July 22, 2016

Bellwether’s Learning Landscape

ICYMI here’s a new resource from Bellwether offering an overview of the education landscape and how it works.

Useful? Yes! But don’t take my word for it:


Make America Bait Again

 

13659098_1137016983044392_4930498129419592516_n

*Attribution unknown.


Friday Fish Porn: Kosar V. Fuller, It’s On!

unnamedThe battle for mayor of Fish Porn is on. Last week we revealed Kevin Kosar’s doomsday device: His new fishing blog and boating articles. A lock on the mayorship? Not so fast. Bellwether’s Ali Fuller. Well, she was unimpressed. So she sent this. It’s not technically a fish. Or really a fish in any sense. It’s a red stag she took in Argentina! (Apparently with a pretty impressive shot, too, sources say). So it’s also a little more, say, robust?, than a YouTube video about tying on a hook for some perch… We’ll do a reader poll at some point to settle this, but the ante is up. Kevin, your move.

For pictures of education people with actual fish, hundreds of them, click here.


July 20, 2016

Dems And Education Reform

A lot of speculation about the Democrats and education. Here’s my take via U.S. News & World Report:

Are the Democrats done with education reform?

That’s the question a lot of people are asking in the wake of a few recent education events. It’s a question that gets bloggers and insiders fired up for sure to cheer or jeer. But the death of the Democrats on education reform is likely exaggerated.

Want to know why I think that? Well, here are four reasons the trends probably are not what they seem. What issue are you done with? I’m already tired of one party calling for the titular head of the other to be locked up. I’d live somewhere more exotic if I wanted government like that. Tell me what issue you’re done with or who  you want locked up on Twitter @arotherham. Or let me know why you think this is wrong and the Democratic reform wave has crested.


Blogging The Republican Convention, Online O’Keefe, SPLC Explains, Klein & Barber With Ideas, Barone V. Polikoff! Rhode Island With Charter Pushback, PC/Anti-PC and Ghostbusters, Trump Jr., Zernike On Pence, Plus Pike!

A lot of blogging about the Republican convention via The 74 and Bellwether. A lot of good content from a variety of folks. Here’s my take on Donald Trump Jr. and reformers.

Kate Zernike on Governor Pence’s education record. Punchline, he’s moved the ball on some issues, but also shown a real willingness to play politics with education, too. Michael Holzman on the lack of focus on equity given the irony of where the conventions are being held this year.

What a sorry state of affairs when a university has to pass on hosting a presidential debate because of the costs of security.

Bonnie O’Keefe on whether online charters are less outlier problem and more broader indicator of what ails public education. What’s happening on tenure in jobs?

Klein and Barber on nine education policy plays (pdf).

Rhode Island charter bill, from the ProJo:

…it is disappointing that Rhode Island politicians always seem so willing to “compromise” with the future of black and Hispanic children, who have very little political clout at the State House.

…Blackstone Valley Prep has given the lie to the longstanding argument that public education cannot effectively reach many students who come from great poverty and troubled homes. The mayoral academies, a tiny percentage of the state’s public schools, have demonstrated that such students need not be condemned to failure, and that there is a way to inspire and educate them. Their success makes a strong argument that traditional schools must change with the times – which may explain the fierce hostility from some quarters to mayoral academies.

Pragmatism and compromise in politics are important. But some things are worth fighting for. Bringing minority students into the mainstream through public education — our state’s biggest civil rights challenge — is one of them. Rhode Island will never energize its economy until its leaders are willing to fight, and fight again, for education that works best for students.

Barone v. Polikoff on growth. Part 1 here.

Today in finding yourself cross pressured: SPLC says it’s really not trying to close MS charter schools. OK, in that case I’d hate to see what it looks like then when they decide to try close them.

The White House on student debt.

This article about the Ghostbusters/Twitter harassment makes a broader point germane to education:

It speaks, more importantly, to the derailment of the important task of challenging PC. Tragically, for those of us who want to prick PC from a genuinely liberal and pro-autonomy perspective, the anti-PC mantle has in recent months been co-opted by the new right, or the alt-right, as some call them. These lovers of Trump (they call him ‘daddy’) and conspiracy theorists about feminism (whose wicked influence they spy everywhere) have turned being anti-PC from a decent, progressive position into an infantile, pathological, Tourette’s-style desire to scream offensive words out loud, like the seven-year-old who’s just discovered the thrill that comes with saying ‘f**k’.

Their response to new and mad PC rules on how to talk about race and gender is not to criticise them dispassionately, or point out that it’s ironically pretty racist and sexist to suggest black people and women need protection from offensive words; no, it’s to say the offensive words, to say the N-word, as loudly as possible, and ideally to a black person. In the past, serious liberals opposed bans on the right of neo-fascists to march in the streets or distribute their literature by calling for political freedom for all. They didn’t become neo-fascists just to wind up officialdom. Yet bizarrely, that’s what the alt-right does: instead of launching grown-up critiques of the censorship of hate, they embrace hate; they become hateful; they come to personify the hate whose expression is being restricted. People ban Nazis, so they become Nazis. It’s crazy. It’s a temper tantrum, not liberalism.

What is most striking is how much this alt-right shares in common with the lefty SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) it claims to hate. Both are fuelled by the politics of victimhood: SJWs claim a massive culture of misogyny is ruining their lives; alt-righters insist a feminist conspiracy is destroying theirs. Both are mean: peruse the blogs or tweets of any vocal alt-right or SJW and you’ll be struck by their disgust for anyone who disagrees with them. And both are censorious. Don’t be fooled by the alt-right’s freedom-lovin’ postures. They’re just as keen as SJWs to slam and ultimately end culture that offends them, whether it’s Beyonce doing a Black Power dance at the Super Bowl or Ghostbusters with four women in it.

Serious right-wingers and left-wingers should be worried about all this stuff. The alt-right is giving the right a bad name, while SJWs threaten to empty left-wing politics of its love for liberty and its trust in people to govern their own lives without needing official assistance all the time. They’re turning the left-right clash into a spiteful, foul-mouthed, libellous catfight, and people like Ms Jones are being caught in the crossfire in the most disgusting way.

Pike with eyes bigger than stomach.


July 19, 2016

The Learning Landscape, Are The New AP Standards Marxist? Pensions, Ed Politics Everywhere! Turnarounds, ESSA Opportunities, Barnum V. Tough, Prize Pushback, HRC Policy And Politics, LA Equity Data, Plus Attack Pigs & Adventure Cats

New resource from Bellwether: The Learning Landscape. Be sure to check this out. It’s a wide-ranging overview of the landscape and performance of K-12 public schools. So a good resource for anyone who needs a fact-based look at what’s happening. And it’s free so great for students, too.

Chad Aldeman explains why, if we want accountability for teachers, then their retirement system has to be more fair, too. And here’s a really good explainer on how it all works in the first place.  Also, efforts underway to address the uneven teacher licensure rules that complicate things for trailing military spouses who teach. You know what else is a drag on them? Our patchwork pension system, which isn’t portable so forces people to leave a lot of retirement wealth they’ve earned on the table.

Whitmire on the – very political, given the evidence – fight over Massachusetts’ charter school cap.  Jonas on the Democratic platform. Sawchuk parses Secretary Clinton’s AFT speech. If she’s going to throw bouquets for organizing graduate students someone better line up a speech to the UAW, too!

Guys, you will never believe this: Content knowledge important for elementary school teachers. Crazy, right!

Lauren Morando Rhim responds on the question of charter school discipline and the suggestion there isn’t a problem with charters. Who is on what side of the ESSA line-up?

Matt Barnum v. Paul Tough! Paul Hill and Bethany Gross versus history!

From New York, it turns out turning around urban schools is harder than it looks. This line is a beauty:

If it is seen as successful, it will bolster the view, embraced by Mr. de Blasio, that the right approach to ailing urban schools is to reinvest in them. But if the effort ultimately falters, it will give ammunition to those who say that states and cities should focus instead on creating alternatives for parents, like charter schools.

First, why not do both? But also, about those charters, if only there were some evidence about how those charters would fare compared to other options students have in the city….(pdf). I mean, imagine if we knew how they might fare in Harlem or elsewhere in the city, or in reading and math….it’s all so abstract! Related, here’s some data on Colorado’s charters. 

Buried lede:

The premise of The Prize, Cerf says, was that if he, Anderson, and Booker had moved more slowly and worked harder to build local support for their ideas, they would have gotten a warmer reception. But, he says, that analysis is flawed.

“For Dale to criticize Cory and Cami for failing to have overcome political saboteurs, but give a complete pass to the saboteurs themselves, tells only part of the story. There was a vicious campaign of misinformation that was designed to thwart any changes.”

Here’s a Dallas principal on improving schools and some larger societal conditions kids are facing in their communities.

How will Hillary Clinton make sure her college plan doesn’t lead to increases in tuition?  There is also this gem:

Federal wage data shows that the value of a college education is higher than it has ever been.

“Purely from an economic standpoint, it has never been a better investment,” Mr. Nadauld said. “Even though costs are obscene, the returns are obscene, too.”

Here are two takes on the new European history AP frameworks: Not Marxist versus Marxist.

Equity data from LAUSD (pdf), includes charter schools and special needs students.

Large pig emerges from the ocean and attacks beachgoers. Apparently real thing: Adventure cats. Lots of planets.


July 15, 2016

Bellwether And The 74 Live Blogging The Conventions, More Dem Platform News, Education’s Mirth Problem, Fish, McWhorter On Policy, Rosenwald Schools, Rhames on Violence, Pay For Success, And What Are They Doing In Wisconsin Right Now? Plus Bear And Health Care News!

Bellwether and The 74 are teaming up to live blog the conventions, starts now. Let’s talk about education! Also look for a very cool project release from Bellwether on Monday.

It’s Friday, but no fish pics today. Instead, Kevin Kosar who battles with Bellwether’s Alison Fuller for the mayor of fish porn title has launched a fishing blog. That’s a strong move, Ali. He fishes all the damn time and is somehow not unemployed as a result. Plus a magazine lets him write about boats now. What are the rest of us doing wrong?

In the ed world a lot going on, including some Governor Pence overviews, curated for you here at RealClearEducation.

What do education pay for success initiatives look like globally relative to the US? Revisiting Rosenwald schools. Marilyn Rhames looks at the collateral damage from all this violence.

More Dem platform news:

Democrats added a misleading reference to standardized tests to the party platform over the weekend, requiring they meet a reliability standard that doesn’t actually exist.
“[W]e believe that standardized tests must meet American Statistical Association standards for reliability and validity,” the amendment reads, saying this would “strike a better balance on testing, so that it informs, but does not drive, instruction.”
To most people this would seem like common sense; of course tests should follow statistical best practices and who could sound more authoritative on the controversial subject than the American Statistical Association. But there’s a problem: The American Statistical Association (ASA) has never published guidelines pertaining to the reliability and validity of standardized tests.
“There are no such standards,” Jill Talley, a spokesperson for the ASA, told The 74.
OK, then.
Here’s Polikoff on it:

“Action” John McWhorter wants policy not talk:

What if, instead of calling for a conversation, Mrs. Clinton had called for revitalized support for vocational schooling to help get poor black people into solid jobs that don’t require a college degree? Or an end to the war on drugs, which furnishes a black market that tempts underserved black men away from legal work. Or ensuring cheap, universal access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, to help poor women (who praise these devices) control when they start families. Or phonics-based reading programs, which are proved to be the key to teaching poor kids how to read. All poor black kids should have access to them just as they get free breakfasts.

Checker Finn on the education world’s fissures:

There’s reason, alas, to suspect that the center isn’t holding, even among those who have favored charter schools, and certainly among those who have differing views on a host of other items that have been prominent on the reform agenda.

Perhaps this was inevitable, considering what’s been happening in the wider worlds of politics and policy. I don’t know whether it’s fixable, or how much effort either side is prepared to expend trying to reconstruct a centrist ed reform movement. (I worry that each side would rather blame the other for today’s fissiparous tendencies.) I do know, however, that the price of disintegration in education reform will be heavy. We don’t need to worry overmuch about adult reformers paying that price, but we should care quite a lot about what it will exact from the millions of kids who deserve better, and from a society whose future hinges more on how well those kids are educated than on who occupies the Oval Office on January 20, 2017.

Also its lack of humor:

Exacerbating the disagreements on those questions is the self-righteousness that seems to have swamped this field in recent years. Education has never been a mirth-filled realm, but when I first got into it a lot of participants could still smile, occasionally giggle, even tell the odd joke—and the chuckles were, often as not, bipartisan. Today, however, practically nobody seems to have a sense of humor, at least not about anything bearing on ed reform. Is it because of our unfunny national politics? Because social media and 24/7 news mean that even a short chortle can be turned by one’s foes into evidence that one is making light of something? I’m not sure about the cause, but I can attest that it’s hard to make common cause with people who can never share a spoof or jest.

School lotteries create useful natural experiments. But more good schools would be nice! Scarcity understandably doesn’t make people fans of markets, which is an issue with school reform in some communities. That’s not an argument against school choice, and especially not against giving the poor the same kind of choices other Americans have, but it’s a political problem given the uneven educational terrain.

If you’re like me one of the things you wonder about a lot is, ‘how are Wisconsin educators preparing for the new ed law?’ Now you know!  Today in absurdity and IG audits (pdf).

If you drive a Subaru stuff like this is bound to happen. If you haven’t tried a cleanse, they’re very healthy, here’s one.


July 13, 2016

EdLoC Up And Running, Illinois Data, Young People & Politics, Cunningham Trashes The Platform, Polikoff Trashes Proficiency. Spotlight On Exeter, PD & Lessons And More!

EdLoC is live. Website and early efforts here. Impressive team, board, and advisors here. Stay tuned.

Here’s a look at how screwed up (and political) teacher hiring is.

Education workforce data from Illinois. Even if you don’t have a stake in Illinois the method and the trends are interesting. Plus Bellwether can do this for your state! Contact us to learn more. Chad Aldeman on once slice of it here.

Survey of young people and their views on the presidential candidates – some really interesting data (pdf). If you’re worried about their authoritarian tendencies Table 7 won’t help!

Former Obama administration official and Chicagoan Peter Cunningham is not a fan of the revised Democratic platform on education:

The amendments adopted by the Democratic Platform Committee are a step backwards at a time when America can’t afford to stand still, let alone retreat. Improving public education for low-income Black and Hispanic children shouldn’t be a matter of debate or a political football. It’s an economic and a moral imperative…
…Education should be a voting issue but Democrats should at least make sure that we are asking people to vote the right way. Accountability and public school choice are core values of the last two Democratic administrations. The last thing we should do is abandon them. The littlest guys are counting on us.

Morgan Polikoff has a sign-on letter about proficiency rates as the primary measure of school accountability.  We don’t have accountability right, to be sure, but what’s hard here is (a) knowing what we know about the political culture of the education sector the only thing worse than allowing some flexibility to innovate here is probably not allowing it and (b) this does have the ring of taking things that don’t work for kids in practice but coming together to make them work in theory and (c) there are ways to do proficiency that address some of the legitimate concerns, states tend not to do them though, see (a). Not an easy issue.

Vox has an interesting package on life for Olympic involved athletes after the games are over. Here’s a related story with an education angle on it – how Steve Mesler ended up founding Classroom Champions after his bobsled career ended.*

This is not a flattering account for Exeter.

PD versus lesson plans.

Shopping lizard. Today in volcano news.

*I’m on the board.


July 12, 2016

Intramural Democratic Education Fight, In Higher Ed It’s Not Just The For-Profits, Teacher Pensions, Litigation On Title IX And Mississippi Charters, Fryer & Bennet In The News, Common Core, Plus Cocaine Bear.

The focus on for-profit colleges and their problems has obscured the larger problem of higher ed quality.

The bad news: The Democratic platform went sideways on aggressive school improvement for underserved kids. The good news: Platforms don’t matter that much. DFER goes to the videotape here. DFER statement here.

Teacher pension quote of the day:

Edwin T. Burton III, a University of Virginia economics professor who served more than 20 years on the VRS board, suggested that teachers and other public employees don’t get much benefit from the traditional pension system unless they stay for long careers.

“The vast majority of public school teachers in this state get very little benefit out of this system,” Burton said.

More litigation on the Obama Administration Title IX transgender guidance. Even within states suing some disagreement among officials.

Litigation in Mississippi from the Southern Poverty Law Center agains the state’s charter school law. SPLC has done a lot of important work so it’s pretty dismaying to see them effectively blocking poor families from having choices over their schooling.

Nothing to see here, move along…move along….

Noted economist and education researcher Roland Fryer making a dent on the debate over race and policing, too. (Read the whole thing not just the headline, he doesn’t lend himself to soundbites).

Screws tightening on Ohio’s most notorious virtual school.  And don’t call them government schools! Or do. Whatever. Let’s just work to make them better?

Some states are trying to embed the PARCC test as a post-secondary prep tool others going with different options – IL the latter.  Not surprisingly the tests are emerging as the cover for efforts to keep the standards.

On bad academic writing, too many juicy lines to pull quote.

There is plenty to be concerned about in terms of policing of speech and thought on campus right now but outrage about this seems like a caricature and grasping at straws.  Question seems sort of key for the roles, no?

Catching up on some reading – this is a terrific profile of Michael Bennet, United States Senator from Colorado and education aficionado.

For Bennet, the education bill was something of a bittersweet victory. The eight years it took to pass it, he said in yet another speech to an empty chamber in December, revealed a disturbing lack of urgency on the part of too many of his colleagues who were “content to treat America’s children as if they are someone else’s rather than their own.” The same outcome, he told me later, could have been had years earlier if party leaders had simply given their members the green light to compromise.

Cocaine Bear. Big time father – daughter adventures.

*Post revised to add DFER statement.


July 11, 2016

Edujob: ED @ Lynch Leadership Academy At Boston College

Here’s a great edujob in Boston:

Established in 2010 through a generous, multi-year gift from the Lynch Foundation, the Lynch Leadership Academy (the Academy) exists to develop the leadership capacity of school leaders in order to close the achievement gap and ensure all students attend and graduate from college. An initiative of Boston College, and drawing on the expertise of its nationally ranked business and education schools, the Academy is an innovative program that inspires, challenges, and trains urban school leaders to effectively engage and direct impactful school change. Through a yearlong cohort model, and with an emphasis on the principles of equity and social justice, the Academy builds the leadership capacity of school principals across sectors – district, charter, and Catholic – to attain high student achievement and enhance the lives of the children and families who depend on the vitality and excellence of urban schools.

The new ED will serve as the primary liaison with external partners, and ensure the financial and programmatic sustainability of the organization. While s/he will oversee the execution of The Academy’s core program model, responsibility will center on strategic positioning, and strengthening the organization’s capacity to deliver strong outcomes by growing The Academy’s footprint in several regions. The ED must be a seasoned professional, with a track record of leadership in an entrepreneurial setting, and sufficient experience to gain the trust and confidence of colleagues at all levels.

Learn more, apply, and nominate here.


July 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton And Higher Ed, Prisons V. Schools, Buck Up History Advocates – Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor? School Finance, Teacher Salaries, Demographic Data, And Henderson On DC And What’s Next. Plus Fish Pics And Mothman!

Below are some great fish pictures with Tim Taylor. Fish Porn Mayor Kevin Kosar has some, too, on his Twitter feed. Here and here most recently.

Draft innovative assessment pilot regulations out.  The ambition for new ways of assessment bumps into the reality of assessment capacity. Alyson Klein here.

Hillary Clinton is tuning and emphasizing her college tuition proposal and its similarities with the Senator Sanders’ college proposal. This is interesting – the Clinton proposal is more targeted and not a giveaway to the wealthy as Sanders’ idea was. But it is also not universal, which makes the politics trickier especially if states get to decide whether or not to opt-in. But targeted initiatives worked well in the 1990s, will they in today’s politics?

Max Marchitello on Trump, Christie, and education finance. Kirsten Schmitz on teacher salaries and teacher demographics.

Earlier this week I wrote about all the things school districts have to do before they think about teaching and learning.

Some pushback on the charter school discipline narrative:

It turns out that it matters quite a bit which schools you compare charters to, but it also matters how you compare them. Comparing averages assumes that charters are similar to one another, but some charters might have much lower discipline rates than their neighbors while others have much higher rates.

Joe Siedlecki on growing great schools. EdBuild on little education enclaves.

Fun with percentages and bully pulpits! New analysis from the Department of Education looks at spending on corrections and spending on education (pdf). The growth of the former outpaces the latter. Underlying numbers provide some different context and confirm what anyone who follows policy already knows, we’re spending more on corrections than we used t0 but we spend a lot on education, too. The higher ed numbers are more complicated, see A.9 in the document. Still, count me among those who think we lock too many people up. But, if you really want a state spending pattern pressuring school finance to freak about? Check out Medicaid. When do we get a report on that from ED?

Here’s an important evaluation of Ohio’s voucher program (pdf). New data on the early-childhood workforce. AIR on teacher shortage and policymaker options.  Chiefs for Change on ESSA and evidence (pdf).  ACT on future educator demographics (pdf). Brookings on SNS and fed policy.

Don’t know much about history? You’ve got company. Colleges not requiring a lot of it (pdf).

Interviewing students.

Flashback: Here’s Kaya Henderson discussing what’s happened in DC and what’s next.

Mothman theories and Mothman festivals.


Friday Fish Porn – Taylor Succeeds!

IMG_46841-2 IMG_01581By day, Tim Taylor leads America Succeeds, but he’s also a solid fisherman and accomplished wing shooter.

He’s been featured on Fish Porn before, for instance here and here and here. I’ve been on the water with him, good person to spend a day outside with.

He took his son fishing this summer and there were bent rods and this snapper, which apparently became ceviche.

As good a time as any for our annual PSA: Take a kid fishing!

Want more of this? Here are hundreds of education related people and their families (and kids!) with fish.


July 5, 2016

Strip Down School Districts! Plus Mehlhorn On Adult First Ed Politics, Finn Defends Teachers Unions, Charter Myths And Charter Booing! And Keep Floating!

In U.S. News & World Report today I take a look at all the things we ask of school districts. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense:

School districts around the country are getting ready for the 2017 school year, which for many starts in just a few weeks. Officials are thinking about transporting students to school, what they’ll feed them, health services for them, sports teams and schedules, and all the other things we call on school districts to do. Meanwhile, if you’re lucky, someone might also be focused on who is going to teach your child and what they’re going to teach.

Backward? Yes, of course it is. And like many things in our education system it’s not what we might design but instead what has evolved and embedded itself over time. Teaching and learning, ostensibly the core functions of schools and school districts, are now just one among many important things we expect them to do…

…As a rule the highest quality institutions we see, in all sectors, are ones that focus on being excellent at something. It’s just hard to be outstanding at a lot of things at once. Yet that’s what we ask of school districts year after year even as they struggle, mediocrity is the norm, and high-quality instruction is often an afterthought. So maybe we shouldn’t?

You can read the entire thing there. Tell me your favorite school district activities or tweet me what you’d like to strip down from school district functions @arotherham.

Elsewhere:

Dmitri Mehlhorn on his old school and the adult-first politics in education.  See if you can figure out what Jay Greene thought of the recent Times piece on Detroit schools. So cryptic!

Checker Finn defends the teachers’ unions: Hey, could be worse, they’re not running around killing people!

Charter schools, boo! Sandy Kress really has a lot of patience!

Student loan sharking in NJ.

Getting hunted by bloodhounds. Just keep floating.


July 1, 2016

Friday Fish Porn – Tarpon!

IMG_3125Adair Bard is on the Bellwether team – and like a few of us here she likes to get out on the water to fish. Here she is on the Fork in Colorado last year. Her husband Daniel is in Florida for work and got out this week for tarpon on the fly – a blast – with his dad. So hard to beat that on a few levels.

More fish pictures coming soon. In the meantime here are hundreds of education related people and their families with fish.  The largest such collection in the world! And, it’s a good weekend to go fishing…Happy 4th of July.


Kaya Henderson On The Move, For-Profit Higher Ed, Accountability Games, Online Earnestness, CTE, Higher Ed, Charters, And Teachers Unions Against Investors! Plus Cheese News.

Happy Independence Day weekend! On this date in 1863 the Army of the Potomac led by George Meade and the Army of Northern Virginia led by Robert E. Lee bumped into each other in the sleepy town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the course of American history was changed.

Kaya Henderson stepping down in D.C. My take:

Washington Post take here. And of course this.

Breaking: Big setback for Common Core opponents in Massachusetts (pdf).

Whitmire on LA charters.  Vergara fix bill fails in committee. Whiteboard Advisors now has an update on wellness news affecting young people.

Politico looks at the deal to buy the University of Phoenix and the involvement of administration players. If true, it wouldn’t be the first time a stock price for an education stock has been beaten up by public actions for later gain. The article didn’t include a pretty stunning series of related tweets from former administration aide Ben Miller. Chicago Trib reports that Senator Dick Durbin is not pleased but is being circumspect. Third Way’s Tamara Hiler & Lanae Erickson Hatalsky on why it’s not only for-profit colleges scamming students. Also, this is happening on the for-profit front and matters.

Here’s an old trick made new again that a lot of states are using on accountability: Improving schools is difficult, contentious, and all that. Changing rating systems and labels? So much more manageable and doable! Here’s New York. Here’s Virgina. Plenty of others.

If you give students online access to the answers, they’ll use it (earnestly say professors associated with an online company):

Modern online learning materials may include built-in questions that are used for some of a class’ homework points. To encourage learning, question solutions may be easily available to students. We sought to determine to what extent students earnestly attempt to answer questions when solutions are available via a simple button click. An earnest attempt means to try answering a question at least once before viewing the solution. We analyzed data from 550 students in four classes, at a four-year public research university, a four-year public teaching college, and two community colleges. We found average earnestness was a rather high 84%. We also found that 89% of students earnestly attempted 60%-100% of questions, with 73% earnestly attempting 80%-100%. Only 1% of students blatantly “cheat the system” by earnestly less than 20% of questions. Thus, the heartening conclusion is that students will take advantage of a well-designed learning opportunity rather than just quickly earning points.

We noted that earnestness decreased as a course progressed, with analyses indicating the decrease being mostly due to tiredness or some other student factor, rather than increasing difficulty.

OK, then.

IP issues around content are messy and there is a lot of stuff floating around without appropriate rights. Amazon’s new initiative, highlighted blow earlier this week, has run into that via The Times:

Two items — a collection of first-grade math lessons and English literature activity lessons — in the Amazon screen shot were created by authors on teacherspayteachers.com, a rival instructional resources site where educators offer lesson plans they have created.

Yes, and TeachersPayTeachers had its own problems with this, too. There is a lot of confusion about what’s allowed under teachers employment agreements and how copyright works. Here’s the NEA on that. And I took a look at some of the issues a few years ago.

The Wall Street Journal looks at Randi Weingarten’s war on professional investors who don’t share her political agenda. Chad Aldeman looks behind the scenes. Chad also takes a look at more evidence on the pension sensitivity question – this time from Oregon.

A bipartisan CTE bill to reauthorize Perkins (pdf). Overview can be found here.  Hillary Clinton higher education proposals.  PolitiFact compiles its education ratings on various candidates.

Campus speech debate. Recommendation #1 for administrators basically amounts to get a backbone. Justin Fox says you can’t have Christmas or a lot of universities without the Chinese.

Texas-based IDEA wins the Broad charter prize.  I don’t agree with all of this Neerav Kingsland post but it points up a deceptively hard question – when is better good enough? The Walton Foundation is doing more to support charter facilities.

Alyson Klein takes a look at the assessment pilot in ESSA. Hispanic students and post-secondary and career readiness (pdf). When parents don’t get that they’re supposed to be against Success Academy, so frustrating!

Here’s a nice story.

Who moved the cheese?


June 28, 2016

Detroit Charters, Remote Reporting, The King And I, Plus Baseball! Also One-L On Evidence, Christie’s School Finance Stunt, Kansas’ Finance Mess, And Barr In The Arena! Slack And Edu, And Snakes On A Grill. Plus More!

If you’re in Nashville John King and I are talking charters today at 2pm. What’s working, what’s not at 25 years? Here’s a preview of what he’ll talk about later in the afternoon. 

The Supreme Court has denied a rehearing of Friedrich’s before a full court (earlier this year it resulted in a 4-4 tie following the death of Justice Scalia).

Kids and baseball – read this.

Kate Zernike on Detroit charters in The Times. Landscape overview. Important story, but in my view it overplays the accounts of school failure while underplaying that there are a lot of good schools – including some in the for-profit sector. That’s important context and one reason (there are others including just plain old politics) it’s been so challenging to clean up Detroit’s charter sector. Blanket approaches carry unintended costs.  Also shows why it’s hard to do a Smart Cap approach to charter quality in a really fluid authorizing environment and a tough political environment for quality advocates (one faction wants all charter schools, one faction wants none, hard to find sensible middle ground).

Michele McLaughlin on evidence and its intermediaries. Sarah Sparks on teacher absenteeism.

This pretty much covers New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s school finance stunt. There is a political logic to this sort of reverse class war but let’s hope it doesn’t catch on because the policy is so stunningly bad.

A pig in every pot or every pig….or something like that…because Steve Barr is running for Mayor of LA! He has an uphill climb but don’t underestimate Steve’s ability to actually talk to people and organize them in a very authentic and organic way.

This NPR story on Rocketship, a California-based non-profit charter school network, is pretty slanted. Rocketship has had its struggles but the NPR story goes in other directions. Rocketship responds here. As it turns out apparently the lead reporter never visited the school and another reporter visited one school. The story didn’t have a dateline but you sort of assume NPR wouldn’t do that and there must have been some visits and in-depth reporting for a story like this. Apparently no. The problem for NPR is that longtime education writer Richard Whitmire literally wrote the book about Rocketship and has spent a lot of time at the network. He took issue with the whole episode. (Rocketship has been a past Bellwether client and we share a board member with them but the two organization are not related).

Amazon’s presence in the education sector is significant but it doesn’t seem to get as much play, and controversy, as others. Perhaps that’s changing, here’s their latest play.

CPR requirement for Missouri students.  Yes schools can’t do everything but basic CPR and the ability to use a defib machine is a good public safety step. A lot of states also used to require swimming – something else that sounds nanny state but can save lives.

Latest chapter in the D.C. Child Find dispute. Kansas school finance dispute.

Slack probably has applications in the education sector. But this is not one of them.  And as if you needed more evidence that promotion ceremonies for little children are out of hand. 

What happens to classroom pets over the summer? (Ask me about anole arbitrage sometime if you want a story).

Snakes on a grill.


June 24, 2016

Edujobs! Project Director Roles @NASBE

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

Project Director: Teaching, Leading, and Learning Policy:

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

Project Director: Standards, Assessment, and Accountability:

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

 


June 23, 2016

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

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

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

Supreme Court ruled today in Fisher (pdf):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When progressives aren’t: School zoning.

Fordham with a survey of teachers about Common Core math.

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

But on the other hand, no wait, nevermind.

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

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

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

Pedals the bear is back!


June 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This ETS event on opt-outs looks pretty good.

Fantastic jumpsuit.


June 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a nice Father’s Day story.

 This town was taken over by bears. 

*New Classrooms is a past Bellwether client.


June 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s happening elsewhere?

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

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

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

Teachers unions are broadening their coalitions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homeless students in public schools: Hidden In Plain Sight.

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

Radical unschooling. Makes our unschoolers look like double a!

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

Imploding casino. Homer Alaska is a crazy place.


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

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

From the JD:

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

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

Learn more here.


June 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote for Smarick!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a Bellwether team member in this Poison video.

Outsourced Friday Fish Porn.


June 7, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kati Haycock:

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

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

Here’s an interesting edujob.

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

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

…gets provisional good housekeep from the WWC.

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

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

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

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

High school hedge fund managers.

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

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

*Disc – Bellwether client.


Edujob – Kern Family Foundation

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

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

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

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


June 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the other links!

Big time edujob in the south.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 1, 2016

Edujob – CEO At RePublic Schools

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

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

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

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

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


May 26, 2016

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

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

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

Draft ESSA regs are out (pdf).

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

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

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

Elsewhere!

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

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

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

The New Yorker takes a look at campus politics.

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

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

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

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

Vergara still going (pdf).

Mixed results for the edTPA:

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

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

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

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

Marguerite Roza on charters and school finance: 

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

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

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

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


May 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USGS Topo maps are tools, art, and more!