Yoo hoo…When you’re attacking Pedro Nogeura for being too pro-charter school you’ve lost the argument.
Washington Redskins play the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, perfect time to link this TIME interview with Rams defensive coach and former teacher Brandon Daly.
Check out the Administration’s new teacher prep reform package here (pdf). In a deviation from the norm, NEA apparently on board but fairly critical statement from AFT this morning complaining about holding schools of education accountable using student test scores of graduates and also chiding the Administration for ignoring their 2000 report on this issue. Stay tuned.
I’m late to this issue of paid trips for public officials and others in our field but here are a few thoughts. First, this is a place where transparency can play a big role. I actually think it’s OK for vendors to sponsor trips but it’s important to disclose that where relevant (eg in an article) and in the case of public officials to do so in a real-time way. Don’t feel comfortable disclosing? Don’t go. Second, not everyone thinks this way. Wireless Generation*, for instance, has a strict no entertainment policy, no gifts, no meals, no nothing except sponsoring open events, like a reception. I think that’s too extreme though because, third, these sorts of trips can be a good way to learn about issues, spend time with colleagues, etc…insofar as it’s transparent. When you stop and think about it the idea that people are for sale for a lunch or a trip is pretty stupid. As in politics, it’s the overall industry structure, not the small gives and trips, that create the problem. In our case it’s bad or non-existent signals for quality, a small market of very large vendors, and problematic state and local procurement policies.
I’ve been asked by more than a few folks what I think about the Rishawn Biddle – Rick Hess smackdown about the achievement gap. Here’s a (relatively) short answer. I don’t know how anyone can look at the data on college completion released this week, data on high school graduation, or frankly pretty much any outcome data from our educational system and not come to the conclusion that we have a serious problem of inequitable outcomes. Forget the Chinese, I think that tears at our social fabric in some troubling ways and does violence to any semblance of equality of opportunity.
But, I think Rick is right that the trade-offs in addressing it are too often not acknowledged. I don’t buy the idea that we have to give up music, arts, and so forth. Plenty of schools disprove that every day. Rather, we should acknowledge that focusing on one group of students diminishes attention on another. I for one, however, think that (within reason of course) it’s worth it on both social equity and economic grounds (also check out this report (pdf)) and found the recent Fordham report interesting but hardly earth-shattering (especially absent more trend data about what this looked like historically). And of course it’s not an entirely zero-sum game although resource/emphasis choices do have to be made and despite all the happy talk about growth models and similar ideas they don’t eliminate those choices. In the past, Rick and I have written about the trade-off issue ourselves even though we disagree about the best direction for policy.
I also think RiShawn has a point about professional contrarians in the chattering class. You do sometimes get the sense that people are looking for a clever argument and headlines absent any underlying coherent theory of action or recognition that their words have consequences and that this debate affects peoples lives in terms of how it influences public policy. And because those indulging themselves this way tend to be among the more comfortable in our society and the least directly affected by the data I discuss above, it’s disquieting.
*BW has consulted for Wireless.