Monthly Archives: December 2016

Big News From RCE, DeVos Confirmation Prospects, BW In 2016, And More!

Rumor mill: The mood among some insiders on Betsy DeVos is changing and there is some concern/hope (depending who you ask obviously) that her nomination could go down if Democrats really focus their efforts on it and pressure moderate Republicans. That’s a shift from a few weeks ago when even her staunchest critics were resigned to her confirmation.

Breaking News: Emmeline Zhao and I are moving the work we’ve been doing at RealClear Education to The 74. That will start early 2017, with news curation and original content. RCE will also continue to produce a newsletter and aggregation as well.

Bellwether: Marnie Kaplan on starting early and starting strong. Kirsten Schmitz with top teacher pension stories! Kaitlin Pennington starts a conversation on the purpose of teacher evaluation.

Yesterday I looked at our fraying norms around rights and decency.

Burning question: What are the top 10 blog posts and top 10 analyses Bellwether released in 2016? Here’s a handy list!

What I’m reading:

Here’s some good advice on charter policy from Alex Medler, Paul O’Neill & Suzie Kim. And here’ s a paper looking at new ideas on learning to employment training and education (pdf).

New class of Pahara – Aspen fellows.

Gopher Joe Nathan says fire the football coach at Minnesota. Public Prep’s (a Fordham fellow) Ian Rowe on family structure. Ken Wagner comes out for more choices via AF in Rhode Island. 

Here are 13 takes on how to address teach shortages.

Mike Rowe went to Meet the Press and talked education among other issues.  Mike Petrilli on what 2016 might mean for education down the road.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2017! Back in January if not sooner.

International Assessments, China, Estonia! Plus Ed Navigator Parenting Advice!

Adam Minter notes that some of the China hype is not all it’s cracked up to be.

In 2009, Shanghai students did so well — beating the world in math, science and reading — that President Barack Obama declared it a “Sputnik moment,” requiring immediate action. A similar panic broke out in 2012. But this year proved to be a surprise. The results from the 2015 tests, released this month, showed Chinese students ranked sixth in math, 10th in science and 27th in reading. What happened?

On one hand, the answer is simple. Instead of merely testing Shanghai’s elite, the 2015 exams included a broader selection of students across China, which dragged down scores. But the results also highlighted an important problem: China’s much-lauded education system remains riven by inequality, with far-reaching consequences for schools, students and, ultimately, the economy.

I wrote about this a few years ago for TIME  and got tagged as an apologist for failing schools (although the part about Russia hasn’t held up too well….). But these international compressions often carry a lot of important context that matters to how one thinks about them.

Ed Navigator with an interesting take on this.

In other news, Estonia!

Eduwonk Holiday Book List!

If you’re like me you might not be entirely on top of your holiday shopping. And you might have some readers on your list. Here’s a few recent (and not so recent) books from the past few months that I’d highly recommend:

Hillbilly Elegy.  JD Vance’s memoir is a poignant reminder that the ‘who has it worse’ sweepstakes divides Americans when our politics should bring them together so solve the very real problems too many Americans face. There is a reason so many people are reading it.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. C’mon, of course.

The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency. Great story.  LeHand is one of those people history buffs and Washington types remember but who get lost to the winds of popular history. Kathryn Smith’s work brings her back.

Hidden Computers: The Black Women Of NASA is a bit tricky to find but worth the hunt. I was fortunate enough to see some galleys earlier this year. Great piece of NASA history and more general history. Great book for young adults, in particular.

The Sellout: A Novel. If irony or acid writing is not your thing then stay away. Or, more bluntly, if you don’t get why Chris Rock doesn’t want to play campuses stay away. Otherwise, the Eduwife and I argue about American fiction but this book is a big strong point in her favor about its vibrancy. Won a Booker Prize.

The Righteous Mind. Pahara’s Kim Smith was on me to read more Jonathan Haidt. Good advice.

America Ascendant is a book I missed when it came out. Even though the country is taking a political turn Stan Greenberg’s ideas are still relevant – especially if Trump unleashes constructive political chaos that shuffles the two-party alignment.

Why Knowledge Matters. Agree with him or not if you work in education you have to engage with Don Hirsch’s ideas and the powerful ideas he raises about why liberalism and knowledge need each other and what that means.

Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild. Devotees of The Last Alaskans TV show or people who spend time up around Fairbanks know of the legendary Heimo and Edna Korth and their uncompromising lifestyle in the Alaskan bush. Turns out their cousin is a great writer and this book explores he and his daughter’s adventures in the bush with the Korths and on a hiking/canoe trip in remote country. Great non-traditional parenting book and a great story in one.

Meat Eater. Steve Rinella’s writing is circulating more so I picked up his 2012 book. Good reminder where your food comes from and how some of the non-vegans amongst us see things. Bonus: perhaps a few good tips if things go badly in the Trump years.

The Iron Heel. Yeah, me too.

PS – a colleague and friend just sent me Evicted. I read the author’s New Yorker article and am interested to read the book but haven’t tucked in. Looks strong though. Obvious links between housing and school policy.

Is Education Kind Of Insulated? Minnesota Boycott, School Segregation, Making Charter Schools Work, Early Education News, Sanford Johnson, NMSI, John King, And Rham! Grading College Work, More…

Here’s an idea: This pushing and shoving in the South China Sea could get us all killed.  School vouchers are an education policy reasonable people can disagree about. In the education world these days you’d think those were inverted.

Sara Mead with some Head Start news. Richard Whitmire on Appletree and early ed and charter schools.

Here is a big education bet from New Schools. PARCC RFP for new assessment strategies for states is out (pdf).

Rahm Emanuel on the ed reform debate and Betsy DeVos. This John King speech is well worth your time. Here are education ideas from Brookings for the Trump administration. And here’s a Brookings look at pre-K. Meanwhile here’s an inside look at the Trump transition on education so far.

The Arlington, VA student we discussed earlier this month who took on his school board over redistricting decisions is amping up the fight.

Minnesota football players boycotting over a Title IX sexual assault case there involving players:

The gap between a law enforcement agency’s decision to prosecute and a school’s decision to discipline hinges on the different evidentiary standards and burdens of proof. While the criminal justice system requires a high certainty of guilt — “beyond a reasonable doubt” — the Education Department has argued that Title IX regulations call for a “preponderance of the evidence standard.”

This will be a fight during the Trump Administration around the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education regardless of this Minnesota episode. Keep an eye on the lawsuit from the University of Virginia student referenced in the article. Also, don’t miss Sally Jenkins with more on all this here. And once the players learned all the details they ended the boycott.

This is a great article, but could have the unintended consequence of creating the misperception that elite colleges are crawling with low-income students. They’re not and it’s a huge (and solvable) problem.

Again, a front line educator has to battle a non-educator about misperceptions: Steven Wilson on Diane Ravitch. Let educators do their work! (I know, no one likes a wise ass, but c’mon…)

Is the yes choice/no choice split in education as pronounced as people think? I wrote about choice this summer for the Wash Post, still relevant with the debate that’s coming:

You wouldn’t know it from how our politicians talk about school choice, but we actually know quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Broadly speaking, vouchers have at best a modest effect on student achievement but seem to improve certain other outcomes of interest, such as parental satisfaction and graduation rates. Charter schools, for their part, outperform on standardized tests in urban areas, show mixed but positive results elsewhere, and have pockets of serious underperformance. There is some evidence that choice helps spur the overall school system to improve, but not as much as free market adherents might think. In other words, the zealots on all sides are wrong: If you want to see a more equitable American education system, choice is a key ingredient but not by itself transformative…

…The Obama administration has helped support the replication of high-quality charter schools, a valuable federal role. But the next administration can do a lot more. It can help support pilot initiatives to incorporate more radical uses of technology and different labor models. That could include, for instance, the teacher-run charter schools emerging in Minnesota; schools such as the West Coast-based Summit Public Schools that flip the traditional notion of the role of student in school; or schools that are now still just an idea in an educator’s head somewhere. The next president can also pilot better strategies to ensure that the charter sector in a city or state serves an equitable share of students with special needs — an emerging problem as the charter sector grows. There are also subtler steps around data and accountability that would encourage better practices.

Here’s a handy overview of what’s happening on charters. Here’s a great push on choice questions from Ashley Berner.

Sanford Johnson recognized for his education work. And here’s what NMSI’s been up to.

You can watch some Ken Robinson pushback here. And here’s a new grading rubric for college papers.

Posted on Dec 19, 2016 @ 1:01pm

Edujob: Chief Of Staff At Bellwether

Bellwether’s hiring a Chief of Staff. Here’s a bit more about the role, a lot more context through the link:

The Chief of Staff is a senior level position that provides direct support to the Managing Partner and the partner team to ensure that Bellwether achieves its strategic objectives at the organizational level. The Chief of Staff will work closely with the partner team to lead the annual planning process, ensure the Bellwether Board is engaged appropriately and functioning well, and lead strategic initiatives and special projects determined by the partners as critical to Bellwether’s long-term success.

The Chief of Staff will also guide the planning and strategic implementation of operations, finance, HR, technology, and knowledge management. S/he will supervise the Knowledge Manager and direct the knowledge management function.

Click here to learn a lot more and how to be considered.

Three Reform Takes On Trump….Plus O’Keefe On Turnover, Aldeman On Pension Coasters, Anderson’s Open Letter, Plus Kanye And Trump Talked Edu, Warren V. Tilson, PPI Goes Back To Indy, Edu Spending, More….

Bonnie O’Keefe on leadership turnover. Pennsylvania has a lot of roller coasters, Chad Aldeman on the one you don’t want to ride. Cami Anderson with an open edu letter to the Trump team.

The education reform sector seems to be breaking into three factions over Donald Trump’s presidency:

1) Don’t do anything with Trump’s administration. No matter how good any policy idea is in isolation, it’s tainted because of its association with Trump. Besides, your friends will never speak to you again.

2) Let’s see what Trump does. Legitimizing him as president is not the same as normalizing everything his campaign was about. If some proposals are reasonable ideas that might improve outcomes for kids, then that’s good and people have to work together even across disagreement. Besides, you can’t just put the freeze on things that might help kids for four years, or longer.

3) Yeehah! Biggest opportunity for choice ever! Besides, Yeehah! Biggest opportunity for choice ever!

Related, ICYMI, my take on Trump’s possible paths on choice.

Sol Stern at war. Making colleges more economically diverse.

Primary document: Kanye West and Trump talked education issues in their Trump Tower meeting.

Progressive Policy Institute goes back to Indy (pdf).

Spending money on schools can make a difference. Key line,

Mr. Rothstein cautioned that the idea that states could erase the achievement gap between poor and middle class students by simply cutting a few checks was unrealistic. “There has been a tendency to expect magic from these reforms,” he said.

Perhaps naive, but you would like to think there is a politics to be built right there with the broad swath of people in the education world who believe money matters and how it’s spent matters, too?

Here’s Myles Mendoza, Marty West, Shavar Jefferies, and Karen Nussle talking education politics in the Trump era.  Great panelists make any moderator look good – couple of great audience questions, too. Who does Betsy DeVos listen to? Maybe not Cory Booker these days?

California and the feds are still arguing over testing like it matters. RAND and Wallace on school leadership, evidence, and ESSA.

Whitney Tilson versus Elizabeth Warren. Sorta. And Whitney got his apology. Peace in our time!

Schools wrestling with anti-racist works of art and fiction that aren’t anti-racist enough.

This article is a brutal and a frustrating reminder that we can’t come together to balance rights, responsibility, and common sense on the gun issue.

Screen Time! Segregation In Schools, Rural Education, Ending The “Federal” Common Core, Fenty On Race (And Not The One You Think), Brown On Choice, CAP On Accty, Outward Bound, To Be Clear…

Scroll down the page for several edujobs.

Marnie Kaplan on screen time and little kids:

You walk by an outdoor restaurant and see a toddler watching a movie on an iPad while his parents eat dinner. Your first thought is:

  • a) those parents deserve a break
  • b) screens don’t belong at meal time
  • c) is the video educational?
  • d) alert: bad parenting

Is there an app to help us decide how to respond? No. But a quorum of pediatricians might be able to help…

Matt Barnum on school segregation. Actual nuance!

President-elect Trump wants to end the “federal” Common Core. His choice for Secretary of Education is on board. But there really isn’t much of a federal role in Common Core. The funding that was used to create incentives for states to adopt Common Core or similar standards is done. The new ESSA law goes in a new direction. States are making their own decisions here anyway about standards and tests. The assessment consortia are doing their own thing. So, doesn’t that leave Trump two choices: (a) Take some fake actions against what is at this point a fake problem and put the politics behind him (e.g. “on my first day in office I issued an executive order ending the federal Common Core)” or (b) taking actual steps to do something on Common Core that would inadvertently entangle the federal government further in curricular decisions?

Two interesting looks at rural America. Here’s a look at some demographic information from Atlantic City Lab. One thing that jumps out is housing ownership. This strikes me as an overlooked/under-leveraged tool for teacher recruiting and retention to rural areas. Housing tax-credits or other incentives are one way to leverage rural aspects and encourage people to build a life and teach in communities that are struggling to attract or keep teachers. Also here’s a look at how Google rolls in heavy to one Oklahoma town. And ICYMI here’s a Bellwether analysis released last week about charter facilities in Idaho – rural impact.

These are interesting times for the school reform community (you can define them loosely as all the people who don’t think that nine percent of low-income kids getting through college by age 24 is an OK outcome). President-elect Trump might do school choice, he might also do a lot of things that divide people. Here’s the tendentious and reductionist take on what’s going on, and here’s Emma Brown with some texture on a complicated basket of issues and questions.

Michelle Fenty on her sons, race, and policing. I am really starting to think that Catherine Brown doesn’t like Betsy DeVos. CAP on new accountability indicators.

Cops, kids, and a ropes course. You’ll never believe what happened next…

People are earning less than their parents, that’s a problem.

“To be clear” statement of the day: “To be clear, there is no indication that the bear in the video is the one that ate a dog, or that the dog in the video is the dog that was eaten.”

Edujob: Executive Director, Education Matters

Here’s a unique California-based edujob:

Located in the East San Francisco Bay Area, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) is a racially and socioeconomically diverse public school district. Its 30,000 students identify as 52% Hispanic/Latino, 18% African American, 10% White, and 10% Asian American. English Language Learners comprise 35% of the student population, and more than 70% of students qualify for free or reduced-priced school meals. The need for vastly improved educational outcomes is clear: only 16% of 11th-graders are proficient in math, and 40% are proficient in reading, leaving too many of our young people unprepared for college or career. On a state school district report card generated by Ed Trust West, WCCUSD received a D-, making it one of the lowest achieving school districts in California in terms of equity, proficiency, achievement gaps, and more…

…With that in mind, in 2014 Susan and Steve Chamberlin launched Education Matters (EM), a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) established to advance highly effective leaders, especially at the School Board and District, who are informed, aligned around, and accountable for excellent public schools for all students in West Contra Costa County. They recognized this as an ambitious mission, and one that must be accomplished in partnership with an empowered community. The organization strives to provide reliable information to support families, and to ensure educationally and fiscally sound decisions for WCCUSD students. This also means supporting elected leaders – and holding them accountable – for exceptional student growth and outcomes. To help achieve these objectives, EM has an associated PAC that supports candidates for local office who will be bold, independent champions for students and families.

Learn more about the Chamberlin work in West Contra Costa County dating back to 2006 and more about this role and how to nominate someone or be considered yourself by clicking here. 

Posted on Dec 12, 2016 @ 8:30am

Edujob: Communications Associate @NASBE

Are you a bit too happy it’s Friday? If so, NASBE is hiring for a Communications Associate. You get to work with the great Renee Rybak among other benefits!

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) seeks a creative, energetic associate to support its communications and publishing work, with an emphasis on digital and social media. The communications associate will work closely with the communications director to support NASBE’s media relations and member outreach efforts, online presence, and social media strategy. S/he may also occasionally support NASBE’s editorial director in producing NASBE’s popular policy briefs and award-winning journal, The State Education Standard.

To quote the great Ben Stiller in Starsky and Hutch, “Do it.” You can learn more about how to do that here.