Monthly Archives: September 2016

Teacher Shortage Shenanigans, The Boss & School, Juvenile “Justice,” Jane Pauley, West On Driverless Trans, School By Design Launches, CER Relaunches, Ed Ideas And Music!

Last week I mentioned the new education blog starting up with a music theme. Today I shared about a recent Springsteen show and one of my kids over there. More music below.

More pushback on the teacher shortage narrative via Goldhaber. Here’s Chad Aldeman with even more:

The LPI report confuses these sources of new teachers. They estimate a generic number for “teacher demand” at roughly 200,000 teachers, growing over time to more than 300,000 per year. This is worrying because as a country, only 200,000 to 250,000 people complete a teacher preparation program each year, and those numbers are likely to fall in coming years. LPI eyeballs these sets of numbers and concludes that we’re heading for a severe teacher shortage in coming years.

But LPI’s figures are misleading, because they’re counting all new teachers, not just recent graduates. For example, in 2004, LPI says there was demand for 236,407 new teachers. According to NCES, that year there were only 74,500 new hires who were recent college graduates. LPI repeats the same error in 2008, where it reports 247,964 new hires, even as NCES says only 92,500 of them were recent graduates. The numbers aren’t readily available for more recent years, but it’s clear that LPI’s figures are way out of proportion.

This wouldn’t be a problem if LPI noted these distinctions. Instead, they compound their error by comparing apples and oranges. They compare their figures for total demand against the supply of new graduates. As it should be clear by now, those two figures are not actually comparable. A better comparison is to look at the number of recent graduates who are hired versus the total production of recent graduates. When you look just at recent graduates, you get very different numbers.

Once you start comparing apples to apples, LPI’s “teacher shortage” narrative goes completely out the window…


More debate about the NAACP charter school position.

America’s juvenile justice system needs some work…Hailly Korman, call your office!

School By Design pulled the curtain up this week. Story here.  Also, the Center For Education Reform is relaunching.

Darrell West looks at driverless cars. The trend toward automation in transportation will impact education, too.

Jane Pauley taking over for Charles Osgood on CBS this morning. She hosted the Bellwether launch event and is active and supportive on education in Indy via The Mind Trust, so she has a special place with us and we wish her well.

Apparently there is some sort of political event tonight. Here are 16 ideas you won’t hear discussed!

Watch this Rhiannon Giddens concert. The music is fantastic and you’ll learn something.

Teacher Pay In Denver, Mead On Head Start, Mass Charters, Trumpian Ed Politics, O’Keefe On Testing Tradeoffs, CBE, 529s, Grateful Blogging

A decade ago Denver jump started the national conversation about pay for contribution or pay for performance (although it wasn’t pay for performance strictly speaking, it was important from both a practice and political standpoint). A new analysis by a local group looks at where things are and points to some directions forward. Bellwether’s Kaitlin Pennington on all this here.

Sara Mead on Head Start performance standards.

Shorter version of the Teacher Shortage version 3.0 (or 4.0 depending how you keep score): We produce more teachers overall than we need but not in the geographic and subject areas where we need them. Longer version here.

Buckle up. Earlier this year Chris Christie released a school finance proposal that basically pitted wealthy New Jersey residents against lower-income ones over the distribution of school funds. It was widely derided as cynical, irresponsible, and lousy policy. But it plays to a set of anxieties you’re hearing more about as this Stanley Kurtz NRO column illustrates. Kurtz basically argues President Obama is trying to dissolve suburban school districts under the guise of encouraging more economically diverse schools. This sort of rhetoric terrifies suburban voters, of course, and complicates various  reform efforts. All of it is of a part with tribal Trumpian politics more generally, though, so I’d keep an eye on proposals and arguments like this.

Massachusetts has a very strong charter sector, Richard Whitmire on that. But, and guys you’ll never believe this, the evidence has almost no impact on the politics there! There is a referendum on the ballot about whether to have more and it’s struggling even though Massachusetts is a place where the evidence is simply not “mixed.” Even formerly pro-choice Elizabeth Warren is Hamleting on it. Because the evidence  is so crystal clear the debate there is playing out over cost, instead, with people who usually have an insatiable appetite for public dollars suddenly saying we can’t afford these new great schools.

Bellwether’s Bonnie O’Keefe on testing tradeoffs. Bellwether pension analyst Kirsten Schmitz updates an earlier analysis of education sector benefits with new census data. Chad Aldeman talks with the Utah legislator who championed pension reform and lived to tell the tale.

Elizabeth Mann looks at the cross-pressure on Clinton on education. But surely she’d be a lot more cross-pressured and the issue might even be more dynamic if her opponent were not Donald Trump. A lot of differences understandably getting papered over in this context.

Here’s an interesting survey of state legislators and where they get their information and what they think about education.

And here’s a look at CBE implementation in three states via ExcelinED.

Not exactly breaking news but there is a lot of money in 529 plans – implications around equity, costs, and tax policy.

New blog focuses on music and education. Grateful Dead themed. What’s not to like? In that vein here’s a Bob Weir song with one of the great education lines you’ll find in music.

Posted on Sep 23, 2016 @ 3:02pm

Innovation! New From Bellwether

New report from Bellwether today – and it’s exactly the kind of first over the barbed wire type of project we like to do. It’s the U.S Innovation Index prototype. As the accompanying report discusses innovation matters to progress but to foster innovation it’s important to measure and analyze various conditions associated with it. The index – a work in progress – is an effort to do that.

You can learn more about it, the cities it looks at (Indy, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Kansas City) and the project via this link. We’re hoping to expand it to many more cities going forward.

As a non-profit we pursue our own grant funded work as well as projects we take on. So some other recent work you may have missed:

This summer we published, with support from the Robertson Foundation, The Learning Landscape. It’s a great resource that takes an objective look at the state of play in the sector. Reasonable people can disagree about a variety of education questions but it’s important that those disagreements proceed from a common fact base grounded in evidence. This is an effort to foster and support that.

 It’s here via this link.

We also published, earlier this month, 16 for 2016: Education Ideas For The Next President. The Broad Foundation supported this project. This volume contains a variety of federal policy ideas for schools that are left, right, and center and aimed at a variety of issues. The volume features some wonks and experts you probably know of but also Chef Tom Colicchio, Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler, farming leader Lindsey Lusher, and other innovators whose work impacts the education sector. The volume showcases Bellwether’s non-ideological approach to our work and also the creative thinkers inside and around our organization.

 You can read all the ideas here.

Posted on Sep 21, 2016 @ 11:47am

Pensions Aren’t Risky! The Education Divide, Willingham On Editing, Civic Ed, Rashad Turner Speaks, Who Is Advising Trump On Edu? Kolderie Gets Systemic, Buses And Straws

This event on college matching, today, looks interesting. CT is appealing the landmark school finance decision there. Rashad Turner in his own words. Trump’s education team.

Schools exploring innovative ways to teach grit, but it’s easy to get carried away.

You may not agree with all of what Ted Kolderie writes here about how to improve the school system but it’s well worth reading:

Good ideas abound for producing better schools. The difficulty has been with the “how” of change. The idea of superintendents changing district schools comprehensively has proved unsuccessful. So, let’s be practical: Try a different “how.”

Successful systems change gradually, as innovation spreads. These are open systems. Someone tries something different. Always there are “early adopters.” Nobody has to adopt the different. More do, as the innovation improves. Some lag. We see this diffusion of innovation all around us…

…We want education to be a successful system. So we should let schools and teachers try things. Use the charter sector to generate new forms of school and new approaches to learning, and encourage districts to adopt these innovations.

Here’s a push on civic education and making it rich and educational. Why not? I’m all for it, worked on the issue, taught civics, and generally who can be against that? But I do think there is a flaw in how many advocates think about this issue and what to expect from improved civic education. Namely many seem to believe that if only people were better educated and had more civic knowledge then they would think, act politically, and vote just like them. In fact, civic ed is not some sort of revealed truth and it’s entirely plausible we could have much better civic education and a country just as discordant politically as it is now. People disagree!

Here’s a story about how education reporters are happy and want to come back to the education beat. That’s good, I like it when people are happy. But isn’t the more interesting story all the reporters who leave the beat to go work in education organizations? Michelle Davis to College Board, Karin Chenoweth to Ed Trust, Richard Whitmire to book writing about reform issues just to name a few. Are they happy? What have they learned. Would they do it again? I’d read that!

Also on that scene do not miss Dan Willingham’s open letter to editors. He takes no prisoners.

Sara Mead on an authorizing lesson from XQ. Here’s The Times on the winners and the prize. Soledad O’Brien did a town hall on high schools and innovation (that at one point turned from metaphorical to literal town hall when a bunch of DC students from Duke Ellington showed up to press their case with Kaya Henderson) I participated in. Facebook video here, on PBS in October.

This 74 story about the Dem ticket and education (and, by the way, this election is not turning on education) is interesting because it points up a pretty profound divide in education:

In late August, she visited the headquarters of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. There, she disputed GOP nominee Donald Trump’s assertion that city schools were failing children, particularly children of color.

“I will say that [schools are] doing incredible work in some of the most difficult circumstances … Over the last decade we’ve been asking more and more of them and giving them less and less in the way of resources,” she said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

At one level, that’s certainly true. The financing picture is more complicated but schools are clearly asked to do a lot and there are many doing great work in challenging circumstances. But it’s also true that in a lot of cities fewer than one in ten low-income kids gets to and through college by the time they’re 24. Nationally that figure is about 9 percent. You’d hope there would be both agreement and urgency about how profoundly unacceptable that is. Instead,  how people think about that problem really divides the education world into those who see schools as more or less a palliative experience for kids because, really, what are you going to do? And conversely those who see schools as a key lever to dramatically transform that outcome profile. There is actually a lot of agreement on out-of-school factors, where the debate breaks down is over the role of schools. Ironic for an education sector.

Here’s more fallout from the Senate/Department of Education debate over regulatory authority.

Remember kids, pensions are not the risky scheme!

This article has really nothing to do with education but it mentions school buses, and also straws. Have at it!

Edujob – Vice President Communications And Publications @ TNTP

Heres’s a fun job at a high impact organization: Vice President of Communications and Publications at TNTP. From the posting:

The Vice President will report to the Executive Vice President – Public Affairs and set the vision, goals and culture for the Communications & Publications Department. We’re looking for a skilled communicator who is equally at home setting a high-level vision and honing a precise turn of phrase.

The Vice President will oversee TNTP’s brand, publications, internal communications, and strategic support for TNTP staff and clients in school systems nationwide.

Learn more about TNTP, this role, and how to apply via this link.

Edujob: Managing Director of Policy and Research, TN Charter School Center

Here’s a great edujob that blends several related and crucial issues in a really interesting state: Managing Director of Policy and Research for the Tennessee Charter School Center. 

The Managing Director of Policy and Research will lead the organization’s work in setting the statewide legislative agenda for TCSC, and identifying a roadmap for future policy, regulatory, and advocacy work on behalf of the public charter sector in Tennessee. Additionally, s/he will identify best practices and opportunities for advancement of the sector, and guide local policy agendas for sites of impact across Tennessee.

You can learn more about the role and how to be considered via this link.

Edujob: Deputy ED At NAGB

Here’s a terrific edujob coming open: Deputy Executive Director at the National Assessment Governing Board (pdf). NAGB oversees, sets policy for, and administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  That basket of assessments, the NAEP, is the widely regarded benchmark for assessing broad trends in student achievement and contextual factors. The successful candidate in this role will have some big shoes to fill but it’s a great opportunity to have impact on a very important educational tool and help ensure that it remains high quality and sustainable into the future.

More about the position and how to apply via the JD here (pdf).

Posted on Sep 14, 2016 @ 8:30am

Texas Spec Ed, Haynes On Charters And Race, Whitmire On Charters In DC, 16 For 2016, Extended Time, Discipline, Climate Change And Schools, Antler Arch

You were probably under the impression that the answer is 42. Turns out it’s 8.5. And this story about 8.5 from Texas is ugly.

Here are sixteen education policy ideas for the next President (pdf).

Cynthia Tucker Haynes on charter schools and the African-American community.

The long-running backlash against charter schools — now stoked to a full frontal assault — has been fueled largely by the traditional educational establishment, which views them as a threat. That establishment fears unfavorable comparisons with traditional public schools and more job losses for teachers and principals in low-performing ones. The sense of insecurity is especially keen among black educators, many of whom are, of course, active members of the NAACP.

For generations, teaching has been the backbone of the black middle class, and the movement for public education reform has driven a wedge between black teachers and principals, on one side, and poor and working-class black parents, who are desperately seeking alternatives to the low-performing schools in their neighborhoods, on the other. Last year, the Black Alliance for Educational Options released a survey of black voters in four states — Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey and Tennessee. It found that majorities in each state favor charters.

Interesting RAND/Wallace study on summer learning opportunities. Yes, it turns out that if students attend academic programs during the summer it might boost their achievement. Low income kids! Some limitations on study design and findings but directionally promising.

Climate change coming to schools – quite literally.

Schools are always a common place to fight out our social and cultural battles: Good News Clubs versus After School Satan Clubs.

Reducing suspension and generally improving discipline practices in schools is an important goal – but absent some real support for implementation brace for a backlash. 

It’s  hard to miss a lot of parallels between our debate over policing and the debate over teaching both in how it’s discussed, institutional culture and capacity, and the various ideas for remedies.

Pay tribute to the arch.

Edujob: Executive Director: Greater New Orleans/Louisiana Delta Teach For America

Here’s a great edujob with the possibility for real impact. From the JD:

When TFA launched in 1990, its New Orleans chapter began with just 45 corps members but, today, the region has a corps of over 200 serving the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard. In 2010, TFA expanded its work in the region to include two parishes in the Louisiana Delta, which began with 16 corps members.  Since then, we have seen the impact of our teachers, in partnership with community members, with results in test scores, increased graduation rates, and opportunities for our students: today, TFA corps members and alumni comprise a full 20% of the New Orleans teaching force, over 50 alumni serve as leaders at the school or school systems level, 40% of Orleans charters are led by alumni, 2/3 of our alumni teach for a third year, three of our teachers in Concordia Parish began Conexiones: Costa Rica which is now in its third year and takes students to Costa Rica every June, a corps member was a finalist for Louisiana Teacher of the Year, and there are over 1,000 alumni living in the region, 91% of whom are doing mission-centered work.

You can build on that work. A lot more information and context through the this link.