Monthly Archives: January 2017

DeVos Takes, Johnston Running In CO, Mead On Obama Early Ed, Hill On Rural, Higher Ed Outcomes, Higher Ed Coauthoring, Swamp Draining, And More!

Sara Mead on the Obama early education legacy. Five questions for Betsy DeVos.

Michael Johnston running for governor in Colorado.

Emma Brown takes a look at the Ed Department and what’s next. This John King quote is pretty succinct and to the point:

“States’ rights and civil rights have not generally traveled together in the history of the United States,” [Secretary of Education John] King said. “That’s not a partisan point, that’s a fact.”

The article also dances around the idea that Obama undermined the Department of Education through an aggressive federal role. It’s bad history. More than a few people hated the 1994 Clinton law and fought efforts to enforce it, and you may recall that No Child Left Behind wasn’t beloved by the establishment (it was the first ESEA law that key groups took a non-portion or opposed). So while some of the Obama polices weren’t popular with the establishment that disdain was not unprecedented. Perhaps the key issue is that any education policy with teeth on accountability and related issues splits the Democratic coalition between civil rights groups, reformers, and the education establishment in various ways. Happily for Democrats, the President-elect seems likely to paper all that over for a while.

Speaking of the incoming administration, a Long Betsy DeVos profile in Politico. A bit of context. Part of the DeVos / Engler disagreement the story highlights owed to differing views about how much Republicans should respond to urban concerns given voting patterns in Michigan (and more generally). DeVos believed then, and apparently now, in an all-kids approach whether or not they vote Republican. Given the reality of choice politics in Congress, especially where federal categorical programs are involved, costs and debates over means-testing and all the rest, that’s an important issue to watch and a place where misalignment seems likely among various Republican players. Second, the article states that it’s basically love/hate her in Michigan. That may give her some chance of a D.C. reset if she gets out of the shadow of her boss because here in D.C. when you get outside of the professional advocates a lot of people are taking a wait and see approach and want to see what she has to say at her hearings – although there is universal agreement she needs a strong #2 at the Department to be successful given its sprawling scope of authority and operations. Third, from the article:

If Engler thought he had anointed a rubber stamp, he quickly learned otherwise. In January 1997, DeVos cleared house, unilaterally firing all of the party’s top directors and pausing all contracts with vendors, blaming them for the party’s losses months earlier. “Betsy regarded the governor’s input as good advice, not an order,” Greg McNeilly, a close associate of Betsy DeVos, told an Engler biographer years later. “That’s when the problems started.”

Apparently DeVos made this clear to the President-elect in their interview and he responded well to it. But given their different views on some things and the political constraints he will soon be under that’s a dynamic to watch, too.

Paul Hill on rural.

The Obama Administration opened itself up to criticism by focusing on for-profit colleges, which have plenty of problems but are hardly the only problematic part of the higher education sector in terms of value for money. Kevin Carey on why that’s coming up again as they head out the door:

The fact that [Harvard] was caught in a regulatory net devised to protect students from exploitative trade schools suggests that even the most prestigious colleges may not be paying enough attention to whether their degrees are worth the price of admission.

Came across this paper the other day, does co-authoring disadvantage women more than men?

DC-area swamp draining.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017

“We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”

– Martin Luther King, Strength to Love

DeVos Takes! Kaplan On Head Start And Zip Codes, Whiteboard Insiders On Student Loans, Maryland, MA, BIE, And Rugged Individualism And Edu. Plus Conrad Anker, Commencement Speaker And More…

At the top: Betsy DeVos still likes vouchers. But her finances are a more complicated issue. Also, Betsy DeVos is a breath of fresh air says her hometown paper. Betsy DeVos will destroy all that is good says Newsweek. LGBT issues remain questions a lot of people want answers on.

Here’s a sign that DeVos/Trump are sucking up a lot of oxygen: A state is considering dropping a Common Core test and there is no circus.


Marnie Kaplan on Head Start and residency.

Native students suing the BIE. It’s startling how few equity conversations include native students. Enormous oversight and another sign of the myopia that even the reform world suffers from around equity.

Whiteboard’s Education Insiders on possible changes and fixes on student loans (pdf).

There has been some interesting innovation happening quietly in Springfield, MA. Not so quiet anymore! (pdf).

Can donors help improve the free speech climate on campus? For Maryland schools Buzzy Hettleman says it might be war!

Is rugged individualism dead, and what does that mean for education?

The Jefferson Education Accelerator at UVA is partnering with Branching Minds. The Koch Foundation is teaming up with HBCU’s around criminal justice and education.

Today in graduation speeches I’d like to hear.

Betsy DeVos Is Good At Politics And There Are A Lot Of Politics About Betsy DeVos, Plus Pensions, Personalized Learning, Vouchers, Spec Ed At The High Court, Race & Student Debt, Texas, Ed Tech, And More!

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing pushed back a week. Earlier this week I wrote in USN about five questions I’d like to see aired out. 

Pensions and bears in CA. Kirsten Schmitz has more. Make a New Year’s talent strategy resolution.

Mike Petrilli says you should rethink your voucher position. Julie Squire says conservatives should slow down and think through their voucher position.

Just a friendly reminder that while there is a lot of almost religious – pun not intended – fervor around the idea of public money going to private schools it’s actually at this point more of a policy question. Private and parochial schools participate in a variety of federal programs under a legal theory dating to the 60s and the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of parochial school vouchers if they are part of a larger choice system intended to benefit kids not religious schools. Plenty of room for disagreement about all of this and some ideas floating around (Title I “portability” for instance is one of those ideas that works better in theory than practice) but the choice conversation that is breaking out relative to the incoming administration and Betsy DeVos is oddly divorced from some of the underlying facts and context.

Big special education case at the Supreme Court yesterday. Argument recap here.

This Louisiana charter case matters, too. NACPS statement here.

It’s entirely possible the HR practices of K-12 school districts are not state of the art. The indispensable Matt Barnum on that.

The told ya so’s are easy. New York’s mayor deserves credit for changing course here rather than doubling down on a talking point that doesn’t work. That happens too infrequently.

Smart take on ed tech and research.  Stan Litow on reclaiming America’s educational edge. Sandy Kress with a dispatch from the front lines in Texas!

NASBE on charter schools. And is it Common Core versus personalized learning, or not?

Race and student debt.

Department of Education OCR with new resource guide, dear colleague, and Q and As on special education, discipline and also special education and charters. And resources on intentionally diverse charter schools from National Charter School Resource Center.

Betsy DeVos is good at politics.

Edujob: Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Charter School Action Fund Director @ NACPS

Given the coming policy debates this seems like a pretty interesting edujob:

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter movement.

The Senior Vice President will lead the federal advocacy efforts of NAPCS – a 501(c)(3) – and the Charter School Action Fund (CSAF) – a nascent 501(c)(4). S/he will be responsible for the design and implementation of strategies to: (1) increase the advocacy capacity of the nationwide charter school community and (2) drive the success of federal legislative initiatives defined by NAPCS and CSAF.

Learn more and learn about how to apply here.

5 Questions For Betsy DeVos

The education news this week is all DeVos, all the time. Good enough but I’d like to hear a lot more about her than how much she likes vouchers. For instance her views on LGBT students, what she thinks about accountability for all schools, and her ideas on the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education. I take a look at five questions in U.S. News & World Report:

Hearings are planned this week on President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of philanthropist and activist Betsy DeVos to be the next secretary of education. The usual suspects are lining up to unflinchingly support or oppose her nomination – even as many can’t even pronounce her name.

For the education establishment, DeVos’ support for school vouchers ranks her among history’s greatest monsters. School choice supporters seem to have forgotten that the Department of Education has responsibilities beyond just school choice. And from the press you’d think she’s the first cabinet nominee ever to have made political donations.

Yet even if you’re someone who thinks a president should get wide latitude on his or her nominees, it’s never a bad idea to ask some questions – especially of someone like DeVos, who has a thin public record and has never held a job like this.

Here are five that will be squarely in her wheelhouse and matter more than just how much DeVos likes school vouchers, where her kids went to school or who her brother is…

You can read all five right here. And tell me on Twitter what would you like to ask her?

Posted on Jan 9, 2017 @ 4:11pm

Happy 2017, Your Pension Problem is Still Here. John King Exits, Dynarski Markets, Lilla Pushes, Sanchez Predicts, Clinton MS And GNR Jazz. Plus More!

Bellwether’s Max Marchitello on why CALSTERS doesn’t work for most teachers. Chad Aldeman on how you can fix your pension debt problem. Emmeline Zhao and I are taking our media curation work to The 74where we’ll do that among other things.

John King exit memo (pdf).

Quality Counts. Alabama report cards, look for more of this.

Susan Dynarksi on why the reality of “free markets” in education is more complicated than the rhetoric.

A lot of attention understandably focused on Washington, but there will be a lot of action in the states on education worth watching.

Here are six possibly consensus ideas from Robin Lake. And 10 education ideas from New America.

Claudio Sanchez education predictions for 2017.

Marc Lilla interview:

…you argue for a liberalism that works “quietly, sensitively, and with a proper sense of scale” when it comes to highly charged issues like sexuality and religion. Is there a campus corollary to that?

Yes, because there has been a radicalization of student demands and also a loss of a sense of proportion. Our campuses are not Aleppo. And to witness the rage around some of these issues — whether it’s the naming of buildings, the transgender-bathroom issue, or the pronoun issue — we’re an evangelical country, and we tend toward fanaticism whenever we try to reform ourselves. It’s unfortunate to see the university become a place where this kind of self-induced hysteria is drawing in students who should be thinking more outside of themselves. College administrators and professors have stood by and not resisted that very strongly.

It has created a spectacle that is very damaging — and here I speak as a liberal — to the liberal cause. A fact of our political lives as liberals is that everything we do and say is filtered through conservative media. To constantly feed the beast the way these identity theatrics do only harms the liberal cause when it comes to reaching out to voters. It’s an enormous distraction and an enormous loss of energy — energy that could be directed outward, toward common political goals in the real world. Instead it’s directed inward, toward the self and the little utopic communities we try to create for ourselves on our campuses.

Atlantic deep-dive on Clinton, Mississippi and the schools there.

I’m going to miss most of these can’t miss education conferences, but a few look good.

Instagram rules.

Guns and Roses as you haven’t heard them before.