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The Best (& Worst) Education News In 2010


I’ve been reading some year-in-review posts about education developments over the past year, and thought I’d come-up with my own list.

Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments section.

First, though, before I list my choices, here are the other reviews I know about (let me know if I’ve missed any):

Poll: Best and Worst Developments for K-12 Education from Education Next

Top 10 Education Stories of 2010: Learning in Review from Take Part

The most popular ed-tech stories of 2010 from eSchool News

Top 10 Edu News events of 2010 by Dave Cormier

Year in Review 2010: California Set the Trends in Education from GOOD

Did We Learning Anything in 2010? comes from NPR

Ravitch takes stock of education in 2010 comes from The Washington Post

The 7 Fascinating Education Ideas of the Year is by Emily Alpert at Voice Of San Diego

Major Education Stories In 2010 by Sherman Dorn

Best and Worst in Education of 2010 comes from The Century Foundation

The best and worst of 2010 comes from Leonie Haimson.

The Year In Research On Market-Based Education Reform is a post by Matthew Di Carlo at the Shanker Blog (he’s putting out some impressive work there).

And, now, for my choices. I’ll list the ones I think are the best first, followed by the worst. However, it’s too hard to rank them within those categories, so I’m not listing them in any order:


* The great success of Diane Ravitch’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, and her  barnstorming the country in support of a positive vision for schools, adminstrators, teachers and students.

* The $10 billion stimulus passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this fall that saved tens of thousands of teacher’s jobs.

* The realization by the San Diego School District “that trust is a component that triggers academic success” as they roll back many changes that a previous superintendent had steamrolled over teachers and parents. One can only hope that other school districts learn from their experience.

* The defeat of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty,  largely due to voter dissatisfaction with the policies of Michelle Rhee. Ms. Rhee’s subsequent departure, however, appears to not have caused much self-reflection and only increased her arrogance level.

* The strong reaction from teachers, university professors, and others reacting with strong organization and strong research to respond to attacks on teachers (see The Best “The Best…” Lists On School Reform Issues — 2010 and also The Best Sites For Getting Some Perspective On International Test Comparison Demagoguery).

* In the Obama Administration’s Blueprint For Reform, they are proposing doubling the amount spent on parent engagement/involvement programs. There are some problems with that plan, but it’s a piece of good news, nevertheless.

* The Obama Administration is funding the development of a “new generation” of state assessments that are supposed to be more “performance-based.” Assuming that they are going to genuinely provide teachers a seat at the table in their development (and I know that’s a big assumption), this is definitely good news.

* A California Teachers Association led effort to get billions of dollars into schools located in low-income communities has resulted in increased student academic success. Perhaps teachers might know what they’re talking about….

* Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss has developed a visible and articulate voice at her The Answer Sheet blog to provide critique and perspective on education issues.

* The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.


* The publishing of teacher rankings based on test scores by the Los Angeles Times. There are too many reasons to list here why it was such a destructive act, but you can read them all at The Best Posts About The LA Times Article On “Value-Added” Teacher Ratings.

* The Obama Administration’s Race To The Top, its false assumptions, and the race by states to fall over themselves to quickly enact changes they thought would make them more likely to receive funds — without thinking through their long-term implications.

* California’s “parent trigger” law (and its imitators in other states) which is resulting in charter school operators parachuting into low-income communities to expand their share of the education “market” — and not resulting in genuine parent engagement.

* The film “Waiting For Superman” and its peddling of a false picture of the challenges facing schools and their causes and solutions (see The Best Posts & Articles About The Teacher-Bashing “Waiting For Superman” Movie & Associated Events).

* The efforts by the Gates Foundation to minimize and misuse videotaping of teachers and student surveys as tools to legitimize evaluating teachers based on their student’s test scores.

* The continuing effort to place people with no experience in the education field in charge of school districts (see The Best Blog Posts & Articles About Joel Klein’s Departure & The Question Of Who Should Be Leading Our Schools).

* Michelle Rhee’s creation of a new organization ironically called StudentsFirst (ironic because she announced it in a Newsweek article that included 100 “me” “my” and “I’s” ) and attacked teachers unions and schools boards. Her new group will be the one true organization to “defend and promote the interests of children.”

* The dramatic reductions in school funding taking place across the United States (see The Attack on American Education by Robert Reich).

* The millions of students who are not getting the education they deserve.

* NEW ADDITIONS: When I originally made this list, how could I have not included the voting down of the DREAM Act, which would have provided young undocumented students a path to citizenship?

What are your choices for the best and worst education news of the year?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. *sigh* true true.
    I would add to the best news list that CA is adopting new math standards that are based on the students’ understanding of the material instead of their ability to grind out algorithms :). Some very awesome educators were involved in their creation and I am really excited to see them implemented!

  2. Hi Larry. I would say that (happily) it’s premature to describe California’s Parent Trigger as though it were actually making any changes.

    The recent Parent Trigger brouhaha in Compton, CA, is indeed being widely reported as though it were having some impact (by the largely clueless press), but actually it seems to be imploding. It’s highly unlikely that it will actually result in the outcome intended by the organizers of the project, the astroturf (fake grassroots) organization Parent Revolution, which is not a parent group but a consortium of charter school operators. There’s too much pushback, controversy and confusion. This cannot stand.

    Contrary to the barrage of news reports describing the Compton situation, the Compton situation is not actually the first use of the Parent Trigger. There is a previous ongoing situation at Mount Gleason Middle School in Sunland-Tujunga, CA. That move was the subject of one “Parents Pull Trigger on Failing School!” gush in the charter-loving Los Angeles Daily News, but there are hitches in that one too, which I suspect are causing Parent Revolution to try to pretend that it doesn’t exist. For one, the move is led by a FORMER parent at the school, who as I understand it is not actually qualified even to sign the petition under the Parent Trigger law. For another, all she wants is to replace the principal, not deploy any of the other school-dismantling options offered in the Parent Trigger law. So that one doesn’t seem to be going much of anywhere either.

    I predict that this will be a big “nev-er mind” that the reformistas will hope everyone forgets, like their former promotion of yesterday’s miracle solution, for-profit Edison Schools.

  3. An excellent lookback at what went on in the course of a hectic year. Let’s hope 2011 brings more bests than worsts! All the same, I think social media – Twitter in particularly helped sread information and geared teachers to make vital changes come about.

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