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Campaign 2012: The Successful Failure Of ED In '08

On January 15, 2012, veteran education researcher Craig Jerald was feeling a little frustrated by the lack of discussion about education in the Republican primary debates. So he logged into his Twitter account to vent to his four hundred–plus followers:

“Presidential debate moderators have mostly ignored education. Anyone miss ED in ’08 now???”

Screen shot 2012-06-20 at 1.20.22 PMED in ’08 (Education in 2008) was an effort to make education a big part of the 2008 presidential campaign—to make the candidates take education seriously and talk about it during debates and on the campaign stump. Four years later, most others remembered it as a costly failure, if they remembered it at all.  It didn’t take long for longtime thinktanker Andy (“Eduwonk”) Rotherham to respond to Jerald’s tweet:

“OK, but what’s a good price per question? Those were expensive.”

The largest single-issue advocacy campaign in the history of education reform, ED in '08 was shuttered after just sixteen months and written off by outside observers and the funders themselves. Rotherham was referring to the mere twenty education-related questions that moderators had asked the candidates in 2007 and 2008. 

Heading into the 2012 campaign season, no one gave any serious thought to repeating the experiment. And yet, education advocacy organizations very much like ED in ’08 have proliferated in the years following the 2008 elections, as has philanthropic support for political advocacy. The Obama administration’s education priorities have resembled those pushed by ED in ’08 in several key regards. And, as Jerald noted, the 2012 campaign has been thus far devoid of much substantive discussion about education reform. 

“At the time, it seemed irrelevant. Though in retrospect it may have set the groundwork. Little did we know.”

That's the opening to my new report on ED in '08, just out from AEI (here).

Charts: The Union Spending That Reform Critics Want To Ignore

Here's a chart from the CT Mirror showing how the non-nion spending on education advocacy (in red) has gone up, and in 2010 advocates outspent unions by a good chunk, but it's not like it's ever been an unfair fight in terms of dollars:  

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Reform critics are not just helpless parents and teachers crying in the wilderness, though sometimes they seem to believe that is so.

Media: Finger-Wagging From A Cape Cod Vacation Home

Picture 47Over all, I find Joanne Barkan’s latest Dissent piece (Hired Guns) to be an overly familiar, frustratingly misleading read -- much less original and interesting than the previous stories she's put out. 

Her main premise, that school reformers have gone political, is nothing new at this point.  The same is true for most of her main points:  Jonah Edelman at Aspen, again?  Michelle Rhee being aggressive, again?  The unproven nature of RTTT reforms, again?  The lack of accountability for nonprofit foundations, again?  The fall 2011 Denver school board election, again?  Reformers are many of them white and well-educated and arrogant, again? These are all things you’ve read here and elsewhere (ad neauseam) going back months if not years.   

Most troubling of all is that in her new piece Barkan (pictured) presents a misleading, misguided, and perhaps even hypocritical vision of how education and democracy are supposed to work.  I don't think it's fair to reformers (not that they need me to defend them) or particularly helpful to those who are critical of reform efforts.  

Continue reading "Media: Finger-Wagging From A Cape Cod Vacation Home" »

Quotes: Flashback To 2005 (How Much Has Changed?)

Quotes2Resistance to federal power is now a progressive rallying cry in education.  -- Robert Gordon, Class Struggle, The New Republic, 2005

Campaign 2012: Understanding The Money Game

image from assets.motherjones.comIt's not easy to get anything that feels like a complete picture of the current advo-political landscape these days, in education or more broadly. The rules have changed, the organizations are new and named confusingly, and the money is pouring in from everywhere (much of it undisclosed).  But some things are becoming clearer.  Lots of left-leaning publications are seeking to bring to light the growth and spread of conservative, big-business, and Tea Party money in the American political system -- just as they should be doing (see Mother Jones here).  And lots of center- and right-leaning publications understandably like to share details about labor spending (especially when it doesn't seem to have helped). Philanthrogeeks like Lucy Bernholz, who pointed me to the Mother Jones story in a recent blog post, go a little bit farther and describe the connections between political advocacy and social advocacy in an age in which some nonprofits are focusing on political advocacy to help their causes or being created solely for advocacy purposes.  In this new world Bernholz describes, foundations and people with lots of money are being asked to choose between three basic options:  funding programs and services (so '90s!), funding issue-based advocacy efforts (so 2008!), and partisan/ideological initiatives paid for through traditional channels like the DNC and RNC or new SuperPACs like Priorities USA on the left or American Crossroads on the right (so 2010!). Nonprofit development directors who once had only to compete with each other for money now have to compete with advocacy efforts and political SuperPACs.  She calls it the new social economy.

Video: Jon Stewart Addresses SOS Marchers

#sosmarch "Teachers in the summer are just lazy and doing nothing anyway. They're just living off the huge salaries and pensions that they suck out of the taxpayers, leaving Wall Street fatcats with very little bonus money." Also Matt Damon here.

Parenting: How Emanuel Outburst Differs From Cristie's

AP emanuel photo in wbez Folks remain deeply divided over Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to send his kids to private school and the outburst that occurred when asked about the decision.  Some tidbits:  Emanuel refused to apologize to the reporter afterward.  Lab School is unionized, unlike most other private schools in the nation.  Other local and national leaders (Daley, Cristie, et al) have gotten something of a pass for sending their kids to parochial schools.  (By that token, Emanuel should have sent his kids to St. Ignatius, the top Catholic school in the city, even though he and his family are Jewish. There is no elite Jewish high school in Chicago.) A roundup below. AP photo via WBEZ

Continue reading "Parenting: How Emanuel Outburst Differs From Cristie's " »

Politics: Payoff & Retribution By Mayor-Elect Emanuel

image from www.theloopnow.com In what many observers describe as a nod to wealthy political patrons like Penny Pritzker, mayor-elect Emanual says he wants more all-girls schools in Chicago despite the reality that the one such school in the city is far from a shining light (Emanuel glosses over academic stats, Emanuel promises expansion of all-girl CPS charter high school).  In a bit of what might be described as payback for the teachers union not having supported him in his election efforts, Emanuel says he wants longer school days and extra pay (Rahm Emanuel warns unions about changes ) or he'll support strike limitations in Springfield.   

Politics: Emanuel Overstates Charter Accomplishments

ScreenHunter_11 Feb. 08 11.16The Chicago Tribune notes that three out of four citizen want an elected school board but they're probably not going to get one since none of the frontrunners supports the move (Schools will be major test for next mayor) and it's not a mayoral call anyway.  Meantime, a student-created video slamming frontrunner Rahm Emanuel for claiming that most of the best high schools in the city are charters made it to the Huffington Post (Rahm Emanuel Hit On School Policy).  And there's a hilarious and obscene fake Emanuel twitter feed that's got over 22,000 followers ( NSFW here).

Cartoon: Kids Learn To Go Negative At An Early Age

image from www.newyorker.com
"Remember, it's not enough to say what's great about mac 'n' cheese.  We've got to go negative on tuna noodle casserole." (From this week's New Yorker)

Politics: Rahm Emanuel, Bullying Victim

image from i.huffpost.com The things people will do and say to win public office.  In an effort to make himself more relatable during a forum of candidates for mayor of Chicago -- a place where school violence means getting shot or beaten going to or from school -- front-runner candidate Rahm Emanuel, raised in the leafy suburbs north of Chicago, claimed to have been physically bullied and the victim of racial slurs for his dark skin -- and had to bring in his taller brother Ari to defend him. Or maybe it was the tights?  Seriously -- someone should check this story out.  I'm not claiming there's no truth to it but still... it has all the trappings of being overblown.  Either that or he needs to make an "It Gets Better" video.

Teachers: Strike Threat Blocks Reform, Say IL Reformers

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWhat's the main obstacle to reforming our schools?  In Illinois, it's the threat of a strike, apparently.  That's the gist of fast-track reform legislation that has the AFT alarmed enough to send out an email urging legislators to oppose it (and the state supe asking for a slowdown).  What's the big deal?  The legislation (PDF draft here courtesy of State School News) includes pretty much every reformy idea out there:  revamping tenure, layoff, and certification rules, plus the strike ban. The editorial page at the Chicago Tribune says "This Could Be Something Special." Labor Notes reports that several of the legislators behind the proposal just received big bucks from Stand For Children.  The legislation could get wrapped into a massive bill cutting spending and raising taxes and passed as soon as January 11.  

Politics: Angry, Ideal-Less Progressives

Tumblr_lc34d1O7C61qcokc4o1_500Wow, there are some mightily peeved progressives out there right now, chewing on the White House for going along with hundreds of billions in tax cut extensions for a measly unemployment insurance extension. CAP's Matt Miller weighs in with a Washington Post column noting that the money would have been better spent on better teachers (Tax cuts for the rich, or better teachers in schools?): "The showdown could have been between "the new generation of teachers America needs to compete" vs. "lower taxes for the top," says Miller.  Alas, we just spent more than $100 billion on school reform (Stimulus plus SIG plus edujobs) and nothing like that seems likely to come along again anytime soon -- especially if the money we just spent ends up seeming like it went down the drain.  

Politics: Rahm Residency, Schooling Decisions Unclear

Rahm_teaser His eligibility to be a mayoral candidate remains up in the air, but former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel still won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if elected mayor of Chicago: Emanuel won't commit to public school for his kids:  Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wants to increase teacher training programs but says he won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if he's elected mayor of Chicago... Rahm Emanuel Undecided On Whether Kids Will Attend Public Schools AP:  Emanuel said Tuesday that's a decision he and his wife will make. His comments came after a news conference where he talked about doubling the number of teacher training academies.  [Word in Chicago is that he's planning on sending his kids to Latin.]

Reform: Is "Intellectual Elitism" Getting In The Way?

Picture 57

Picture 58 One of several conversations going on right now about the current political malaise involves the issue of elitism -- Democratic elitism, in particular (Democrats Have an 'Intellectual Elitism' Problem Atlantic Wire).  Though not focused on education politics in particular, it's a relevant question to consider in light of recent setbacks and controversies (the departures of Rhee & Klein, the appointment of Cathie Black, the Waiting For Superman debacle).  There's no doubt that education activists, especially the reformy kind, need to engage with teachers, parents, and other non-elites better than they have over the past couple of years. Right now it seems like they're being destroyed by bloggers like Valerie Strauss and critics like Diane Ravitch, who's become the Sarah Palin / Glenn Beck / Julian Assange of the left.

Quote: Not Much To Learn From Bennet Win

Quote-mark So what can Democrats learn from Bennet? Can they copy it? Mostly, no. - Slate's David Weigel

Events: Is Geoff Canada Being (Over) Used?

image from chicagopressrelease.com Last week, Geoff Canada was in Chicago talking about Stand For Children's effort to get the charter caps lifted in Illinois (see here).  Next week's he's doing a November 30 event in Denver with Secretary Spellings that's part of the Chamber's 12-city tour to promote Superman.  I'm sure he's also networking and recruiting funders, but still I worry about Canada being used to sell agendas that aren't entirely overlapping with his core mission and hope HCZ has a very good COO and CAO who are doing good work while Canada schmoozes.  (Does he?)

Politics: Pro-Charter Dem PAC Expands To CA

ScreenHunter_04 Nov. 03 14.01 Whtiney Tilson says that DFER has hired CA State Senator (D-East LA and Senate education committee chair) Gloria Romero to lead the expansion of DFER to California. "Launched in 2007, DFER has active chapters in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Colorado, with others on the way. The organization pushes to make Democratic politicians more active participants in efforts to dramatically improve public schools for students."  Add the states where Stand For Children has established outpots and you've got quite a handful of states with pro-charter PACs.  How they did in 2010 and how they'll fare in 2012 I have no idea. Presser attached.

Continue reading "Politics: Pro-Charter Dem PAC Expands To CA" »

Quote: "Cockeyed Optimists" Haven't Been Listening

Quotes2 Those cockeyed optimists who believe a lame duck congress passing an omnibus appropriations bill means a third round of RttT clearly haven't been listening.  -- Patrick (Eduflack) Riccards

Video: Slimy Video Gets NJ Teacher In Trouble

image from pre.cloudfront.goodinc.com Passaic NJ has now suspended an award-winning special education teacher for telling the story of a colleague who used a racial slur to address a student but didn't get  in all that much trouble -- effectively paying a greater price for recounting a story (that seemed to disgust her) than the person who actually spoke the racial slur to students in school. Her remarks were caught on tape and uploaded onto YouTube by the folks who did the ACORN videos last year, presented as an expose of the NJEA called "Teachers Unions Gone Wild" that includes footage from a recent leadership conference.  Read all about it at GOOD (here).  There's lots of rough language -- you've been warned! -- plus annoying steel drum music and voiceover.    There's also an interesting tidbit where a union member brags about slipping in changes to the state's RTTT application / legislation.  

Bush Era: Remembering NCLB (Again)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com There's apparently not much about NCLB in the new Bush book out this week, but now's as good as any other time to remember some of what people were thinking way back then when the law first came out.  Two of my favorite articles about the law are Nick Lemann's New Yorker piece "Testing Limits" (here) and James Traub's NYT Sunday Magazine "Test Mess" piece about the pushback against annual testing and disaggregated test data (here).  But you know that already -- I mention these articles all the time.  What do YOU think were the best / most influential articles about NCLB that others should read as we head into what could be (probably not) the reauthorization of the next version of the law?  

Previous post:  What's Bush Got To Say About NCLB?

Media: The Importance Of Disclosing Campaign Giving

7174 Last week's disclosure that MSNB's Keith Olbermann -- and Fox's Joe Scarborough -- had previously undisclosed campaign donations has become Washington's lastest tempest in a teapot, following closely on the NPR Juan Williams / Nina Totenberg debacle -- but it's as good a time as any to ponder the question of how me we know or don't know about the folks we trust to give us the education news and commentary -- print reporters, broadcast folks and regular pundits.  Traditionally most fulltime journalists are required not to participate in campaigns (NPR recently told its staff not to go to the Stewart/Colbert rally) but that may not be true for broadcast folks, nonprofit journalists, and pundits.  I'm asking around for whether the rules have changed, and what they should be for the new breed of bloggers/ nonprofit journos / pundits / advocates like Hechinger, GothamSchools, Rotherham, etc.  My sense is that transparency is better than an outright ban on campaign giving.  If you know the guy talking to you gave money to Pelosi or Boehner or whomever then you can make your own call on whether there's credibility there or not.  [NB:  I didn't give money to anyone.]

NCLB: No, NCLB Isn't Getting Revamped Anytime Soon

The Washington Post'sScreenHunter_01 Mar. 31 17.39 Nick Anderson tried hard to get Hill leaders to say something about education reform but doesn't have much to work with besides Melody Barnes blowing smoke about how important NCLB is to the Obama administration and Jack Jennings saying a polite version of "not gonna happen."  The post-election bipartisan momentum story is one we've heard a hundred times before -- usually wishful thinking or an effort to spin or get onto the front page.  As often happens, the story doesn't live up to the headline (and the reality's probably even more dim and uncertain than the story being told here).  Chances of the Republicans giving Obama a win on a major domestic issue seem pretty small -- Boehner wouldn't allow it even if Kline was all for it.  Unless I'm totally wrong and it happens next week.  


Movies: Rating The "Superman" Kids

Meh_2615 Bored waiting for the election results to come in (or just bored)?  

Pass some time taking this online survey about Waiting For Superman [#wfs] that's being conducted by the Harmony Institute (presumably on behalf of Paramount or Participant Media) and tell them what you thought of the film. My favorite question was #16, where you're asked to rate the kids (Bianca, Anthony, Francisco, Emily, and Daisy) and their parents in terms of their likability.  

Via Whitney Tilson's email blast [[email protected]]

Campaign 2010: $3.5 Million From Pro-Charter Dem PAC

Do-you-like-me Following up on a Progress Illinois story from a few weeks ago that described the impact of Stand For Children's campaign giving in nine state races (including support for three Republican candidates), the Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Banchero reports that SFC and DFER combined are operating in several states and have generated a whopping $3.5 million on donations this cycle.  It sounds like a lot until you find out that the teachers unions have spent about $24 million and remember that there's so much new mystery money in this race (thanks, Citizens United).  

Quote: Lizard Brains

Quotes2 “When Democrats win people are using the hope side of their brain, when Republicans win, people are using the lizard side of their brain.”  - Joe Scarborough confronting Arianna Huffington on Morning Joe

Policy: Is Education As "Broken" As The Rest Of DC?

image from www.mysafetysign.com#dfer #edujobs #rttt There's lots of talk out there on the campaign trail about how "broken" Washington is but not much if anything about if and how our education policy development process might be flawed beyond repair or just within reach of fixing.  One reason is that Congress hasn't done much on education lately, or at least since the first flurry that created ARRA and RTTT.  Committee folks who've been working on fixes to NCLB have been sitting on their hands for nearly three years now since Miller last toted out a possible bill. Another is that education isn't a big campaign issue.  We'll know more when we see the final outcome of the for profit regulations fight that's going on, and when the next budget and appropriations cycles take place.  There will be politicking aplenty, that's for for sure.  A Republican-run House of Representatives might want to look hard at the Stimulus implementation or even more so at "edujobs."  But what we still don't know is how the White House and USDE will deal with Hill Dems and Republicans during a real legislative battle, or how hard relatively newish outside groups like DFER and Stand For Children and the Gates lobbying folks will want to play, and frankly whether they're going to be any good at it.  

Reform: Republican Gov. Chris Cristie Makes Unlikely Champion

image from si.wsj.net
Here's the profoundly disturbing fixed-grin photo of NJ Gov Chris Cristie, Oprah Winfrey, Cory Booker, and the Facebook guy (Mark Zuckerburg) accompanying this WSJ article rehashing the fight between Cristie and the teachers union (and making a big bolt-on deal out of his supposed presidential ambitions).  What makes it interesting is the thought that, in a post Michelle Rhee world, Cristie is reformers' unchosen new champion -- their loudest voice against the status quo, etc.  Awkward, no, to be tied to a big blustering white guy -- even if the other side might sort of wish him dead.  On the other hand, it may take a Republican to do what reform Democrats want done.  Or at least someone who's still going to be in office not too long from now.  

Quote: Don't Put It All On Teachers

Quotes2 Differences in the quality of in-school experiences can explain about one-third of the differences in achievement. -- Richard Rothstein

Campaign '10: Stand For Children In Illinois

340x_nerd-fishing Stand For Children is joining DFER in finding centrist Dems and Republicans state-level races in places like Illinois where it recently doled out more than half a million dollars to nine candidates (six of them Democrats) according to this Progress Illinois story (A New Player In State Education Politics).  The Illinois  chapter of SFC joins Advance Illinois, an advocacy shop set up recently to do statewide policy work.  Illinois didn't get RTTT but that hasn't stopped folks there from pushing on reforms.  Meanwhile, the state's being accused of watering down its state assessments year after year in order to make scores look better.  

Reform: Are They Stepping Back From The Brink?

ScreenHunter_15 Oct. 19 10.33 Maybe it's the looming midterms or the increasingly overheated and ridiculous rhetoric but there are at least a handful of things that suggest maybe the Democratic party has decided against an all-out civil war over school reform:  (1) There's the announced labor-management relations summit in early 2011.  (2) The profile of Randi Weingarten in the NYT which notably includes no harsh attacks from top officials.  (3)  The elevation of the term "war on teachers"  in the WSJ.  (4) The miserable box office returns for WFS compared to Jackass and the Facebook movie.  Or, perhaps the inspirtation was sworn enemies Colbert and Stewart burying their differences and combining forces for their upcoming Fear/Sanity rally.

Campaign 2010: Eliminate Public Schools Says Tea Party Candidate

image from carnet.csdecou.qc.ca Remember when Republicans would say they wanted to eliminate the US Department of Education in order to appeal to their conservative base?  That's so 1990s.  Ditto with bans on dirty dancing and hugging and all that other stuff.  Very over.  This guy -- California congressional candidate David Harmer -- wants to get rid of public schools entirely. Via Slate.

USDE: Labor Summit In Early 2011

340x_easybakesmall22310 Duncan, Weingarten, and Van Roekel are announcing a summit on labor-management reform for early next year, according to this press release citing many of the examples we've heard several times before (Evansville, Baltimore, New Haven, Pittsburgh, Detroit). 

Notably left off the list -- so sensitive of them! -- is Washington DC.  Still some hurt feelings there, I guess.  Or maybe it wasn't as reformy as some claimed at the time. 

See release below.

Continue reading "USDE: Labor Summit In Early 2011" »

White House: Gibbs Claims Obama Has No Regrets Over Rhee

Picture 28 Politics Daily follows up on the story I told you a few weeks ago -- the White House's abandoment of Rhee (and Fenty) and the questions it raises about what Obama will and won't do for its education champions (Did the White House Abandon Michelle Rhee?). 

The best part is this dismissive quote from Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs:  "I don't think the president has any regrets about not getting involved in a mayoral race."  Well, I'm not so sure about that.  It wasn't just any old mayoral race and it's not like the President hasn't stayed out of local matters before (beer summit, anyone?). But at least now Bennet, Klein, and other reformers know they're on their own when they get in a jam.

Previous 9/20 post:  How the White House Abandoned Rhee

Media: Rhee's Departure Meaningless, Claim Reformers

Ralph You get a lot of spin and wishful thinking when you ask a bunch of reformy types (Klein, Johnston, etc.) what Rhee's departure is going to mean for reform.  These are the same people who made such a big deal of her presence at the helm of the DC schools in the first place.  These folks (other than Hess) all have a vested interest in making as little of her departure as possible.  They ARE Michelle Rhee.  But  Sam Dillon's NYT piece today (Rhee’s Resignation Isn’t Expected to Slow Public School Reform) doesn't get far beyond that, sticking close to the reformy talking points.  It would have been interesting to have an academic perspective, or a political one.  Even a cable news hack would have described this as a major setback for reformers, who are -- or should be -- licking their wounds and figuring out how to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.   

Duncan: A Three-State Week For Arne


It must be campaign season with all this criss-crossing (and the non-publicized campaign events that are part of the package):

Duncan's headed to North Dakota on Tuesday and Florida on Wednesday and Thursday and then -- hooray! -- up to Boston for a City Year event and a speech at Hah-vahd.

Continue reading "Duncan: A Three-State Week For Arne" »

Parents: Emanuel Departure Opens School Spots


DC parents are pondering the effects of Emanuel's departure on highly coveted slots in local private schools like Maret, according to Al Kamen (What about his kids' school slots?)  I'm sure there are parents in Chicago freaking out over "losing" spots to the Emanuel kids if and when they switch schools. Good enough reason to vote against the guy?  I'm not so sure it isn't. Yes, this is the world we live in.  


Chart: Taxpayers' $50 Tab For Federal K-12 Education

A taxpayer earning $34,000 paid $38 towards compensatory education for poor children (ie, Title I) in 2009, according to this report (Your 2009 Tax Receipt).  Add $11 more for Head Start and you're almost at $50 whole dollars.

NB the tax rules and spending dollars are somewhat different each year.  

White House: Obama Talks Education [updated]

image from markhalperin.files.wordpress.com Obama set for Monday meet with his Economic Recovery Advisory Board to talk education.  Those expected to attend include listed below.  Via The Page

UPDATE: Obama to spotlight education Politico

The administration is expected to roll out several announcements about higher education initiatives on Monday and Tuesday in advance of Tuesday’s White House summit on community colleges.

Continue reading "White House: Obama Talks Education [updated]" »

Video: Obama Bores Sleep-Deprived Student

This is open-mouth yawn from a student either an argument for better parenting, later high school start times, better teacher training (to keep students awake), or ... really bad advance staff work from the Obama team:

Sorry about the preview ad.

Media: Getting Beyond The Current "War On Teachers"

ChantarellesHere are three good reads to help fill the enormous gap between the surface hullaballoo about the nation's education crisis generated by WFS and Education Nation and the angry mob of teachers and educators who are seething against what some are calling the "war on teachers" -- Dana Goldstein's piece in The Nation about the successes of union-management collaboration (here), Jonathan Gyurko's piece on what Guggenheim left out of his piece (here), and Nick Lemann's New Yorker commentary about the overheated crisis rhetoric surrounding so-called reform (here).  I'm hoping that there will be more about this in the mainstream sometime soon -- sketching out not only the controversies surrounding Guggenheim's proposed solutions but also the practical and political limits of going to war against traditional schools as we now now them.  You'd think that the resounding defeat of Fenty and Rhee would have made this clear, but perhaps there wasn't enough time for it to sink into the journalistic consciousness enough before the WFS media juggernaut came through. 

Quote: "The Answer Is No Right Now"

Quotes2 "I'll be blunt with you: The answer is no right now." -- President Obama this morning in response to audience question about whether the DC public schools could match his daughters' private school (and implicitly whether he'd consider sending them to a district school).

Poverty: Let's Not Talk About 43M Poor People

Post_full_1283887585340106608_a85833f694_z A weeek later and still no one wants to talk about poverty on Capitol Hill (Poverty figures sidetracked by political concerns or on the campaign trail (except Stephen Colbert, who wants to "legalize" it so that the rich feel better about taking care of poor peoples' money). 

Events: Assigned Seating At Daily Show / Colbert Report Rally

ScreenHunter_73 Sep. 20 08.27Important event update:  Word is out that seating atScreenHunter_74 Sep. 20 08.29 at the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally in DC will be assigned by the event organizers

In the "Million Moderates March" area will be Nick Lemann (see previous post), Jack Jennings, Matt Yglesias, and that's about it that I can think of.  

On the "Keep Fear Alive" side will be folks like Davis Guggenheim, Diane Ravitch, and Mike Klonsky. Whitney Tilson will definitely be assigned to this side (sorry, man -- I know you applied to be with Stewart).  

How about you?  Colbert or Stewart?  Let us know.

Campaign 2010: How Obama & Duncan Abandoned Rhee

image from t0.gstatic.comThe big lesson from Fenty's defeat and Rhee's likely ouster isn't that the teachers union will oppose you or that extreme care and effort are needed in explaining reform to the public but rather that you may well find yourself abandoned by those who could save you.  The White House and the Duncan team left the one person arguably doing the most for their own cause out there on the battlefield alone.  In case you hadn't noticed, there was no big push, no signalling, nothing dropped into the news cycle.  Obama and Duncan were pretty much entirely absent -- suddenly shy and retiring on a local issue when they've weighed in on so many others.  Sure, the unions probably told the White House to stand down on this one or risk losing support in November.  Sure, Rhee was over the top on more than a few things.  Sure, Fenty looked like he was going to lose.  But that hasn't stopped the White House before.  And it's hard to argue that Obama in particular couldn't have tipped the scales here.  I think that the White House and the Duncan folks were tired of Rhee's criticisms and independence and aggressiveness -- an issue raised before here and by Richard Whitmire (Duncan Must Deal With Rhee, Union).  She slammed Dems on reform two years ago (Republicans Do Education Reform Better).  She accused Obama and others of pandering to teachers on NCLB (Rhee likes McCain's education plans).  (I think she even -- uncool! -- panned RTTT, though I can't find the link right now.)  And I think that the strongest voices of the reformy crowd -- DFER, Stand for Children, TFA -- still don't have the killer instinct or the oomph to push powerful Dems into action (or influence votes on their own), which is why their explainers and apologists are now left spinning recent events as a consequence of strategy or style rather than what it was -- what all this stuff is! -- politics.  

Fenty/Rhee: Notable Absence Of Reformy Reflection [upd]

ScreenHunter_51 Sep. 01 10.29 What did reformy types learn from the Fenty/Rhee loss in DC on Tuesday?  Not much, apparently - at least not that they're willing to tell to you.  A sampling:  The election wasn't really about Rhee (Sara Mead).  What Sara said (Rotherham).  It was the economy's fault (Yglesias).  It was the taxicab drivers' fault (Carey).  So much for insight, intellectual rigor, or honest reflection (though in fairness Yglesias does tag Rhee for arrogance).  What about those among us who aren't all past or current co-workers / romantic partners (but aren't rapid anti-reformers either)?    "Brash" reformers never last except for Klein (Perlstein). Winning over public school parents got left behind (Dana Goldstein). Back to the drawing board for reformers (Rick Hess).  UPDATE:  It was black voters' dislike of firings (Petrilli).

Obama: Late Announcement Of President's Back To School Speech

image from www.blnotary.com With very late notice this year, districts find themselves with an even shorter window to prepare and make accommodations. Arlene Ackerman, Philadelphia's superintendent, told the Inquirer she got the call just yesterday that Masterman would host the president's speech. (Obama's Back-to-School Speech Coming Tuesday EdWeek)

Video: NJ Gov. Refutes Claim He Cut School Spending

Ignore the theatrics at the start and end and isntead listen to NJ Governor Chris Cristie describe his version of the the situation he (and many other governors) find themselves in now that the stimulus money is gone and tax revenues are declining (Chris Christie vs. the Teachers' Union). 

Truthiness: PolitiFact Covers Education Mis-Statements

Seems like misleading statements and facutal errors about public education are a bipartisan phenomenon: 

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Thanks to EWA's Linda Perlstein for tipping us off to some of these gems uncovered by PolitiFact on its education page.

Newark: Will Noguera Initiative Survive Janey Departure?

500x_4265102426_0286b9fe50 The state superintendent isn't the only school administrator who's out in New Jersey -- news that got lost (on me at least) in last week's hullabaloo over RTTT and other things.  A week ago today NJ governor Chris Christie announced that Cliff Janey was out as head of the Newark public school system (Christie to Bring In New Newark Schools Chief WSJ via Whitney Tilson).  Janey remains until his contract runs out, and in the meantime he and Pedro Noguera are launching a seven-school comprehensive services initiative called the Global Village that is funded by school turnaround money but shares some features with the Harlem Children's Zone.  No word yet on how the plan will be affected by the change in leadership.



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