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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.

Publication -- 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.


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.


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.


As more students have attended and completed higher education, experts have repeatedly predicted this would create an over-abundance of college-educated workers. But the exact opposite has happened. Through economic upturns and downturns, including the recent recession, a college education remains the best insurance policy against shifting labor markets, unemployment, and under-employment.

Publication -- Why our policies for good students really aren't that smart.

Publication -- Federal guidelines don't mandate new teams, but could lead to a more inclusive society.

Publication -- Even out of office, the President is still promoting education reform.

Publication -- School reform is a political hot potato, and the former Florida governor can’t get enough of it.

Publication -- Results across the country show the fragility of the reform agenda.

Publication -- As for-profits evolve they may just change the entire sector of higher education.