Say It Ain’t So, Joel!

Breaking edu-news out of New York City.  NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has resigned, after eight years of helming the nation’s largest public school system.  And never one to miss a beat, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already named Klein’s permanent replacement — Cathie Black, the chairwoman of Hearst magazines and the publisher of USA Today.

In the coming days, we will surely see a great deal written on Klein’s edu-legacy in the city that never sleeps.  There is little doubt that Klein has had a real and lasting impact on NYC and its schools.  Under his watch, NYC schools have improved, student test scores are up, and graduation rates are on the rise.  Klein tackled every challenge Bloomberg put before him, and he became one of the true leaders of the education reform/school improvement movement.  Yes, he has plenty of critics.  But you don’t bring change and you don’t break the status quo without attracting some enemies and some opposition along the way.  
By bringing in another “non-educator” in Black, Bloomberg is clearly hoping to catch lightening in a bottle for the second time in a row.  It is far too early to know what Black stands for and what her agenda will be.  All we can hope is that she builds on Klein’s successes while learning from his shortcomings (particularly his ability to effectively collaborate and engage with parents and the community at large).
Today’s announcement has far greater impact on school reform in general.  Next fall, we are looking at new superintendents (or chancellors) in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Washington DC, and Newark (just to name a few).  Some think a new supe in Atlanta is on its way.  That is a lot of change in some of our largest and most influential school districts.
We already know that LA is likely replacing its supe with a seasoned educator in John Deasy.  NYC is going the other route, with a seasoned business mind.  So how will mayoral control districts like DC, Chicago, and Newark break when the music stops and a new supe is placed in the big desk?
Now is the true measure to see the future of urban school reform.  Is Joel Klein the model, as DC tried with Michelle Rhee?  Do these districts in need go with educators who can work with strong teachers unions?  Or maybe this gives the Broad Foundation a real opportunity transform the urban school landscape?
And to think we used to worry about whether a potential supe candidate had the proper administrator credential in a given state …
  

The Drumbeat for Mayoral Control

Do mayors run better urban school systems?  That is the question the Wall Street Journal asked yesterday as it used Rochester (NY) Mayor’s Robert Duffy’s bid to take over his struggling city schools as a launching pad to discuss the merits of mayoral control.

Duffy is lobbying the New York Legislature to take over his schools, seeking to dissolve the current elected school board and replace it with a board appointed by himself and the city council.  The pressing demand?  The need to close failing schools and reopen new ones better aligned with student needs and learning expectations.

For those that read the WSJ’s education coverage, this is a regular drumbeat.  Back in March of 2009, the Journal wrote (and Eduflack opined on) an interesting piece on the growing embrace of mayoral control, riffing off of the notion that President Obama and EdSec Arne Duncan were advocating for mayoral takeovers in order to implement their aggressive school improvement plans.  As it did 17 months ago, the Wall Street Journal cites successes in New York, Boston, and Washington DC to make its case for giving the keys to the schools to the municipal leader.

Interestingly, yesterday’s article by Joy Ressmovits seems to note there has been no mad rush to add to the powers of our nation’s mayors.  Despite last year’s declarations, we are not seeing huge numbers of urban districts turning to mayoral control.  Despite efforts in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, such moves seem to be the exception, not the rule.

Why? 

First, there is no clear “mayoral control” model for which one can buy the playbook and just implement the plan.  In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg had a particular plan in place, and he and Chancellor Joel Klein have implemented it step by step.  In our nation’s capital, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee have tried to crib from NYC and build a NYCDOE South in DC.  But leaders in Boston have behaved very differently, both in leadership style and in organization.  The same can be said for Chicago.

Second, because there is no one-size-fits-all model, there is no guarantee of success.  Just look at Cleveland, where student performance on NAEP has actually declined since the mayor’s office took control of the schools.  Or look at NYC, where despite an historic increase in test scores, many still believe that the current regime isn’t working, even seizing on the recent realignment of the state assessment to discredit recent gains.  And in DC, after two years of real gains, this year’s scores seem to have flatlined some. 

Third, there are real political ramifications for taking over the schools.  Case in point here is Washington, DC, where Fenty is in the re-election fight of his life this fall.  One of the central issues to the campaign?  Control of the schools.  Fenty’s chief opponent, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray, has made major issue of how the DC Schools are run.  So much so, in fact, that he has strongly suggested one of his first orders of business when elected mayor would be the removal of Rhee as schools chancellor.  Who would have thought a superintendent would be a major campaign issue for an urban mayor? 

If we just look at the NAEP, clearly mayoral control is not the answer to school success.  The top districts (including Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX) on the NAEP TUDA are those run by school boards.  Mayoral control superstars like NYC and Boston are still posting scores below the national NAEP average (though above the large city average).

In hearing Mayor (and hopeful NY LG) Duffy tell his tale, one has to believe there has to be a middle ground.  Can’t we adequately deal with failing schools without needing to seize control of the district?  Can’t school boards be held to the same accountability as we expect of the superintendent and the principals?  Aren’t there incentives (beyond the current federal dollars) to get school districts to make the necessary changes to turn around histories of failure?  Aren’t there ways to bring in the reforms Duffy seeks without having to go to the state legislature and ask for the nuclear option to deal with the schools?  And as we assess our ability to turn around struggling districts, what measures should we use, besides NAEP, to determine success?

Lots of questions.  But who has the answers? 

Great Teachers, New Contracts, and Incentives, Oh My!

After a few days, the dust is finally settling on the supposed deal between Michelle Rhee and the teachers’ union in Washington, DC.  By now, we’ve all heard the Cliff Notes version — significantly increased teacher pay, performance bonuses, elimination of full protection of tenured teachers’ jobs from budget cuts, huge financial assistance from national philanthropies.

A year ago, we thought the deal was dead as a doornail.  Earlier this week, a tentative agreement was reached (the members of the DC union still have to vote.  As always, Bill Turque of The Washington Post has terrific coverage of the issue, starting with the announcement story from earlier this week here and a very interesting story this AM about how former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke served as consigliere to bring this final deal over the finish line.
Whether intentional or not, the trio of chairs for the Education Equality Project — NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, UNCF President/CEO Michael Lomax, and NCLR President/CEO Janet Murguia — weigh in on the general topic this morning’s Washington Post in a strongly worded commentary on the need for “great teachers” in historically disadvantaged schools.
The EEP trio offers up a three-point plan on great teachers and improved student outcomes:
* Attract teachers who performed well in college
* Create systems that reward excellence (including making it “easier to remove teachers who are shown to be ineffective”)
* Do more to attract teachers to high-needs students, schools, and subject areas (including ELL and special education)
Obviously, this is not the first time we have heard these tenets from EEP, but today’s treatise may be the clearest and most direct explanation of the EEP platform.  It also becomes clear, when you look at the reports of the DCPS teacher deal, that Rhee was calling plays directly from the EEP playbook (or would that be from Chancellor Klein’s), seeking to model after some of the more successful policy and rhetoric on the issue of teacher quality and the incentivization of effective teaching.
It is also incredibly difficult to quibble with these three points.  Who is opposed to attracting successful students into the teaching profession?  Who doesn’t believe we should reward excellence, regardless of field?  And who doesn’t see the need to get our best teachers in the areas that need them the most, including historically disadvantaged schools and subject areas that have long been neglected.
But the devil remains in the details.  How do we sustain — over the long term — incentives for teachers, knowing that philanthropic and government support for teacher quality efforts may wane in a year or five?  When the outside support dries up, are our states and school systems positioned, financially, to continue to support those systems that are rewarding excellence?
How do we transfer that recognized excellence to the schools, classes, and students that need them the most?  For decades, many have talked about National Board Certification and how National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) were the best of the best.  Through federal dollars and private supports, NBCTs were financially incentivized to seek seek certification and stand as an NBCT back in their schools.  But there is still much disagreement on the impact of NBCTs, both as to whether they increase student performance AFTER teachers have gone through the certification process and if NBCTs are more or less likely to relocate to the schools that may need them the most.
But the real head scratcher is the issue of attracting teachers who performed well in college.  Based on the rhetoric, we are clearly looking at the Teach for America model, believing that academic superstars will make the best K-12 teachers.  EEP even offers up the urban legend that most teachers come from the bottom third of college graduates (Eduflack has heard the statement time and again, but has yet to see the research that actually proves it).
Without question, we need smart teachers in our classrooms, particularly in those classes that have been struggling for far too long.  But good teaching requires both book smarts and “street” smarts.  Good teaching requires educators who know the subject matter (their math, science, history, or English) but also know the pedagogy behind it.  Good teaching requires educators who can pivot off the “script” when faced with a challenging student or a challenging classroom.  Good teaching requires educators who understand what good teaching is, moving beyond the content knowledge and making those connections between teacher and student that can last a lifetime.  Such qualities cannot necessarily be taught through a textbook, an online course, or a pedagological bootcamp.  But they are qualities that are non-negotiable when it comes to good teaching.
As DCPS heads down the strongest path to date on teacher quality and teacher incentivization, and as EEP and others continue to spotlight the need to recruit and reward great teachers, we can’t lose sight of what comprises great teaching.  Test scores are, and always should be, an important part of how we identify effective instruction.  But there are other elements — both inputs and outcomes — that need to be factored in as well.
The EEP trio is absolutely right, schools and teachers are the differentiators between a good education and a lousy one.  And they couldn’t be more right when they say:

Different teachers get very different results with similar students. So as reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is considered, we should look closely at those whom we attract and retain to teach, with regard to their quality and to ensuring that they are distributed equally across our school districts. If we can do those things, we could at least make Detroit students perform like those in Boston, and make Boston students do a lot better.


Different teachers do get different results with similar students.  Our goal should be identifying why those teachers in Boston are doing a better job than those in other cities.  And then we need to replicate, replicate, replicate both the inputs and the outcomes.  It isn’t just about how Boston attracts those teachers, it is about the training and support those teachers receive.
   

EEP 2.0

Some still don’t quite know what to make of the Education Equality Project, or EEP.  When it was launched in 2008, we assumed it was another “reformer” group preparing to ride the Obama wave.  Then we had the strange bedfellows experiment of Rev. Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich the “faces” of EEP, showing EdSec Arne Duncan some of the major issues facing urban education.  Along the way, we’ve had the logical “comparison” to the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education and then the partnerships with Education Trust, Democrats for Education Reform, and Center for American Progress on critiques of Race to the Top and other federal ideas.  And Eduflack even remembers a time last year when critics were saying EEP was closing shop, having run out of funding and “accomplished” its goal but getting like-minded reformers in the Duncan regime.

Today, though, we see that the work has just begun.  This morning, EEP announced three new co-chairpersons for the organization.  The Reverend Al era is over.  As of today, EEP is now co-led by NYCDOE Chancellor Joel Klein (a founder of EEP), UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, and Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.  (And, of course, the workhorse Ellen Winn remains as director of the organization.)
Why is this important?  For two reasons.  First, during the Al and Newt show, many discounted EEP for being all hat and no cattle.  They could do a great media event, but the group lacked the true substance necessary to truly move policy.  In other words, Al and Newt could grab you a headline or put a good segment on Meet the Press, but they weren’t the sort to roll up their sleeves and get changes to ESEA agreed to by legislators.  While it may have been an unfair criticism (particularly since Sharpton and GIngrich weren’t actually running the group, but were really just spokespersons), it was a criticism that stuck.  The three new co-chairpersons have both the sizzle and the steak necessary to capture attention and actually move the ball forward.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the new leadership at the board reminds us of the mission of the group and its origins.  We can forget what EEP stands for and we can discount what “education equality” actually means.  But the gravitas of the trio of co-chairpersons moves front and center the EEP mission of eliminating the racial and ethnic achievement gap in public education.  Lomax and Murguia are national leaders for empowering the black and Hispanic communities, respectively, on education issues. UNCF and La Raza are at the top of the game when it comes to such issues.  And whether folks like it or not, Klein’s tenure in NYC has been committed to closing the achievement gap and providing greater learning opportunities to historically underserved populations in the Big Apple.  So if these three are going to throw their intellectual heft and personal commitment behind the issue, we may see some real movement.
That movement, though, is going to be determined by the specific priorities EEP moves forward.  Some groups, particularly those who engage in educational civil rights and achievement gap concerns, often throw everything but the kitchen sink into a debate, fighting a noble fight but triggering few actual changes because they are asking for the sun and the moon.  If EEP can avoid that trap, and focus on the two or three specific issues that are most important to closing the achievement gap in our urban centers and increasing opportunities for students for historically disadvantaged students, have their membership hammer on those two or three without rest, and engage their advocates and third-party partners to support those issues as well, we may actually be able to move one or two of those topics to the front of the debate.  Without that focus, we may just be looking at another well-meaning group in a collection of well-meaning groups.
Klein, Lomax, and Murguia are definitely the folks who can lead such a focused advocacy campaign.  And Winn and company have proven particularly adept at using shoe-leather relationships, new media and social networking to spread the EEP message and effectively engagement of the stakeholders that matter the most.  The time is now to see if there is some real cattle behind that EEP hat. 
   

The NYC HIgh School Improvement Experience

Whenever Eduflack writes about the “successes” of New York City’s school improvement efforts under Chancellor Joel Klein, I get publicly flogged by some audience or another.  Most take significant issue with my conclusions that NYC Department of Education has improved the quality of the public schools.  Others take issue with giving Klein (and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg) credit for such school improvement.  And even if I can get the opposition to acknowledge an uptick in student achievement in NYC, they will immediately retort that the gains are minimal, and not nearly enough to declare turnaround efforts in New York a success.

My responses to such criticism have been relatively simple.  The test scores, at least on New York’s state exams, do show gains in both reading and math in NYC.  If you don’t believe the final tallies coming from Albany, you should at least acknowledge that NYC has won the Broad Prize, and that Broad similarly crunched the numbers and found academic gains across the city.  And if the gains aren’t big enough for you yet, first, give it time.  Then remember how large the NYCDOE truly is.  Upticks in a system that size are worthy of praise.
 
Always a glutton for punishment, Eduflack is going to raise the NYC achievement flag again.  Today, we’re going to reflect on a forum hosted yesterday by the Alliance for Excellent Education.  Offering a multi-hour symposium yesterday under the banner of “Informing Federal Education Policy Through Lessons from New York City,” the Alliance also put a spotlight on a new report it has released, “New York City’s Strategy for Improving High Schools.”

So let’s take a look at the most recent set of numbers, namely four-year high school graduation rates.  The Alliance took a look at four different calculations of NYC graduation data from 2002 to the present.  By NYC’s own calculations, grad rates rose more than 29 percent from 2002 to 2008, from 51 percent to 66 percent.  According to the state calculation, rates increased nearly 52 percent, from 40 percent to 61 percent.  EdWeek has the number increasing 35 percent from 2002 to 2006 (37 percent to 50 percent).  And Jennifer Jennings and Leonie Haimson have the grad rates lifted nearly 18 percent from 2002 to 2007 (40 percent to 47 percent).

Let’s set aside, for a second, the fact that no one started with the same 2002 baseline.  (yes, we still have problems with data collection and such)  Even if we throw out the top score and the bottom score (in the Olympic tradition), we are still looking at a gain in NYC’s high school graduation rates of nearly 33 percent from where we started in 2002.  In an era of drop-out factories and rising dropout rates, such numbers in NYC are worth paying attention to.

Whether you like the rhetoric coming out of NYCDOE or not, you can’t deny that the Klein plan has had a real impact, and an impact for the good.  As other urban centers struggle to deal with graduation rate challenges, NYC has found real solutions.  And it has done so applying a four-year graduation rate formula (a calculation many fear because it offers a lower grad rate than many want to admit.) 

Moreover, NYC has been able to apply its high school reforms to help close the achievement gap.  According the Alliance, “since 2005, the black-white and Hispanic-white [graduation rate] gaps have narrowed by 16 percent and 14 percent respectively.”

New York City may still be a work in progress, but aren’t these the sorts of numbers we are working toward?  Klein and company offer a clear plan for how they are going to fix the problems (a plan so clear that it draws a with us/against us line).  They take the necessary steps to implement that plan, regardless of the “friends” it may create.  And then they have the data to demonstrate effectiveness, with both test scores and graduation rates rising.  Isn’t that our ultimate end game?  And if it isn’t shouldn’t it be?
  

Where’s the 2009 Love?

Yes, I recognize that we have started a new year.  But Eduflack is also mindful of the words of Winston Churchill that “those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”  So I can’t start the new year without looking over those lovely Year in Review editions put out by Time and Newsweek last week.

Those of us who have been hip deep in the education improvement movement often operate with blinders on, believing that the topics and issues that we are focused on are what the entire world are most concerned with.  About a month ago, Brookings came out with a study calculating that only 1.4 percent of the national news coverage in 2009 was education-related.  (Personally, as painful as the statistic was, I’d hate to see that number if we excluded coverage of Teach for America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).  Despite all of our focus on teacher quality, test scores, Race to the Top, i3, and everything in between, we are only hearing about education 1 percent of the time.  It is no wonder that education is slipping on the list of important issues for likely voters.
And how do Time and Newsweek contribute to this discussion?  In their yearly wrap-ups, there is no mention of education.  No mention of the education implications of the stimulus bill.  No discussion of arguably the most popular member of the Obama cabinet, EdSec Arne Duncan.  No hat tips to TFA or charter schools.  No focus on supes like NY’s Joel Klein or DC’s Michelle Rhee.  No highlight of the growing attention to education coming from big city mayors from New York to Sacramento.  No headline for the $4 billion race.  Not even an acknowledgment to education in the tributes to U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
In fact, the closest thing to education making the headlines for the year was inclusion of Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and his efforts to revolutionize how we read.  But few are expecting to see the Kindle take over for textbooks in a K-12 classroom any time in our lifetime.
So we start a new year again asking where to find the love.  Are we fighting a losing battle, expecting to see education stories capturing the hearts and minds of the national media (beyond the cadre of dedicated national education media who are tilting at windmills)?  Or are we looking in the wrong places?
We shouldn’t be looking to Katie Couric or the New York Times for the latest and greatest.  We should be looking at local newspapers and talk radio and websites and blogs.  We should recognize that, for the most part, education remains a local issue, and as such, is one best discussed in cities and towns (and maybe states).  
If we’re looking for the next great solution, the magic bullets that are going to solve all that ails our public schools, those stories aren’t likely to appear on the national nightly news or in the glossy newsweeklies.  Instead, they’ll appear where the majority of parents and local policymakers are focusing their attention.  The legendary Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is best known for saying all politics is local.  The same is true for education reform.  Most improvements are local.  And they are first found on local talk radio and the pages of those newspapers with circulations in the five figures.  

Under the Eduflack Tree 2010

It is that time of the year again.  Most of the year, Eduflack can be critical, cynical, and downright combustible about what is happening in the education community.  We spend a great deal of time talking, but little time delivering.  We get caught up on the 20 percent or so of improvements we don’t agree on, thus neglecting the 80 percent that could make real change now.  And we regularly fall into a cult of personality, rather than focusing on the substance of both character and ideas.

But Christmas is a special time of year, that time when we all get a blank slate and we all look forward to a new year with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment.  As for Eduflack, I don’t believe in naughty lists (personally, I’m worried about what all of my general agitation would mean for such databases).  And with two little kiddos at home who are the absolute loves of my life and motivations for getting up each morning, I’m all for being generous and giving gifts for both a great 2009 and the hopes of an even better 2010.  So without further ado, let’s check out what’s under the ol’ Eduflack tree this holiday season.
To NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a return to the spotlight.  In 2008, Chancellor Klein was the king of the ed reform kingdom.  Scores were up in NYC.  The city was coming off the Broad Prize, and Klein was on the short list for U.S. Secretary of Education.  But a funny thing happened in 2009.  The good chancellor seemed to take a public back seat, dealing with collective bargaining agreements, a city council that was trying to take away mayoral control, and other such operational issues.  He even seemed to take a back seat with the Education Equality Project, letting Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich play center stage for much of 2009.  But 2010 is Klein’s year again.  With states and districts desperate to demonstrate sustained student gains on assessments and a closing of the achievement gap, there is no better model than the revolution that has happened in NYC over the last decade.  And the NYC experience is one that can serve as a research-based model for many urbans looking to secure i3 grants in the coming year.  Klein has always been a force, but with all of the elements coming together, 2010 can very well be the year of Klein.
To Detroit’s de facto public schools chief Robert Bobb, a wide berth.  By now, most of us have written off Detroit Public Schools, believing there is no hope for America’s most struggling urban district, whether it declares bankruptcy or not.  But for those not paying attention, Bobb is really trying to do God’s work up in the Motor City.  With a new mayor and a renewed sense of purpose, Bobb and his team and rebuilding the DPS infrastructure while taking on instructional reforms designed to improving student learning and close the dreaded achievement gap.  Bobb has thrown a lot against the wall in the past year.  Here’s hoping the city (and the nation) the time to see what sticks and build on what works.  Improvement is possible in Detroit, with the right time and support.
To EdSec Arne Duncan, a continued bounce in his step.  Without question, the past 12 months have been the year of Arne.  He started off strong, and quickly built a cult of personality around the nation.  (Some may even call it idol worship.)  He’s won friends where previous secretaries could only find enemies.  He’s talked, passionately, about issues that were taboo to previous federal education bosses.  And he has emerged as one of the leading voices for the administration, even on issues like economic stimulus and other issues not previously in the EdSec’s purview.  For the coming year, Duncan needs to keep pushing through, talking the tough talk, while walking the tough walk.  Many expect to see real results when it comes to Race to the Top and i3, so he has to be ready to talk about where we are (with details) and where we are going.  More importantly, though, he needs to keep that bounce and forward motion even after we discover that ESEA reauthorization is a gift most likely received in 2011.  Just keep driving to the basket, Mr. Secretary.
To House Education Chairman George Miller (CA), incremental success.  For a good portion of 2009, we assumed that Chairman Miller would successfully lead ESEA reauthorization in the first half of 2010.  Now, we know such thoughts are only for the most optimistic of optimists.  Eduflack realizes that healthcare reform has taken a lot out of your committee, but now is the time for you to move forward and make crystal clear to all involved that you are the educational top dog on Capitol Hill. Through the House Education and Labor Committee, let’s get your Graduation for All Act of 2010 passed into law as quickly as possible.  And while we’re at it, let’s make sure that Congress (both your House and the Senate) make Senator Patty Murray’s LEARN Act (focusing on reading) the law of the land before school’s out for summer.  Instead of looking for that four-bagger to win the game with one swing right now, let’s play a little small ball and move some very real education improvements now, improvements that can help many, many kids right now.
To Senator Mike Enzi (WY), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, an itch to fight for the home team.  In 2009, we spent a lot of time focusing on education reform issues that seemed custom tailored for urban areas.  RttT has turned into a focus on turning around low performing urban districts.  Despite the extra points for rural districts, most also see i3 as a reward for the Council of Great City Schools sect.  And even the most recent NAEP TUDA puts our gaze on what’s happening in the cities.  It falls to Senator Enzi (and to a lesser degree Rep. John Kline of Minnesota) to make sure that the voice of rural districts and the needs or rural students are heard in these school improvement discussions.  There are too many students attending small districts and rural schools for us to neglect them.  If we are going to improve achievement for all American students, we need to give rural schools the same attention we give urbans.  And we can’t forget that closing the achievement gap is about closing the gaps between white and black and closing the gaps between rich and poor.
Fortunately, Eduflack is feeling generous this season.  There are also gifts under the Eduflack tree for those who have done good work in 2009, those good little boys and girls like EdTrust’s Kati Haycock, EEP’s Ellen Winn, AFT’s Randi Weingarten, Rethink Learning Now’s Sam Chaltain, Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond, and the Alliance’s Bob Wise.  And special stockings for the EdWeek bloggers who keep us fed on a daily basis.  Keep it up! 
We also have those policy gifts that all get to enjoy for the coming year, those issues that can truly lift all boats.  We have STEM education, one of the few topics that can help all states and localities maximize the opportunities under Race to the Top and effectively link education reform to economic recovery.  Chicago’s Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), which may likely be the posterchild for effective i3 spending and the model for how we can really get an effective teacher quality and incentive program.  For scientifically based education, which is back with a vengeance as ED talks over and over again about evidence and innovation.  Effective teacher professional development, with more and more people realizing that improved student achievement and test scores requires a better equipped, better supported teacher force.  The rediscovery of data, both the continued exploration of good data versus bad and, more importantly, how we can effectively use data to improve our schools.  And
, of course, common core standards, which is hoping to work through a rough past few months to deliver every U.S. school child, regardless of zip code, one common yardstick to determine if we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future … or not.
And with that, I’ll put my edufinger to the nose attached to my broad face and little round belly, and wish a Happy Eduholidays to all!