As many of you know, Eduflack and Eduwife spent more than 13 months working to get our daughter Anna home from Guatemala. After a great deal of red tape, frustration, bureaucratic snafus, and downright thoughtless actions by decisionmakers down south of the border, my little “Princesa” joined the family in Virginia in late October (about five months after we had hoped and planned). Life hasn’t been the same since, and Anna couldn’t be more perfect. The future governor and senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Anna Patricia Riccards is one of the most inquisitive, thoughtful, intelligent little girls on the planet. She will truly be one of the great leaders and innovators of her time.
Eight years ago, the education community was all abuzz about the “Houston Miracle” and how then EdSec Rod Paige was going to take the magic that transformed the Houston Independent School District into a Broad Prize winner, federalize it into No Child Left Behind, and leave a path of school improvement and student achievement in its wake.
In case you missed it (and you likely did, based on timing), the U.S. Department of Education finally released its non-regulatory guidance regarding a uniform national high school graduation rate. Readers may recall that EdSec Spellings announced the federal government’s intent to adopt the four-year graduation rate established years ago by the National Governors Association, agreed to by all 50 states soon after, and adopted by many states already. Well, on Christmas Eve’s Eve, ED decided to offer some of the specifics around the new grad rate.
We’re taking a few days to spend the holiday with our family. You can hopefully see why. Happy holidays from Eduflack and the Edu-family!
I admit it, Eduflack is a sucker for Christmas. As a kid, I used to stay up all night, just waiting for Christmas morning to come. Now, there is nothing I like more than giving gifts to the Edu-family. Each year, I tend to go a little overboard, receiving more than my share of reprimands from Eduwife for my “generosity.” This season is sure to be no different.
he innovators receive the best of holiday tidings. And I hope the status quoers see a guiding light this holiday season, recognizing that our schools need real improvement, and that we should stop at nothing until every fourth grader is reading at grade level, every student is graduating high school and is graduating college ready, and every teacher has the training and ongoing support necessary to deliver the high-quality education every student needs and deserves. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Almost a year ago, Eduflack’s New Year’s Resolutions included greater advocacy for national education standards. Yes, I’m well aware of what the critics think of national standards. I’m also quite sure of how difficult a task it is to push the standards rock up the status quo hill, particularly in a day and age when we are wary of testing in general and many are waiting to see what will become of the accountability standards in NCLB as wishes move to reauthorization, multiple measures, and a new look on federal education policy.
We like to believe that the federal level is where all the action is when it comes to education improvement. It’s easier to wrap our hands around, with one national policy to keep an eye on. And it is cleaner when it comes to funding, as we just watch federal funding streams and an annual appropriations bill that has stayed relatively level-funded for much of the past few years. In reality (as EdSec designee Arne Duncan will soon realize), the feds only account for about eight cents of every dollar spent in the classrooms. The federal level may be the rhetorical brass ring, but the real action (especially these days) is happening at the state level.
Looking for that perfect last-minute Christmas gift for dear ol’ Eduflack? Please take Educommunicators’ survey on effective communications and 2009 priorities for this new online community for marketing communications professionals in the education sector.
The holiday season and the end of a year usually triggers one of two behaviors in people. The first is to be reflective on the last year, taking the time to evaluate our successes and failures. Over at the Curriculum Matters blog (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/), Kathleen Manzo points out that is exactly what the U.S. Department of Education is doing, with EdSec Spellings and company offering up a swan song of NCLB highlights. And while I share Manzo’s few that many will quibble with NCLB raising student achievement scores and closing the achievement gap, it is an important list to take a look at.
As many know, back in the fall, I launched a new online social community to bring together marketing communications professionals in the education sector. With hundreds of members from across the country, Educommunicators (www.educommunicators.com) is now getting its sea legs under it, preparing for some real activities in 2009.