Sunday, December 21, 2008

For your reading pleasure---Fiction or Non Fiction?

"Progress by Our Schools and the US Department of Education" --- See this wrap-up of accomplishments put out by ED as the current Administration winds down. What do you think about their list? Non-fiction or fiction? Let the KNOWLEDGE-able Sourcerer know

Friday, December 19, 2008

Education in 2008

Check out this interview with Jay Matthews of the Wash Post who clearly had a love affair with KIPP and charters in 2008. What do you think was the big news in 2008. Let the Knowledge-able Sourcerer know.

The winners are ...

... Mark Schneider of AIR and Kate Bannan of Knowledge Alliance for correctly predicting the new Secetary-designate of Education.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Applauding the New Secretary Designate

Knowledge Alliance applauds President-elect Obama’s selection of Arne Duncan as the next US Secretary of Education. During his successful tenure at the helm of the Chicago Public Schools Mr. Duncan has demonstrated a unique leadership ability to tackle the most pressing problems with a powerful combination of knowledge, collaboration and will.

At this pivotal time in our nation’s history – one filled with urgent challenges and history-making opportunities --- the President-elect and the Secretary-designate face a watershed moment. In education the country is ready to turn the page on past efforts and be guided into a new era of innovation and improvement.

We believe that Secretary-designate Duncan has the capacity to unleash America’s ingenuity on our biggest educational dilemmas, deliver break-the-mold solutions to our schools, and lead a knowledge revolution in teaching and learning.

With great anticipation and enthusiasm Knowledge Alliance looks forward to working with the new Secretary in a national call to action for education reform.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Still at Work on FY09 Appropriations

We received a few more reports from the Hill about the long hours the appropriations subcommittee staffers have been dedicating to preparing a conference omnibus bill for FY 09 that will be taken up in early January right after Congress convenes on 1/8 . They are still aiming to send the bill to the new Prez “… on his first day in office.” Our letter to the Appropriations chairmen and ranking members with our priorities has been circulated to the staff. The word continues to be that they are trying to split the difference between the House and Senate bills, meaning slight increases for several of our priority programs but still bad news for Reading First.

Steve Fleischman to NWREL

Wow. Here is some breaking news from our buds in DC and Portland OR: “…Steve Fleischman, who has served as a vice president at the American Institutes of Research (AIR) since 2006, will join the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) as the second in command, beginning in mid-February. Fleischman succeeds Robert Blum as NWREL’s deputy executive officer. Blum is stepping down after serving NWREL in a variety of leadership positions during the past 25 years… Fleischman is a nationally recognized expert on evidence-based education innovation and improvement…”

Good News, Bad News---TIMMS

“The 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)” --- Well here is the fourth TIMSS study since 1995. In a nutshell it is relatively good news for math with improved scores since 1995 and a better than average international ranking. But for science the scores are flat with no measurable improvement since 1995 ….urrggghhhh. Lots of buzz about what this means including a statement from the Secretary, a uniquely positive analysis on the Quick and the ED blog, and a thoughtful discussion on the Gadfly blog. What say you about these results and what they mean? Let The Knowledgeable Sourcerer know.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Job Opening !!!

Kate Bannan, Knowledge Alliance’s policy director for the past two years, is moving on to the US Depart of Energy. We are soooo appreciative of Kate’s dedicated work for our collective cause and we wish her all success. Her last day with us will be December 19. We will be starting a search process within the week. For more info go here

Numero Uno? Why?

US News has come out with its annual rankings of the top high schools in the country as measured through test scores and other things. Once again a local DC area high school is numero uno. Which Knowledge Alliance board member was actively involved in setting up this school 20 years ago? And which Knowledge Alliance staffer has a son who attended this school and disagrees with the ranking methodology. Submit your answers and your thoughts in "Comments".

Monitoring for Compliance

Last week the US ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education issued two new reports on its monitoring of the Title I. Check ‘em out here. “… The 2003-2006 Monitoring Cycle Report offers six general observations about the outcomes of the first cycle of monitoring under NCLB in three broad areas: accountability, instructional support, and fiduciary responsibilities…” And the 2008-2009 Monitoring Indicators Report describes the purpose, rationale, and process used for monitoring in the current school year…” We actually think this is quite important stuff in the school improvement arena where monitoring for compliance should be balanced with a robust system of support and technical assistance. It is particularly important for those of you involved with the Comp Centers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

R&D Bedfellows

Our Bedfellows – We have been very gratified by the number of organizations that have recently called for greater support for R&D in education or some derivative there of. Here is a current list of our bedfellows.

Prez-elect Obama
Learning First Alliance,
Forum for Education and Democracy
National Education Association
Education Sector
NCLB Commission
Brookings Institution
Broader, Bolder Coalition
Partnership for 21st Century Skills
National School Boards Association

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The New Three R's: Rigor, Relevance, Responsiveness

We think that the measure of an effective research enterprise has to do with the rigor, relevance, and responsiveness of research when it comes to addressing the needs of policy makers and practitioners. These new Three R's were the subject of the recently released five-year report of National Board for Education. The Board concluded that “… in a relatively brief period of time, the Institute has made exceptional progress in improving the rigor and relevance of education research in our nation. Under the leadership of its first director, Grover Whitehurst, the Institute has accomplished what many believed could not be done…” Hmmm…what about use and responsiveness? Let the Knowledge-able Sourcerer know your thoughts.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Plumbing the Plum Book

Check this out, Obamaniacs “… Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly known as the Plum Book, is published…to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government…” See it right here. Who will be the plummers?

My Hero---Dick Riley

Riley one of Time’s Top Ten Best Cabinet Sec --- We couldn’t agree more with the magazine’s assessment of great cabinet secretaries when it includes Dick Riley (secretary of ed 1992-2000) in the top 10 here

Transition Teaming

Transition Teaming --- The transition process can be particularly complex and chaotic as the winning candidate shifts from campaign mode to governing mode. See this Ed Week article on the transition and Kohlmoos’ comments. Compared to the Clinton effort in 1992, the Obama operation is exceptionally well disciplined and tightly managed. As we reported last week, the education policy team will be headed by Linda Darling Hammond and the education agency review will be headed by our friend Judy Winston. See all the team members here

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finally, the winna!

Remember this contest here and here So who is the winna? .... Well Max and Ludy won by 2 electoral votes (Jim K predicted 353 for Barack and Max and Ludy predicted 375. And Barack finished with 365...!!! Stuffed owls for the two winnas

Saturday, November 8, 2008

10 for 100

Here are 10 predictions for the first 100 days of the Obama Administration---most of which have relevance to education.
#1 The fiscal crisis will trump everything
#2 Appropriations issues will be the Big Issue
#3 The reauthorization of ESEA will be a whisper of an issue
#4 The new Secretary of Education will be a governor
#5 The battles will be internicine rather than partisan
#6 Obama will govern from above the middle
#7 ED policy will focus primarily on college access and affordability
#8 Standards-base reform will continue but…
#9 The campaign for 2012 will begin on January 21, 2009
#10 The new puppy will be a mixed pound-puppy not named Spot

The Winna of the Who?Who?Who? Contest is...

Remember this contest here and here ? So who is the winna? .... Well, nobody as of today (11/8) because Missouri is still playing a show-me game and has not yet determined its electoral victor. But very interestingly JK predicted 353 for Barack and Max and Ludy predicted 375. Right now without MO Barack is at 364...right in between! You numerologists out there can speculate about the meaning of this, yes?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

the next USSOE (US Secretary of Education)

The Sec of ED? -- The speculation has heated up. And thus begins DC’s favorite parlor game. Check out these speculations: here and here. As we have previously suggested, the Dick Riley governor model is particularly compelling because of the political and policy dynamics between states and the federal government in education.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Call to Action and Innovation for Education

Election is A Call to Action for Education
Statement by Knowledge Alliance President Jim Kohlmoos and Board Chair Max McConkey

With inspiring Presidential candidates and record voter turnouts, 2008 has been an unprecedented year of health and vitality for American democracy.

And with the election yesterday of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, we have reached a pivotal time in our nation’s history – one filled with urgent challenges and history-making opportunities.

For education, in particular, our President-elect faces a watershed moment. He will be uniquely positioned to turn the page on past efforts and to lead us into a new era of innovation and transformation of our public school system.

It is time to unleash America’s ingenuity to solve our most pressing education problems, deliver break-the-mold alternatives to our schools, and guide a new knowledge and innovation revolution in teaching and learning.

With great anticipation and enthusiasm Knowledge Alliance looks forward to joining with the new Administration and the new Congress in a national call to action for education reform.

Knowledge Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan strategic coalition addressing the need to apply rigorous research to challenges facing our nation's schools. Its members are leading education organizations conducting high-quality education research, development, dissemination, technical assistance, and evaluation at all levels – federal through local. The Alliance works with the White House, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and other agencies to advocate knowledge-based policy for innovation

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Evidence about Teacher Quality

“Meeting the Teacher Quality Imperative: New Evidence on Teacher Induction and Professional Development” Last week we attended another one of AIR’s Scientific Evidence in Education (SEE) forums which presented “discouraging” (according to Kate Walsh) findings from two high quality studies on teacher quality. What’s this mean for education policy on teacher induction and professional development programs? Hmmmmm…

Pre-Transit Transition

Getting ready for the Transition --- Some months ago both campaigns quietly established “pre-transition” teams to set up preparations for the transition process after the elections. In conversations with two high ranking Bush Administration officials at the ED last week, we learned that there have already been planning discussions with the campaigns’ reps. The Bushies have pledged full cooperation with whom ever is elected prez. Watch for formal transition activity to begin right away on November 5.

Time to Collaborate?

“It’s Time to Collaborate” and other smart stuff from LPA --- See this excellent guest column on by none other than our energetic colleague Paul Kimmelman of Learning Point Associates. Well done, man! And speaking of Learning Point Associates, did you see this week’s commentary in Education Week by Gina Burkhardt CEO of LPA. Great piece

(you need a subscription to access it online)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Who? Who? Who? Contest

...Well, don't be an owl. Let us know who you think will win the Presidential election by how many electoral votes. And while you are at it, let us know what you think the new president will mean for K-12 education. Just click on "comments" and let us know. Deadline is midnight November 3. Closest prediction wins a stuffed owl.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Other Options

NCLB’s “other” option --- Check out this guest blog entry by Cheryl Sattler former Knowledge Alliance Policy Action Group participant extraordinaire who makes a big pitch for education management companies in turning around low performing schools. To our way of thinking, like with any intervention, it is the of the quality “experts” and the effectiveness of using research based knowledge that makes the biggest difference.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Costumes in DC

Courtesy of Ericka Miller's (of Ed Trust)twin 10 year old nephews. Which one do you prefer?

Lame Ducked

Lame Ducked! – As we reported last week, it now is almost certain that the Congress will be back after the elections to deal with a new economic stimulus package. So we will be watching a lame duck Congress tackle some urgent issues in mid November right at the start of the transition process for the new Administration. Interesting times ahead around the time of our board meeting and special forum November 12-13.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Divisions with Obama’s ed camp? You alert readers might recall that two weeks ago we attended a campaign debate between two campaign ed advisors that was memorialized in this David Hoff blog entry. Well, last week Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation gave further evidence in Gadfly about the apparent divisions that seem to have emerged in the Obama camp. This beckons back to last June’s controversies surrounding two Democrat-leaning reform initiatives that David Brooks highlighted his opinion piece in the New York Times. Hmmm…confusing, yes? In chatting with an Obama education advisor last night, we heard a familiar refrain: Senator Obama is the final word and his education plan is very clear about where he stands.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NCLB's Fannie Mae?

NCLB’s Fannie Mae? -- See this important article on NCLB and the number of schools already deemed in need of improvement or headed for that status, and the strain on educators. Our message is right on the mark in calling for the effective use of research-based knowledge in school improvement as a leading edge of innovation and improvement in K-12 education and a central organizing concept for federal education policy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Winna...!

And the winna is… Brownsville School District... for the annual Broad Prize for Urban Education, that is. A rose of a pick! Read about it here and here and here. BTW what famous 60’s rock star (now deceased) was from Brownsville and who had a very rough time in school there oh so many years ago?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The E word during the final POTUS debate? Yes!

The E word during the final POTUS debate? Yes! --- We have waded and waited through over 20 debates during the primary season and now four debates in the general before a significant (five minutes!) discussion about education. Read the transcript here and a fine blog analysis here . But even with this extra attention the exchange was less than fulfilling for us … In five minutes you really can’t get any deeper than three or four talking points or delve into the more complex issues of accountability and innovation that actually deserve much more attention.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

...Barely a Key Issue

Our friends at the Campaign k-12 blog write about the discouraging lack of focus on education in the campaign. We think that while education is not a pivotal issue in this election it will generate a lot of attention in the first 100 days of the new administration. There will be big time political pressure to address funding issues when the FY 2010 appropriations kicks off in March of 2009...and you can bet that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will be a major focus in Congress right away.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And the next Sec of Ed is…

See about whom the Congressional Quarterly speculates here. Regardless of who is elected, we are placing bets on a governor in the mold of Dick Riley during the Clinton years because of the political need to deal effectively with states in federal education policy. What do you think?

A socialist revolutionary agenda?

Whoa! Check out this online article that made it to the top posting on’s daily report last week. If you follow the article’s logic, American Education Research Association must be palling with al Qaeda. Ahhh...election year politics!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dear Mr Future POTUS

Dear Senators McCain and Obama
Here are three suggestions for enhancing your education platforms. Steal these ideas if you dare!

Fix NCLB by delivering solutions not just sanctions Accountability is an essential but not sufficient step in improving schools. The on-going effort to make federal accountability systems more workable and fairer needs to continue by testing alternative approaches to determining adequate yearly progress. But most importantly more time, attention, and resources need to be aimed at developing and delivering solutions to schools identified by the accountability to be in need of the greatest help. Specifically the next reauthorization of ESEA should call for a coherent and comprehensive delivery system involving applied research, development, knowledge management, technical assistance, professional development, and evaluation. Priority attention should be aimed at turning around chronically low performing schools and addressing the unique needs of underserved and underachieving populations.

Unleash American ingenuity in solving the most persistent and significant education problems In many sectors such as medicine, agriculture, energy, and defense, research and development (R&D) has served as the catalyst for innovation and change. New products, services and techniques are constantly developed, tested and refined to address current and future problems and challenges. Education R&D should be reinvented as an incubator of breakthrough innovations and focused on translating research into action. The federal R& D budget in education should be increased to 5% (about $3billion) of the federal education budget with a significant portion dedicated to an innovation fund for research-based school improvement. This innovation initiative should stimulate a knowledge market and mobilize dynamic and robust relationships among researchers, developers, knowledge brokers, practitioners and policy makers..

Build the capacity for change and innovation
States and localities do not currently have the capacity in terms of time and expertise to undertake many of the transformative changes needed in our schools to meet 21st Century needs. The federal government should provide the needed additional support at the state and local level to develop human capital, build a useable knowledge base, and foster innovation. Specifically, the federal investment in the school improvement fund should be doubled to $1 billion and refined to include programs for sharing promising practices, testing innovative interventions, and creating data and knowledge management systems.

All the best,
The Knowledge-able Sourcerer

And the new Secretary of Education is...

See about whom the Congressional Quarterly speculates here. Regardless who is elected, we are placing bets on a governor in the mold of Dick Riley during the Clinton years because of the political need to deal effectively with states in federal education policy.