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People: Duncan Staffer Named One Of DC's "Hottest" (2013)

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Paul Kendrick has been named to this year's edition of The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful. The single 29 year-old is from West Hartford and previously worked for Geoff Canada's Harlem Children's Zone. 

Hard as it may be to believe, but I did a popular and mildly controversial annual "Hot For Education" post during the early years of this site: 2009200820072005.

Check and see who's on the old lists, if they're still in education, and whether they're still hot (for education, at least). 

In 2010, I launched Hot For Education as a standalone Tumblr (with a 2012 Pinterest interlude).

Previous posts: Ed Finance Council Makes Hill Beauty ListPS22 Choir Instructor Tops Salon List

AM News: House Takes First Steps Towards NCLB Rollback

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House takes up GOP version of No Child Left Behind AP: The House is ready to make the final tweaks to its Republican-led rewrite of the sweeping No Child Left Behind education law that governs every school in the country that receives federal education dollars.

Rollback of NCLB to get vote Politico: A bill to roll back No Child Left Behind, the far-reaching 2001 education overhaul that expired six years ago but remains in effect, will finally get a vote in the House of Representatives later this week after clearing a procedural hurdle Wednesday night—and despite grumbling from some of the chamber’s more conservative members.

House Lawmakers Set to Debate No Child Left Behind Act Rewrite Politics K12:  On the eve of a possible vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on long-stalled legislation to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, the bill's road to passage is still somewhat bumpy. House leaders have scheduled votes for Thursday on a host of amendments to the proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision—26 of them altogether. But so far, a vote on final passage hasn't been scheduled, which gives leaders extra time to twist some arms, if they need to.

Senate Reaches Deal to End Fight Over Student Loan Interest Rates NYT: A Senate aide said that the new proposal, which had been the subject of tense negotiations since the rates doubled on July 1, would include a cap on federal Stafford and PLUS loans and a relatively low interest rate.

Plan approved for Conn. school shooting donations AP: Families of the 26 children and educators killed in the Connecticut school shooting will receive $281,000 each under a plan for dividing up $7.7 million in donations....

Texas School District Drops Microchip-Tracking System WSJ:  District officials decided that attendance didn't increase enough to justify the costs of the program, said Northside spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "The lawsuit and negative publicity were part of the conversation, but not the deciding factor in ending the program," he said.

Arne Duncan presses GOP to back universal pre-K Politico: Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday he's urging reluctant Republicans in Congress to get on board with funding universal preschool. One of the big sticking points for Republicans has been coming up with new money for the program.

25 Children Die From Tainted Lunches at Indian School NYT: The authorities were searching for the headmistress of a primary school in the eastern state of Bihar after children were served food contaminated with insecticide.

Lists: 99 Problems But Being Hill Staff Ain't One

"Got a master’s degree? Yes, great. Then you can help with folding mail." 

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2 of 29 Hill Staffer Problems: Having a master’s degree and feeling stupid.  Image via Buzzfeed.


AM News: Republicans Divided Over NCLB Rewrite

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GOP divided on rewrite of 'No Child Left Behind' AP: Conservative Republicans don’t think a GOP rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law does enough to reduce Washington’s influence. Moderates are warily eying proposals that would expand charter schools’ role. Those intraparty differences appear to be blocking the bill’s momentum.

Cantor, Kline Push No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Public School Choice Politics K12: School choice will be part of the debate when the U.S. House of Representatives takes up its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, possibly as early as this week. The House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has become much more active on K-12 issues lately, has introduced an amendment that would allow Title I dollars to follow children to the public school of their choice, including charter schools.

Republican House leaders visit DC charter school to tout education bill Washington Post: House Republicans have taken a clear turn away from Bush's philosophy that states receiving billions of dollars each year in federal aid should be accountable to Washington.

The Charter School Vs. Public School Debate Continues NPR: The charter school movement turns 21 this year and the latest study shows kids in most charter schools are doing as well or better in reading and math than their counterparts in traditional public schools. But now, leading charter school supporters are questioning that study.

Morning Video: The *New* Schoolhouse Rock


How Congress Works, care of Jimmy Kimmel, starts at about the 3 minute mark.

AM News: Congress Gives "Serious Abuse" To Obama Programs

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Senate Panel Nips at Key Obama Competitive Grant Programs Politics K12: The Obama administration's signature competitive grant programs survived, but took some serious abuse this week from some Democrats during the Senate Appropriations committee's consideration of a bill to finance the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2014, which starts Oct. 1.

Wyo. delays No Child Left Behind waiver request AP: Wyoming is pushing back by a year its request for a waiver from federal education requirements. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools are required to meet rising benchmarks toward all students testing proficient.

Teachers Respond to Tennessee Pay Plan - Teacher Beat Teacher Beat: Tennessee has become the latest state to experiment with a new teacher-pay system, thanks to new rules passed by the state's board of education at its June 21 meeting. Via GothamSchools.

Does Obama's Early Education Proposal Have a Chance? Huffington Post: Children's advocates high-fived when President Obama called for "high quality preschool" for "every child in America" in his State of the Union Address. The details of the plan are considerably more complicated.

Ready Access to Plan B Pills in City Schools NYT:  Through a patchwork of nurses’ offices and independent clinics at New York City schools, girls can get free emergency contraceptives in more than 50 high schools.

Diary reveals school aide had student's baby AP: Authorities say the diary of a Southern California teacher's aide reveals her sexual relationship with an underage student and that she gave birth to the boy's baby.

Morning Video: Student Loan Interest Doubles Today

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The Senate can pass immigration reform, and the Supreme Court can overturn DOMA, but Congress can't yet agree on a student loan interest rate deal.

Morning Video: USDA Revamps School Food (Again)

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Via Morning Joe -- less fat, more grains in snack foods (and less caffeine, too).

AM News: What Happens When Waivers Expire?

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Is NCLB Waiver Renewal the Next Big Issue? EdWeek: The waivers are only set to be in place for two years, and it's unclear if Brokedown Congress will get its act together to pass a rewrite. 

Arne Duncan Expected To Tap Emma Vadehra As New Chief Of Staff Huffington Post: She is expected to be replaced by Emma Vadehra, who works as the chief of staff for a charter school management organization known as Uncommon Schools, the sources said. 

Education with a LIFT NBC: Schools adopt program to LIFT low income students to higher learning.

In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool NYT: Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.

Defiant LAUSD Superintendent Says He’ll Push Targeted Spending Plan Anyway LA School Report: “The Board voted down the directive to have me come and do it,” said Deasy, referring to Galatzan’s local spending resolution. “[But] they can’t stop me from doing it; we’re doing it anyway. If they had voted to prevent me from doing it… well they didn’t think of that.”

A Lifeline for Minorities, Catholic Schools Retrench NYT: Many blacks and Latinos say they can trace the success they have achieved in their careers to the guidance they received in Catholic schools.

Texas school district apologizes to valedictorian AP: A North Texas school district has apologized to a high-school valedictorian whose microphone was switched off during a graduation ceremony when he deviated from prepared remarks.

AM News: Another Day, Another NCLB Rewrite

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comRepublican-led House committee passes new federal education bill Washington Post: A Republican-controlled House committee Wednesday approved a new version of the country’s main education law that would sharply shrink the federal role in K-12 public schools. 

Did Obama Diss Catholic Education In Northern Ireland? BuzzFeed: Education remains deeply divided in the region, with the children of Catholics mainly attending Catholic schools and the children of Protestant families mainly attending government-run schools.

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate NYT: A heated discussion has emerged over whether free online college classes will lead to better learning and lower costs — or to a second-class education for most students.

Condoms Approved for Schools in Massachusetts NYT: The new policy allows students to obtain condoms, unless parents opt them out, and makes sexual education a required part of school health curricula.

Lax Education In Humanities, Social Sciences Spark Outcry NPR: A new report argues that humanities and social sciences are as essential to the country's economic and civic future as science and technology. The study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was commissioned in 2010 by a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

Marathon Board Meeting Signals Changes to Come LA School Report: Among several key decisions the Board arrived at during the lengthy session were votes to award a $30 million contract to Apple, close a charter school that had dodged a district audit, and add some local regulations to the controversial parent trigger process (but not call for the law’s repeal).

Weekend Reading: Can Hillary Save Universal Preschool?

Hillary gives early childhood agenda what it needs: A public boost. | New Republic ow.ly/m4mV8

Study: Reading novels makes us better thinkers -Salon.com ow.ly/m4krN

Do Schools Know How to Spend Their Ed Tech Money Wisely? | MindShift ow.ly/m4kbz @MindShift

How online tools may change classrooms today and forever. ow.ly/m4k74

After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet - Washington Post ow.ly/m4kMt

Uh-oh! Inspirational Text Messages Won’t Improve Teens’ Grades, according to Roland Fryer studyow.ly/m4jGY @getschooled

Sir Ken Robinson, Teachers on Creativity in Schools (Audio) ow.ly/m4k8k

Big data is not our master -TNR ow.ly/m4mYl

Trying to make separate equal | Feature | Chicago Reader ow.ly/m5hNB

From Jay Mathews: School ignores advice from learning disability experts: Stacie Brockman is the Prince George... bit.ly/13RA8qe

Did Ritalin Make Kids in Quebec Dumber? | New Republic ow.ly/m4mGH

My little future iPad addicts - Salon.com ow.ly/m4m7QWhy am I still insisting on rules?

11-year-old mariachi earns roaring ovation from NBA crowd - Salon.com ow.ly/m4ktI

Student Athlete Named ‘Creepy Smile Kid’ in High School Yearbook | TIME.com ow.ly/m4WBM

Morning Video: Eighteen Minutes With EdSec Duncan

Arne Duncan slams No Child Left Behind (diagnoses Congress, etc.) POLITICO

Media: Another Media Outlet Bites The Dust

CashNonprofit news outlets seem to be popping up everywhere, but at the same time the commercial ones seem to be all falling by the wayside.

The latest example is Thompson Media Group, from which plastform Andy Brownstein and Chuck Edwards have been reporting for the past bunch of years.

I know  Brownstein mostly from the Title I Monitor, a Thompson newsletter that's been around since I was on the Hill, and from Brownstein's more recent blog posts. (Click here if you want to skim Brownstein's appearances on this site.)

If I understand correctly, Thompson has been bought by LRP, a competitor, and Brownstein and Edwards are unlikely to be retained with the new, merged operation.  I can imagine them writing for another trade publication, or being grabbed up by a smart nonprofit, association, or Hill office looking for deep knowledge of federal policy, regulation, and political mechanics.

AM News: Duncan's All-Out Effort on "Preschool For All"

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan works to sell Obama administration’s preschool initiative Washington Post: He is reaching out to Republican governors, hoping they will help him persuade GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to embrace the “Preschool for All” initiative. But it’s a tall order for many Republican governors who are cool to the notion of new taxes.

Senate Committee Passes Democratic NCLB Renewal Bill EdWeek: On a completely predictable party-line vote, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the long-stalled renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Senate committee approves bill updating federal education law Washington Post: On a party line vote, a Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday to update the country’s main federal education law by erasing some of its most punitive aspects.

No Child Left Behind Bill Passes Senate Committee, But No End In Sight For Recasting Bush Law Huffington Post:  Harkin says he intends to bring his bill to the Senate floor sometime this year -- hopefully by the fall -- and would allow amendments to be made during that process. But even if the overhaul makes it through the floor vote, it is unlikely to be signed into law because the predominant legislative vision in the House varies significantly. 

States Seek Flexibility During Common-Test Transition EdWeek: A flurry of education groups are staking out positions on the role tests should play in evaluating teachers and labeling schools.

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan's All-Out Effort on "Preschool For All"" »

Morning Video: Reading, Writing -- Republicans!

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MSNBC's Chuck Todd talks about the conservative attack on the Common Core. Not mentioned: lefty reform critics' attacks.

Update: Big Suburban District Coalition Has Yet To Make Big Splash

This isn't news except to me but perhaps you missed it too:  Roughly a dozen of the biggest suburban districts in the country have started their own "Coalition" to share ideas and make their voices heard in state and national debates over education.  

Dubbed the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium (LCASDC?), the group was announced last year -- see EdWeek piece (Big Suburban Districts Form Network of Their Own) -- and has yet to make any big splash that I know of.  Then again, I didn't know anything about it until I had the chance to interview Joshua Starr (MCPS) the other day.

Does the group take positions, issue press releases, offer quotes to the press?  That could be sort of interesting.  Someone ask them if they like/dislike the new Harkin ESEA proposal and let us know what they think.  It's operated out of AASA and handled by Education Counsel, apparently.

AM News: Rival Teacher Prep Approaches In Congress

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Differing Viewpoints on Teacher Preparation Reflected in New Bills EdWeek: The first bill, known as the GREAT Act, was introduced May 23 in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.), and in the Senate by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). The second bill, known as the Educator Preparation Reform Act, introduced the same day, is sponsored by Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

President Obama calls on teachers to help identify mental health disorders EdSource Today: More than 75 percent of mental illnesses, including depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa, emerge when children are school-aged or young adults, Obamanoted.

Candidates but Also Parents and Former Students NYT: The 11 contenders, who have a mix of backgrounds in private and public education, have made standardized testing and arts classes familiar issues in the campaign.

The Students That Keep Teachers Inspired NPR: Teachers endure bored, misbehaving, or totally tuned out students, often with little recognition. In a commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, professor Charles Rinehimer pays tribute to the completely engaged students who gave him the strength to deal with tough cases.

Vaccine Exemptions Could Help Make Whooping Cough a Thing Again Atlantic Wire: The rising percentage of parents opting out of at least one mandatory vaccination could be a major factor in the recent increase in whooping cough cases.

Charts: The Rise & Fall of NCLB Funding

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Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).

Morning Video: Preschool Funding Decline = $75B Obama UPK Plan?

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Study finds steep drop in funding for preschools despite push for increased early education programs. NBC News' Danielle Leigh reports. (NBC News Funding for preschools fall)

Washington: "He Who Makes The Rules"

image from wamo.s3.amazonaws.comThere's a good long piece in the latest Washington Monthly looking into what happens to federal laws after they're passed, titled He Who Makes the Rules, that makes some good reading for any education watchers.  

While it focuses on non-education issues (Dodd-Frank implementation), it tells the story of how the regulatory process -- rules, interpretations of Congressional intent, public comment, and final determinations -- can make or break the statutory language that Congress passes and a President signs into law.  

"It may seem counterintuitive, but those big hunks of legislation, despite being technically the law of the land, filed away in the federal code, don’t mean anything yet."

Who cares what happens to a law once it's passed?  I can think of at least three education examples where rulemaking has played a big role:  (1) the 2002 passage of NCLB, which was followed by some frenzied rulemaking around such hot topics as highly qualified teachers, tutoring (SES), and AYP; (2) the more recent passage of what became Race to the Top, extremely brief statutory language that blossomed into a much bigger, broader program; and, (3) the higher education regulations and rules surrounding Title II teacher quality grants (about which I know frighteningly little except they've been hotly debated and delayed).

As you'll see from the TWM story, a committed group of individuals can carve up a law they don't like by attacking language and swarming the process.  It's been a while since that's happened in K-12 but if anything big ever happens and one side or the other (or both) doesn't like it, they know that they can probably get things changes further down the line, after most folks have moved onto other issues.

Bruno: What Economists Think About Universal Pre-K

Last week's IGM survey of economists was - excitingly! - about education.

Specifically, respondents were asked whether expanded pre-K programs would have "a much lower social return" than the best existing programs currently generate.


I'd have guessed that economists would answer that question with a resounding and disheartening "yes", but the actual results were somewhat mixed with only 1/3 of economists answering in the affirmative. (This increased to a bit over half when survey results were weighted by confidence.)

The biggest takeaway seems to be that mainstream economists as a group know and/or care relatively little about education. (In this regard they are perhaps not that different from the general public.)

Consider, for example, that 29% of respondents reported being "uncertain."  Another 18% didn't answer the question at all. Also notable: though the IGM survey sometimes asks a second, related question, in this case it didn't bother even though an obvious follow-up was available.

After all, what we want to know is not necessarily whether universal pre-K access would result in diminishing returns, but whether such an investment would generate positive returns.

On that question economists apparently remain unsure or indifferent. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Afternoon Video: Dangerous Schools At CPAC2013

Cantor: 'Our schools are too dangerous' (via Politico) #CPAC2013

Afternoon Video: NBC News Explores NCLB Waiver Issues

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Carmel announces she's leaving and all hell breaks loose.

Quotes: "Nobody Knows What They're Doing."

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThe big schemes of the kind that make for dramatic television shows, with lots of moving parts and an exciting denouement, in which the scheme's architect sets it in motion and then sits back as each piece falls neatly into place... That almost never happens. -- Paul Waldman (Nobody Knows What They're Doing)

Quotes: "Higher Ed Will Go Jihadi" [Against Accountability]

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comIf you think teacher prep negotiated rulemaking was a nightmare, just wait for [higher ed accountability]. Higher ed will go jihadi.  - Anonymous "insider" from Bellwether Partners

Morning Video: The History Of Universal Preschool - Plus Heckman!


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Here's Rachel Maddow's 12-minute segment recounting Walter Mondale's attempt to provide preschool to everyone (and Nixon's veto) 40 years ago, complete with the story about Oklahoma's UPK program that you probably already know from This American Life. Plus James Heckman.

NCLB: 34 State Waivers -- Plus District Consortia, Too?

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EdSource is reporting that a ten-district consortia of California school districts that educate more than 20 percent of the state's students is pressing ahead with its NCLB waiver application, despite concerns from the state and Secretary Duncan about creating different rules for different districts.  Hey, there was a district version of Race to the Top, so why not a district version of NCLB waivers? 

Morning Video: Senate NCLB Waiver Hearing ... & Then Reauthorization?

The hearing starts at 10. The above is just a screenshot.  Here's a link to the committee site -- the video is not embeddable, far as I can tell (and according to the staff I talked to).  One of the highlights may be EdTrust president Kati Haycock's critique of the waiver approval and implementation process, notes HuffPosts's Joy Resmovits, though I don't think it's anything particularly new she's saying. 

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Behind the scenes, some civil rights and accountability types admit that the waivers might end up being preferable to what Congress would have done in a reauthorization.  Speaking of reauthorizations, DFER's Charlie Barone thinks that one might still happen (for better or worse).  


Quotes: Ed Schools Make For-Profits Look Easy

Quotes2The ed schools know how to fight this stuff off. If the Administration thought the for-profits were tough, just wait. -- Unnamed Whiteboard Advisors insider commenting on the chances for teacher prep reform in 2013

Photos: Will This Time Be Any Different For Guns?

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The Atlantic thinks so. Photo via Whitehouse.gov.

Charts: Funding (And Reforming) Head Start

Here's a chart showing federal funding for Head Start via New America's info page: New Resources on Head Start:

image from earlyed.newamerica.netHHS is obviously pushing to fix and change the program, which is all well and good, and everybody loves the pre-K kids, but as I keep asking this week: what about regular old Kindergarten? How can it be that Kindergarten's not already universal and full-day?

Newtown: The Importance Of Single-Issue Advocacy

The real lesson of the Newtown tragedy for educators, foundations, and reform groups is how clearly it highlights the importance of single-issue advocacy efforts conducted at the national level:

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As many have noted, the NRA has for decades blocked gun control measures, becoming one of the most effective single issue advocacy operations in the country (along with the anti-tax folks, perhaps, and AARP).

NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "Demand A Plan" initiative, including 34 shooting victims sending videos to the Obama White House over this past weekend, has already arguably had an impact on the Administration's decision to move forward (however tentatively).

In this National Journal article, Adam Cohen discusses the possibility of a "parent lobby" that would, like the NRA or AARP or anyone else, focus on child safety and welfare issues. (The chart shows just how cheap it is to have an impact.)

And what about in education?  The teachers unions and education associations are well-established. The Children's Defense Fund and NAACP used to perform some of these functions on behalf of poor children and families.  Short-run efforts such as Ed in '08 and that College Board thing this summer revealed the power and challenges.  While powerul at the policy level, state-level advocacy networks are limited politically when things get big and struggle with command and coordination issues among different states. 

Twenty-odd years into school reform (and at least five into my blathering about the need for such a thing) there's still no national education reform advocacy group or PAC.  

Morning Video: Fordham Panel On Turnarounds

Carmel Ninety-minute video of Monday's panel featuring Carmel Martin, Checker Finn, Andy Smarick, Jean-Claude Brizard (here)

Charts: Just 12 States Provide Universal Kindergarten

All the focus on universal preschool these past few years might lead you to believe that, well, Kindergarten was already taken care of, but I recently learned that's not the case at all.  

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The bare dozen green states on this January 2012 map from CDF (!?) shows how unusual it is for full-day kindergarten to be provided at no charge to all children per state statute and funding. 

Charts: Fiscal Cliff Impacts On IDEA, Title I

image from newshour.s3.amazonaws.comThe shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary seems to have prompted some sort of break in the fiscal cliff logjam, but just in case:  Via PBS

Morning Video: Why Stop At Arming Teachers?

Over the weekend, former EdSec Bill Bennett and others suggested arming teachers.  Way back in 2006, however, Stephen Colbert proclaimed that not only should teachers be armed, but also students.

Charts: 7 States With Trigger Laws - Federal Proposal To Come

Think the trigger has come and gone?  Think again.  Maybe you heard Claudio Sanchez's NPR segment this morning on the parent trigger law (here), talking about how powerful if untested an idea it is, and here's the map that goes along with the seven states Sanchez mentioned, courtesy of KC MO News (here):

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 14 10.09
"As of June, the National Conference of State Legislatures said about 13 other states had considered but did not approve trigger laws." Click the link to get to a clickable link. I'm starting a pool over how long into the new Congress we get before a member introduces a federal trigger proposal.

Congress: "Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?

image from img.docstoccdn.comOfficially, there's not much going on in Washington DC right now other than departing lawmakers, arriving ones, and the fiscal cliff debate.  But it was two years ago in December, during contentious negotiations about the debt limit or something along those lines that Congress passed the (in)famous "codification" of the Bush-era highly qualified teacher regulations that I wrote about in my paper on NCLB, HQT, and alternative certification.


At that time, since it was a continuing resolution, the amendments were called variances discordances or or something like that. But the language was just a couple of sentences long -- that's all it takes: 

(a) A ‘highly qualified teacher’ includes a teacher who meets the requirements in 34 CFR 200.56(a)(2)(ii), as published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2002. (b) This provision is effective on the date of enactment of this provision through the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.

This makes me wonder if there must be at least a handful of education-related bits of business that the Administration, Hill leaders, or others are pushing to get included along with the fiscal cliff deal that if history is our guide will be passed late at night the Friday before Christmas or something ridiculous like that.

Do I know what these items to get slipped in might be? No idea. That's your job. They could be in the category of language needed to smooth NCLB waiver oversight or implementation, or some small but key business related to Common Core. What unfinished business out there needs getting done and has enough friends to get it on a short list of "technical amendments"? Figure it out now, or read about it when it's already been signed into law.  

Budget: A Funding Cliff -- For NCLB

Money_1I'm not particularly worried about the fiscal cliff, which makes for great post-election theater but seems unlikely to happen in any form that would be disastrous. But I *am* worried about the overall federal education budget in the next cycle, and one big reason is the NCLB waiver scheme.  

Federal funding for K-12 education went up a bunch during the NCLB era, a fact that many seem not to know or conveniently forget.  And a new reauthorization of any law, including education, usually generates funding increases since lawmakers want to see their votes and efforts succeed.  

But we don't have an NCLB reauthorization to spring off of, thanks to the whiners at the Chiefs and the lazybones at the USDE (and CAP?) who got us into this waiver mess.  And it seems unlikely to me that lawmakers are going to manage much enthusiasm for a program that (a) isn't new and (b) essentially operates outside their control. 

So don't worry about the fiscal cliff that everyone's talking about now.  Worry about the fiscal cliff that NCLB could be about to fall off of in February and March.  

Capitol Hill: Jeff Bingaman, Education Senator

image from d1k4es7bw1lvxt.cloudfront.netAfter 30 years on the Hill, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is leaving DC.  Last night on the 9th floor of the Hart Senate Office Building there was a reception celebrating all his accomplishments.

For a bunch of his time in the Senate, Bingaman was on the Senate education committee, balancing out the more ahem, outspoken Democratic members from the Northeast.  And, for a few years during the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have been his education LA.  

Some of Bingaman's other education LAs, Fellows, and LCs include:  Carmel Martin.  Peter Zamora.  Michael Yudin.  Rena Subotnik.  Chris Harrington.  David Schindel. Sanjay Kane.

NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]

PredictingthefutureAs this lame duck Congress wraps up and energy builds towards a new Congress and a second Obama term in office, I can't help but wishing that reauthorizing NCLB was something that was on everyone's first order of business for January and February. Instead, the states are running off  into the woods with their NCLB waivers, Duncan chasing behind them with letters reminding them of their vague promises to uphold the spirit of NCLB.

Of course, the Obama folks didn't know if they'd get another term, and nobody knew whether the NCLB reauthorization that came out of the current (old) Congress would be any good. To be fair, the same thing got done to the DREAMers, who are now in the same kind of political and policy limbo as NCLB.

But still, it could have been different -- should have been, I'd argue.  

Continue reading "NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]" »

RTT-D: Finalists List Released (You're Probably Not On It)

Here's the list of RTTT-District finalists, which USDE somehow came up with just a couple of weeks after receiving nearly 400 district applications (via @joy_resmovits at HuffPost).  Did your district make it?

SIG: A Disappointing But Completely Predictable Reaction From Smarick

image from www.scribbleoneverything.comResearcher Bryan Hassel has written a bracing (for policy wonks) response to yesterday's "SIG-failed-I-told-you-so" post from former New Jersey state education official Andy Smarick (The disappointing but completely predictable results from SIG).

In his rebuttal, Hassel questions Smarick's contention that SIG has failed and shreds Smarick's notion that starting new schools is a viable way to go:  

"There’s no evidence that new school creation is demonstrably better as an overall strategy than turnarounds... To replace the 5,000 worst schools, we’d need 10,000 high-quality new schools b/c they tend to be smaller."

Read the full post below.  

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Morning Video: If Al Gore Can Get Auto-Tuned, So Can Rhee Or Ravitch

This is from last week's Climate Reality event, which garnered 15 million viewers, and this video's appeal is yet another reminder that advocates for or against reform have to be creative and take risks in order to get their messages heard. Reports and rhetoric are not enough.

AM News: Fiscal Cliff Threatens Programs for Poor Students

Fiscal Cliff Ignites Education Activism As Poorest School Districts Stand To Lose The Most HuffPostEdu: Three federal programs critical to education -- Title I funds for poor students, state grants for special education and the Head Start public pre-school program -- would lose $2.7 billion over 10 years, predicted a Senate report based on the Congressional Budget Office projection that sequestration would slash spending by 7.8 percent.


Race to the Top District Competition Nets 371 Applicants PoliticsK12: The applications come from 42 states plus the District of Columbia, with California and Texas—of course, because of their size—producing 170 applicants between the two of them.

Teachers Clear Newark Pact WSJ: The Newark Teachers Union approved a groundbreaking contract Wednesday that introduces a form of merit pay and gives teachers input into each others' annual performance evaluations. The contract was fueled by $50 million in philanthropic money poured into the state's largest city through a foundation started by Facebook Inc.

Analysis Examines L.A. Teacher Characteristics TeacherBeat: Los Angeles has an unusually wide spread in the relative effectiveness of its teachers, according to an analysis released today by the Strategic Data Project, an initiative housed at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.

 Scale Tips Toward Nonfiction Under Common Core EdWeek: The common standards expect students to become adept at reading informational text, a shift in focus that many English/language arts teachers fear might diminish the time-honored place of literature in their classrooms.

School Life: Weak Antibullying Advice From The POTUS

image from images.huffingtonpost.com
Here's President Obama's letter in response to a girl's complaint about being teased at school for having two dads.  Sure, it's nice.  But the advice he gives her is pretty weak, if you ask me. Let's hope he's not planning on using it to deal with House Republicans if he gets a second term.  

Cartoons: Uncle Sam, Lunchroom Worker

image from media.theweek.com
Via The Week

Update: Teach For America & The Alternative Certification Loophole

My latest article/book chapter  -- a look back at the history of the alternative certification exemption in NCLB and TFA's development into a Capitol Hill powerhouse -- has just been published by AEI. 
image from www.wingcomltd.com
"Little did anyone know at the time that TFA’s belated arrival to the DC policymaking scene would result in an awkward loophole in No Child Left Behind, an explosion in alternative certification programs (including online and for-profit ones), and prolonged tensions between TFA’s desires to expand its program and its broader reform role."  

Morning Video: George Miller & Bill Hansen Debate Federal Policy

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"Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and education policy adviser to Mitt Romney, William Hansen, to talk about the politics behind President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" and President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" plans for education."

Morning Video: Looming Head Start Cuts Threaten Resiliency


An estimated 80,000 fewer kids will get a chance to learn grit and resilience (or the alphabet) if Congress and the White House don't get their acts together and figure out a budget, notes CAP, a Washington think tank that occasionally goes super left (A Head Start for Low-Income Kids).




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