The Big Picture on School Performance

Assessment, Learning

On Feb. 1, President Obama vowed to toss out the nation’s current school accountability system and replace it with a more balanced scorecard of school performance that looks at student growth and school progress. I love the idea. Mr. Obama and education secretary Arne Duncan have repeatedly criticized the No Child Left Behind Act for keeping the “goals loose but … Read More

Evaluating Charter Schools


This morning I appeared on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show. With the DC region at the forefront of the national charter school movement, people want to know why, after a decade of innovation and experimentation, it’s still difficult to evaluate local charters and compare them to traditional public schools. The framing question for the hour-long show, therefore, was this: “Do charters live … Read More

What Would Theo Do?

Assessment, Learning

I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan, so as this year’s trading deadline approaches, I’m wondering once again what Theo Epstein, the GM of my beloved Boston Red Sox, will do to improve his team’s chances of winning their third championship in six years — after not winning one for eighty-six. I’m also a lifelong public education fan, so with the … Read More

Why Send My Son to Public School?

Assessment, Equity, Learning

Earlier this week, Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced the latest hopeful sign for D.C.’s public schools – a spike in citywide student reading and math scores. “We’re thrilled at the progress we’ve made this year,” said Rhee. “We still have an incredibly long way to go.” I’m grateful for the early improvements in the D.C. schools – and I share … Read More

Our Children Deserve Democratic Schools

Democracy, Learning, Voice

A few years ago, a reporter in Columbia, South Carolina asked local elementary school children why America celebrates the Fourth of July. Most of the answers were predictably personal. To eat hot dogs, said one boy. To watch fireworks, a girl answered. Another child thought we all celebrated the Fourth of July because it was his brother’s birthday. One student, … Read More

We're Pursuing the Wrong Set of Standards

Assessment, Learning, Voice

With $100 billion to spend in the next two years, the Obama administration means business when it talks about reshaping the public education system. Why, then, is it ignoring some of the business community’s best insights when it comes to core questions of how to spark systems change? There’s a disconnect between what the administration is promising – a set … Read More

55 Years Later, Doesn't Every Child Deserve a High-Quality Education?

Democracy, Equity, Learning

Today America marks the 55th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s historic victory in Brown v. Board of Education. If Marshall were alive, however, he would urge us to stop celebrating 1954 and start accepting responsibility for our complicity in the creation of a “separate but equal” education apartheid system – with one method of instruction for the poor and another for … Read More