December 19, 2008

Top education stories of 2008

I'll get my chips in early on year-end reviews:

  1. The economy. The recession is deep and going to be long, and everyone's going to be reading Public Schools in Hard Times: The Great Depression and Recent Years (1984). Maybe you're not, but you should. State budget cuts are going to wreak havoc on base budgets and all sorts of initiatives (both good and bad), and anyone who thinks that this is a fabulous opportunity to cut fat obviously believes in the colonic theory of policymaking. (I don't.)
  2. Obama's election. I know everyone's talking about the Duncan appointment this week, but there are deeper, more important consequences. First, if you're going to look at personalities of individuals, it's better to look at the incoming president. Last month or in the last week (depending on what you think of the Electoral College), we elected someone who has gotten ahead through education, whose relatives went through pain to pay for a private high school for him, someone who transferred between two colleges, someone who went back to school after several years working as a young adult. Beyond his personal history, his administration will decide whether the politics of accountability can be rescued from NCLB. That's a tall order.
  3. The Bush administration runs out of steam. The Higher Education Act was watered down far from what Margaret Spellings and Charles Miller would have liked, NCLB is a dead brand, a subcabinet appointee departed on a matter of principle, and the Reading First evaluations were more disappointing than I think anyone would have predicted.
  4. New York City roars back. First, I'll identify Elizabeth Green as the education reporter of the year, formerly at the Sun and now for Gotham Schools. After scoring several scoops in Manhattan, she crashed the gates at Gates. Then there's the continuing debate about Bloomberg, Klein, mayoral control, and all that. There's the discussion about said events by Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier. There's Randi Weingarten's rise in the AFT. There's Eduwonkette, whose entries this year have often focused on New York. Whether you love or hate it, the Big Apple is the place to be for education politics, intrigue, and chatter. 
  5. The Secret Power of Invisibility, also known as the bursting of ballons in educational philanthropy. If it isn't the decline of foundation investment portfolios, or the schemer who evidently Madoff with billions, there's the utter whiffing of Ed in '08, and the acknowledgment by the Gates Foundation that they goofed in the past. 
And now the must-read education books of 2008 (one published in 2007... I'm cheating a bit):

Listen to this article
Posted in Education policy on December 19, 2008 2:10 PM |