Should schools alone be held accountable for student achievement?

What if schools didn’t have to work alone to improve student achievement? That was the question we asked in a recent article about the miserable state of public education in Camden, N.J., one of the poorest cities in the country. Now, a study out today by Education Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based education policy think tank, delves further into […]


Is technology in the classroom a bust?

The New York Times ran a front-page piece this past weekend on the fact that test scores don’t seem to be getting a boost from the billions being spent on new technology in the classroom. The education-policy world has been all over the story, with some knocking The Times and reporter Matt Richtel. Others are […]


Making a difference in a new role

Editor’s Note: Today, Education Sector Board Chair Macke Raymond announced that Richard Lee Colvin will join Education Sector as its executive director. For the past eight years, I’ve had the great fortune to lead the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University where, most recently, we created The Hechinger Report, […]

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Bill Gates on charter schools

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told a huge crowd of charter school advocates, researchers, principals and operators that the non-traditional public schools have “the potential to revolutionize the way students are educated. But to deliver on this promise, it’s important that the movement do even more to hold itself accountable for low-performing charters.” “The deal that […]

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Teachers cheating on students’ tests? A response to today’s New York Times story

What is the real point of today’s  New York Times story on cheating? Testing is bad. When test results matter, some percentage of educators (the story suggests perhaps 1% to 4%) will cheat to get them. Testing “ends up pushing more and more of them over the line,” says Robert Schaeffer, spokesperson for the anti-testing organization FairTest, […]

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Judging in the “Race to the Top” competition

The federal education department’s $4 billion “Race to the Top” competition received lots of attention from journalists and education policy types. Most federal education money is given to states and school districts using complex formulas that depend on factors such as population, poverty and political calculations. The Obama Administration was encouraged by Jon Schnur, one […]

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State of play: teacher unions and school reform

It’s well known that labor unions in general tend to support Democrats. It’s also well known that teachers unions, whose memberships make up one in four union members, are particularly supportive of Democrats.  About one in 10 delegates to the Democratic Convention in 2008 were teacher union members. Democrats, of course, tend to favor more […]


Two worlds of education reform and improvement

Last week I was at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). There I heard lots of talk bemoaning  social inequities and how they doom poor and minority kids to bleak futures. For many, the prescription seemed to be: fix society. This week, I’m at the annual “summit” of the NewSchools Venture Fund. […]


Feds not a “silent partner” on education

The New York Times offered up a helpful primer this week on how Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thinks about the federal role in public education.  Here’s an excerpt: “In a speech last October, Mr. Duncan outlined his view of the proper federal role in education. He quoted President Lyndon B. Johnson, who funneled large […]

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Education implications of the Arizona anti-immigrant law

As angry protesters across the nation denounced Arizona’s anti-immigrant law on Saturday, the 26,000-member American Educational Research Association, meeting in Denver, announced that it would not hold any meetings in the state until the law was repealed.  The law requires local police to demand that anyone who looks suspicious prove that they are in the […]

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