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The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2010

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It's been quite a year in the world of education.

Here's my humble attempt to identify the best and the worst education news that occurred during the past 12 months. I hope you'll take time to share your own choices in the comment section.

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 BEST EDUCATION NEWS IN 2010

* 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, administrators, teachers and students.

* The $10 billion stimulus passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this fall that saved tens of thousands of teachers' 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.

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

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

THE WORST EDUCATION NEWS IN 2010

* 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.

* 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.

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