November 16, 2017

November 15, 2017

New Video: School Transportation

School buses are safe and bus drivers are often cherished figures for kids – it’s the first school system adult most kids see in the morning and the last one in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, the good news ends there. Buses are environmentally harmful, inefficient and needlessly costly, and the way we organize transportation today works for school systems but not for parents. This new Bellwether video will get you up to speed on all that and avenues for improvement – in less than three minutes:


November 8, 2017

Election Reax, More TFA Positioning, Choice & Information

I’m tweeting some election reaction here. I’d keep an eye on what happened in Maine with Medicaid, that’s important on the policy but also the politics and impacts education, too.

From Ed Next here’s an interesting look on how more school choice changes informational markets.

As predicted, the issue of TFA and its audiences is in the open now. How can you tell? Well, here’s Elisa Villanueva Beard – the CEO of TFA on this very question.  Scroll down for other takes.

November 7, 2017

Teach For America And Its Audiences, We Work School, Accountability, Betsy DeVos Still Here, Obama Guidance, Not So Much…Food Ideas, More!

Yesterday, off-edu, I asked what was going on with Ryan Zinke, who isn’t living up to billing on public lands policy.

Don’t miss this 74 package on accountability.

Betsy DeVos is not leaving. She went through a lot to get the job. But, the, ‘who, me?’, no one was at the scene of the crime – her, the transition team, etc… – quality to who is to blame for her confirmation hearing is one of those amusing Washington things. To recap, she tells Politico she was badly staffed, the people staffing her say she wouldn’t pay attention.

Anyhow, DeVos will probably turn out to be a somewhat consequential Secretary of Education if for no other reason than she is undoing most of her predecessors’ policies over eight years because they were all done via guidance and executive actions rather than being embedded in law or formal regulations. And the one consequential recent education law she inherited, ESSA, she can basically choose to ignore because of how it’s structured and with a blessing from Hill Republicans.

Speaking of ESSA, all the confusion that color coded matrix accountability schemes cause is not a bug, it’s a feature.

Heather Harding on Teach For America and its positioning and audiences:

Finally, it’s important to remember that like many organizations, TFA is beginning its second act as its founder exits the central leadership and new leadership emerges. It would be a mistake to conflate TFA’s maturing policy platform with the identity politics frame being thrust upon new CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard. Straight from a Harvard Business School case study, Kopp surely has shepherded TFA’s transition into the post-founder era carefully and deliberately. Probe Villanueva Beard’s backstory, and you will find a classic American Dream narrative that offers something closer to the meritocracy we all want to believe in. Smartly, though, Villanueva Beard understands the need to listen to what narratives are most compelling to her most important audience: young people on college campuses.

The first time I walked into a “We Work” the very cool Emmeline Zhao of Topsheet was with me, which was a good thing because it’s so trendy we immediately agreed she should do the talking. Now there is this:

“In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,” Rebekah Neumann said in an interview. She thinks kids should develop their passions and act on them early, instead of waiting to grow up to be “disruptive,” as the entrepreneurial set puts it.

The students—this pilot crop is five to eight years old—spend one day at a 60-acre farm and the rest of the week in a classroom near the company’s Manhattan headquarters, where they get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. Neumann, who attended the elite New York City prep school Horace Mann and Cornell University, studying Buddhism and business, said she’s “rethinking the whole idea of what an education means” but is “non-compromising” on academic standards. The students will have to meet or exceed all of the state’s benchmarks for subjects such as math and reading.

At the farm, which the Neumanns bought last year, “if they are learning math, they are not just sitting in a classroom learning about numbers. They are also using numbers to run their farm stand, they’re reading about natural cycles of plant life,” she said. “It’s a very hands-on approach to learning.”
We will see…I do a bit of work on the side on food and farm policy via this excellent group, so this whole thing is worlds collide…BTW – couple of education and food policy ideas in here via Lindsey Shute and Tom Colicchio.


Here is a gas addicted monkey.

November 6, 2017

What’s Going On With Ryan Zinke?

Off-edu, I take a look at Ryan Zinke in U.S. News & World Report.

When President Trump announced his selection of Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of Interior, it landed pretty well. Zinke was a well-regarded former Navy SEAL and congressman known as a champion of protecting public lands and for being attentive to native issues. As opposed to some Trump nominees where defections of Republicans complicated the Senate math, Zinke was confirmed with a bipartisan 67 Senate votes – a landslide in the Trump-era.

During his Senate confirmation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a pro-public lands conservation group, said, “Both Zinke and President-elect Trump have identified themselves as conservationists in the model of Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican who helped create America’s priceless public land heritage.

That was then…

The story is different now and the Roosevelt comparisons a lot less flattering. You can read the entire column here.

The Tax Bill And Education, O’Keefe, Mehta, Dynarski, Race & Higher Ed, Race And Schools, The Mess In Online, And More!

Scroll down for edubjobs and a fish pictures.

Bonnie O’Keefe on teacher turnover and assumptions about it.

I endorse the idea that you should read Jal Mehta.

Mark Dynarski wants to know where the research is in state ESSA plans. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. No, seriously,  he does.

Most sectors have to figure out how to police potential conflicts of interest while also allowing cross pollination of ideas, practices, and solutions. Surprise! The education field will be no different as it evolves.

Race and higher education:

Is college necessary? It turns out about half of Californians don’t think so, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey.

The difference of opinions in ethnic groups is surprising: While two-thirds of Latinos answer yes, a majority of Asian- and African-Americans think so — but only 35 percent of whites agree.

The same disparity holds across income groups: Almost 60 percent of those from households earning less than $40,000 say college is necessary, while only 42 percent from households making at least $80,000 agree.

Again, when a bunch of people who have been successful doing something spend a lot of time telling you not to do it, be suspicious.

Tax bill: A bunch of proposals for the tax bill that would impact education. Some directly – for instance President Trump seems to be trying to make good on his $20 billion for school choice proposal in part by expanding 529s to include private k-12 expenses. That wouldn’t do much for low-income Americans as 529s are already skewed toward the more affluent who can take advantage of the savings opportunities. And, as we’ve discussed around here before, in general the experience with school choice initiatives shows that if you really want to empower the poor to choose schools you have to give them the choice via strategies like charters or give them money to spend via ideas like vouchers. These indirect strategies are expensive but low-leverage, at best.

Proposals to cap the state and local tax deductions and mortgage interest deductions would also affect public K-12 schools given the instrumental role property taxes and property values play in school finance today. Lawmakers taking aim at college endowments, too. Plenty of twists and turns to come before a final bill but right now hard to say this bill is good news for public schools. 

Reform is winning? Mike Petrilli says that everyone feeling a little down is wrong and the last year has been great for education reform.  He has plenty of examples of things that did or didn’t happen. The problem with this analysis is that there is always something happening – there are 50 states doing things always! The questions you have to ask are whether overall, big picture, in ways that affect millions of Americans, the politics are favorable to systemic improvement of our education system in service of larger goals like improved equity, better preparing Americans for the changing economy, or a deeper understanding of our shared civic bonds and ideals. It’s unclear to me how anyone can look at the past twelve months, or few years for that matter, this is about a lot more than President Trump, and come away feeling great about where things are.

Pat Riccards with a smart dissent on this point here.

School choice. A few months ago Randi Weingarten described school choice efforts as the polite cousins of segregation and pretty much anyone who has analyzed public school outcomes and demographics or even considered this for more than a few seconds, thought, well, wait, aren’t a lot of public school districts actually the polite cousins of segregation? Here’s a take on that and an important debate:

Pushing back against these invidious attacks is the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an organization that represents 47 historically black schools. “We cannot afford this kind of issue-myopia in our society,” the fund’s president, Johnny Taylor, wrote in a syndicated op-ed this fall. “If the NAACP continues to reject the educational opportunities school choice provides them, they risk becoming irrelevant—or worse—an enemy of the very people they claim to fight for.”

Speaking of….stay classy Denver!

The mailer is the handiwork of Every Student Succeeds, which gets its support from the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, as well as money from the Denver and Aurora teachers unions.

The term “bare-knuckle politics” just gained a new level of brutality. Cobián is no supporter of Trump, DeVos or their education agenda.

In reality, Cobián is an impressive up-and-comer who learned English in the Denver district, overcame significant hurdles to students of color, went on to gain an exemplary education…

Proponents of virtual and online education really ought to get on top of the quality and accountability issues – and yes those issues exist all around the education sector but when you’re an upstart you bear an extra burden.

I am not much on alternative history as a genre, but James Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry would have been something else.

November 3, 2017

November 1, 2017

Edujob: CEO At Urban Teachers

Here’s a just launched search, and the kind of role that doesn’t come along that often: CEO at Urban Teachers (pdf).

  • Urban Teachers has prepared nearly 1,000 residents serving almost 150 schools in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Dallas-Fort Worth;
  • This is an opportunity for a leader who can build upon UT’s accomplishments and help further prove their theory of change: that it takes an effective, committed group of teachers to transform student outcomes, and that a critical mass of these teachers will transform underserved schools;
  • Great opportunity for passionate executive with experience scaling organizations to the next level of growth; and
  • This role can be located in either Baltimore or Washington, DC.

You can learn more and apply via this link (pdf).