Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama's truce with teachers

Obama's truce with teachers
By: Kendra Marr
August 22, 2010 05:00 PM EDT
In the past few weeks, President Barack Obama delivered two major speeches touting education reforms. He invited teachers to the Rose Garden and pushed the House to pass an emergency spending bill saving thousands of school jobs. This week, his education chief is traveling on a cross-country bus tour to highlight school success stories.

“Teachers,” Obama said in Ohio Wednesday, “are the single most important ingredient in the education system.”

The White House says it’s a back-to-school message that fits squarely into the president’s plan for economic recovery, stressing the role of educators in shaping a competitive American work force.

But all this apple-polishing hasn’t gone unnoticed by teachers unions, which have had a rocky relationship with the White House from the start over Obama’s unflinching support for reforms that unions view as an affront. After 18 months of frosty relations that at times bordered on outright hostility, it seems that Obama has called a truce — one that several education experts noted comes just in time for the midterm elections, when teachers unions can be a powerful Democratic ally.

California labor and the fall elections

Labor's campaign in California has been an ambitious mix of trying to persuade swing voters while at the same time trying to mobilize those Democrats who don't often vote in nonpresidential elections.

Harold Meyerson
August 31, 2010
Just how blue will California be this November? Will this Democratic state return Barbara Boxer to the Senate and Jerry Brown to the statehouse, or will their mega-funded GOP opponents ride the red tide of what's looking to be a strong Republican year into office?
Let's start with the governor's race. Brown has been no more than intermittently visible this year, husbanding his limited funds for an autumnal media blitz. Meg Whitman, by contrast, has bought into every media market known to humankind. By the normal rules of politics, she should have opened a lead on the late-starting Brown. But by the measure of almost every poll, she hasn't.
Part of the reason for that is California's union movement, which has put up ads and begun its field program earlier than ever this year to counter Whitman's spending advantage. As Seema Mehta reported in Monday's Times, labor has already spent $14 million on advertising and getting its ground game in place.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Problems with the use of test scores to evaluate teachers

In new EPI report, leading educational testing experts caution against heavy reliance on the use of test scores in teacher evaluation
Student test scores are not reliable indicators of teacher effectiveness, even with the addition of value-added modeling (VAM), a new Economic Policy Institute report by leading testing experts finds. Though VAM methods have allowed for more sophisticated comparisons of teachers than were possible in the past, they are still inaccurate, so test scores should not dominate the information used by school officials in making high-stakes decisions about the evaluation, discipline and compensation of teachers.
The Obama administration has encouraged states to adopt laws that use student test scores as a significant component in evaluating teachers, and a number of states have done so already. The Los Angeles Times recently used value-added methods to evaluate teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District based on the test scores of their students, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan supported the paper's decision to publicly release this information, asserting that parents have a right to know how effective their teachers are.  But the conclusions of the expert co-authors of this report suggest that neither parents nor anyone else should believe that the Los Angeles Times analysis actually identifies which teachers are effective or ineffective in teaching children because the methods are incapable of doing so fairly and accurately.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The easiest way to rob a bank is to own one.

Responding to the Great Recession:  Book Reviews.
The  current Great Recession was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street, ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs,  AIG, and others.  Finance capital owned the banks, and they robbed the banks through investment and trading  schemes including investments in mortgage backed derivatives. Wall Street’s actions plunged the U.S. into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, destroying jobs and lives, and triggering a recession in much of  the developed world.
The left has failed to adequately explain this crisis allowing the right wing narrative to gain traction. It is vitally important that we understand this crisis, in particular since many economists  claim that it is likely to happen again and again.
Although most economists missed the approaching storm,  there are  now over a dozen good books on this subject published since the crisis.  Five books that are particularly helpful are reviewed below.
Paul Krugman,  won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008 and is well known for his regular columns  in the New York Times.  He has republished The Return of Depression Economics with an update- the Crisis of 2008. The original version of this book was written in 1999.  It has been significantly updated  with a focus on the Asian Crisis  and now includes an analysis of the current debacle.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meg Whitman-puts the A in Absantee

California loses on Race to the Top

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today issued the following statement after learning California was not selected as a winner for Phase 2 funding of the federal Race to the Top (RTT) competition.
"I am deeply disappointed that our application was not chosen as a winner in the Race to the Top competition. However, the loss of the funding may slow, but not defeat, our efforts to improve student achievement in California," O'Connell said. "We remain fully committed to continue seeking the strategies and resources demanded to accelerate our efforts to close the achievement gap among different groups of students by creating fundamental and far-reaching reforms.
"Our application focused on the necessary elements to help us meet the needs of our lowest-performing students and help us raise the ceiling for students who are already performing at high levels. These elements included rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards, effective use of data, more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the most important ingredient of all—effective and accountable teachers and principals. These are the fundamentals that will improve achievement in the short run and for the long term so that we can create a statewide system of excellence in our public

Monday, August 23, 2010

Arne Duncan endorses printing teachers "evaluations"

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says parents have a right to know how effective teachers are at raising student test scores. "What is there to hide?" he says.

By Jason Felch and Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
8:07 PM PDT, August 16, 2010

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective, endorsing the public release of information about how well individual teachers fare at raising their students' test scores.

"What's there to hide?" Duncan said in an interview one day after The Times published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest school system. "In education, we've been scared to talk about success."

Duncan's comments mark the first time the Obama administration has expressed support for a public airing of information about teacher performance — a move that is sure to fan the already fierce debate over how to better evaluate teachers.

End Tax Cuts for the rich !

by Tula Connell
A majority of the American public thinks Bush’s tax cuts should continue for families that make less than $250,000 a year but should rise to the previous level for those making more than that amount, according to a new CNN poll. Some 51 percent say the tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, should end for the rich.
Source: CBO, OMB

Wise. Because as Dave Dayen points out, George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are thought to cost $830 billion over 10 years, adding massively to the nation’s budget deficit. Overall,
it’s generally considered that extending all the tax cuts would increase the deficit by $3.1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is among those calling for an end to Bush’s tax cut for the rich, noting it has been a “huge windfall for the wealthy. About 40 percent of its benefits went to the tiny sliver of Americans earning over $500,000.”
A final reason for allowing the Bush tax cut to expire for people at the top is the most basic of all. Although Wall Street’s excesses were the proximate cause of the Great Recession, its fundamental cause lay in the nation’s widening inequality. For many years, most of the gains of economic growth in America have been going to the top—leaving the nation’s vast middle class with a shrinking portion of total income. (In the 1970s, the top 1 percent received 8 to 9 percent of total income, but thereafter income concentrated so rapidly that by 2007 the top received 23.5 percent of the total.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Whitman V. Brown. The California Economy

Reviving California's economy: Meg Whitman versus Jerry Brown
Both have put forth plans to address the state's loss of industrial manufacturing. Neither goes far enough.
Harold Meyerson
For all their differences, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown agree on one thing: California needs an industrial policy.
For half a century, aerospace was California's dominant economic engine. But then the end of the Cold War led to a radical contraction of the aerospace industry. Since then, the state has subsisted on bubbles, and it has wilted each time they popped. Neither the dot-com industry nor housing — the two chief sources of economic activity in this state for the past 15 years — offered the kind of sustainable and broadly shared prosperity that Californians took for granted in the years between 1940 and 1990. The high-tech companies that have flourished in this state over the past 20 years have created great wealth, but with much of their manufacturing done offshore, that wealth has not been shared with California production workers.
Both Whitman and Brown understand that loss of manufacturing is a key factor in the state's economic decline, and they have put forth economic plans to address it. But neither of their strategies does enough to restore the state to its onetime industrial preeminence.
Whitman seeks to remedy the problem through classic Republican policies: reducing taxes and regulations on businesses. Some of her targeted tax cuts make sense, like increasing the R&D tax credit and creating a tax credit for factory equipment. But the massive cuts she proposes to state services will only further the decline of California's aging infrastructure and harm a public education system that badly needs improvement.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Arrogance of some School Superintendents

Any school administrator who mis uses these funds should be fired!
A New York Times article today, with a Sacramento insert by  the Bee’s Diana Lambert,  makes the incendiary assertion that some  schools districts may not spend the just passed $10 Billion dollars on hiring teachers and preventing teacher layoffs.  Even State Senator Steinberg hinted that the money might be used to solve other problems in the state budget.
Let us be clear.  This is an budget emergency. That money was passed by the Congress  to hire teachers and other staff, not for superintendents to play with, to hide, or to use for their other plans.
Districts should hire the teachers now. The money is on the way.  Yes, that leaves a budget  problem for next year. But, the kids need a quality school system this year. And, the economy needs these teachers back to work.
It was teacher voices and teacher mobilization that passed the bill.  Senators received over 20,000 e mails, phone calls, and letters.  It took 4 votes to pass the bill over the Senator filibuster. 
If you are in the middle of a flood, or a fire, you don’t say, well lets not fight this because we might need the funds next year.  We need to respond to the crisis by hiring teachers now – and then working on next year’s crisis.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Latino Voter Registration Drive in Sacramento

Service Employees International  Vice President, Eliseo Medina, speaks to  a crowd of over 100 on the Capitol Steps in Sacramento  on August 17, 2010, as they complete phase I of the campaign,  For our Families: Todas A Votar.
The campaign organized by several unions including SEIU, the California Teachers Association, and others  traveled to by bus to some 9 cities in the state,  from San Diego to Sacramento to initiate a the voter registration  campaign in each of these areas.    
   In Sacramento Assembly Speaker Perez and some 8 members of the Latino caucus joined labor and religious groups to welcome the caravan to the state capitol. 
 In cooperation with unions and community groups, the campaign will be  providing offices and registration efforts  in each of the 9 cities in targeting thousands of new Latino voters.
"For Latinos, the election of 2010 is more than just  choose one candidate or another, it's about taking a role  active, more than ever, in decisions that affect  our families and create a better future for our
children and grandchildren, "said Eliseo Medina, vice president
of SEIU. "We have the potential to influence the elections and  Now this is where our voices must be heard.”

The AIG Bailout Scandal -Grieder

The AIG Bailout Scandal.
The government’s $182 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG should be seen as the Rosetta Stone for understanding the financial crisis and its costly aftermath. The story of American International Group explains the larger catastrophe not because this was the biggest corporate bailout in history but because AIG’s collapse and subsequent rescue involved nearly all the critical elements, including delusion and deception. These financial dealings are monstrously complicated, but this account focuses on something mere mortals can understand—moral confusion in high places, and the failure of governing institutions to fulfill their obligations to the public.
Excellent article. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Latino Voter Registration Drive


Tuesday, August 17th at 5 PM
State Capitol, West Steps All are invited. Bring a friend !
The goals of the Cambiando California…un voto a la vez are:

·         To bring people together and focus on the necessity that all eligible Latinos are registered and, where possible, are absentee voters

·         To generate enthusiasm among Latino voters, instilling confidence that they have the power to change California by voting in November.

Participants in the Sacramento event include labor and faith-based community organizations and elected officials; CTA, SEIU, CSEA, Progressive Alliance, and more 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Boxer v. Fiorina- what is at stake?

Boxer v. Fiorina
In considering this important election, we should clearly look at the recent voting record. 
Given the economic crisis caused by finance capital, the stimulus was too small, and had too many tax cuts in it.  It was small because  Republicans blocked a larger stimulus from  getting through the Senate.   But, Boxer and the Senate passed  the biggest jobs bill in U.S. history, and the biggest investment in public goods (schools, teachers, roads, bridges, clean energy, firefighters, cops, broadband, etc.). The health care bill had big flaws, including the lack of a public option. We should have gone for Single Payer to save money and to improve the system.  But, Single Payer could not get through the Senate- Republicans would not even allow it to come up for a vote.  Obama  and the Democrats  including Barbara Boxer succeeded at extending health  coverage to virtually everyone and reining in major insurance abuses (on pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, etc.).  Every  prior Democratic President for almost 60 years had tried and failed.
The financial reform bill is a good start. There were very significant victories in reining in the financial sector, and the Administration went the right direction on financial regulation .  ( See my essay “The best way to rob a bank is to own one.” )  Boxer and the Democrats passed the bill. The financial reform bill should have been stronger, re-implementing Glass-Steagall type protection, but the Republican Senators would not permit it, and they would not permit a vote on it.
Democrats and progressives  won a major victory on, and expansion of, the student loan program for college students.  The  Lilly Leadbetter equal pay law got passed, S-CHIP got expanded, the hate crimes bill got signed.    At the same time, major legislation has been stopped- climate change, immigration, and more jobs by Republicans.  And, U.S. combat forces are leaving Iraq.
Last week the Senate and the House passed, and President Obama signed an additional stimulus of 26 billion dollars to fund teachers, Medicaid, and public service jobs.  (see posts below) None of this would have happened if Carly Fiorina was the second senator from California.
 We are now entering another slow down of the economy.  This slow down was caused by the Republicans refusal to pass additional stimulus money for jobs, health care, and public works.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thousands of California teachers will keep their jobs

Tonight, President Obama will sign into law a bill that will save over 160,000 educator jobs and provide millions in critical public education funding throughout the country.

This is a huge moment for our educators, our students and our schools.

When we open the doors to our schools this fall, those 160,000 teachers and education support professionals will be coming back to work thanks to your tremendous commitment and activism over these past weeks and months.

Note, about 16,000 teacher jobs will be saved in California.

We, of course, couldn’t have done it without the help of pro-public education lawmakers in the House and Senate. They stood up for our students and our educators – so let’s thank them and let them know we will stand by them this fall.

In this moment, we can celebrate the impact our work is having on educators and students throughout the country. But we can’t stop here. We have to continue to push for pro-public education reforms in Congress. We have to continue to fight for educators and students in every corner of every state. And we have to stand up for pro-public education candidates every day until November 2nd, election day. 

Monday, August 09, 2010

Crooks, fools, charlatans, carpetbaggers, and school reform

Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds

With the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school turnaround experts as they compete for the money.
A husband-and-wife team that has specialized in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia. A corporation that has run into trouble with parents or authorities in several states in its charter school management business has now opened a school turnaround subsidiary. Other companies seeking federal money include offshoots of textbook conglomerates and classroom technology vendors.
Many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither federal nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “Many of these companies clearly just smell the money,” Mr. Jennings said.
Rudy Crew, a former New York City schools chancellor who has formed his own consulting company, said he was astonished to see so many untested groups peddling school improvement strategies.“This is like the aftermath of the Civil War, with all the carpetbaggers and charlatans,” Dr. Crew said.
_Note. Rudy Crew was once the Superintendent in Sacramento.
The Obama administration has dramatically increased federal financing for school turnarounds, to $3.5 billion this year, about 28 times as much as in 2007. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years.

Galbraith: The issue is jobs

Don't be fooled by hawks who warn of a "long-term deficit crisis," says the celebrated economist—expanding entitlement programs will save money and free up jobs for those who really need them: young people. Plus, read the manifesto here.
In the Great Crisis, the United States lost about eight million private jobs. The unemployment rate rose above ten percent. And the ratio of employment to population fell almost five percentage points. Very few lost jobs have been replaced: private employment has risen only about a million since the worst days. In the public sector the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was only to offset large layoffs being made by state and local governments, so public employment has hardly risen at all.
Two million of the lost jobs are in construction, which faces a long slump. Three million were lost in manufacturing, which is down 40 percent since 2000, and those jobs likely won't ever return. Unemployment rates for Black, Asian, and Latino workers have all doubled. The average duration of unemployment has risen to an astonishing 35 weeks, with nearly half of all unemployed out of work for almost a year.
So: Jobs are Priority One. But very little is being done. And what little is done is hotly contested. Even extending unemployment insurance proved difficult—and UI, while necessary, is not a jobs program.

Friday, August 06, 2010

One Nation formed to unite progressives; Oct. 2 March

One Nation Formed to Bring Back the American Dream
Posted By James Parks On August 5, 2010 
Working people are frustrated and angered [1] by the inability of lawmakers to stop the massive loss of jobs and decline in living standards, while Republicans—and some Democrats—freely hand over the economy to corporations that are growing richer and more powerful each day.
To help renew the American Dream for everyone, some 170 progressive groups, including the AFL-CIO, NAACP [2]National Council of La Raza [3] and many affiliated unions, have come together in One Nation [4].      
One Nation is a multi-racial, civil and human rights movement whose mission is to reorder our nation’s priorities to invest in our nation’s most valuable resource—our people. One Nation is holding an Oct. 2 rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. with tens of thousands of activists taking part. They will then return to their neighborhoods, congregations, schools and, especially, voting booths, fired up with new energy to take back the country.
On the same day, the union movement will walk door-to-door in targeted states around the country, mobilizing union members exactly one month before the fall elections.

During its Aug. 4-5 meeting in Washington, D.C., the AFL-CIO Executive Council issued a statement [5] supporting One Nation and saying we must fight the fear mongering and scapegoating that is dividing our country.
We have to fight this hateful demagoguery that only benefits our foes, and we can’t do it alone. History has taught us that the best way to fight the forces of hatred is to address the economic policies that led to our economic suffering, and that our fight must draw its strength from an alliance of the poor and the middle class—everyone who works for a living. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thousands of teachers will keep their jobs; Senate breaks filibuster

The U.S. Senate defeated another Republican filibuster- finally. Ten Billion $ to keep teachers at work.

The U.S. Senate  approved a vote that would provide $10 billion for teachers jobs, and $16 billion for state aid, much of which will go to hire firemen, police, and medical workers. This measure has been blocked by a Republican threat of a filibuster since May. The vote to end the talking was 61 to 38,  Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined with the Democrats to end the talking.
Update: Thursday:  Legislation long sought by Democrats to prevent layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers, police and other public workers has passed the Senate.
The bill would help states and local school boards deal with severe budget problems. It would preserve the jobs of perhaps 300,000 public employees across the country by extending programs in last year's stimulus law. It passed 61-39 Thursday, after months of blocking tactics by Republicans.
In addition to saving teachers jobs, the appropriation will assist the many cash strapped states  by funding Medicaid allowing these funds to be used for other urgent needs.
California Senator Barbara Boxer voted for the bill.  Her opponent, Carly Fiorna said she would have voted against the bill. 

Fiorina campaign seeks to segment the Latino vote

Carly Fiorina is running for Senate in California  against Barbara Boxer. I came across an ad on La Jornada ( a Mexico City left newspaper). It linked to a Latino focused web pages  for Fiorina.
The campaign must recognize the significant new energy and unity  in voting among Latinos is California produced by the Republican bruha  in Arizona over SB 1070, the Arizona equivalent of California’s Proposition 187 of 1994.  Seeking to segment the vote is a good idea if you are a Republican campaign manager.
The campaign page features lots of smiling family members, presumably Latinos.  It is light on responding to key issues.
There is among Latino voters a traditional split, liberal on economic issues but more conservative on social issues. The  polling differences on these issues are cited on the web pages.   The Fiorina web page works this split with skill.  It focuses on  traditional marriage, anti abortion, and is linked to a severe assault on LGTB issues.
Here is the web page: Carly Fiorina campaign video; targeted at Latinos.
She wants you to vote your values.
Note, it is put up by AmericanPrinciplesinaction.org a very conservative group.  This raises an interesting question. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Senate postpones- again- voting to prevent teacher lay-Offs.

What are teachers really worth? Laura Flanders
Update: the filibuster was broken.  The bill will go to the floor Wed. or Thursday.
That’s the question, as the Senate puts off a vote on $10 billion for state and local governments to prevent teacher layoffs. Senate leadership wanted the bill to be deficit neutral–a line never applied to war funding, where no spending’s too great because we’re killing for peace. Estimates are that it costs $1 million per soldier per year to keep troops in Afghanistan. But enough of that.
Last week, David Leonhardt at the New York Times cited a study that showed that teachers can make a huge difference in the lives of children as early as kindergarten. The study found that a “standout” kindergarten teacher is probably worth $320,000 a year–that’s the value that good teachers can add to the life of their students. When researchers left standardized testing out of the equation, they found many more benefits added by teachers.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Failing economics: Krugman

Defining Prosperity Down

I’m starting to have a sick feeling about prospects for American workers — but not, or not entirely, for the reasons you might think.
Yes, growth is slowing, and the odds are that unemployment will rise, not fall, in the months ahead. That’s bad. But what’s worse is the growing evidence that our governing elite just doesn’t care — that a once-unthinkable level of economic distress is in the process of becoming the new normal.
And I worry that those in power, rather than taking responsibility for job creation, will soon declare that high unemployment is “structural,” a permanent part of the economic landscape — and that by condemning large numbers of Americans to long-term joblessness, they’ll turn that excuse into dismal reality.
Not long ago, anyone predicting that one in six American workers would soon be unemployed or underemployed, and that the average unemployed worker would have been jobless for 35 weeks, would have been dismissed as outlandishly pessimistic — in part because if anything like that happened, policy makers would surely be pulling out all the stops on behalf of job creation.
But now it has happened, and what do we see?
First, we see Congress sitting on its hands, with Republicans and conservative Democrats refusing to spend anything to create jobs, and unwilling even to mitigate the suffering of the jobless.
We’re told that we can’t afford to help the unemployed — that we must get budget deficits down immediately or the “bond vigilantes” will send U.S. borrowing costs sky-high. Some of us have tried to point out that those bond vigilantes are, as far as anyone can tell, figments of the deficit hawks’ imagination — far from fleeing U.S. debt, investors have been buying it eagerly, driving interest rates to historic lows. But the fearmongers are unmoved: fighting deficits, they insist, must take priority over everything else — everything else, that is, except tax cuts for the rich, which must be extended, no matter how much red ink they create.
The point is that a large part of Congress — large enough to block any action on jobs — cares a lot about taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population, but very little about the plight of Americans who can’t find work.

Changing NCLB and Race to the Top

July 28, 2010


For the past several months, Congressional committees have been quietly working to reauthorize federal requirements that mandate massive over-testing and the misuse of tests for major decisions about schools. As you know, the so-called "No Child Left Behind" law, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) resulted in dumbed-down curriculum with schools becoming test prep programs but little progress in improving student learning or narrowing achievement gaps.

Your elected Senators and Representative must hear your voice NOW if we are to stop plans to make federal law worse and win positive benefits for our nation's children and their schools.

Congress will be in recess during most of August and the first half of September. Many members will be in their districts running for re-election and meeting with constituents.  This is a critical time for supporters of assessment reform to visit with their Representatives and Senators.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Criticism of Race to the Top

Dear friends,

In the past week there has been significant developments in the growth of anti-Race to the Top sentiment around the country.  An impressive coalition of national civil rights groups issued a statement critical of the Obama/Duncan administration's educational policiesFramework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It's worth the read. 

Similarly, a coalition of 24 community groups organized by Communities for Excellent Public Schools issued a stinging critique of the federal government's "turnaround" strategies. "Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the Administration's School Turnaround Policies" is a comprehensive critique that shows why those policies won't work and offers concrete suggestions as to what will turn around struggling schools. For a summary see an article in the Washington Post. 
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