April 17, 2014
We’re hiring for a chief of staff at Bellwether – great opportunity if you’re a fit for the skill set and attributes.
We’re hiring for a chief of staff at Bellwether – great opportunity if you’re a fit for the skill set and attributes.
Posting has been light. I took some PTO and I’ve been penning morning notes for RealClearEducation. A quick preview of what’s on the site and a look back at history to start the day. You can read those here, today’s was about Bob Feller’s no-hitter. You can also subscribe here.
More Eduwonk content very soon!
If your thing is Caracalla but also education politics there is only one place you can get both: RealClearEducation Today.
On this date in 217, the Roman Emperor Caracalla was killed. He’d stopped by the side of the road to go the bathroom and was set upon by his own men. It wasn’t a surprising end for Caracalla – treachery was his way…It would be hyperbolic to compare what happened in New York this weekend to the times of Caracalla. Still, treachery was in the air as the state teachers union elected new leadership, and the episode offers some lessons for education observers….
The Equity Project is a charter school in New York City seeking to revamp teacher compensation and teacher leadership. Salaries are $125K annually and teachers work as part of a team of master teachers in a collaborative environment. They have open slots for next year and you can learn more at information sessions on Monday, May 5 or Wednesday May 28th. More details about the application process are here.
In Seattle, WA, City Year is looking for an executive director. More details and how to apply here.
Today’s AM newsletter – Henry Ford and lessons for ed policy. Plus a preview of what’s happening today.
The Nation has a long look at for-profit education and its lobbying efforts based on a forthcoming book by David Halperin. I don’t follow this issue especially closely because we don’t work on it at BW. You you can’t help but follow it to some extent though if you work on federal ed policy. The revelation that while attacking alternative routes into teaching as low-quality AACTE President Sharon Robinson was making hundreds of thousands of dollars on the board of a troubled for-profit college is surprising, much of the rest is not. For thoughts on the larger issues it points up:
So what does this take miss?
Local Initiatives Support Coalition is hiring for two roles: An Asset Manager (pdf) and a Loan Officer (pdf). These positions are with the Educational Facilities Financing Center at LISC. LISC’s portfolio of charter finance is more than $50 million.
What is LISC?
LISC is a national nonprofit organization that provides financial and technical assistance to community-based organizations working to improve social and economic conditions in low- income communities. Founded in 1979 by the Ford Foundation, LISC has grown to become the nation’s premier national nonprofit intermediary providing comprehensive support for neighborhood development and working to enhance the overall community development sector.
Here’s this morning’s RealClearEducation Today morning email newsletter. You can sign up to get it each morning – free – in your email box and the email version includes a preview of the day’s top news, commentary, and reports as well.
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 2. At RealClearEducation this morning we have the day’s top headlines in education news, commentary, analysis, and reports, as well as a piece by TNTP’s Tim Daly, who says Northwestern’s move to unionize student athletes is “dignified” and “preposterously overdue.” As always, we’ll update throughout the day.
On Monday the Boston Red Sox lost their season opener to the Baltimore Orioles. They did it without the services of their left fielder, Jonny Gomes, a hero of the 2013 Red Sox team that won the World Series. Gomes didn’t start the game because Baltimore started a right-handed pitcher and other outfielders had better numbers against righties. That decision is being second-guessed among the Red Sox faithful after the loss and especially because of manager John Farrell’s decision not to pinch hit Gomes at a crucial point late in the game. Why? Because during last year’s playoff run, Gomes played and produced against all kinds of pitching, and the team was 10-1 when he did.
Gomes is a spark plug. He helps ignite teams. Many baseball fans think it’s more than coincidental that he’s played for four division winning teams in the last six seasons — the only player in the American League to have done so. Some of those teams, like last season’s Red Sox, were turnaround projects. Gomes has respectable numbers at the plate and solid defense in the field but more than that, he exudes an almost ridiculous tenacity (he once waited 27 hours after a fluke heart attack to see a doctor, even sleeping through the night) and a desire to win (you don’t see a lot of unassisted double plays by left fielders, but Gomes turned one in during the 15th inning of a game last summer). He also has sartorial flair. Gomes arrived at The White House yesterday to meet the President and celebrate the Red Sox’s championship season wearing a red, white, and blue suit. He sported a military helmet during postseason celebrations last year.
In education there is a lot of attention to data right now and widespread concern about student privacy and data security. A survey of education policy experts by Whiteboard Advisors earlier this year found that 73 percent believe there are companies operating in the educator sector in ways that violate privacy laws. Yet there is also widespread agreement that better use of educational data can provide greater personalization and customization for students and increase educational productivity. Getting the balance right is on the agenda in a number of states.
At the same time, a conversation about data is playing out in the debate about teacher effectiveness. Underneath the strident and often misleading rhetoric is a more serious question: How should policies balance human judgment and discretion with data? In most professional fields, managers use data and their own judgment and make decisions. That’s a tough sell in education with its love of metrics and compliance and its adversarial management and labor context.
It holds the field back because a culture that respects the intangibles would be complicated, and perhaps messier, but also help build a more genuine profession for teachers. The best baseball managers balance data with experience and judgment. Besides, fantasy teams don’t have character or soul. As Gomes told The Boston Globe during spring training last month:
“When you’re building a team, I’m last on the list because, when the lights go out, you don’t see the player grind out at-bats or run hard to first base every time. Or see the player respect the game and his teammates… or see the way the player approaches the game, the work ethic.”
Foster was born on this date in 1923. His life, and death, shouldn’t be forgotten. RealClearEducation Today takes a look at that and previews the days news. ICYMI Friday’s looked at Three Mile Island and Jimmy Carter.
There are still a lot of moves to come in the unionization for student athletes issue. But an interesting question that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is how different state labor laws would affect different colleges and universities if unionization proceeds? In college sports you have public and private universities, sometimes in the same conference. And they’re obviously in different states with different labor laws. This plays out now in terms of efforts to organize graduate students. But unevenness among graduate programs is entirely different than unevenness for college sports, which strive, excuse the pun, to have a level playing field. What are the implications if some schools have unions for athletes, others don’t? How does the NCAA react?
In one part of the country they’re asking, ‘what does it mean for the SEC?’
A lot of news links over at the RealClearEducation site, a lot going on around the country and the world.
Wednesday’s RealClearEducation Today preview email took a look at Robert Frost, his birthday was yesterday. Today’s discuses education and Native Americans. You can subscribe to receive them every morning here. They are archived here.
And don’t miss RealClearEducation’s Dan Willingham on reading frameworks.
By now everyone in the sports world and most in the education world know about the decision yesterday by the National Labor Relations Board to allow student athletes at Northwestern to form a union (the ruling can be appealed and overturned so it’s not final). Colleges enjoy a sweet racket with college sports and are concerned about what it might mean. The usual pro-and anti-union arguments are rearing up. And fans worry about what might mean for college sports.
But there is a precedent that should soothe some nerves – the NFL. The National Football League for all its problems, which are too legion to list here, has a players union that is not a barrier to on-field performance. In fact, the NFL has struck a balance that affords players protections, vested veterans additional ones they have earned, but none of those rules affect on-field performance. Coaches can play players or cut them from the team at their discretion. Patriots coach Brendan Daly and his brother TNTP’s Tim Daly discussed some of that a few years ago.
The NFL players union is a model K-12 public schools might do well to emulate. It’s unionization and respect for seniority coupled with respect for the importance of performance. It protects people from jagged edges – veterans receive their salary if they’re cut during the season, for instance – but not in ways that work against the underlying goals. That’s hardly the balance of things in K-12 now.
Interesting case in New York. Two teachers caught having sex in a classroom – but after-hours and more or less away from students were fired. The state’s supreme court just overturned that decision saying, among other things, that the penalty was disproportionate to the offense and that teachers who have harmed children have not been fired so why should these two be?
In an informal survey of educators and analysts (meaning I emailed some colleagues) no one condoned it but views about appropriate action were all over the place. Some said that it’s definitely a fireable offense and that anything less is unacceptable. While others said based on the publicly known facts doesn’t seem worthy of immediate termination but rather some other action. Others said that whatever they think is less important than what the district thought it should do and so they were opposed to the court action as a process issue. In the private sector this sort of thing is handled differently by different organizations, there are not hard and fast rules.
What do you think?
From the announcement:
This is an unprecedented position within a school of education. The individual recruited for this position will be an intellectual leader and an entrepreneur in information technologies, including advanced electronic media, telecommunications and related satellite technology. This individual will also help create new educational ventures. He or she will be able to identify and implement programs and projects at the national level to improve elementary and post-elementary education.
This person will be a visionary who will convene and lead a group of multidisciplinary scholars from such fields as business, engineering, cinematic arts, and communication, and who come from across the USC campus and beyond. In addition, she or he will establish a collaborative network of education providers in a range of settings and roles, from public and charter school operators to leaders in for-profit educational-services companies. The position will be in the Rossier School of Education and come with a fixed term non-tenure track faculty appointment. Teaching in the Rossier School’s Master’s or Ed.D. a program is a possibility.
Sara Mead and Robert Gordon lay out an agenda for Head Start in The New Republic.
Politico Pro leading the week with a big story about public dollars, private schools, and the teaching of religion - in particular creationism. Although it’s a minor issue in the big scheme of things, it does matter and this issue is one of the Achilles’ heels of the voucher movement. Here are five questions the story points to but doesn’t answer:
On 4/2 Ed Trust and TNTP are hosting a webinar to look at different approaches on the teacher quality front including recruiting and staffing practices, teacher evaluations, professional development, and classroom support. It’s free. More information and RSVP via this link. Includes Terry Grier, Jason Kamras, and experts from DCPS, HISD, as well as TNTP and Ed Trust.
Another CREDO report out today, this time on charter schools in all of California (pdf). A lot of data in the report but a few things jump out:
- Note differences with Los Angeles
- Statewide improvement, sector getting stronger
- CMO results worth checking out, implications for the ongoing conversation about CMOS and one-off charters.
It’s that time of the year again, the greatest education job in the entire land is open: Summer fellowships at the Hawaii Department of Education (pdf). Not surprisingly, highly coveted and competitive. Application period closes soon. Interesting work, fascinating education context, and did I mention it’s in HAWAII? All you need to apply via this link.
The Department of Educaiton has launched a new blog PROGRESS – it’s focused on voices from the field looking at impact of new policies and initiatives.
New CREDO analysis out on charter schools in Los Angeles. Some scuttlebutt out of CA that a lot of political resistance to this one. Why? Perhaps because it shows the sector there is very strong and adding significantly to learning for kids (pdf). You’ll get a quick intellectual honestly gut check with this one – do the same people who use earlier CREDO data to attack the charter sector acknowledge that this one shows these schools are doing a good job in LA? If history is a guide don’t hold your breath because other CREDO studies have shown strong results within particular geographies and changed few minds. A reasonable hypothesis might be that the critics are not especially empirical.Too many proponents, meanwhile, fail to engage with the limitations of the charter strategy and the problems to date.
So what the study highlights – again – is the unevenness of the sector. For every LA there is a school district somewhere authorizing charters to recoup some resources with little attention to quality. For all the crazy talk about privatization, most charters are actually authorized by public school districts. But it looks like the sector is beginning to correct and overall quality should increase, you’re seeing that in the overall data from CREDO and state data. A cynic might say that accounts for some of the race to kill off charters now. For a good look at the charter debate it’s hard to beat this Josh Greenman column today. And the serious conversation is about how to address the structural challenges it points up, which will matter a great deal as the charter sector grows. You can’t run an entire school system like this.
Here it is:
Good morning. It’s Friday March 14.
On RealClearEducation today, we have links to news, commentary, and reports from around the education world and we’ll update those throughout the day. We have original commentary by Getting Smart CEO Tom Vander Ark, who lays out problems he sees in the flurry of recent student privacy bills, and the second installment of our Morning Commute with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). This time, Polis — still joined by dog Gia – talks about guns in schools and the Common Core.
Today is Pi Day — so like Christmas for math-lovers. It’s also the birthday of Casey Jones, the great railroad man born in 1863. The railroads he rode helped connect this country, close the frontier, and lay the foundation for the country America is today, where people think nothing of flying across the country in just hours.
That connectivity affects education just as it affects everything else. You may have noticed some discussion about the question of whether America needs common standards across all the states. It’s been a national debate since the 1980s and is particularly acute now. Math is math and pi is pi, proponents say. Don’t-tread-on-me local control is a hallmark counter for opponents.
What’s indisputable is that Americans, including teachers, are now more mobile than ever before.* It’s an issue in the standards debate and also matters to teachers. As a new paper by RealClearEducation Executive Editor Andrew Rotherham and Chad Aldeman point out in a new analysis, fewer than one in five teachers now teach in one place and earn a full pension benefit there — important implications for how we think about retirement security for everyone who teaches for just part of their career or moves around.
Legend has it that for a decade after Casey Jones’ famous trainwreck, the imprint of his engine was visible on the embankment it slammed into – a fading reminder of what was. Perhaps it’s worth pausing to think about what aspects of education that seem so immutable today will be largely forgotten tomorrow as the world marches irreversibly forward.
*It is disputable, I should have written it more clearly. As the pension report shows the teacher labor market is changing, the data on all Americans is different.
Loads of links and content up at RealClearEducation and here’s today’s email, below, but don’t forget to get signed up to have it sent to your email every day. The newsletter also includes links to some of the top news, commentary and analysis, and reports on the RealClearEducation site in the morning.
It’s March 13th. And it’s going to be an interesting day in the education world with a few reports coming out that seem sure to spark some debate. Watch our site for those. Also on the RealClearEducation home page this morning we have original commentary by Anne Hyslop and ex-TFAer Matthew Specht. RealClearEducation executive editor Andrew Rotherham and Richard Whitmire take a look at the national implications the charter school debate in New York City. We’ve also got our usual round-up of links from around the education world, just a few of which are previewed below in this email. Check back on our site later today for more of our Morning Commute interview with Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and for more top stories as we update throughout the day.
On this day in 1969, Apollo 9 screamed back to earth and splashed down under red and white parachutes in the Atlantic Ocean after a successful mission to test the lunar module. We sure were better at science and math back then! Actually, as Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution reminded the audience at yesterday’s RealClearEducation launch, our math achievement lagged other countries in the 1960s, too. The issue was just viewed differently than it is today. Later in 1969, those mediocre mathematicians (with an assist from the Germans) put people on the moon and brought them home again, something no other country has accomplished.
The commander of Apollo 9 was astronaut James McDivitt who also flew on Gemini 4. He’s known as a graduate of the University of Michigan (two Wolverines were in the three-man crew for that mission) where he earned a B.A. and was later awarded a honorary doctorate. But he started his higher education at a community college – Jackson Junior College.
A good reminder of the diversity of America’s education system as well as the longevity and complexity of our educational challenges.
Chad Aldeman and I have a new paper out today about teacher pensions, Friends Without Benefits (pdf). It looks at how the current approach to teacher pensions works in the context of broader retirement security issues.
If you’ve followed our work on teacher pensions you know that we see the fiscal problems facing teacher pension plans as a result of bad decisions by state policymakers and a corresponding lack of fiscal discipline as well as ill-considered benefit enhancements. Shoring that up is a fiscal sustainability issue. But there are also a broader set of design questions given what we know about the changing teacher workforce. Friends Without Benefits is about those design issues and the impact they have on America’s largest class of B.A. workers.
In Friends Without Benefits we use state pension plan data to estimate how many teachers will qualify for at least a minimal pension benefit. Overall fewer than one in five teachers will stay long enough to reach their normal retirement age. But it varies, for instance,
The retirement security issues here are substantial because the savings penalties for mobility are large. An individual teacher could forfeit up to 6.5 percent of her annual salary for one year, or, due to compound interest, 22.6 percent of her annual salary after three years according to the new Bellwether analysis. To put these penalties in dollar terms, a hypothetical teacher earning $40,000 a year could face a savings penalty of $2,601 for teaching only one year and $9,035 if s/he left after three years. Teachers get back their own contributions, if they elect to, but this money stays with the pension funds and is used to supplement the pensions of the remaining teachers. It’s important to note that there penalties for teachers even if they stay in teaching but build a 30 year career across multiple states or cities. This problem does not just affect those who leave the field.
These issues are becoming more acute because states are addressing pension fiscal problems by making pension plans worse for new and future teachers. The politics behind that are obvious but it’s not good for the field long term. Meanwhile, it’s important to note that just qualifying for a minimum benefit is not sufficient as a personal retirement strategy. What we’re highlighting here might seem like small amounts but remember this is money that could be used as a savings foundation, to grow over decades. Teachers spend, on average, a few hundred dollars out of pocket each year and its a perennial political issue. This penalty is much more substantial yet generally it’s crickets.
The pension debate is too often framed as the status quo versus 401(k) style plans modeled on the private sector. In fact, there are options between those approaches that could work better for teachers and taxpayers. But it’s important to look at those issues through a frame of all teachers, not just the minority who spend an entire career in one place. You can learn more about all that at Teacherpensions.org a site Bellwether set up to provide information on the issue.
In Slate Richard Whitmire and I take a look at the big implications of what so far is a small fight over charters in New York City:
From the rhetoric, you’d think de Blasio had personally bounced kids out of charter schools across all five boroughs. In fact, in his first executive action on the issue, he blocked only three expansions, but in the process managed to anger charter supporters with his tactics and allowed centrist Democrats such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo to score points by portraying him as an ideologue. De Blasio also finds himself in a pretty lonely situation: By going after the charters, he is attacking one of the most promising urban school reform strategies available to Democratic mayors across the country these days, and he’s doing it without offering a clear alternative…
…If de Blasio can figure out how to regain momentum and harness progressive support to improve schools in New York City—taking the rough edges off of Mayor Bloomberg–era policies and hewing a different path from reformist Democratic mayors—that would change the terms of the national education debate. If de Blasio can’t produce political and educational results, he will deal a devastating blow to the national anti-reform movement. That’s why so much is riding on who comes out on top.
If you haven’t been over to RealClearEducation today’s a good day to go. We’ll have video from the panels at this morning’s launch event later. Right now there are key links from around the education world as well as original commentary by Massachusetts teachers union leader Paul Toner and North Carolina high school student Joshua Mathew. Here’s our newsletter from today, which goes out in the morning, you can sign up here to receive it free each weekday:
It’s March 12, 2014. We’re starting our day near Capitol Hill at the RealClearEducation launch event. An all-star line-up of analysts and experts will look at some hot current issues as we formally launch the site.
On RealClearEducation, we have original commentary by Massachusetts teachers union leader Paul Toner and a piece by 16-year-old North Carolina student Joshua Mathew, as well as plenty of links to a variety of news, analysis, commentaries, and reports. You can find just a few of them previewed below, and we’ll update them during the day. We’ll bring you more of our Morning Commute interview with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) tomorrow.
On Capitol Hill this morning, congressional hearings are looking at student loans and charter schools. Two contentious issues highlighting how empiricism and values both matter to education policy decisions. As a field, education does not do a great job unbundling the two and weaponizes evidence while pretending many policy fights aren’t fundamentally about values tensions.
Eighty-four years ago today, values tensions were erupting in India as Ghandi launched his Salt March. A master of political symbolism Ghandi understood how much symbols, like making salt without paying tax, mattered. Public schools are a potent symbol here at home, and that’s why the debates about them can be so strident. Yet it does not seem that any faction in the education debate has effectively mastered the political art of symbols. One side says its opponents are billionaires, financiers and stooges for the one percent. That side says its opponents don’t care a whit about children. Both are unrecognizable distortions. But more to the point neither is a symbol that inspires or rallies people to action. One of the most potent symbols in our democracy – the public school- remains a jump ball.