January 22, 2018

“Seats At The Table,” Weisberg’s Tweet Game, And The Odds Don’t Look Good For Teachers Unions At SCOTUS. Plus, Ron Berger On Citizenship And Ed, School Choice Data, Caps #37, More!

We hosted a screening today for this film at Bellwether’s DC office. It’s about an education program in a secure facility in Virginia – and an education for all involved. Contact me if you’d like to be connected with the filmmaker – Chris Farina.

Short the teachers unions?

Look, I don’t want to say the teachers unions are doomed at the Supreme Court in the Janus case before it’s even been argued. And it’s a complicated case and the justices could come down in a variety of ways in. And the Supreme Court sometimes surprises. But…the AFT filed their amicus brief in the case last week, and, well, they cite Valerie Strauss’ reporting in support of their argument. So, yeah, they are probably doomed.

One reason that a lot of people, including a lot on the left, aren’t viewing their case very sympathetically is stuff like this:

While arbitrators agreed that 309 of 773 teachers in these disputes should be dismissed, the report said 454 kept their jobs after being found guilty of verbal or physical abuse of children, excessive absenteeism, breaking rules on test security or other transgressions.

Here’s my apparently evergreen take on the larger dynamics here.

Ron Berger on schools and citizenship.

A column Apple will love: More screen time!

EdChoice on school choice research.

David Lehrer on race and college admissions in California.  And a tricky situation at Ithaca College that raises the question of second chances.

Heads-up parenting. Here’s a nice hockey story.

January 19, 2018

Must Read Kate Walsh. And Other Stuff

Yesterday I highlighted DeVos’ speech where she laid out her theory of the case. It’s getting a lot of pushback, the NCLB pieces in particular, and from people generally sympathetic to her. You can Google or search Twitter for those.

If you only read one thing today make it this piece by Kate Walsh.

But that’s the impact. We’ve now all drunk the kool-aid and know the new code. Try suggesting to any audience these days that a school’s first obligation to young children is to teach them to read, write, and become numerically literate, and that their teachers should meet a standard that suggests they are qualified to deliver those skills. These academic skills are, if not verboten, now just an aside, emblematic of our once narrow mindset, and too closely connected with The Word We Are Not To Ever Mutter Again: TESTING.

It’s a sure way to lose an audience these days to remind them that tests have merit, not just for accountability purposes, not just because they measure numeracy and literacy, but because they are highly predictive of the quality of a child’s future. (Thank you Raj Chetty and other academic purists.) A few short years ago, reminding an audience of this connection was a rallying cry. Now our eyes avert, we squirm in our seats, and feel the sudden need for another cup of hotel coffee.

Susan Dynarksi is asking hard questions about online learning.

Connecticut’s landmark case overturned.

Here’s a literal blacklist. Something to keep in mind with all the coming Janus euphoria is education management, or the lack of it.

New Pahara cohort. #20 if you like round numbers.

Devon Sproule: Keep Your Silver Shined.

January 18, 2018

DeVos Makes Her Case, Stay Solvent San Diego! NAEP Debate, Plus Are Coding Boot Camps a Scam? Lockett On King, Eden On Discipline, Minnich Exits, And Denver Pops! More!

Chad Aldeman on San Diego school finance and pensions. Sara Mead with some context on New Jersey pre-k.

Shots! Keep an eye on Denver.

Betsy DeVos made her case to a friendly crowd this week. Insight into what she hopes to do and how she hopes to do it. DeVos has everyone so spun up people are missing interesting things playing out around the country, this Ed Next article looks at two affecting charter school finance.  And Max Eden wants DeVos to salt the earth on school discipline guidance letters. 

New EP fellowships – great opportunity and source of talent if you are an employer. Teach For America is hotly debated but again when you ask principals they say, yeah, sure.

Chris Minnich exit interview.  Scroll down for the JD to be the next ED at CCSSO.

“The Colony” is this show about a future when aliens take over California. Also, ACSA endorses Marshall Tuck for state sup’t in California. Endorsements often matter less than people think but this one is significant given the politics there and the rhetoric of the last campaign.

Are coding boot camps for miners a scam? A new lawsuit says yes.

Phyllis Lockett on a King connection and education. And this HVA video should make you feel good.

Bias in the school district hiring process?

Kvaal and Bridgeland on data and higher ed outcomes. People tend to overestimate what college costs – here’s an effort to change that.

Here’s an old fight bubbling up again. For years there was debate about the NAEP proficiency levels, how they were set and how they were used. It quieted down and NAEP is pretty widely regarded as a good barometer of the education landscape. But, a new report this week wants to start the debate back up again. NAGB responds here.

In more consequential assessment news, PARCC testing in New Jersey in the dock. And more questions being asked about SBAC.

Quality Counts 2018 is out.

Shawn Colvin and Allison Krauss.

January 17, 2018

January 15, 2018


All of this tells us something basic about the interdependence of men and nations. Whether we realize it or not each of us is eternally “in the red.” We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. We do not finish breakfast without being dependent on more than half of the world. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for sponge that is provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provide by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs we are beholden to more than half the world.

In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

– Martin Luther King

“The man who was a fool,” 1963

January 12, 2018

Uh…About That Unconference Invite…Opportunity Culture Rocking, Spec Ed Evading, Some Evidence Using? Hailly Korman Talks To Randy Farber, Today In Betsy DeVos, Pot Policy, More!

Scroll down for edujobs at Bellwether and elsewhere.

Not a lot to say about what President Trump said yesterday (and it really doesn’t matter if he was talking about Haiti and Africa or just African countries, that’s not the crux point) other than to note there was a time when even opponents of more liberal immigration policies realized America was a beacon in the world. And, however imperfectly, America has been a place of hope and opportunity and building an unum from e pluribus. Schools, especially public schools, played an imperfect but important role in that, too. Schools will also be impacted by America’s rapidly shrinking role in the world, this isn’t a sideshow.

Hailly Korman talks with Randy Farber about supporting adjudicated students.

ICYMI – I think raw water is the cocktail for our age. And I’m old enough to remember when everyone thought ESSA was great.


The next time you get invited to an unconference, they’re popular in education lately, you might want to ask a few questions first.

There can be this idea that nothing works – and there is plenty to learn in this sector – but we do find things that work a lot – here’s an example from Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture work that’s great to see. The politics in this sector hold things back as much as the lack of knowledge.

One of the things we did at RealClearEducation and now at 74 is a really fun series giving the Opportunity Culture teachers a chance to write about their work and share what they liked and were learning.

Another new report: Results For America on evidence use in ESSA plans. There is at least one example per state, that’s the good or bad news, depending on your perspective.

Texas special education trouble.

Fensterwald breaks down California Governor Brown’s education budget.

The confusing and evolving status of marijuana legalization is going to create a lot of issues for schools. Pot policy and school policy is a sleeper issue that will demand some attention.

Today in Betsy DeVos. Part 1. And Part 2.

Puss N Boots and Neil Young, “Down By The River.”

January 11, 2018

You Say Janus, I Say Jonas…ESSA Stage Setters And NCLB Legacies, No Panic Pondiscio, Iron Mike On ESSA, More!

Scroll down for edujobs, including Development Director at Bellwether.

In The 74 I take a look at ESSA 2018 now that we’re moving from plans to action as the law is implemented. In addition to ESSA you get cameos by Iron Mike, Ike, and various Bellwarians of all stripes.

In the same package Nat Malkus looks at an NCLB legacy that lives on in ESSA – a move away from local control. NCLB is a law that launched a thousand dissertations. But my take has always been that it was better understood as a pull of autonomy away from local school districts and to states than as a state power grab. The law told states to do things but left a lot of the how up to them – that turned out to be one of the law’s flaws. Sandy Kress dissents here.

Here’s a look at public school choice in Philly that ties to NCLB, too.

And here is a straightforward take on Janus.  And here’s a Jonas deep dive on Massachusetts’ reform anniversary.

Robin Lake on charter politics and some upcoming work on that.

Robert Pondiscio:

It should go without saying (alas, in nuance-averse 2018, few assumptions can safely go unsaid) that we ought not be blithe about societal problems or the degree to which the impulse to insulate very young children from very real problems is a form of “privilege.” But neither should we overstate the dangers of the present moment. Mostly I wonder if it’s not worth thinking long and hard about the effects on children of a rapidly growing educational movement that proceeds from the pessimistic assumption that the world is so cracked and broken, that even the very youngest children need tools to make their way in it. At the very least, we might consider the age at which it’s appropriate to introduce these curricula and tools.

Why are our most important teachers paid the least? Short answer, ask Sara Mead. Longer discussion in a Times magazine story people are chattering about.

Congrats to longtime friend of the blog Patrick Gavin!

Guy Davis: Long Train.  Be safe out there.

January 10, 2018