Scroll down this page for a picture of Steve Mesler with a fish and some open edujobs.
Hillary Clinton released an anti-bullying initiative yesterday. If ever there was an issue that screamed for national attention but local solutions this is it. Her plan walks that line. This is an issue that easy to dismiss as hyperbole or kids today are snowflakes but it’s real.
The other day I chided the teachers unions for playing and profiting in a part of the financial world that sells people – in this case teachers – suboptimal retirement products. The Times revisited the issue and Matt Levine offers some smart context that argues that maybe what the teachers unions are up to isn’t so bad:
If you were on your way to Vanguard to buy index funds when [the salesperson for these vehicles] waylaid you, he has moved you from option 1 to option 2, and made you poorer in retirement. If you were on your way to blow your paycheck on lattes at Starbucks, he has moved you from option 3 to option 2, and made you richer in retirement. The context is key.
It’s a reasonable point in general. Sub-optimally saving for retirement is arguably better than not saving at all. But in the case of teachers that’s not the choice. Their unions and associations could choose to set up partnerships with vendors who offer the best quality vehicles (the unions have a lot of purchasing power in the marketplace) and eschew ones that are suboptimal or worse. Remember, these vendors are paying handsomely for access and endorsements. Instead, the unions are putting poor choices in front of their members – and being compensated for it. That’s the bottom line here.
Oh, and the unions also love to hammer hedge funds and others for having high cost structures. I’ll leave it to you to square that circle.
And also remember all this is in the context of a retirement system for teachers that’s pretty broken to start with and hamstrings their retirement saving out of the gate.
Charter public schools are not the solution to every problem that’s plaguing public education. The NAACP is right to raise some questions over the practices of some individual charter schools. There are schools of all models – district, charter, magnet, private – that are failing to educate our kids properly and accountably. States and districts should hold all of these school types to high standards of accountability.
What’s shortsighted about the NAACP’s decision is that it’s ignoring the many successful charter schools that are delivering results for many communities. In New York City, third grade charter school students outscored students at district schools in math and in English. Charters here are closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged Black students and their more affluent white peers.
The NAACP understands that where you live, your skin color, your income level and zip code shouldn’t determine what kind of education you can get in this country but unfortunately, in far too many places, it does.
It does seem the NAACP situation is a classic two things are true at once situation – and we’ve discussed on this blog how bad the education sector is at dealing with those kinds of issues. Not all the concerns the NAACP is raising are off-base or unfounded. But a moratorium doesn’t logically follow from them. That piece is politics.
Speaking of two things being true at once, something I like even less than Donald Trump and that brand of politics is stifling dissent and speech. This situation with a Virginia school board is worth watching. The illiberalism of the right meets the illiberalism of the left. Also, the idea that school boards, especially this one!, are non-partisan…well, adorable.
Also in Virgina. Here you go through all this work to muddy up the state’s already weak accreditation and accountability system to mask the mediocre performance of a lot of schools. And then all these schools still don’t meet the bar! So frustrating! This is like a company cutting costs to make budget when revenue is down. You can only do so much of that. Also on VA, shouldn’t the shocking last graf of this article be the lede? Speaks volumes about how people think about these issues. By the way, a reasonable person might ask how so many schools can even be succeeding on the accountability system with outcomes like that. But please don’t ask that, it’s rude.
David Tyack has passed. He was thoughtful. And when your work becomes part of the grammar of schooling, well that’s something.
Arne Duncan comes out strong for ballot measure lifting the charter cap in Massachusetts. Boston Globe editorial board comes out in favor, too:
But a goal of an equal, quality education for all continues to elude Massachusetts public education. The families affected are those who don’t live in the suburbs, don’t have the resources to shop for the best school district, and haven’t been lucky enough to win the lottery for a seat at the state’s existing charter schools. Charter schools exist because all parents deserve the same thing for their children: enough choices to ensure their kids get a quality education.
The vote there looks to be tightening some.
Marc Tucker on the contextual issues here:
The root cause of the enormous and shocking difference in performance between Connecticut’s inner cities and its wealthy suburbs is the local control of education finance. It is this system of education finance that is responsible for the housing segregation that produces in turn the social class and racial segregation underlying the enormous disparities in student performance that outraged Judge Moukawsher. The solution—easy to say but very hard to implement for political reasons—is an approach to the financing of local schools in which the state would collect the funds for the schools with a statewide tax and distribute those funds to each school based on student need, not local property wealth. That is how school finance works in most of the top-performing countries. And it is the system we need, but, while we are waiting, maybe we should take another look at Ruth Batson’s rather practical idea.
Mathematica’s RTT evaluation is out. Something for everyone in here. New NAEP data – something here for everyone, too. Also, newly released and quite interesting Mathematica analysis of teacher effectiveness.*
Juneau – Zinke MT race poll.
*Disclosure: I was on the advisory board.