Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Good News--Martin in, Evers out at DOE

I hear that Carmel Martin has been named by the Obama team to be the head of Planning and Evaluation at the DOE. If true, that’s good news. Martin is competent and politically savvy. She was an adviser to Sen. Kennedy and then Sen. Bingaman’s (NM) point person on the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) initiative. Martin was very helpful to us small-schoolers, working with Bingaman and Congressman Obey (WI) to save the initiative during the Bush years.

The main thing is--she replaces Williamson ("I hate social justice") Evers.

The "union problem"

Diane Ravitch at Bridging Differences

The unions don't seem to cause low performance in the wealthy suburban districts that surround our city. They don't seem to be a problem for the nations that regularly register high scores on international tests. If getting rid of the unions was the solution to the problem of low performance, then why...do the southern states—where unions are weak or non-existent—continue to perform worse than states with strong unions? And how can we explain the strong union presence in Massachusetts, which is the nation's highest performing state on NAEP? I suggested that low performance must be caused by something else other than teachers' unions.

Latte economy

Forbes is good bathroom reading if you want to know what the Ownership Society crowd is thinking. In this week’s commentary, “Education and Economic Recovery,” Hal Raveche starts out with a sensible proposition:

A service-based economy that can stand and prosper by itself is pure fiction. Our economy will remain fragile if it is driven in large part by the latest Wall Street deals and "jobs" that consist of selling each other insurance and steaming lattes or painting nails and flipping burgers.

True enough. But his piece heads downhill after that, calling on universities to turn away from serious intellectual work to become simply high-tech skills training centers. You’ll never guess how Raveche makes his money.

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