Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Stars Align for Major Education Reforms

DFER's Charles Barone on how "education reform is breaking out from coast to coast":

Education reform is breaking out from coast to coast. Rarely have the stars been so well-aligned for change. The policy challenges and the potential solutions could not be clearer. The political climate for change has never been more favorable, as people across the ideological spectrum seek reform. And the advocacy infrastructure, which is stronger than ever before, is growing stronger and more successful every day.

Back-to-school time typically means an onslaught of education reporting. But last month saw arguably more national media attention paid not just to education but to education reform than in any September in recent memory: the official premiere of the eye-opening film "Waiting for 'Superman,'" the weeklong NBC News series "Education Nation," a Time magazine cover story on "great schools" and "great teachers," and two Oprah specials, the second of which featured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of a $100 million donation to Newark Public Schools.

This heightened national awareness follows a year and a half of ground-breaking action in states and districts across the country. Fueled by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top initiative and stepped-up advocacy efforts at the state and local level, dozens of states passed laws and implemented new policies designed to raise standards, develop better tests, improve teaching and turn around the lowest-performing schools. Hundreds of local collaborative efforts were launched around smaller initiatives, such as the Investing in Innovation fund.

New laws were passed and new policies implemented in at least 30 states that link teacher evaluation to student achievement, expand high-quality alternative teacher certification programs, provide more autonomy for superintendents and principals, and increase parental public school choice options through charter and magnet schools.



Stars Align for Major Education Reforms

By Charles Barone
Special to Roll Call

Oct. 5, 2010, 12 a.m.

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