There's a new watchdog on the block. Check out this web site dedicated to investigating the claims of "miracle schools" cited by reform activists as proof that stubborn obstacles such as poverty and inequal funding are just excuses for lazy teachers and the unions that coddle them. In fairness, reformers of all political stripes and persuasions have been prone to cherry pick "miracle" schools, teachers, principals, superintendents, whole countries (Finland!) to make their cases for or against various policies. The claims seldom survive scrutiny, if they're scrutinized.
The current reform movement in education is based on principles that have not been proved. The only 'proof' that the current reformers have of the effectiveness of their policies is a handful of 'miracle' schools. They claim that the only difference between these miracle schools and the failing schools down the street is the hard-working staff. The implication is that if teachers were made to work harder through the threat of being fired -- or actually fired, then eventually all schools could replicate such success.