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Posts by Benjamin Riley

The Supreme Court, Health Care–and Federal Education Policy?

Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the minimum coverage provision – otherwise known as the “individual mandate” – included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Congress approved two years ago. Most legal commentators agree that today’s argument is the most important since Bush v. Gore, and indeed, some have even described it as the case of the century. The minimum coverage provision lies at […] Read more

GREAT Act Update

The movement to create a vibrant market for high-quality teacher training took another important step forward today. Due to vigorous championing by Representative Thomas Petri (R-WY), language to support states that want to create “GREAT” teacher and principal training academies has been added to the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act – the so-called “House teacher bill” for those of us wonks who live in Washington D.C. – introduced by Rep. John […] Read more

The Latest GREAT News

The ayes have it! Last Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee approved Senator Michael Bennet’s GREAT Amendment to the omnibus ESEA reauthorization bill by voice vote. (For more background on GREAT, you can read previous blog posts here, here and here – the essential idea is to improve teacher and principal training by focusing on admissions selectivity, clinical training, and accountability tied to student achievement.)For those who weren’t riveted […] Read more

The Risks of Waiving to the Top

Last Friday, President Obama delivered the long-awaited news: it’s the end of No Child Left Behind as we know it. In a short speech delivered to a virtual Who’s Who of the education community, the President announced that NCLB’s uniform, national system of school accountability is no more. It has ceased to be. In its place, the Administration is now offering states the opportunity to receive a waiver from NCLB provided that […] Read more

Why we need GREAT colleges of education

As readers of this blog and my small-but-slowly-growing Twitter followers know, this past June Senator Michael Bennet introduced the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, S. 1250. I haven’t stopped talking about the bill since, so I’m happy to finally be blogging this time about…well, still about GREAT! Specifically, I’d like to take a moment to explain and clarify some confusion that seems to have arisen around the interrelation between the GREAT Act and […] Read more

GREAT Act Q&A, part 2

Last Wednesday, I blogged about Senate Bill 1250, the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, designed to create and support high-performing teacher and principal “training academies.” The introduction of this legislation sparked a wave of media coverage, which in turn generated a number of questions and discussions over Twitter, Facebook, and in the blogosphere. So, in the spirit of the Q&A theme used in my original post, I thought I would answer a […] Read more


Today, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) will introduce a bill, co-sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) to support the creation and expansion of teacher and principal training academies. This legislation, titled the Growing Excellent Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act (GREAT Act), represents a bold, innovative approach to improving the quality of teacher and leader training. And in the spirit of […] Read more

Roxanna Elden: “What kind of jerk wants to leave children behind?”

Participants at this year’s NewSchools Summit will have the opportunity to hear from a young teacher named Roxanna Elden, who has gained a sudden cult following through observations like, “If you sit through one of the new district-mandated trainings on the importance of rigor–and I don’t recommend it–you may notice that the concept would be better described as ‘not sucking at teaching.’” Roxanna’s Summit session will offer up her unique perspective on […] Read more

“Winning the Future.” Duh.

“Winning the future.” We know Charlie Sheen wants to (or is already), but suddenly President Obama wants in on the action too. With these words as his backdrop (see photo left!), the President recently spoke at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia to call upon Congress to fix the federal No Child Left Behind education law – and before the next school year begins in the fall. Among other things, President Obama advocated […] Read more

Education for $1000, Alex

Two weeks ago, I caught 20 minutes of a Jeopardy! show featuring Skynet Watson, the trivia-loving artificial intelligence computer built by IBM. Squaring off against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the two alpha males of the human Jeopardy!-loving world, I watched with intrigue as Watson mercilessly chewed through questions (“answers”, technically) as the human “competitors” stood by helplessly. (In fact, they reminded me of the celebrity Jeopardy! contestants skewered on SNL.) Perhaps […] Read more