As I did in last year’sThe “Best” Articles About Education — 2008 and in the previous year’s The “Best” Articles About Education — 2007, I’ve put quotes around the word “Best” in the title of this list since I’m sure there are many, many articles about education I have not read and posted about this year. I’m particularly interested in hearing people’s suggestions for additions to this list.   This list, as the title says,  focuses on education policy issues.  I’ll have another one coming-up titled “The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2009.”  I’ll also be writing “The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2009.”

Unlike in previous year’s, though, I could not bring myself to rank them in order of preference — they all were just too good.

Where the titles of the articles or blog posts are self-explanatory, I haven’t included any additional description.

Here are my choices for The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education — 2009:

Diane Ravitch wrote an excellent post titled What’s Wrong With Merit Pay.

Crazy Talk is the title of a great piece Doug Noon wrote for Change.Org a few months ago. It offers an excellent critique of Secretary Duncan’s plans.

Slate Magazine published what I think is an exceptionally insightful critique of KIPP Schools written by Sara Mosle.  It’s called The Educational Experiment We Really Need: What the Knowledge Is Power Program has yet to prove.

Claus von Zastrow has wrote great blog post titled Taking the Easy Way Out. He talks about the recent tendency of journalists (who really should know better) to claim there are easy answers to some of the challenges facing our schools.

The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning’s blog shared the results of two pretty interesting surveys. In one, 500 recent drop outs were asked about the reasons they decided to drop out of school. The other survey collected data from over 23,000 3-5 minute visits around the country.

How can we close the achievement gap? You can read the answer to that question from my favorite writer on education reform issues, Richard Rothstein.

Does Slow and Steady Win the Race? A Conversation with Top Researcher Russ Whitehurst offers an exceptionally well-balanced perspective on school reform — one that’s well-worth reading.

Anthony Cody wrote an excellent post titled National Standards A Wild Goose Chase.

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success is a study released by The Great Lakes Center For Education Research and Practice. It details “out-of-school” factors that affect learning success.

A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education is an excellent article by a former textbook editor. It tells, in horrifying detail, how publishers develop the textbooks our school districts buy.

Alice Mercer wrote an absolutely great post at our group blog, In Practice. It’s titled “Why Not Cure Poverty Instead?” and is outgrowth of a conversation about Ruby Payne.

The National Journal ran a piece  on paying students for increased test scores.  I was pleased to see a number of thoughtful responses criticizing the idea, and disappointed to see what people said in support.  I was particularly pleased with the response by Bob Peterson (from one of my favorite magazines, Rethinking Schools).

Extreme School Makeover: Creating the Conditions for Success is a blog post by Claus von Zastrow that is one of the best, and most reasonable, descriptions of what it might take to “turnaround” a troubled school.  He highlights the key elements of a successful strategy and makes it clear that there is no one single answer that will provide a solution — no matter what some “expert” school reformers might think.

David Cohen, a teacher from Palo Alto whom I know through the Teacher Leaders Network, co-wrote a great op ed piece in the  Sacramento Bee. It’s called “Test scores poor tool for teacher evaluation.”

Earlier in the year, there was quite a bit of commentary in the educational blogosphere about a not particularly helpful or insightful op-ed piece in the New York TImes by Nicholas Kristof.  In it, he touts the mythical figure that:

A Los Angeles study suggested that four consecutive years of having a teacher from the top 25 percent of the pool would erase the black-white testing gap.

There are three posts about Kristof’s column that I think are particularly thoughtful that I want to include here:

In Search Of The Top 25 Percent Teacher from Public School Insights

The Miracle Teacher, Revisited by Diane Ravitch at Bridging The Differences

We Need Schools That ‘Train’ Our Judgment by Deborah Meier, also at Bridging The Differences.

Larry Cuban wrote Fixing Urban Schools: Sprinters or Marathoners?. It’s about superintendents, and I shared it with our new one here.

State’s exit exams deserve a failing grade is an op ed piece by the late education researcher/author Gerald Bracey that appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Education researcher David Berliner wrote an excellent guest post in The Answer Sheet, a Washington Post education blog. It’s called Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning.

Blinded by Reform is an exceptionally well-balanced and reasonable critique of some of the questionable strategies Education Secretary Duncan and the Obama administration is pushing on schools. It’s written by Mike Rose, who is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the author of “Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us.”

Do You Want To “Build Influence”? is not specifically about education policy, but does provide some ideas for those who want to change it.

The late education researcher Gerald Bracey published his last “Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education.

And, lastly, I’m going to include the piece I wrote at Public School Insights titled Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement? It’s an excerpt from my recent book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools.”

I’m also adding a short post I wrote about federal funding for literacy programs titled “I just thought it would end differently this time.”

Compasses Or Road Maps?

Suggestions and feedback, as always, are welcome.

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