March 26, 2008

Achievement Gap Club

"Every other Wednesday morning at T.R. Smedberg Middle School in south Sacramento, about 30 seventh- and eighth-grade students meet to talk about something that confounds educators: the achievement gap."

It makes sense, but yet it's revolutionary- ask the students who make up the statistics what can be done lessen the achievement gap.

At the first meeting more than two years ago the school principal Keven MacDonald came in with six binders of research and threw them on the floor, and said to the students, "These experts don't have the answers. The gap has existed for 50 years. Why don't you tell me what we need to do?"

Read more about the club here.

March 24, 2008

Legislative Test

The Washington Post editorial page urges Maryland legislatures not to water down the state’s high school exit exam requirement, noting that “Maryland lawmakers historically have left education policy to the state board.” The situation is a reminder of what happens when high standards meet political realities, and suggests that legislators are the biggest impediment to education reform, or, at the very least, strong accountability.

Making the Law Work

“Once again, Margaret Spellings is doing the right thing for schools by bending, if not actually breaking, the law. The No Child Left Behind Act was so poorly conceived that occasionally the secretary of Education has to disobey it to make it work,” writes the LA Times editorial page in response to the Secretary’s new differentiated accountability proposal.

March 20, 2008

Wick to the Rescue

Ohio State Board Member Carl Wick comes to the defense of state school superintendent Susan Zelman, who Buckeye Governor Ted Strickland is trying to oust.


An excerpt from Wick’s letter: “You made brutally critical comments about Dr. Susan Zelman yesterday to the Cincinnati Enquirer. This greatly disturbs me. This approach is not dignified, virtuous or professional.


Having said this, the State Board of Education, made up of an assortment of Ohio citizens, many of which voted for you including some Rs serving on the board, supports Dr. Zelman. Her last appraisal had 100% board support. There are good reasons for this support. Can we all be wrong?


We know Dr. Zelman has shortcomings, which we all have, but she has been the single catalyst in improving and moving Ohio public education forward. Ohio was in the middle of the states but is now ranked 7th. May I ask, “How do you think we got there?”

Advantage - Welburn

Brenda Welburn’s “good point” regarding recent attempts by governors to oust their chief state school officers.

March 17, 2008

Chairman of Massachusetts State Board Appointed Secretary of Education

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced his selection of Paul Reville as the new Secretary of Education, the cabinet-level position created by legislation passed this past January. Mr. Reville currently serves as the chairman of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, appointed by Governor Patrick in August 2006. As the first Secretary of Education since 1996, Reville will have oversight over the departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education, and Higher Education. “I am honored to assume the role of Secretary for a Governor who is deeply committed to making schools more effective instruments of building equity, excellence and opportunity for all students in the Commonwealth,” commented Reville, who will take office on July 1st.

March 7, 2008

Healthy School Lunches Radio Show

Back Porch with Dave and Bob (an Internet talk radio show at will have a one hour show this Friday March 7th at 2pm MST focused solely on Healthy School Lunches.  Their guests include Amie Hamlin of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food and Chef Seth Bixby Daugherty, Founder of Real Food Initiatives.