April 26, 2016

Barth Challenges Higher Ed, VA Teacher Data Lawsuit, Pensions Challenge IL, Cruz On Edu, Richmond On Equity, Today In Education Political Counterfactuals, And More. Plus Free Willie!

This video might teach you something about pensions - and it’s must-watch for teachers. New DQC report on student data.

Richard Barth calls on colleges to get serious about helping low-income students get a leg up:

Imagine if leaders at 40 of the most selective colleges in the country stepped up, with a commitment to create 100 new spots at each of their schools and combined that with a significant effort to expose talented low-income students to their institutions. That’s the equivalent of adding two Harvard or Yale freshman classes.

Seats for 4,000 new students might not seem like a lot, on a national scale. But the echo effect in low-income communities, among other colleges, and on the makeup of the nation’s future leadership, would be tremendous.

Parent suing in Virginia over data transparency for teacher performance information prevails.  It’s very easy to misuse data like this so now comes the hard part. But, Virginia officials wouldn’t be in this position if the state were more transparent and parent-friendly with regard to education to begin with. If you think this is a wound, then it’s at least in part self-inflicted.

There seems to be a problem with pensions in Illinois? Emily Richmond on equity and equality. Ted Cruz’s education views. Hailly Korman on a new toolkit to help adjudicated students transition.

Counterfactual of the day: LAT’s Howard Blume looks at Network for Public Education’s decision to hold a meeting in North Carolina rather than boycott over the state’s recent anti-LGBT law. There are ironies on top of ironies with this whole NC episode in terms of corporate behavior individual choices and all the rest and reasonable people can disagree about whether boycotting or not is the best or most effective approach to addressing the new law. But, I can’t help but wonder if all the people ratifying the decision to hold an education meeting there would be as forgiving or giving of cover if it was, say, DFER or Students First or for that matter Pearson or some other unpopular for-profit player who decided to hold a meeting in NC?

In terms of this specific decision my take is more pedestrian: It’s a real hassle to reschedule a conference, scheduling, hotel deposits, non-refundable travel and all, so this is a pretty handy ex-post facto justification to sidestep all that and still have your meeting  - ‘We’re the real heroes here! We were going to the belly of the beast!’

Don’t let the public name anything? The Austin School Board has final say in renaming Robert E. Lee Elementary there but they asked for public input and here is what they got. Trump won in a landslide but there were some inspired choices including Schooly McScoolerson and Willie Nelson Elementary. Boaty McBoatface got a vote, too. Willie is overdue for a school, I could get behind that. Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys is as useful as anything you’re going to get from many ed schools…

Chesapeake Bay whale.


April 25, 2016

The Pope & School Choice, One-L McLaughlin And Research, Aldeman & FAFSA, Opt-Outs, POTUS Ed Policy, Newark, Charter Authorizing, Swing Voters And Edu, When Prince Rocked Gallaudet…Plus Edu Duck Feet.

Education news all over the sector curated here, as it is each weekday, at RealClearEducation.

Pope Francis is a school choice supporter.

In Amoris Laetitia, the pontiff reiterates the church’s teaching that choice in education is a fundamental right of parents who are “called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them,” meaning the state must not deny parents the right to select their child’s educational path, be it public or private, regardless of their financial means.

Here’s a really interesting interview with Michele McLaughlin about education research and policy.  And here’s an awful teaching story from Alaska:

When Jennifer moved to Alaska to teach in a rural village, she didn’t know the state has the highest rate of reported rape in the country. Then, men started banging on her door at night.

Gosh, if only there were actual data on the opt-out movement we wouldn’t have to speculate about demographics. Anecdotes more fun though.

Chad Aldeman has your state-by-state FAFSA data here.  The 74 looks at what’s happening in Buffalo.  Denver school board appointment resolution.

On Friday I took a look at all these education lawsuits in USN.

When it comes to Sanders’ free-college plan is it the wealthy feeling the bern? Bloomberg View says both Dem candidates walking away from K-12:

Neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton is defending one of President Barack Obama’s most important legacies: education reform. Instead of taking on the teachers’ unions, as the president did, both candidates offer an agenda that amounts to spending more and demanding less. It’s not a winning combination.

In Newark, unity or machine politics? Or a new era for charters there?

Perspectives on charter school authorizing and special education.  Survey on swing voters and policy preferences from PPI. Includes education angles.

Here’s some information about adjudicated students in California – that points the need for more information to improve quality for them.

When Prince rocked Gallaudet.

Return of free debate to college campuses.

Teacher 3D prints duck feet. Really.


April 22, 2016

I’ll See You In Court! Why To Expect More Education Lawsuits Via U.S. News

Hoping for fewer education policy lawsuits? I have some bad news. Expect more. I look at why in a new U.S. News & World Report column:

….To some extent, legal battles over schools are nothing new. Special education alone is responsible for the second homes and college educations of the families of education lawyers across the country. Court cases integrated schools, paved the way for federal special education law and sorted out complicated issues like student busing assignments and student free speech and Fourth Amendment rights. Lawsuits about school finance are a full employment program for education attorneys. The current United States Secretary of Education is a lawyer!

Yet today’s lawsuits are something of an evolution. These new suits are not only about fundamental rights but also about sorting out complicated and hotly debated policy questions.

This leads to cries of foul. Some conservatives don’t want courts involved in anything that smacks of policymaking. The teachers’ unions – although themselves not shy about rushing into court – find themselves disproportionately on the receiving end of this latest round of lawsuits. Suddenly judicial restraint sounds better!

Critics are likely to be disappointed. Although it’s a strategy with political and practical risks, look for more, not fewer, lawsuits as education reform evolves. Here’s why…

You can read the entire column here. Who is your favorite eduction attorney? Someone should really market education lawsuit trading cards. You could have a whole pack these days…In the meantime tell me on Twitter who you’d like to sue over schools @arotherham.

Friday Fish Porn – Weather Warming Up, Kosar’s Already On The Water, It’s Back!

It’s warming up, that can only mean one thing around here….fish pictures. That, and the shad run is on in the east. Here’s Kevin Kosar (education analyst, whiskey expert, father extraordinaire, and perennial candidate for mayor of Fish Porn) with a nice one from the Potomac River.

Shad are an amazing fish. Here’s John McPhee’s engaging book about them and their history – and ours.  And a shorter New Yorker article. They are not much for eating, there is an old joke about wood planking them that ends with eating the smoked plank rather than the fish. But for anglers they’re a blast. Strong hard fighting anadromous fish on light tackle, or even better a fly rod. Spring weather. Hard to beat.

So send pictures of you with your fish or in the pursuit of fish. They don’t have to be as literary as the shad. We take all types. And then you’ll be added to the world’s only collection of hundreds of education types with fish they have caught.

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April 21, 2016

No Bard! Shakespeare Is Out At America’s Top Colleges, ACT V. SAT, New York Progress On LGBT, Prince In HS, Pension Problems, Nuance With Mitchel, School Board Meetings, Teaching Challenges, Bear Insults.

Here’s a bit on Prince’s high school days. He was more than just a phenomenally talented musician.

Ladies and gentleman: Your fourth largest school system.

Happy birthday William!

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015” a year ago this month which documented the extent to which the Bard has been barred from the priority list for English majors—both at the top 25 U.S. colleges and universities and at the top 25 U.S. colleges and universities for liberal arts, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. A scant 8 percent of the top institutions nationally require a dedicated Shakespeare course for English majors. Some of these Shakespeare-impaired English majors will eventually teach high school English, and no one seems to care that they will be doing so undereducated and underprepared.

Harvard and UC–Berkeley were the only two among the top 25 schools overall to require Shakespeare for English majors; Wellesley and the U.S. Naval Academy, the only two among the top 25 liberal arts schools.

New York is appointing an LGBT liaison for the school district.

Like a couple of hockey players you knew this ACT/SAT fight was coming.

Here’s an argument for why the volatility associated with public sector pensions is the biggest challenge. It’s an issue, to be sure. But here in education I’d argue instead that the biggest problem is that a retirement system that works for only about 20 percent of the people it touches is just not a very good retirement scheme from a design perspective. Related: Leslie Kan with some good questions on pension finance.

Ashley Mitchel looks at a complicated pre-K/charter issue in New Jersey:

The decision here isn’t obvious. And it shouldn’t be, unless you’re mindlessly pro- or anti-charter.

The idea of charters supporting students in college isn’t a new one but it’s now getting some attention.

Trigger warning for parents: Your kid may not be doing as well in school as you think.  Great moments in school board meetings.  Rick Hess is very upset with Arne Duncan.

OK, here’s a classroom management challenge you don’t see every day.

How to properly insult a bear. 


April 20, 2016

Today: Featuring Lawyers Arguing About Vergara! Plus Engaging Veteran Teachers, Petrilli V. Duncan, Barnum On LA Charters, Character Labs Edujobs, Better Blogging, And Is Boaty McBoatface Already On A Shoal?

I encourage you to show a bit of grit and check out the edujobs at Character Labs below.  Application window for the next Bellwether Better Blogging training is open.

Sharon Archer on engaging veteran teachers. Here’s Matt Barnum on charters in LA. Ignore though, it’s nothing but evidence. Mike Petrilli v. Arne Duncan. Bard debaters win again.

Chiefs for Change on Direct Student Services in ESSA.

Lawyers, arguing about Vergara:

Dmitri Mehlhorn:

Justice Boren’s understanding of the term “inevitably” appears to be sharply different from the Court’s holdings in Serrano. After all, it was conceptually possible for low-income neighborhoods to spend substantially higher portions of their incomes on property taxes. To be sure, they would “tend to” avoid doing so because of the costs and consequences, but it would have been conceptually possible for them to do so. By Justice Boren’s logic, their failure to do so was their local failure, not the failure of the California public treasury to equalize local property taxes. Justice Boren thus ignored the clear meaning of the term “inevitably” from Serrano as “inevitably given the evidence, and given a realistic and fact-based understanding of human behavior.”

Hailly Korman:

When the plaintiffs made the decision to advance a facial challenge, they took on the burden of proving that “no application of the statute would be constitutional.” In order to do so, they would have to prove that the operation of these teacher tenure laws inevitably led to the harms shown.  Proving that the harms occurred and that students suffered isn’t sufficient.  And proving that the laws contributed to them, or created the circumstances for them to occur, or made it difficult to have any other outcome also isn’t enough.

But when this court repeatedly signaled their disappointment with the high bar that plaintiffs set for themselves in choosing this approach, they may have been suggesting that they would be more sympathetic to an “as applied” challenge to the same laws.  Smart plaintiffs will take note.

Go ahead, just dial a Swede.  Boaty McBoatface is already sailing in treacherous waters.


Edujobs – @TheCharacterLab

Character Lab is growing and they’re hiring, five really interesting roles open now:
  • Director of Communications
  • Director of Design
  • Director of Education
  • Director of Research
  • Operations Coordinator

This is a great chance to be right in the middle of some of the most interesting work in education right now especially as policymakers are paying more attention to non-academic aspects of learning and, more specifically, to Angela Duckworth’s work.

About the Character Lab:

The mission of the Character Lab is to advance the science and practice of character development so that all children develop to their fullest potential.  To more fully realize our interdisciplinary vision, the Character Lab moved its physical headquarters from New York City to Philadelphia. Coincident with this move, Angela Duckworth assumed her current leadership role as Scientific Director and Donald Kamentz, a two-decade education veteran most recently with the YES Prep public charter school system in Houston, is the new Executive Director.

We have an ambitious new strategic plan, through which we will radically increase the quantity of applied research on character development, create innovative measures of character for use by both researchers and educators, and create effective and easy-to-use character development tools for educators, among other important initiatives.

You can learn more about these roles and the Character Lab here. 


April 19, 2016

Better Blogging Applications Open Now! Combative CREDO, Rhode Island, Duncan At G’Town, Ed Tech On The Inside, Forced Marriage And Pensions In Charters, Evidence And Federal Agencies, Rhames On Chicago, Lead, KIPP, 100K in 10, Cub Reporters And Big Cats!

Applications are open for the next Bellwether blog training – it’s in July.  Application deadline 5/2.  Apply ASAP, this is always over-subscribed by a substantial margin.

Marilyn Rhames is all over what’s happening in Chicago. She asks who the kids belong to anyway? And calls for a bit of political disarmament.

CREDO pushing back on misuse of its data and findings. They haven’t always done this as their results have been widely and wildly abused. And this one went out in an email blast as well.

Here’s a user-friendly guide to talking about standards via 100k in 10.  Who is using evidence? Federal What Works Index from Results For America. KIPP results.

Hailly Korman on how ed tech can help adjudicated youth. NSNO on equity and quality in the next generation of school improvement work in NOLA.  Again, the overseas student scam. Mike Petrilli says education improvement is not just about policy! Paddling still happens in schools.

Yesterday Arne Duncan and I talked school finance and education more generally at Georgetown.

Anyela Aquino can play volleyball. And a New York judge just said she can play volleyball with the boys. Broader implications than just this instance.

It’s easy to see this as just a charter – district flashpoint story.  But it’s really a story about how a pension system designed for one era is a bad fit for today.

This would never happen in Grosse Point! Actually, lead in Grosse Point. There is certainly a class and race angle to environmental issues in many communities but you’re missing the story of what a mess we’ve made if you think that is all there is to it. Check out how close you probably live to a Superfund site…

Things quieting down in Rhode Island:

Ken Wagner, the state’s new education commissioner, has also adopted a more conciliatory tone, which, superintendents say, has had a calming effect on families and educators alike. Wagner this winter said his agency isn’t going to get into “coercive battles” with families over refusal to take the test. If a student refuses, then that child should be given another activity that doesn’t feel punitive.

“We’re not giving permission to opt out. Last year, we did,” said Chariho Supt. Barry Ricci. “We planned all of these alternative activities. It was chaotic. This year, if students refuse, they sit in the testing environment and read.”

Someone give this kid a contract!

This is odd:

Auditors questioned, for example, the use of school funds to pay a $566,803 settlement to a former teacher who sued the organization for wrongful termination after she was directed by Okonkwo to travel with her to Nigeria to marry Okonkwo’s brother-in-law for the purpose of making him a United States citizen.

Great big kitty visits high school.


April 15, 2016

Vergara Down! Can We Even Know What Tenure Is? Edujobs, Board Appointments, Hansel/Pondiscio On Literacy, CTE, TFA, Closures, Parental Involvement, And What Boycott? Another Animal On The Run!

At Bellwether we work to put out and organize a lot of information for you. Our own publications can be found here, a lot of information on teacher pensions can be found here, and we work with RealClearPolitics and curate education news from around the sector two times each weekday here at RealClearEducation. And look for a new site soon…

Some new edujobs here.

Vergara overturned on appeal. Underneath all the rhetoric about the Vergara case the legal question was whether the California laws in question violate California’s constitution. The plaintiff’s argument would have extended a line of legal analysis about how courts should interpret those statutes. At the original trial a judge ruled for the plaintiffs. Yesterday an appellate court said they hadn’t met that burden. The appellate court said that the plaintiffs had failed to show the statutes specifically impact certain groups of students and instead that the problem was how school administrators implement them. Somewhat ironically, if you want to see a more expansive interpretation of due process rights – as many on the political left do –  the ruling is a setback. But because this is education we’re talking about, and teachers unions in particular, the politics instead break in politically predictable ways.  The case now goes to California’s Supreme Court.

From the decision (pdf):

Although the statutes may lead to the hiring and retention of more ineffective teachers than a hypothetical alternative system would, the statutes do not address the assignment of teachers; instead, administrators—not the statutes—ultimately determine where teachers within a district are assigned to teach. Critically, plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students.

With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes. The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are “a good idea.” (McHugh v. Santa Monica Rent Control Bd. (1989) 49 Cal.3d 348, 388.) Additionally, our review is limited to the particular constitutional challenge that plaintiffs decided to bring. Plaintiffs brought a facial equal protection challenge, meaning they challenged the statutes themselves, not how the statutes are implemented in particular school districts. Since plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the statutes violate equal protection on their face, the judgment cannot be affirmed.

More analysis – with some really key insights –  from Bellwether’s Hailly Korman – who litigated the Reed case in LA back in her days as a barrister.

A similar lawsuit filed in Minnesota this week. But this one is sparking an outbreak of Campbell Brown derangement syndrome:

Campbell Brown “continues to do the bidding of her monied donors,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement Wednesday. “Tenure doesn’t give anyone a job for life; it’s about ensuring fairness and due process in the workplace,” Weingarten said. “Stripping teachers of workplace protections will harm, not help, those students most at risk.”

Yet here’s Weingarten herself on tenure:

“It has effectively become in some places a job for life, which is wrong,” said Weingarten.

OK, then. Maybe it’s a metaphysical question? Really, what is tenure anyway… ? People say education is too slow to change. When it comes to the politics I feel like if you take a day off you’re suddenly behind the game. In any event, if you just want to focus on how adult politics drive American education, well, that’s your job for life. Why are we even talking about Campbell Brown here? This is about laws in Minnesota not people in New York!

John King’s curriculum speech sparks this from Hansel and Pondiscio on curriculum broadening and literacy. Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard on the challenges of recruiting.  New analysis on the effects of school closures in New York.  Parental involvement may hurt rather than  help!

A lot of people and organizations boycotting North Carolina in the wake of its recent anti-LGBT law – but school reform critics not amongst them.

It seems there is a consensus around the importance of CTE and existence of good post-secondary opportunities that are not just four-year colleges. Here’s a Times op-ed today on exactly that. But less discussed is the question of how you let young people make genuine choices about different paths but then also leave the door open for them to reconsider those choices a few years later.  That’s where CTE programs that also maintain an academic focus are key. They have good outcomes and account for the reality that many young people don’t yet have a clear sense of how they want to spend their lives (and the decisions run both ways, plenty of people subsequently decide college isn’t the right path, too).

Interesting situation in Denver around a board appointment.

This animal escapee looks a lot less adorable and quite a bit more dangerous than the Finding Nemo-like Octopus from earlier this week.


Edujobs! Broad Academy And Alliance College-Ready Public Schools

Three interesting and impactful edujobs:

At The Broad Center they are seeking a Managing Director, Alumni & Network Services and a Managing Director for the Broad Academy.  These are both great roles overall but you also get to work with Becca Bracy Knight who is a terrific leader in our sector.

The Broad Academy (TBA) is a highly selective, advanced professional development program for talented, innovative leaders from across the nation. The Academy works with these transformative leaders to drive dramatic gains in student achievement in large-city school districts, high-performing urban public charter school systems, state and federal education agencies, and public turnaround systems.

In California, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools are seeking a  Chief Talent Officer.
The first Alliance campus opened in 2004 at the corner of Western and Martin Luther King Blvd. with a small group of dedicated educators serving a few hundred families who wanted something better for their children. Today, with more than 6,000 graduates, Alliance is the largest nonprofit charter organization in Los Angeles, providing opportunities and access for nearly 12,000 low-income students across 27 free, high-performing, public charter high schools and middle schools.

April 14, 2016

Education Books, King On Narrowing, MN Teacher Lawsuit, Turnaround Troubles, Pearson, Normalizing Pre-K Debate, Hamilton For Students, And More! Also, Caught Snake & Escapee Octopus

So there is a new romance novel based on New York’s infamous Rubber Rooms. Can’t wait to read but the bar for good education novels is quite high. For instance, there was an amazing one about No Child Left Behind and erectile dysfunction that really set a standard.

Speaking of books, Grapes of Wrath, a book that has enchanted or frustrated many a student, was first published on this date in 1939.

John King is giving a speech today calling for a more well-rounded curriculum. It’s worth reading as there is some nuance in it about the situation. And who can be against well-rounded curriculum anyway? That’s like being against ice cream. But, it’s worth noting that all the things states say they’re doing or advocates say they want states to do, well, they could do them under No Child Left Behind, too.

When it comes to teacher pensions 20 years of experience is not always the same as 20 years of experience. A lot depends on when you started and finished teaching.

This is not Minnesota nice! Another lawsuit over teacher policy, this time in Minnesota. CA, NY, now MN, three’s a trend right? Meanwhile the governance circus in Maine continues.

It’s really hard to turn around low-performing schools. AIR looks at that. Sure seems odd that given what we know about turnarounds and that everyone can’t seem to hashtag social mobility and inequality enough there is still not anything approaching a consensus on opening new high quality options for underserved students and their families…

I haven’t linked to the latest in this AFT versus Pearson shareholder dispute because it’s just so absurd – and not even in the ‘isn’t life wonderful?’ sense. Just absurd. The way union leaders talk about Pearson you’d think they were shorting the stock but in practice they and their affiliates are long on it – and really not doing their fellow shareholders any favors. But apparently people do want to know! I actually get emails asking ‘what’s that about?’ So if you’re interested Morning Education had the latest yesterday.* Anya Kamenetz looks at Pearson’s global work in Wired but mostly through the lens of how the U.S. sees things not the global reality for parents and students.

Bob Costrell on generational inequity and teacher pensions. Neerav Kingsland on RCTs. Paul Hill on wrap-around services.

Democratizing Hamilton. If you’ve checked out ticket prices for Hamilton on the secondary market, the only place they’re really available right now, there is a certain irony at play. Now an effort to make the musical accessible to students.

Sara Mead asks for a productive debate about pre-k education (give her a pony, too)?

In our highly fragmented early childhood system, some preschool programs have adequate resources to deliver quality programs, and many more do not. Expectations for quality also vary widely, both across funding streams and individual providers. In this context, asking whether “pre-K works” is as pointless a question as asking whether fourth grade works. Anyone familiar with Raj Chetty’sEric Hanushek’s or Dan Goldhaber’s work on variation in K-12 teacher effectiveness knows that there is a tremendous variation in children’s experiences in K-12 classrooms and the impact on their learning. By the same token, however, no one familiar with this research argues that our inability to guarantee quality fourth-grade teaching for all students means we should abolish fourth grade altogether.

The far more productive question, then, is, how do we make quality pre-K available at scale?

Here is a very long snake. This octopus is on the lam.

*Good a time as any for a standing disclosure that I don’t actively invest in education companies. Too many potential conflicts with my work. I do index funds. Boring, I know.


April 13, 2016

Clinton’s Education Comments Not As Crazy As You Heard On Twitter, Go Denver, Success Academy Jackpot, Semantics, Some Antics, Pensions, Trump Bro’s, Happy Birthday TJ!

Tomorrow’s news today: Kaitlin Pennington previews teacher quality in HEA. Betsy Arons looks at why HR matters.

Educated citizenry: It’s Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. He was born on this date in 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia. To Sir, With Love: On this date in 1964 Sidney Poitier won a Best Actor Academy Award. His first and the first for a black man.

I heard a strange sound last night, then I realized it was heads exploding. First more than 20K parents want their kids to go to Success Academy next year and then someone gives them $25 million! It must feel like a terrible acid trip for poor Kate Taylor. A giant teacher dressed like Eva Moskowitz chasing her down the street with a video camera and a huge check…

Chad Aldeman on the lousy deal of Illinois teacher pensions and some options for improvement. What’s the average teacher pension in your state? We can tell you but it’s not very useful information.

Massachusetts teachers’ union president in exquisite limbo.  Another merger: EIA joining with SIIA. People are frustrated with student loans.  No way! There is pushing and shoving and theater on ESSA implementation?  Denver is a quiet success story on charters that seems to have largely escaped notice by the chattering class.

Today in ‘maybe consider private school….’

“We, as a board, must move away from what was the so-called … reform movement,” Rosa said shortly after the regents elected her chancellor. “I say, welcome the transformers.

Who knew America’s education problem was semantics? So much easier to solve!

There is a problem with political correctness on campus but Donald Trump has hijacked the issue in some not helpful ways. Don’t believe me? Meet the Trump Bro’s.

Hillary Clinton and education policy*: Rinse, Repeat. Another round of freaking out about Hillary Clinton and education policy. Then the campaign says, no, no, not what you think, she’s a reformer. Then everyone waits for the next time. In this round here’s Matt Barnum looking at the push-off from Obama’s Education Secretary over Common Core. Here’s Jonathan Chait in NY Mag on testingAnd here’s Laura Waters. You can Google for more.

I’ve been as dismayed as anyone by some of what the Clinton campaign has said (and not said) on education policy but the ritualistic quality of these regular dust-ups is obscuring some nuance. In this case, when asked about opt-out Clinton said she wouldn’t want her granddaughter opt-ed out. If you’re just knee-jerk anti-testing person or in full pander mode you don’t say that – especially in New York right now. And is anyone really going to argue that the Common Core rollout was not a mess politically and substantively. It doesn’t undercut the merit of the standards or the argument for improving schools more generally but Secretary Clinton making that point is hardly from left field. As of now it’s unclear if reformers have learned the lessons of all that yet. The opponents were outrageous but there were plenty of unforced errors, too.

Meanwhile, President Clinton’s comments on testing are complicated. He’s not correct about accountability and measuring growth absent annual testing. You need annual testing for these kinds of systems to be implemented in a rigorous way and the analytic leverage they provide for educators, parents, and policymakers is hard to overstate. But more fundamentally what he seemed to be basically saying is that while today’s tests help students at the bottom of the achievement gap they are creating something of a ceiling for higher achieving students. It was clumsy how he said it but Clinton is a former Commander in Chief not a former school superintendent. Where there is room for legitimate disagreement is whether that ceiling problem is inherent to tests or just what’s going to happen in a low-capacity system where a lot of teachers are struggling to deliver the kind of instruction students need. (All the great teachers who get strong results and don’t just teach to the test and drill suggest it’s more the latter as does some research.)

Because low-achieving students (and racial, economic, and ethnic achievement gaps) are scattered throughout the system and not just concentrated in a subset of schools getting rid of testing or even paring it back a great deal is not a satisfactory answer if you are concerned about equity. And it’s worth remembering that most of the tests and state and local not federal. The problem is, of course, especially politically complicated because suburban parents who paid a lot for their houses don’t want to hear that their schools are not as good as they think. But there is a puzzle here. And President Clinton was on firm footing suggesting better teacher training might help solve it.

Seems like one byproduct of the episodic treatment of education in the campaign is that it sets the stage for these kind of flash fire moments because the candidates are not pressed to really explain their views and asked probing follow-up questions the way they are on some other issues. The 74‘s candidate forum was revealing in this way and it’s unfortunate the Democratic candidates didn’t participate in the one in Iowa with the Des Moines Register and The 74. Who knows, a real debate and conversation about education might be useful!

Big not fish.

*Relevant disclosures: I worked at the White House for President Clinton, supported Secretary Clinton in 2008 and think she’s clearly the most qualified candidate this time around. And I’m on the board of The 74. I also think Jon Chait says a lot of smart stuff about education even though I’ve heard on Twitter that his wife works in this sector or is a privatizer so I shouldn’t listen to him or he’s her cat’s paw or something.


April 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Spelman! Massachusetts Charters Tell Us Something, Survey Data, Restorative Justice, Credit Recovery, Feminist Sororities, Rural Teachers, Rescue Wolverines & Hockey Playing Dogs

It’s April 11. Two impactful education anniversaries to note. On this date in 1881 Spelman was founded in Atlanta, initially as a seminary.  The Apple I computer was released on this date forty years ago. Today is also the Red Sox’s home opener in Boston.

Speaking of Massachusetts, the next time you hear someone say they just ‘follow the evidence’ or ‘it’s all about the kids,’ ask them about charter schools in the Bay State. The sector gets strong results, there is strong parental demand, and yet the very same political opposition remains.  You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the ethos that holds this sector back.

Online credit recovery evaluated. Trigger warning if you love online credit recovery.

Backdrop to the Success Academy/charter debate:

More than 20,000 students have applied for the 3,228 available spots, according to data from the network of charter schools.

In various ways, that are inconvenient for all sides in the charter debate, the issues play out on the ground differently than they do on Twitter.

New survey data from The Leadership Conference Fund on African American and Latino parents and education (pdf). Beth Hawkins iUSN on Restorative justice.

Different strategies for enticing teachers to rural areas. Loan forgiveness is fine, but other initiatives around housing might help as well?

Interesting Motoko Rich take on the portrayal of teachers in the media: great or goat. But is that really surprising? No one is making a musical about William Crawford…it’s human nature. The real complaint seems to be that shows about teachers don’t actually portray teachers teaching. Yes, but that seems true across the board for television? And who would watch teaching anyway? After all, do you really watch Deadliest Catch to see pot after pot of crab get unloaded or do you tune-in for the human drama, the weather, arguments, and all the other things that happen on a commercial fishing boat? Or a show like Road to the Winter Classic profiling teams getting ready for the NHL’s marquee New Year’s Day match-up. You’re more likely to learn how a team’s Sweedish players celebrate the holidays than to see set plays or drills during practice. I might misremember but I don’t think George Clooney did a whole lot of surgery on ER?  The point is that even reality shows, never mind other shows, don’t show a lot of reality. Besides, unless you’re into the craft of it actually watching teaching (or crab catching, hockey practice, or surgery) isn’t a path to ratings.

Feminists flocking to sororities?

Avalanche rescue wolverines. Dachshunds playing hockey.


April 8, 2016

Who Advises Trump On Education? Plus Reform Movement “Officials” Revealed, Must-Read Dynarski, Opt-Outs, Raimondo Rocks, Ed Research, WA Charters, Teacher Pensions And Social Security, Charters, Farmers, False Klansmen, And It’s Time For Fish Pics!

This July there will be another Bellwether Better Blogging training.

Important Susan Dynarski column looking at racial disparities in gifted education.

Apparently the education reform movement has “officials.” Who knew? Do they get uniforms and insignia and stuff? I hope so.

Officials involved with what has become known as the education reform movement expressed concern over a statement this week by former President Bill Clinton about his wife’s view of mandatory testing.

Maybe at least there are 1980s vintage dictator hats? Otherwise, seems like a waste.

Donald Trump has secret health care advisors who,

Instead, Mr. Clovis said in an interview, Mr. Trump is receiving advice on health care policy from at least a half-dozen “very prominent people,” but he declined to name them. “They are not ready to have their support of the Trump campaign known,” Mr. Clovis said.

Trump says an education speech is coming, is the same thing happening?

Think education research doesn’t matter? Pushback from Ruth Curran Neild. But Rick Hess jumps on AERA just in time for the annual meeting!

Gina Raimondo continues to flash real spine.

Evergreen: Federal teacher prep regs delayed again.  Sawchuk here. Politics K-12 with running updates on the ESSA regulation negotiations.

If you are concerned about having skills that are marketable long term in a rapidly changing economy I might suggest litigating charter school laws in Washington State as something you’d want to look into.

A look at the real teacher pension problems in Illinois.  Because 40 percent of teachers do not participate in Social Security polices like the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset affect them. Leslie Kan with a plain English look at those.  Really just another reason to work to ensure everyone is enrolled in Social Security.

Estimated Prophet: Don Shalvey on why he’s still betting on California. Karin Chenoweth goes personal on opt-outs. Patrick Riccards does, too. Christine Campbell on education and community engagement in Baton Rouge. More on Massachusetts charters debate. Some of what you get rewarded for in school may not help you later. 

Are adult hobbies impacting kids?

It’s time to start sending fish pictures for this blog but please handle ‘em gently!  Here’s a benefit play about farmers and benefiting farmers.

Dude just wanted some frozen yogurt. 


Next Bellwether Better Blogging Training – July 2016

Next Bellwether blogging training is July 5-6 in Washington, D.C. Starts afternoon 5th. We try to do a summer one to ensure access for teacher bloggers because it’s hard to put them together logistically for weekends. So hold those dates if you’re interested and look for application materials later this month. This training is always at least 4x oversubscribed so don’t delay in applying. This training is strictly viewpoint neutral and selection is based on opportunity to benefit. Here are what some past participants say about the training:

“It was an extremely enriching professional development opportunity that I have been and will continue to be incorporating into my work. As a result of the training, I am now writing a memo and preparing to hold a meeting with colleagues about how we can refine our blogging and social media strategy. “ –Zachary Malter, American Youth Policy Forum

“The Better Blogging training should be required professional development not only for education bloggers but also communications professionals. While the training covered what I expected, like tips on topics ranging from headline writing to social media promotion, it also offered me strategic advising on how to completely rethink my organization’s blogging fellowship and guest blogging program, as well as our approach to communications more broadly. Since I attended the training, we have become much more thoughtful about the voices and ideas we elevate–on our blog and beyond.” – Ari Kiener, MinnCAN

“The Bellwether Better Blogging conference was a great opportunity to meet influential professionals engaged in promoting their voices and perspectives online, and to learn from them how to better promote and refine my own classroom-based perspectives on education reform.” – Mark Anderson, New York City middle school teacher and blogger

“The Better Blogging seminar greatly improved my writing. I am blogging more concise, poignant pieces and my voice as a teacher has gained greater confidence. I am now starting to network online and build a loyal readership.” – Marilyn Rhames, blogger at Education Post and alumni support manager at a Chicago charter school

“I left feeling inspired and equipped to implement new strategies for getting my voice out there. I appreciated the quality of the presenters, the diversity and expertise of the other attendees, and the time that each of you took to make sure that everybody was getting what they needed out of the conference.” – Luke Foley, 2014 Vermont Teacher of the Year

“Was some of the best training/professional development I’ve ever received…and in such a short amount of time!” – Brianna Crowley, high school English teacher, Hershey, PA, and blogger

“The training gave me the tools to make my organization’s blog stand out from the crowd. The presenters offered insights into not only creating content that jumps off the page, but also marketing it so that it attracts the widest audience and has the biggest impact. I go back to tips from the training on a daily basis, as I’m creating headlines, promoting our blog on social media, and talking to teachers about how to tell their stories most effectively.” – Kate McGovern, Teach Plus


April 7, 2016

PostSecondary And Higher Ed, Free Edits, Opt-Outs, Charters Stranger Than Fiction, Mathematica Evaluates Everything, ACT/SAT, Plus Commercial Fishing

A lot of higher education news today, it’s curated for you at RealClearEducation. It’s cold and rainy in D.C. and doesn’t feel like baseball weather but it’s also the Nationals home opener. And it’s Bobby Doerr’s birthday. He is 98 today. In birthday news closer to the education world today’s the birthday of a terrific education public servant who we won’t name here but who also moonlights as a race car driver. Happy birthday to her!

Everyone knows there was a golden age of retirement security for workers, right? Actually it’s a myth. Chad Aldeman explains here.

Before that are you sprinting, wandering, or straggling into a career? Jeff Selingo with a really interesting look at all that in 2016.

Tim Daly with a measured take on opt-outs. Strong opt-out pushback here highlighting the inescapable race/class dimensions. Marc Magee and Vallay Varro on what’s next in ed advocacy. Checker Finn says Trump is putting education reform at risk.

Post-secondary: Ed Trust looks at what happens to students after high school. Ed Week on that here. Ed Post: Remediation is expensive. Mathematica looks at college attainment and early career earnings of charter school graduates.  Charters have hardly solved the college going and college graduation problems facing low-income Americans. But some are making a dent. There is something to learn there if everyone would take a break from the stale debates.

Also today in ‘if you’re a hammer everything is a nail:’ HBO’s “Togetherness” as a charter school propaganda vehicle. I like the show well enough, but if it’s supposed to be charter propaganda it’s not good at it. But who needs fiction? Charter quality in Massachusetts very good, parents want more charters, yet it’s a big political circus.

I heard a household name Silicon Valley leader say recently how great it was that we’d solved the broadband problem. That will be news to a lot of rural educators.

Newtown teacher arrested on gun charge at school.  Mathematica with education results for girls in Africa.

SAT and ACT heading to high school market more:

“The testing companies are making a land grab,” said Scott Marion, the executive director of the Center for Assessment, a nonprofit that helps states design and evaluate tests.

Department of Education struggles to hold sham universities accountable, meanwhile Department of Homeland Security is setting them up.

This is awesome. Diane Ravitch writes:

Whitney Tilson and I don’t usually exchange emails. He is one of those hedge fund managers whom I often complain about; he is a big supporter of KIPP, TFA, and charters, and he frequently lambastes me (I never speak ill of him). But Whitney reaches out once in a while to tell me we have found common ground. For example, I complimented him when he publicly acknowledged that the online charter chain K12 does not offer good education. I liked that.

The context here is Whitney’s strong opposition (which I share) to the recent rash of discriminatory laws being passed in the south around the LGBT community. But really…so here at no charge is an edit of that graf to make things a little more clear if you’re scoring at home:

Whitney Tilson and I don’t usually exchange emails. He is one of those hedge fund managers whom I often complain about; he is a big supporter of KIPP, TFA, and charters, and he frequently lambastes me (I never speak ill of him but I do allow people to use my blog to call TFA murderers, say all manner of outrageous things about KIPP and charters, and use “hedge fund” as a pejorative. But anyway that’s them not me….But Whitney reaches out once in a while to tell me we have found common ground. For example, I complimented him when he publicly acknowledged that the online charter chain K12 does not offer good education  he was making a killing exploiting K12′s mistakes and short selling the company’s stock! I liked that.

How sweet.

Earlier this week in USN I took a look at internships, quality, and equity. 

Commercial fishing today. The Times on Sturgill Simpson. The entire audio and film of the Apollo 17 trip to the moon.


April 4, 2016

When The Narrative Doesn’t Fit: Trump And Education Reform Or CIA Dogs And Discipline, Internships, Karim Ani On OER And Bryce Harper, Magee, Kingsland, Chalking News, Bears And Unicorns

At U.S. News I take a look at internships, should they all be paid in all sectors of the economy?

Interesting! New Mexico calling out AFT on PARCC ties.* (This does seem like the kind of story the financial press would have a field day with.)

Karim Kai Ani is writing letters to friends on various issues and questions. This one (to me) is about how philanthropy could help get free and open resources to where they need to be on the quality side. Also features Bryce Harper!

Hey kids! No college degree? No problem! Get badged or boot camped or something and head to Silicon Valley. Gates, Zuckerberg, and Jobs didn’t have one! Or, well, maybe that’s not such a hot idea. Turns out they like degrees there, too. Again, when people  start telling  you not to do something that worked for them, at least be suspicious.

Michael Magee on the conversation we should be having in education. (Problem is, you could have basically written this same op-ed in 2006. This isn’t a divorce, it’s the Hundred Years’ War). Neerav Kingsland on his first nine months as a grant maker. At Emory most communication now apparently via chalk. All this can be yours for just $50k a year! We’re not good at teaching sex ed.

Here’s a story about authentic assessment for dogs:

That was one reason the school, which educates nearly 1,700 students in Ashburn, played host to a CIA dog team for a training exercise while students were away for spring break last week, according to the Loudoun County school system. But the choice to go to a public school for the quiet exercise has led to an only-in-Washington embarrassment for the elite spy agency, which left explosive material behind in the engine compartment of a school bus that then shuttled special-needs schoolchildren for two days this week.

A mechanic discovered and removed the explosive putty — which county Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) said was the demolition explosive C-4 — during a routine bus maintenance check Wednesday.

OK, bonkers. But there is more!

It is unclear what, if any, sanction a CIA employee would face for leaving the explosives behind, and a Loudoun fire department spokeswoman said officials determined that there was no crime involved. But having explosive materials on a school bus or on school grounds normally would lead to serious consequences for a student ora teacher, even if it was an accident, advocates for reforming school discipline policies said.

“If this had been a young person, they probably would have been arrested and most certainly would have been suspended from school — and they would have had their education disrupted substantially,” said Thena Robinson-Mock, a lawyer for the Advancement Project, a national organization that advocates for an end to harsh school discipline policies.

Robinson-Mock pointed to incidents in which students have been arrested even though no crime was committed and no one was in danger, such as when Texas teen Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to his high school. Other students have been suspended, expelled or arrested for chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun, having a toy gun on a bus and having a knife in a gym bag that was used for equipment maintenance.

“We’re holding young people, particularly children of color, to a very different standard,” Robinson-Mock said.

Yeah, right! Wait, no, what?  Yes, school discipline lacks nuance, needs reform, and there are serious racial disparities in how students are treated. But this is about CIA explosives. If you’re trying to convince a skeptical public about the merits of ideas like restorative justice then you don’t want your ideas and “explosives” in the same sentence. The same paragraph. Really the same article if you can avoid it. We’re talking here about C-4. C-4! In a situation like that yes law enforcement, yes discipline! (Sometimes it’s OK to tell a reporter, “that really isn’t a good example of what I’m talking about” rather than trying to fit the narrative).

And, by the way, shouldn’t the dog be held accountable here too? Supposed to smell that stuff, right?

Robert Pondiscio with an interesting look at education reform in the age of Trump.

But it’s well past time to start thinking seriously about education reform in the Trump era. Even if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue becomes the one piece of real estate destined never to be festooned with the candidate’s surname, the restive 2016 campaign should serve as a wake-up call. Broad swaths of Americans feel disconnected from public institutions and are convinced policymakers don’t understand or much care about them.

Education policy has done little to bridge that divide. When downwardly mobile white, working-class Americans hear us talking about education reform, it’s a fair bet they don’t think we’re talking about them and their children. And they’re not mistaken. The priorities and language of reformers – achievement gaps, no-excuses schools, social justice and the “civil rights issue of our generation” – betrays a focus on fixing schools attended by urban, low-income families of color.

Cynthia Tucker makes some of the same points.

Sure, I’m all for clever education policy ideas from national candidates. But is this the real issue with Trump voters – or more specifically the swath of Trump voters who are concerned about stagnating wages, dislocation from trade, and that vein of issues? Those people are concerned with effects of various polices now, they’re not interested in what our education system should look like in 10 years, what choices they might have made, or a debate about who should go to college. This has been a problem for years that is now coming to the surface. Policies that carry generalized benefits, for instance trade and immigration, also carry acute costs for some. There has been inattention to those costs, especially from those benefiting most, and the political effect of that is not going to be addressed through a better education reform policy. It’s going to be addressed by dealing with those pain points. Put more bluntly, if your factory moved to Mexico and turned your life upside down you don’t want someone telling you that better education or better policies might have made things different for you – you want some help now.  Again, sometimes the narrative doesn’t fit!

Bears playing in water. My kids really want one of these unicorns.

*BW has consulted for PARCC.


Internships! Education Or Exploitation?

Should internships be paid? In the private sector it seems pretty obvious but the issue is working its way through the courts. The non-profit and government world is a more complicated question. It’s work, there is an inequality angle, but well structured internships can also be educational. Not straightforward. I take a look at all that in U.S. News & World Report today.

Washington’s cherry blossoms and spring break tourism just peaked. So the next onslaught of visitors to the nation’s capital is just around the corner – interns. Each summer, D.C.’s cadre of nonprofits, advocacy groups, Congress and various federal agencies welcome an army of summer interns seeking free work in exchange for experience. The resulting rite of passage is often fun and sometimes scandalous, but it’s presumed to be educational, too.

That supposed educational component is one reason unpaid internships persist. Otherwise it’s just work and should be paid like any other job.

In the private sector, internships operate under a set of requirements to differentiate them from actual paid work…

You can read it all here. We all know famous intern stories, but I’ve had some great ones who go on to do terrific things. There are occasionally great anonymous intern Twitter feeds. Share those and spare us the intern jokes but tweet me your intern stories @arotherham.


April 1, 2016

100% April Fools Free! Jimmy Carter On Hufstedler, Are Vergara And Friedrichs So Different? School Choice, Higher Ed, Hard Realities On Teacher Evaluation, School Infrastructure, Pensions, Parenting Choices, And Panthers!

Exclusive: RealClearEducation talked with President Jimmy Carter about the passing of Shirley Hufstedler.  Sara Mead gets under the hood on TFA restructuring. 

Hillsborough teacher evaluation not going so well.* Theory of action is that if you just do this “well” everyone will come along. Alternative theory: Places like D.C. are outliers and we should talk honestly about why.

Rick Hess on why he likes Friedrichs but not Vergara:

 …there are inevitable comparisons and linkages to California’s famed Vergara lawsuit. In that case, the plaintiffs are asserting that they have a right to “effective teachers” under the terms of the California constitution, and that policies relating to tenure, dismissal, and LIFO (“last in, first out” termination) are unconstitutional. Both suits represent a profound challenge to teacher unions. The big difference, to my eye, is that Friedrichs is a simpler determination of whether state compulsion is trampling fundamental rights, while Vergara requires the courts to tell the legislature how to organize particular elements of educational policy. I’m quite comfortable with Friedrichs, which strikes me as precisely the kind of case that we expect the courts to adjudicate. On the other hand, for reasons I’ve previously explained, I have real concerns with Vergara—even though, on substance, I wholly support the plaintiffs. I think would-be reformers are asking the courts to wade into areas that are beyond judicial expertise, where rulings are more likely to yield paralysis and bureaucracy-inducing compliance, and want the courts to substitute their policy determinations for those of legislators.

Regardless of the merits of the two cases I don’t get the distinction Rick is making? The Vergara plaintiffs are not asking the court to make policy – and the court explicitly said it wasn’t going to do that. They were arguing that under California’s constitution the current laws violated the rights of students. Their claim requires a specific reading of how the constitutional provisions apply – and that’s being debated on appeal right now. But they just asked for a (non-specific) policy that wouldn’t violate those rights –  hardly a crazy thing to ask a court for. I think Rick and I would agree that the courts are sometimes inappropriately dragged into policymaking but that doesn’t seem like the issue in either of these cases. Agree with the plaintiffs or not, both are basic state or federal constitutional claims.

More interesting to me in Friedrichs is the question of whether there is inherently a First Amendment issue here or whether the way teachers unions and public sector unions more generally operate has in practice created one. Yes, Abood is a political compromise that doesn’t make a lot of sense at First Amendment law but would it be a better/more workable/less acrimonious compromise if unions didn’t make the agency process so painful for people? Possibly not given the politics. But seems like he polarizing nature of the case obscured some questions (I did hear some behind the scenes grumbling about this).

For a change of pace you can watch Rick and Mike Petrilli get drunk on video. Really…

Surprise! If you live in a country where wealth and power follow racial contours and you have a sector of schools you have to pay to attend then those schools will be disproportionately white. New Southern Education Foundation report finds exactly that (you can quibble with some of the methodological choices but it seems directionally right). School choice advocates have not adequately wrestled with the ugly legacy of choice in the south, where it was used to overtly to create segregated academies as part of the massive resistance strategy (it had the same effect elsewhere but was just more subtle). But choice critics have not adequately wrestled with a more basic question – what to do now?

Private schools are not going away. Calls to outlaw them make make periodic cameos as thought pieces but that’s not going to happen – it’s not constitutional anyway. The school choice programs that are springing up probably aren’t going anywhere either. In case you didn’t notice this is a country that likes choice. So where does that leave you except supporting much more aggressive strategies to give low-income Americans more choice in their schooling? Yet the people who seem most concerned about this power imbalance seem to be the same ones least interested in radical steps to upset the apple cart. Kevin Chavous on the study here.

Ron Matus gets his Dutch on pointing out the embrace of school choice there. I’m basically with Ron on the need for more choice here but you can’t look at The Netherlands without considering both history and also cultural norms. It’s a different place than the U.S.

If you build it they will come? We’re back to talking school facilities. It feels so 1996! I’d like to see the federal government get in the infrastructure game with some creative and sustainable strategies like infrastructure banks for revolving loan funds. Could support school renovation and also construction of new schools do address population growth or parental demand. Or, alternatively, we can do what hasn’t worked politically for 20 years.

Speaking of the wayback machine, new playbook of education ideas from the National League of Cities. Some interesting ideas but striking how input oriented it all is, very little on structural change to help improve outcomes for urban youth. Especially striking against the backdrop of some of the data on various reforms.

Tom Loveless on Common Core politics. NASBE on balancing privacy and progress with student data. State of the state of education in Rhode Island (pdf). Worth reading. Here is a crib sheet on i3 evaluations.

Sad news from NOLA.

A new look at rural charter schools. I get the idea, and there are some great rural charters, but I’m also struck by how much rural schools in general often operate like charters – for good and ill. The upsides and downsides of autonomy are frequently present.

Turnover at BIE. C’mon….

This point on higher education gets made a lot but given how the field is covered you really can’t say it enough: It’s not about elite schools.

Conservatives on campus:

To the contrary, most of those interviewed expressed what the authors call a “Madisonian” political philosophy: “It is a political vision that values the discovery of common ground over ideological purity, learned elites over charismatic leaders, and reasoned appeals over passionate exhortations.” If institutions of higher learning refuse to make a place for scholars who share this vision, they will not only stifle inquiry. They will also deprive themselves of vital allies when the inevitable backlash comes to pull them down.

Chicago pensions. Chad Aldeman on the pension numbers in Chicago.

You knew this was coming: Here’s your chance to weigh in on Adam LaRoche’s parenting decisions! So far the White Sox are winning.

Exciting ice bridge collapse. Boardwalk panther.

*Update: Originally this item had a bad link, that’s fixed. But the actual link is still a few months old. I got a news alert on it, clicked, read, but didn’t notice date and thought it was an update on what’s happening. In any event, here’s a more recent one about the changes the article described, which are undoing a lot of the things Hillsborough was lauded for. Apologies for both errors.


March 30, 2016

“A Little Bit Unethical,” Plus Friedrichs Fallout, Sakena Yacoobi, Mergers, Methods, CMO Growth, Evidence, And Bears!

I moderated a small luncheon discussion yesterday with Sakena Yacoobi, an education leader in Afghanistan. She won the 2015 WISE Prize for her efforts to improve education in that country. Inspiring leader and an interesting conversation. Challenging context she operates in but she’s getting results. You can learn more about her life and work here. She’s appearing at Harvard tomorrow.

The Times on Friedrichs. Noah Feldman on the teachers union’s good fortune. Here’s the Department of Education’s statement on yesterday’s 4-4 Friedrichs decision:

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

 Labor unions have helped to build our nation’s middle class, playing a critical role in increasing workers’ wages and ensuring there are workplace protections. Today’s announcement that the appeals court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will stand means educators will continue to be able to focus on what is most important—helping students learn and prepare for success in school and in life.

Some reformers are grumbling it’s a weak statement, but what exactly do you expect from a Democratic administration in an election year?  I’m sure a secret ballot vote on it at 400 Maryland Avenue would be interesting but that’s not the point. In any case, the teachers’ unions are running around claiming this decision, which affirms the lower court’s ruling, is a big rejection of Friedrichs. In fact it’s an 11th hour reprieve for them because of the passing of Justice Scalia. It’s more noteworthy that King didn’t parrot their talking points (and they didn’t love the statement either!). Now, for the teachers unions, a lot riding on whether the Republican blockade in the Senate holds or whether a new justice is appointed before the election.

In Detroit, corruption charges:

At the heart of the alleged scheme is businessman Norman Shy, 74, of Franklin,  who is accused of paying $908,500 in kickbacks and bribes to at least 12 Detroit Public Schools principals who used him as a school supply vendor in exchange for money — some for as little as $4,000, another for $324,000. He secretly did this for 13 years, scamming school after school to the tune of $2.7 million with the help of principals who benefited along the way, prosecutors allege…

…”It’s pitiful that they’re going after principals who are probably just doing what they need to do even if it might be a little bit unethical in order to provide the students in their schools with the supplies and materials that they need that district and the state should be providing us,” teacher Cathy Brackett said. “They should be going after the big thieves who have come into the district under the guise of emergency managers and consultants who have skimmed not just thousands of dollars but millions of dollars away from our students and just move on to their next gig, seemingly without repercussions.”

So, you want to recruit a CMO to your region? Here’s a new report from NACPS with some information about how to do that.

Methodological pushback on the Education Equality Index. 50CAN and StudentsFirst are merging.

Achieve on post-secondary remediation and readiness state by state. Results for American on local governments and evidence-based policymaking (pdf). And a compendium of blog posts on evidence and policy (pdf).

Bears playing on a hammock.


March 29, 2016

Friedrichs’ 4-4 Split, Is Giving The Poor Choice A Bridge Too Far For Today’s Facebook Social Justice Warriors? Emory Chalking, ACT, SAT, And Native Ed, Catholic School Comeback? Charters, Diddy’s Charter, School Boundaries, Grade Inflation, Volcanoes!

As expected ruling just came down, Friedrichs is a 4-4 split (pdf). Stay tuned for new justice…

Kelly Robson and Andy Smarick on a renaissance for Catholic schools:

But over the last decade or so, some corners of Catholic education—a field long wedded to traditional ways—have embraced a series of innovative reforms. New approaches to instruction, governance, and technology, combined with the utilization of burgeoning public-voucher and tax-credit programs, are helping to revitalize the sector. Although much remains true to form, Catholic primary and secondary schooling is also exhibiting more entrepreneurialism and energy than it has in decades while at the same time preserving its commitment to the religious formation of boys and girls.

Yesterday it was Duckworth, today Karin Chenoweth: Please don’t use my work to justify segregated school boundaries.

And it is true that I have spent the last decade of my life documenting that schools with large concentrations of students of color and students from low-income families can achieve at high levels. I have written two books, co-written a third, and written many columns with evidence from actual schools.

But the idea that any high-poverty school is doing well because it has a high concentration of children from low-income families is a big leap of logic. [Bold from original]

Gail Collins and Arthur Brooks discuss education, it’s a little painful:

Gail: Obviously there are some good charter schools. As long as they operate within the regular school system and don’t get any advantage in public funding, I don’t have any problem with them — even though I do think a lot of the success stories are due to the fact that the students tend to have motivated parents. Some disadvantaged kids get a big boost and succeed; those who don’t do so well often get nudged out the door.

But my real concern is the charters run by for-profit companies. The whole idea of mixing profit and public education is terrible.

Obviously, she hasn’t heard,  two things can be true at once! Yes, there is some informal and formal skimming that happens (and charter leaders and policymakers should address) but charters are also getting impressive results despite that. There’s, you know, research! And the success isn’t random, there are a few – very politically inconvenient – things the top performing ones do when it comes to governance and management. That’s old news though and at this point a political problem not a substantive one, except apparently in Manhattan. On the for-profit issue, it’s a small fraction of charters, many charter leaders are concerned about them, I have my reservations, but the fact is we mix public interest and private good all the time – with mixed results — inside the education sector and around the public sector more generally. Not as simple as you may have heard!

Jim Ryan, ed school dean at Harvard, on the tension in progressive circles around education – ‘I care about social mobility and inequality but school choice? No way, I’d get thrown off the mom’s list!’

But notice that most debates about choice are really only about limiting or expanding the choices of poorer families.  No one is suggesting that we outlaw private schools or tell people where they can and cannot live.  (Can you imagine the latter?  Or even the former?)  Which means that, regardless of the outcome of myriad debates about expanding or contracting formal school choice plans, families who can choose where to live or who can afford private schools will always have school choice.  When these families choose to leave a school or a district, or to never enter into one in the first place, they too are depriving the school and district of resources.  But no one is forcing, or even really asking, them to stay in particular schools or districts that they dislike in order to make those schools or districts better for everyone else.

The only group currently asked to shoulder this burden are poorer families who, absent a school choice plan, have no options.  Why we would single out this group, and this group alone, is hard for me to understand.  Which is why, again, to me, the key question in school choice debates is simple:  Are you comfortable denying school choice solely to poorer families? [Bold from original]

Emory chalking is still going. Glenn Reynolds wants more Winklevoss but ignores that Larry Summer’s ideas of what the academy should be cost him his job! College presidents don’t get those jobs by being stupid about the politics. Connor Friedersdorf gets at the nub of why this is all ultimately counterproductive to its avowed goals:

Already, other damage has been done. Earlier this week, I noted that a black student at UC Davis suffered a hate crime near campus. Three men were later arrested for the assault. Previously, I’ve highlighted the horrifying affects of NYPD spying on innocent Muslim students and the UC Berkeley riot police that turned batons on students. There is sometimes good reason for college students to be concerned about their physical safety on campus, and there are incidents of racism that do not threaten physical safety but are nevertheless abhorrent and understandably upsetting. When students react like this to the mere appearance of the name of a leading candidate in the middle of a presidential-election year, treating the most commonplace political advocacy as if it makes them unsafe, they create perverse incentives for invoking victimhood and deflate the currency of claimed trauma and offense.

The Cav Daily editors at UVA make the same point. I’d add that more immediately when everyone is talking about the food at Oberlin or Trump written in chalk at Emory they’re not talking about these more serious issues…

Marilyn Rhames on charters and discipline.  Asia College Board security problems. ACT looks at college readiness for Native American students (pdf). College grade inflation is probably worse than you thought. Three new education ideas from the Hamilton Project. Diddy’s charter opening in NYC.

Sturgill Simpson covers Nirvana. Crowdfunding meets science. Alaska volcano.


March 28, 2016

No More High Stakes For Character Education? Still Plenty Of Security. Jason Weeby, Leslie Kan, Chad Aldeman, Whitmire, Kane, And Reville. Student Voice And Teen Robots! Plus More…

More security officers than counselors in a lot of school districts.

Now you tell us! Angela Duckworth says the field is abusing her ideas:

As a social scientist researching the importance of character, I was heartened. It seemed that the narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores from the years I taught in public schools was giving way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.

These days, however, I worry I’ve contributed, inadvertently, to an idea I vigorously oppose: high-stakes character assessment. New federal legislation can be interpreted as encouraging states and schools to incorporate measures of character into their accountability systems. This year, nine California school districts will begin doing this.

File under: those awful tests and that controversial school choice…still the worst way to do accountability – except for all the others.

Student voice from TNTP. Paul Reville on using the third semester to combat rather than exacerbate inequality.

Jason Weeby asks if there is a God. Actually, he just wonders what is innovation? Bellwether pension analysts on California’s back-loaded teacher retirement system. Chad Aldeman on ESSA accountability rhetoric and reality. Chad also talks with Christy Hovanetz about designing rating systems for schools.

And Chad and Leslie Kan on teacher pension inequities. 

New Dep’t of Education report on college and low-income students (pdf). Hamilton Project looks at education context and some key issues (pdf).

Whitmire: What makes Brooke tick? Tom Kane on how common assessments can empower rather than contain state leaders.

Here’s some interesting information on Ohio Governor Kasich’s education record that will have no bearing on the election.

Although I’m not sure just mocking anti-Common Core types is the best strategy – this video is pretty funny.

If you want to understand consumer trends – and they influence education, too – you can do worse than look at coffee.  Mass and standardized are out, boutiquey and authentic feeling are in. Sound familiar?

Judges knock controversial desegregation policy proposal in MN. Lead is a problem in places beyond Flint and Newark. Chicago teachers’ strike plan b. With bonus furloughs!  State chiefs and early childhood education. The battle over algebra! Ah the neighborhood school….so romantic….or not says Century Foundation.

Apropos of nothing this is a lovely op-ed.

AI is coming to education. What could possibly go wrong?


March 23, 2016

Who Trumps On Campus? Ed Trust, Detroit, Revisiting Bowling, Korman On Data, Fish Health Care

The authoritarians on the left and the right find each other on college campuses…In a really invertebrate display of leadership Emory officials say they will use surveillance footage to ID who wrote “Trump 2016″ around the campus….Jesse Singal:

A college using using security-camera footage to track down and possibly punish students who expressed political speech? The only way to fairly describe that is, well, the only way to fairly describe the spectacle of a Trump rally delivered to a deliriously cheering crowd: extremely creepy, and a sign that something has gone seriously wrong.

Meanwhile, Ed Trust reports on racial disparities and college completion.

The data vacuum on education and justice involved youth.

Revisiting Nate Bowling’s “conversation” post.  Kati Haycock on putting kids at the center of new ESSA policies.

Restructuring Detroit.

Some interesting stuff here, caught between two eras.  Orthodontics. 


March 22, 2016

Pearson – AFT Absurdity, Student Data And Research, SEA’s Lack Capacity, Education Equality Index, Climbing Kids

Pearson and the AFT continue to battle. Union investors don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth from a company they loathe and attack non-stop. Really. Ed Week here.  (Gotta give credit where it is due on tactics, this is distracting from some more fundamental questions about these relationships).

House Education and Workforce Committee looking at student data privacy and research. Obviously some legitimate issues here worthy of concern, but also some zealotry and mixed agendas (some of this is a not so subtle anti-accountability push, all that data is inconvenient). I recently reviewed a forthcoming study looking at toxins and student outcomes. Issues around students at birth are pretty well-established but this is groundbreaking because it looks at later life outcomes for students but would not be possible with some of the restrictions being proposed – and all the data was anonymized so the privacy issues in that case are minimal. This is an important balance to get right – easy to get wrong.

On the same issue this panel on the 29th at Urban looks outstanding.

Post secondary choices in Alaska. Should be a reality show. Here’s an evergreen issue: State education agencies lack capacity.

Education Equality Index from Education Cities.

These kids are climbers. 


March 20, 2016

Higher Ed Free Speech And Protests, The Tutoring Credential, Help Wanted On NJ School Boards, John King, Sally Jewell, The P Fetish. And Crazy Vacations.

Strife in Montclair! It’s like Mogadishu but with tests! Merrick Garland, SCOTUS nominee and tutor (are we going to now politicize tutoring?)

Want to be on a school board? Move to New Jersey.

Campus free speech balancing act:

You might think that the First Amendment applies with full force on state campuses. State universities are a branch of the government, which can’t suppress free speech under the Constitution. They’re not like elementary or high schools, where students’ free-speech rights are balanced against the school’s interest in maintaining discipline and order.

Yet the law as it now stands treats universities not like public forums, but more like workplaces, where anti-discrimination laws can restrict certain forms of speech. Pursuant to those laws, universities adopt conduct codes that can punish speech that would almost certainly be protected if uttered in public forums like streets or parks.

Meanwhile, it’s brutal in Providence:

Other students expressed similar frustration with the university’s expectation that they keep up with their schoolwork during the protests, saying that some professors refused to grant extensions on homework and tests.

It’s also hard to figure out who can speak where at Brown. Ted Gup says we’ll have to rename everything or we can focus on structural issues instead:

There is no end to Harvard’s offenders — or Yale’s or Princeton’s or, for that matter, most American institutions with a history. Few entities can withstand the scrutiny of the modern conscience, and physically disassembling the artifacts of the past, attacking its symbols and its ghosts, is a fool’s errand — no matter how lofty the cause. It illuminates little and is a feel-good distraction that comes at the expense of today’s very real crises. And picking and choosing which ancient offenses warrant purging creates the danger of prioritizing one historically disadvantaged group over another, inadvertently importing into our own age the very toxins of bigotry that activists now seek to condemn.

We can endlessly denounce the long-departed and disavow the already-discredited, but to what end? What we should do instead is devote ourselves to living our lives in a way that allows our descendants to take pride in the history we leave behind.

Chad Aldeman on ending Common Core:

Chad Aldeman, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, says this notion that the federal government “must stop” Common Core runs contrary to the long-held Republican position that governance of public schools is a state issue.

“It’s a little bit ironic that they’ve been sounding the alarm about federal control and now the leading Republican presidential candidates all want to take federal action against a state initiative,” Aldeman said in an interview. “There’s really nothing that they could do to stop Common Core other than using the bully pulpit to try to convince states to back out of their own commitments.”

Do we worship too much at the altar of p values? Sally Jewell wants to get kids outside. What to do about struggling schools? Lost in all the political back and forth about John King is his remarkable life story.

When vacations go awry.


March 18, 2016

Pensions! One Out Of Five Isn’t So Bad? Area Man Bewildered By Charter Schools, Chris Stewart V. The Academy, Guns, Duncan, LaRoche, Fired Missouri Prof Speaks,Teacher Evaluation, Bears!

BREAKING: Area man confused about charter schools. And that man is running for President of the United States. Sara Mead takes a look at USN. At The 74′s Cynthia Tucker with a harder edge:

Bernie Sanders isn’t the only progressive who is confused about charter schools. On the left, misunderstandings and mischaracterizations about non-traditional public schools abound, many of them spread by an educational establishment that fiercely guards its turf.

Via Brookings here’s a map of charter school access.

Are teacher pensions part of the fiscal pressure on urban school districts? Well duh. The fiscal overhang created by pension obligations is a big deal. In the debate about who is at fault everyone is sort of right. Bad/irresponsible decisions by state legislatures are a problem – so is the bad design of teacher retirement policies relative to today’s teacher labor market. Hard for the various factions to say all of that though – everyone has their preferred cause. You know who doesn’t and plays it straight? Chad Aldeman. He’s in the story.

More generally, there are more than four million teachers. Only one in 5 can expect to get a full pension because of all the various barriers. That’s the design problem here that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the back in forth. Why is anyone hell bent on perpetuating a system that only works for one in five workers? What’s more, 40 percent of teachers are not in Social Security, creating additional retirement insecurity. These are addressable problems  - and the solutions are more complicated than just moving to 401ks – but it will take leadership and so far that’s mostly lacking.

A lot of guns find their way to school. More accountability for securing firearms seems like something most people could get behind? With rights there are responsibilities and all that…

New report on teacher evaluation with some design principles from the Aspen Institute.  Congress gets rid of the teacher evaluation requirements in federal law and tons of reports follow! Who says government can’t positively affect the lives of ordinary wonks?

Fired Missouri media professor speaks out in WaPo. Asks a profound question: Do you really want to live in a world where media studies professors are too afraid of public scorn to trample First Amendment rights?

Arne Duncan is going back to Chicago. Adam LaRoche is not.

Michelle Obama on global education and girls.  Patrick Riccards is speechwriting for Trump.

Chris Stewart on the attack:

It is one thing to speak from a vaulted perch where you are not responsible for a single kid, and preach the paleoliberal gospel of the one-best-system; to write missives against school reform as you cash under-the-table paychecks from reform funders; to sit on panels sponsored by education labor cartels and interrogate the motives of school reformers while never interrogating the motives of labor cartels; to put your own kids in private schools and then assail school choice as a misguided gift to the ignorant poor who won’t make decisions as well as you have; and to basically fill the world with useless pablum about thinking broader, bolder, more holistically, without focusing intensely on developing, administrating, delivering, and measuring the effectiveness of instruction and learning in the most important place, the classroom.

It’s something much different to do what the leaders of new schools do, which is to design, establish, and operate schools that fight the nihilistic, racist, and classist mantra that demography affixes melanated people without money to academic failure.

Dr. Darling Hammond and Stanford University gave it the college try. They started a school. It was intended to showcase all of their research in an applied setting with real children. In 2005 Sanford’s dean for the School of Education, Deborah Stipek, said the university “wanted to be a partner [to the local school district] rather than just preach from the Ivy tower.”

The school did terribly.

Even with extensive resources, including $3,000 more in per student funding, and a direct connection to all of the conceivable knowledge produced by one of the world’s most renowned institutions of higher learning, the school struggled to break out of the bottom 5% of schools in the state of California.

When the school failed Diane Ravitch said ”Maybe this demonstrates that schools alone cannot solve the very deep problems kids bring to school…You cannot assume that schools alone can raise achievement scores without addressing the issues of poverty, of homelessness and shattered families.”

That’s absolutely the wrong message, and the fact that so many “educated” people from our community never confront her system-preserving, elitist nonsense makes them as suspect with me as my support of reform has made me with them.

Curious polar bear.


March 17, 2016

Don’t Bring Your Child To Work Day, No Discipline In The Ed Debate, Where Are The Progressives? Finance In NOLA, Mudrooms Of Higher Ed, Kids And Clubhouses, Eval, SEAs, Horses In Tweed

New report on school discipline and charter schools from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project. The Times here, of course. Not so fast says CRPE.* They make some important points and raise some serious questions. Read it if you follow this issue.

In the end, this looks a lot like anti-charter advocacy masquerading as concern about discipline. Actually, seems like that’s exactly what it is. It’s 2004 again! There is a problem with school discipline – in all types of schools. But this is exactly the way to make sure people go to their bunkers instead of  getting anything done.

Elsewhere on this issue, Eva Moskowitz responds to her critics:

We are hardly perfect and are, like all institutions, a work in progress. Yet the expenditure of such a disproportionate amount of investigative resources on one network of schools that educates just 1% of New York City’s students is curious, given the dire failures of the district schools. In Central Harlem’s district schools, for example, just 15% of students scored proficient on the state’s math exams in 2015. The budget at one Harlem district school, P.S. 241, amounted to $2 million for each of its two students who tested proficient in math. By contrast, 90% of the students at Success’s Central Harlem schools scored proficient in math in 2015.

Many education professors are also critical of strict charter schools. But there is at least one group that strongly supports our schools: parents. For the current school year, Success Academies received 22,000 applications for 2,300 spots. Another network in New York City with a similar approach, Achievement First, received 21,000 applications for 1,000 spots. Meanwhile, most district schools with which we compete are massively under-enrolled.

This raises an important question: Why are the views of parents about discipline so different than those of Times reporters and education professors? The answer, I believe, is that parents know from personal experience that when schools have lax discipline, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, children are bullied, robbed of educational opportunities by unruly behavior and even subjected to violence.

Also in New York, the mayor and the teachers union president are getting along! Robert Bellafiore wonders where the progressives are?

And more fights on NYC charters - this time about equitably serving all students. This idea of making sure the charter sector serves students equitably once it reached a significant share of the student population in a city is vital. But doing it school by school makes no sense. Traditional public schools don’t serve every kind of student in every school. It’s a sector issue. Authorizers should be on top of this (D.C. is a leader here*) but clumsy regulations are aimed more at hamstringing charters than solving this problem.

Interesting finance fix in New Orleans. Significant. Big fight over expansion of for-profit online higher ed (bonus, features what looks like a picture of Bob Shireman’s mudroom). CAP looks at teacher evaluation in Massachusetts. Can SEA’s operate as portfolio managers?

Today in unschooling: 

“We’re not big on school,” Adam LaRoche said in 2013. “I told my wife, ‘He’s going to learn a lot more useful information in the clubhouse than he will in the classroom, as far as life lessons.’ ”

The Ethicist is all about school questions this week.

Kristin Soltis Anderson – who is a bit of an alum of the education world – gets a nice nod from Elle (and some cool clothes). NCLR’s Janet Murguia, whose work also touches education in a big way featured in new duds, too.

Tweed wearing horse.

*Relevant disclosures: I’m on the CRPE advisory board but wasn’t involved in this. My colleague Sara Mead is on the DC charter board. My daughters love horses, regular ones, not ones in three piece suits.


March 16, 2016

Upward Mobility, College Costs, Grading Parents, Harvard And Vouchers, Badgers And Music!

Mike Petrilli is trying to make education policy great again. OK, he’s trying to figure out a conservative education agenda. New book out and an event today about it.  On education “If Donald Trump is President you’re going to be very happy.” Or perhaps not.

Breakdown of the Sanders higher education plan. What the candidates are saying about Social Security.

New America analyzes college costs and low-income students.  Meanwhile, there is $253 billion in 529 accounts…more here (pdf).

Rick Hess on bias in the academy. Are New York City’s charter schools working? Are they working more generally? Marcus Winters takes a look at RCE. Grading Mississippi’s parent grading idea.

Ginsburg and Smith on RCT shortcomings.  STEM and wages. Big tax credits! Back in the day when Harvard was a school voucher hotbed.

Marilyn Rhames:

While prayer and faith are not typically on white, liberal ed reformers’ radars, it is a significant pathway to reach African-American and Latino communities that reformers seek to help.

Long New Yorker look at the bad fit between sex offender registries and youthful “offenders.”

Big shark. (With an education angle). Badger music.


March 14, 2016

Give The People What They Want! Bryce Harper’s Education Lesson, Education And The White House Race, Boom And Bust In School Finance, Blacklists, Fried Potatoes, And SEL Gold!

We are growing and  hiring at Bellwether, great roles on all of our teams.

The Times on Oakland and Broad:

While the teachers’ union and some parent groups worry that district-run public schools will ultimately be eviscerated by competition from charters, other parents are voting with their feet, sending their children to the newer schools.

This is really the problem facing public schools in a nutshell. In the short term you can bottle those parents up politically. In the long-run you can’t. Listening to them and giving them what they want is key to keeping public education robust. In other words, the people who think they’re saving public education are slowly killing it.

It’s Spring Training, lots of dreams, so please stop saying stuff like this!

Career day, Harney Middle School, Las Vegas. A nice lady stands in front of a sixth-grade classroom to discuss professions with the boys and girls seated in front of her. Each student is asked to declare a career, and it’s a rundown of the usual suspects: firefighter, doctor, veterinarian. The nice lady’s enthusiastic reaction to those last two answers triggers a chain reaction; even the kids who didn’t have the slightest clue what they want to be figure they can’t go wrong with one of those. Around the room it goes. Doctor. Veterinarian. Sure, why not?

When it winds around to the biggest kid in the room, Bryce Harper says, “I want to be a professional baseball player.”

“Well,” the lady says, a jagged shard of disapproval seeping into her tone, “I think maybe you should pick a new profession. You know that doesn’t happen very often.”

Harper looks at her with a stony silence. The words he wants to say are right there – You’ve got no clue teed up in his mind like a BP fastball — but instead he says, “Yeah, well, that’s just my dream.”

Chauncey, seated a desk away from Harper, can’t let it end there. This woman needs to know. It’s an act of kindness, even mercy, on his part.

“No, you don’t understand,” Chauncey says. “He really is going to be a professional baseball player. He’s the best 12-year-old in the country.”

As you probably know, Harper became the youngest unanimous MVP last year. I know a woman who was told she should maybe try community college but not four-year college. Today, she manages a high-end professional services firm. Another guy who was told his best path was going to be GED and entry-level work. He commanded a Navy ship. Many people have stories like that. Perhaps let people set their own limits?

The other day I made an observation on dropouts and the discount rate on information they get. Reader Mike G. makes an interesting observation about it here.

Campbell Brown on education and the 2016 White House race. Hillary Clinton and education in The New Yorker. Fact checking Trump and Senator Cruz on education. Education pieces in Trump demographics. And it can always be worse…

Mass market version of To Kill A Mockingbird in jeopardy. Price point implications for schools. The boom and bust world of fossil fuel based school finance schemes. Michelle Obama versus a deep fried Texas potato!

Today in why we can’t have nice things in this sector: Call for enrolling all teachers in Social Security and point out that only about one in five teachers actually get a full pension and you wind up on a “blacklist.”

There’s gold in them SEL hills!

This person has a bright future in the education debate. Lumbersexual political ecology.


March 11, 2016

Ben Carson On Education, Charter School Data, Smarick Speechwrites, Cami Anderson Interviews, Hess On Evaluation, New Brookings Reports, Higher Education, South Dakota On The Move, Is Evidence? Plus Penguins & Fish!

So apparently Ben Carson will run education for Donald Trump? Well, when Campbell Brown of The 74 asked him about education he said,  ”Campbell, I think no child should be left behind.” OK then…

Meanwhile, in actual school improvement goings on, a lot on charters: Here’s a new NACPS report on the health of the charter movement. A lot of data.

Don’t agree with everything Greg Richmond is saying here, but a lot of it and it’s an important read and challenge to the charter school world and education world more generally:

….we need to change. We cannot do better tomorrow by continuing the ways of yesterday. We need to improve. One way that we are changing public education is through charter schools. Charters are not the only way we will improve public education, but they can be one powerful way.

The charter school movement is 25 years old; 6,800 charter schools in America serve nearly 3 million students. Many of these schools are achieving extraordinary results. But then again, some of them are not. The outcomes have been mixed, both here in Philadelphia and nationally.

So when we examine how well we are doing for the next generation, if we are honest, we have to acknowledge that all charter schools are not fully delivering on their promise. We need to do better.

Unfortunately, progress in charter schooling has been difficult and frustrating. In recent years, we seem trapped inside policies and practices that prevent progress, as charter school proponents and opponents wage a never-ending war.

Also on charters, Andy Smarick wrote a speech for DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. And here’s a Bellwether deep dive on the charter movement and where things stand and what new challenges are (pdf).

New Brookings analysis on dropping out and income inequality.

The data are consistent with this prediction: low-income youth are more likely to drop out of school if they live in a place with a greater gap between the bottom and middle of the income distribution.

Related, anyone who works or has worked with young people gets that the discount rate is pretty high on anything you tell them. So dropping out can be an interesting phenomena. We tell kids non-stop it’s a terrible choice – and it’s not a good one in the long term for sure. But, in the near-term the adverse effects are not always visible. In fact, dropping out can lead in the near term to more freedom, more disposable cash, and previously out of reach lifestyle choices. That’s not so bad! And that’s what young people see immediately with regard to their peers rather than the persistent effects that last a lifetime even if their in a community with those effects around them.  Seems like a solvable problem in terms of reaching kids before they make bad choices and one we could do more on.

Rick Hess on the teacher evaluation status quo.

Back in the 1990s, there was a sense that reforms failed when advocates got bogged down in efforts to change “professional practice” while ignoring the role of policy. Reformers learned the lesson, but they may have learned it too well. While past reformers tried to change educational culture without changing policy, today’s frequently seem intent on changing policy without changing culture. The resulting policies are overmatched by the incentives embedded in professional and political culture, and the fact that most school leaders and district officials are neither inclined nor equipped to translate these policy dictates into practice.

New cost adjustment tools from EdBuild.  Evidence and education. South Dakota on the move! Breaking! We can do a better job with teacher hiring. It’s all about relationships.

Cami Anderson talks teachers and Newark and the payoffs.

Employer sponsored quality assurance in higher education? Income share agreements for financing higher education.

Yesterday I wrote about how if school sucks or alienates parents then kids and families won’t want to be there.

Interesting parallels between this column and some of our education debate. Justin Fox notes some positive trends on key issues and asks why people are upset  about the status quo in America. Well, it’s great that the trade deficit is declining but if you’re in a place adversely impacted by trade or globalization you can’t feed your family trendlines. In the same way, people who say that public schools are doing great – when you separate out the poor kids – ignore the concentrated costs of our school problems on some Americans.  In addition, trade and school reform probably share the trait of being overall drivers of progress and improved standards of living but disruptive and creators of acute costs for particular constituencies.

Homer penguin. Fish swimming across the road.