New from Bellwether: 16 ideas for the next president on education (pdf). They cover a lot of ground from data and choice to food and trafficking. We have top chefs and top wonks, all in one place! Terrific roster of contributors and these ideas have implications beyond Washington policy discussions.
Elsewhere, in the Washington Post I take a look at school choice and the campaign. Last week at USN I wrote about writing and what our writing challenges and writing debate really says out the larger education debate.
Chad Aldeman with an important piece on teacher pensions and retirement policy in the NY Daily News. If I can leave you with one idea about teacher pensions I hope it’s that teacher retirement policy is not an education issue – it’s a broader retirement security issue.
In several ways this Connecticut finance decision is a BFD.
Paul Weinstein on why AP is a college cost issue for parents.
Here’s an old education story: Long held value clashes with some other imperative. In this case Maryland’s Republican governor had to balance local control with the need to make sure kids are in school enough. OK, that’s not quite right. Actually, he had to balance local control with the desire of his state’s vacation industry to keep schools closed for the summer until after Labor Day. So he mandated a post-Labor Day school start.
To Governor Hogan’s credit he didn’t dress his announcement up as some sort of educational initiative by rolling it out at say a tutoring center, sports facility, or a school. No, he went right to Ocean City, an economic engine in Maryland. Full credit for some refreshing transparency.
Still, Maryland educators are frustrated with the constraints, which will become acute if the state has a tough winter with a lot of days out of school. And local school districts should be able to make these choices shouldn’t they? Virginia has a similarly vacation industry driven rule on school starts that creates needless hoops for school superintendents to jump through. But in a discussion of the issue on the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR the other day one caller, Donny from Baltimore, made the point that this was a banner idea because now he could celebrate his birthday and his daughter’s birthday without the hassle of school starting the last week of August. So there is that.
This Richard Whitmire interview with Ravi Gupta is generally worth reading but this line is so smart:
If I could do one thing by fiat to improve the education debates in Nashville, it would be to give everyone a hobby. If folks didn’t view their self-worth at stake in every Twitter battle, we would have more honest conversations.
It’s a piece of advice I offer young people when asked. Balance matters or you’ll lose your equilibrium. I’d also add, maintain a diverse group of friends who do genuinely different things in life than you do.
Given Black Lives Matter’s premise—that the government systematically acts in a way that undermines trust in both the police and in order—you have to wonder why, if the movement’s members approach the police with such skepticism, they are now asking parents to put all their faith and confidence in schools that have failed them for decades?
There is a political answer to that question, obviously. But there is also an intellectual issue bound up in it. BLM is hardly the only instance of clear recognition of a problem or basket of problems in one venue not transferring to another involving education. Many people have noticed the parallels between the policing debate and the debate about schools. Bu we also have many advocates and elected officials who appreciate how the foster students, adjudicated students, or special education students are not well treated by the “system” and need rights and protections as a result. But many of these same advocates don’t connect the dots with the broader system and the exact same kind of issues and norms. Connecting those dots, as Bradford does here, seems an important project to broaden the conversation about the need for dramatic school improvement.
Charters, charters, everywhere! Last year Bellwether released a deck of data on charter schools around the country (pdf). A lot of nuance and different experiences but one theme that jumped out was growth. Even by conservative estimates there are going to be a lot of charters in a decade or two. There are a lot now. In New York they’ve now hit 10 percent of the city’s students. Ten percent may not seem like a lot, but this is New York. A lot of kids there. Another reason the action now is about how to grow charters, not whether they’re going to crow. Political resistance may slow things down and put up some barriers around the edges but the trendline is pretty clear.
Off-edu: If this kind of thing floats your boat email me. Hosting a show for Tracy in November in Virginia.