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The big event of early March was the release of President Obama’s plan to revise No Child Left Behind. Although NCLB has its defenders, the administration rightly views it as a “toxic” brand. Perhaps if the Obama team had given more thought to why it became toxic, their own plan would be far better. Most troublesome to me are the draconian “remedies” that will be imposed on the 5,000 schools at the bottom in test scores. You can be sure that the next 10,000 schools up the list will double the time for test prep to try to escape that giant sucking sound that could devour them, too. —Diane Ravitch
When it comes to the Investing in Innovation grants, there are three things that seem to matter most: Evidence, evidence, and evidence. If you don’t have the right kind of evidence, or enough evidence to support your vision, you will be disqualified by the Education Department from the get-go. The quality of evidence is judged by internal and external validity (and if you don’t know what those terms mean, i3 czar Jim Shelton says you need to find someone who does and partner with that person). The evidence requirement is so important that the department will be sponsoring a webinar at a later date to address the myriad of questions that still persist.
Of course, to win an i3 grant, you also need a great idea. —Michele McNeil
“Intelligence Squared U.S.,” a live debate series that airs on NPR and on Bloomberg television, recently featured (among others) American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and scholar Terry Moe, a critic of unions, debating this resolution: “Don’t Blame Teachers’ Unions for Our Failing Schools.”
Weingarten’s participation seems curious, because the question sort of presupposes that unions are the major variable in school success. Surely everyone can agree that there are many other factors affecting our troubled schools. Maybe we are getting a step closer to “Survivor: The Rubber Room” edition. —Stephen Sawchuk
Vol. 29, Issue 27, Page 6