March 14, 2018

Walkouts! (And Pi Day!)

I’m excited about today’s student protests. The content is secondary, I just get excited when young people get engaged. But I do worry about the adults. Do we really want school districts and universities proactively sanctioning protests? That seems like a fraught business and one that conditions kids to look for activism to be pre-approved by the authorities. I take a look at that in The 74 today:

It’s an apt illustration of the times and an inversion of Scooby-Doo — the kids are about to do something and the adults are poised to screw it up with their meddling…

You can read the entire thing here.

On the same questions Pondiscio goes deep on the distinction between protests and field trips and why it should matter to those concerned with civics ed. Los Angeles middle school teacher Pablo DePaz explains why he’s walking out with his students.  And Mark Keierleber takes a look at the history of student activism.

Today is Pi Day! I’ve long maintained there are three kinds of people in the world, those who are good at math and those who are not. Today’s the day to celebrate math people. Once at a bar I saw 19 get in a fight with 20. 21.

I knew a rancher who counted his cows daily out in the field, he had 99. But when he finally rounded them up, turns out he had a 100.

Math can be hard and even scary for people. I know someone who is quite terrified of negative numbers, will stop at nothing to avoid them.

Anyway, two drink minimum here…Happy Pi Day.

Posted on Mar 14, 2018 @ 11:19am

March 12, 2018

About That DeVos Interview…Plus Discipline And School Shootings, The NRA And Schools, Lockett On Personalized And Empowerment, Runaway, More!

Last week I interviewed Nate Bowling and Alex Rigsby. Bellwether released some papers on gender and pensions, among other things, you might want to check out.

Of course an argument has broken out over whether the Obama Administration’s discipline guidance contributed to the Parkland shooting.

Here’s your periodic reminder that like all interest groups the NRA probably does some stuff you like and some stuff you don’t like (although probably not in equal measure). Their gun safety programs are pretty good, though, just for instance and they do a lot with schools. That’s why an effort to disrupt the landscape rather than a frontal assault is probably more durable over time if the goal is to change gun politics in this country.

Phyllis Lockett sees personalized learning as one way to empower girls.

Here’s an interesting line up for an event on data and college completion.

As you may have heard, Betsy DeVos was on 60 Minutes.

Clearly, Betsy DeVos should not take my advice.

Definitely not a soft profile and covers a lot of ground for a 13 minute segment. I may have a scale that has too many shaky performances baked into it. It certainly wasn’t great but as these things go and given that Stahl was coming hard it didn’t seem to be the disaster the news clips today are making it out to be (by tomorrow it will be worst interview ever!).

Look, DeVos doesn’t give good interviews. And she should be more conversant on some issues – more on that in a second. And maybe I have that general rockiness baked into my assessment too much. But, this did not seem to standout to me. Generically bad, not epically bad. And in her defense, going back to Bush I, Dick Riley, John King, and Margaret Spellings are the only secretaries I can think of [Update: Should have mentioned Lamar Alexander here, too, he was a seasoned pol when he took the role and has done so much since then the Secretary role slipped my mind] who didn’t mangle facts and evidence with some regularity or give answers that would not withstand scrutiny. And most of them were not asked hard questions very much anyway. Presentism is a powerful thing right now.

Anyway, a few things jumped out to me. 60 is usually pretty solid on the evidence but they do the typical throw your hands up on school choice and say who knows? It’s complicated! Yes, it is, but whether vouchers or charters there are some pretty clear inferences one can draw about what’s working and not working on a macro level and in specific places. That would be good to push DeVos on more than the generalities Stahl went with (and as we saw with the infamous Franken episode on value added at her confirmation, just because DeVos is out of her depth doesn’t mean her questioners are not as well).

On choice DeVos is right on Florida and what the research shows about the impact on other schools, she should have stayed on that point and not taken Stahl’s bait. And obviously at this point she ought to have a crisper answer about Michigan given that it’s going to keep coming up – and all the evidence there doesn’t cut against her case! Inexplicable that she doesn’t. It’s not some random state, it’s her home state and one where she has wielded some influence.

We also got a bit of DeVos derangement syndrome. Last week DeVos improved all the state ESSA plans in just 120 hours. This week she’s doing wonders for aggregate school quality. Pre-DeVos the faddish argument was that all this reform had led to nothing, NCLB, Obama, all of that. But presto! All DeVos has to do is criticize schools and suddenly everyone is talking up all the improvement of the last 25 years and how test scores have been going up! (It’s true, they have but you were not hearing a lot of that…).

The story also gives airtime to the idea that DeVos might personally profit from her public service. That’s a waste of precious screen time when we could have been talking about substance. In practice, the opposite is actually true given what she had to do to take the office. That’s kind of interesting! Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, there are opportunities, sure, but for the most part the education business is a great way to turn billions into millions. There is a lot of money in education but most of it is not up for grabs and the politics suck.

They didn’t ask her about her brother or it didn’t make the screen.

And despite today’s chatter it didn’t seem to me she was really pushed on her vision for education beyond gotchas on what schools she visits. That was good TV but while I get that she wants more choices anyone awake gets that, would it kill an interviewer to ask her how that will play out against concerns about equity, what we know about the unevenness of choice in some places, and the fiscal reality of her ideas beyond the typical ‘choice takes money from other schools’ because it’s more complicated than that in practice? I guess Stahl was trying but seemed to go with the easier made for TV questions than real probing stuff on the complexities here. In Stahl’s defense, complicated multipart questions make lousy TV.

Finally, the story mentions the ongoing debate about changing the Title IX sexual assault standards on campus. She should have been better on the false accusation issue – there is actual evidence there, too.* But, a really great 60 story would be about the colleges that are quietly working with her behind the scenes on that because of the due process problems those standards created, including racial inequities – but that don’t want anyone to know they support the change given the politics. There are also federal lawsuits in play. That’s a story that’s pretty illustrative of the nature of our times…

Random odds and ends:  Bonnie Raitt gets the job done. Lawsuit you may want to keep abreast of.

*On that as with all the questions, we don’t know what’s in the outtakes but what made it to the screen is not great. I’m not implying 60 was biased, just that editing these things is complicated and harder than it looks from the cheap seats.

Posted on Mar 12, 2018 @ 1:26pm

March 9, 2018

The 74 Interview: Gold Medalist Alex Rigsby

At least week’s Caps – Leafs game at the USNA the gold medal winning Olympic Women’s Hockey Team was honored for their achievement. At the game goalie Alex Rigsby and I talked about hockey, girls and sports, and her mentoring work with Classroom Champions, an organization I’m on the board of.

The interview is here via The 74.

Posted on Mar 9, 2018 @ 9:29am

March 8, 2018

Gender And Pensions, What’s Next After West Virginia? DeVos And Education’s Reactionaries, Discipline, Aspen SEL, State Funding, Interventions That Work, Boomtown Rats, More!

In The 74 I talk with Teacher of the Year Nate Bowling about guns.

Two important analyses from Bellwether – gender and teacher pensions. Our analysts, Kirsten Schmitz and Max Marchitello, look at data in Illinois and Nevada and what they find may surprise you.

Also, Max Marchitello with some hard truths on Illinois teacher pensions. Katrina Boone and Allison Davis on Biggie, Tupac, and evaluation.

And you could have bet on this – Chad Aldeman with some data-informed nuance on the West Virginia teacher compensation situation. More on that here via 74.

The strike in West Virginia is ending – for real this time. The teachers unions are in an interesting spot: One the one hand their backs are against the wall with the Janus case that is going to disrupt their financial model, moderately or severely depending how the case comes down and how they respond. On the other, these mass strikes, Chicago a few years ago and now West Virginia are breathing some new life into their efforts. Small strikes don’t work, big ones seem to. That’s not lost on anyone. At a minimum Randi Weingarten will have to get arrested with more frequency to keep up with the theater – but this seems likely to affect union politics and education politics more generally.

From the to and through college desk.

Whose lawyers are smarter? A continuing series…

Bruno Manno goes deep on school segregation questions.

Toppo seems skeptical that video games contribute to our youth violence problems. I get the general frustration that people want to talk about everything except guns in the gun debate – but that doesn’t axiomatically mean that the adjacent issues are not legitimate. The military, for instance, has long had an interest in video games. And the idea that a marketplace flooded with games that celebrate and habituate violence – especially first person shooter games – would have no effect at all on our culture is a curious one. Maybe not a definite link, but definitely something worth looking at and discussing.

Speaking of reflexive reactions – there was general agreement in Washington that state ESSA plans were not very good. Then earlier this week Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said state ESSA plans were not very good. So now…

For years the ed field has said teachers are disempowered, then a few months ago DeVos said it and suddenly it was a taboo thing to say…if she really wanted to advance school choice DeVos should probably just give a speech saying that school districts are the only way to do schools. Someone would launch “Teachers for Vouchers” that afternoon.

Notwithstanding all the noise, bigger picture it’s her brother, former SEAL Erik Prince, who is in the news again though that seemed not to penetrate education twitter. He’s lived at the intersection of government contracting, spooky work of various sorts, and politics for a long while and now he’s in Mueller’s sights as a result of some Trump work. That’s a bigger game than the latest DeVos outrage. It won’t help his political ambitions either.

On ESSA, every version of ESEA has its little land mines or the water that gets in the cracks, freezes, and causes some trouble. Clever provisions put in by clever policymakers that move the field forward in ways that don’t immediately grab headlines. In NCLB it was the data genie that was let out of the bottle and isn’t going back in. In ESSA it might be the provisions around fiscal transparency. Here’s a look at that.

Something works! It’s weird. If you focus on execution and quality kids learn more.

Here’s a debate on school discipline.

How does your state fund schools? EdBuild has your answers with a cool microsite.

This Aspen event on SEL looks interesting. You can RSVP here.

Patti Smith revisits a gem. And here’s one with some school violence history behind it.

Posted on Mar 8, 2018 @ 10:45am

March 2, 2018

Edujob: Executive Director @ Raise DC

Here’s an exciting edujob in Washington, DC at Raise DC:

Leading with the core belief that adults across multiple sectors bear a shared responsibility for student success, Raise DC spurs citywide action to improve educational outcomes for Washington, DC, children and youth, from birth through age 24. The organization convenes public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders and uses data to guide effective practices that ensure every child has opportunities to succeed, from cradle to career. Raise DC is a partner of the collective impact network StriveTogether, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Greater Washington Community Foundation serves as Raise DC’s backbone organization, supporting daily operations with human capital and infrastructure.

Here’s how they describe the role:

Raise DC is seeking an Executive Director who can lead the organization through continued growth by ensuring a strong backbone, fostering meaningful connections, and championing progress toward improved outcomes. The Executive Director is tasked with building authentic, effective relationships across a multitude of sectors, including with the philanthropic community, to support Raise DC’s growing operations; distilling complex information into clear ideas that move stakeholders to act; managing a dynamic team of programmatic and data-driven staff in progressing toward its education-focused goals; and designing and implementing an expanded array of interventions to drive greater impact.

Learn more and learn about how to apply here.

March 1, 2018

West Virgina Strike Over Not Over! Guns On Campus, Prayer On Campus, Weeby, Kaplan, Mink Profile, More DC…NZ Charter Pushback Plus More!

Marnie Kaplan on getting beneath the label on the pre-k teachers and bachelor’s degree debate. In a new paper Jason Weeby takes a look at human centered design and policymaking.

I reviewed a Tedeschi Trucks show for GratefulEd, the America Succeeds music site.

Here’s a lot of data on the gun issue, including more support for arming teachers than you might think. Marilyn Rhames wants to arm teachers – with prayer.

Are active shooter drills doing more harm than good for kids? I tend to think so and wish we provided more training or adults on the variety of situations, including non-gun ones, they may encounter and spun up the kids a little less.

We keep hearing how the founders would have been OK with guns in schools, or if we can’t be sure then all we have to go on is the 2nd Amendment. Actually, their views on this are not such a mystery.

Speaking of the founders, Ron Berger on what Jefferson might have thought of #MDSStrong.

New chancellor in New York City. It’s an interesting choice and not the teachers’ unions favorite option. Update: He’s changed his mind. It’s not the first NYC chancellor near miss.

The 74 profiles Patsy Mink.

West Virginia teacher strike is over. Wait, not so fast! 

More enrollment trouble in DC?

Checking in on the New Zealand charter school debate. Plus video!

Try it on yourself: Tedeschi Trucks Capitol Theater 2-20-18.

February 28, 2018

Edujobs @ Hiawatha Academies & The Mind Trust

Here are two open edujobs:

Hiawatha Academies is seeking an ED to support the opening of a new middle school and high school, codify systems and practices; aid in more firmly establishing pedagogical and cultural norms; and embed the actions and behaviors that support its equity vision. Learn more and apply here!

The Mind Trust is bringing a teacher residency program to Indianapolis! Nominate an exceptional leader or apply to launch this innovative program in Fall 2019.

February 27, 2018

New Early Ed Work From BW, Straight Talk On Arming Teachers, Janus Round Up, Wedge Politics, New NACSA, Ed Sector Music, And More!

Scroll down for a bunch of edujobs.

Sara Mead on why community colleges and early ed need each other. And Marnie Kaplan with a deep dive analysis of community colleges and the early ed workforce. Chad Aldeman with some tough medicine for Dems on teacher pensions.

And here’s a Bellwether – New America analysis on pre-k and bachelor’s degrees – what it will take to get past the rhetoric. More from Sara Mead on that here.

And Chad Aldeman with some retirement crisis context. 

If you have a healthy skepticism then perhaps you’re not persuaded by people who have never held or fired a gun (or can’t stand to look at them) telling you arming teachers is a bad idea. So instead, here is some straight talk about shooting at people from someone who has had to do it and why this arming teachers gambit makes no sense.


Here’s the wrap up from the courtroom today. NBC legal analysis here.

The fiscal argument in Janus. This argument is, of course, also why many on the left who are disgusted by the antics of the teachers unions are nonetheless concerned about the impact of Janus on school finance.

And here’s the argument that the law of unintended consequences means a win for Mark Janus might create consequences his advocates are not thinking about.

Here are all the various filings in Janus. And here is the transcript of today’s arguments.

Odds and Ends:

New NACSA report on authorizing points up some issues that might not be top of mind when you think of practice.

This is a hell of a video. “If you walk into our neighborhoods you see they are not full of wealthy families…the kids in our communities are the kids who need charters the most.”

Dreamers deferred by a SCOTUS action yesterday, so the March deadline really isn’t but they are still in limbo until Congress acts.

New Pahara Next Gen cohort announced.

Big school – Medicaid overlap, this AASA brief looks at that.

Margaret Spellings on the value of higher education.

Terry Ryan on rural charters.

The title of this report is “Is School Funding Fair?” I can save you some time, the answer is a hard no. It’s not. But there is more in here. For instance I’m struck how many people don’t know how unfair intrastate school finance is. For instance, 17 states provide less funding to high poverty districts (and then everyone runs around saying explicitly or implicitly that we really can’t expect poor kids to learn…).

Military wedge politics on school choice. And teachers union wedge politics on school choice.

In Texas the Mack Beggs wresting saga is wrapping up but is not over.

Listen to The Coals. (Jason Mandell of Larson Comms is in this band).

February 26, 2018

Edujob: Head Of School @ Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School

Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School is an innovative, long-standing, and well-regarded charter school in Washington. They are hiring for a head of school:

The Head of School is a critical member of the executive leadership team at Thurgood Marshall Academy. This is a full-time, supervisory position that reports directly to the Executive Director.  The Head of School is responsible for daily instruction, curriculum development, teacher observation and feedback, academic assessments, and overall academic performance at the school. The successful candidate will have a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience (preferably at the secondary level) as well as supervisory experience.

Learn more and learn how to be considered here.