It’s great to be back

Thanks for stopping by for the christening of  this blog. In popping your  virtual Champagne, a  few of you may be experiencing deja vu.

This is the second time I have launched The Educated Guess. About two years ago, while doing this blog at the Mercury News, I put Educated Guess in dry dock after an eight-month run. (The archives are available; some remain relevant and make a good read.)  Staff cutbacks at the Merc, where I worked for 11 years as an opinion writer,  made it hard to continue the blog. But now, through a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, I can recommit time and energy to it. And the timing is right for a blog on education policy in California, for three reasons:

  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top competition for $5 billion in grants and the debate over the renewal of No Child Left Behind — or its successor — have renewed serious interest in education reform.
  • With unprecedented cuts in funding for schools, from preschool through the University of California, education in California is in crisis.  The impact  on the state’s economy and on individuals’ lives and aspirations  will be felt for years, if not decades. I’ll be exploring how shrinking dollars are affecting the classroom, why additional money is critical,   how  more dollars should be used differently  and more effectively, and how the state’s failing education finance system can be remade. I also will delve into implications and issues related to a lawsuit challenging  school funding levels, when the much-anticipated “adequacy” suit is filed.
  • Coverage of education issues in the state has dropped sharply in the past three years, as newspapers and radio stations have cut back their staff. So Educated Guess will try its best to fill in the gap.

I’ll be writing about a range of statewide issues. sometimes with a Silicon Valley and Bay Area slant  (you can read the principles of the blog on this page). I’ll be providing reporting and analysis and sometimes my opinions. But most importantly, I’d like your thoughts. In coming weeks, The Educated Guess will expand to become a bigger, fancier web site  where many people involved in education regularly share their research and their insights. You’ll see contributions from many of the state’s education leaders and activists, plus entries from teachers in the trenches who will share their experiences. I want this page to become a statewide forum with many  voices, open to all. So, stay tuned

Meanwhile, spread the word about The Educated Guess, let me know what you think about this effort (john@svefoundation.org) and join in the conversation.  Along with the usual caveats — no obscenities, no spam, no flaming and no shameless self-promotion — I add one: be civil. Use as your guide a rule that I imposed on myself in writing editorials for nearly two decades: Don’t write anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to that person face to face. Don’t hide behind anonymity to criticize and attack.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing reporting and collecting thoughts, so I have a backlog of items to share. Let the fun begin.

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