It’s been thirty years since the first law enabling charter schools was enacted in Minnesota back in 1991. Today, there are over 7,500 charter schools and campuses across the country, with 200,000 teachers serving 3.3 million students. I thought it worth pausing a moment to take stock of the current state of charter schools. So, I checked in for some reflections from Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools since 2014. Here’s what she had to say.

— Rick

Rick: Nina, what’s the state of charter schooling today?

Nina: What started with one…


Recently, I discussed some of my concerns with what’s being done under the banner of “anti-racist” education. While I shared that I have significant apprehensions about many of the policies, practices, and programs enacted in its name, I also observed that the “underlying anti-racist impulse obviously contains much of value.”

Yet, as I noted, the doctrine of anti-racist education has morphed, in too many instances, into something far more problematic. …


Deciding whether and where to attend college is a giant decision for students and families, as well as the educators and guidance counselors who seek to advise them. It can also have an outsized influence on their financial health for the rest of their lives. In her new book, Making College Pay: An Economist Explains How to Make a Smart Bet on Higher Education, Beth Akers offers data and analysis that can help navigate these tricky waters. Beth, formerly of the Manhattan Institute, Brookings Institution, and the Council of Economic Advisers, and now a resident scholar at AEI, provides practical…


Early last month, the New York City Department of Education announced that it plans to do away with snow days next year. The move met with predictable angst from students and a series of practical questions from the United Federation of Teachers, but education cognoscenti seem fairly enthusiastic. Indeed, this past year, when most public schools were either remote or hybrid, 39 percent of districts did away with snow days. There seem to be plenty of school systems interested in following New York City’s lead next year.

I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. While a “no snow days”…


Most of us are all too aware of just how polarized things can be today and how easy it can be to fall into the trap of believing the worst of those with whom we disagree. Anyone who needs a reminder can check out this piece by Ben Smith, in which The New York Times reporter describes how a small online cluster of former Jeopardy! contestants descended into a collective freak-out. …


ST Math, an online program from MIND Research Institute used by more than 1.3 million P-8 students, employs a visual, gamified approach to teach math. I recently spoke with MIND’s chief data science officer Andrew Coulson, who heads evaluation of student and teacher usage and outcomes for ST Math, about the program’s approach to math learning and evaluating education technology more broadly.

— Rick

Rick: What is ST Math — how does it work, and how is it different from all the other math programs and curricula out there?

Andrew: ST Math is a supplemental visual instructional program for students…


Media is ablaze with coverage of the heated resistance to “anti-racist” education and Critical Race Theory (CRT). Much of the discourse, at least in education circles, reads like an angry lament that parents and policymakers troubled by all this are playing political games, just need to be enlightened about the finer points of CRT scholarship and anti-racism, or are out-and-out racists.

While the opposition surely includes opportunists and extremists (welcome to American politics in 2021), I think the champions of anti-racism fundamentally misconstrue the legitimate concerns. …


Given how contentious the Common Core has been over time, I’m not terribly surprised that my post on Tom Loveless’ hard-hitting new book on the failure of the Common Core has garnered a lot of reader response. A couple of these seemed worth sharing more widely. Last week, I ran Caroline Damon’s letter arguing that Tom and I were too tough on the Common Core. This week’s letter is from Steve Peha, founder of the consulting firm Teaching That Makes Sense and author of Be a Better Writer, who watched the Common Core up close from his on-site professional-development work…


I recently wrote about Tom Loveless’ terrific new book on the Common Core, Between the State and the Schoolhouse, and Tom’s conclusion that the Common Core did nothing to change classroom practice or boost academic achievement. Fittingly, the post on the always-contentious Common Core summoned more than the usual amount of feedback, “attaboys,” and denunciations. One response that I thought sharing was a cordial, thoughtful, but hard-hitting rebuttal from Caroline Damon, senior program officer at the Chamberlin Education Foundation. Caroline, who directs the foundation’s Instructional Leadership Community of Practice, argued that Tom and I were selling the Common Core short…


The public view of education technology has evolved over the past 12 months. When schools shut down last spring, frustration with the availability of devices, amount of instruction, and quality of teaching seemed nearly universal. During this past year, there appeared to be some rough consensus that virtual learning — while mostly still mediocre — has clearly improved from last spring.

But that’s all in the past. What I’m far more interested in, looking forward, is how bad ed-tech habits that formed during the shutdown risk compromising instruction and even slowing the return to school next fall.

After all, examples…

Frederick M. Hess

Direct Ed Policy Studies at AEI. Teach a bit at Rice, UPenn, Harvard. Author of books like Cage-Busting Leadership and Spinning Wheels. Pen Ed Week's RHSU blog.

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