The Assembly chamber isn't the only thing empty when it comes to school reform. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

What’s happening in the dropout nation after the AFC and NFC title games:

  1. Opponents of standardized testing tend to think that there is little value to subjecting students (and teachers and school districts) to exams. But, as reported at Miller-McCune, testing is valuable in improving student learning (as well as proving valuable in tracking their academic progress).
  2. It wasn’t unsurprising last week when New York State’s Democratic-led legislature failed to the pass legislation eliminating restrictions on growth of charter schools. What may be more surprising, as the Daily News reports, is that 49 percent of legislators received part of their education in private schools. Essentially, a good number of Empire State politicians denied to poor children the access to high-quality education they themselves received. Hypocritical. But, as we’ve seen inside the Beltway with the shuttering of the D.C. voucher program, not shocking.
  3. When it comes to education reform, India and the United States aren’t far apart, according to Tom Vander Ark.
  4. The Gates Foundation hands off $10 million to Denver’s traditional school district, according to the Denver Post. Whether this is a smart move or an Annenberg-like miscue? A different story.
  5. Collin Hitt of the Illinois Policy Institute gives some perspective on what may be a fascinating attempt at education reform by Rod Blajocevich’s successor, Pat Quinn.
  6. Even more going on in Memphis, another potential hotspot for school reform. The traditional school district there is offering more-rigorous math classes in elementary school (albeit, unfortunately, at just a few of its schools) and preparing to offer International Baccalaureate classes, notes the Commercial Appeal‘s Jane Roberts. Now if the district can make this widespread. Meanwhile Richard Locker analyzes how Tennessee’s latest round of teacher evaluation reforms came to fore.
  7. Fordham (or to be more-specific, Smooth Mike) wants to know if you think Race to the Top is a “rip-off”. Let them know through their poll. I have my thoughts — and you already know what they are.
  8. And at Indianapolis blog, IPS B.S., teachers are debating whether the state’s proposed grade retention law is worthy of discussion. Many seem to think kids should be held back even earlier than the state suggests.
  9. Finally, off-education: Get a good start this Monday. Listen to “Rip the Universe”, a song from one of my favorite bands, a Canadian group called Reverie Sound Revue. For something a little less modern, you can also go with The O’Jays‘ “Love Train”.

Don’t forget to check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, which focuses on the high cost of teacher compensation and tenure for America’s taxpayers — and how it will drive the efforts to revamp how teachers are paid and evaluated. Also read last week’s Dropout Nation articles, including Saturday’s This is Dropout Nation report on one of the nation’s worst school systems.