June 24, 2016

Edujobs! Project Director Roles @NASBE

A little too excited to see Friday afternoon? Well, NASBE is hiring for two interesting roles. Led by Kris Amundson, NASBE supports state board members and their policymaking around the country.

Project Director: Teaching, Leading, and Learning Policy:

NASBE seeks a talented, dynamic, and experienced project director to work as a collaborative team member to administer a portfolio of grants and projects in the areas of deeper learning, effective teaching, and leadership development as part of the Center for College, Career, and Civic Readiness.  The primary function of the Center is to help state boards of education prepare all students for postsecondary success through effective and impactful policy making and implementation.

Project Director: Standards, Assessment, and Accountability:

NASBE seeks a talented, dynamic, and experienced project director to work as a collaborative team member to administer a portfolio of grants and projects in the areas of learning standards, student assessment, and accountability systems as part of the Center for College, Career, and Civic Readiness. The primary function of the Center is to help state boards of education prepare all students for postsecondary success through effective and impactful policy making and implementation,


June 23, 2016

Affirmative Action Survives Fisher But Justice Kahlenberg Dissents! Former Political Hostage Chris Christie’s School Finance Plan Is Awful, So Is The Emerging CA Teacher Bill. Pensions, Law, School Zoning, And Common Core! 10 Percent Is Good Enough! Jack Coons, Shavar Jefferies, And Smarick Is A Closet Third Wayer. Plus Bears On Two Feet!

Let’s hope that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s new school finance proposal is some sort of opening gambit for a reasoned negotiation, because it’s a terrible idea. New Jersey’s urban districts are a train wreck but this is not how you fix them. Maybe Trump can just take him hostage again? Or maybe that’s how this got started – it sure seems political. Perhaps it was a condition of his release?

California deal on teacher personnel rules is falling apart. Hard to go broke betting on that.  Also from California, turns out teacher turnover is not a big deal (pdf). At least if that’s what you have to say to knock down Chad Aldeman’s analysis about how the current structure of teacher pensions is lousy retirement policy.

Supreme Court ruled today in Fisher (pdf):

The race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of petitioner’s application is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

Note the dissent of Justice Kahlenberg, hearing this from a few folks today including Jack Kent Cooke Foundation:

Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and self-described progressive, believes that the decision could hurt the prospects of low-income students, who are underrepresented on the nation’s campuses. By allowing the continued use of race as a factor in admissions, he argues, the court has discouraged colleges from finding other ways to promote diversity — such as through preferences for students who are poor.

Focusing solely on race means that colleges now admit students of many races who are mostly affluent, Kahlenberg said: Students from the richest quarter of the population outnumber students from the poorest quarter by 24 to 1, he said.

“Today’s decision seems to give universities more leeway to simply use race as a way to get racial diversity and ignore economically disadvantaged students,” he said. “If the decision had gone the other way, constraining the use of race, it would have led universities to address racial diversity via economic disadvantage — and now that’s less likely to happen.”

Remember that education should be more like law! People keep saying that anyway. It makes the recovering lawyers who work at Bellwether smile.

Pace this Times story, you should be a lot more concerned about uncertified teachers being hired if there was evidence that traditional certification improved outcomes. There’s not. In fact, there is evidence from New York on that exact point!

When progressives aren’t: School zoning.

Fordham with a survey of teachers about Common Core math.

Here’s an article about whether public schools are broken or not. It argues no. Heckuva job! This is a genre of writing that appeals to big think types and you really can’t go wrong whether you say there is a big crisis or no crisis. Plus, you can argue about it all day. But really? Sure, the narrative of the rise and then fall of American public education doesn’t survive close scrutiny and there is a lot of bad history floating around being weaponized at this conference or that one. And yes, there has been progress and is progress now. Just scroll down this page for some evidence of that with various things. But, right now about one in ten low-income kids get a bachelor’s degree by 24. For their more affluent peers that figure is 6x more. There’s plenty of other data in the same vein. So it does kinda seems like a system that’s not working very well, at least if you care about social and economic mobility. I mean, seriously, that sucks. Who really wants to defend it even if means you get published in The Atlantic? People are working hard, people are well-intentioned, the problems are systemic. But still…surely this country can do better?

But on the other hand, no wait, nevermind.

Democrats for Education Reform’s Shavar Jefferies on Democratic platform priorities.

Jack Coons is remarkable. So read this!  Dan Quisenberry on hope for Detroit schools. Andy Smarick on a third way on choice and governance.

Give Washington, D.C. area parents what they want! Otherwise they will go straight to the feds and the media.

Pedals the bear is back!

June 22, 2016

Early Education And Teacher Prep, Quick, Hess, McGee & Winters, Urban Ed, Girls & STEM, ETS & Opt-Outs, Education’s Day In The Shade, Plus Jumpsuits!

Kimberly Quick on Black Lives Matter and education reform. Rick Hess on big R and little r reform.

Ideas on measures of success for an increasingly unbundled education system.

NCTQ on teacher training for early ed. Annie E. Casey kids count data. Kristin Blagg on urban school district performance.

Here’s a simulation (pdf) of shifting to a cash-balance approach for teacher retirement systems:

Given the findings from previous research for the relationships between teacher attrition, teacher quality, and longevity, our simulations suggest that switching to a CB pension plan would be expected to slightly increase a school system’s total level of teacher experience—and thus, slightly increase the school system’s total level of teacher quality. CB plans also would greatly benefit new teachers and would be cost-neutral for taxpayers, strengthening the case for cash-balance pensions.

Cynthia Tucker Haynes on teaching tolerance. Campbell Brown on girls and STEM. One immediate thing you can do is look at disaggregated data on your child’s school and see if there is a male/female gap in math and science achievement. And if there is, ask why and what’s being done.

Here’s a sign education is not a big issue right now: School voucher issue buried rather than highlighted in this SAP veto threat (pdf).

Housing for teachers is a challenge in high-cost of living areas including some urban school districts. Some ideas on that here and there is some interesting stuff happening around the country.

This ETS event on opt-outs looks pretty good.

Fantastic jumpsuit.

June 21, 2016

Ohio Charter Improvements, Education Politics In CA, NYC, And Elsewhere. Baltimore! The View From The Sidelines. Plus, Pre-K, Teacher Testing, Opt-Out, Microaggressions, Teach To One, And Low-Cost Privates. More NAEP! These Bears Won’t Leave.

Bellwether made a series of recommendations for an Ohio charter law overhaul, most found their way into the law. And it’s working. We can do this for your state, too! And you know who you are…(pdf)

Tight primary race in CA with education implications. Rep. Honda is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in politics but his likely opponent (they’re both Democrats, California has different rules) is more of an education reformer. Expect teachers unions to play heavy on this one.

If you think the debate over teacher testing here is rough, then check this out. Here are two takes on the debate over opt-out.

In New York people are catching on that Mayor de Blasio doesn’t like charter schools:

He acknowledged that there is a widely held belief — apparently even among pre-teens — that his administration is an enemy of local charter sector. Now his administration is trying to reverse what de Blasio characterized as an unfair stereotype.

As it turns out he may only be opposed to charter schools run by Eva Moskowitz. So at least we know it’s not political.

Some education discussion in this Atlantic article on the role of intelligence.  Sara Mead call your office, because this is how intelligent people talk about pre-K policy.

A Kansas school district wants to suspend students for “microaggressions.” Cue the lawyers. It’s well-established that students and teachers enjoy diminished free-speech rights in schools but they don’t forfeit all of them. And given the French Revolution quality of the microaggression conversation right now this seems like (a) a recipe for agenda-driven conflict and (b) an almost surefire way to turn what might have been teachable moments to help students learn into legalized conflicts.

The Alaska ESSA situation. As predicted, Baltimore underwhelms. Remember the big landmark labor deal? No one talks about that now…Surely someone must still have the talking points?

Here’s a look at one lower-priced private school that’s opened in Washington, D.C. I’m surprised this idea has not gotten more attention. This is not the only school like this. There is a for-profit dimension to this particular story but more generally low-cost privates (for-and non-profit) seem like a potentially greater disruption to comfortable suburban schools than charters – because it’s harder to fight them off at the state capital.

Also, Teach to One and the leading edge of personalized learning.*

Cami Anderson on service and schools.  Melanie Brooks on the dysfunction plaguing youth sports. You do see/hear some crazy stuff on the sidelines…

In New York City, more year over year renewal on mayoral control.  The Chronicle of Higher Education turns their attention to Trump. Don’t miss the syllabus.

So I can get the back and forth with Tom Loveless and Checker Finn over NAEP levels and the basic disagreement there. And reasonable people can disagree because although you wouldn’t know it from all the rhetoric and certainty academic standards are just constructs, there is no absolute truth about what a 4th-grader ought to know. But, this Common Core sorta conspiracy theory from Ze’ev Wurman baffles me. Is the problem with Common Core that it’s too rigorous or not rigorous enough? Both? People do argue both. I guess Ze’ev is arguing they’re not rigorous enough but he also argues, like Loveless, that NAEP is unrealistic.

Here’s a nice Father’s Day story.

 This town was taken over by bears. 

*New Classrooms is a past Bellwether client.

June 16, 2016

Mitch Daniels On Luck, Zhao On PLUS, NACPS And Virtual, Hess On Reformers, Credits And Inmates, Ed Week Changes, Hunt Inst. And Sanford School, Vince Gray, McDonalds, Testing, Homeless Students, And NAEP Debate! Plus Homer! And Casinos!

Here’s a great edujob at the College Board. All the education news curated daily at RealClearEducation.

George Will gets very excited about this Mitch Daniels speech at Purdue’s commencement. Daniels is a serious guy and committed public servant. And his talk pushed a few of my buttons, too. It includes a terrific Eddie Murray story with a good moral and the bizarre set up where casinos are allowed to ban the one kind of customer who, through sharp wit and work, isn’t doomed to lose money playing against the house.

But, Daniels’ basic point is that outside of the extremes it’s the luck you make not the luck of the world that determines your fate. Sure, at one level this is certainly true. It does seem we have swung the pendulum too far toward telling some young people their own agency matters little (ironically, we seem tell that most to young people at our nation’s most elite colleges but that’s another story) and giving them a pseudo-Marxist view of the world with little counterbalance or exposure to other ideas. However, and this is key, Daniels’ argument confuses what’s possible with what’s probable because it assumes a universality at odds with the evidence. This greatly matters to me because of why I work in education in the first place.

America is a county where it’s possible that anyone can become anything. Just ask our new favorite founding father – Alexander Hamilton – or the many compelling contemporary stories we know close up and from a distance. Yet, and this is key, while these stories are certainly possible when you look at the aggregate data they are not systematically probable right now (pdf). Economic mobility is constrained and economic birth status exerts disturbing leverage on life outcomes. Schools are only one piece of that but a real piece. College graduation (pdf), in particular, can make a real dent in social mobility. But there are powerful countervailing forces. Technology, in particular, is going to make things even more challenging as automation displaces an increasing number of jobs on top of what’s already happening as a result of globalization.

In other words, it’s hard to look at the data and then say, as Daniels did,

I’m not saying that luck never plays a part; of course it can. But, unless it’s the tragic kind of luck, it almost never decides a life’s outcome. Like the referees’ calls in a basketball game, the good and bad breaks are likely to even out over the course of a season. What counts in the long run is the quality of your play.

because while that’s arguably quite true of a graduating class of seniors at a great university like Purdue it’s not in aggregate true for Americans overall right now. Unless 43 percent of Americans being born in the lowest quintile of income and staying there while 40 percent of those born at the top stay there is just the ‘good and bad breaks averaging out for people.’

What’s happening elsewhere?

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reiterates support for virtual schools but wants action on quality (pdf).

Here’s a basic contour of the education landscape today that’s abused by both sides in the Common Core debate. Common Core standards have been implemented widely, they haven’t been implemented well.

Emmeline Zhao takes a look  at the problems with PLUS loansThis online ed idea for prisoners is a good idea but unless credits can be earned effectively, have integrity, and be portable this will fall short. Hailly Korman with more on that. Andrew Kelly calls for some bipartisanship on Pell.  And we’re fighting over direct loans again…(pdf). Also in higher ed news, you can’t bring your pistol to your tenure or discipline hearing at the University of Tennessee.

Teachers unions are broadening their coalitions.

Rick Hess says today’s ed reform community is similar to ed schools in the 1990s. He cites five similarities:

  1. Orthodoxy reigns without being formally demanded or commanded
  2. Open disagreement about values is deemed unpleasant and unnecessary
  3. Inconvenient critiques are seen as a failure to “get it”
  4. Faddism reigns
  5. Race, poverty, and privilege are the “right” way to think about school improvement

Eduflack agrees. Not sure I agree with #2 as being a dominant theme but I’m biased by who I spend time with, I lead a team deliberately built to have a wide variety of viewpoints represented. And #3 probably cuts all ways on all sides. #5 has some nuance, the emerging issue seems to be more whether there is a correct way to think about race, poverty, and privilege more generally. It’s mostly a debate about larger societal issues influencing the debate over schools rather than the other way around. And so far the sector is doing a poor job with multiple perspectives there. What’s also somewhat amusing here is that some of the ed schools – some, let’s not overdo it – have been making real strides to improve, become more ideologically diverse, and upped their game.

Researchers want Vergara upheld on appeal (pdf). So do some former Governors (pdf) and current and former state officials (pdf). And a gang of legal scholars (pdf).  Advocacy groups, too (pdf).

Raising standards, maintaining the integrity of diplomas, and not causing a train wreck is a challenge. Willingham on grit.

This is an important article. McDonalds is the punchline to a joke for many, it’s a source of wifi and cheap protein for many, too.

In Washington, D.C. former Mayor Vincent Gray is returning to the city council. He won a primary Tuesday. Gray, who went from being education reform villain to something of an education reform favorite lost his mayoral reelection bid under a cloud of scandal but he was never charged despite strong signals from prosecutors he would be. He’s made no secret that he has eyes on his old office.

Marilyn Rhames on inclusion and a terribly sad story. Trifecta of complexity and contention: Special education, charter schools, and discipline.

Hunt Institute and Duke’s Sanford School are joining forces. Leadership transition at Ed Week.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a manifesto in this sector. Here’s one from Jeanne Allen.

Michigan will teach about the Armenian genocide. Very political issue with Turkey. Issues like this, flawed curriculum about Hindus and other similar issues point to some problems with standards and curriculum.

Today in testing: Landscape maps on who is doing what on college and career standards. Tom Loveless on NAEP proficiency and what it means. Checker Finn says not so fast Tom! Related, the MCAS in well-regarded Massachusetts is pretty good, so why change it?

Homeless students in public schools: Hidden In Plain Sight.

What do parents want when choosing schools, what does it mean for policymakers? Here’s the plan to transform Los Angeles Schools! Here’s the plan to make them spend money on at-risk kids.

Radical unschooling. Makes our unschoolers look like double a!

As you know, DIY is in these days, so IES has crated DIY RCT evaluations. More about it here. Seems like, as with all tools, how this is used will matter a lot. In our sector that might scare you?

Imploding casino. Homer Alaska is a crazy place.

Edujob: Senior Director/Director, Strategy & Partnerships @CollegeBoard

The College Board is seeking a Senior Director/Director, Strategy & Partnerships.

From the JD:

The Senior Director/Director, Strategy & Partnerships works closely with the ED, Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships and SVP, Finance & Strategy to strengthen the College Board’s impact.  S/he will apply a sharp business acumen, analytical rigor, and exceptional communication skills to drive the organization to make strategic financial and operational choices. This work requires great intellectual power, curiosity, and creativity.

That’s all true but more fundamentally College Board has reach and resources that are virtually unique in American education and under its current new leadership is pushing boundaries far beyond its core test offerings. This strategy job will tackle issues from breaking down barriers for low-income students to improving the use of technology for all students. Rare opportunity to drive change at scale.  And works closely with this guy, which is a big learning opportunity.

Learn more here.

June 10, 2016

Public Relationists Ascendant! Please Sir, May I Have Some Policy…Sara Mead Is Going To Clean You Out! Biddle With Rights Talk, Aldeman Talks Pensions (Pensions Are The Plumbing), Life Advice From Tilson, Whistleblowing Or Bullying? Bellwether In Rock Videos.

Quick primer to understanding most education debates. If you look at them from the perspective of, “is this good or bad for kids, or does this matter to kids?” you’ll constantly be baffled by what is going down. If, by contrast, you look at it through the lens of public relations – is this good for the “system” as it currently exists, vested interests or stakeholders (and those can include reform interests), or various political interests then there is a logic to most of this.  We’ve discussed this before but as debates about ESSA accountability break out good to bear in mind.

RiShawn Biddle and Jeremy Lott call for right to teach laws. They pinpoint some real problems but I think I’d prefer ‘right to hire’ as the framing. The problem now is people think teachers have a right to teach, rather than it being an important earned trust. I’ve literally heard public officials says, “but that person who really wants to teach, who are we to say they can’t.” I don’t think anyone has a right to teach – it’s an important job! School administrators should have more latitude about who to hire for that important job – especially considering the convergence of research around the finding that there are greater differences within various routes into teaching than between them. But, that’s a right to hire, not a right to teach.

May we have some policy please? Just a little…please…The wonks asked plaintively…

First Sara Mead came for your mortgage interest deduction. And you said nothing because you don’t have a mortgage interest deduction. Then she came for your entitlements….

Think education is expensive? Try ignorance. No, wait, I mean try retirement costs. But that’s a crappy bumper sticker. Also pension lawsuit action  in New Jersey:

The court on Thursday delivered a victory Christie when it ruled New Jersey does not owe public-sector retirees cost-of-living payments suspended under a 2011 law. It effectively keeps the state from having its unfunded liability grow by about $17.5 billion.

The case reaches back to a nearly 5-year-old law passed by a Democrat-led Legislature and signed by Christie that suspended cost-of-living adjustments.

This Kansas school finance situation is something else.  Students speak on STEM. Dogs and STEM. Pension action in PA.

Paul Hill on finance comparability. Robin Lake on discipline and autonomy. Steve Robinson is back teaching…about ESSA! Here’s an ESSA implementation tool from CCSSO (pdf). Tom Edsall on economic mobility.

Vote for Smarick!

Whitney Tilson’s life advice to a graduating class of students:

“I’ve thrown a lot at you here, so let me quickly summarize: defense wins championships, work hard, and be nice. If you do these things, I promise you that you’ll lead a long and rewarding life, filled with love, laughter and happiness. It’s yours for the taking.”

Today in confirmation bias: There are a lot of factors in play as to why the teaching force in New Orleans has the demographics it does. But people tend to find the narrative they want and stay with it. That’s why it’s not surprising that a story about the composition of New Orleans’ post-Katrina teaching force devotes one sentence to the role pension policy plays. It’s a big issue, too! Here’s one recruiter active at the time:

A big piece of the “outsider” narrative is, of course, the firing of New Orleans’ teachers in the wake of the flood. There were few alternatives for a school district with no money, few schools and a student (and teacher) population scattered across the south. It was a terrible yet necessary choice and the pot-stirring and political myth-making obscures some hard realities. Subtler factors impacted teachers after the storm as well. One was Louisiana’s teacher pension system. Most charter schools did not participate in the state pension plan – it made no fiscal sense for them to do so. It likewise made little sense for a teacher already covered by the system to move to a nonparticipating school because they would stop earning toward their pension. “If they asked about the pension, I was almost certain to lose the hire” one person involved in staffing new schools after the storm says.

“I still remember a teacher who came in, she had grown up in St. Bernard [Parish], had been a teacher for a number of years and gave a killer sample lesson,” this person recounts. “I would put her in the top 5 percent of teachers I interviewed. I gave her an offer on the spot and she showed immediate excitement. When I followed up with the benefits package she was confused that there was no information about the pension. I watched as her face dropped and her entire demeanor changed when I told her. I knew I had lost her.”

We do a lot of work on the pensions issue but I’m not saying that fixing pensions is some sort of cure-all or even close in NOLA or more generally. Rather, even getting those policies right would leave a lot of important issues unaddressed. But, issues like pensions are the basic plumbing of the sector and when they’re misaligned from larger goals those goals won’t be addressed and the lack of attention to the plumbing is startling.

Whistleblowing or bullying? A lawsuit to figure that question out.

There is a Bellwether team member in this Poison video.

Outsourced Friday Fish Porn.

June 7, 2016

Who Stole The Stoles? The King Family Is All Over This Blog Post, EvalPalooza! Kane On Vergara, O’Keefe On Girls, Drucker On Gates, SFC Plays Big, So Do High School Hedge Funders, Reservation Schools, Pensions, Blockchains…And Pho!

It’s June 7. On this date in 1982 Priscilla Presley opened Graceland up to the public.  Elvis offers a lot of lessons, here’s one we might reflect on.

Mayoral control is good for me but not for thee! That seems to be the ethos in New York.

Today in why we can’t have nice things: Kevin Kosar notes that technically speaking the original ESEA in 1965 was not a civil rights law. That’s true, although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for it and over time it’s evolved toward one in terms of making rights real – equal access to mediocre, or worse, schools is not the goal. But absent a right of action and other mechanisms it really isn’t civil rights law, strictly speaking, though it’s awfully important to creating equal opportunity for kids and the current debate about funding accountability is a piece of that. So Kevin’s piece caused a lot of people to get upset about its substance and its timing. Especially upset were some  people who were noticeably quiet as what were arguably civil rights protections in ESEA from the 1994 and 2001 laws were tossed aside in the new 2015 version. In any event, obviously, you can see the direct line to improving schools from all this energy being expended debating on social media and email so there is no reason for me to explain it to you. I never thought I’d be excited to get back to arguing about who gets to be on what conference panel.

Speaking of civil rights and education we don’t talk about special education so much anymore?

And speaking of civil rights a lot of new data on what happens to students in schools released today by ED.

Kati Haycock:

If accountability systems are our best vehicle for conveying urgency, advocates and community leaders must use the levers in the law to make sure that systems that have been characterized as “test and punish” don’t become “test and ignore.”

The irreplaceable Matt Barnum on a study of education politics. Obama views and education policy views conflated. I suspect you would have found much the same thing for Bush, No Child, and the Iraq War.

Here’s an interesting edujob.

Great Neerav Kingsland on philanthropic theories of reform.  Tom Kane on Vergara.  Bonnie O’Keefe says don’t forget the girls. Romy Drucker wonders how the LAT went from publishing teacher value-added scores to trashing Gates. Data in Dallas and parental importance. Evaluation of SEED (pdf). Also here is an evaluation of 9th-grade academies (pdf). Here’s one of the Gates intensive teacher work (pdf).  Also…

This study examined whether students who read stories about the personal or intellectual struggles of famous scientists had higher science grades than students who read stories about the scientists’ achievements only.

…gets provisional good housekeep from the WWC.

In Texas they’re debating the National Honor Society insignia for graduations. Stand For Children* trying to address high school graduation in Oregon.

Hillary Clinton is talking pre-K  plans.  Sheila Ohlsson Walker and Bellwether’s Melissa Steel King on toxic stress, students, and public health.

Chad Aldeman on a teacher pension paradox, high costs, low benefits.  I’m surprised there hasn’t been more discussion of blockchain applications in education.

Check out the wit and wisdom of Lanae Erickson Hatalsky in this Ed Post interview.  EWA takes a look at the state of education journalism in this new report (pdf). Summer is expensive and stressful for a lot of families. Non-profit overhead is expensive and stressful for a lot of non-profits.

High school hedge fund managers.

Here’s a long look at the promise and challenges facing reservation schools.

An ode to pho.  Why going to live events sucks. Opaque and misleading finance parallels to the education world.

*Disc – Bellwether client.

Edujob – Kern Family Foundation

Edujob at the Kern Family Foundation. The role is Character and k12 Education Program Director. Includes beautiful Wisconsin. From the JD:

The Kern Family Foundation invests in the rising generation of Americans, equipping them to become global leaders and innovators. The Foundation quietly but powerfully executes its mission by promoting the value of work, developing the formation of good character, increasing educational achievement – particularly in areas of science, technology, engineering and math – and instilling an entrepreneurial mindset, especially in undergraduate engineering students.

The Character and K12 Education Program Director will work closely with the Program’s team leader on the creation, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of strategies for the Character and K12 program. The Program Director is responsible for managing day-to-day grant making activities in keeping with the Foundation’s current policies and procedures, developing and maintaining strong relationships with regional organizations and peer foundations, and articulating Foundation goals and programs to the community.

Learn more about the foundation’s work, this position, and how to be considered via this link. 

June 2, 2016

Bradford On The Panic At The Pondiscio, Panic About TFA, LAT Rips Gates, Pensions! Pearson! Terry Ryan Is A Happy Warrior!, Professorial Hess, Inconvenient DC, Title I In Practice, English Canon In Theory, Third Way Everywhere! Great Ed Navigator Tool, Weeby On Detroit, Urahn On Retirement, Korman Cautions, Bonus: School Transportation And Non-Metaphorical Sinking Ships! Plus More!

4th Circuit won’t hear the VA transgender restroom case again.

Darrell Bradford weighs-in on the Panic at the Pondiscio:

Does and should the conservative or “Market” perspective — one focused on choice, pluralism and opportunity as the prime drivers — continue to have a place in the education reform movement, effort, confab, or whatever you want to call it? The answer has three letters: yes. Competition and innovation are essential, and may be the best way to level the playing field for kids of color. (I write this as a person who is deeply skeptical of government’s ability to organize itself around the creation of schools that liberate low-income black and brown kids from academic outcomes that ensure their economic servitude).

Ironically, the storm that has erupted around Pondiscio’s piece may just prove his larger point about a narrowing field of view: Even as the education reform movement strives to become more ethnically diverse, it could also become less so ideologically. This is important, and worth noting. We do not win with a smaller tent against a unified enemy that has created the conditions we battle against.

But this does not mean that “Equity” doesn’t deserve a place as well. Many education reformers identify themselves as “social justice warriors,” striving to give black and brown kids access to better classrooms — and brighter futures because race matters. Yet as often happens in debates about inclusion, the question of whether one perspective can “belong” is seen as one that must co-opt or exclude another one.

Also, isn’t it hard to miss that as both political parties have vigorous debates about redefining themselves education barely registers at all in those debates? And this on the heels of a national education law that rolled back several decades of hard won protections for poor and minority students in federal education policy. That should sober everyone some you’d think? (Although Jay Greene is surely right that the world marches on regardless of who is on what conference panel where or what reform “leaders” say or do and often independent of what happens in Washington). Terry Ryan is not as dour on where ed reform stands as I am.

Rick Hess does nice job laying out the fundamental left-right split in education and life. Also quietly illustrates why so many centrist reformers are homeless in the current debate because both sides can get reductionist fast.

In terms of this specific debate, though, I think the Pondiscio piece much more revealed a debate than sparked one. I haven’t heard any sentiments, on any side, being shared publicly that were not already circulating privately. So at least good to talk about because the underlying issues do matter.

To the other links!

Big time edujob in the south.

The LA Times editorial board rips the hide off the Gates Foundation. I guess that’ll teach ‘em to fund media projects! Joking…joking…Actually if the knock on the hidebound education system is that it doesn’t change fast enough isn’t the knock on Gates that they change too fast? Their small schools investments were not the disaster everyone thinks they were but they pivoted before the evaluations came in. And now Gates has hired the guy who led some of the most successful small schools as a senior official. They soft peddled the results of their own evaluations of measures of teacher effectiveness. And while the rollout of Common Core has certainly been a political disaster and the assessment scene is something of a garbage fire, the standards themselves are pretty embedded – even in Texas it turns out! (See below). Plenty of room for more support, of course, but the standards are there. What’s more, pretty much everything Gates has done is because they’ve sat with the various sages in our sector who told them to do this or that. They didn’t just conjure this stuff up. So it’s unclear if the problem is that they listened too little or, rather, that they listened too much? They fund some Bellwether projects – though certainly not as much as we’d like! – so disclosure there.

In DC a little pushing and shoving on ESSA timelines. Here’s a thought: Seems like a Clinton Department of Education might change some aspects of this around – they’d  know how to pull the various levers of government to make that happen. A Trump Administration, by contrast, seems like a recipe for the regulations to be in place for a while as they’re likely to have a Department of Education with fewer staffers and appointees with experience on these issues. In other words, the regulations might matter even more, not less,  if Trump wins – at least initially.

Education reform efforts in D.C. are so politically inconvenient! Also, if this attack on pensions is any indication, it seems like Randi Weingarten could get some Peter Thiel money to sue Gawker. Also, here is a pensions mess in CA. And pension risk/reward.

U.S. News and World Report deep dive on Title I. Debate over teacher performance data continues in Virginia. Good for the lawyers. But seems like a little transparency would defuse all of this.

Speaking of, if your school doesn’t use something like this open-source form (pdf) to help with teacher-student assignment each year. Ask why. En Español aquí (pdf).

And EdBuild breaks down the funding structure across the states. Huge resource.

Student voice in CT. Continuing its Zika-like spread Common Core math now in Texas!  Ujifusa breaks down the proposed ESSA regs. Sue Urahn on retirement policy. Jonathan Chait on education’s completely bizarro politics. Son of Michigan Jason Weeby on Detroit. Here’s a pretty cool set of videos with teaching tips via MATCH. Pennington on evaluation backsliding.

Tamara Hiler on teacher licensure. Is there a third way on education in Massachusetts? Third Way on private nonprofit colleges, the problem is not just the for-profits! Recovering attorney Hailly Korman cautions on the limits of suit-based reform. Annie Murphy Paul, Ben Riley, and personalized learning. Should colleges or law-enforcement deal with sexual assault cases on campus?

Yes, I know, Pearson boo boo! But this report is kind of interesting (pdf).  This Medium post by a Pearson official is pretty good, too.

I am struck by how many young people you meet who are well versed in critical this or that but not deep on whatever it is they’re critical of. That debate is breaking out at Yale.  I’m certainly for people reading a variety of material that challenges and engages them from all perspectives but there is certainly value in understanding the content and various meanings of what are generally considered canonical texts because of their staying power even, or perhaps especially, if your project is tearing down that staying power.

Enrollment at teacher prep programs is down nationwide. Teach For America is a teacher prep program. Enrollment is down at Teach For America. But because it’s Teach For America….If you’re really interested check out this paper (pdf) for some additional context and data about all this – including what corps members think.

Remember, the first school person most kids see in the morning is a bus driver or crossing guard.

This is not uphill both ways to school, but it’s pretty damn close.  Today in disastrous field trips.

June 1, 2016

Edujob – CEO At RePublic Schools

Here’s a great CEO opportunity in the education space! RePublic Schools:

In a country that aspires to equality of opportunity as its very foundation, an alarming number of children lack equal access to an excellent education. A child’s race, socioeconomic status, and zip code are currently far greater predictors of his or her ultimate quality of life than talent, drive, or capacity to learn.

This pattern is magnified in the South, where students must navigate particularly deep repercussions of entrenched, systemic, and historic inequity. Children in the South have the lowest odds of transitioning from the bottom fifth of the income distribution to the top, and Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana are ranked in the bottom four states for ACT results nationwide.

RePublic Schools was founded to change this trend, with a mission to reimagine public education for scholars in the South. RePublic operates high-performing public charter schools, and will leverage the success of those schools to change the educational trajectory of all students in the South.

If you want to attack that problem here’s where you can learn more and apply.

May 26, 2016

Panic At The Pondiscio! And Sara Mead Is Everywhere! ESSA Regs, Pensions, Tenure, Discipline, And Some Non-Controversial Stuff, Too. Plus Sharks, Bears And Sprints

Great upcoming event on data and Head Start improvement. Rare live appearance by Bellwether’s Sara Mead! Yes, the same Sara Mead who today is coming for your mortgage tax deduction in US News. Plus she’s great at math!

All your education news curated here, every weekday, 8am and mid-afternoon.

Draft ESSA regs are out (pdf).

Robert Pondiscio has sparked quite the debate with an essay entitled “The Left’s Drive To Push Conservatives Out Of Education Reform.”   Marilyn Rhames responds here. Patrick Riccards is here. And Justin Cohen and a gaggle of folks here. Other stuff around. Update: Stacey Childress here. Jay Greene is here. Greg Richmond via Twitter here.

Hopefully a useful debate but we’ll see. Seems like a few things are true. Education reform won’t succeed without more diversity – of a variety of kinds – in its leadership. Education reform won’t succeed if it becomes a partisan issue or if people on all sides can’t work with those with whom they disagree on some or even a host of other issues. Education reform will not succeed without an effective middle class politics. And the more education reform becomes about a host of other issues the less people will be able to work together. Focus and being able to agree to disagree are vital to coalition building and effectiveness and it’s unclear how much appetite there is for either in many parts of the education world right now.

It’s also a political moment and there are plenty of politics swirling around. That hardly makes things any easier. It is hard to miss, though, on all sides the extent that a movement/effort/whatever originally  about disrupting adult-focused politics has come to organize itself around a new set of adult focused politics. Some would say that’s inevitable and, to be fair, some predicted it.


Here’s a new class of Pahara Next Generation leaders.

Mayoral control debate continues in New York. It’s all about the kids! Here’s an analysis of school report cards there.

Pondiscio on the new NACPS report on backfilling at charter schools and the complicated questions about policy design on that issue.  EdBuild has a finance map that is not to be missed – plus context!

The New Yorker takes a look at campus politics.

The FT on pension/hedge fund politics. Includes this gem:

In 2005, the number of times Yale and Harvard were mentioned [as a model for other institutional investors] was incredible,” says Amin Rajan ,chief executive of Create-Research ,and an expert of the fund management industry. “But they had the governance and skills to go after risky asset class. Big pension plans didn’t.”

I mean really, what could go wrong? Also, pensions are crowding school finance. A look at Chicago.

School discipline: End the war says David Griffith. Think creatively says Sarah Yatsko.

Vergara still going (pdf).

Mixed results for the edTPA:

“This is a study where middle-ground findings make it harder to interpret,” said Dan Goldhaber, one of three researchers who conducted the study

Gates Foundation CEO letter includes Common Core. Peter Thiel gave a commencement speech at Hamilton. Thankfully he didn’t start by telling the assembled graduates they had just wasted four years and tens of thousands of dollars. Instead, his advice is pretty good.

Paul Tough has a new book out, here’s a taste via The Atlantic .

New Education Next is on the shelves. Among other things Ladner and Smith discuss ESAs. How long does it take for teachers to get tenure away? NCTQ rolls up the timelines for you, may surprise you!

Marguerite Roza on charters and school finance: 

The situation, however, isn’t hopeless. Districts like LAUSD can escape this downward fiscal spiral.

They can start by restructuring their school budgets to automatically expand and contract with enrollment. Instead of apportioning a fixed number of staff to each school, allocations can be made in per-pupil terms. In dozens of districts including in San Francisco, Denver, Boston and Houston, district money is equitably distributed in per pupil increments across schools, weighting for factors like poverty, homelessness or English-learner status.

The First Lady on youth sports. Am I the only one who thinks a Michelle Obama – Amanda Ripley sports debate would be fantastic?

Really cool travel toiletry case.  Big shark on tour.  Centenarian 100-yard dash champion. Today in bear sex.

May 19, 2016

PARCC In The Open, Aldeman Calls BS On Finance, Telegenic Brown, Click Gets Her Muscle At Last, Chicago, Wolfe Of Wonk Street, Lousy OH Charter, Lousy Choice Rules, Elite Schools And Low-Income Students, Homeschooling, And More. Plus, Llamas and Physics!

New York Times headline on…..May 17th, 2016: Mississippi District Ordered to Desegregate Its Schools.

So a PARCC test got released and everyone is upset. Predictable. But here’s the buried lede: A professor at Columbia Teachers College apparently doesn’t get that you don’t have “Constitutional First Amendment rights” to publish IP you don’t own. Others don’t get this either. Presumably if people started publishing her books online for anyone to read without paying that might bring some clarity? You can criticize the tests all you want – that’s an important First Amendment protected activity – but you’re not allowed to take another’s property, that’s not a free speech right! And if you’re going to do it at least just say, I realize what I’m doing but think it’s too important not to.  Or at least please don’t teach civics.

In any event, PARCC understandably wants to protect their IP and state dollars. There are sample questions around so while I personally think more transparency is better to demystify the tests PARCC is at least making an effort to communicate about the tests in a way you don’t generally see. They’re also a Bellwether client, btw, but on operational issues not on test design or IP.

Elsewhere in bad behavior can we stop referring to Campbell Brown in sexist terms? She is telegenic, sure, and you know what else? She’s also quite competent so you can disagree with her on substance without invoking her looks.

Chad Aldeman on why we can’t have nice things:

The distinction that Weingarten and Garcia are making, but that they’re unable to say publicly, is that they support equitable funding across districts but not within them. These are separate issues, but they both contribute to school funding disparities.

As progressives, it makes sense that union leaders would support equity in general, but there’s no good reason for why that moral impulse should stop at school district borders. Instead, this seeming contradiction can be explained by the fact that fixing within-district disparities would inevitably touch on issues of teacher compensation and teacher placement that are under the purview of locally negotiated teacher labor contracts. Districts could address within-district inequities in lots of ways — they could offer higher salaries to teachers in poorer schools, they could have lower class sizes in poorer schools, or they could expand other services within poorer schools — but local teachers’ union contracts often prohibit all of these policy options.

Sawchuk and Superville are all over Chicago.  History and status quo here. Local color and perspective here. Chicago has been really significant to the education world and its politics over the last few years so keep an eye on all this.

The winner of the Fordham wonk contest, Christy Wolfe, on all the great things states “can” do under ESSA provisions.

What took you so long! The Times discovers one of Ohio’s bad actors in the charter sector. Notice the lack of defenders of the school other than its operator – that’s a key part of the story in Ohio and relates to the reform bill that is mentioned only in passing.

This seems sort of screwed up.   Elsewhere a Nevada judge upholds the state’s new education savings account policy.  And lots of conflict at Central Park East.

Melissa Click is finally getting some muscle over here! From the AAUP.

ACT and UNCF on college and career readiness for African-American students (pdf).  How the transgender bathroom debate is playing out in one VT school.  Nick Anderson looks at low-income students at elite schools.  Boston Globe on the same dynamics from last year.  Republican Hill leaders rattling the cage on ESSA rulemaking (pdf).  Broad charter prize finalists announced.  Pension reform back on the table in PA.  Wisconsin’s Supreme Court rules in state ed chief governance dispute there. Homeschooling is all over the place from really good to really irresponsible.

Llama Llama likes Whitney Houston. Virginia woman dissatisfied with the 2016 candidates. And if you get a bunch of people to send you money, like a million dollars, that you then bury in your backyard while you’re “treating” them for curses with the promise to return it later when they’re cured. Well, that’s OK. If you spend the money instead and don’t return it? That’s fraud. And if you’re a psychic you should know this is what’s going to happen to you.

May 17, 2016

Today In Victory Laps, New NAEP, TNTP Fishman Winners, It’s Always A Waterfront Real Estate Deal…Transportation, Public Impact On Restarts, Opportunity Culture, NASBE Data And Maps!

Really, who amongst us wouldn’t want 32 acres of lakefront property in New England? Jane Sanders apparently did, too, for the college she led but the financing for it seems to have been the final straw in the shaky finances of that school. The conventional wisdom is now that this will be a big problem for her husband – who is running for President of the United States as a Democrat. Maybe, but it’s hard to see voters who apparently didn’t care about his infeasible free college plan now caring that much about the meltdown of a small college his wife parted ways with half a decade ago. Aren’t they as likely to think the opposite? This is exactly why we need free college! It is worth asking why the media didn’t dig into this sooner, the college’s financial struggles are public record and have been for some time. But the race on the Democratic side isn’t about issues like this.

First Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark and now the news that 8th-grade girls outperformed boys on the new Technology and Engineering Literacy NAEP. That’s getting headlines but a lot of interesting information in here  - don’t miss the student experience data.

Today in victory laps: Broader, Bolder says we’re done with all that accountability talk and back to improving schools without all these awkward conversations about teaching and learning. Thank goodness, will be so much more pleasant for everyone! Apparently an agenda of real accountability and choice along with an array of social policy supports remains too much to ask for…Also, the inconvenient evidence from places like Harlem Children’s Zone remains, schools matter, too! Anyhow, the rhetoric is apparently changing:

Ultimately, Clinton’s unadulterated support of teachers unions and improving teaching conditions show just how rapidly the rhetoric is changing on the Democratic side, both in speeches directed at teachers and in the wider public discourse.

Kevin Carey on all the confused politics here. It’s all about the kids!

TNTP Fishman Prize winners! Some short profiles of ideas on fighting inequality with education tools.

DK Foundation on the importance of transportation policy to students. Significant and underdressed issue in many communities.

New resources on school restarts from Public Impact. Also, Opportunity Culture teachers and their views all in one place at RealClearEducation. 

In New York City it’s an enormous struggle to get rid of sex offenders in schools but they apparently can get rid of the readers fast.

New resource on state policy – database of policies –  from NASBE.

USGS Topo maps are tools, art, and more!

May 16, 2016

Willingham On Ed Tech, Race And Gifted Education, Private School Choice Effects, Transgender Bathroom Debate, Internships And Exploitation, TX Finance. Buffaloed!

I posted an edujob this morning and there are more further down the page.

Dan Willingham takes no prisoners:

It’s time to admit we don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to educational technology.

Here’s a new meta analysis on research on private school choice effects (pdf). A multi-classroom teacher looks back.

Dual enrollment and Pell grants.

One media climate thought on the unfolding transgender bathroom debate. Shark attacks are never more prevalent than when the media decides to focus on them. What I mean is that as this debate plays out I suspect we may see the same thing with bathroom assaults. Some intrepid analyst should figure out what the baseline for assaults in public restrooms is, because it does happen (unrelated to any transgender issues), but in the current environment you can bet any new episode will get more and distorted attention. We see this with school violence now, individual episodes are highlights, without context, and create a misleading narrative about what’s actually going (or rather not going) on.

Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore thinks the whole thing is political rope a dope. Ross Douthat not so sure.

In The Washington Post a look at unpaid internships and paid college credit. I took a look at unpaid internships earlier this year in USN.  I’ve been on a few sides of this supervising credit-bearing internships (and independent study projects) among other things. Colleges aren’t wrong when they say it costs money to run oversee programs like this. But they neglect to mention that many of these programs have no real oversight at all. Sometimes someone from the college is involved to make sure the educational components of the internship are real and check in on the student experience. Other times, no contact once the internship starts or even as the student is securing it in the first place. So as with some other internship issues the bright lines are less useful as a marker than the structure of individual programs, which can be good or exploitive.

Ron Ferguson on reducing racial disparities in gifted education.  Evergreen: It’s often hard out there for recent college graduates. Yet somehow they muddle through.  On the recent Texas finance decision Sandy Kress starts with Dostoyevsky and ends with chess. John King on diversity in the teaching force.

On the big education equity question of our age, “whose lawyers are smarter?” here’s CRS with their take (pdf).

Pre-K choice: 

a shocking number of preschools in the area employed teachers who divide their attention between more than one student instead of dedicating all their time to the education, care, and positive mental stimulation of her son

Most successful woman on Everest ever cleans houses in the northeast.

Last week I pointed to a link mocking tourists for getting too close to bison in Yellowstone. Apologies for such a narrow interpretation, apparently they’re actually suitable as house pets. But not this people, please…

Edujob: Director Of Talent At MN Comeback

Here’s an interesting edujob: Director of Talent at MN Comeback.

From the JD:

Compelled to improve educational outcomes and narrow these gaping educational disparities, a coalition of 26 funders and local leaders convened in 2012 to identify the highest-impact levers for transformation. Calling this initiative MN Comeback, the group committed to ensuring that every student – initially focused on Minneapolis ­– would have access to a high-performing school, and set a multi-sector (traditional district, charter, and independent schools) goal of delivering 30,000 rigorous and relevant seats by 2025.

Today, these leaders, donors, and organizational partners are aligned in support of meaningful, systems-level change in Minneapolis. Owing to a seasoned, committed executive director, talented, growing staff, and millions of dollars in existing funding, MN Comeback is well on its way to transform education in Minneapolis.

Learn more and learn how to apply or nominate via this link. 

May 13, 2016

Transgender Restroom Debate And Schools, Pension Costs And Teacher Pay, Harvard’s Club Scene, Campus Speech, Ben Riley Has A Clicker! ESAs, WI English Prof On The Go, Parenting Today, And More!

Chad Aldeman has an important new analysis of how pension debt affects teacher salaries. Here’s the The Atlantic on the new analysis and some of the issues it points up. The entire paper is here (pdf).

So overall expenditures are up, but teacher salaries are actually down slightly over the same period. Today, the average public school teacher earns $56,689 annually, a couple hundred dollars less than the average teacher salary 20 years ago (in constant dollars).

Why is this happening? This puzzle can be explained by three trends eating into teachers’ take- home pay: rising health care costs, declining student/teacher ratios, and rising retirement costs…

It’s counterintuitive, but rising teacher retirement costs have not translated into better teacher retirement bene ts. That’s because 90 percent of public school teachers are enrolled in de ned bene t pension plans where a teacher’s retirement bene t is based on a formula, not on contributions into the plan. In fact, at the same time retirement contributions are at an all-time high, states are actively cutting bene ts, and the majority of contributions into teacher pension plans today are going to pay down existing debt. Today, states are paying an average of 12 percent of each teacher’s salary just for debt costs. If states didn’t face these large debts, they could a ord to give that money back to teachers in the form of higher salaries—an average of $6,801 for every public school teacher in America.

As you may have heard, the Obama Administration issued a guidance letter today on transgender students and restrooms. Hot issue lately. Keep in mind that for the most part the kids seem to be way ahead of the adults on this one. Unfortunately with some of the rhetoric you wouldn’t realize we were talking about a policy affecting kids. And aah Texas…..big issue in Texas.

Ben Riley on the science of learning and cheesy kickers. Whatever you think of ESA’s as a mechanism they seem to single an unbundling trend in education that bears watching.

University of Wisconsin Madison English chair on why she’s leaving the school:

I myself am now leaving the University of Wisconsin after 14 years. At my new university in another state, I will have stronger tenure protections than I now have here. I will earn about 50 percent more than my current salary for the same job. And I will be free from the strange crazy-making double-speak that on one hand demands that higher education deliver value like a business, and on the other hand, methodically prevents it from doing so.

Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch on free speech on campus:

During college commencement season, it is traditional for speakers to offer words of advice to the graduating class. But this year the two of us—who don’t see eye to eye on every issue—believe that the most urgent advice we can offer is actually to college presidents, boards, administrators and faculty.

Our advice is this: Stop stifling free speech and coddling intolerance for controversial ideas, which are crucial to a college education—as well as to human happiness and progress…

…The continued march of justice and progress depends on free speech, open minds and rational discourse. Colleges and universities—and those who hold their degrees—have helped lead the way for most of this nation’s history. The well-being of future generations of Americans depends on the preservation of that great legacy.

MA high school student on inclusiveness:

 It’s the common things that allow us to have empathy and compassion for others—and these are the emotions that make inclusion easy. If we can look into the eyes of a tiger, a seal, or a gorilla and feel empathy and compassion, it is because we’re noticing how like us they are. So we should all the more be able to look into the eyes of a stranger, a teacher, or a classmate, with consummate compassion, empathy, and human delight.

And yet we are so often unable to do so (as I often am). Why? I want to argue that, ironically, it’s because of a popular rhetoric for inclusion.

In case you missed it,  new Whiteboard Advisors Education Insider survey data (pdf). And in U.S. News I took a look at Harvard’s new single gender policy and whether it’s part of a trend. Interesting conversation about this with a colleague today who made the point that colleges are places that are at the vanguard of values and should make statements and stands on things like this. I think that’s right but the students should take it upon themselves to do that not look to the administration. Freedom of association also carries the freedom to disassociate and to organize – for instance to organize to protest these organizations or, for instance, for Harvard’s athletes to make a stand themselves rather than have one created by the administration. They could hire the University of Missouri’s football players as consultants…Here’s Charles Lane on the same issue.

Parenting today?

Think about it. As a kid, what was your costume for Halloween? If you were really lucky, your mom jabbed a pair of scissors in an old sheet, cut two eye holes, and you were a ghost. If her friend was coming over to frost her hair and showed up early, you got one eye hole cut and spent the next 45 minutes using a sharp stick to jab a second hole that was about two inches lower than its partner. I watched my cousin run directly into a parked car due to this very costume one year. He was still yelling, “Trick or Treat” as he slid down the rear quarter panel of a Buick, mildly concussed. When my son was 3 years old, we had a clown costume made by a seamstress, complete with pointy clown hat, and grease makeup. His grandmother spent more having that costume made than she did on my prom dress.

At some point in the last 25 years, the tide shifted and the parents started getting the marginal cars and the cheap clothes while the kids live like rock stars.

May 12, 2016

New Pre-K Data, Lake On NOLA, Mitchel On PA BS, MA Ed Politics, CRPE On The ‘Burbs, Trumpism Everywhere, Bellwether Anniversary, Bros Attack Guinea Pig.

At U.S. News I take a look at our growing affection for authority to solve our issues or right our wrongs. It’s not just Trump.

If you’re not reading Ahead of the Heard you’re missing some great stuff on adjudicated youth, early education, policy for homeless students, and Ashley Mitchel calling BS on the rhetoric about the pending teacher law in Pennsylvania.

Just in case the charter debate wasn’t nutty enough charter critics are now getting caught up in a debate that is basically about Turkish politics.

Robin Lake on NOLA governance changes. Charlie Baker cross pressured on ed policy in Massachusetts.

Bellwether launched publicly six years ago today. There were around six of us then, now almost 60. Enduring memory: Jane Pauley hosted the discussion portion of the event and wore shoes with red soles (easily visible because she was on a riser). Left an impression with many footwear aficionados there that day at Franklin School. People still mention it!

CRPE on the suburbs.   Catalyst from the Bush Center looks at education in the North American context.

Mathematica getting in the blog game. “Evidence In Action” focuses on what the name suggests.

New annual NIEER report on pre-k out today. A lot of data. Sara Mead with some analysis. Big release event today in New York City. At the risk of being impolitic I’ll just say it: If you want to expand access to high-quality pre-K and convince the skeptics that this is not just a jobs program, having the head of a teachers union that needs this membership growth and Mayor de Blasio headline the event might not be your best strategy. And I say that as someone who supports a robust system of pre-K.

If you haven’t checked in on 4.0Schools lately you should. More than just awesome headbands.

When bros attack: “At least 10 members of a high school lacrosse team in Michigan have been questioned about the possible guinea pig slaying…”

Harvard’s New Single Gender Policy & Trumpism

In U.S. News and World Report  I take a look at the trend toward wanting to make sure that those we disagree with “pay a price” rather than letting the course of human relations sort some of our differences out. Whether it’s Sanders wanting to jail all the bankers – but being unable to say based on what statute, the rising support among young people for governmental controls on speech, or Harvard deciding that if you join a single gender club you can’t have a leadership position in campus life or athletics.

…Harvard’s clubs, fraternities and sororities are not especially sympathetic, but that’s exactly the point. You don’t need to be a fan of private clubs, Greek life, Donald Trump or abhorrent hate speech toward minorities to discern a disturbing pattern here: At a time when Americans of all political stripes are frustrated with our politics, the authoritarian response to the other is increasingly the default one…

…Trump likes to say how those who don’t do things his way will pay a price. It lands like the threat it’s intended to be. But is it really that different than Harvard’s administration telling students if they join a certain club they’ll pay a price in terms of opportunities open to them, or Sanders blurring the lines between what’s gross and what’s illegal? The answer shouldn’t turn on whose name is on the letterhead.

You can read the entire thing here – without paying a price! If you’re a member of a secret club at Harvard  or a Trump supporter in higher education you certainly can’t divulge that! But you can tell me on Twitter why we should ban those clubs and jail all the bankers.

May 11, 2016

Trump And Teacher Shortages. Maybe College Isn’t So Bad? Charter Graduation Rates, NY Eval, Pensions And Young Trucks

The Times takes a look at high school graduates in today’s economy. Not as romantic as you may have heard on the D.C. think tank circuit. Also, keep an eye on the number of young men out of school and the workforce. Big issue.

Arizona testing news. More yardsticks to choose from there. Pretty sweet high school stadium in Texas. And for $62 million it ought to be.

NCTQ turns the knife:

Just like the media handed off most of its airtime and column inches to elevate Donald Trump’s candidacy, so too is the media guilty of announcing a crisis in teacher supply when the facts just don’t support it.

Despite all the noise pensions are sticking with hedge funds. Anyone on any board that has to manage an endowment will understand why, there are only so many places to deploy money right now and it’s an attractive opportunity.

Act as your own lawyer you have a fool for a client they say. But what about acting as your spouse’s lawyer? In a teacher evaluation case? Of course that’s not really the point of this New York court decision tossing out a teacher evaluation based on test scores. It’s largely a moot issue because of policy changes afoot in New York but still interesting.

There is a debate over charter schools and graduation rates in the wake of the new GradNation report. The usual lack of context. There are charter high schools with great rates and awful ones. But the real issue is accountability and oversight. If a school, charter or otherwise, is serving a niche population then it ought to have an accountability plan that reflects that and we should look at the data accordingly. For instance if a school serves 100 percent students who have already dropped out then we should consider its graduation rates with that in mind. And you want to recognize that some schools, virtual and otherwise, are serving students who have been ill-served by the traditional system. But, accountability loopholes create a place for bad actors to hide and “alternative” can mean too many things in today’s environment. For most schools the same rules should apply. High quality charter school oversight offers some lessons here about how to address genuinely niche schools.

Blast from the past, 13-year old plays Layla. Lenny Dykstra is now on Twitter.

May 10, 2016

Obama At Howard, Remediation Everywhere, Lisa Hansel On Knowledge Matters, Trump Philantrhopy, The Study Racket, Teacher Turnover, Charter Grad Rates,

If you have not read President Obama’s remarks at Howard University’s commencement last weekend they are well worth the time. Covers a lot of ground and a few ongoing debates but really interesting take on things and obvious education implications.

So it turns out remedial education is not just for other people’s kids. Are people more likely to be open with you about their sex lives and personal finances than about the mediocre quality of education in many allegedly high-end communities and schools? Kinda seems that way!

Here’s a wonderful LA Times story:

Headline: Union-commissioned report says charter schools are bleeding money from traditional ones

Lede: A teachers union-funded report on charter schools concludes that these largely nonunion campuses are costing traditional schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District millions of dollars in tax money.

Third graf: The union gave The Times the study in advance of its scheduled presentation at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, with the stipulation that the report not be distributed to outside parties.

Last two grafs: The MGT report, which cost $82,000, doesn’t fault charters, saying that the problems have more to do with state and federal policies as well as district decisions.

But in the policy brief, the union takes a more aggressive tone, arguing for changes that include full funding from the federal government for disabled students and equitable distribution of these dollars by the state; more money for charter oversight — either from the state or from charters; and charging higher district fees, where possible, to charters.

If you think your report can withstand methodological scrutiny this is not how you release it*…I get that the reporter is telegraphing to intelligent readers what’s going on but still…it sounds like the report doesn’t even fit the headline.

Lisa Hansel on why knowledge matters and how you can get involved in the effort to improve curriculum. NASBE on data. Nelson Smith on charter school graduation rates.

You should sit down when you read this: Popularity of Ed Tech Not Necessarily Linked to Products’ Impact. I know! No way right?

Today in false choices and reductionist debates. Can’t we fix archaic personnel rules and improve incentives and comp for teachers? And why do we assume great teachers don’t want a performance-oriented work environment? Plenty of evidence they do. Besides, the worst offenders on painting teaching as some dystopian experience are the self-proclaimed advocates for teachers. It’s among the more challenging jobs to do well but the rhetoric is misaligned from the data about career and job satisfaction.

Related, here’s Chad Aldeman with some data on teacher turnover. As a byproduct of our work on pensions we have a lot of good data on teacher workforce trends. Contact me if you want to learn more if it would be useful for your work.

At an EWA discussion last week about the election I suggested that in the absence of clear education policy positions from Donald Trump (sorry, repealing the “federal Common Core” doesn’t count as one) aspects of his record like personal philanthropy might offer some clues. Randi Weingarten of the AFT said that in her time in New York he was AWOL on the ed scene. This media story highlights one Trump Foundation education beneficiary, but it’s a private school in NYC.

Another look at New Orleans changes. NASSP is proposing a policy on transgendered students. Debate over Florida’s tax credit scholarship program.

Bonnie O’Keefe goes looking for stakes.

Buffaloes and tourists.

*At Bellwether, in case you’re wondering, for transparency we release reports immediately when they’re cited in the press so readers can make up their own minds and people can go through them. Many orgs do the same thing.

May 9, 2016

Newark Teacher Tells All! Hedge Funds, Student Loans, Whiteboard Education Insider Data, Private School Sexual Abuse, Grad Data, School Names, Testing & Choice, And Math and Mercury.

New Whiteboard Advisors Education Insider survey out (pdf). Fun look at who the next Secretary of Education might be in a Clinton or Trump administration. Also a lot on higher education policy and testing and a look at what to expect in education attention for the rest of the year.

John Troy on why he works in education.

The changes coming in NOLA.

A Newark teacher tells all:

I have taught in Newark’s district schools for 17 years. Currently, I am in a school that works on behalf of the students. I would love to say that this is a consistent practice; but that is not the case in many schools…

…This is why I am also one of the thousands of Newark’s parents who have chosen to send my child to a Newark public charter school. My son is 13 years old and attends Link Community Charter School…

If you think that hedge funds are the root of all evil you will be happy to see how much education money is going into fighting them. My hypothesis: This debate is like the one that plays out in a lot of dysfunctional states overseas where some external bogeyman (often the U.S.) is constantly trotted out as the real problem basic services can’t be delivered and things are a mess. There’s plenty not to like about finance these days but they’re not to blame for the quality of the schools.

Also, when you read this 74 look at the hedge fund debate it’s impossible to miss how much New York politics drive national education politics these days because of the strong AFT-UFT ties.

New Grad Nation report with data, a look at key challenges, and where the nation is on the 2020 graduation rate goal.

Debate over GMU’s decision to name its law school after the late Justice Scalia. Jay Greene and Mike Petrilli are debating how much test scores should be used to evaluate schools in a choice environment. As I’ve mentioned, among the many ironies in the education conversation today is how it’s school choice that is providing the most robust evidence for critics of test-based accountability.  But they can’t use it because, well, politics.

The Spotlight team is now looking at sexual abuse at private New England boarding schools:

So far this year, at least eight New England private schools have launched or disclosed sexual misconduct investigations. At least five of the probes — at St. George’s School in Rhode Island, Taft School in Connecticut, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Thayer Academy in Braintree, and Concord Academy in Concord — have led to staff members being placed on administrative leave or fired.

The troubles go way beyond those institutions. At least 67 private schools in New England have faced accusations since 1991 that staffers sexually abused or harassed more than 200 students, the Spotlight Team found through an examination of court cases, as well as interviews with alumni, relatives, school officials, and attorneys.

Do colleges need more skin in the game on higher ed finance?


In this true parable of 2016 I see another worrisome lesson, albeit one also possibly relevant to Trump’s appeal: That in America today, the only thing more terrifying than foreigners is…math.

Mercury transit today. 

May 6, 2016

Edujob: Vice President & Managing Director of the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN)

SIIA is hiring for a Vice President & Managing Director of the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN).

It’s an outfacing role. From the JD:

The ETIN Division’s VP and Managing Director’s mission is to drive strategic direction, programs and initiatives for the company members focused on providing technology products and services to the K20 markets, including managing the activities, including conferences, membership, research, publications, education policy, market and business issues, networking and public relations activities, and to represent the Division at industry events within the SIIA and at affiliated organizations.

Learn more and apply here. 

Centrist Reform, Tenure Lawsuit Joined, Mehlhorn On The Schools You Deserve, New Pahara Fellows, Educator Demographics, Math PD, High School Achievement, Cheerleading Lawsuits, Surveys Of Teachers & Parents, Education R & D, What Did Paterno Know When? Plus Doorbell Ringing Alligators!

It’s a rainy May 6th in the east. On this date in 1968 Neil Armstrong had to punch out of a lunar lander trainer and was almost killed. He was back at his desk an hour later…

New Class of Pahara – Aspen education fellows announced this week. More here.

Cool math PD here. BrightBytes partnering with iKeepSafe on student data privacy.

Department of Education report on educator demographics.

Paul Hill & Ashley Jochim on maintaining centrist education reform. Marilyn Rhames on Walton and Chicago. Dmitri Mehlhorn on raising our aspirations for public schools. President of the Minneapolis NAACP joins the anti-tenure lawsuit there. And Joe Nathan says charters are turning out to be Minnesota nice. Andrew Kelly says the sky is still not falling on student loans.

Blagg and Chingos say pay attention to the NAEP high school results:

The data strongly suggest that stagnant achievement among high school students is a real phenomenon. This result is consistent across different versions of NAEP and with other achievement tests and does not appear to result from changes in who is taking the test (e.g., as a result of rising high school graduation rates), flaws in test design and administration, or declining student effort.

Hunger strike to protest for disability rights at Princeton. Jim Shelton to lead the Zuckerberg – Chan education work. Pension funds should be thanking charter schools.

New NWEA survey of parental views on testing (pdf). Emmeline Zhao takes a look:

Educators working in low-income districts, however, are more likely to worry about too much testing than those who teach in middle- and high-income districts. This difference in perception across teachers and parents in the same communities, researchers say, show that while the potential exists for closing opportunity gaps with tests, the connection between promoting equity through assessments isn’t perfectly linear. And overall, teachers, principals, and superintendents worry far more than parents and students about overtesting.

Here’s a CEP survey of teachers. 

Lifeguard pensions:

….he rescued several people over the years, he said, while maintaining a high level of physical fitness and risking skin cancer from prolonged exposure to the sun. His lifeguard pension should not be viewed any differently from the larger pension he is collecting after 25 years of teaching in public schools.

Harvard is barring members of single gender clubs from student leadership positions. Possible First Amendment violation and controversial. Also means no recommendations for key scholarships and opportunities including Rhodes. Stay tuned.

Here’s a GIF of Illinois teacher workforce data. Mayoral control pushback in New York City. New evidence about what Coach Paterno knew when. The sorry state of education R & D. Alex Medler says don’t forget about authorizing in the charter – district collaboration conversation.

The United States Supreme Court is going to determine if cheerleading uniforms are art. Real money riding on the outcome.

Alligator goes door knocking. Wild turkey apparently looking for Wild Turkey?

May 4, 2016

ESSA Fiscal Battle Joined, Santelises To Baltimore, Fresh Voices, Hindus, NOLA, Daly On Grades, Gap Years, Prom Rules, And Meteors!

A lot of news today at RealClearEducation.

Department of interesting and fresh voices: Kai-leé Berke on the impact of early childhood educators.  And here’s the story of Escuela de la Raza Unida.

The Secretary of Education is in US Weekly.

In a big loss to the D.C. policy scene but big win for Baltimore Sonja Santelises is becoming schools CEO there.

Ed Navigator’s Tim Daly on school grades and what they don’t reveal:

What is a good school?

There’s no simple answer.  Families have different priorities. Children have different needs.  A school that’s perfect for one student may be perfectly awful for another.

This is a real challenge when it comes to rating schools, which aren’t good or bad in an absolute sense, typically.  If we can’t capture everything a family might value, should we not rate schools at all?  We could go that way.  But then how would families make informed choices about where to send their kids?

Write up on the recent DC luncheon for Afghan educator Sakena Yacoobi.

Gap years in the news: Gap year pros and cons. 

California school’s prom king and queen election becoming a flashpoint:

Even though she and her girlfriend were nominated to become this year’s prom king and queen, Lack, who enjoys overwhelming support from fellow students, has been told by school administrators that she’s ineligible, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.

The reason, administrators told the paper, is that having two members of one gender would exclude the other.

“Their argument doesn’t make sense to me,” Lack told the Searchlight. “We don’t need a female on the football team or a male cheerleader to be fair — why do we need a guy when the couple nominated is a female couple?”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is the apparent comfort level of the students juxtaposed with the school administration’s response. Hello generational change.

The crime rate in schools is not going up up up up up! Here’s an AEI take on the charter autonomy debate in Louisiana. Here’s EdBuild on resource disparities in education. The Hindu American Foundation has a guide out on common misconceptions you find in school curriculum about Hindus. This is purely anecdotal, but in some public processes I’ve been involved in, officials snap to for the usual panoply of education interest groups but blow stuff like this off when it’s raised.

The ESSA fiscal fight is now joined. Andrew Ujifusa looks at the money at stake.

Meteors tonight.

May 3, 2016

EduJob – Comms Partner At Ed Cities

Ed Cities is hiring a partner to lead communications there. Led by Ethan Gray it’s a virtual org so you can work from anywhere. From the JD:

The Partner, Communications is responsible for developing and executing a sophisticated internal and external communications strategy on behalf of Education Cities. He or she will also advise organizations across the Education Cities network through direct advising projects and by building a community of practice for communications staff at member organizations.

He or she will report to the Founder and CEO and be a member of the Education Cities leadership team.

You can learn more about the organization and how to apply here. 

Teacher Cheating, Teachers Pushing Back On Discipline, Child Care Versus College, AFT Versus Pearson And Hedge Funds, Opt-Out And Race, Census Problems, RAND On Retirement, Lerum Wants His Money Back, Not Free Community College, Plus More! Also, Dog Makes Different Life Choices

Sara Mead asks why we pay so much attention to college costs and so much less to child care costs? Kids get under-counted in the census and the problem is especially acute for Hispanic students.  This matters for a host of reasons, including how federal funds get distributed for educational initiatives and education politics more generally.

Teacher pushback on the discipline reform thrust.

Maggie Thornton prods Virginia to step up its education game.  Cynthia Tucker Haynes on opt-out and race. Common standards and military families. Free, in a way, community college in Boston.

Bloomberg takes on safe spaces.  NPR looks at Words Unlocked, a cool poetry initiative for incarcerated students.

Politics versus economics? Warren Buffet says Trump’s OK.  Andrew Sullivan says  he’s an extinction level event for democracy.

One of public education’s great shibboleths is this idea that all public schools happily take all kids and that’s why we can’t have choice. In practice special education students and others with special needs are concentrated in various programs. That often makes great sense and improves quality. But there is a darker side as well – adjudicated students returning to school, homeless students, and various kinds of migrant students often find themselves unwelcome. AP takes a look at how that’s playing out for migrant students. I remember one “there are no American tanks in Baghdad” style conversation I had with a school official, that occurred within a mile of a migrant camp, and he told me there are no migrant students in his community…This idea of balancing choice and specialization with mass service is going to become an even bigger issue going forward for this sector and we’re not even very good at talking about it let alone designing equitable and effective policies.

Meanwhile, charters and special education.

Here’s a story with the headline saying it’s about the good news behind bad test scores. But then there isn’t really good news? Maybe the good news is that the test score releases allow for stories like this? Good news if you’re a journalist. The article suggests we just can’t ignore achievement gaps any longer. But that’s only good news if you have no sense of educational history or educational politics. The sector really excels at ignoring and minimizing those issues.

Anyway, guess what? the achievement gap is a problem in all communities, including affluent ones? So why did we pass ESSA? Oh, right…Interactive version of the data here.

Here are some findings from a new NBER study on teacher cheating that won’t fit with what you read on Facebook. From open-source summary:

*The urge to nudge scores upward had nothing to do with incentives and penalties, such as those under the No Child Left Behind law, that increase the pressure of schools to deliver better results.  The patterns before and after No Child Left Behind were essentially the same.

*The primary motivation seems to have been “altruistic,” in Dee’s words: many test graders wanted to spare students they knew from the consequences of failing to graduate, particularly those with a prior record of high achievement and good behavior.

*The manipulation of test scores was more prevalent in schools with largely African-American and Latino student populations.  Indeed, it artificially narrowed the black-white gap in graduation rates.  Had there been no manipulation, the researchers estimated, the gap would have been 5 percent wider.

*Two reforms after 2011 – prohibiting teachers from grading students in their own schools, and prohibiting graders from re-scoring tests that of students who came in just below the thresholds – eliminated virtually all of the manipulation.

Also new CALDER paper looks at the impact of cheating on students. (Short version: It’s adverse).

But none of this matters because this idea of making sure kids learn in school is crazy. Here’s Jane Sanders:

 The standardized tests that they do as a marker is one thing. I think the standardized tests that they say: do you know fourth-grade English or fourth-grade history? I think is a disaster and absolutely would not support that.

I guess if you don’t know history you can’t forget it and then repeat it?  And English, c’mon! Who needs that? Especially in grade school…

Matt Levine takes a look at public pensions and political activism. Punchline: No one has any idea what’s going on:

I have never quite understood how you are supposed to run a pension fund, particularly a public pension fund. There are two basic goals:

  1. Advance the political and employment interests of the people whose money you manage (which, for a public pension, means both employees/retirees and also taxpayers/voters).
  2. Make them as much money as you can.

Sometimes those goals conflict, and when they do, they seem sort of incommensurable. Should you do what your beneficiaries (or taxpayers) would want politically, morally, or in their role as public employees? Or should you just keep your head down and make money? I don’t have any great idea of how you balance those things, and I’m not sure the California Public Employees’ Retirement System does either

I’ve asked legal and industry experts about this related to things like the AFT’s enemies list of money managers and whether that crosses lines. Consensus seems to be that it’s all bad for beneficiaries (who presumably should want their money managers only focused on managing their money as effectively as possible) but tricky legally because hedge fund performance in particular is so all over the place you can make a plausible case for dropping just about anyone at any time. Here’s more on the union versus hedgies battle. A lot of complaining about the fees but isn’t the lack of awareness about the fees from pension officials even more worrisome?

Meanwhile Pearson’s earnings are down. But the AFT-led shareholder revolt went pretty much nowhere outside of allies. I have absolutely no idea if that means you should buy or sell Pearson. You can probably argue it either way.

I used to look at the balance sheets and P & Ls for state charter associations and wonder if they were in the education advocacy business or the insurance business. Now, I look at the AFT and wonder if they’re a union representing teachers or some sort of activist investment project. Good thing there are no core educational problems in our sector that need solving.

RAND tries to model retirement policies and teacher retention.

Speaking of money Eric Lerum says you should consider asking for yours back on K-12 in the U.S.

Today in “No this time we really really really mean it!”

Hunting dog chooses a different life.  Chimp gets sick of watching DVDs.

April 29, 2016

Friday Fish Porn – Ben And The Bruiser

IMG_3107Ben Wallerstein runs Whiteboard Advisors and is active and sought after in the education investing world, advising on a variety of deals and transactions.

He also knows his way around a fly rod and has appeared in Fish Porn a few times before. Here he is with a rainbow trout caught just this week.

Every fish picture doesn’t have to be an enormous fish. We also like scenery shots of all kinds and fun settings. Plus small fish good, too. We’ve featured plenty of those. You can scroll the archives for the world’s largest collection of education types with fish and see the variety. Send yours!

April 28, 2016

States And Talent, Less NAEP Means More NAEP? Transparency Means Better Finance? Oakland Charters, Names At Yale, Tenure And Free Speech, Prince And Students!

Christine Campbell on principals and how states think about talent in education.  Phillip Burgoyne-Allen argues for a bit less NAEP, which could mean more NAEP:

If we didn’t have the data above from 2005, 2009, and 2013 – meaning these NAEP tests were only administered every four years – would we really be missing out on much? As the graph below shows, we’d still have the same trend lines and the same idea of how math and reading performance looked over the past decade. The fact is, taking these tests every two years just isn’t very productive.

In Oakland the League of Women voters honors a charter school supporting parent advocacy organization with its Making Democracy Work award.  Either they didn’t get the memo or it’s a bold kids-first call. I think the latter.

Accountability for doing your job may make you more likely to go to work. Marguerite Roza says you can’t turn back the clock on transparency’s impact on school finance.

Noah Feldman defends a quite undesirable Florida professor fired for what looks like some off-the-wall views about the Sandy Hook shootings. Echoes of Ward Churchill. A lot going on here. The university did fire the professor but not, officially anyway, for his views but rather for paperwork issues. That seems, as Feldman points out, a troubling backdoor way to do this.

It’s certainly not cut and dry, but what about the front door? It seems central to free inquiry that you should be able to say what you want in your areas of expertise and research no matter how shocking or offensive it might be to many or to some or just a few (especially a powerful few). But it’s unclear why academic freedom should in practice be some sort of get out of jail free card to just say whatever the hell you want about anything you want? You teach rhetoric and composition, for instance, is running around saying that Israel and the U.S. were behind the 9-11 attacks integral to your academic work? Maybe so, yes, but it’s certainly not cut and dry.

I’m a strong supporter of free speech rights and protecting professors from political pressure is vital – especially in today’s climate (in higher ed tenure has other benefits, too). But, it’s worth at least asking if there are any reasonable lines here? Feldman says that when you’re teaching incorrect facts that’s one line. But the obvious question of whose facts takes you down a troublesome path pretty fast. And this is an especially complicated question when, as in this case, you’re dealing with a discipline that covers a lot of ground and issues – he was a professor of communications. A field like rhetoric or law presents the same challenge. Whether you can cloak yourself in an official state role to say anything you want about anything or whether your absolute protections should be related to your field of academic work seems like a something at least worth discussing?

In other words, I tend to agree with Feldman but the case would be stronger if higher education leaders made it with more nuance than just saying free speech and academic freedom. There is a “why” question that’s not unreasonable to ask and ought to be answered around an expansive approach here.

Elsewhere, try to figure this one out: Despite protests Yale is keeping a building named for notorious slavery advocate because that helps everyone remember or something but is also dropping a term with an etymology that long predates slavery. Critics say it’s donor pressure.

When Prince rocked LA – but just for special need students.

Elon Musk is going to Mars.

April 27, 2016

NAEPanic! Warm Milk And Cold Showers, Stipe On Campus Guns, College Signaling, Ted Cruz On Showers, Perry On NOLA, The Schools Case For Boaty!

“This is U.S. History, I see the globe right there.”

I know I’m supposed to freak out today about 12th-grade NAEP results. They’re certainly not great. 5-3 has your breakdown here. I don’t pay a great deal of attention to the 12th-grade test. All else equal would be better if scores were up but the sky is not falling any more than it was or wasn’t yesterday and this is mostly an exercise in confirmation bias and talking points. But, 5-3 points out a few under the topline things worth watching including the drop for low-achievers and a bump for ELL students. Everyone wants a referendum on Common Core but that means comparing non-CCSS states with strong implementers not overall scores.

Anyway, for fun there are really a few possible things happening here:

1)    The recent drops or stalling on various NAEP tests are just random and we should be leery of reading much of anything into them. Forward!

2)    The recent results indicate a problem and Common Core is the culprit. Course correct!

3)    The recent results are real and it means standards-based reform is reaching its substantive and/or political limits and we need to discuss other strategies – technology, far more student choice, some combination of the two. Panic! Or rejoice! (Depending on your perspective).

I lean toward 3 though. Update: Here’s the Ed Trust’s take:

“Simply put, high schools are treating graduation as the end goal for too many low-income students and students of color, rather than ensuring that all students have access to learning opportunities that will prepare them for college and the workplace,” said Daria Hall, vice president for Government Affairs and Communications at The Education Trust. “These results create a real urgency to build strong high schools that meet with students’ and parents’ future goal. Let’s not waste it.”

Might not be the end of the world as we know it, but having students carrying guns around campuses doesn’t seem like a very good idea. Here’s Michael Stipe on that. A lot of booze, young adults, new and sometimes stressful situations, and firearms, what could possibly go wrong?

The evidence on merit pay is not as cut and dry as you probably heard on Twitter.

Here’s one of these education articles that feels like a warm milk bath for true believers but actually makes little sense:

Want Your Kids to Get a Good Education? Support Their Teachers’ Workplace Rights

I do, I do! C’mon, who can be against that? Except the lawsuit in question, Vergara, turns on whether a specific set of policies that are almost universally regarded as problematic are, in fact, unconstitutional. Even striking them down still leaves teachers with workplace rights. At issue are specific tenure and dismissal rules around performance.

But would you go for an article that said, “If you want your money to grow fast, leave bankers alone?” Sensible personnel policies in education are no more at odds with good education as sensible financial regulation is with economic growth. (By the way, if the teachers unions in California were so concerned about stability for students and all that why did they fight the Reed case in LA to help prevent poor kids from having too much teacher turnover because of LIFO laws?)

Ted Cruz and the shower scene.

Howard University is giving students 50 percent of final semester’s tuition back if they graduate on time or early.

Andre Perry on the unfolding debate about local input and New Orleans schools. Should young farmers get enhanced loan forgiveness?

Nuance on college debt and signaling:

America’s astronomical student loan debt makes headlines regularly, but most of this debt is held by students who hold degrees and have the means to pay the debt back. Much less well-known are the many borrowers who haven’t completed their credential. Even under income-based repayment and eventual forgiveness, these borrowers can be saddled with debt for decades, diminishing take home pay, marring credit, and otherwise restricting their options. Arming prospective college students with better information about the likelihood of success can help families and policymakers better allocate resources while safeguarding open access to higher education.

The education case for Boaty McBoatface: It will get kids interested in science!