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Publications

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Publications

Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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The Washington Post - Many state teacher pension plans and retirement systems are unsustainable. Yet trying to fix the funding gap by throwing up obstacles and making the plans stingier ignores the main purpose of retirement plans in the first place: to offer all workers a path to an attractive and secure retirement.

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Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a new form of digital learning that has enthralled some, infuriated others, and changed the conversation about higher education in the U.S. and abroad. Lost in this polarizing debate is a clear assessment of how this new medium is actually affecting postsecondary education and how it could be used in the future.

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The past decade saw unprecedented progress on teacher quality. Policymakers came to embrace two key research-based ideas: teachers are the single most important in-school factor for student achievement, and traditional methods of measuring teacher quality have little to no bearing on actual student learning. ...


In Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges: A Decade of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms, Andrew J. Rotherham and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel analyze what spurred the past decade of progress in teacher quality policy, today’s status quo, and what corrections and next steps policymakers and philanthropists should take.

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Thomas B. Fordham Institute's Flypaper Blog: When it comes to state education agencies (SEAs), ed-reformers have fallen into a sorry rut. As states have emerged as primary drivers of much-needed changes in K–12 practice and policy, the SEA has become the default agent-of-change for a vast number of initiatives concocted by policymakers in state capitals and Washington alike.

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Saving for retirement is a nationwide problem — a recent study found that 92 percent of households do not meet retirement savings targets for their age and income. Yet for most workers, public policies are not the root cause of their lack of savings. For public school teachers, however, poorly structured policies put in place over the past few decades by states and cities can exacerbate their retirement insecurity.

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USA Today -- Most non-New Yorkers know only two things about Bill de Blasio, the city’s new progressive mayor: He eats pizza with a knife and fork, and Al Roker attacked him for sending students to school in a snowstorm. But parents should know a third: He's waging a Democrat vs. Democrat battle over education issues that could spill into the 2016 Democratic presidential primary and into your community.

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TIME.com -- What does the renewed push for vouchers mean for our education system? That is of course a matter of debate. Proponents and opponents make a lot of overblown claims about what vouchers will or won’t do. But with a number of programs already in force, we actually know quite a bit about how they work. So, if this debate comes to a school system near you, here are five claims every parent should be skeptical about.

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The nation’s first private school voucher program and first charter school law came into being at virtually the same time. But chartering took off quickly as state after state passed laws of their own, and before long there were thousands of charter schools scattered across the nation. But few public programs for private schools were created in the years after the Milwaukee experience. Of late, tax credit and scholarship programs have become resurgent. So what can advocates of such programs learn from charter schooling’s 20 years of experience and evolution — both its successes and struggles? Three strategies hold the most promise for enabling private school programs to thrive: the development of school networks, new-school incubators, and accountability via authorizers.

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In “A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter Schooling to Strengthen Rural America,” Andy Smarick examines the state policies that can hinder or foster the growth of rural charter schools and argues for a new approach to charter schooling in rural America—one that’s prudent and respectful of the unique characteristics of rural communities but more open to charter growth than in the past. The report examines statutes and regulations in five states with significant rural populations—Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, and Ohio—and brings to light policies and practices that prevent charters from opening in rural communities, constrain access to human capital, and create significant disparities in funding.

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