The Commodore Speaks! Plus Aldeman Nudges, Markell On ESSA, School Transportation, Maps, Bathroom Laws, Teacher IP, Plus Happy Birthday TJ, Wanderin’ Goat, More!

It’s April 13th – Thomas Jefferson was born on this date in 1743. Today, his detractors and fans alike celebrate his life through the great American tradition of ascribing our current political debates to historical figures in all manner of one-dimensional ways that decontextualize, obscure the complexity of human situations, or are flat out inaccurate. Jefferson is in some ways the poster-child for this because he was so complicated and contradictory in life. On a lighter note, Jefferson always thought that Virginia could support a wine industry but he never really saw it thrive in his lifetime. He may have just been a few centuries too early though: check out DuCard, White Hall, Early Mountain, or Ox-Eye (great Lemberger) for a taste.

The next Bellwether blog/opinion writing training is in June. Apply now. This event is consistently  4-5x oversubscribed so get your application in by the deadline. More background here.

A few states are innovating with offering teachers more choice of retirement plans – Florida is one. But Bellwether’s Chad Aldeman says they should go further and “nudge” teachers toward the plan that’s most likely to benefit them given their circumstances.

Jack Markell discusses the Bellwether ESSA state plan review project.

This Boston Public Schools transportation challenge project is fantastic and a huge credit to the superintendent there, Tommy Chang, for taking a risk like this. Bellwether is hosting an event on transportation in D.C. on May 2, BPS will be on the panel. Possible buried lede: We will also be offering school bus rides back to your office after the event – really.

The 74 takes a look at the state of various bathroom bills around the country. The Trump policy change got headlines because, well, Trump. And it carried symbolic importance. But this is where the action is on the policy and what will happen for young people.

There is a trend to use more geographically accurate maps in schools. This is obviously a good thing – though trickier than you might think given the features of the earth and that turning a globe into a flat representation is not straightforward. Greenland anyone? My wife and I have an old map we picked up years ago backpacking Turkey. It’s from Ottoman days and shows the Ottoman world as the center of things. A good reminder about perspective. But as Kevin Mahnken notes in The 74 it’s going to take more than better maps to improve the sorry state of geography understanding in this country.

Whoa! Teachers are selling their course materials and making some money doing it! And there are still big issues about IP ownership and all of that. So, basically, this issue is where it was five years ago.

The Commodore says that better school finance data is coming and could be a game-changer. 

More staff announced for Department of Education.

The case for universalism in school choice. Here’s a model school report card. And here’s some throwback haiku for longtime readers.

These kids really wanted burgers. This goat is on the lamb.

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