Education: A Golden Age

“The education sector’s structure and policies will change more in the next 3 years than they changed in the last 2,500 years”

2007- : Parents continuing the struggle for educational freedom


2008/12: Voucher March on Washington?

2008/12: Et hav fra Stortinget til Youngstorget av engasjerte foreldre?


2008/03/8 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Sweden: tremendous voucher policy progress


“The variety of schools has increased throughout Sweden. The voucher system means that all students, irrespective of family income, can attend non-public schools. Even in rural areas there is now a wide choice of schools and it seems that the overall quality of Swedish schools has benefited from competition. The very existence of non-public schools has created a demand for reform also of public schools. If there is a difference, it also seems that non-public schools often are better at dealing with children with learning problems.

…three features seem particularly important when looking at the experience gained. Reform was based on a combination of public and market systems. It was general in its form, without demanding that non-public schools had to be special in order to be licensed. And reform reached out to cover all students.

This is what Sweden can offer, probably the most ambitions voucher system in the world but screwed into a social framework that is deeply rooted in the country. It is worth studying because, at the end of the day, it is using common principles of competition in an area where earlier such principles had not been generally accepted. One thing is for sure. “No change” is not an acceptable alternative.”

2008/03/5 Posted by | Charter schools, Europe, Performance - school, Policy, Sweden, Vouchers | Leave a comment

On the accomplishments of Bloomberg and Klein: Whitney Tilson’s letter to Education Next

March 3, 2008


To Education Next:


As someone who has both observed and been deeply involved with efforts to improve public schools in New York City, I read “New York City’s Education Battles” with great interest. Overall, I thought it was an excellent article that fairly presented both the successes and hiccups of the reform efforts led by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein.


In their efforts to do what is best for children, Bloomberg and Klein have been willing to take on powerful entrenched interests that are happy with the status quo and fight to maintain it. To cite only a few examples, Bloomberg and Klein: Continue reading

2008/03/5 Posted by | Charter schools, New York, New York City, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Physics, Policy, US | Leave a comment

Finn and Petrilli: “The education of John McCain”

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“The monster: We now have a federal Department of Education meddling in schools across the land. Washington bureaucrats don’t improve them but do monitor everything from teacher qualifications to reading curricula to discipline. Yet when it comes to what matters most–expectations for student learning–NCLB allows every state to grade itself, enabling most to set low standards and play games with test results.

When it comes to global competition, President McCain would rally U.S. workers to compete worldwide without yielding to the siren song of protectionism. But here, too, NCLB is weakening our human-capital development with its low (and uneven) standards and its neglect of high-achieving students. McCain could change this by calling on governors to develop a set of common, rigorous expectations and assessments for all young Americans from Okeechobee to Walla Walla. And he could push Congress to rewrite NCLB so it focuses not just on academic stragglers but also on our savviest youngsters, too.

He could give states and communities the authority to merge all their federal funds into one flexible stream (while being held to tougher, more consistent standards for student learning).

There are plenty of other ideas worth supporting–targeted vouchers, aid for charter schools, incentives for districts to rid themselves of restrictive union contracts, and more.

Happily for him, Obama’s mushy education plan and flip-flopping on merit pay and vouchers give the Arizonan plenty of room to maneuver. Like Reagan, McCain may never make education his top priority. But by picking a few key issues and using his power effectively, he just might be an education president anyhow.”

2008/03/4 Posted by | Charter schools, National standards, Performance pay, Policy, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Et gufs fra en forgangen, kollektivistisk skole-tidsalder? Eller ihvertfall skolelov-argumenter hulter til bulter.


Anniken Huitfeldt, Aftenposten Aften, 2008/02/29

“De viktigste verdiene ligger i at folk kan komme til samme sykehus, skole og sykehjem uavhengig av hvor mye penger de har. Det er derfor det blant annet har vært viktig å si nei til privatskoler”.

Vår kommentar: Det er krevende å finne ut langs hvilken dimensjon man først bør rive den siste setningen fra hverandre. Fokuset på skole, og ikke undervisningen i de enkelte fag – som uansett globaliseres, med tusener av lærere å velge mellom – er avlegs. Norge har ikke råd til å ikke dra nytte av – og på grunn av teknologiutviklingen ingen mulighet til å unngå å dra nytte av – det entreprenørskapet som nå spiller en stor positiv rolle innen utdanningssektoren rundt om i verden. Continue reading

2008/02/29 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Policy, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Words of wisdom and courage – from the greatest President the country will never have?

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I’m Not Running for President, but …

Published: February 28, 2008

WATCHING the 2008 presidential campaign, you sometimes get the feeling that the candidates — smart, all of them — must know better. They must know we can’t fix our economy and create jobs by isolating America from global trade. They must know that we can’t fix our immigration problems with border security alone. They must know that we can’t fix our schools without holding teachers, principals and parents accountable for results. They must know that fighting global warming is not a costless challenge. And they must know that we can’t keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals unless we crack down on the black market for them.

The vast majority of Americans know that all of this is true, but — politics being what it is — the candidates seem afraid to level with them.

Continue reading

2008/02/28 Posted by | Charter schools, National standards, New York, New York City, Performance - school, Performance pay, Policy, Teacher education, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Bi-partisan voucher collaboration

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Our comment: the main 21st century purpose of vouchers is making it easy for students to receive instruction from the best teachers all over the world, on a per-subject basis, and the private-public school distinction is now obsolete, but Emanuel’s initiative is a good one nonetheless.


‘Pell for Kids’ Plan Gets Cautious Support

Washington Post Continue reading

2008/02/27 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance pay, Policy, Vouchers | Leave a comment

On Obama’s campaign team and vouchers and straight talk


New York Sun Editorial
February 25, 2008

No sooner had we issued Elizabeth Green‘s dispatch under the headline “Obama Open to Private School Vouchers” than his campaign was scrambling to undo the potential damage with the Democratic primary electorate. On February 20, his campaign issued a statement headlined, “Response to Misleading Reports Concerning Senator Obama‘s Position on Vouchers” that said, “Senator Obama has always been a critic of vouchers.” The statement went on, “Throughout his career, he has voted against voucher proposals and voiced concern for siphoning off resources from our public schools.” It noted that Mr. Obama’s education agenda “does not include vouchers, in any shape or form.”

Clarifying statement aside, there is no taking away what Mr. Obama actually said in the interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentininal that was the subject of Ms. Green’s dispatch. “If there was any argument for vouchers, it was ‘Alright, let’s see if this experiment works,’ and if it does, then whatever my preconceptions, my attitude is you do what works for the kids,” the senator said. “I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We’re losing several generations of kids and something has to be done.” Continue reading

2008/02/25 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Vouchers: Backtracking by Obama’s campaign a disservice to Obama and his pragmatism…



Our comment: Now is, with additional superdelegates switching to Obama every day and the nomination and the presidency essentially in the hand, not the time to let certain special interest groups and a handful of superdelegates dictate one’s public position on the country’s most important issue.


Vouchers are, in the 21st century, about profoundly strengthening local public schools’ role as centers for globally-benchmarked academic excellence in that they allow local public school-based students to flexibly get instruction, on a per-subject basis using the latest technology, from the best teachers locally, domestically and globally. They are not about driving students away from conventional local public schools to conventional local public or private schools, not about “siphoning of resources” from any school.


An aspect of this is that 21st century vouchers will now level the playing field between urban, suburban and rural schools in an unprecedented and wonderful way. Only in small pockets in the largest metropolitan areas may vouchers be less than critical for students’ education and competitiveness, for demographic and human resources forces and flows are such that “every school in America” will never be equally “filled with outstanding (on-site) educators”. As for attempts to improve the average performance level of teachers: the campaign mentions recruitment of new teachers but does not address the vast and very expensive professional development of current teachers – through programs that measure student performance before and after the teachers attend them – that is likely to be necessary and desirable even with extensive usage of the globalized teacher pool.


So vouchers today are about the student in rural Vermont being able to pay her math teacher in Boston or Eastern Europe and the student in Cleveland being able to pay his Chinese teacher in San Francisco or Asia.


The comment about the “Milwaukee voucher program not having been studied to see if it works” confuses performance and funding. Teacher performance, which varies much more than school performance, should of course always be measured, no matter how the instruction is paid for. With respect to performance measurement it is good to see the reference to Obama’s support for student-performance-based pay for teachers.


Not only is flexible access to excellent teachers wherever those teachers may be located “best for the kids”, it is for students a civil right. Continue reading

2008/02/22 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Barack Obama: vouchers, charters, fostering competition


2008/02/19 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Obama open to use of vouchers to attend private school


Our comment: In the 21st century the main use of vouchers is to allow public school facility-based students to receive instruction by teachers worldwide, and the private/public distinction won’t be along physical school lines. But it is nonetheless wonderful to experience Obama’s pragmatic, common sense perspective.

Obama Open to Private School Vouchers

Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 15, 2008 updated 2/16/08 10:21 am EST

Senator Obama said this week that he is open to supporting private school vouchers if research shows they work. Continue reading

2008/02/15 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Obama: vouchers, student-performance-based teacher compensation, and charter schools


By: Mike Allen February 11, 2008 08:44 PM EST
Taking a position that could help him win a general election, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said in an interview that the federal government should experiment with charter schools even if some Democrats oppose the idea. In a joint interview with Politico WJLA/ABC 7, Obama was asked about issues on which he might oppose the mainstream of his party. “I’ve consistently said I think we need to support charter schools,” Obama said.
I think it’s important for us to experiment in terms of how teachers are compensated — working with teachers but looking at how we can reward excellence in classrooms.
Asked about the reaction of teachers’ unions, Obama acknowledged that they “haven’t been thrilled with me talking about this.”My sister’s a teacher, so I am a strong supporter of teachers,” he said. “But I’m not going to be bound by just a certain way of talking about things in order for us to move forward on behalf of our kids. And I think a lot of teachers want to talk about how we can continue improving performance measures. We’ve got to get beyond a lot of the traditional categories.Conservatives have singled out overtures on education as perhaps the most promising way that Obama could convince Republicans, intrigued by his personal style, to cross over and vote for him if he is the Democratic nominee next fall. “The Democratic Party is a big tent, and so there are a bunch of different positions that I might not agree with,” Obama said. On something like charter schools and experimenting with our school system to make it work, I think that we really have to pay attention.

2008/02/11 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Teachers Divided: Older teachers support Clinton, while younger teachers vote for Obama.

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First, consider older teachers. Not only are they of Clinton’s generation, they also tend to dominate the teacher unions — the very unions that are at the base of her party-mainstream support. While the National Education Association hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate, its New Hampshire affiliate came out for Clinton (and Huckabee on the Republican side). (The Iowa union kept its powder dry.) When you hear about the “Democratic establishment,” think teacher unions; their members regularly constitute some 10 percent of all delegates at the Democratic National Convention, after all. As the “establishment” candidate, then, Clinton is and will likely remain the teacher unions’ favorite.Everybody knows that those unions’ leaders and most active members tend to be older. Why? Simply because senior teachers have the most at stake. After toiling in the classroom for decades for modest pay, they are finally nearing their big pay-off: a plush retirement with full family medical benefits. Protecting this retirement is teacher unions’ number one priority. They want a candidate who signals a steady course, promises job stability, and isn’t going to rock the boat. Clinton fits the bill.

The calculus is much different for younger teachers. Not surprisingly, they are much more open to change — Obama’s theme song. A few years ago, Public Agenda found that a majority of new teachers (55 percent) believed that districts should be able to use other indicators beyond years of experience and higher education to reward good teachers; yet only a third of veteran teachers felt the same way. And newbies were almost twice as likely to believe that merit pay would be effective in recruiting more of “the best and brightest” into teaching. So Obama’s (mild) flirtation with performance pay is much less threatening — and perhaps even exciting — for these younger teachers.

2008/01/11 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Unions bitterly divided in Democratic race

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2008/01/11 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Policy, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Sharpton: I’d welcome a Bloomberg run centered on education

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How many successful people do you know in your line of work or your neighborhood who do not have a high school diploma?

Education as a civil right needs strong articulation by a leader willing to say it like it is…

Whether you are black or white, Republican or Democrat, it is undisputed that those with the most education have the best chance of realizing their dreams, and that race becomes less of a factor for those most educated.

While I am not endorsing Mayor Bloomberg for President, I am endorsing the idea that a Bloomberg candidacy centered on education as a civil right would be good for America.

2008/01/4 Posted by | Charter schools, National standards, New York City, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment



“Three major national philanthropies have awarded the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools a total of $11 million to forward the organization’s work of ensuring that high quality public education options are available to families who need them the most.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Alliance $5.5 million, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund $3.4 million, and the Walton Family Foundation $2.1 million, each over three years, to advance the Alliance’s efforts to build the infrastructure needed to support high-performing charter schools, communicate the successes of quality charters to families and policymakers, and to develop sound policy environments to nurture school quality and growth.”

2008/01/3 Posted by | Charter schools, US | Leave a comment

Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone on Charlie Rose


2008/01/3 Posted by | Charter schools, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Performance pay, Unions, US, Vouchers | Leave a comment

Charter Schools Outshine Others as They Receive Their First Report Cards


Education officials, acting under the city’s new system of accountability, released report cards on Wednesday for several charter schools, with the majority receiving A’s and B’s, but one school in Queens getting an F.The grades came more than a month after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein released grades for the rest of the city’s public schools. Officials said that they had always intended to release grades for charter schools, but that it had taken longer to make sure the data was complete and accurate because the schools are privately run, though publicly financed.Just 14 of the 60 charter schools in the city received report cards, but school officials and supporters of charter school said that the grades showed that the schools were outperforming their traditional counterparts.“As a group, they skew higher,” said Michael Duffy, who oversees charter schools for the city’s Education Department. “I think that charter schools are all about accountability. It’s baked into their DNA. They are data driven and focused on how their students are doing, so it’s not surprising to see them do well.”

2007/12/20 Posted by | Charter schools, New York City, Performance - school, Performance - teacher, Vouchers | Leave a comment