Monthly Archives: June 2017

Off-Edu – Pan Mass Challenge 2017

002_PMC_Highlights_2016A break from our regular programming:

In the summer (along with a few others from the education world) I raise money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston by riding in the Pan Mass Challenge.

DFCI is an amazing place on the very leading edge of efforts to bring down these diseases. This matters whether or not you live in Massachusetts because he pathbreaking work they are doing there helps fight cancer everywhere. Treatment protocols travel so good research anywhere has the potential to help people everywhere. 

I ride my bike from Sturbridge to Provincetown, about 192 miles, the first weekend of August and my terrific sponsors help raise part of the $48 million the PMC will send to Dana-Farber this year. 100 percent of what I raise (not “proceeds or whatever weasel words some fundraisers use, 100 percent of donations I receive) goes to Dana, overhead is paid for other ways. Donations are, of course, tax-deductible.

Here’s former Dana-Farber President Edward J. Benz, Jr.,

 “The PMC has made what we do at Dana-Farber possible. When they write the history of how cancer was conquered, the PMC will be in chapter one.”

If you’d like to learn more about my ride, this effort, or become a sponsor, you can via this link. Thanks for your consideration.

Make America Grateful Again?

Via the terrific education and music infused America Succeeds GratefulEd blog, here’s a lightly education-flavored review of a Dead & Company show last week in Virginia. It does feature a math teacher and a high school student so that’s good enough for around here. Bonus cameo by the Eduwife.

Bottom line, perhaps they’re not a band beyond description any longer but they can still bring it.

You can read all of it right here.

Mitch Chester Will Be Missed. Education Surveys, Polls, ESSA Plans, Hernandez On CTE, Rural Education, ESSA Jargon, Read Finn Murphy, More.

Mitch Chester has passed. The outpouring of condolences speaks to how well-liked and well-regarded he was in the education sector. And he really was genuinely committed and genuinely fun to work with and could disagree without being disagreeable. “He will be missed” is a cliche, but he really will be missed. Rick Hess with a nice remembrance here.

Chad Aldeman on expanding early ed via ESSA plans. Yesterday, Bellwether and the Collaborative for Student Success released reviews of the first 17 ESSA plans.

Alex Hernandez on the promise of CTE.

Marty West rounds up the status quo on Blaine Amendments post-Monday’s court decision.

Fordham surveyed teenagers about school. Georgetown surveyed adults about perceptions of childhood, or more precisely adulthood, by race. I wish the methods were a little more robust but the findings intuitively make sense in the context of how schools operate.

So here’s a new poll that shows that, on average, Trump supporters don’t like the President’s education agenda. OK, that’s true enough especially given the proposed budget cuts. But, at the same time, groups that on average are not Trump supporters disproportionately support some key aspects of Trump’s education agenda, specially school choice. The AFT, who sponsored the new poll, and wants to position itself as a champion of social justice ought to be careful about how far down this road they want to go given their own education positions. In other words, again, education politics don’t line-up cleanly with partisan politics and that’s both interesting and exasperating in roughly equal measure.

Also, here’s a well-done poll from Brown with some interesting overlays of various populations and some education questions.

An education play, in two acts:

Weighed down by resistance from education advocates and some council and School Board members, the latest draft drops any mention of specific academic goals, metrics for success and funding plans.

Instead, it lays out a framework for more meetings, including four joint sessions a year between the City Council and School Board, the creation of an “education compact team” and a “children’s cabinet.”

Teachers have to live everywhere because there are kids and schools pretty much everywhere – even really expensive places to live. Here’s a look at ways to ease the housing costs.

Rural education, attainment, and place.

Are the muggles revolting and what’s the role of elite education?

ESSA jargon is everywhere. So, apparently, are book virgins.

This debut book by Finn Murphy is a great summer book. It’s superficially about life as a trucker in the moving industry but it’s really about the structure of American life.

Jake the turkey chases cops.

The Reviews Are In! ESSA State Plan Review Results

Today Bellwether and the Collaborative for Student Success are releasing reviews of the first round of state plans under the new ESSA law. That’s 16 states plus DC and these are reviews of the actual plans states submitted to ED for approval. Our process involved practitioners and policy leaders from around the country to take an independent look at what states were proposing to do on accountability.

The 74 writes-up the results, here’s more information on the project, the reviewers, and the results from Bellwether. And here is more from the Collaborative and an interactive site on the results. Jim Cowen here.

Other media around.

Pensions & Politics

In The 74 Max Marchitello and I take a look at pension politics and the red state/blue state problem:

…The truth is that pension reform is a must, for states and for teachers. The debate isn’t just about whether teachers should have 401(k)s or today’s pensions — there are a variety of reforms between those poles that would work better for teachers and also address the fiscal challenges of today’s approach. But just as education has managed to politicize its way into creating Democratic and Republican models of teaching kids to read, pension reform is becoming a hot political mess…

…For Republican lawmakers, that means doing more than just curbing benefits. For example, it’s counterproductive to solve yesterday’s pension problems on the backs of tomorrow’s teachers by further cutting benefits. In many states, actual benefit costs are not even all that high and the idea of “gold plated” teacher pensions is mostly a myth. Policymakers should focus on limiting future debt costs, not cutting benefits for teachers.

Democrats, for their part, must summon the political courage to deal with this problem at all. They must do more than ask the state to pony up more funding to pay for pension liabilities. Addressing debts will help improve the solvency in the short term, but it won’t do anything to stop the teacher pension system from continuing to dig a massive financial hole.

Entire article right here.

ESSA Mapped, Districts Segregated, OCR Debated, Is All Teaching Local? Pointed On Ed Tech, Vague On Privilege, School Transportation, Toe News, More!

Max Marchitello on teacher pensions and California’s fiscal shell game.

Solid inside analysis on New York’s education politics here. 

Here’s a new map tracking ESSA activity from The 74:

Important EdBuild on school district secessions and their impact. The Education Equality Index is out from Education Cities and Great Schools. 

CRPE on school transportation and choice and equity. ICYMI, here’s Bellwether’s recent analysis of school transpiration policy.

The other day we talked about changes in OCR policy at the Department of Education. Here’s more on that from Shep Melnick and also Mike Petrilli. And here’s an interesting debate/discussion about race and the constitution.

Dana Goldstein on student diversity in Dallas.

All teaching is local?

This idea that Betsy DeVos is the worst cabinet official is ludicrous and cheap. She may have the best/worst name recognition, but while I’ve been pretty critical of her I’m having a hard time thinking that thus far she’s the “worst.” EPA, the mess at Justice, a total failure on infrastructure and  a laughable budget, just for starters? Besides, I suspect most people can’t name most cabinet officials anyway.

Audrey, what do you think about  the ed tech hype?

CCSSO principles to inform school improvement systems.

Checker Finn has been vocal lately. Here he pushes back on SEL. And here on some new charter school ideas.  Also check out Charlie Barone on Finn and the SEL issue.

Here’s some cold water on the hot apprenticeship issue. And some pushback on the keep kids clean and indoors ethos.

Hess on parents.

Here’s an awkward question:

Ultimately, a meritocracy divided against itself cannot stand. An educational system can either subvert existing hierarchies or fortify them, but not both.

What’s the matter with Kansas?

“Toes are very hard to come by.” Beware squirrel attacks.

Acela Bias! Michigan Teacher Pensions, Teacher Retirement Transparency, Trump Admin & OCR/Civil Rights, FL Law, More!

Sara Mead on Acela Corridor bias and charter schools. Here’s a video explaining the Michigan teacher pension situation.

This discussion tomorrow featuring Mike Feinberg and KIPP alums should be an interesting and atypical DC education event. RSVP via the link.

As expected, the Trump Administration is taking steps to change the federal approach on education civil rights. Not surprisingly, with those words – Trump, civil rights, federal – in the same sentence people are alarmed. And this administration certainly warrants skepticism. But there is actually a basket of different issues here that are best considered individually. For instance, on school discipline the evidence seems to point toward racial disparities of the kind that are germane to federal civil rights protections – though there is room for disagreement about specific policies to remedy that.

On campus sexual assault, the Obama administration lowered the standard of proof for what sexual assault claims on campus to more likely than not. Even for those concerned about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, it’s a standard that raises legitimate concerns about due process and federal courts are sorting through the issue now. Again, room for disagreement on the best policies. That issue is especially complicated because in many instances the alleged perpetrator, victim, and the witnesses were all impaired at the time of the incident and college administrators are often not well equipped to address these sorts of incidents. (One solution that has been proposed – and should alarm anyone concerned about civil liberties – is to lower the standard of proof for all campus offenses to “more likely than not” so that sexual assaults are not treated differently from a procedural point of view.)

And then OCR does a bunch of other work on behalf of parents, often low-profile but often quite important.

Bottom line: This is important stuff, so important that thoughtful people should disaggregate and approach each issue independently.

This should be standard practice to give teachers more information about retirement.

Here’s a trend worth watching. This new Florida law bears watching, too.

Here’s Ian Rowe on family structure and a long running debate.

The NEA is inadvertently debating personalized learning.

The charter politics in Massachusetts didn’t stop with November’s vote.

And here’s a teacher picture you might have missed. 

132 year old lobster turned loose. And ‘little did they know” is an underused literary device: “Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon she would end up killing with her bare hands.”

Teacher Pensions Are Failing Teachers, Customized High School, Yeats Day, CCR Transparency, Correctional Ed, Ed Navigator, Alex Rigsby And Edu, More!

Here’s an idea: A new customized “senior” year of high school and expanded pre-K education. The feds can invest to make it happen.

Chad Aldeman and Kristen Schmitz explain why teacher pension plans don’t work for teachers. Full analysis here. And a NY Daily News op-ed here. 74 write-up here.

Also Chad revisits the Pension Pac-Man issue – it’s not a game and it’s more acute for teachers than some other workers.

Hailly Korman on correctional education.

Yesterday was Yeats day, to honor the poet. He wrote, that “things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” Has always struck me as useful for understanding education politics. But the education quote most commonly attributed to Yeats, you can find it on posters adorning classroom walls across the country, is “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Powerful! Except it’s not Yeats. It’s Plutarch. I’m sympathetic here, I once decided to improv and mangled a Einstein quote by juxtaposing and mashing it with a Jack Kennedy quote – I was giving a talk at Harvard and was nervous. But I’m not in the poster printing business.

Achieve says there is too little transparency about college and career readiness. Hard to argue with that. The problem with air conditioning.  Teacher debt is not simple to address.  The WH focusing on skills and apprenticeships. Here’s the Department of Education letter to Delaware everyone is up in arms about (pdf). The real story seems to be that this is more business as usual than people expected.

Matt Barnum on for-profit charter schools. My take, yes, most are awful, but a ban is too blunt. It’s hard to miss the overlay between states with a lot of low-quality for-profits and with charter school quality problems more generally. It might be that authorizing polices and practices are the real culprit?

Ed Navigator in action.

Testing is not cut and dry these days:

However, Colorado will likely keep using some PARCC questions in the math and English tests given to students in grades three through eight, said Joyce Zurkowski, the Colorado Department of Education’s executive director of assessment. Doing so would ensure the state could track student academic growth data and continue rating schools without pause.

I’m on the board for Classroom Champions, here’s one of our athletes, U.S. women’s hockey goaltender Alex Rigsby, at a school in Alexandria, VA.

Teacher fired.

Space objects you can see in the daytime!

Three Year High School?

In U.S. News & World Report I propose an idea to finance pre-K education for four-year olds, give high school students more options in their final year, and help with equity. Sound too good to be true? It might be, but let’s debate it and other ideas:

What we think of as the core of high school could be accomplished in three years. (You don’t want to dwell too much on how much time young people waste in school.) Doing so offers one way to help address the equity concerns with forcing students to choose between vocational or academic paths early in their lives – a three-year approach can help delay that decision until students are at least a little older. The added benefit of getting kids off to a stronger start early on their educational path will obviously help, too.

The federal government shouldn’t mandate any of this, but it can be an investor to help with the substantial transition costs for states that choose to go big, as this approach is not cost-neutral. Providing real paths and supports for 17- and 18-year-olds will cost money, even if some of those paths are financed from nonpublic sources and parents. Given the problems we have today, there is a clear case that federal resources here are in the national interest. Opening up the senior year like this also doesn’t interfere with other ongoing reforming efforts – including policies to foster greater choice in education and make college more financially accessible for Americans. Rather, it compliments them.

You can read the entire idea here. Tweet me @arotherham about all the ways you wasted time your senior year of high school. And if you like the senior year just how it is, don’t hold back with your financing suggestions for better educational access for four-year-olds.

Posted on Jun 15, 2017 @ 8:22am