November 14, 2018


November 12, 2018

Election Fallout, Unschooling, CRPE, Sports, Bonus Monday Fish, Pistol Annies

Last week I recapped the election impact for education. Jason Weeby caught a fish.

Bonnie O’Keefe on unified enrollment via a conversation with Shannon Fitzgerald.

CRPE is a great outfit I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with over the years in a few capacities. And its founder Paul Hill has been a good mentor to me, Robin Lake who leads it now is a wonderful colleague and friend. I was disappointed to miss their anniversary celebration because professional commitments had me elsewhere but don’t miss these papers looking at some foundational issues coming out of it. 

NASBE election recap. Tuck – Thurmond a nail biter. Carolyn Phenicie impact and implications round-up. 

Here’s a Liz Farmer article on how education funding ballot initiatives fared badly in states with teacher strikes. It seems counterintuitive but it makes more sense if you think about the context in those states, which is pressure on public finance and complicated finance pictures. Pressure on teacher compensation is coming from within the education system, too. (Yes, the calls are coming from inside the house…)

I don’t know why people are talking their way around this: There is a tension in politics today that if you are someone who wants to see President Trump held accountable, but you also support expanding school choice you have something of a choice to make because charter politics are not great right now. Those are the electoral politics, the governing politics will be interesting to watch the next few years to see just how politically vulnerable charter schools remain. Here’s a look at where governors (including new ones) are on school choice. 

Guys, you are not going to believe this: If you ask ten people for a definition of personalized learning you get ten different answers….

There seems to be a problem with schools of education.

More Janus litigation.

I would argue that unschooling is (a) pretty cool and interesting (b) likely to remain marginal and (c) needs a better metaphor than being the “Uber of education.”

This look at youth sports is worth checking out. In addition to the equity arguments it raises, I’ve come to agree with the idea that the way we do sports contributes to other health problems in our country. The constant weeding out makes people think sports are for other people, not for them, and contributes to the problem of inactive adults. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have elite sports for kids, but rather that we should encourage more robust recreation teams and not have all sports funnel into high school so young people have more opportunities to keep playing. That helps address the dream hoarding argument in a constructive way. Because if the idea is to keep people from doing what’s best for their kids, well, good luck with that. But we can collectively and individually take steps not to make sure the ladder isn’t getting pulled up behind less economically fortunate Americans.

Pistol Annies.


November 9, 2018

Friday Fish Pics – Apple & Tree Edition

Here’s Kevin Kosar’s son following in dad’s footsteps. Dad is a regular around here, older sister has turned up, and it turns out his son has a nose for catfish, too.

This was taken in Washington, D.C. right by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Pictures of kids with fish are hands down the best. But we take any picture of anyone education related around here with a fish. Click here and here for hundreds of them to give you an idea. Send yours!


November 8, 2018

Election Reax

Via The 74 here is a quick take a few things to watch coming out of the election including the suburban / rural split and its implications for ed reform, money, the odd couple ballot initiatives that may signal some new strategies education reformers should think about and the scene in Washington:

American voters delivered a mixed verdict Tuesday. The House flipped to Democratic control, an unsurprising outcome given the political demographics and voter concerns about health care — a top Democratic priority — this cycle. Republicans made gains in the Senate, aided by a favorable map and fallout from the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation fight. Races for governor were a mixed bag, but while marquee Democrats fell short, the party did pick up several important governorships in the Midwest, an outcome with 2020 implications.

Missing? Education. Sure, Minnesota’s new governor was a teacher and the new governor in Wisconsin was previously state education chief there, but despite the hype and the strikes, this midterm election turned on dynamics other than schools.

Still, that doesn’t mean the outcome won’t affect education policy. Here are five things to watch…

All five here via The 74.

Posted on Nov 8, 2018 @ 2:33pm

November 5, 2018


November 2, 2018

Eight Cities Backstory, Bellwether Is Hiring, P2T Winners, Title IX, Teacher Policy, WeWork Goes Dry!

We are hiring a senior policy analyst at Bellwether – join us.

Eight Cities project backstory.

Do all teachers get a pension? Seems like an easy question but the answer is actually complicated.

Speaking of it depends, Kelly Robson takes a look at breadth versus depth of impact and levels of government for interventions.

First round Pathway to Tomorrow winners announced, glad Bellwether among them.

Your periodic reminder that a lot of the Washington debate about Title IX sexual assault, while important, is ultimately cosmetic because the courts are going to have a lot to say here and probably the final word. Also, here’s US News on Title IX and the culture wars.

It’s almost like there is a huge problem with a really foundational aspect of the education sector: teacher prep. But, not as consequential as you might think because:

Currently, fewer than half of all states explicitly require their districts to use effectiveness data when making dismissal decisions (22) or deciding which teachers to lay off (19).

That’s from an NCTQ analysis out this week.

WeWork cutting rations to four beers a day.


Friday Fish Porn – CA Bugs!

Austin Dannhaus has been around the education scene for a while but came to fishing late. Now, he’s making up for lost time. Here he is fishing the caddis hatch on the McLeod River in California.

Caddis are pretty ubiquitous bugs that trout at times go bananas for. They come up through the water column and then live in vegetation along water features – but not for that long. Trout will dial in on them in various stages of their life cycle and when they’re really keyed into something the fishing can be crazy.

Also, including a pretty nice dog pic.

Want more pictures of education people with fish or fishing? Click here and here


October 31, 2018

Virginia’s Sweet And Bitter Fruit, DC Charter Performance, ROI On Ed Philantrhopy, Happy Halloween!

The other day I noted that Betsy DeVos’ husband was still giving to politics despite her pledge that wouldn’t happen. I’m sympathetic, who can get their spouse to do anything they don’t want to do? In any event, I double linked a Detroit News article rather than linking to the peg for that, this new CAP report.

Haven’t written about this Times story on Charlottesville and schools because while I get the conceit of using C’ville to make the point given recent history, it’s really a story you could write about all manner of education issues in Virginia (and many other places). In the case of the Old Dominion, racial gaps of various kids have persisted – and been swept under the rug – for a long time. The whole state accountability and accreditation regime is politically designed to stay ahead of this rather than confront the hard truths and the public relationists not the achievement realists run the show. So the ratio of  happy talk to serious instructional improvement is less than ideal. When is the last time you really heard attention to the appalling gaps in Virginia – and not just on NAEP or the state’s tests but on measures like Advanced Studies Diplomas and other outcomes? And even in 2018 people still say some crazy stuff about why that is…That’s not to minimize anything in Charlottesville, but rather to say it’s a much broader problem that doesn’t get a lot of attention – and especially not in a polarized time because it doesn’t align neatly with left – right divides.

Related: Jason Kamras profile.

Even if you’re not a DC resident a lot to learn from the performance framework the DC Public Charter School Board uses and its impact on parent behavior. Not a perfect system, nothing is, but a lot of strengths.

I’d argue a bigger problem in the ed sector is politics – we do know some things that work far better than the status quo but they run afoul of politics and fecklessness, but regardless, if the ROI of ed philanthropy doesn’t keep you up at night, it should.

We might focus on instruction more?

More push on the unions.

Newsflash: Education usually doesn’t matter a lot to federal races, so this is kind of an evergreen (though not wrong) take. 

Quintron And Miss Pussycat.

Posted on Oct 31, 2018 @ 3:40pm

October 29, 2018

Ed Tech & Equity, Plus Korman And Pilnik, Pimentel, Pensions In CA, Tomorrow’s CA Fallout Today, Hess/Addison, GAO, More…

Hailly Korman and Lisa Pilnik on why education for adjudicated students doesn’t measure up, in more ways than one.

Keep an eye on this California pension case – a lot going on here. Don’t miss Jerry Brown taking the case from the AG…says a lot about the politics here.

Lauren Camera gets international.

Sue Pimental on the vital blocking and tackling to improve reading instruction. 

GAO on equity and college-going.

A lot of money being spent on the Marshall Tuck race in California. (Full disclosure I think he’d made a great state chief there.) In politics winning forgives a lot, but if Tuck doesn’t win it’s worth asking (a) what the effect will be on how funders think about education politics and (b) how other politicians (and African-American politicians in particular) will perceive education reform funders, especially given the political landscape this cycle?

Elsewhere in politics, Betsy DeVos’ family gives a lot of money to political candidates and causes. When she took office she pledged that she or her husband would not make political donations. I didn’t quite get that, her pledging for herself is one thing, but I’ve never gotten far telling my spouse what to do...Anyway, he/she doesn’t seem to be keeping the deal. 

Ed Tech and Equity.

A fundamental question in ed tech is whether the ability to scale quality is the one thing that might drive equity across zip codes or whether it’s going to just result in a new kind of inequity. Given how these things usually play out I’m more concerned about the latter than excited by the former. But people can disagree and I hope to be surprised. This article in The Times takes a look at that question.

Also this: 

“This is scar tissue talking. We’ve made every mistake in the book, and I think we got it wrong with some of my kids,” Mr. Anderson said. “We glimpsed into the chasm of addiction, and there were some lost years, which we feel bad about.”

I know a lot of parents who feel that way, I do, too.

This Hess – Addison article is sparking debate, discussion, outrage (and some Common Core craziness, because of course).

Someday we’ll be together.


October 26, 2018

The Big Fail In Gotham, Schmitz On GA, Nevertheless, WA Charters, Janus Hitting, Southern Races, Harvard’s Options, Common App For The Win…More!

Kirsten Schmitz on Georgia’s teacher pension system. Spoiler alert: Not a great retirement scheme!

This Times story is at one level not shocking – people knew this was the deal – but also shocking in terms of just how blasé too many people are about using kids as pawns in a political fight. For all the talk about conservative privatizers and whatever, it’s these stunts that do more to undercut public schools than anything the most strident critics can cook up. Public ed’s biggest problem isn’t its opponents – it’s its friends.

This Nevertheless podcast is terrific and this episode is really powerful.

Can Harvard maintain racial diversity absent its current approach?

Southern Education Foundation has candidate comparisons for gubernatorial races in southern states.

Janus impact: NEA loses 17K members and 87K fee payers.

Washington State charters win at the state supreme court. Still plenty of work to do but Bruno Manno on how some charters are making strides on college going and completion. 

Bold Common App essay.