Monthly Archives: August 2015

Who Is Missing From The NOLA Education Debate? The NOLA Educators…

I have a column in U.S. News & World Report today:

This week’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is sparking the usual sparring between education reformers and their critics about New Orleans. What’s new, right? On one key issue, though, the reformers and their opponents too often seem to agree: New Orleans’ education reform is largely an outsiders’ project. It’s an idea that while useful for both sides and a conflict-addicted media, is disrespectful to a lot of New Orleans educators and distorts the complicated story of that city’s schools…

…I’m not trying to convince you about the success of the New Orleans education reforms. Although there is little dispute among serious analysts that the schools are better now, in aggregate, than in 2004, there are plenty of complicated particulars and real questions about how the well the model can travel. Rather, the point is the next time you hear a simplistic story about New Orleans education, dig deeper. As with most things in that great city, there is usually more there.

Some angles on that story and some of those educators? It’s all right here in USN’s “Report,” which includes a special NOLA package. Send me your stories of great New Orleans educators or tweet them to me @arotherham.

Take A Kid Fishing

IMG_8725It’s almost the end of summer so time for a periodic PSA. Get outside! Find time some weekend and take a kid fishing -it’s good for them and for you! Here’s Bellwether’s Jason Weeby out with his son on the same water he fished as a kid.

How do I do that you ask? No special skills required, here’s a primer!

Want to see pictures of education people with fish? Hundreds via this link and more via this one.

GOP And Preschoolers, Newark Charters, Gifted Students, Landrieu On NOLA Ed, AIR On Loans, A Loveless Sample

Sara Mead handicaps the 2016 GOP candidates on pre-k education.

Donald Trump, his primary track record on early childhood education seems to be the number of times other people have compared him to a preschooler.”

There is also some analysis of the candidates who do have records or positions. Speaking of Trump, the buried lede here is a 43,000 seat high school football stadium.

Newark charter schools offer some lessons. Everyone says teachers do God’s work, but when you try to call them ministers you’re going to get some pushback (ministers aren’t covered by the NLRB). Chester Finn is worried about gifted kids. I think they are doing fine.

Mary Landreiu on what’s happening in New Orleans with schools. Here she is on video talking about the same thing with Carl Cannon and me as well as about why the NOLA story is so distorted.

New York’s not going to sanction schools/districts with a lot of opt-outs. That’s a smart approach in my view. But what about accountability for school personnel involved in all this, doesn’t that cross a line?

AIR takes a look at the literature on loan forgiveness for teachers. And here’s an interesting idea from Tom Loveless: Reporters run with flimsy studies all the time, they often don’t know who to ask for some help understanding whether the methods have any validity. But if you’re at a regional or national outlet you can walk down the hall to whomever oversees polling. They can tell you some basic stuff for sure…with guns, fire, and research safety starts with you!

Friday Fish Porn – Jim Ford!

11887895_738144152978711_8563791172225403072_nJim Ford’s a very sharp educational consultant who does a lot of work on charter schools. He led the charter school initiative at the National Council of La Raza and later was lead at the Raza Development Fund. He’s Denver-based and in addition to facilities financing and acquisition he also does strategic planning, technical assistance, financial management, board trainings, business development and fiscal work for charter schools. He has more energy than almost anyone I’ve ever crossed paths with. And, yes, he can fish. Here he is the other day in the Caribbean. Needs a new cap but the fish is nice.

Wait, isn’t this an education blog? Indeed! But it also is home to hundreds of pictures of education people with fish. Click here and also here to see them.

Can You Even Remember Your SAT Scores? FL Teachers Must! Landrieu Changes Lanes, Teacher Perceptions, And I Weep For Yale Students…Breaking: Common Core A Flashpoint!

Changing Lanes with former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Carl Cannon and I took a car ride with Mary Landrieu the other day to talk centrist politics, New Orleans rebuilding, and her health care vote (which she would unhesitatingly cast again). She just can’t make her mind up about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (includes Common Core politics). Also don’t miss this Atlantic article about what her brother Mitch is up to in New Orleans around violence. 

PSA – “Soft bigotry of low expectations” is not just a catch phrase.  In case you haven’t heard, Jeb Bush’s Common Core position is controversial!

The hardships of being a Yale student. In response to yesterday’s Times op-ed on Yale’s spending on money mangers that had all right-thinking people outraged, Matt Levine points out that,

Yale spent almost three times as much money on private equity managers as it did on students, but the private equity managers gave Yale almost ten times as much money as the students did. And Yale didn’t need to feed, house or teach them.

True, education really is a dog of a business. But if you actually want to see more endowment money flowing to student aid you have to convince donors that their money should go to student aid or unrestricted purposes. That’s hard when people want to endow chairs, buildings, and all sorts of naming rights kinds of things or particular initiatives that are important to them. Maybe stop beating up money mangers for their gifts to schools and instead beat them up for not giving unrestricted dollars or donations earmarked for student aid? Surely couldn’t be less productive than the current conversation. Also, most colleges don’t have endowments at all and for those that do most aren’t that big. So I guess it’s OK to get all worked up about the hardships of students at Yale (or similar schools) if that is your thing. But, it’s not really where the action is and if you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time worried about that rather than, say, the University of Connecticut, you might want to pause and think?

The hardships of being a teacher with good SAT scores. Florida wants to pay teachers more if they had good ACT or SAT scores. Cue the usual controversy, refusals, etc... Seems like two things are true at once here. SAT scores are actually a modest predictor of teaching performance – probably owing to the verbal ability required to do the job well. Not much attention to that in all the coverage (might spoil the fun and why break with tradition?). But, SAT scores and most other similar measures (including current credentialing) are swamped by the predictive leverage of, you know, actual job performance. In other words the best predictor of future job performance is past job performance in the classroom with real kids. (So, please pay no attention to our crazy and costly teacher credentialing regimes!) Also true, this Florida deal is sort of a crazy policy anyway. A better policy might be encouraging and incentivizing students with strong scores to find their way to programs in the UTeach vein? But that’s a lot of work. Too much apparently for Florida. Instead, Florida is kind of cutting out the middle man but not in a useful way. Fine thing to argue about though because everyone already has their talking points.

ICYMI – Opt-out students in New York mostly aren’t poor, diverse, or good at taking tests but there are a lot of them. And that’s why there is a political potency to their movement public officials should handle with care.

Education On The Campaign Trail, No Brunch Left Behind

Parents want more fruits and vegetables in school lunches. Unclear what it means for this USDA initiative.

Education will be a hot issue on the trail in New Hampshire today. That’s not something that happens all the time, or almost ever actually…Campbell Brown will discuss education with the candidates at The 74’s education forum. Highlights:

  • Gov. Jeb Bush: 9:00am
  • Carly Fiorina: 9:45am
  • Gov. John Kasich: 10:30am
  • Gov. Scott Walker: 1:45pm
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal: 2:30pm
  • Gov. Chris Christie: 3:15pm

You can watch live here all day.

Dem event coming in October.

What Now For The Opt-Out Movement?

Data released last week by New York State – the epicenter of the K-12 standardized test opt-out movement – shows that the opt-out movement there was far broader than critics assumed but also not as diverse as proponents claimed. I take a look at that and what might be next for the opt-outers and public officials in a U.S. News & World Report column:

Speculating about how many and what kind of students were opting out of standardized tests was a fun education parlor game this spring. Highly energized proponents claimed the opt-out movement was a diverse cross-section of public school students. Critics responded that, no, it was a movement of affluent white parents and not that many of them. And, as usual with education debates, most Americans said, “what?” Now, though, we have actual data from opt-out ground zero in New York State, released late last week, and it turns out the proponents and opponents of opt-outs were both right and wrong about what happened…

What happened? You can read the entire thing here. Share all the things you’ve opted out of and drop out and opt-in to Twitter and respond right here.

St. Louis Fed On College, Two Studies On NOLA, NLRB On NCAA F’Ball Unions, Waldron On CEOs, Bogus Stats, New Teachers, And More!

Important story in The Times about a new Federal Reserve study on race/ethnicity and college attainment and wealth. Classic ‘two things true at once’ issue. College is a great social mobility strategy for minorities and lower-income Americans but it’s also not a surefire way to address a host of other current and historical issues.

Three yards and a cloud of lawyers: National Labor Relations Board knocks down the union drive for athletes at Northwestern. It was these questions about how to make unionization work in the at once Balkanized but also common playing field world of college sports that derailed things.

NSNO on the New Orleans school story (pdf). Doug Harris on the same.

Curriculum Associates* CEO Rob Waldron talks about new ways to think about evaluating the CEO role and the net promoter question part of his compensation is tied to.  Karen von Klahr discusses supporting new teachers.

And here I thought the last Chicago teachers strike was about politics (The next one will be because the Cubs are doing OK so why not extend summer a little, right?).

Sandy Kress is blogging! This story about a bogus higher ed stat is illustrative in a few ways, none of them good.

*Former BW client.