Photo courtesy of AP

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

  1. As readers know, I reported two years ago on the reality that high school exit exams are being watered down or basically rendered useless by so-called alternative methods that allow children to graduate despite being unable to pass the tests. Now the New York Times offers its own story on the same issue. Worth reading.
  2. John Fensterwald notes that more districts in California signed on to the state’s ambitious Race to the Top agenda. Still, only eight of the top 10 districts (and 10 of the top 30) signed on, defying pressure from state NEA and AFT locals. Fensterwald also reports that the U.S. Department of Education official in charge of Race to the Top told a Northern California audience that she was pleasantly “stunned” by the response.
  3. Speaking of districts, here’s my latest report in The American Spectator, this time on Arne Duncan, the bad news out of the Windy City about the district’s issues, and why reforming school districts (especially big urban districts) is so difficult to do.
  4. And as for more Race to the Top news: Editorial pages in Boston and Buffalo advocate for their respective states to get off the wall and embrace reform. Meanwhile the AFT’s New York State affiliate is bringing out the proverbial shock troops to battle against the upcoming reform proposals, especially the lifting of the cap on charter schools. No shocker. (Thanks to Tom Carroll’s crew for the news).
  5. Tom Vander Ark shakes his head at all the negative responses to California’s parent trigger law and other opposition to parental choice. Sadly, such elitism and expertist thinking is typical in education circles. And one wonders why parents struggle to be involved?
  6. Graduation rate data is now streaming out of Indiana, D.C., and other states. In Milwaukee, there’s talk about forming a research and accountability group to observe the city’s woeful school system similar to the famed Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Dropout Nation Podcast. You can listen to the new one, on looking beyond Race to the Top, today.