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From the Editor

Under the Radar

Like Kaya Henderson, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, the curricular subject of geography has been flying under the radar.

There was a time when it seemed a day didn’t go by without reading about Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. Rhee, known for her passion for raising student achievement—and for her aggressive style—became a symbol for the new school reform movement.

While Rhee has moved on to continue the effort founding the Students First movement in 2010, her former deputy chancellor, Kaya Henderson, has been heading up the district, first as interim chancellor and now as chancellor. Though she doesn’t have the name recognition of Rhee, we feature her this month in “Her Own Brand of Education Reform,” as she, like Rhee, is a tough advocate for reform but with a different leadership style—one that is collegiate and inclusive.

Like Henderson, the curricular subject of geography has been flying under the radar. In the mid-1990s, the National Geographic Society had led an effort to reemphasize the topic that included a 50-state alliance to promote geography in schools and even the creation of national standards. All of this was undone by NCLB and its focus on accountability.

It’s obvious now. U.S. high school seniors scored an average of 282 on a 500-point scale on the geography part of the 2010 National Assessment for Education Progress, the same score as in 2001.

The tide now is turning, thankfully, and geographical knowledge is being appreciated in the new global economy, as described in this month’s feature “Geography Ed for a Flat World.” The newly revised national standards will be released later this year.

Contact me with information about what’s under the radar in your school district at or @judyfhartnett on Twitter, and enjoy your time off this summer!