Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Mockingbird Debate Isn’t Past, It’s Prologue

The debate over Biloxi’s decision to ban and then not ban To Kill A Mockingbird was in some ways predictable, but it’s also about coming attractions. I look at that in U.S. News today:

…Few discount its literary and historical merit, it won a Pulitzer, but its value as part of the canon of books American public school kids read is more contested. Most recently, school officials in Biloxi, Mississippi removed it from the reading list after parental pressure and then subsequently restored it after pressure from the other side and a high-profile debate. Still, you need a permission slip to read it there now.

We’ve had fights about what to teach in public schools as long as we’ve had public schools. And controversial books are frequently under fire – “Huckleberry Finn” is a perennial target along with “Mockingbird.” Lately this debate is seen as a symptom of the growing affinity for safe spaces and the idea that education should be free from troubling ideas.

Really, though, it’s an old story. What’s new is the coming collision between the education field’s growing attention to curriculum and our broader debates in society today…

You can read the entire thing right here. You can find me on Twitter and tell me what books you’d ban or why the Satanic Verses was a masterpiece @arotherham.

To Ban A Mockingbird! Justin Trinidad Profile, Valdivia, Bradford, NCLB History, Whitmire Looks Forward, Mitch Chester, More!

In USN I take a look at the recent Mockingbird dust-up and what it might preview about a coming debate in our sector.

What does Justin Trinidad do all day? Funny you should ask! Interview with the Bellwether research assistant here.

Phil & Friends review via GratefulEd.

Richard Whitmire on charter district collaboration in Texas.

Here’s a nice piece about Mitchell Chester.

Some NCLB history in this John Boehner profile.

Derrell Bradford on what’s next after JanusOutside of the hysterics on both sides, (greatest thing ever or death blow for democracy) people’s take on this seems to owe a lot to how they answer a more fundamental question about the K-12 education sector: Are the teachers unions, in their current posture, more a cause of our educational problems or a symptom of them? If you think the latter you’re more likely to see a less linear path ahead if the SCOTUS strikes down mandatory dues.

Lucia Martinez Valdivia:

Understanding this argument requires an ability to detect and follow nuance, but nuance has largely been dismissed from the debates about speech raging on college campuses. Absolutist postures and the binary reign supreme. You are pro- or anti-, radical or fascist, angel or demon. Even small differences of opinion are seized on and characterized as moral and intellectual failures, unacceptable thought crimes that cancel out anything else you might say.

No one should have to pass someone else’s ideological purity test to be allowed to speak. University life — along with civic life — dies without the free exchange of ideas.

In the face of intimidation, educators must speak up, not shut down. Ours is a position of unique responsibility: We teach people not what to think, but how to think.

 Realizing and accepting this has made me — an eminently replaceable, untenured, gay, mixed-race woman with PTSD — realize that no matter the precariousness of my situation, I have a responsibility to model the appreciation of difference and care of thought I try to foster in my students.


If I, like so many colleagues nationwide, am afraid to say what I think, am I not complicit in the problem?

At Reed and nationwide, we have largely stayed silent, probably hoping that this extremist moment in campus politics eventually peters out. But it is wishful thinking to imagine that the conversation will change on its own…


Actually, the intersectional Left will leave at least one enduring legacy: a generation of university-educated people – “progressive” yet deeply illiberal

On which hunts.

Katzman & Cohen Make You Think, Freeland Fisher Does, Too, And The Satanists Make You…Oppose Corporal Punishment…Low-Income & Higher Ed, Second That Emotion….More!

Hailly Korman does your reading for you and sums up the new National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges report.

John Katzman and Steve Cohen jointly call for economically-based affirmative action in the WSJ.

The lede of this one is worth pausing on:

We disagree in principle about affirmative action. One of us, a frequent fundraiser for Democratic candidates, believes that it’s better for colleges to have a diverse student body that more faithfully reflects the nation; and that we need to counterbalance the impact of poverty on education and opportunity, which often means giving special consideration to minority students. The other, a former Reagan staffer, believes consideration of race is intrinsically unfair and hinders race relations.

Regardless of whether you agree with Katzman or Cohen, ask yourself if you can make both of these arguments in a way that people who hold them would recognize? In other words with nuance and without caricature. Try it. And when is the last time you read an article deeply examining and advocating the view you disagree with? Can you name three prominent analysts associated with each position – even better multiracial and multiethnic figures on both sides? Try this same exercise with three hot-button education issues – say choice and testing, too. It’s PX90 for your mind.

Also, related, collaborative work on the steps universities can take to help low-income students graduate.

But it’s awfully hard to graduate them if they aren’t, you know, enrolled in the first place.

Jeanne Allen very wishy washy on “Backpack Full of Cash.”

People don’t like who Betsy DeVos talks with and where she spends her time.

The department did not name the Dark Overlord in its warning…

Julia Fisher Freeland:

This phenomenon helps explain what reformers often bemoan as a “status quo bias” that frustrates new ideas in education. Although that bias is often cast as a political problem, it is also, in fact, an organizational management problem.

The Satanists are fighting corporal punishment:

The Satanic Temple paid to place a billboard along Highway 281 in Three Rivers that reads, ” Our religion doesn’t believe in hitting children.” There are also images of a pentagram and a goat’s head, which the group usually employs in its displays.

Leaders of the group say the advertisement is directed at the Three Rivers Independent School District board, which voted in July to include a policy regarding corporal punishment. The vote was unanimous.

Phil Lesh & Friends with Nicki Bluhm and Robert Randolph: “Second That Emotion.”

Edujob: Director Of Policy & Research @ TN SCORE

Here’s a great edujob in a state with a lot happening on education: Director of Policy & Research at Tennessee Score. It’s Nashville-based (great town and good education scene), great team, well-regarded organization, big opportunities for creative work and impact. This role reports to SCORE’s president.  From the JD:

Key responsibilities for the Director of Policy and Research position include, but are not limited to:

  • Leading SCORE’s policy and research efforts
  • Ensuring SCORE’s advocacy, policy, and communications efforts are informed by research and best practice
  • Serving as a statewide expert on key education reform policy topics

You can learn more and apply right here.

Libertarian On Libertarian Violence! Basta! Edujobs! Pension Debates, Testing, And Chris Stewart Takes No Prisoners, Plus More!

Scroll down for a bunch of edujobs, more coming soon!

There is a lot of willful misunderstanding or weaponizing of data in the debate over teacher pensions. There are complicated issues and real trade-offs, but straightforward apples to apples comparisons shouldn’t be too much to ask for. Chad Aldeman on one recent report as an example.

Profile of Basta. In the vein of there are not 100 percent solutions but we can cobble together 100 great 1 percent solutions this is the kind of idea that is encouraging. And this is an org and a leader worth watching, will beat back your cynicism.

John King on equity and accountability.

Neil McCluskey tells Megan McArdle to look for someone else to blame in the school choice debate. Scroll down for her argument, linked the other day. This reminds me of the old adage that when libertarians fight it’s the legal weed that gets trampled.

John Grisham’s latest novel is about for-profit higher education.

“I told my kids, you get a rare opportunity to go to school in a wilderness area”

This, from Chris Stewart on New York’s ATR politics:

…Apparently, the usual noisemakers are taking a knee on this one. Without a billionaire to blame, or a school reform nemesis to rally against, this is a rare occurrence of outrage fatigue and activist dereliction. Social justice headquarters is filled with nothing but bystanders now.

Can you imagine what would happen if some enterprising journalist unearthed a secret memo from founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz to her Success Academy principals informing them that they would have to hire substandard teachers as a cost-cutting measure?

The community organizing machine would roar with dramatic accusations of greed, self-interest, racism, and malice.

I reject the cynical, political, and corrupt muteness of people who have never been unfamiliar with microphones, cameras, and theatrics when their pockets are light but hide in the back pews when their funders threaten our children…

Different issue in Chicago – bad information on possible hires as well as possibly insufficient hiring practices. 

Every now and again a study comes along that is so good you don’t want to dig into the methods: This new one on how booze helps you learn foreign languages is an example.

Phil Lesh and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Edujob: Director, Data Science & Insights @ANet

Great edujob here! Director, Data Science & Insights @ ANet. ANet has been quietly getting strong results in the assessment space. This role:

We are seeking a Director to join the Organizational  Effectiveness (OE) team.  The OE team ensures that ANet has the right goals that motivate and drive us to achieve our mission, spearheads our shared organizational focus on improving our core service model, and builds a research mindset and capability across ANet’s internal teams. This role reports to the Vice President, Org Effectiveness and is the ideal position for someone who has a passion for growing an organization’s confident use of data in order to shape strategic decisions and to deepen its long-term impact.

ANet is flexible to remote working, with occasional travel to ANet’s National Office in Boston. Therefore, proximity to the New England area and/or eastern time zone is preferable.

Learn more and how to apply via this link.

Racial Bias And Teacher Expectations, Demographic Burden, McArdle On Choice, CAP On Choice, Fallon’s Marketplace Take, Minnich To NWEA, More!

Racial bias and teacher expectations.

Chris Minnich from CCSSO to NWEA. This is a big deal for both organizations.

This blog has discussed the demographic burden and how in most of the post-war period it’s been investments in young people but that is changing to the costs associated with caring for the elderly as our population changes. Here’s a local look at that in one suburban community. Along with the demand for greater performance and more customization and choice this seems to be one of the three big trends that will impact education going forward.

CAP with a pro-charter school piece. Now the other side can beat them up for a while.  Here’s an interesting take on school choice from Megan McArdle.

And here’s Pearson’s CEO on the education marketplace and Pearson’s position.

This looks like the beginning of confirmation of one of the two theories laid out in this 74 column. Enjoy the documentary.

Allman Brothers, “Into the Mystic.”

Edujob! Founding Executive Director @ Sojourner Truth Public Charter School

Here’s a great edujob and opportunity for impact in Washington, D.C., Founding Executive Director for the Sojourner Truth Public Charter School: 

The Sojourner Truth Public Charter School (“Truth School” or the “school”) is an organization with the mission of fostering a lifetime love of learning and cultivating independence among DC school children, using the student-centered Montessori Method, an evidence-based approach to closing the opportunity gap.

Following that model of success, the school serves the culturally diverse urban population of Washington, DC, and anticipates eventually growing from 7th and 8th grade (junior high school) through 12th grade.

You can learn more about the school, the opportunity, and how to be considered here.