Your week wasn’t what you hoped? We’re hiring at Bellwether!
February 17, 2017
Marnie Kaplan on how to not cause – or to avert – an early childhood education workforce crisis. Andrew Rayner on life and life at Bellwether.
Michael Barber on patch and mend or transformation?
This Stephen Carter column is on bail but it points out something that education reformers would do well to remember – sometimes wonky issues offer high-leverage benefits. Bail, and the related issue of fines create enormous challenges for citizens and the criminal justice system. Within education the same sort of opportunities exist underneath the choppy politics and all the noise. Discipline is an obvious place, aspects of special education, certain vendor arrangements, transportation, and so forth.
Tom Kane has a plan for education research in the ESSA era. And Mark Dynarksi looks at the latest voucher research and some questions it raises. Van Schoales on the Colorado teacher evaluation bill’s implementation seven years in.
Gerard Robinson compares education secretaries.
The annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gates about their foundation’s work is both interesting and light on education.
Apparently office hours in bars are big in Texas.
February 13, 2017
Edujobs below, including one at DFER in DC.
Jon Chait gets to the tactical nub of the opposition to Betsy DeVos as well as the context – but also a warning for education’s activists and activists more generally:
Trump’s critics don’t have to choose which Trump nominees or policies or scandalous behavior to oppose. They can oppose all of it. But mass opposition is a resource that cannot be rallied against every single cause. The resistance to Trump has shown it can muster enormous political energy. But does it know how to allocate it?
DeVos opposition deep dive from Louis Freedberg.
Alex Hernandez says we’re all school choice supporters these days. He’s not wrong. Skandera talks New Mexico.
Federal government’s posture in the transgender bathroom case moving through the courts is shifting.
Shavar Jefferies of DFER and Diane Guerrero of Orange Is The New Black on DACA (in TeenVogue!).
Thoughtful Kevin Carey remembrance of Stan Jones.
Reuters deep dive fingers Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan for the state’s fiscal woes.
Sam Gleaves and Myra Morrison. If this is your thing email me with Gleaves in the subject line, hosting a show for Sam later this spring.
Want to be in the mix in one of the most dynamic and interesting schooling environments in the country? Here’s a great edujob at DFER in Washington, D.C.
Democrats for Education Reform-DC (DFER-DC) seeks a Program Associate to provide critical, high-level support to the DC State Director, particularly in the areas of communications, external and donor relations, and government affairs. This role is ideal for someone who thrives in an entrepreneurial, flexible, and occasionally high-intensity environment.
February 10, 2017
Scroll down for some edujobs including a new one at Fordham.
Max Marchitello on how employee benefit costs are creating some serious downward pressure on education spending. Important issue not getting the attention it should.
Via the great Susanna Loeb some context on SIG. The basic pattern on a lot of federal programs – favored by Democrats or Republicans at various points – is the large mandated evaluation of the program that is, in fact, an evaluation of a funding stream. Not surprisingly these evaluations rarely turn up much in the way of effects given how initiatives are implemented. Then, later, we get more micro-stuff that offers some lessons and learning but the caravan has already moved on.
I’m not arguing that SIG was a big success. That’s a hard case to make. I am arguing that we should think smarter about evaluation and interpreting the results of evaluations given how federal dollars work. (I’m also betting that’s not going to happen.)
Betsy DeVos tried to visit a D.C. public school today but the door was blocked by protesters. So she went around back. I’m all for protest, that’s what this place is about. But when you argue that the big problem with the incoming Secretary of Education is that she is unfamiliar with public schools and then block her efforts to visit one, well that’s cartoonish and why people roll their eyes at education debates.
Related, here’s a smart take on the shift in education politics. But, voters have an appetite for authenticity these days that should not be overlooked or minimized. And here’s a look at Betsy DeVos and Elizabeth Warren by Michael Jonas.
Speaking of the home of the Boston Red Sox (who are almost all in Florida already to tune up for the 2017 campaign but I digress) Lawrence, Massachusetts is a success story worthy of some attention and Jeff Riley and others leaders involved at the state level deserve a lot of credit for a good touch. But…in the telling the contextual factors tend to get overlooked, namely a powerful state takeover function that meant changes were coming for kids one way or another. Funny how people get in board in those circumstances and suddenly collaboration breaks out. Absent that context the warm milk narrative of how if everyone just sat down we could all get this done breaks out. It’s so appealing! But in education, as in life, things that sound too good to be true usually are. At least closer to the warm milk version? Take a look at what’s happening Springfield, MA.
Here’s some good news: We’re going to need a lot of wind turbine technicians in the next decade. One of of the fastest growing occupations. Plus it’s a cool job – just listen to this guy talk about it – pays OK, and the views are fantastic. 108 percent growth says the Department of Labor! Except, that growth is really less than 5,000 jobs. Why? Automation. Turbines basically run themselves once they’re up and going. You can play this scenario out across a range of fields and it highlights a major education and economic challenge that is on the horizon and is obscured by the debate about globalization and immigration as well as by percentage estimates on new jobs.
From Fordham’s Ian Rowe here’s a lede you don’t read every day on an education essay:
When I was a Senior Vice President at MTV, my job was to lead the network’s efforts to use its “superpowers for good.”
Provocative piece, worth reading.
There are some problems with the way the construct of “white privilege” is weaponized and casually tossed around these days, but there are real issues at play as well in terms of the structure of American life. In any event, this is one of the most unintentionally ironic things I’ve read in a while:
Residents like Bari Reiner, 72, say the question is offensive because the town welcomes anybody who can afford to live here.
The question was about privilege in a tony Connecticut town. Because, you know, housing is equitable and there is no history there….and the school finance system is surely fair! Oh, never mind. Anyway, the article itself is worth reading, though, it’s about an essay contest for young people that stirred things up.
If you’re looking for roles in the education analysis and policy game then Fordham is not a bad place to be. And they’re hiring:
Are you knowledgeable about education reform? Experienced with quantitative and qualitative research methods? Able to manage multiple projects and tasks simultaneously? Organized, detail oriented, and a stickler for meeting deadlines? If so, you might have a future as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Research and Policy Associate or Senior Research and Policy Associate. (The job title will ultimately depend on the candidate’s experience.)
The Fordham Institute is an education policy think tank that promotes educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as advocacy and charter school authorizing in Ohio. We are an independent, non-profit organization with offices in Washington, DC, and Columbus and Dayton, Ohio. This position is located in downtown Washington, DC.
We are looking for an exceptional education researcher, project manager, and writer to join our small research team in Washington. We seek an inquisitive, bright, hard-working individual who is capable of excelling in an intellectually stimulating and often intense work environment. Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Research, the position will work collaboratively with Fordham’s research team to design, manage, and shepherd research projects from inception to publication.
February 9, 2017
Shots! Don’t miss New York’s Tom Carroll on the battle lines in the DeVos debacle. Agree or not channels a lot of what you hear behind the scenes by way of recriminations. Plenty of people disagree as well, of course.
Important Marnie Kaplan / Sara Mead analysis from Bellwether on Head Start work policies. Here’s Kaplan with more via The 74. Bellwether’s Jen Meer on thinking about compensation practices and organizational diversity.
Bellwether’s Hailly Korman volunteered as an attorney (she’s actually an attorney, she volunteered to help) at Dulles during the immigration order implementation. The 74 talked with her about that experience.
First day of school for Betsy DeVos. 74 rounds it up. You have to give DeVos points for style and humor in a gracious welcome speech at ED yesterday. Winning the building will be key for her, good first step. The Washington Post says she has a steep curve coming. Greg Toppo on what she may or may not do.
Within Trump world there seems to be a split over whether Democrats will just say to no everything no matter what on education or if they can get something done in a bipartisan way. The DeVos episode seems likely to strengthen the former view but wouldn’t the politically smart play by the Trump team be to put forward actually good policies that demand consideration (eg a thoughtful choice proposal) rather than just stuff that easily dismissed out of hand (eg Title I “portability” or a poorly designed tax credit scheme)? Of course, the President of the United States was attacking Nordstrom yesterday from his official White House social media account and this morning busily denying remarks that his own Supreme Court nominee apparently made to a senator…so who the hell knows.
Things actually happening: Charter school enrollment topping 3 million nationwide. The NAACP is conducting a listening tour in the wake of last year’s call for a charter moratorium. Here’s NACSA’s* recent testimony. Also, in all the back and forth around DeVos a good time to point out that charter school accountability is actually quite complicated and authorizers play a key role in that. Every time someone fulminates about whether this or that applies to charter schools make sure to ask what they think the authorizer’s role should be there.
Scholastic with new data on kids and reading.
Must-read Edsall on school integration in the Trump-era. Also, while we’re here, you can do a lot worse than re-read the book Edsall wrote with is wife Mary “Chain Reaction” given our current climate.
Stan Jones, longtime Hoosier reformer, has passed.
More on Friedrichs 2.0. Also Missouri passed right-to-work legislation and the new governor there signed it earlier this month. And don’t miss this Rich Yelelson take on President Trump and labor politics. If you are viewing the teachers’ union posture post election through and educational lens you’re missing the game.
Young people and the First Amendment. Is it making a comeback? We’ll see.
*I’m on their policy advisory board but not involved in this.
February 7, 2017
Betsy DeVos situation in a nutshell via Dana Goldstein’s first NYT reporting outing:
“Poor Mrs. DeVos is a victim of her poor performance in her hearing,” [Russ Whitehurst] said, “but also of broader political theater.”
The 74 takes a look at Neil Gorsuch’s record and possible education implications if he is confirmed for the Supreme Court.
Related: Friedrichs-like cases already in the courts but what might be the official Friedrichs 2.0 kicked off yesterday.
Cameo by Bellwether’s Hailly Korman in this Vox look at the SCOTUS landscape post-Garland.
Pondiscio on race, social justice and education reform.
Interesting John Kent Cooke profile.
February 3, 2017
It’s winter so the fishing has slowed down (hundreds of fish pics here though) but education people are still getting outside and we’re diversifying from just fish pics:
Tim Taylor of America Succeeds managed to work some duck hunting into an Arkansas trip.
And Ali Fuller of Bellwether took this ibex in Spain earlier this winter. Near Teruel. She shot it at 320 yards, that means she’s probably a better shot than you are (or I am). Kosar, over to you…
It’ll be warm and fishing weather soon, in the meantime keep the pics coming.
February 2, 2017
-So here we are. The nomination most in trouble in the Senate is not a climate denier to quarterback environmental policy or any of the rest of this craziness, it’s Betsy DeVos. That says something. And it’s not a flattering something for education because people suddenly care about education. The reverse actually. And the idea that she’s somehow less qualified than some of these other nominees is laughable – and sexist. (That’s not a pro-DeVos statement, just a more general statement about education and politics). A lot of this also misunderstands what cabinet officials actually do but that’s another story.
-For the education establishment a razor close DeVos win is probably a better outcome than defeating her given what we know about President Trump. Really the ideal outcome perhaps. If DeVos goes down he’s not going to appoint Linda Darling Hammond to make amends. He’ll either double down or otherwise penalize the agency won’t he? So for her foes a politically crippled DeVos is a better outcome in some ways than defeating her. Or, in other words, if she gets through it will look like a Trump win but might be the opposite in practice.
- So much for the idea that DeVos’ political donations will inevitably protect her. The teachers unions are getting a much better ROI right now.
- Anyone who just can’t believe that Eli Broad would oppose DeVos hasn’t followed education in Michigan very closely. This is a problem with the reformers versus everyone frame that too many people in the media have bought into. Obscures most of the nuance.
-As we’ve noted here a few times, how badly has this nomination been handled top to bottom? Partisanship aside, DeVos and her team made it hard even for people who generally think that President’s should get wide deference on personnel. It’s amazing how many people close to and in the Trump operation were caught off-guard on Senator Collins and Murkowski. Emblematic. If she gets through that has to change – without a very strong team she’s in deep trouble.
-With Pence possibly voting on the nomination, at least we get to see some history! Though it feels like we’re seeing a bit too much of that lately.
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February 1, 2017
Couple of resources to highlight from Bellwether. The Learning Landscape is an overall look at American K-12 education and how it works and what it’s doing. Great resource for anyone trying to get up to speed on some of the contours. Given the attention on Betsy DeVos and her record we prepared a deck looking at K-12 education in Michigan – and the charter questions in particular (pdf). And here is our overall look at the state of charter schooling in American, successes, problems, and some analysis on what’s next (pdf).
We can do deep dives on any of these for your state or city – public field facing ones like these or proprietary research and analysis. Just reach out to learn more.
Not surprisingly there is an education paper trail for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Ed Week looks at all that. Gorsuch dissented in an interesting case involving discipline of a middle school student. And he cited Oliver Twist to make his point. His dissent is at the end here and is worth reading (pdf).
KIPP alumni survey (pdf). A lot of interesting data here.
Skills, higher education, and the workforce. More complicated than you may have heard.
January 31, 2017
After a bit of drama and some tension over committee rules (the clerk earned his paycheck at this one) the Betsy DeVos nomination is moving to the Senate floor for a vote after a party line vote in the HELP Committee today. Ed Week on why she probably will get through – although at the committee vote Senators Murkowski and Collins both gave cover for moderate Rs to vote against DeVos even as they did send the nomination through, a no or abstention in committee would have been the game changer though. As it turned out, the way it went down just hardened the Democratic narrative against her.
Republicans want to get her through because the longer this hangs out the harder a vote it becomes.
So, bottom line, as we’ve noted, when they vote probably a good day for Vice President Pence to stick around D.C. (Interesting historical note: a vice president has never cast a tie breaking vote on a cabinet nomination as far as I know) but what we’re probably getting here is a politically crippled Education Secretary who will have her work cut out for her. Also, and related, the staff work here has thus far been questionable…
Eva Moskowitz with the case for DeVos in NY Post today.
For everyone thinking the teachers unions are irrelevant in the Trump-era it’s worth noting that DeVos has emerged as the most publicly controversial Trump cabinet-nominee – and that’s saying something in the current context (others like HHS and Treasury are getting more pushback but DeVos has become the public face of opposition to Trump’s nominees). Calls are pouring into Senate offices – substantially more than other nominees by some accounts. Yes, some of it is politics, positioning, and all that but they are still relevant.
Here’s the most interesting pension article you’ll probably read today. The Park Slope food coop in a big fight over its pension fund. Better color from the WSJ’s account:
“It was a bunch of Wall Streeters who came up and made this presentation, and 40 years ago you could never imagine Wall Streeters being part of the coop,” said Mr. Thomas, who works as a fundraiser for a new-music nonprofit.
The Wall Streeters were “perfectly nice gentleman,” Mr. Thomas added, but rubbed “the crunchy people in the front row” the wrong way. They used a complicated Powerpoint, a rarity at coop meetings. “It was, like, graphs and stuff,” he added.
I have no views on what the Park Slope coop should or should not invest in. And no views on what’s appropriate content for their meetings. But, this reminds me of a story an urban superintendent told me once about an attempted deal to refinance some pension debt at favorable rates. The pension trustees – who didn’t have financial backgrounds – didn’t get the proposal with all its complexity and shot it down. That cost millions in public money.
In other news, here’s Chad Aldeman on why despite what you may have heard teacher pensions are not very good for actual teachers.
January 30, 2017
You’ve probably heard by now about President Trump’s executive order immigration. I’m not a fan on the merits and am biased against it for personal reasons.
Gross, an affront to our shared American values, and as a kicker won’t solve the problem anyway.https://t.co/nRICbYmsTi
— Andrew Rotherham (@arotherham) January 28, 2017
So that about covers it from where I sit. Also, this executive order today is preposterous. Government regulations are not a 40-man baseball roster.
On policy, the immigration EO did not get into the DACA/Dreamers issue. By all accounts this Reuters article is right that there is a split in the Trump camp over how to handle the DACA policy. In that regard the executive order this weekend is instructive on form more than content. A very small group around President Trump is making decisions (and not just on this issue) and you’re not getting the normal agency, legislative liaison, and stakeholder input on big decisions that generally helps shape policy including EOs. That could have big impact on the DACA question because most of the opposition to repeal is from the Hill, agencies that would have to implement a plan, and key stakeholders like some conservatives concerned about the impact of a DACA repeal on families. The opposition to DACA repeal is not strong among Trump’s key advisors.
Second, and more generally, the ham-handedness of how this went down is a problem. Policy specifics aside, it’s startling and no way to run a railroad. The lack of agency input. No prep or transition time. Total chaos as a result. The President can’t do an Executive Order implementing school choice but they can design a proposal that is more or less vetted and thought out. They can do a DACA revision that causes more or less chaos and confusion. If this EO on immigration is any indication, look out.
Good news for DACA supporters? Well, so far President Trump has done pretty much what he said he would (turns out Trump voters should have taken him literally…thanks guys!). And he has said he’d find a way to protect dreamers. We’ll see.
The Times takes a look at Betsy DeVos’ personal approach on LGBT issues. I don’t know her so have no idea on this – though I have no reason to doubt the Times’ reporting on it either. But, it does point up an interesting partisan dynamic. On this issue I’ve been struck at how quickly it’s become politicized and more about someone’s general politics than their behavior on the specifics of LGBT policy. Personally, I’m a lot more interested in what a politician or public figure was doing in, say, the 1990s than what they are doing now after they “evolved” when the politics became easier. It’s great that people change their views and all that but it’s good to look under the hood as what people are about may be more complicated than their avatar on Facebook or what you read on Twitter.
And don’t miss some actual nuance from Jay Mathews about DeVos.
Education Next takes a look at Match Beyond:
Yet, with all of these obstacles, Match’s graduates “had to adjust to the [college] model rather than the model adjusting to their complicated lives,” Hill said
He and his colleagues decided to transform that model, at least for Match’s graduates.
January 27, 2017
Sara Mead on inter district choice – and Michigan! Chad Aldeman on the ins and outs of how charter schools interact with teacher retirement systems in the states.
Betsy DeVos is invested in a Gary Busey film about a Christian summer camp (Busey’s character is named Cujo) and she is apparently an oyster cracker mogul. Also YETI coolers. And the Cubs!
Here’s Busey discussing hobbits. Because it’s Friday.
More immediately, with Trump nominees getting through despite various issues and flags DeVos is emerging as a prime target to rough up the new President. The hearing created that opportunity and there is a full court press underway with quite organized opposition. So far the Rs are unified but Vice President Pence should probably stay close to D.C. when they vote.
Higher education teaching and research – what’s the relationship? The always interesting Figlio is on it.
There was a willingness to talk frankly but in measured tones about disagreements. Robert Pondiscio of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute pointed out that, for more than a decade, education reform has been approached as a race-based endeavor and questioned the wisdom and the desirability of this shift. After all, a good chunk of (mostly right-leaning) Americans are opposed to race-based policy. They regard affirmative action and racially targeted programs as divisive and an affront to constitutional guarantees that all citizens will be treated equally. Many others, obviously, think race-conscious policies are essential if “equal protection” is to be more than a hollow phrase. That disagreement frames so much of the current debate in school reform, and we need more blunt, civil, and face-to-face discussion on this score.
Yes. But. Leave aside that the data are pretty clear that while class is an enormous driver of outcomes in American life, race exerts its own independent effects independent of class. More fundamentally, this take offers less analytic leverage on the political problem than it seems.
I’ve worked on equity and achievement gap issues since the 1990s but because I think accountability is necessary in a sprawling $650b sector and that poor people should have more control over their children’s education it’s frequently assumed I’m “conservative” or right-leaning when in fact my politics are mostly left-leaning and/or libertarian. If you support rigorous curriculum like Core Knowledge that’s somehow conservative. But supporting keeping poor kids trapped in crappy schools makes you progressive – a progressive hero if you do it vigorously enough.
I’d also be careful assuming that just because someone is opposed to affirmative action programs, for instance, that they are also opposed to accountability schemes that focus on race or income. President Bush, anyone? Conversely, there are plenty of people in favor of affirmative action who are nonetheless opposed to race-based accountability systems for K-12 schools. And plenty of people’s views seem to change when the politics do. I’m not saying there is not room for principled disagreement and Robert raises useful cautions. But, at the core, it could be that education politics are just a faddish and muddled special-interest driven disaster as much as that there are simply misunderstandings or ideological misalignment here.
Said Howard Fuller at the same event:
Fuller argued that ideological line-drawing frequently misses the mark. To him, our “public school system” is really just a “delivery system” for public education. Fuller said, “Just because I don’t support the traditional delivery system doesn’t mean I’m an enemy of public education.” He elaborated, “I’m not committed to an institutional arrangement, charter schools or any of that. If you do, you become a protector of the status quo. You have to be committed to the purpose, which is educating the public.”
The College Champions initiative of Classroom Champions* is underway.
School buses and seat belts is a long running and complicated debate.
January 26, 2017
You want Michigan education facts? We’ve got Michigan education facts! Handy guide to DeVos claims/counterclaims right here (pdf). Also, Kelly Robson on why addressing zip code disparities is necessary but not sufficient.
Trump team gets a TFA/KIPP alum with progressive instincts to join their education team. I remain skeptical given what is their apparent instinct to focus on taxes for education reform rather than put out a serious choice/reform package (not to mention all the bonkeroo things the President and some of his senior staff have said in the past few days), but this is an interesting move.
I’m also skeptical about Betsy DeVos’ prospects in the Secretary of Education role given what running a cabinet agency actually involves – she will need a strong team. But, people are now trying to smear DeVos as a nazi. This is being circulated by people who should know better. She is not a nazi or nazi sympathizer. Also hard to miss all the casual sexism that seems to accompany the debate over her nomination. Stay classy everyone!
For a more serious take on some real concerns here’s Bob Pianta, the Dean of the Curry School at UVA, coming out against DeVos.
As for DeVos, she pledged this week to enforce special education law. Bottom line: When you’re pledging that you will enforce federal special education law then something went wrong. She’s still a slight betting favorite though, for confirmation. Party line kind of thing. No sign Rs are weakening and no political downside for Dems.
The NEA said that DeVos supports an agenda that will,
“undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions.”
No, wait, that’s what they said about Arne Duncan. They’re not supporting DeVos either though…
Anyway, just a reminder for when the dust settles, here’s a bunch of education policy ideas, big and small, on a host of issues from food to mentoring to choice and federal grant programs (pdf).
So, sure, the picture art with this article makes it look as though Tim Daly is asking this man, “what do I have to do to get you into a new car today…that blue Camry out there is priced to move…” But it’s an important article and a really cool initiative. If you’re not following the work of Ed Navigator you should be. Big idea and great people.
New report on juvenile justice from Los Angeles and what’s possible with collaboration by Bellwether’s Hailly Korman and other stakeholders.
New book on campus sexual assault and Title IX. Will be influential. This issue seems poised to explode once the Trump team settles in and starts making policy on education issues. Endowments may also be on the agenda, Harvard just make a move on theirs. This is a little like government outsourcing though, shell game on who is doing the work for how much money.
January 24, 2017
We’ve talked about the frenemies problem with teachers pensions and private equity / hedge funds. The teachers unions rail against hedge funds but are also a big source of investment dollars for private equity and hedge fund investments. Max Marchitello takes a look at the Twinkies case and its lessons
Kate Pennington and Bonnie O’Keefe on some Michigan myths and realities around education. New Bellwether analysis takes a look at the fact base on Michigan schools (pdf) to help sort out the various claims and counterclaims swirling around because of the DeVos debate.
As many assumed, DACA repeal not a priority for President Trump. But this points up a dynamic that will matter a lot in the coming years – some on the Hill will see this issue (and others differently). On DACA concerns range from the policy itself to just the mechanism that brought it into existence. Votes probably not there, certainly not in the Senate, but Trump is sucking up so much oxygen that people are forgetting that (a) he’s a politician now and (b) the Hill will be pushing on their priorities and sending them to him.
The picture of the grizzly bears all showing up for an IEP meeting that is floating around social media is sort of funny in an absurd way. But everyone knows grizzlies only have 504 plans.
Educations/schools will be a piece of the infrastructure package Senate Democrats are rolling out.
January 23, 2017
There are a lot of claims and counterclaims from all sides in the fight over the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education. To help cut through some of the noise here’s a Bellwether analysis of the education status quo, context, and some recent policy history in Michigan (pdf).
Don’t miss Chad Aldeman on the Obama education legacy in Education Next. Ashley Mitchel has some pre-K lessons from Michigan that Betsy DeVos might heed.
They don’t know their way around yet…
Going to CIA to do a political event is a complete rookie move by President Trump. Doesn’t even know he has a Dept. of Education for that!
— Andrew Rotherham (@arotherham) January 23, 2017
But they do know how to hit pause on the regulatory process. This will create some uncertainty for states.
Here’s some nuance on questions on Michigan and charters that came up during the DeVos hearing. Here’s DeVos’ ethics agreement. Some context there and look for flare-ups during the week as people learn more about her various investments. I’d say she’s still a slight betting favorite to get confirmed but her hearing performance didn’t make Rs more inclined to fight should something come to light – and she is not a Trump loyalist. From The Week here’s a case for DeVos.
Per the post below, Betsy DeVos’ hearing was not a good one for the Trump Administration. Honestly, it wasn’t really a great show for anyone. Going forward, without a very strong team around her she’s in trouble – especially given a lot of higher education policy coming down the pike and a likely run by banks at the student loan program. In the sexism department, her brother sure does come up a lot. The president has nominated a lot of people – mostly men – for cabinet posts and I don’t think I’ve heard about any of their siblings? Maybe judge her on her own merits?
The President mentioned education in his inaugural address, in the tombstone graf, but mostly in passing and dystopian terms:
…an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge;
Interestingly as a window into the President’s tendency to strong rhetoric, the word “all” was an ad lib that was not in the prepared remarks distributed to media. It does change the sentence some.
This from a staunch Republican:
“I’m willing to give [DeVos] a pass on her stupid bear comment because I’m not looking for the DOE to lead on gun laws or wildlife management but her opinion on the roles of proficiency vs growth is extremely relevant.”
The bear thing was funny, I couldn’t resist and “Potential Grizzlies” sounds like a good band name to play the ski circuit out west. But, the truth of the matter is that a lot of school districts do own firearms for various purposes – including law-enforcement. So while marauding bears are not much of an issue this is another one of these debates that seems to proceed absent context of the actual status quo.
Meanwhile, the Obama education team might say a small prayer for DeVos? This circus is diverting attention from a pretty disastrous evaluation of billions in school turnaround funding released last week (we’ll see if the new Trump team is deft enough to turn this into a compelling argument for more choice). It’s not diverting Andy Smarick’s attention though. That article is basically the policy version of stumbling down K Street clad only in a sweater vest with a copy of the IES in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.
Whitmire on the unsettled ed politics.
Margaret Spellings rolling up her sleeves at UNC.
Florida’s tax-credit/voucher program survives a legal challenge. Everyone is focused on D.C. and there is a lot happening in the states including a bunch of big proposals from governors.
This AZ bill is a mess, but look for more like it.
Historically, Democrats and Republicans have looked at public schools differently. Democrats have traditionally been defenders of public education, seeing it as the nation’s most important civic institution, one that is meant to provide equal opportunity for marginalized communities to escape poverty and become well-informed citizens so they can become part of America’s civic life. Public education was seen as a civil right.
Republicans have looked at public schools less as vehicles of social equity and more as places that are supposed to prepare young people for college and careers, an endeavor that should be measured with the same types of metrics businesses use to gauge success. Some Republicans have looked at public schools with suspicion, in some cases seeing them as transmitters of liberal and even godless values.
That’s why it was unusual when, in 2001, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat, gave critical support to the new conservative Republican president, George W. Bush, in passing a new education law called No Child Left Behind (NCLB). A bipartisan, they said, was to make sure public schools attended to the needs of all students, but the law actually became known for creating new “accountability” measures for schools based on controversial standardized test scores.
Also, historically, for some reason The Washington Post has let Valerie Strauss write inaccurate opinion pieces on their hard news pages for years. Republicans can gripe about how partisan this is take is, but more than that it’s just sloppy history.
Great fellowship opportunity with 50Can.
January 19, 2017
OK kids, via New Jersey’s Chris Cerf, this is how you write a letter (pdf).
You may have noticed that education reformers have become pretty focused on adult issues – and that was before this election and all the complexity it brings. It’s not left or right, on a host of issues it’s everyone. Rough times ahead? I take a look at that in U.S. News & World Report today:
Give the school reform world credit: In the 1990s, reformers promised efficiency and they have more than delivered. It took the education establishment more than a century to build norms and politics focused overwhelmingly on what mattered to adults rather than what was good for kids. The reform world pulled it off in less than a quarter century.
….The next few years will be rocky ones for an education reform community that now has more in common than it likes to think with the norms and culture it set out to disrupt not all that long ago.
January 18, 2017
Betsy DeVos hearing short version:
- Some of the questions were gotchas, some were softballs, but still, she is out of her depth on policy and will need a strong team. The Department oversees a lot of issues not just school choice advocacy.
- It was a rocky performance on policy specifics – the IDEA issue in particular – but barring something new that doesn’t matter to this process and she’ll get through. In the weird ways of Washington the hearing was a success for everyone. The Dems got to rough her up and make some points and get some media, the Rs will deliver a nominee for the new president (albeit on what looks like a tight vote). It seems like there are bigger fish to fry though – I work in this sector but honestly am a lot more concerned about the possibility of the nation’s chief diplomat having undisclosed financial ties to our global adversaries than about Betsy DeVos not knowing the ins and outs of growth models (and most of the people attacking her about it don’t either).
January 17, 2017
Michael Johnston running for governor in Colorado.
Emma Brown takes a look at the Ed Department and what’s next. This John King quote is pretty succinct and to the point:
“States’ rights and civil rights have not generally traveled together in the history of the United States,” [Secretary of Education John] King said. “That’s not a partisan point, that’s a fact.”
The article also dances around the idea that Obama undermined the Department of Education through an aggressive federal role. It’s bad history. More than a few people hated the 1994 Clinton law and fought efforts to enforce it, and you may recall that No Child Left Behind wasn’t beloved by the establishment (it was the first ESEA law that key groups took a non-portion or opposed). So while some of the Obama polices weren’t popular with the establishment that disdain was not unprecedented. Perhaps the key issue is that any education policy with teeth on accountability and related issues splits the Democratic coalition between civil rights groups, reformers, and the education establishment in various ways. Happily for Democrats, the President-elect seems likely to paper all that over for a while.
Speaking of the incoming administration, a Long Betsy DeVos profile in Politico. A bit of context. Part of the DeVos / Engler disagreement the story highlights owed to differing views about how much Republicans should respond to urban concerns given voting patterns in Michigan (and more generally). DeVos believed then, and apparently now, in an all-kids approach whether or not they vote Republican. Given the reality of choice politics in Congress, especially where federal categorical programs are involved, costs and debates over means-testing and all the rest, that’s an important issue to watch and a place where misalignment seems likely among various Republican players. Second, the article states that it’s basically love/hate her in Michigan. That may give her some chance of a D.C. reset if she gets out of the shadow of her boss because here in D.C. when you get outside of the professional advocates a lot of people are taking a wait and see approach and want to see what she has to say at her hearings – although there is universal agreement she needs a strong #2 at the Department to be successful given its sprawling scope of authority and operations. Third, from the article:
If Engler thought he had anointed a rubber stamp, he quickly learned otherwise. In January 1997, DeVos cleared house, unilaterally firing all of the party’s top directors and pausing all contracts with vendors, blaming them for the party’s losses months earlier. “Betsy regarded the governor’s input as good advice, not an order,” Greg McNeilly, a close associate of Betsy DeVos, told an Engler biographer years later. “That’s when the problems started.”
Apparently DeVos made this clear to the President-elect in their interview and he responded well to it. But given their different views on some things and the political constraints he will soon be under that’s a dynamic to watch, too.
The Obama Administration opened itself up to criticism by focusing on for-profit colleges, which have plenty of problems but are hardly the only problematic part of the higher education sector in terms of value for money. Kevin Carey on why that’s coming up again as they head out the door:
The fact that [Harvard] was caught in a regulatory net devised to protect students from exploitative trade schools suggests that even the most prestigious colleges may not be paying enough attention to whether their degrees are worth the price of admission.
Came across this paper the other day, does co-authoring disadvantage women more than men?
January 16, 2017
“We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”
- Martin Luther King, Strength to Love
January 13, 2017
At the top: Betsy DeVos still likes vouchers. But her finances are a more complicated issue. Also, Betsy DeVos is a breath of fresh air says her hometown paper. Betsy DeVos will destroy all that is good says Newsweek. LGBT issues remain questions a lot of people want answers on.
Here’s a sign that DeVos/Trump are sucking up a lot of oxygen: A state is considering dropping a Common Core test and there is no circus.
Marnie Kaplan on Head Start and residency.
Native students suing the BIE. It’s startling how few equity conversations include native students. Enormous oversight and another sign of the myopia that even the reform world suffers from around equity.
Whiteboard’s Education Insiders on possible changes and fixes on student loans (pdf).
There has been some interesting innovation happening quietly in Springfield, MA. Not so quiet anymore! (pdf).
Can donors help improve the free speech climate on campus? For Maryland schools Buzzy Hettleman says it might be war!
Is rugged individualism dead, and what does that mean for education?
The Jefferson Education Accelerator at UVA is partnering with Branching Minds. The Koch Foundation is teaming up with HBCU’s around criminal justice and education.
January 12, 2017
Just a friendly reminder that while there is a lot of almost religious – pun not intended – fervor around the idea of public money going to private schools it’s actually at this point more of a policy question. Private and parochial schools participate in a variety of federal programs under a legal theory dating to the 60s and the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of parochial school vouchers if they are part of a larger choice system intended to benefit kids not religious schools. Plenty of room for disagreement about all of this and some ideas floating around (Title I “portability” for instance is one of those ideas that works better in theory than practice) but the choice conversation that is breaking out relative to the incoming administration and Betsy DeVos is oddly divorced from some of the underlying facts and context.
Big special education case at the Supreme Court yesterday. Argument recap here.
It’s entirely possible the HR practices of K-12 school districts are not state of the art. The indispensable Matt Barnum on that.
The told ya so’s are easy. New York’s mayor deserves credit for changing course here rather than doubling down on a talking point that doesn’t work. That happens too infrequently.
Department of Education OCR with new resource guide, dear colleague, and Q and As on special education, discipline and also special education and charters. And resources on intentionally diverse charter schools from National Charter School Resource Center.
January 10, 2017
Given the coming policy debates this seems like a pretty interesting edujob:
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter movement.
The Senior Vice President will lead the federal advocacy efforts of NAPCS – a 501(c)(3) – and the Charter School Action Fund (CSAF) – a nascent 501(c)(4). S/he will be responsible for the design and implementation of strategies to: (1) increase the advocacy capacity of the nationwide charter school community and (2) drive the success of federal legislative initiatives defined by NAPCS and CSAF.
January 9, 2017
The education news this week is all DeVos, all the time. Good enough but I’d like to hear a lot more about her than how much she likes vouchers. For instance her views on LGBT students, what she thinks about accountability for all schools, and her ideas on the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education. I take a look at five questions in U.S. News & World Report:
Hearings are planned this week on President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of philanthropist and activist Betsy DeVos to be the next secretary of education. The usual suspects are lining up to unflinchingly support or oppose her nomination – even as many can’t even pronounce her name.
For the education establishment, DeVos’ support for school vouchers ranks her among history’s greatest monsters. School choice supporters seem to have forgotten that the Department of Education has responsibilities beyond just school choice. And from the press you’d think she’s the first cabinet nominee ever to have made political donations.
Yet even if you’re someone who thinks a president should get wide latitude on his or her nominees, it’s never a bad idea to ask some questions – especially of someone like DeVos, who has a thin public record and has never held a job like this.
Here are five that will be squarely in her wheelhouse and matter more than just how much DeVos likes school vouchers, where her kids went to school or who her brother is…
January 6, 2017
Bellwether’s Max Marchitello on why CALSTERS doesn’t work for most teachers. Chad Aldeman on how you can fix your pension debt problem. Emmeline Zhao and I are taking our media curation work to The 74, where we’ll do that among other things.
John King exit memo (pdf).
Susan Dynarksi on why the reality of “free markets” in education is more complicated than the rhetoric.
A lot of attention understandably focused on Washington, but there will be a lot of action in the states on education worth watching.
Claudio Sanchez education predictions for 2017.
…you argue for a liberalism that works “quietly, sensitively, and with a proper sense of scale” when it comes to highly charged issues like sexuality and religion. Is there a campus corollary to that?
Yes, because there has been a radicalization of student demands and also a loss of a sense of proportion. Our campuses are not Aleppo. And to witness the rage around some of these issues — whether it’s the naming of buildings, the transgender-bathroom issue, or the pronoun issue — we’re an evangelical country, and we tend toward fanaticism whenever we try to reform ourselves. It’s unfortunate to see the university become a place where this kind of self-induced hysteria is drawing in students who should be thinking more outside of themselves. College administrators and professors have stood by and not resisted that very strongly.
It has created a spectacle that is very damaging — and here I speak as a liberal — to the liberal cause. A fact of our political lives as liberals is that everything we do and say is filtered through conservative media. To constantly feed the beast the way these identity theatrics do only harms the liberal cause when it comes to reaching out to voters. It’s an enormous distraction and an enormous loss of energy — energy that could be directed outward, toward common political goals in the real world. Instead it’s directed inward, toward the self and the little utopic communities we try to create for ourselves on our campuses.
I’m going to miss most of these can’t miss education conferences, but a few look good.
Guns and Roses as you haven’t heard them before.
December 23, 2016
Rumor mill: The mood among some insiders on Betsy DeVos is changing and there is some concern/hope (depending who you ask obviously) that her nomination could go down if Democrats really focus their efforts on it and pressure moderate Republicans. That’s a shift from a few weeks ago when even her staunchest critics were resigned to her confirmation.
Breaking News: Emmeline Zhao and I are moving the work we’ve been doing at RealClear Education to The 74. That will start early 2017, with news curation and original content. RCE will also continue to produce a newsletter and aggregation as well.
Bellwether: Marnie Kaplan on starting early and starting strong. Kirsten Schmitz with top teacher pension stories! Kaitlin Pennington starts a conversation on the purpose of teacher evaluation.
Burning question: What are the top 10 blog posts and top 10 analyses Bellwether released in 2016? Here’s a handy list!
What I’m reading:
Here’s some good advice on charter policy from Alex Medler, Paul O’Neill & Suzie Kim. And here’ s a paper looking at new ideas on learning to employment training and education (pdf).
New class of Pahara – Aspen fellows.
Gopher Joe Nathan says fire the football coach at Minnesota. Public Prep’s (a Fordham fellow) Ian Rowe on family structure. Ken Wagner comes out for more choices via AF in Rhode Island.
Here are 13 takes on how to address teach shortages.
Mike Rowe went to Meet the Press and talked education among other issues. Mike Petrilli on what 2016 might mean for education down the road.
Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2017! Back in January if not sooner.