November 4, 2020

Coming Attractions

We’ve talked a bit about the coming fights to define religious liberty and balance those rights with the rights of individuals, organizations, and businesses in the public space. Those issues will impact schools and an early test is happening at the SCOTUS today with Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.


Early Election Takeaways – Split Verdict On Taxes, Education Implications Abound…

Everyone rested after a quiet evening?

Obviously, the presidential race is still being counted. President Trump’s premature claim of victory last night should offend all Americans, even if he prevails when the votes are counted. It shows why so many, myself included, have such grave doubts about his allegiance to our sacred democratic traditions. More than any other state I’m watching Pennsylvania, it could be the back breaker and then Michigan. It was hard to miss how much time the Biden team was spending in Pennsylvania during the closing week. For now Biden appears to be in a stronger position to get to 270 in outstanding states if mail in ballots hew to historic trends. 270-290 seem reasonable guesses given that Biden needs to win Pennsylvania or not lose both WI and MI, which seems unlikely. And obviously Trump knows this or he wouldn’t have pulled that stunt last night. Still, in 2020, that’s a definite “if” though. It does appear that the five things I mentioned as reasons Trump could pull it out happened to a meaningful degree regardless of the final counts and are why it’s close.

We’ll know soon enough, but in the meantime some things are clear that will impact education. For starters, not only did the Democrats underperform, the Republican Party became more diverse last night, Republican women performed particularly well. And we talked just yesterday about inroads the President might have made – and it appears that happened. “Wokeness” was not on the ballot last night strictly speaking, but it’s clear Democrats and Democratic elites are misreading the country and that has implications for schools.

If you care about equity there is certainly an argument to be made that having the two parties really fighting over various demographics rather than assuming their votes would be a healthy development for America. This is almost certainly good news for school choice and possibly a healthier politics around public services in general.

Senate Democratic candidates underperformed, I had assumed recruitment + a favorable climate + polling would lead to gains. At this point under any scenario Republicans will have a lot of leverage in the Senate if not a majority, and Senator Harris may be spending more time in her old haunts than she had planned if she and Biden win.

This means among other things that a Covid relief package is not going be rammed through – that has implications for schools as Republicans have been muted in their enthusiasm for a lot of new spending there…A lot of mail in votes still to count but John James, the Republican Black businessman and veteran performed well in Michigan. Susan Collins is way ahead of expectations. Assuming Republicans keep control, the choices for chair of the Senate committee that oversees education are going to be interesting.  For Democrats, charter school’s have a new ally with former Colorado Governor John Hicklenlooper winning convincingly. New Arizona Senator Mark Kelly is from a state with a lot of charters.

In California, it appears the referendum to restore affirmative action and the tax reform proposal to raise more money from business property taxes are both going to fail. The affirmative action one in particular will raise hard questions about that issue given that it was a 2020 California electorate with a home state senator on the national ticket. In Arizona the education tax increase on that state’s ballot seems poised to pass in what was a good Democratic night there.

Drug legalization had a very strong night on the ballot with multiple states passing marijuana measures and DC decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms. I noted over at The 74 that regardless of your views on drug policy the inconsistency between federal and state laws and   general evolution of this policy creates some challenges for school administrators.

In Washington State the sex ed referendum passed. Donna Shalala, who is a fine public servant, former university provost and president, and former HHS Secretary for President Clinton was washed out in the wave in Miami-Dade last night. She serves on the House Education and Labor Committee.

More to come but that’s the early version.


November 3, 2020

Pay Attention To Who Wins, And How They Win

Crossposted with The 74’s education live blog, where I will be tonight.

Who wins elections is what matters most, but how they win is important, too. It tells us things about the mood of the country, demographic trends, and how elected officials might govern as they think about future electoral coalitions.

This year there is some evidence in the polls that President Trump may have, surprisingly, increased his support among Black and Hispanic voters, at the margins or perhaps more. We won’t know for some time and in terms of the outcome, any inroads he makes seem likely to be offset by substantial erosion of his support among seniors and college educated voters. Still, it’s worth watching because in a tight election every vote counts – as Democrats learned in Florida in 2018 in the governor’s race where school choice might have made a difference at the margins. Some key swing states could be tight this year and Florida will offer early signals about what’s going on.

Even small changes might matter going forward in our part of the world – education. The median Black voter is, for instance, to the political right of the median white Democratic voter. You see this on a range of issues and it shows up on school choice as well, where Black Americans are more likely to support choice plans than whites and especially progressive whites. The two-party system constrains electoral choices, but that doesn’t mean preferences are not there.

It’s one way that even though education wasn’t much of an issue in the national races this year with everything else going on, the outcome might nonetheless affect education and education politics. That’s especially true if President Trump is not reelected and the Republican 2024 primary starts soon with school choice as a popular policy.



November 2, 2020

Election Projection And Edu, Plus 5 Ways Trump Might Pull It Out

It’s the question: Who do you think will win? For me, with some caveats below, almost all signs point to Biden, with a Democratic Senate of at least 52 and a Democratic House plus new seats. One scenario that will not make Democrats feel good is a 2016 repeat where Trump narrowly wins but the Dems pick up seats in the Senate. The Democrats had strong Senate candidate recruitment this cycle so they’re poised to make the most of what looks like a blue year.

Why? In 2016 Trump was elected with 46% of the vote and since then has done very little to expand his base. Happily for the President some of those votes were concentrated in key electoral states and, as everyone knows, it’s electoral votes that matter. So despite four years of grand theorizing about what Trump’s election said about the United States it may well have just been an accident of circumstances – demand for change, unpopular Democratic nominee, enough noise about scandals to sway some undecided voters, and randomness. Hold the election a few days earlier, or later, and you might get a different outcome. In other words, the President hit an electoral gutshot straight. Those hit, but not a lot. Small differences in votes in a few states and we’d be discussing the likelihood of a second Clinton term right now.

Happily for the President’s opponents, the landscape is different in 2020. For starters, President Trump has been historically divisive and unpresidential. His use of Twitter has cheapened the presidency and a president’s words and his disrespect for norms is potentially catastrophic if it can’t be reset by future presidents. And of course there is his serial inability to even try to bind up the nation’s racial divisions but instead to stoke them. So with no big third party spoilers, a 2020 Democratic nominee who not only is a plausible president but is also not as disked as Mrs. Clinton in 2016, things are breaking the Democrat’s way. There is a guessing game about what demographics Trump might make gains with in 2020 but the bigger story, it seems, is groups where he’s shedding support relative to 2016 – college educated voters and older voters for instance. Continue reading


American Demographics & Education Spending

In The 74 I have an op-ed today about education spending. You wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric, but we’re really at the tail end of a golden age of education spending. Demographics are going to introduce real pressure on that.

Although I did not get into it in the op-ed, there is also a political angle. Public education leaders should be thinking about how to make the system as broadly desirable as possible. The Supreme Court’s Janus decision was not a light switch, but absent legislative changes, the long term trends for teachers’ unions point to less political power even as right now the unions can flex their muscles. That’s a mixed bag as far as education goes but it definitely means less pressure for education spending.

Conversely, more families with a direct stake in the system means more political support for education spending. Antagonizing the charter sector is a luxury public education can ill-afford:, more high-quality choices within the public sector from charters, magnets, theme schools, and autonomous school district -run schools are vital ways to maintain strong support from parents. Likewise fights with home school families about access to courses or high school sports makes adversaries out of possible allies. To compete effectively for resources, public schools will need all the allies they can find and there is a real opportunity to genuinely make public schools a provider of first choice in more communities.

Instead there are too many examples of making adversaries out of would-be allies. Political support alone doesn’t obviate the demographic challenge, it’s one part of any strategy to address the consequences.


October 26, 2020

Edujob: Director of Operations At Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson

Here’s an ops edujob: Director of Operations At Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson.  As you might expect, the role is in Paterson, NJ.

From the JD:

Director of Operations reports directly to the Principal and takes ownership of all non-academic areas of school-based administration. Director of Operations who successfully meet this standard will ensure that the school principal can focus his/her energies entirely on instructional leadership, and other critical school matters.

Learn more and how to apply here.


October 23, 2020

Edujob: Chief Executive Officer Rocky Mountain Prep

Here’s a great school job in a great location: CEO at Rocky Mountain Prep.

Rocky Mountain Prep is four K-5 charter schools in Denver and Aurora, CO serving about 2,000 students. Well-regarded founder James Cryan is transitioning but staying through this school year to ensure a smooth transition. Search is underway for the next CEO.

The schools are known for their high-touch and family friendly culture. For students they celebrate values of Perseverance, Excellence, Adventure, and Kindness and devotion to a blend of “rigor and love” in how the schools are operated.

Goes without saying but wonderful quality of life in Denver!

A JD with more information and how to be considered here.


October 22, 2020