Monthly Archives: January 2018

DC Is On Simmer…Koch Is Coming…It’s Riley, Aristocrats, More!

Solid Janus preview here.

Nat Malkus on DC. RiShawn Biddle on DC. Behind the scenes a lot of people are asking some hard questions about D.C schools and how widespread the issues like those at Ballou are. It’s not just wonks, local educators and various people with ties to the system are starting to as well. Washington Post is digging in.

Robin Lake on charter growth.

The Koch Brothers are coming!

“The lowest hanging fruit for policy change in the United States today is K-12,” said Stacy Hock, a major Koch donor who has co-founded a group called Texans for Educational Opportunity. “I think this is the area that is most glaringly obvious.”

That’s arguably true in terms of the opportunity to do better. But the politics….it’s not an easy place to drive change in case you haven’t noticed…

In Massachusetts Jeff Riley gets the nod as the next commissioner.

We should be concerned about the pressure kids are under and the increasing amounts of anxiety they are experiencing – and the multiple causes of that. But as Doug Lemov has noted, the push toward getting rid of grades, test scores, and standards at elite schools is a trend worth resisting unless you’re high on the idea of aristocracy. For all their problems objective measures can help increase social mobility as Jennifer Braceras argues here. Soft measures are a social insurance for people already winning the race who want to insulate themselves.

The last graf here is gold.

Mead On Cuomo, WSJ On Vouchers, Poll Positions, John White, Angelica Infante Green, Ed Navigator, Personalized Hype, Charter Laws Ranked, Education Tour! More!

Sara Mead says Governor Cuomo is on the right track on menstrual products and schools.

Education, we’re back baby! Only terrorism stands in our way…But, oh no, here’s another poll that’s more crowded.

Interesting WSJ analysis on vouchers:

“The schools that have 20% to 30% voucher kids and 70% to 80% fee-paying kids, they look more like the private schools that we sort of put on a pedestal—that have very ambitious programs,” says Patrick Wolf, a professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas who has studied private-school choice programs for about 19 years. “Ones that enroll a very high percent of voucher students tend to be low-resourced.”

Some school improvement news out of Louisiana. An interesting thing about our field is that John White has helped drive some great work in Louisiana, behind the scenes most people would agree with that assessment. And yet he’s under constant political pressure from the governor there and everyone is just like, ‘oh well, business as usual.’ Seems like a problem for a sector that wants to get better?

Commissioner endorsement in Massachusetts.

Tim Daly on how talented low income kids fall through the cracks.

Matt Barnum busts personalized learning advocates for some hyperbole. This one is tricky though because, yes, there is a lot of overheated rhetoric – and not just about personalized. On the other hand, we have to think bigger because even the “best” ideas today are not sufficient – despite all the bloodletting about them. We need pro-big ideas, but anti-hyperbole.

Higher ed is unbundling. K-12 still fighting tooth and nail against this kind of thing – which seems like an odd way to build and broaden support for public education. (And yes, I know that per the article linked some (though far from all) homeschoolers are really acidic in their rhetoric about public schools, but we’re talking about kids here, not the politics of their parents).

Here’s an interesting take on school choice in DC – more widespread than most realize, but also more complicated.  And this look at charter schools in the west is worth reading. It’s interesting in terms of growth states and what’s happening there. And, a lot of charter proponents have not wanted to wrestle with a hard question of tradeoffs: Loose authorizing policies create a lot of problems, but also produce some great schools.

Charter school law rankings!

Why are wonks and teachers stocking up on beers and burritos and tuning up VW buses? Yes! The Knowledge Matters School Tour is coming.

Here’s a victory lap on Chicago school improvement. Discuss!

And here’s a look at effects of reformed discipline practices on student learning and discipline. Look for more studies trying to get a handle on this.

Check out Liz Longley. She’s on the road this spring. And pitchers and catchers (and this one) report soon!

Durbin & Ward, Synder On Shootings, DI Pops Again, Pensions, And What Do Ho Chi Minh And The Next Massachusetts Education Commissioner Have In Common?

Bill Durbin and Tresha Francis Ward talk academic strategy work.  Chad Aldeman on teacher pension plans: Expensive doesn’t mean generous. Hailly Korman on school discipline disparities.

Steve Synder on school shootings.

Do charter schools help other schools?

DI metanalysis.

Ho Chi Minh said that he worked in the kitchen at the Parker House hotel in Boston. Jack Kennedy had his bachelor party there. And on Friday aspirants to be the commonwealth’s next education commissioner will do public interviews there. Jonas reviews the bidding on the Massachusetts commissioner search. Three good choices. Related, Lawrence, Mass, is a legit success story but one that I still haven’t seen fully told in terms of the context and conditions underlying it, which is pretty key to the collaboration narrative.

Emphasis on bathroom bills lessening in states along with culture wars. Not surprising because voters punished politicians in both parties who focused on this stuff more than the economy. Looking forward: This is painful for kids today, but will be a non-issue before long. Why? Demographics. Younger voters just don’t care what bathroom someone chooses to use or how they identify in the first place.

College in 2018 – collaboration or competition?

SUPES Academy and undisclosed payments, sound familiar?

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (and former Eduwonk guestblogger) certainly has his hands full lately on the scandal front, but it’s hard to see exactly what the news or scandal is here with this Ken Zeff story. In other words, taping your mistress to workout equipment to get leverage on her with pictures is not the real scandal – no, it’s consorting with charter school supporters!

Norah Jones and Keith Richards.

Posted on Jan 24, 2018 @ 8:47am

“Seats At The Table,” Weisberg’s Tweet Game, And The Odds Don’t Look Good For Teachers Unions At SCOTUS. Plus, Ron Berger On Citizenship And Ed, School Choice Data, Caps #37, More!

We hosted a screening today for this film at Bellwether’s DC office. It’s about an education program in a secure facility in Virginia – and an education for all involved. Contact me if you’d like to be connected with the filmmaker – Chris Farina.

Short the teachers unions?

Look, I don’t want to say the teachers unions are doomed at the Supreme Court in the Janus case before it’s even been argued. And it’s a complicated case and the justices could come down in a variety of ways in. And the Supreme Court sometimes surprises. But…the AFT filed their amicus brief in the case last week, and, well, they cite Valerie Strauss’ reporting in support of their argument. So, yeah, they are probably doomed.

One reason that a lot of people, including a lot on the left, aren’t viewing their case very sympathetically is stuff like this:

While arbitrators agreed that 309 of 773 teachers in these disputes should be dismissed, the report said 454 kept their jobs after being found guilty of verbal or physical abuse of children, excessive absenteeism, breaking rules on test security or other transgressions.

Here’s my apparently evergreen take on the larger dynamics here.

Ron Berger on schools and citizenship.

A column Apple will love: More screen time!

EdChoice on school choice research.

David Lehrer on race and college admissions in California.  And a tricky situation at Ithaca College that raises the question of second chances.

Heads-up parenting. Here’s a nice hockey story.

Must Read Kate Walsh. And Other Stuff

Yesterday I highlighted DeVos’ speech where she laid out her theory of the case. It’s getting a lot of pushback, the NCLB pieces in particular, and from people generally sympathetic to her. You can Google or search Twitter for those.

If you only read one thing today make it this piece by Kate Walsh.

But that’s the impact. We’ve now all drunk the kool-aid and know the new code. Try suggesting to any audience these days that a school’s first obligation to young children is to teach them to read, write, and become numerically literate, and that their teachers should meet a standard that suggests they are qualified to deliver those skills. These academic skills are, if not verboten, now just an aside, emblematic of our once narrow mindset, and too closely connected with The Word We Are Not To Ever Mutter Again: TESTING.

It’s a sure way to lose an audience these days to remind them that tests have merit, not just for accountability purposes, not just because they measure numeracy and literacy, but because they are highly predictive of the quality of a child’s future. (Thank you Raj Chetty and other academic purists.) A few short years ago, reminding an audience of this connection was a rallying cry. Now our eyes avert, we squirm in our seats, and feel the sudden need for another cup of hotel coffee.

Susan Dynarksi is asking hard questions about online learning.

Connecticut’s landmark case overturned.

Here’s a literal blacklist. Something to keep in mind with all the coming Janus euphoria is education management, or the lack of it.

New Pahara cohort. #20 if you like round numbers.

Devon Sproule: Keep Your Silver Shined.

DeVos Makes Her Case, Stay Solvent San Diego! NAEP Debate, Plus Are Coding Boot Camps a Scam? Lockett On King, Eden On Discipline, Minnich Exits, And Denver Pops! More!

Chad Aldeman on San Diego school finance and pensions. Sara Mead with some context on New Jersey pre-k.

Shots! Keep an eye on Denver.

Betsy DeVos made her case to a friendly crowd this week. Insight into what she hopes to do and how she hopes to do it. DeVos has everyone so spun up people are missing interesting things playing out around the country, this Ed Next article looks at two affecting charter school finance.  And Max Eden wants DeVos to salt the earth on school discipline guidance letters. 

New EP fellowships – great opportunity and source of talent if you are an employer. Teach For America is hotly debated but again when you ask principals they say, yeah, sure.

Chris Minnich exit interview.  Scroll down for the JD to be the next ED at CCSSO.

“The Colony” is this show about a future when aliens take over California. Also, ACSA endorses Marshall Tuck for state sup’t in California. Endorsements often matter less than people think but this one is significant given the politics there and the rhetoric of the last campaign.

Are coding boot camps for miners a scam? A new lawsuit says yes.

Phyllis Lockett on a King connection and education. And this HVA video should make you feel good.

Bias in the school district hiring process?

Kvaal and Bridgeland on data and higher ed outcomes. People tend to overestimate what college costs – here’s an effort to change that.

Here’s an old fight bubbling up again. For years there was debate about the NAEP proficiency levels, how they were set and how they were used. It quieted down and NAEP is pretty widely regarded as a good barometer of the education landscape. But, a new report this week wants to start the debate back up again. NAGB responds here.

In more consequential assessment news, PARCC testing in New Jersey in the dock. And more questions being asked about SBAC.

Quality Counts 2018 is out.

Shawn Colvin and Allison Krauss.


All of this tells us something basic about the interdependence of men and nations. Whether we realize it or not each of us is eternally “in the red.” We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. We do not finish breakfast without being dependent on more than half of the world. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for sponge that is provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provide by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs we are beholden to more than half the world.

In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

– Martin Luther King

“The man who was a fool,” 1963

Posted on Jan 15, 2018 @ 9:30am