is fairly readable as long as you've got a big enough screen. And, of course, the content -- check out the article about Ford's education legacy -- remains strong.

Nine Twelve Washingtonistas On NCLB

Fresh off its "Influentials" success, the Fordham folks have put out an eight-page PDF listing what might happen to various provisions of NCLB (Education Insiders’ Predictions for NCLB). All regular readers of this site, the insiders (all 9 12 of them) mostly seem to agree with me on what's going -- and not going -- to happen.

Who are Fordham's insiders? Edelstein (see below), Hess (AEI), Rotherham (EdSector), Brown (CAP), Mesecar (Edison), Packer (NEA), McLaughlin (AFT), Philps, Traiman (BRT), Little (Alliance), Hunter (AASA), DeSchryver.

Who's not on the list but should have been (beside me)? The most obvious folks include Martin (Kennedy), Cain (Miller), Nock (Aspen), Dannenberg (New America), Jennings (CEP).

UPDATE: Thanks to Eduwonk for pointing out my poor counting skills.

More USDE Officials Head For The Exits

According to a recent email from the Title I Monitor, longtime USDE official Jackie Jackson is leaving the USDE next month. She has headed the Student Achievement and School Accountability programs since 2004, according to the Monitor, a $13B office that includes Title I Part A, Even Start, Early Reading First, etc. If I remember correctly, that office was previously headed under a slightly different configuration and name (Compensatory Ed) by Mary Jean LeTendre and... that guy from Texas. (Joe Johnson?)

Where's Fritz?

Longtime USDE staffer Fritz Edelstein has --not surprisingly-- landed on his feet after roughly three years on loan and then under contract with the US Conference of Mayors (during which he overlapped with the infamous JD LaRock, now in Kennedy's office). At the Conference, Edelstein helped put the organization on the education map. He's going to continue working with the group and with individual mayors as well as a variety of other folks now that he's out on his own (fritz@publicprivateaction.com).

Thursday AM News: Next Steps On NCLB, NCTQ Database, & More

'No Child' Law on Track, Spellings Says WashPost
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said yesterday that she welcomed proposals to "perfect and tweak" the No Child Left Behind law as Congress prepares for what could become a divisive debate on renewal of the landmark education initiative.

Online database opens a window for parents USAT
Want to know how early your son's second-grade teacher has to arrive at school each morning? Whether she hands in lesson plans each week?

Why China wants you to learn Chinese CSM
Many Americans are eager to learn, but some are concerned about China's motives behind 'Confucius Institutes.'

Teachers' math skills are targeted Boston Globe
The push follows years of concerns that elementary school teachers are passing on limited math skills to their students.

A Surprising Secret to a Long Life: Stay in School NYT
The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.

For Va. Kids, Success From An Early Age WaPo
To any parent who has wondered which children are most likely to succeed in life, a new national report offered an answer yesterday drawn from selected measures of economic affluence and academic achievement: the kids of Virginia.

1/03/2007

Why Oprah's School Isn't In The US

Wondering why Oprah didn't decide to build her new school here in the US rather than in South Africa? Me, too. Here's part of the answer:

"''If you ask the kids what they want or need [in the US], they will say an iPod or some sneakers,' she's quoted as saying). 'In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school.'"

How Much Has Changed Since 1997? Not That Much.

The indefatiguable Checker Finn wrote in from afar to correct the record on his views of national testing, which I had yesterday described as a flip flop.

Like other commenters, Finn reminded me that he supported national testing as long as NAGB was in control. True enough. But my point -- poorly articulated as it was -- is that while supporting national tests a decade ago Finn was exceedingly realistic about their chances of enactment. Ten years later, he's much more optimistic.

In a followup email, Finn deputy Mike Petrilli points out helpfully (if not entirely persuasively) that NCLB has "changed the debate," and that not all Ds hate testing anymore, and Rs are scared to death of China and India.

Washington Post's Four Best EdBlogs

Ratings things is fun, says "Uncle Jay" Mathews in his column on education blogs (Innocents in Blogland), and I'm happy to report that this blog is one of just 4 that get the nod from both Mathews and his co- evaluator, Walt Gardner. Thanks to everyone who nominated the blog, and to Mathews and Gardner, whose reviews include some interesting insights (along with some unfortunate hyperbole).

Website Exclusive: CRS Previews Reauthorization

As you may recall, I've been trying to get my hands on various CRS reports, which I remember fondly from my days on the Hill for their dry but exhaustive analysis. Here's the first of what I hope are several such reports that I've been able to dig up. Dated December 14th, this is the most recent Congressional Research Service preview of NCLB reauthorization issues prepared for the Congress that officially starts tomorrow: 1206 ESEA Overview (PDF).

Others may find more interesting things to note, but what jumped out at me about the report was a chart towards the back that shows appropriations levels as a percentage of authorization levels -- a statistic that I've never seen before and am not sure has any meaning, given the highly romantic nature of Congressional authorization levels. It starts out at over 75 percent and declines steadily to just over 51 percent.

Morning Round-Up, January 3, 2006

When college aid competes with school reform San Francisco Chronicle (via EdNews)
Romancing swing voters, like other tentative trysts, often yields soft promises, even broken hearts. Take the college-aid proposals of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, eager to signal that her Democrat-led Congress will sooth the economic angst of middle-class families, starting with making college more affordable.

Trying to Find Solutions in Chaotic Middle Schools NYT
Driven by slumps in learning and by high dropout rates later, educators are struggling to rethink middle school.

Fix 'No Child' law to make it more effective Detroit News (Via EdNews)
The New Year has barely begun, but already special interests are lobbying intensely to rework the federal No Child Left Behind Act -- up for renewal in 2007 -- to protect themselves.

EdWeek's New Quality Counts Report

Like the September issue of Vogue, EdWeek's Quality Counts report seems to get bigger and bigger every year. This year, the report includes sections on efforts to integrate PK-16, early childhood education, and more. Check it out: From Cradle To Career

Some early coverage:
Arizona kids called not ready to compete well, study says

Predictions For 2007

Scott Elliott asks -- but doesn't answer -- several questions about national education trends in his post Education predictions for 2007? so I guess I'll have to answer for him: Largely intact. An afterthought. Not really.

For the record, I came up with some predictions for 2006, a few of which came true (national testing is still going nowhere, school-based bans are still going strong, TV shows are still portraying education better than most journalists, and most blogs like this one are still lame). The others -- about states not bothering to apply for the growth model and Hurrican vouchers leading to a proliferation of other voucher intiatives -- didn't exactly pan out.

1/02/2007

A New Year for School Reform

Built off of EdWeek's annual Quality Counts report (the new one is out this week, I think tomorrow) and Fordham's recent state by state analysis of progress (for which I wrote a couple of state profiles), this recent editorial from the NYT (A New Year for School Reform) reminds us of several worthwhile things -- most notably that NCLB "did not just drop out of the sky" but rather was the culmination of standards-based reform efforts that have been in vogue for at least 15 years and that minority achievement scores have risen just not fast/enough.

Its proposed remedies aren't to dump NCLB, or abandon its approach, but rather to do what a growing number of folks seem to be calling for in various ways: more rigorous tests, better teacher training, better help for failing schools, and better staffing for low-income schools. Eduwonk calls it "must-read stuff" and points out (as I did below) that the national testing crowd has more problems than solutions.

Flip-Flopping Finn Mesmerizes NPR On National Testing

Filling a slow news day, NPR snuck in a piece on the push for national testing on New Year's Day (Conservatives Call for National Education Curriculum) but -- like many segments on this topic -- misses several key points. Journalistically, the piece opens misleadingly with references to national high school tests in other countries which aren't really the issue here (we have the SAT and ACT for that, as NPR admits late in the segment). Substantively, the piece wildly overstates the current level of interesting and momentum for national testing. (Can anyone say "Democratically- controlled Congress"?). Most annoyingly, it ignores the fact that it was Checker Finn -- currently the main proponent of national testing -- who opposed it so effectively a decade ago. What's changed since then, really, and how does Finn explain his flip-flop on the issue?

Pimp My Ride Blog

On the MTV show "Pimp My Ride," the host takes old, dinged-up cars and turns them into shining, high-tech machines. And in that spirit I'm happy to announce that in the very near future this blog is going to get a fancy new home over at EdWeek.org, home of Education Week & Teacher Magazine.

I know, I know -- it seems like an unlikely pairing. They have real journalists over there, staff meetings, a vacation policy, and all of that. I have...well, none of those things. And, of course, I've poked fun of them several times. (You can read what I've said about EdWeek in the past here.)

So why the new partnership? Well, they apparently heard about this whole blogging craze and want in on the fast-moving fun. Me, I get access to their bazillion readers and some undeserved semblance of respectability. Oh, and the millions and millions of dollars that they're paying. No, not really. Plus which, I generally like the EdWeekers and what they do.

Will the new version cost you anything to read? Nope. Not a cent. Will this new setup change the substance or style of what's on the blog? Not at all. No meddling editors are involved. Will the new version be any better than the old one? Let's hope so. It'll definitely be read by a lot more real live educators, who I'm hoping might have some interesting things to say. The only real thing that's going to change is the design and appearance of the blog -- no great loss.

Morning Round-up January 2, 2007

Montessori, Now 100, Goes Mainstream WaPo
The American Montessori Society, based in New York, reported 7 percent membership growth in just the past year, and many of the schools are getting ready to celebrate the centennial of the Montessori beachhead.

Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over NYT
An institution that, like many nationwide, strives to attract young people, even offering beading and cartooning classes, will soon be shutting them out, along with the rest of the public, at one of the busiest parts of its day.