June 16, 2020

Send In The Counselors! Bradford, Brookins, Robinson, Plus What’s In A Charter Word?

Last week I took a look at police in schools and why just showing them the door is not a complete reform – especially if it’s the shell game of bringing in private security instead. Rather, the work is changing how schools think about students and culture and one group who can help with that is counselors.

NBPTS’ Peggy Brookins’ on being a black teacher today.

Derrell Bradford on why “all lives matter” in education means the sector’s long-standing issues still won’t be addressed.

Filmmaker Diane Robinson, who has worked in and around the ed sector for years, on what she thinks it will take to create change.

Stephen Carter on fighting for racial justice and the free exchange of ideas.

Charter schools are getting PPP money! Well not actually the schools but affiliated non-profits The Times reports:

Although they are independently run, they operate as part of local school districts, do not charge tuition and are open to all students, albeit through lotteries. Like traditional public schools, they generally receive per-pupil funding from their districts, and as such, they were eligible to receive a share of billions of dollars in relief that Congress allocated to public education.

But because a vast majority are run by nonprofit companies, they also qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Does that land a little different if it says instead:

“But because many have affiliated non-profit organizations those organizations also qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program.”

It might! But people saying company have a lot of company for obvious reasons.

Posted on Jun 16, 2020 @ 9:21am

June 2, 2020

May 28, 2020

74 Interview With Jeb Bush

Today from The 74:

Jeb Bush was a widely regarded governor of Florida for eight years, is a successful businessman, was a 2016 presidential candidate and remains one of the most influential voices in education more than a decade after leaving office.

Bush now spends his time on advocacy efforts and the nonprofit ExcelinEd, which he founded and chairs. His experience, past and present, places him in a unique position to offer insights and speak hard truths about education in America. That’s why we wanted to hear what he had to say about his observations and advice for ensuring quality learning through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Earlier this month, [Emmeline Zhao and I] sat down with him via videoconference to chat about what governing during hurricanes teaches you about crises like this, why Miami-Dade County Public Schools is succeeding where other districts are struggling, why he wants to see more discussion of successes in education and why he’s fundamentally optimistic about our chances as Americans. Bush, who spoke to us from his home in Florida, also handicaps the 2020 election and offers some quarantine reading recommendations…

Video and full text via this link. 

Posted on May 28, 2020 @ 4:26pm

May 27, 2020

Matt Lewis & The News Podcast

I sat down (virtually) with Matt Lewis to talk Covid and schools and we ended up talking about that, about Biden and charter schools, a little higher ed, and music and why there is no substitute for live music or the inefficiencies of some interactions. Video below and you can get audio podcast here.

May 22, 2020

Reopening, A Reopening Webinar, And A 1080

Some coronavirus and schools reading:

In US News Lauren Camera looks at the issue of non-compliance when schools “reopen” this fall – and who has the choice in the first place. Schools are going to need a plan for how to operate if they physically open, a plan for remote learning if they have to close, and then probably this third plan for robust homebound instruction in places where parents say, thanks, no.

Want to talk more about reopening issues – this webinar next Tuesday with Pepperdine, The Line, AEI & Bellwether  will look at the issue – space is limited.

The 74 has a new vertical on pandemic education coverage. And from 74 here’s a look at a big idea out of Cleveland. Will coronavirus be rocket fuel for competency-based approaches? I asked that and some other questions earlier in the week.

Schools need resources to address coronavirus related issues, and state budgets are going to be a trainwreck, but a fiscal game of chicken over reopening doesn’t seem that productive.

A 1080, 

May 21, 2020

Guest Post: Mike McCurry on Annie Glenn

Annie Glenn, wife of John Glenn, passed away earlier this week. Her husband was an American icon but she, too, was formidable in her own right and a passionate advocate on speech disorder issues. I asked someone who knew her to reflect on her and that aspect of her work.

Here’s former Glenn aide and White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry on Annie Glenn:

Annie Glenn was profoundly original, always aware of her connections to a “great hero,” but not ever wanting to claim that title herself, though she deserved it. She and her husband were remarkable partners, and I tell my wife to this day that we want to be like John and Annie Glenn.

One short story: After the 1984 presidential campaign which did not end well for Senator Glenn, I was still on the staff and we were going to fly back to Ohio from the old National Airport to shore up support for the Senator’s re-election (which he easily won, of course).

We sat in the Senator’s Beech Baron for what to me seemed like a long time, and I finally said “Shouldn’t we get going?” Annie turned back from the co-pilot seat and said, “John is doing his checklist.” Which he was. And so was she since she was a qualified pilot as well. She could have flown that plane as well as John Glenn. I actually remember that at some point he told Annie to take the controls so he could relax and chat with those of us in the back.

He was not the greatest of politicians, but he and Annie were wonderful human beings.

And by the time of the 1984 campaign, she was good at public speaking and did public events that were remarkable. She would say: “Sometimes I have difficulty with my words, but I hope you hear me out.” With humility and grace always. Her advocacy for those with speech impediments was always genuine and heartfelt.

I remember that she came out to a John Kerry event in Ohio during the 2004 campaign with the Senator and Kerry embraced her so warmly and gave the Senator a proper “bro” embrace. But she was the star.

I hope their College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University gets a big infusion of love and support in memory of a truly lovely person.

Mike McCurry is of counsel at PSW, where he provides counsel on communications strategies and management to corporate and nonprofit clients. He is also a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., concentrating on the intersections of faith, politics and public affairs.

May 18, 2020

Ten Questions On Coronavirus And Schools

In The 74 I ask some questions about Covid-19 and schools:

Considering how little we still know about coronavirus, it’s striking how much certainty there is about different aspects of the crisis playing out in real time in front of us. The education world is no exception, where, despite a generally haphazard response, a surprising certitude about what will work or not work, or happen or not happen, pervades. And whether it’s ed tech boosters or teachers union leaders — surprise! — everyone’s take seems to line up with their priors from before the novel coronavirus struck, even as the situation seems to call for radical pragmatism.

The districts and charter school networks that are responding the best seem to have just one thing in common — a can-do spirit. Working with stakeholders in different parts of the country has made me certain only about the uncertainty. The impact in a few months or a few years still seems to hinge on collective action and policymakers’ decisions. But there will be an impact.

Here are 10 questions I’m watching…

Not a a cliffhanger, you can see all ten here at 74. 

Our Education Spending Priorities

Over at TeacherPensions.org, I updated the latest figures on school district spending. The long-term trends continue: employee benefit costs continue to eat up a larger and larger share of school district budgets.

I also took a look at more recent trends. From 2008 to 2018, here’s how much school districts increased their spending on various categories in real, per pupil terms:

Total spending: +7.3 percent

Total salaries and wages: +1.2 percent

Employee benefits: +28.9 percent

Instructional salaries and wages: -0.03 percent

All these trends are pre-COVID-19 and are likely to accelerate in the coming years.

While benefit costs were the fastest-rising category of spending, schools also spent more on student supports (up 18.7 percent in real terms), general administration (up 7.7 percent), and school administration (up 9.3 percent).

To be clear, increased benefit spending has not led to benefit improvements. Most of these cost increases are due to paying down pension debts or changes in accounting rules on retiree health benefits. Teachers should be concerned that rising educational expenditures have not led to a meaningful boost in teacher salaries.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

May 14, 2020

In a Normal Recession, Education Is One of the Biggest Losers

Will college students be more or less likely to pursue a career in teaching in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? I can think of arguments either way, and it’s far too early to know for sure, but past recessions have pushed students away from teaching. Here’s my takeaway from a 2015 paper looking at how college students react to economic cycles:

The paper looks at the college majors of students who turned age 20 between 1960 and 2011. Then, it linked the students’ decisions with data on macroeconomic trends to examine how business cycles affect student choices. Of the 38 majors included in the study, education was the biggest loser. When recessions hit, both men and women were less likely to want to become teachers and instead turned to fields like accounting and engineering. In number terms, the researchers estimate that, “each percentage point increase in the unemployment rate…decreases the share of women choosing Early and Elementary Education by a little more than 6 percent.” (For men it was even higher.)

It’s possible that this time will be different. For one, the health implications of the novel coronavirus may force college students to make a different calculation than normal. Or, the suddenness of this recession may affect how quickly students can react or alter their prior plans. But from the financial aspect alone, we should expect fewer students to pursue teaching over the next few years than would have otherwise.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 


Margaret Spellings On Education And Coronavirus

At The 74 Emmeline Zhao and I are interviewing people around the sector, scroll down for Shavar Jeffries and Arne Duncan. Today, Margaret Spellings:

Margaret Spellings has been a senior aide at the White House, a college president, and Secretary of Education for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009. She’s been in the middle of crises, from 9/11 to the mass shooting at Virginia Tech and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Though not a Texan by birth, Spellings is certainly one by temperament and commitment. Now leading Texas 2036, a data-driven policy effort pegged to the state’s bicentennial, her work and life have been upended by coronavirus.

We talked with Spellings about coronavirus and best- and worst-case scenarios, what businesses should do to help schools, her advice for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and most importantly in the Lone Star State, will there be high school football in the fall?

Video and text of the conversation here.