Monthly Archives: September 2017

DeVos Approval Underwater, Ref Rodriguez, Renewal Schools, Common Core, More!

It’s September 27th. On this date in 1929 Ernest Hemingway sent a letter to Max Perkins from Paris asking for money, a frequent theme of Hemingway’s letters), talking about upcoming skiing or time in Key West, but also discussing his pace of work. “Have been working well ever since back a week ago. Have done two more stories. Have six now but between ourselves only two seem saleable. But don’t tell anyone – might be able to sell them all.”

Cambridge University Press is releasing an edited volume of Hemingway’s letters from 1929 – 1931 in October. It’s the latest in their curated series of his correspondence. Edited by Sandra Spanier and Miriam Mandel, it’s dense but a treasure trove.

Closer to home, Betsy DeVos’ approval ratings are still underwater, but at least 1/3 of respondents haven’t heard of her or don’t have an opinion. She still has usually high name recognition.

Oh, and only 4 percent of voters say education is their top priority right now…so it’s all upside for us!

Also, new DeVos advisors.

Here’s the most thought provoking thing I’ve seen written about the Ref Rodriguez issue in LA.

People starting to ask the cost-benefit question about NYC’s “renewal” schools initiative. More blunt take here.

If you’re a Common Core opponent this is the kind of thing you don’t want to  see – the standards and assessments becoming embedded like this.

We’ve discussed how sexual abuse episodes in schools are often systemic failures with multiple breakdowns of accountability and plenty of history. That’s not about due process, which is essential, it’s about people failing to address problems. Here’s an episode from Oregon that points up the problem.

Arson squirrel.

Private Jets And Public Dollars, Value-Added Redux, CRPE On Next Gen Ideas For Chartering, Matt Lewis Interviews Moskowitz, The Dems Dilemma, More!

Last week a variety of folks from Bellwether took a look at different dimensions of family engagement.

Chad Aldeman with a tour of pension history – you’ll learn something.

Do you know what a B-3 indicator is? It’s ESSA talk and Bonnie O’Keefe and Chad get you up to speed here via this CCSSO toolkit.

I wrote this column on value-added and teachers seven years ago (Facebook just reminded me). Does it still stand up?

So last week CRPE released a report raising some questions about the next generation of charter schools, policy, and collaboration with districts. Reasonable people can disagree on all of that and it’s hardly settled. I’m not sold on all of it at all – and I’m a formal advisor to CRPE (but wasn’t involved in this work). But the amount of behind the scenes pushback on them even raising the issues was startling. I’ve noted that too many reformers and advocates are trying to set a land speed record for becoming what they sought to change. This seems an example. We should be having these kinds of conversations not be scared of them.

Here’s a thoughtful take on it from Terry Ryan.

Is the era of regulations by letter really over? Surprised this hasn’t gotten more attention. Well not really, given how bonkers the last few days have been, but it’s worth watching.

Matt Lewis talks with Eva Moskowitz.

Yellen on ed.

Sexual assault policy and race. I’ve been surprised this issue hasn’t seen more attention, too.

Where you stand and where you sit and all that…when are parents “fleeing” and when are they advocating on behalf of their own children? And is the difference contingent on where you send your own kids to school?

Breaking: Betsy DeVos is rich. That seems to be the underlying point of the new round of stories about how she flies on her own plane. Except she’s paying out-of-pocket and paying for her security and so forth as well. So what is weirder, an education secretary with her own plane or that this arrangement seems to save taxpayer dollars. From the AP:

Hill said DeVos pays for “all her travel expenses including flights, hotels, etc., out of pocket and at no expense to taxpayers.” Since coming to office, DeVos’ only charge to the department was one roundtrip Amtrak ticket from DC to Philadelphia for $184. Hill added that DeVos also covers travel expenses for her security detail or any other staff accompanying her on the aircraft.

Obviously, ability to pay is not the top skill set we look for in a public official. And I guess it’s a little weird the education secretary flies around on her own plane (but really, who amongst us wouldn’t stop flying commercial if we could). But the bottom line seems to be that she’s spending less taxpayer dollars on travel than her predecessors rather than more as result – even though more is what the phrase private jet immediately conjures up.

Here is Stan Greenberg’s after-action on the Clinton 2016 campaign.  The Democrats’ dilemma, or part of it, it seems to me is that voters are hungry for candidates who are outsiders and who will disrupt a pretty insular system that doesn’t work for too many Americans. That’s why “drain the swamp” is at once a punchline and a sentiment that resonates with a lot of Americans. This issue should be a natural for Democrats who relish attacking monopolies, self-dealing financial arrangements, and structural barriers to opportunities. Problem is, that doesn’t just describe banks and parts of corporate America – it arguably also describes our education system and its constellation of special interests. People get that and in today’s politics it’s hard to be half a reformer.

Prep schools and privilege. Lots of concern but so far more absolving than change.

Interesting analysis of geography and opportunity. And new California school ratings from GreatSchools.

Russian bear rides in motorcycle sidecar, and plays the horn.

Free College…But Wait, There’s More! ESSA Plans, Civic Ed, DeVos’ Visits, Choices, And Boat! Plus Jim Ryan Returning to C’ville. More!

Bonnie O’Keefe on teacher turnover and school improvement work.

Phillip Burgoyne-Allen on Constitution Day and civic ed.

Ashley Mitchel and Chad Aldeman on ESSA plans. (Plus other ESSA takes).

New documentary on the digital divide – premieres on Nat’l Geo on 9/26. Preview here.

There are a bunch of ways to support Americans in pursuing post-secondary education and training that are more efficient and effective than Berniecrat-style “free college.” But as Anne Kim points out, the free college proposal has the added drawback of being lousy politics as well.

Betsy DeVos can’t win. Here’s Politico:

THE DEVOS EFFECT: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is putting a tiny private school in Kansas City on the map – though maybe not in the way she hoped to do on her “Rethink School” tour this week. DeVos’ first stop today is at the Kansas City Academy, a sixth through 12th grade school of about 76 students with a “progressive” focus. Her stop has drawn plans to protest – from members of the community who the head of the school said likely didn’t know the school even existed before DeVos made plans to visit. “This is very strange for us,” said Kory Gallagher, who heads the school. “We tend to talk about our school as being the best-kept secret in Kansas City.”

– The school is something of an odd choice for a visit from the Trump administration. Gallagher said the Kansas City Academy educates a large number of LGBT students…

OK, it’s not just DeVos, none of us win when people simultaneously deride a public official for being indifferent to a set of concerns and then turn around and protest when that same official makes an effort. You’re going to have to find someone other than me to defend DeVos these days, but this seems unproductive. Or, maybe protest Jeff Sessions instead?

Also, Betsy DeVos waiting for the right time to make her big choice move. And DeVos’ boat is probably bigger than yours.

This tax policy debate in Washington could have a big impact on schools.

Colleges stepping up their rural focus.

Jim Ryan, the current dean at the Harvard GSE, will be the next president of the University of Virginia – he’s deeply invested in the education issue at the K-12 level and thoughtful on it. He’s also young. Huge potential for impact.

Lynx cats. Debating.

Friday Fish Porn – Alaska…

Here’s Jamie Scott of JKAF – the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, based in Boise, Idaho. The foundation does a variety of work, including supporting some of Bellwether’s rural education work. But more immediately, what a fish! She caught it a few weeks ago in Alaska. Also, great hat.

And you’ve seen her here before. This is one of my favorite pics we’ve ever had. And this pic here is just a ridiculous salmon.

Want to see more education types with fish? Hundreds for you right here.

Edujob: Chief Talent Officer @ STRIVE Prep

Here’s a great talent role at STRIVE Prep:

STRIVE Prep is a community of public charter schools that challenges every student to strive for college, and thrive throughout life, by helping them to discover and develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in college and beyond. Founded more than a decade ago on the belief that every child should have access to high-quality education right in their neighborhood, STRIVE Prep has grown to serve to more than 3,700 students, many of whom represent the city’s highest-need populations, in 11 schools.

The team at STRIVE Prep inspires its students to think critically, communicate clearly and collaborate openly, while fueling their curiosity and creativity. Whether students join the community in elementary, middle or high school, STRIVE elevates expectations, promotes a shared sense of responsibility and, above all, creates an environment that protects and promotes the academic, social, and emotional well-being of every child, every day.


STRIVE Prep is in an exciting period of growth and change, pivoting to meet the evolving needs of its students and communities, reaffirming its values, and focusing on the efficacy of its internal systems. In this context, leadership is especially focused on talent. Specifically, STRIVE Prep is committed to attracting, hiring and retaining the most talented, qualified, dedicated, and diverse teachers, school leaders, and staff to join its team and serve its students.

The CTO will inherit a strong and proud team, and have the opportunity to leverage its strengths while shaping the vision and building the systems for STRIVE Prep’s talent function.  S/he will enjoy the support and collaboration of STRIVE Prep founder Chris Gibbons, one of the field’s most inspiring leaders, and a leadership team that fosters a culture centered on grit, passion, purpose, and a shared commitment to every student.


The Chief Talent Officer will be responsible for leading STRIVE Prep’s talent management initiatives, and ultimately stewarding STRIVE Prep’s staff of approximately 500 educators, leaders, and professionals through the entire talent lifecycle.

Learn more and see the entire JD via this link.

Edujob! Vice President Of Data Strategy @ Achieve Atlanta

Here’s a great edujob in an interesting part of the country for school improvement work:

Achieve Atlanta is seeking an experienced analytical and strategic leader to guide the organization’s data collection and analytics, to further strengthen the organization’s data capabilities, and to provide actionable data insights to stakeholders across the city and state in service of the AA mission. With unprecedented access to data across the K-12 and post-secondary levels, fueled by data sharing agreements with 13 distinct, cross-system partners, the Vice President of Data Strategy will have the opportunity to build systems and structures that make possible the sophisticated analysis of a large volume of formless data, and drive an organizational shift from ad hoc consideration of, to an ongoing conversation with, data.

The Vice President of Data Strategy will set the overall vision for AA’s use and impact of data, and be responsible for its execution. Over time, the Vice President of Data Strategy will also work closely with AA’s program team to provide regular data on partner success and individual student performance.

Learn more and how to apply via this link.

Irma Putting A Lot Of Students Out Of School, Gender And Pensions, Intramural Policy Fights, Extramural Charter Fights, Cambridge Coming? More!

10 percent of U.S. school kids not in school yesterday because of Irma. Allison Davis on the trauma issues that will attend to a percentage of them.

Don’t miss Kirsten Schmitz on gender equity and pensions.

Caitlin Emma writes the obituary for the Trump tax credit scholarship idea (though advocates insist the obit is premature). What I find interesting here is that while policy debates like this are often framed in institutional terms – eg it’s Trump against the education establishment, or the Hill against the Administration, or Republicans against Democrats, on issues like this the intramural fights sometimes matter more. There isn’t unity within the administration on this and many at Treasury think it’s a lousy tax policy whatever its merits as an education policy might be. The focus on external fights can obscure that kind of thing – and that kind of thing matters to what happens.


There is a lot of school choice in Wisconsin, Alan Borsuk rolls it up.

Peter Cunningham says don’t get mad, get Eva. But charters really are losing the PR war despite the evidence.

Meanwhile in Newark it seems like all the dudes are getting along again.

Ed industry insider Rob Waldron with some advice for districts to avoid getting ripped off by vendors.

Michael Horn talks with John Danner about his new tutoring project.

Emily Yoffe on race and campus sexual assault. Third in an Atlantic series.

Keep an eye on Cambridge, starting to get traction in American high school sector.

Secret Service agent getting a lot of out of Malia’s European history course.

Teacher Shortages, Title IX Fight, Early Ed, DACA In The Classroom, Not Much Equity In NYC But Concerns About Too Much In VA? Plus Higher Ed, Teacher Salaries, Pensions And More!

Scroll down for jobs and fish pics. Including jobs and fish pics at Bellwether.

Also at BW: Here’s Ashley Mitchell with some reactions and takeaways from the new KIPP pre-k study. And here’s Sara Mead in USN on the 3-k gap.

Chad Aldeman and Kirsten Schmitz on the evolving teacher pension scene and changes to plan design.

Justin Trinidad has ideas on what teachers can do during the DACA uncertainty – and more generally.


Two things jump out from yesterday’s Marc Sternberg op-ed in The Times about the New York Absent Teacher Reserve pool. First, it’s really a horrendous policy and because these teachers won’t end up in schools with more affluent kids it shows just how grotesque the equity situation/conversation in education really is. Second, it’s 2017! It’s amazing we’re still talking about this and it’s not resolved. The best that New York Chancellor Farina could muster was to say of this pool of educators that, “some are actually okay.” That’s probably true, and some now how a scarlet letter on them, but the data Sternberg musters is stunning and, in any event, we can do better.

Speaking of equity – read this article and the analysis underlying it.

Mike Petrilli and Brandon Wright criticize Virginia’s ESSA plan – which is no great shakes. But they seem concerned Virginia will focus too much on helping underachieving students. That doesn’t seem like a big risk given educational outcomes in the Commonwealth and the persistent lack of attention to these students. Better safe than sorry, I guess?

Here’s another article about teacher shortages. Something we’ve talked about in the past is how these stories should come with a disclaimer about teacher credentialing today. Other than tossing warm bodies into the classroom – which you should not do – the rest of the credentialing strategies are more or less a wash in terms of impact on student learning. “Lowering the bar” rhetoric freaks out parents but the bar isn’t really meaningful now, so innovating with ways to get more teachers isn’t crazy against that backdrop.

Betsy DeVos is reopening Title IX campus sexual assault policy. Or more precisely opening it since she apparently intends to use the regulatory process rather than guidance letters to make policy about requirements for how schools handle this. It’s awkward, given that the President seems to be an admitted sexual abuser. DeVos is a lighting rod in general. And everyone is pretty edgy right now. Still, while almost everyone agrees campus sexual assault is a serious problem, the reactionary Trump context is obscuring some complicated questions about how the Obama policy is playing out. Emily Yoffe digs into that in Slate. And, as on several other high-profile social issues there are also court cases pending that may in the end have as much or more impact as anything the administration does.

Interesting interview with Lowell Milken and Vicki Phillips.

And an interesting teacher salary analysis from Brookings.

Paul Hill on David Osborne’s new book and some of the intellectual history around their ideas.

Complicated issues around teachers as product ambassadors and influencers. This is an old story but with clicks a new ed tech flavor to it.

People, teachers and others, tend to assume the legal protection provided by teachers unions for teachers is bulletproof. That’s not the case.

Here’s some food for thought about elite higher education and the rest of the country. And here’s more to chew over about land grant colleges and economic development.  Justin Fox says we’re getting too comfortable with America’s higher education reputation.

Buzzy Kalman says innovate less and execute better more in K-12 schools.

Here is your daily dose of adorable via Harlem Village Academies.

Have a wonderful weekend and if you’re in the southeast, stay safe.

Friday Fish Porn – Weeby’s Back!

Bellwether’s Jason Weeby spent time in Michigan this summer and got some fishing in. Like this:



And like this:


OK, it’s not Nick Adams but still great fun on the water.

We’ve seen Weeby, a Michigan native with a deep interest in education innovation, here before a few times. And if you want to see hundreds of pictures of education people with fish (and you know you do), then just click here.