April 10, 2018


April 9, 2018

Denver 2008 V. Denver 2018, Plus Lots Of Finance: Pensions, State Spending, Omnibus Bill. And The Great 8 DIY’s, New Line, Sup’t Searches, Food Searches, More!

Edujobs below, scroll down the main page.

Kirsten Schmitz with some background and context on pensions and the teacher walkouts. Chad Aldeman on pension reform in Kentucky.

This is a smart take on the geezer war and what it means for debates over teacher pay. I’ve been doing this work for a couple of decades and the relative shift in state spending on Medicaid and schools is one of the most pronounced changes over that time.

Speaking of money, don’t miss this webinar on the federal omnibus led by Whiteboard’s David DeSchryver. Thursday at 2pm.

Help wanted.

Denver innovation 2008. Denver innovation 2018.

This EverFi initiative is interesting. And I think Alexander Ovechkin writes his own quotes.

New issue of The Line is out.

I was wondering when someone was going to write this story – school gun clubs are pretty popular and pretty widely ignored in a debate about guns and schools that’s mostly coastal.

Today in pensions: Don’t do this.

“I think there are a lot of wealthy, lazy kids that don’t want to go down the elevator to pick up food,” he said.

Wild elephant. Wild Horses.


April 5, 2018

The Teachers Union Strike Strategy Is A Smart One, GAO On Discipline, White On Reading, Free Range Parenting, More!

The teacher strike in Oklahoma is ongoing. There is some chatter that this is a bad play for the teachers unions. I disagree. Yes, if history is any guide, it’s a safe bet at some point they’ll overplay their hand, but for now this works for them and is a smart strategy for four reasons.

First, they’ve got some legit grievances. Teachers are underpaid in some places (variance is the real story on teacher pay) and health care costs are effectively creating pay problems in others. Pension costs also create a crowd out effect on school finance but don’t look for them to take the lead on that. In general though these are not off the wall issues. Plus, because when these strikes end teachers usually get made whole for lost wages while they were on strike – yes that’s usually how it works even though you don’t hear about that in the media – it’s a low-risk strategy internally.

Second, they’re picking their spots well. They’re getting people in red states fired up about teachers and these issues and it’s also a smart play in advance of the 2018 midterm election where expanding the field will be key to Democratic success. And red state public finance is creating pressure they can seize on. Yes, with all these mass strikes it feels like we are living in France some days, but it’s a good moment for them. 

Third, making themselves sympathetic and highlighting these issues in advance of what’s likely to be an adverse ruling for them in the Janus case later this spring at the Supreme Court is smart. These strikes are putting pay first and foremost in people’s minds, not collective bargaining by teachers, which is less sympathetic and splits even Democrats. I mean seriously, look at press like this.

Fourth, these big strikes work for them when done right. Karen Lewis showed that in Chicago and these recent ones follow suit. And the unions are stronger when they’re on offense about things like this than defense over personnel polices and issues like that. Plus, it obscures other issues that case friction within the union. For instance misalignment between national leadership and the rank and file over hot button issues like discipline takes a back seat to the immediacy of stuff like this.

John White: 

While Washington investigates Facebook data and Russian bots, the best shield most Americans have to fight off propaganda is our capacity to make sense of what we read. A literate citizenry is a matter of national defense.

The GAO has weighed in on school discipline disparities.

Utah now has a free range parenting law – will other states do the same thing?

Robin Lake – who is something of an ed policy superhero herself, tells LAUSD to stop looking for one.

NGA’s Stephen Parker on governors’ role on ESSA going forward.

Howard University students continue pushing back on their administration.

New leader at Data Quality Campaign.

Check out KIPP’s alumni survey. More here.

Amazon dropping TenMarks.

Tim Shriver, Terry MacAuliffe, and Karen Pittman at Aspen Institute on Friday to talk SEL.  Live event and webcast.

Everyone can relate to this bear wanting to get a few more winks in.


April 3, 2018

Zernike Vapes, Duncan Writes, Grad Rates, Financial Incentives, Budget Dogs, School Naming, Time Capsules And Timeless, More!

Max Marchitello cautions that financial incentives alone are not enough to address the ed sector’s challenges with recruiting and retaining teachers from diverse backgrounds.

Kate Zernike on the vaping beat.

Arne Duncan is not wrong about the trajectory of progress on education. Still enormous problems but the idea that nothing has worked or we’ve spent billions and nothing has come of it simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and is a counterproductive thing for public school advocates to say anyway. I’d also agree that even more than capacity and lack of a coherent knowledge agenda, politics is the number one barrier to improving schools. Not sure though, in a democracy, I’d want it any other way despite the headaches.

Womp womp womp….

Food stamp timing and student achievement.

Worth your time to read this CAP analysis on graduation rates and some of the problems / lack of transparency with how states handle diplomas.

As predicted, mass teacher strikes becoming a thing. Good reminder as Janus looms that things rarely are as linear in this sector as is sometimes assumed. Good offense / best defense, or something like that. Former Massachusetts teachers union chief Paul Toner on all this.

Related bonus for the unions: All of this is helping leadership distract from some very real tensions in their ranks around the student discipline issue.

New guidelines for how OCR will handle serial complaints.

This Rick Hess/Grant Addison idea is mischievous.

Today in school naming. Today in donation gaps.

High school time capsule in Richmond. Here’s a speech that still stands up a half century later.

Bettye Layette has a new album out. Here’s some past work.


Edujob: ED @ Roots Elementary

Here’s an interesting and impactful edujob in Denver, CO:  Executive Director at Roots Elementary.  From the JD:

The guiding spirit for Roots is to cultivate our scholars’ innate sense of wonder into a lifetime of opportunity. The Executive Director fundamentally ensures that this founding spirit of Roots is nurtured, developed, and delivered on a consistent basis to the families of our community.

More specifcally, the Executive Director sets the strategic direction for Roots in partnership with the board, ensures adequate resources to support the school and the achievement of its goals, manages relationships with external stakeholders, and develops leadership team members’ capacity to execute their responsibilities.

The Executive Director thinks and plans strategically and inspires community members to become more engaged in the work of the school.

The Executive Director implements and develops policies and plans, and organizes, coordinates, and manages the programs and activities of the school.

You can read the entire – and really thorough – JD here and learn how to apply and be considered.


March 30, 2018

DeVos In Trump No-Man’s Land? ESSA Assessments, Student Growth Measures, Pensions, Incarcerated Youth, Ed Ideas, Emergency Goalie, More!

Edujobs below, scroll down the main page.

Bonnie O’Keefe says don’t expect much from the ESSA assessment pilot – and that might not be the worse thing. Kate Pennington on student growth measures in the ESSA era.

Chad Aldeman and I looked at why teacher pensions are a bad fit for today’s teachers and what can be done for Democracy.

As Trump churn continues it’s worth noting that the President seems to favor people who perform well on TV – a CNBC personality and Fox analyst for two senior White House roles in just the past couple of weeks. And a guy who is good in front of the camera to run the VA. That’s probably not great news for Betsy DeVos who no one is going to accuse of giving great interviews. She’s not one of the out of sight cabinet secretaries doing their thing under the radar – when is the last time you heard about Rick Perry or Elaine Chao? Even Linda McMahon is keeping a low-profile. DeVos is neither low-profile or competent on Trump’s favorite medium -TV. That’s a no-mans land that’s not a great place to be in this administration it seems.

Your episodic reminder that schools are pretty safe.

California innovating with education for incarcerated individuals. Florida implementing reforms for incarcerated youth.

CAP has seven education ideas for progressives in 2018. Conservatives are all about parsimony so they’ll have five ideas to respond? No, wait, wait, that’s wrong, they’re talking up education funding now.

“A few hours ago I was sitting on the computer typing on a 10-key, and now I’m standing in front of you guys having just finished 14½ minutes of N.H.L. hockey,”


Edujob: ED @ NAGB

Here’s an interesting edujob and one that does not come open all that often: Executive Director at NAGB. They are the team that brings you NAEP. The deadline is April 30th. Here’s an overview:

The National Assessment Governing Board is seeking a dynamic leader with expertise in effective management, strong communication skills, and public relations, and who seeks a position with an independent organization that sets policy on education assessment at the federal level.

The Governing Board was created by Congress in 1988 to set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—otherwise known as The Nation’s Report Card. NAEP is a large-scale assessment program that measures student achievement across the nation, in all states, and in 27 large urban districts. The 26-member independent and bipartisan Board comprises state, local, and federal officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the public.

The Executive Director supervises a dedicated staff that supports the Board’s work in several key areas, including selecting subject areas to be assessed; developing assessment objectives; and overseeing the reporting and dissemination of results including the initial public release, among other congressionally mandated responsibilities.

You can learn more and apply via this link.


March 28, 2018

Teacher Pensions Are Not “Gold Plated,” Willingham x 2, Teacher Prep, Walkouts, Bullying, More!

In Democracy Chad Aldeman and I take a look at the big pension lie proponents (implicitly) and opponents (explicitly) tell: Teacher pensions are “gold plated.” They’re not. Chad and I look at why and what policymakers can do to make pensions more effective for more teachers, including those who teach for a long time but not in the same places because of life circumstances. Also, the Social Security problem.

Traditional pension plans simply don’t work that well for the majority of teachers. Lost in all the attention to the cost of teacher pensions is the more fundamental design problem. Traditional pensions are a lousy fit for today’s teacher labor market.

The design problem is overlooked because there is a lie, or perhaps more charitably a myth, at the heart of the debate about teacher pensions. “Teachers get “gold-plated” pensions,” argue critics and some conservatives. “Pension reform is a scam intended to take away the good pensions teachers get,” counter the teachers’ unions. The hyperbole obscures a harder reality: Teacher pensions aren’t gold plated. In fact, they’re not very good for most teachers at all.It’s all here at Democracy.

Elsewhere:

I’m starting to think that Richard Whitmire and Peter Cunningham don’t like Betsy DeVos.

Willingham: My daughter is disabled, please don’t look away from her. And here’s Willingham on teacher prep.

Is NCTQ’s controversial ed school review actually working?

Hard to miss how social issues left, right, and center got rolled in the omnibus bill. No DACA fix, minimal border security, nothing big on guns or Freedom Caucus priorities. But lots of money. Even in the Trump era some laws of political gravity remain mostly intact.

Years ago test scores were the gold standard for evaluating school choice programs. The evidence on that front is pretty modest. So now choice advocates are talking about whether test scores matter that much. On a parallel track there were people who were skeptical of test scores but didn’t look at the school system through rose colored glasses and supported choice as one strategy to drive change and create pockets of innovation within it – those were people like Ted Sizer.

PA Superintendent on why she treated gun walkouts like any other discipline issue. Texas superintendent accused of bullying when he was in middle school. He denies it but witnesses coming forward. Latest here.

The critics are right. Post-secondary preparation is really lacking.

Bangles 2011.


March 21, 2018

Aldeman On CO, Green On Discipline, Chetty, Leonhardt, SAT/ACT And High School Testing, More!

Chad Aldeman on Colorado pension debate:

“it’s clear that not only should Colorado teachers be given an option to join the PERA –DC plan already offered to state employees, but that plan should be the default for all new teachers.”

David Leonhardt points out that college aspirations remain high among parents. Important column given the tenor of the education conversation lately.

Here’s a student free speech issue.

Underneath this political back and forth about whether the Obama discipline guidance contributed to the Parkland shooting – best I can tell the fact of that episode are a poor fit with the idea that guidance contributed – there is a serious conversation about discipline, the guidance, and a complicated basket of issues. Thoughtful Times look at that via Erica Green.

And here’s the sobering Chetty paper you’ve been hearing about this week.

New study on online ed for adults.

This is an important issue and California is a key battleground given its outsized importance:

The “danger” is that the SAT or ACT will distort teachers’ priorities, driving them to “water down” high school math content or “narrowly focus on a limited range of skills” in English language arts, Achieve said.

Short book review. This is really not a good children’s book.

Voices Carry. Voices Carry.


March 19, 2018