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!


April 26, 2016

Barth Challenges Higher Ed, VA Teacher Data Lawsuit, Pensions Challenge IL, Cruz On Edu, Richmond On Equity, Today In Education Political Counterfactuals, And More. Plus Free Willie!

This video might teach you something about pensions - and it’s must-watch for teachers. New DQC report on student data.

Richard Barth calls on colleges to get serious about helping low-income students get a leg up:

Imagine if leaders at 40 of the most selective colleges in the country stepped up, with a commitment to create 100 new spots at each of their schools and combined that with a significant effort to expose talented low-income students to their institutions. That’s the equivalent of adding two Harvard or Yale freshman classes.

Seats for 4,000 new students might not seem like a lot, on a national scale. But the echo effect in low-income communities, among other colleges, and on the makeup of the nation’s future leadership, would be tremendous.

Parent suing in Virginia over data transparency for teacher performance information prevails.  It’s very easy to misuse data like this so now comes the hard part. But, Virginia officials wouldn’t be in this position if the state were more transparent and parent-friendly with regard to education to begin with. If you think this is a wound, then it’s at least in part self-inflicted.

There seems to be a problem with pensions in Illinois? Emily Richmond on equity and equality. Ted Cruz’s education views. Hailly Korman on a new toolkit to help adjudicated students transition.

Counterfactual of the day: LAT’s Howard Blume looks at Network for Public Education’s decision to hold a meeting in North Carolina rather than boycott over the state’s recent anti-LGBT law. There are ironies on top of ironies with this whole NC episode in terms of corporate behavior individual choices and all the rest and reasonable people can disagree about whether boycotting or not is the best or most effective approach to addressing the new law. But, I can’t help but wonder if all the people ratifying the decision to hold an education meeting there would be as forgiving or giving of cover if it was, say, DFER or Students First or for that matter Pearson or some other unpopular for-profit player who decided to hold a meeting in NC?

In terms of this specific decision my take is more pedestrian: It’s a real hassle to reschedule a conference, scheduling, hotel deposits, non-refundable travel and all, so this is a pretty handy ex-post facto justification to sidestep all that and still have your meeting  - ‘We’re the real heroes here! We were going to the belly of the beast!’

Don’t let the public name anything? The Austin School Board has final say in renaming Robert E. Lee Elementary there but they asked for public input and here is what they got. Trump won in a landslide but there were some inspired choices including Schooly McScoolerson and Willie Nelson Elementary. Boaty McBoatface got a vote, too. Willie is overdue for a school, I could get behind that. Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys is as useful as anything you’re going to get from many ed schools…

Chesapeake Bay whale.


April 25, 2016

The Pope & School Choice, One-L McLaughlin And Research, Aldeman & FAFSA, Opt-Outs, POTUS Ed Policy, Newark, Charter Authorizing, Swing Voters And Edu, When Prince Rocked Gallaudet…Plus Edu Duck Feet.

Education news all over the sector curated here, as it is each weekday, at RealClearEducation.

Pope Francis is a school choice supporter.

In Amoris Laetitia, the pontiff reiterates the church’s teaching that choice in education is a fundamental right of parents who are “called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them,” meaning the state must not deny parents the right to select their child’s educational path, be it public or private, regardless of their financial means.

Here’s a really interesting interview with Michele McLaughlin about education research and policy.  And here’s an awful teaching story from Alaska:

When Jennifer moved to Alaska to teach in a rural village, she didn’t know the state has the highest rate of reported rape in the country. Then, men started banging on her door at night.

Gosh, if only there were actual data on the opt-out movement we wouldn’t have to speculate about demographics. Anecdotes more fun though.

Chad Aldeman has your state-by-state FAFSA data here.  The 74 looks at what’s happening in Buffalo.  Denver school board appointment resolution.

On Friday I took a look at all these education lawsuits in USN.

When it comes to Sanders’ free-college plan is it the wealthy feeling the bern? Bloomberg View says both Dem candidates walking away from K-12:

Neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton is defending one of President Barack Obama’s most important legacies: education reform. Instead of taking on the teachers’ unions, as the president did, both candidates offer an agenda that amounts to spending more and demanding less. It’s not a winning combination.

In Newark, unity or machine politics? Or a new era for charters there?

Perspectives on charter school authorizing and special education.  Survey on swing voters and policy preferences from PPI. Includes education angles.

Here’s some information about adjudicated students in California – that points the need for more information to improve quality for them.

When Prince rocked Gallaudet.

Return of free debate to college campuses.

Teacher 3D prints duck feet. Really.


April 22, 2016

I’ll See You In Court! Why To Expect More Education Lawsuits Via U.S. News

Hoping for fewer education policy lawsuits? I have some bad news. Expect more. I look at why in a new U.S. News & World Report column:

….To some extent, legal battles over schools are nothing new. Special education alone is responsible for the second homes and college educations of the families of education lawyers across the country. Court cases integrated schools, paved the way for federal special education law and sorted out complicated issues like student busing assignments and student free speech and Fourth Amendment rights. Lawsuits about school finance are a full employment program for education attorneys. The current United States Secretary of Education is a lawyer!

Yet today’s lawsuits are something of an evolution. These new suits are not only about fundamental rights but also about sorting out complicated and hotly debated policy questions.

This leads to cries of foul. Some conservatives don’t want courts involved in anything that smacks of policymaking. The teachers’ unions – although themselves not shy about rushing into court – find themselves disproportionately on the receiving end of this latest round of lawsuits. Suddenly judicial restraint sounds better!

Critics are likely to be disappointed. Although it’s a strategy with political and practical risks, look for more, not fewer, lawsuits as education reform evolves. Here’s why…

You can read the entire column here. Who is your favorite eduction attorney? Someone should really market education lawsuit trading cards. You could have a whole pack these days…In the meantime tell me on Twitter who you’d like to sue over schools @arotherham.

Friday Fish Porn – Weather Warming Up, Kosar’s Already On The Water, It’s Back!

It’s warming up, that can only mean one thing around here….fish pictures. That, and the shad run is on in the east. Here’s Kevin Kosar (education analyst, whiskey expert, father extraordinaire, and perennial candidate for mayor of Fish Porn) with a nice one from the Potomac River.

Shad are an amazing fish. Here’s John McPhee’s engaging book about them and their history – and ours.  And a shorter New Yorker article. They are not much for eating, there is an old joke about wood planking them that ends with eating the smoked plank rather than the fish. But for anglers they’re a blast. Strong hard fighting anadromous fish on light tackle, or even better a fly rod. Spring weather. Hard to beat.

So send pictures of you with your fish or in the pursuit of fish. They don’t have to be as literary as the shad. We take all types. And then you’ll be added to the world’s only collection of hundreds of education types with fish they have caught.

CgQrv34VIAIH3Hn.jpg-large


April 21, 2016

No Bard! Shakespeare Is Out At America’s Top Colleges, ACT V. SAT, New York Progress On LGBT, Prince In HS, Pension Problems, Nuance With Mitchel, School Board Meetings, Teaching Challenges, Bear Insults.

Here’s a bit on Prince’s high school days. He was more than just a phenomenally talented musician.

Ladies and gentleman: Your fourth largest school system.

Happy birthday William!

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015” a year ago this month which documented the extent to which the Bard has been barred from the priority list for English majors—both at the top 25 U.S. colleges and universities and at the top 25 U.S. colleges and universities for liberal arts, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. A scant 8 percent of the top institutions nationally require a dedicated Shakespeare course for English majors. Some of these Shakespeare-impaired English majors will eventually teach high school English, and no one seems to care that they will be doing so undereducated and underprepared.

Harvard and UC–Berkeley were the only two among the top 25 schools overall to require Shakespeare for English majors; Wellesley and the U.S. Naval Academy, the only two among the top 25 liberal arts schools.

New York is appointing an LGBT liaison for the school district.

Like a couple of hockey players you knew this ACT/SAT fight was coming.

Here’s an argument for why the volatility associated with public sector pensions is the biggest challenge. It’s an issue, to be sure. But here in education I’d argue instead that the biggest problem is that a retirement system that works for only about 20 percent of the people it touches is just not a very good retirement scheme from a design perspective. Related: Leslie Kan with some good questions on pension finance.

Ashley Mitchel looks at a complicated pre-K/charter issue in New Jersey:

The decision here isn’t obvious. And it shouldn’t be, unless you’re mindlessly pro- or anti-charter.

The idea of charters supporting students in college isn’t a new one but it’s now getting some attention.

Trigger warning for parents: Your kid may not be doing as well in school as you think.  Great moments in school board meetings.  Rick Hess is very upset with Arne Duncan.

OK, here’s a classroom management challenge you don’t see every day.

How to properly insult a bear. 


April 20, 2016

Today: Featuring Lawyers Arguing About Vergara! Plus Engaging Veteran Teachers, Petrilli V. Duncan, Barnum On LA Charters, Character Labs Edujobs, Better Blogging, And Is Boaty McBoatface Already On A Shoal?

I encourage you to show a bit of grit and check out the edujobs at Character Labs below.  Application window for the next Bellwether Better Blogging training is open.

Sharon Archer on engaging veteran teachers. Here’s Matt Barnum on charters in LA. Ignore though, it’s nothing but evidence. Mike Petrilli v. Arne Duncan. Bard debaters win again.

Chiefs for Change on Direct Student Services in ESSA.

Lawyers, arguing about Vergara:

Dmitri Mehlhorn:

Justice Boren’s understanding of the term “inevitably” appears to be sharply different from the Court’s holdings in Serrano. After all, it was conceptually possible for low-income neighborhoods to spend substantially higher portions of their incomes on property taxes. To be sure, they would “tend to” avoid doing so because of the costs and consequences, but it would have been conceptually possible for them to do so. By Justice Boren’s logic, their failure to do so was their local failure, not the failure of the California public treasury to equalize local property taxes. Justice Boren thus ignored the clear meaning of the term “inevitably” from Serrano as “inevitably given the evidence, and given a realistic and fact-based understanding of human behavior.”

Hailly Korman:

When the plaintiffs made the decision to advance a facial challenge, they took on the burden of proving that “no application of the statute would be constitutional.” In order to do so, they would have to prove that the operation of these teacher tenure laws inevitably led to the harms shown.  Proving that the harms occurred and that students suffered isn’t sufficient.  And proving that the laws contributed to them, or created the circumstances for them to occur, or made it difficult to have any other outcome also isn’t enough.

But when this court repeatedly signaled their disappointment with the high bar that plaintiffs set for themselves in choosing this approach, they may have been suggesting that they would be more sympathetic to an “as applied” challenge to the same laws.  Smart plaintiffs will take note.

Go ahead, just dial a Swede.  Boaty McBoatface is already sailing in treacherous waters.


Edujobs – @TheCharacterLab

Character Lab is growing and they’re hiring, five really interesting roles open now:
  • Director of Communications
  • Director of Design
  • Director of Education
  • Director of Research
  • Operations Coordinator

This is a great chance to be right in the middle of some of the most interesting work in education right now especially as policymakers are paying more attention to non-academic aspects of learning and, more specifically, to Angela Duckworth’s work.

About the Character Lab:

The mission of the Character Lab is to advance the science and practice of character development so that all children develop to their fullest potential.  To more fully realize our interdisciplinary vision, the Character Lab moved its physical headquarters from New York City to Philadelphia. Coincident with this move, Angela Duckworth assumed her current leadership role as Scientific Director and Donald Kamentz, a two-decade education veteran most recently with the YES Prep public charter school system in Houston, is the new Executive Director.

We have an ambitious new strategic plan, through which we will radically increase the quantity of applied research on character development, create innovative measures of character for use by both researchers and educators, and create effective and easy-to-use character development tools for educators, among other important initiatives.

You can learn more about these roles and the Character Lab here. 


April 19, 2016

Better Blogging Applications Open Now! Combative CREDO, Rhode Island, Duncan At G’Town, Ed Tech On The Inside, Forced Marriage And Pensions In Charters, Evidence And Federal Agencies, Rhames On Chicago, Lead, KIPP, 100K in 10, Cub Reporters And Big Cats!

Applications are open for the next Bellwether blog training – it’s in July.  Application deadline 5/2.  Apply ASAP, this is always over-subscribed by a substantial margin.

Marilyn Rhames is all over what’s happening in Chicago. She asks who the kids belong to anyway? And calls for a bit of political disarmament.

CREDO pushing back on misuse of its data and findings. They haven’t always done this as their results have been widely and wildly abused. And this one went out in an email blast as well.

Here’s a user-friendly guide to talking about standards via 100k in 10.  Who is using evidence? Federal What Works Index from Results For America. KIPP results.

Hailly Korman on how ed tech can help adjudicated youth. NSNO on equity and quality in the next generation of school improvement work in NOLA.  Again, the overseas student scam. Mike Petrilli says education improvement is not just about policy! Paddling still happens in schools.

Yesterday Arne Duncan and I talked school finance and education more generally at Georgetown.

Anyela Aquino can play volleyball. And a New York judge just said she can play volleyball with the boys. Broader implications than just this instance.

It’s easy to see this as just a charter – district flashpoint story.  But it’s really a story about how a pension system designed for one era is a bad fit for today.

This would never happen in Grosse Point! Actually, lead in Grosse Point. There is certainly a class and race angle to environmental issues in many communities but you’re missing the story of what a mess we’ve made if you think that is all there is to it. Check out how close you probably live to a Superfund site…

Things quieting down in Rhode Island:

Ken Wagner, the state’s new education commissioner, has also adopted a more conciliatory tone, which, superintendents say, has had a calming effect on families and educators alike. Wagner this winter said his agency isn’t going to get into “coercive battles” with families over refusal to take the test. If a student refuses, then that child should be given another activity that doesn’t feel punitive.

“We’re not giving permission to opt out. Last year, we did,” said Chariho Supt. Barry Ricci. “We planned all of these alternative activities. It was chaotic. This year, if students refuse, they sit in the testing environment and read.”

Someone give this kid a contract!

This is odd:

Auditors questioned, for example, the use of school funds to pay a $566,803 settlement to a former teacher who sued the organization for wrongful termination after she was directed by Okonkwo to travel with her to Nigeria to marry Okonkwo’s brother-in-law for the purpose of making him a United States citizen.

Great big kitty visits high school.


April 15, 2016

Vergara Down! Can We Even Know What Tenure Is? Edujobs, Board Appointments, Hansel/Pondiscio On Literacy, CTE, TFA, Closures, Parental Involvement, And What Boycott? Another Animal On The Run!

At Bellwether we work to put out and organize a lot of information for you. Our own publications can be found here, a lot of information on teacher pensions can be found here, and we work with RealClearPolitics and curate education news from around the sector two times each weekday here at RealClearEducation. And look for a new site soon…

Some new edujobs here.

Vergara overturned on appeal. Underneath all the rhetoric about the Vergara case the legal question was whether the California laws in question violate California’s constitution. The plaintiff’s argument would have extended a line of legal analysis about how courts should interpret those statutes. At the original trial a judge ruled for the plaintiffs. Yesterday an appellate court said they hadn’t met that burden. The appellate court said that the plaintiffs had failed to show the statutes specifically impact certain groups of students and instead that the problem was how school administrators implement them. Somewhat ironically, if you want to see a more expansive interpretation of due process rights – as many on the political left do –  the ruling is a setback. But because this is education we’re talking about, and teachers unions in particular, the politics instead break in politically predictable ways.  The case now goes to California’s Supreme Court.

From the decision (pdf):

Although the statutes may lead to the hiring and retention of more ineffective teachers than a hypothetical alternative system would, the statutes do not address the assignment of teachers; instead, administrators—not the statutes—ultimately determine where teachers within a district are assigned to teach. Critically, plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students.

With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes. The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are “a good idea.” (McHugh v. Santa Monica Rent Control Bd. (1989) 49 Cal.3d 348, 388.) Additionally, our review is limited to the particular constitutional challenge that plaintiffs decided to bring. Plaintiffs brought a facial equal protection challenge, meaning they challenged the statutes themselves, not how the statutes are implemented in particular school districts. Since plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the statutes violate equal protection on their face, the judgment cannot be affirmed.

More analysis – with some really key insights –  from Bellwether’s Hailly Korman – who litigated the Reed case in LA back in her days as a barrister.

A similar lawsuit filed in Minnesota this week. But this one is sparking an outbreak of Campbell Brown derangement syndrome:

Campbell Brown “continues to do the bidding of her monied donors,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement Wednesday. “Tenure doesn’t give anyone a job for life; it’s about ensuring fairness and due process in the workplace,” Weingarten said. “Stripping teachers of workplace protections will harm, not help, those students most at risk.”

Yet here’s Weingarten herself on tenure:

“It has effectively become in some places a job for life, which is wrong,” said Weingarten.

OK, then. Maybe it’s a metaphysical question? Really, what is tenure anyway… ? People say education is too slow to change. When it comes to the politics I feel like if you take a day off you’re suddenly behind the game. In any event, if you just want to focus on how adult politics drive American education, well, that’s your job for life. Why are we even talking about Campbell Brown here? This is about laws in Minnesota not people in New York!

John King’s curriculum speech sparks this from Hansel and Pondiscio on curriculum broadening and literacy. Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard on the challenges of recruiting.  New analysis on the effects of school closures in New York.  Parental involvement may hurt rather than  help!

A lot of people and organizations boycotting North Carolina in the wake of its recent anti-LGBT law – but school reform critics not amongst them.

It seems there is a consensus around the importance of CTE and existence of good post-secondary opportunities that are not just four-year colleges. Here’s a Times op-ed today on exactly that. But less discussed is the question of how you let young people make genuine choices about different paths but then also leave the door open for them to reconsider those choices a few years later.  That’s where CTE programs that also maintain an academic focus are key. They have good outcomes and account for the reality that many young people don’t yet have a clear sense of how they want to spend their lives (and the decisions run both ways, plenty of people subsequently decide college isn’t the right path, too).

Interesting situation in Denver around a board appointment.

This animal escapee looks a lot less adorable and quite a bit more dangerous than the Finding Nemo-like Octopus from earlier this week.


Edujobs! Broad Academy And Alliance College-Ready Public Schools

Three interesting and impactful edujobs:

At The Broad Center they are seeking a Managing Director, Alumni & Network Services and a Managing Director for the Broad Academy.  These are both great roles overall but you also get to work with Becca Bracy Knight who is a terrific leader in our sector.

The Broad Academy (TBA) is a highly selective, advanced professional development program for talented, innovative leaders from across the nation. The Academy works with these transformative leaders to drive dramatic gains in student achievement in large-city school districts, high-performing urban public charter school systems, state and federal education agencies, and public turnaround systems.

In California, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools are seeking a  Chief Talent Officer.
The first Alliance campus opened in 2004 at the corner of Western and Martin Luther King Blvd. with a small group of dedicated educators serving a few hundred families who wanted something better for their children. Today, with more than 6,000 graduates, Alliance is the largest nonprofit charter organization in Los Angeles, providing opportunities and access for nearly 12,000 low-income students across 27 free, high-performing, public charter high schools and middle schools.

April 14, 2016

Education Books, King On Narrowing, MN Teacher Lawsuit, Turnaround Troubles, Pearson, Normalizing Pre-K Debate, Hamilton For Students, And More! Also, Caught Snake & Escapee Octopus

So there is a new romance novel based on New York’s infamous Rubber Rooms. Can’t wait to read but the bar for good education novels is quite high. For instance, there was an amazing one about No Child Left Behind and erectile dysfunction that really set a standard.

Speaking of books, Grapes of Wrath, a book that has enchanted or frustrated many a student, was first published on this date in 1939.

John King is giving a speech today calling for a more well-rounded curriculum. It’s worth reading as there is some nuance in it about the situation. And who can be against well-rounded curriculum anyway? That’s like being against ice cream. But, it’s worth noting that all the things states say they’re doing or advocates say they want states to do, well, they could do them under No Child Left Behind, too.

When it comes to teacher pensions 20 years of experience is not always the same as 20 years of experience. A lot depends on when you started and finished teaching.

This is not Minnesota nice! Another lawsuit over teacher policy, this time in Minnesota. CA, NY, now MN, three’s a trend right? Meanwhile the governance circus in Maine continues.

It’s really hard to turn around low-performing schools. AIR looks at that. Sure seems odd that given what we know about turnarounds and that everyone can’t seem to hashtag social mobility and inequality enough there is still not anything approaching a consensus on opening new high quality options for underserved students and their families…

I haven’t linked to the latest in this AFT versus Pearson shareholder dispute because it’s just so absurd – and not even in the ‘isn’t life wonderful?’ sense. Just absurd. The way union leaders talk about Pearson you’d think they were shorting the stock but in practice they and their affiliates are long on it – and really not doing their fellow shareholders any favors. But apparently people do want to know! I actually get emails asking ‘what’s that about?’ So if you’re interested Morning Education had the latest yesterday.* Anya Kamenetz looks at Pearson’s global work in Wired but mostly through the lens of how the U.S. sees things not the global reality for parents and students.

Bob Costrell on generational inequity and teacher pensions. Neerav Kingsland on RCTs. Paul Hill on wrap-around services.

Democratizing Hamilton. If you’ve checked out ticket prices for Hamilton on the secondary market, the only place they’re really available right now, there is a certain irony at play. Now an effort to make the musical accessible to students.

Sara Mead asks for a productive debate about pre-k education (give her a pony, too)?

In our highly fragmented early childhood system, some preschool programs have adequate resources to deliver quality programs, and many more do not. Expectations for quality also vary widely, both across funding streams and individual providers. In this context, asking whether “pre-K works” is as pointless a question as asking whether fourth grade works. Anyone familiar with Raj Chetty’sEric Hanushek’s or Dan Goldhaber’s work on variation in K-12 teacher effectiveness knows that there is a tremendous variation in children’s experiences in K-12 classrooms and the impact on their learning. By the same token, however, no one familiar with this research argues that our inability to guarantee quality fourth-grade teaching for all students means we should abolish fourth grade altogether.

The far more productive question, then, is, how do we make quality pre-K available at scale?

Here is a very long snake. This octopus is on the lam.

*Good a time as any for a standing disclosure that I don’t actively invest in education companies. Too many potential conflicts with my work. I do index funds. Boring, I know.


April 13, 2016

Clinton’s Education Comments Not As Crazy As You Heard On Twitter, Go Denver, Success Academy Jackpot, Semantics, Some Antics, Pensions, Trump Bro’s, Happy Birthday TJ!

Tomorrow’s news today: Kaitlin Pennington previews teacher quality in HEA. Betsy Arons looks at why HR matters.

Educated citizenry: It’s Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. He was born on this date in 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia. To Sir, With Love: On this date in 1964 Sidney Poitier won a Best Actor Academy Award. His first and the first for a black man.

I heard a strange sound last night, then I realized it was heads exploding. First more than 20K parents want their kids to go to Success Academy next year and then someone gives them $25 million! It must feel like a terrible acid trip for poor Kate Taylor. A giant teacher dressed like Eva Moskowitz chasing her down the street with a video camera and a huge check…

Chad Aldeman on the lousy deal of Illinois teacher pensions and some options for improvement. What’s the average teacher pension in your state? We can tell you but it’s not very useful information.

Massachusetts teachers’ union president in exquisite limbo.  Another merger: EIA joining with SIIA. People are frustrated with student loans.  No way! There is pushing and shoving and theater on ESSA implementation?  Denver is a quiet success story on charters that seems to have largely escaped notice by the chattering class.

Today in ‘maybe consider private school….’

“We, as a board, must move away from what was the so-called … reform movement,” Rosa said shortly after the regents elected her chancellor. “I say, welcome the transformers.

Who knew America’s education problem was semantics? So much easier to solve!

There is a problem with political correctness on campus but Donald Trump has hijacked the issue in some not helpful ways. Don’t believe me? Meet the Trump Bro’s.

Hillary Clinton and education policy*: Rinse, Repeat. Another round of freaking out about Hillary Clinton and education policy. Then the campaign says, no, no, not what you think, she’s a reformer. Then everyone waits for the next time. In this round here’s Matt Barnum looking at the push-off from Obama’s Education Secretary over Common Core. Here’s Jonathan Chait in NY Mag on testingAnd here’s Laura Waters. You can Google for more.

I’ve been as dismayed as anyone by some of what the Clinton campaign has said (and not said) on education policy but the ritualistic quality of these regular dust-ups is obscuring some nuance. In this case, when asked about opt-out Clinton said she wouldn’t want her granddaughter opt-ed out. If you’re just knee-jerk anti-testing person or in full pander mode you don’t say that – especially in New York right now. And is anyone really going to argue that the Common Core rollout was not a mess politically and substantively. It doesn’t undercut the merit of the standards or the argument for improving schools more generally but Secretary Clinton making that point is hardly from left field. As of now it’s unclear if reformers have learned the lessons of all that yet. The opponents were outrageous but there were plenty of unforced errors, too.

Meanwhile, President Clinton’s comments on testing are complicated. He’s not correct about accountability and measuring growth absent annual testing. You need annual testing for these kinds of systems to be implemented in a rigorous way and the analytic leverage they provide for educators, parents, and policymakers is hard to overstate. But more fundamentally what he seemed to be basically saying is that while today’s tests help students at the bottom of the achievement gap they are creating something of a ceiling for higher achieving students. It was clumsy how he said it but Clinton is a former Commander in Chief not a former school superintendent. Where there is room for legitimate disagreement is whether that ceiling problem is inherent to tests or just what’s going to happen in a low-capacity system where a lot of teachers are struggling to deliver the kind of instruction students need. (All the great teachers who get strong results and don’t just teach to the test and drill suggest it’s more the latter as does some research.)

Because low-achieving students (and racial, economic, and ethnic achievement gaps) are scattered throughout the system and not just concentrated in a subset of schools getting rid of testing or even paring it back a great deal is not a satisfactory answer if you are concerned about equity. And it’s worth remembering that most of the tests and state and local not federal. The problem is, of course, especially politically complicated because suburban parents who paid a lot for their houses don’t want to hear that their schools are not as good as they think. But there is a puzzle here. And President Clinton was on firm footing suggesting better teacher training might help solve it.

Seems like one byproduct of the episodic treatment of education in the campaign is that it sets the stage for these kind of flash fire moments because the candidates are not pressed to really explain their views and asked probing follow-up questions the way they are on some other issues. The 74‘s candidate forum was revealing in this way and it’s unfortunate the Democratic candidates didn’t participate in the one in Iowa with the Des Moines Register and The 74. Who knows, a real debate and conversation about education might be useful!

Big not fish.

*Relevant disclosures: I worked at the White House for President Clinton, supported Secretary Clinton in 2008 and think she’s clearly the most qualified candidate this time around. And I’m on the board of The 74. I also think Jon Chait says a lot of smart stuff about education even though I’ve heard on Twitter that his wife works in this sector or is a privatizer so I shouldn’t listen to him or he’s her cat’s paw or something.


April 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Spelman! Massachusetts Charters Tell Us Something, Survey Data, Restorative Justice, Credit Recovery, Feminist Sororities, Rural Teachers, Rescue Wolverines & Hockey Playing Dogs

It’s April 11. Two impactful education anniversaries to note. On this date in 1881 Spelman was founded in Atlanta, initially as a seminary.  The Apple I computer was released on this date forty years ago. Today is also the Red Sox’s home opener in Boston.

Speaking of Massachusetts, the next time you hear someone say they just ‘follow the evidence’ or ‘it’s all about the kids,’ ask them about charter schools in the Bay State. The sector gets strong results, there is strong parental demand, and yet the very same political opposition remains.  You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the ethos that holds this sector back.

Online credit recovery evaluated. Trigger warning if you love online credit recovery.

Backdrop to the Success Academy/charter debate:

More than 20,000 students have applied for the 3,228 available spots, according to data from the network of charter schools.

In various ways, that are inconvenient for all sides in the charter debate, the issues play out on the ground differently than they do on Twitter.

New survey data from The Leadership Conference Fund on African American and Latino parents and education (pdf). Beth Hawkins iUSN on Restorative justice.

Different strategies for enticing teachers to rural areas. Loan forgiveness is fine, but other initiatives around housing might help as well?

Interesting Motoko Rich take on the portrayal of teachers in the media: great or goat. But is that really surprising? No one is making a musical about William Crawford…it’s human nature. The real complaint seems to be that shows about teachers don’t actually portray teachers teaching. Yes, but that seems true across the board for television? And who would watch teaching anyway? After all, do you really watch Deadliest Catch to see pot after pot of crab get unloaded or do you tune-in for the human drama, the weather, arguments, and all the other things that happen on a commercial fishing boat? Or a show like Road to the Winter Classic profiling teams getting ready for the NHL’s marquee New Year’s Day match-up. You’re more likely to learn how a team’s Sweedish players celebrate the holidays than to see set plays or drills during practice. I might misremember but I don’t think George Clooney did a whole lot of surgery on ER?  The point is that even reality shows, never mind other shows, don’t show a lot of reality. Besides, unless you’re into the craft of it actually watching teaching (or crab catching, hockey practice, or surgery) isn’t a path to ratings.

Feminists flocking to sororities?

Avalanche rescue wolverines. Dachshunds playing hockey.


April 8, 2016

Who Advises Trump On Education? Plus Reform Movement “Officials” Revealed, Must-Read Dynarski, Opt-Outs, Raimondo Rocks, Ed Research, WA Charters, Teacher Pensions And Social Security, Charters, Farmers, False Klansmen, And It’s Time For Fish Pics!

This July there will be another Bellwether Better Blogging training.

Important Susan Dynarski column looking at racial disparities in gifted education.

Apparently the education reform movement has “officials.” Who knew? Do they get uniforms and insignia and stuff? I hope so.

Officials involved with what has become known as the education reform movement expressed concern over a statement this week by former President Bill Clinton about his wife’s view of mandatory testing.

Maybe at least there are 1980s vintage dictator hats? Otherwise, seems like a waste.

Donald Trump has secret health care advisors who,

Instead, Mr. Clovis said in an interview, Mr. Trump is receiving advice on health care policy from at least a half-dozen “very prominent people,” but he declined to name them. “They are not ready to have their support of the Trump campaign known,” Mr. Clovis said.

Trump says an education speech is coming, is the same thing happening?

Think education research doesn’t matter? Pushback from Ruth Curran Neild. But Rick Hess jumps on AERA just in time for the annual meeting!

Gina Raimondo continues to flash real spine.

Evergreen: Federal teacher prep regs delayed again.  Sawchuk here. Politics K-12 with running updates on the ESSA regulation negotiations.

If you are concerned about having skills that are marketable long term in a rapidly changing economy I might suggest litigating charter school laws in Washington State as something you’d want to look into.

A look at the real teacher pension problems in Illinois.  Because 40 percent of teachers do not participate in Social Security polices like the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset affect them. Leslie Kan with a plain English look at those.  Really just another reason to work to ensure everyone is enrolled in Social Security.

Estimated Prophet: Don Shalvey on why he’s still betting on California. Karin Chenoweth goes personal on opt-outs. Patrick Riccards does, too. Christine Campbell on education and community engagement in Baton Rouge. More on Massachusetts charters debate. Some of what you get rewarded for in school may not help you later. 

Are adult hobbies impacting kids?

It’s time to start sending fish pictures for this blog but please handle ‘em gently!  Here’s a benefit play about farmers and benefiting farmers.

Dude just wanted some frozen yogurt. 


Next Bellwether Better Blogging Training – July 2016

Next Bellwether blogging training is July 5-6 in Washington, D.C. Starts afternoon 5th. We try to do a summer one to ensure access for teacher bloggers because it’s hard to put them together logistically for weekends. So hold those dates if you’re interested and look for application materials later this month. This training is always at least 4x oversubscribed so don’t delay in applying. This training is strictly viewpoint neutral and selection is based on opportunity to benefit. Here are what some past participants say about the training:

“It was an extremely enriching professional development opportunity that I have been and will continue to be incorporating into my work. As a result of the training, I am now writing a memo and preparing to hold a meeting with colleagues about how we can refine our blogging and social media strategy. “ –Zachary Malter, American Youth Policy Forum

“The Better Blogging training should be required professional development not only for education bloggers but also communications professionals. While the training covered what I expected, like tips on topics ranging from headline writing to social media promotion, it also offered me strategic advising on how to completely rethink my organization’s blogging fellowship and guest blogging program, as well as our approach to communications more broadly. Since I attended the training, we have become much more thoughtful about the voices and ideas we elevate–on our blog and beyond.” – Ari Kiener, MinnCAN

“The Bellwether Better Blogging conference was a great opportunity to meet influential professionals engaged in promoting their voices and perspectives online, and to learn from them how to better promote and refine my own classroom-based perspectives on education reform.” – Mark Anderson, New York City middle school teacher and blogger

“The Better Blogging seminar greatly improved my writing. I am blogging more concise, poignant pieces and my voice as a teacher has gained greater confidence. I am now starting to network online and build a loyal readership.” – Marilyn Rhames, blogger at Education Post and alumni support manager at a Chicago charter school

“I left feeling inspired and equipped to implement new strategies for getting my voice out there. I appreciated the quality of the presenters, the diversity and expertise of the other attendees, and the time that each of you took to make sure that everybody was getting what they needed out of the conference.” – Luke Foley, 2014 Vermont Teacher of the Year

“Was some of the best training/professional development I’ve ever received…and in such a short amount of time!” – Brianna Crowley, high school English teacher, Hershey, PA, and blogger

“The training gave me the tools to make my organization’s blog stand out from the crowd. The presenters offered insights into not only creating content that jumps off the page, but also marketing it so that it attracts the widest audience and has the biggest impact. I go back to tips from the training on a daily basis, as I’m creating headlines, promoting our blog on social media, and talking to teachers about how to tell their stories most effectively.” – Kate McGovern, Teach Plus


April 7, 2016

PostSecondary And Higher Ed, Free Edits, Opt-Outs, Charters Stranger Than Fiction, Mathematica Evaluates Everything, ACT/SAT, Plus Commercial Fishing

A lot of higher education news today, it’s curated for you at RealClearEducation. It’s cold and rainy in D.C. and doesn’t feel like baseball weather but it’s also the Nationals home opener. And it’s Bobby Doerr’s birthday. He is 98 today. In birthday news closer to the education world today’s the birthday of a terrific education public servant who we won’t name here but who also moonlights as a race car driver. Happy birthday to her!

Everyone knows there was a golden age of retirement security for workers, right? Actually it’s a myth. Chad Aldeman explains here.

Before that are you sprinting, wandering, or straggling into a career? Jeff Selingo with a really interesting look at all that in 2016.

Tim Daly with a measured take on opt-outs. Strong opt-out pushback here highlighting the inescapable race/class dimensions. Marc Magee and Vallay Varro on what’s next in ed advocacy. Checker Finn says Trump is putting education reform at risk.

Post-secondary: Ed Trust looks at what happens to students after high school. Ed Week on that here. Ed Post: Remediation is expensive. Mathematica looks at college attainment and early career earnings of charter school graduates.  Charters have hardly solved the college going and college graduation problems facing low-income Americans. But some are making a dent. There is something to learn there if everyone would take a break from the stale debates.

Also today in ‘if you’re a hammer everything is a nail:’ HBO’s “Togetherness” as a charter school propaganda vehicle. I like the show well enough, but if it’s supposed to be charter propaganda it’s not good at it. But who needs fiction? Charter quality in Massachusetts very good, parents want more charters, yet it’s a big political circus.

I heard a household name Silicon Valley leader say recently how great it was that we’d solved the broadband problem. That will be news to a lot of rural educators.

Newtown teacher arrested on gun charge at school.  Mathematica with education results for girls in Africa.

SAT and ACT heading to high school market more:

“The testing companies are making a land grab,” said Scott Marion, the executive director of the Center for Assessment, a nonprofit that helps states design and evaluate tests.

Department of Education struggles to hold sham universities accountable, meanwhile Department of Homeland Security is setting them up.

This is awesome. Diane Ravitch writes:

Whitney Tilson and I don’t usually exchange emails. He is one of those hedge fund managers whom I often complain about; he is a big supporter of KIPP, TFA, and charters, and he frequently lambastes me (I never speak ill of him). But Whitney reaches out once in a while to tell me we have found common ground. For example, I complimented him when he publicly acknowledged that the online charter chain K12 does not offer good education. I liked that.

The context here is Whitney’s strong opposition (which I share) to the recent rash of discriminatory laws being passed in the south around the LGBT community. But really…so here at no charge is an edit of that graf to make things a little more clear if you’re scoring at home:

Whitney Tilson and I don’t usually exchange emails. He is one of those hedge fund managers whom I often complain about; he is a big supporter of KIPP, TFA, and charters, and he frequently lambastes me (I never speak ill of him but I do allow people to use my blog to call TFA murderers, say all manner of outrageous things about KIPP and charters, and use “hedge fund” as a pejorative. But anyway that’s them not me….But Whitney reaches out once in a while to tell me we have found common ground. For example, I complimented him when he publicly acknowledged that the online charter chain K12 does not offer good education  he was making a killing exploiting K12′s mistakes and short selling the company’s stock! I liked that.

How sweet.

Earlier this week in USN I took a look at internships, quality, and equity. 

Commercial fishing today. The Times on Sturgill Simpson. The entire audio and film of the Apollo 17 trip to the moon.


April 4, 2016

When The Narrative Doesn’t Fit: Trump And Education Reform Or CIA Dogs And Discipline, Internships, Karim Ani On OER And Bryce Harper, Magee, Kingsland, Chalking News, Bears And Unicorns

At U.S. News I take a look at internships, should they all be paid in all sectors of the economy?

Interesting! New Mexico calling out AFT on PARCC ties.* (This does seem like the kind of story the financial press would have a field day with.)

Karim Kai Ani is writing letters to friends on various issues and questions. This one (to me) is about how philanthropy could help get free and open resources to where they need to be on the quality side. Also features Bryce Harper!

Hey kids! No college degree? No problem! Get badged or boot camped or something and head to Silicon Valley. Gates, Zuckerberg, and Jobs didn’t have one! Or, well, maybe that’s not such a hot idea. Turns out they like degrees there, too. Again, when people  start telling  you not to do something that worked for them, at least be suspicious.

Michael Magee on the conversation we should be having in education. (Problem is, you could have basically written this same op-ed in 2006. This isn’t a divorce, it’s the Hundred Years’ War). Neerav Kingsland on his first nine months as a grant maker. At Emory most communication now apparently via chalk. All this can be yours for just $50k a year! We’re not good at teaching sex ed.

Here’s a story about authentic assessment for dogs:

That was one reason the school, which educates nearly 1,700 students in Ashburn, played host to a CIA dog team for a training exercise while students were away for spring break last week, according to the Loudoun County school system. But the choice to go to a public school for the quiet exercise has led to an only-in-Washington embarrassment for the elite spy agency, which left explosive material behind in the engine compartment of a school bus that then shuttled special-needs schoolchildren for two days this week.

A mechanic discovered and removed the explosive putty — which county Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) said was the demolition explosive C-4 — during a routine bus maintenance check Wednesday.

OK, bonkers. But there is more!

It is unclear what, if any, sanction a CIA employee would face for leaving the explosives behind, and a Loudoun fire department spokeswoman said officials determined that there was no crime involved. But having explosive materials on a school bus or on school grounds normally would lead to serious consequences for a student ora teacher, even if it was an accident, advocates for reforming school discipline policies said.

“If this had been a young person, they probably would have been arrested and most certainly would have been suspended from school — and they would have had their education disrupted substantially,” said Thena Robinson-Mock, a lawyer for the Advancement Project, a national organization that advocates for an end to harsh school discipline policies.

Robinson-Mock pointed to incidents in which students have been arrested even though no crime was committed and no one was in danger, such as when Texas teen Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to his high school. Other students have been suspended, expelled or arrested for chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun, having a toy gun on a bus and having a knife in a gym bag that was used for equipment maintenance.

“We’re holding young people, particularly children of color, to a very different standard,” Robinson-Mock said.

Yeah, right! Wait, no, what?  Yes, school discipline lacks nuance, needs reform, and there are serious racial disparities in how students are treated. But this is about CIA explosives. If you’re trying to convince a skeptical public about the merits of ideas like restorative justice then you don’t want your ideas and “explosives” in the same sentence. The same paragraph. Really the same article if you can avoid it. We’re talking here about C-4. C-4! In a situation like that yes law enforcement, yes discipline! (Sometimes it’s OK to tell a reporter, “that really isn’t a good example of what I’m talking about” rather than trying to fit the narrative).

And, by the way, shouldn’t the dog be held accountable here too? Supposed to smell that stuff, right?

Robert Pondiscio with an interesting look at education reform in the age of Trump.

But it’s well past time to start thinking seriously about education reform in the Trump era. Even if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue becomes the one piece of real estate destined never to be festooned with the candidate’s surname, the restive 2016 campaign should serve as a wake-up call. Broad swaths of Americans feel disconnected from public institutions and are convinced policymakers don’t understand or much care about them.

Education policy has done little to bridge that divide. When downwardly mobile white, working-class Americans hear us talking about education reform, it’s a fair bet they don’t think we’re talking about them and their children. And they’re not mistaken. The priorities and language of reformers – achievement gaps, no-excuses schools, social justice and the “civil rights issue of our generation” – betrays a focus on fixing schools attended by urban, low-income families of color.

Cynthia Tucker makes some of the same points.

Sure, I’m all for clever education policy ideas from national candidates. But is this the real issue with Trump voters – or more specifically the swath of Trump voters who are concerned about stagnating wages, dislocation from trade, and that vein of issues? Those people are concerned with effects of various polices now, they’re not interested in what our education system should look like in 10 years, what choices they might have made, or a debate about who should go to college. This has been a problem for years that is now coming to the surface. Policies that carry generalized benefits, for instance trade and immigration, also carry acute costs for some. There has been inattention to those costs, especially from those benefiting most, and the political effect of that is not going to be addressed through a better education reform policy. It’s going to be addressed by dealing with those pain points. Put more bluntly, if your factory moved to Mexico and turned your life upside down you don’t want someone telling you that better education or better policies might have made things different for you – you want some help now.  Again, sometimes the narrative doesn’t fit!

Bears playing in water. My kids really want one of these unicorns.

*BW has consulted for PARCC.


Internships! Education Or Exploitation?

Should internships be paid? In the private sector it seems pretty obvious but the issue is working its way through the courts. The non-profit and government world is a more complicated question. It’s work, there is an inequality angle, but well structured internships can also be educational. Not straightforward. I take a look at all that in U.S. News & World Report today.

Washington’s cherry blossoms and spring break tourism just peaked. So the next onslaught of visitors to the nation’s capital is just around the corner – interns. Each summer, D.C.’s cadre of nonprofits, advocacy groups, Congress and various federal agencies welcome an army of summer interns seeking free work in exchange for experience. The resulting rite of passage is often fun and sometimes scandalous, but it’s presumed to be educational, too.

That supposed educational component is one reason unpaid internships persist. Otherwise it’s just work and should be paid like any other job.

In the private sector, internships operate under a set of requirements to differentiate them from actual paid work…

You can read it all here. We all know famous intern stories, but I’ve had some great ones who go on to do terrific things. There are occasionally great anonymous intern Twitter feeds. Share those and spare us the intern jokes but tweet me your intern stories @arotherham.


April 1, 2016

100% April Fools Free! Jimmy Carter On Hufstedler, Are Vergara And Friedrichs So Different? School Choice, Higher Ed, Hard Realities On Teacher Evaluation, School Infrastructure, Pensions, Parenting Choices, And Panthers!

Exclusive: RealClearEducation talked with President Jimmy Carter about the passing of Shirley Hufstedler.  Sara Mead gets under the hood on TFA restructuring. 

Hillsborough teacher evaluation not going so well.* Theory of action is that if you just do this “well” everyone will come along. Alternative theory: Places like D.C. are outliers and we should talk honestly about why.

Rick Hess on why he likes Friedrichs but not Vergara:

 …there are inevitable comparisons and linkages to California’s famed Vergara lawsuit. In that case, the plaintiffs are asserting that they have a right to “effective teachers” under the terms of the California constitution, and that policies relating to tenure, dismissal, and LIFO (“last in, first out” termination) are unconstitutional. Both suits represent a profound challenge to teacher unions. The big difference, to my eye, is that Friedrichs is a simpler determination of whether state compulsion is trampling fundamental rights, while Vergara requires the courts to tell the legislature how to organize particular elements of educational policy. I’m quite comfortable with Friedrichs, which strikes me as precisely the kind of case that we expect the courts to adjudicate. On the other hand, for reasons I’ve previously explained, I have real concerns with Vergara—even though, on substance, I wholly support the plaintiffs. I think would-be reformers are asking the courts to wade into areas that are beyond judicial expertise, where rulings are more likely to yield paralysis and bureaucracy-inducing compliance, and want the courts to substitute their policy determinations for those of legislators.

Regardless of the merits of the two cases I don’t get the distinction Rick is making? The Vergara plaintiffs are not asking the court to make policy – and the court explicitly said it wasn’t going to do that. They were arguing that under California’s constitution the current laws violated the rights of students. Their claim requires a specific reading of how the constitutional provisions apply – and that’s being debated on appeal right now. But they just asked for a (non-specific) policy that wouldn’t violate those rights –  hardly a crazy thing to ask a court for. I think Rick and I would agree that the courts are sometimes inappropriately dragged into policymaking but that doesn’t seem like the issue in either of these cases. Agree with the plaintiffs or not, both are basic state or federal constitutional claims.

More interesting to me in Friedrichs is the question of whether there is inherently a First Amendment issue here or whether the way teachers unions and public sector unions more generally operate has in practice created one. Yes, Abood is a political compromise that doesn’t make a lot of sense at First Amendment law but would it be a better/more workable/less acrimonious compromise if unions didn’t make the agency process so painful for people? Possibly not given the politics. But seems like he polarizing nature of the case obscured some questions (I did hear some behind the scenes grumbling about this).

For a change of pace you can watch Rick and Mike Petrilli get drunk on video. Really…

Surprise! If you live in a country where wealth and power follow racial contours and you have a sector of schools you have to pay to attend then those schools will be disproportionately white. New Southern Education Foundation report finds exactly that (you can quibble with some of the methodological choices but it seems directionally right). School choice advocates have not adequately wrestled with the ugly legacy of choice in the south, where it was used to overtly to create segregated academies as part of the massive resistance strategy (it had the same effect elsewhere but was just more subtle). But choice critics have not adequately wrestled with a more basic question – what to do now?

Private schools are not going away. Calls to outlaw them make make periodic cameos as thought pieces but that’s not going to happen – it’s not constitutional anyway. The school choice programs that are springing up probably aren’t going anywhere either. In case you didn’t notice this is a country that likes choice. So where does that leave you except supporting much more aggressive strategies to give low-income Americans more choice in their schooling? Yet the people who seem most concerned about this power imbalance seem to be the same ones least interested in radical steps to upset the apple cart. Kevin Chavous on the study here.

Ron Matus gets his Dutch on pointing out the embrace of school choice there. I’m basically with Ron on the need for more choice here but you can’t look at The Netherlands without considering both history and also cultural norms. It’s a different place than the U.S.

If you build it they will come? We’re back to talking school facilities. It feels so 1996! I’d like to see the federal government get in the infrastructure game with some creative and sustainable strategies like infrastructure banks for revolving loan funds. Could support school renovation and also construction of new schools do address population growth or parental demand. Or, alternatively, we can do what hasn’t worked politically for 20 years.

Speaking of the wayback machine, new playbook of education ideas from the National League of Cities. Some interesting ideas but striking how input oriented it all is, very little on structural change to help improve outcomes for urban youth. Especially striking against the backdrop of some of the data on various reforms.

Tom Loveless on Common Core politics. NASBE on balancing privacy and progress with student data. State of the state of education in Rhode Island (pdf). Worth reading. Here is a crib sheet on i3 evaluations.

Sad news from NOLA.

A new look at rural charter schools. I get the idea, and there are some great rural charters, but I’m also struck by how much rural schools in general often operate like charters – for good and ill. The upsides and downsides of autonomy are frequently present.

Turnover at BIE. C’mon….

This point on higher education gets made a lot but given how the field is covered you really can’t say it enough: It’s not about elite schools.

Conservatives on campus:

To the contrary, most of those interviewed expressed what the authors call a “Madisonian” political philosophy: “It is a political vision that values the discovery of common ground over ideological purity, learned elites over charismatic leaders, and reasoned appeals over passionate exhortations.” If institutions of higher learning refuse to make a place for scholars who share this vision, they will not only stifle inquiry. They will also deprive themselves of vital allies when the inevitable backlash comes to pull them down.

Chicago pensions. Chad Aldeman on the pension numbers in Chicago.

You knew this was coming: Here’s your chance to weigh in on Adam LaRoche’s parenting decisions! So far the White Sox are winning.

Exciting ice bridge collapse. Boardwalk panther.

*Update: Originally this item had a bad link, that’s fixed. But the actual link is still a few months old. I got a news alert on it, clicked, read, but didn’t notice date and thought it was an update on what’s happening. In any event, here’s a more recent one about the changes the article described, which are undoing a lot of the things Hillsborough was lauded for. Apologies for both errors.


March 30, 2016

“A Little Bit Unethical,” Plus Friedrichs Fallout, Sakena Yacoobi, Mergers, Methods, CMO Growth, Evidence, And Bears!

I moderated a small luncheon discussion yesterday with Sakena Yacoobi, an education leader in Afghanistan. She won the 2015 WISE Prize for her efforts to improve education in that country. Inspiring leader and an interesting conversation. Challenging context she operates in but she’s getting results. You can learn more about her life and work here. She’s appearing at Harvard tomorrow.

The Times on Friedrichs. Noah Feldman on the teachers union’s good fortune. Here’s the Department of Education’s statement on yesterday’s 4-4 Friedrichs decision:

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

 Labor unions have helped to build our nation’s middle class, playing a critical role in increasing workers’ wages and ensuring there are workplace protections. Today’s announcement that the appeals court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will stand means educators will continue to be able to focus on what is most important—helping students learn and prepare for success in school and in life.

Some reformers are grumbling it’s a weak statement, but what exactly do you expect from a Democratic administration in an election year?  I’m sure a secret ballot vote on it at 400 Maryland Avenue would be interesting but that’s not the point. In any case, the teachers’ unions are running around claiming this decision, which affirms the lower court’s ruling, is a big rejection of Friedrichs. In fact it’s an 11th hour reprieve for them because of the passing of Justice Scalia. It’s more noteworthy that King didn’t parrot their talking points (and they didn’t love the statement either!). Now, for the teachers unions, a lot riding on whether the Republican blockade in the Senate holds or whether a new justice is appointed before the election.

In Detroit, corruption charges:

At the heart of the alleged scheme is businessman Norman Shy, 74, of Franklin,  who is accused of paying $908,500 in kickbacks and bribes to at least 12 Detroit Public Schools principals who used him as a school supply vendor in exchange for money — some for as little as $4,000, another for $324,000. He secretly did this for 13 years, scamming school after school to the tune of $2.7 million with the help of principals who benefited along the way, prosecutors allege…

…”It’s pitiful that they’re going after principals who are probably just doing what they need to do even if it might be a little bit unethical in order to provide the students in their schools with the supplies and materials that they need that district and the state should be providing us,” teacher Cathy Brackett said. “They should be going after the big thieves who have come into the district under the guise of emergency managers and consultants who have skimmed not just thousands of dollars but millions of dollars away from our students and just move on to their next gig, seemingly without repercussions.”

So, you want to recruit a CMO to your region? Here’s a new report from NACPS with some information about how to do that.

Methodological pushback on the Education Equality Index. 50CAN and StudentsFirst are merging.

Achieve on post-secondary remediation and readiness state by state. Results for American on local governments and evidence-based policymaking (pdf). And a compendium of blog posts on evidence and policy (pdf).

Bears playing on a hammock.


March 29, 2016

Friedrichs’ 4-4 Split, Is Giving The Poor Choice A Bridge Too Far For Today’s Facebook Social Justice Warriors? Emory Chalking, ACT, SAT, And Native Ed, Catholic School Comeback? Charters, Diddy’s Charter, School Boundaries, Grade Inflation, Volcanoes!

As expected ruling just came down, Friedrichs is a 4-4 split (pdf). Stay tuned for new justice…

Kelly Robson and Andy Smarick on a renaissance for Catholic schools:

But over the last decade or so, some corners of Catholic education—a field long wedded to traditional ways—have embraced a series of innovative reforms. New approaches to instruction, governance, and technology, combined with the utilization of burgeoning public-voucher and tax-credit programs, are helping to revitalize the sector. Although much remains true to form, Catholic primary and secondary schooling is also exhibiting more entrepreneurialism and energy than it has in decades while at the same time preserving its commitment to the religious formation of boys and girls.

Yesterday it was Duckworth, today Karin Chenoweth: Please don’t use my work to justify segregated school boundaries.

And it is true that I have spent the last decade of my life documenting that schools with large concentrations of students of color and students from low-income families can achieve at high levels. I have written two books, co-written a third, and written many columns with evidence from actual schools.

But the idea that any high-poverty school is doing well because it has a high concentration of children from low-income families is a big leap of logic. [Bold from original]

Gail Collins and Arthur Brooks discuss education, it’s a little painful:

Gail: Obviously there are some good charter schools. As long as they operate within the regular school system and don’t get any advantage in public funding, I don’t have any problem with them — even though I do think a lot of the success stories are due to the fact that the students tend to have motivated parents. Some disadvantaged kids get a big boost and succeed; those who don’t do so well often get nudged out the door.

But my real concern is the charters run by for-profit companies. The whole idea of mixing profit and public education is terrible.

Obviously, she hasn’t heard,  two things can be true at once! Yes, there is some informal and formal skimming that happens (and charter leaders and policymakers should address) but charters are also getting impressive results despite that. There’s, you know, research! And the success isn’t random, there are a few – very politically inconvenient – things the top performing ones do when it comes to governance and management. That’s old news though and at this point a political problem not a substantive one, except apparently in Manhattan. On the for-profit issue, it’s a small fraction of charters, many charter leaders are concerned about them, I have my reservations, but the fact is we mix public interest and private good all the time – with mixed results — inside the education sector and around the public sector more generally. Not as simple as you may have heard!

Jim Ryan, ed school dean at Harvard, on the tension in progressive circles around education – ‘I care about social mobility and inequality but school choice? No way, I’d get thrown off the mom’s list!’

But notice that most debates about choice are really only about limiting or expanding the choices of poorer families.  No one is suggesting that we outlaw private schools or tell people where they can and cannot live.  (Can you imagine the latter?  Or even the former?)  Which means that, regardless of the outcome of myriad debates about expanding or contracting formal school choice plans, families who can choose where to live or who can afford private schools will always have school choice.  When these families choose to leave a school or a district, or to never enter into one in the first place, they too are depriving the school and district of resources.  But no one is forcing, or even really asking, them to stay in particular schools or districts that they dislike in order to make those schools or districts better for everyone else.

The only group currently asked to shoulder this burden are poorer families who, absent a school choice plan, have no options.  Why we would single out this group, and this group alone, is hard for me to understand.  Which is why, again, to me, the key question in school choice debates is simple:  Are you comfortable denying school choice solely to poorer families? [Bold from original]

Emory chalking is still going. Glenn Reynolds wants more Winklevoss but ignores that Larry Summer’s ideas of what the academy should be cost him his job! College presidents don’t get those jobs by being stupid about the politics. Connor Friedersdorf gets at the nub of why this is all ultimately counterproductive to its avowed goals:

Already, other damage has been done. Earlier this week, I noted that a black student at UC Davis suffered a hate crime near campus. Three men were later arrested for the assault. Previously, I’ve highlighted the horrifying affects of NYPD spying on innocent Muslim students and the UC Berkeley riot police that turned batons on students. There is sometimes good reason for college students to be concerned about their physical safety on campus, and there are incidents of racism that do not threaten physical safety but are nevertheless abhorrent and understandably upsetting. When students react like this to the mere appearance of the name of a leading candidate in the middle of a presidential-election year, treating the most commonplace political advocacy as if it makes them unsafe, they create perverse incentives for invoking victimhood and deflate the currency of claimed trauma and offense.

The Cav Daily editors at UVA make the same point. I’d add that more immediately when everyone is talking about the food at Oberlin or Trump written in chalk at Emory they’re not talking about these more serious issues…

Marilyn Rhames on charters and discipline.  Asia College Board security problems. ACT looks at college readiness for Native American students (pdf). College grade inflation is probably worse than you thought. Three new education ideas from the Hamilton Project. Diddy’s charter opening in NYC.

Sturgill Simpson covers Nirvana. Crowdfunding meets science. Alaska volcano.


March 28, 2016

No More High Stakes For Character Education? Still Plenty Of Security. Jason Weeby, Leslie Kan, Chad Aldeman, Whitmire, Kane, And Reville. Student Voice And Teen Robots! Plus More…

More security officers than counselors in a lot of school districts.

Now you tell us! Angela Duckworth says the field is abusing her ideas:

As a social scientist researching the importance of character, I was heartened. It seemed that the narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores from the years I taught in public schools was giving way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.

These days, however, I worry I’ve contributed, inadvertently, to an idea I vigorously oppose: high-stakes character assessment. New federal legislation can be interpreted as encouraging states and schools to incorporate measures of character into their accountability systems. This year, nine California school districts will begin doing this.

File under: those awful tests and that controversial school choice…still the worst way to do accountability – except for all the others.

Student voice from TNTP. Paul Reville on using the third semester to combat rather than exacerbate inequality.

Jason Weeby asks if there is a God. Actually, he just wonders what is innovation? Bellwether pension analysts on California’s back-loaded teacher retirement system. Chad Aldeman on ESSA accountability rhetoric and reality. Chad also talks with Christy Hovanetz about designing rating systems for schools.

And Chad and Leslie Kan on teacher pension inequities. 

New Dep’t of Education report on college and low-income students (pdf). Hamilton Project looks at education context and some key issues (pdf).

Whitmire: What makes Brooke tick? Tom Kane on how common assessments can empower rather than contain state leaders.

Here’s some interesting information on Ohio Governor Kasich’s education record that will have no bearing on the election.

Although I’m not sure just mocking anti-Common Core types is the best strategy – this video is pretty funny.

If you want to understand consumer trends – and they influence education, too – you can do worse than look at coffee.  Mass and standardized are out, boutiquey and authentic feeling are in. Sound familiar?

Judges knock controversial desegregation policy proposal in MN. Lead is a problem in places beyond Flint and Newark. Chicago teachers’ strike plan b. With bonus furloughs!  State chiefs and early childhood education. The battle over algebra! Ah the neighborhood school….so romantic….or not says Century Foundation.

Apropos of nothing this is a lovely op-ed.

AI is coming to education. What could possibly go wrong?


March 23, 2016

Who Trumps On Campus? Ed Trust, Detroit, Revisiting Bowling, Korman On Data, Fish Health Care

The authoritarians on the left and the right find each other on college campuses…In a really invertebrate display of leadership Emory officials say they will use surveillance footage to ID who wrote “Trump 2016″ around the campus….Jesse Singal:

A college using using security-camera footage to track down and possibly punish students who expressed political speech? The only way to fairly describe that is, well, the only way to fairly describe the spectacle of a Trump rally delivered to a deliriously cheering crowd: extremely creepy, and a sign that something has gone seriously wrong.

Meanwhile, Ed Trust reports on racial disparities and college completion.

The data vacuum on education and justice involved youth.

Revisiting Nate Bowling’s “conversation” post.  Kati Haycock on putting kids at the center of new ESSA policies.

Restructuring Detroit.

Some interesting stuff here, caught between two eras.  Orthodontics. 


March 22, 2016

Pearson – AFT Absurdity, Student Data And Research, SEA’s Lack Capacity, Education Equality Index, Climbing Kids

Pearson and the AFT continue to battle. Union investors don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth from a company they loathe and attack non-stop. Really. Ed Week here.  (Gotta give credit where it is due on tactics, this is distracting from some more fundamental questions about these relationships).

House Education and Workforce Committee looking at student data privacy and research. Obviously some legitimate issues here worthy of concern, but also some zealotry and mixed agendas (some of this is a not so subtle anti-accountability push, all that data is inconvenient). I recently reviewed a forthcoming study looking at toxins and student outcomes. Issues around students at birth are pretty well-established but this is groundbreaking because it looks at later life outcomes for students but would not be possible with some of the restrictions being proposed – and all the data was anonymized so the privacy issues in that case are minimal. This is an important balance to get right – easy to get wrong.

On the same issue this panel on the 29th at Urban looks outstanding.

Post secondary choices in Alaska. Should be a reality show. Here’s an evergreen issue: State education agencies lack capacity.

Education Equality Index from Education Cities.

These kids are climbers. 


March 20, 2016

Higher Ed Free Speech And Protests, The Tutoring Credential, Help Wanted On NJ School Boards, John King, Sally Jewell, The P Fetish. And Crazy Vacations.

Strife in Montclair! It’s like Mogadishu but with tests! Merrick Garland, SCOTUS nominee and tutor (are we going to now politicize tutoring?)

Want to be on a school board? Move to New Jersey.

Campus free speech balancing act:

You might think that the First Amendment applies with full force on state campuses. State universities are a branch of the government, which can’t suppress free speech under the Constitution. They’re not like elementary or high schools, where students’ free-speech rights are balanced against the school’s interest in maintaining discipline and order.

Yet the law as it now stands treats universities not like public forums, but more like workplaces, where anti-discrimination laws can restrict certain forms of speech. Pursuant to those laws, universities adopt conduct codes that can punish speech that would almost certainly be protected if uttered in public forums like streets or parks.

Meanwhile, it’s brutal in Providence:

Other students expressed similar frustration with the university’s expectation that they keep up with their schoolwork during the protests, saying that some professors refused to grant extensions on homework and tests.

It’s also hard to figure out who can speak where at Brown. Ted Gup says we’ll have to rename everything or we can focus on structural issues instead:

There is no end to Harvard’s offenders — or Yale’s or Princeton’s or, for that matter, most American institutions with a history. Few entities can withstand the scrutiny of the modern conscience, and physically disassembling the artifacts of the past, attacking its symbols and its ghosts, is a fool’s errand — no matter how lofty the cause. It illuminates little and is a feel-good distraction that comes at the expense of today’s very real crises. And picking and choosing which ancient offenses warrant purging creates the danger of prioritizing one historically disadvantaged group over another, inadvertently importing into our own age the very toxins of bigotry that activists now seek to condemn.

We can endlessly denounce the long-departed and disavow the already-discredited, but to what end? What we should do instead is devote ourselves to living our lives in a way that allows our descendants to take pride in the history we leave behind.

Chad Aldeman on ending Common Core:

Chad Aldeman, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, says this notion that the federal government “must stop” Common Core runs contrary to the long-held Republican position that governance of public schools is a state issue.

“It’s a little bit ironic that they’ve been sounding the alarm about federal control and now the leading Republican presidential candidates all want to take federal action against a state initiative,” Aldeman said in an interview. “There’s really nothing that they could do to stop Common Core other than using the bully pulpit to try to convince states to back out of their own commitments.”

Do we worship too much at the altar of p values? Sally Jewell wants to get kids outside. What to do about struggling schools? Lost in all the political back and forth about John King is his remarkable life story.

When vacations go awry.