Publications

Memo · March 2016

Public education now has two sectors: a district sector and a chartered sector. Chartering—and this two-sector arrangement in general—needs to be thought of as a strategy for change, not just a set of schools. Given flexibility, the chartered sector can and does generate the needed innovation, the necessary improvements in learning.

Memo · January 2009

The country has the governmental relationships upside down, with the states setting the targets for results and Washington leaning on the states, districts and schools to make it happen. President Obama should put the roles right, so that the national government is "pushing buttons that are connected to live wires".

Memo · March 2008

The charge to K-12 has shifted from "access" to "achievement." To meet this challenge, education should be open to new entrants, new authorizers of schools, and new learning programs. This paper argues for teacher-led and other innovations to better serve student needs.

Memo · June 2007

Marshall (Mike) Smith argues, based on evidence, that it's too early for Congress to proceed with reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind program. Smith, a senior official in the Clinton administration's U.S. Department of Education, was a key author of the strategy of standards-based systemic reform. Written Spring, 2007.

Memo · March 2003

Opponents of change commonly try to set a test of perfection. They try to persuade everyone that no change can be permitted unless it solves all present problems and creates no new problems. Opponents don’t even have to prove the proposed change harmful. It's enough just to spread fear and doubt, asking endlessly: What if?

Memo · January 2001

In response to the Washington Post’s question about problems in DC this small memo asked: If the local school district is not performing why don’t DC residents ask Congress to “get somebody else who will?” In 1993 the suggestion was flatly dismissed. Three years later Congress created a second 'board of education' for DC.

Memo · January 2001

Institutions other than public education have found it useful not to let the mission depend on just a single organization. Historically the Catholic Church has been one of these. There is the hierarchy, but there are also the orders.

Memo · January 2001

K-12 education exists in state law. It cannot be reached directly by Congressional or the President. Typically, in such policy areas, the national government tries to 'do things' by tying requirements to its grants-in-aid. This approach has failed in the past, as in the 1960s when the national government tried to take control of urban development.

Memo · January 1991

In this 1991 retrospective, Albert Shanker looks back over 40 years in the profession. He is realistic about the union's conventional strategy of higher salaries and smaller class size. He looks toward others strategies: differentiated staffing, the individualization of learning through technology, project-based learning, and performance-based assessment.

Memo · July 1990

Written as Minnesota was in the early stages of thinking about what would a year later become the first chartering law, this paper zeroed in on "the exclusive franchise" as the heart of the K-12 system-problem. No change, no major improvement in learning, was realistically possible, Kolderie said, until the states withdrew the guarantee of success—for the districts and for the people in them—created by the public-utility arrangement traditional in public education.

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