December 18, 2017

Edujob – Director Of Development @ Empower Illinois

This is not going to be a low-key edujob. New organization at the forefront of big policy changes, and they need a development director:

The Development Director for Empower Illinois will be charged with planning, organizing and directing fundraising in this busy startup Scholarship Granting Organization raising more than $4,000,000 for annual operations and more than $20,000,000 from corporations to support scholarships for low income and working class children, utilizing a new tax credit available under the new “Invest in Kids Act” passed in the summer of 2017. We are looking for a high-competency professional who will treat the tasks of this role as an opportunity to invest in her/his growth. The Development Director works closely with the Managing Director, Executive Director, and the Empower Illinois Board in all development and fundraising endeavors.  The role is designed for someone who has what it takes to thrive in a fast paced, mission-driven, growing enterprise.

You can learn more and be considered via this link.

December 15, 2017

December 14, 2017

ESSA Reviews And Analysis, ECE Coaching, ECE Evidence, Higher Ed Act On The Move, Marchitello’s Investment Tips, Bitcoins, Teacher Podcasts, Grace Potter, More!

ICYMI Bellwether/CSS ESSA reviews.

Kate Pennington and Max Marchitello on ESSA opportunities.  Anne Hyslop on the ESSA state of play and the department’s role.

Via Bonnie O’Keefe, new Bellwether analysis on instructional coaching in early childhood education.  And via The 74 here’s a short version.

Max Marchitello with some investment advice. No, wait, our lawyer says that is explicitly *not* investment advice. But it’s a push for pension funds on their investments.

ICYMI Whitmire on Success Academy and his Success diet.

Ten 2017 edu charts via The 74.

Here’s CEP taking a look at year one of ESSA.

NCTQ state teacher policy yearbook – this is always a useful reference.

Higher Ed reauthorization bill in the House. Here’s a primer on major provisions.

Critics of proposals to expand pre-k education had a point when they noted that huge expansions were being predicated on a pretty thin empirical base (the logic model case was stronger, in my view). But over time the evidence base is growing that while expensive pre-k and quality early ed offer benefits.

Cameron Crowe, call your office.  And on high school kids, this is heartbreaking.

Interesting take on Bitcoin, includes this point, which has implications for the education field:

All the same, the bitcoin bubble is doing some good. How can this be? The high price of bitcoin, though wildly fluctuating, is attracting attention to the underlying platform, called blockchain. This technology could revolutionize future transactions of many kinds, providing secure execution of “smart contracts,” as well as fast, efficient claims processing that eliminates expensive middlemen.

Charter schools, diversity, and politics.

Apparently they don’t teach the Barnette case in ed school anymore.

David Deschryver on the GI bill and employment.

NWEA and CCSSO have the state teachers of the year doing podcasts.

Rocketship has a new name and website.  And the Charter School Growth Fund’s Emerging CMO Fund is accepting applications now.

Grace Potter and the Stones.

Posted on Dec 14, 2017 @ 12:23pm

December 12, 2017

The Reviews Are In! Round 2 ESSA Reviews

Evaluations of the 34 Round 2 ESSA state plans are out today via Bellwether’s project with the Collaborative For Student Success.

The 74: 

States largely squandered the opportunity to create strong, innovative education plans through the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan group of independent reviewers found…

…Among the 34 states submitting plans in the second round, nine got a 5 in at least one category, and only Indiana received a 5 in two categories. Compare that to the first round, in which six of the 17 plans got a top rating in at least one category, with three states getting 5’s in more than one category.

All the reviews and the executive summary here.

Check State Plans site here.

Posted on Dec 12, 2017 @ 8:47am

December 11, 2017

Richard Whitmire: Why I Put Myself On A Success Academy Writing Diet

By Richard Whitmire

I totally get the outsized coverage we’re seeing of Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy charter schools in New York. In years past, I’ve been guilty of the same. But there’s a reason I pulled back.

First, let’s discuss Eva’s appeal, which is hard to resist. Moskowitz is one of those rare, swashbuckling figures carving out an “empire” of charter schools in New York City, confounding and infuriating her ‘dastardly’ critics by turning low-income minority students into top scholars.

Her message to the mayor, teachers unions and other detractors (who accuse her of manipulating the system to get those results) is blunt: If I can do this, why aren’t you doing the same! Oooh…that really gets them riled up.

We haven’t seen that kind of in-your-face rhetoric since Michelle Rhee took over as chancellor of the schools in Washington DC. (oops, guilty there as well. Wrote an entire book, The Bee Eater, about Rhee.)

The latest Moskowitz article, by Elizabeth Green in The Atlantic, drew the headline: The Charter-School Empire of the Future. That came on the heels of a New Yorker piece, where the headline described Success charters as a “radical educational experiment.” Both are great pieces; Green comes away impressed, while raising some concerns about the downside of successful charter networks; Mead calmly analyzes classroom practices.

And if that’s not enough coverage, Moskowitz herself just published a new book about her radical experiment, The Education of Eva Moskowitz.

The Success Academy book I’m eagerly awaiting will come from education writer/practitioner Robert Pondiscio, who has burrowed into Success classrooms to determine exactly what goes on there (watch for it, fall of 2018).

The journalistic attempts to take down Eva Moskowitz are too numerous to cite here, but the most notable was a New York Times investigative piece that breathlessly “exposed” her strict discipline policies.

I stepped into the charter world several years ago to write a book about Rocketship charters, at the time an aggressive, fledgling charter network out of San Jose that vowed to build a national network of high performing charters that would eliminate learning gaps. (One of the cofounders was every bit as brash as Eva). Today, Rocketship runs many good schools, but no national network. This stuff is not easy.

Along my research path for that book I ran across a lot of great charters, and I’ve hewed to that topic ever since, with another book, The Founders, which lays out the history behind the top performing charter networks.

So here’s what makes me uneasy about all the attention paid to Success Academies: Eva Moskowitz undeniably makes sexy copy, but she’s also a unicorn. If you look around the country at the big charter networks, none are take-no-prisoners empire builders.

The closest might be IDEA Public Charters in Texas, which is on an expansion tear that mirrors Success. IDEA has a goal of running 173 schools by the year 2022, enrolling 100,000 students. But the IDEA schools are spread over Texas, a very large state, with a single school foray into Louisiana. Moskowitz’s schools are in a single city.

The most interesting charter expansions don’t even involve opening new schools. California-based Summit Public Schools offers up its digitized learning program to all schools, mostly traditional public schools, and is now in 23 states. That’s huge news, the biggest charter/district collaboration in the country, but news that rarely gets out with the focus on Success.

And Moskowitz’s go-for-the-jugular style is definitely unicornish. Most leaders strive to keep a low profile, looking for ways to cooperate with districts. Everyone knows about Moskowitz’s diatribes. How many know that a quiet college success collaboration between KIPP and San Antonio Independent School District brought immediate positive results and a shower of corporate money into the traditional district?

As good as the test scores may look at Success, the network has yet to prove itself. Test scores mean nothing if you don’t infuse your graduates with the array of qualities that allow some first-generation college goers to succeed, while so many others drop out with no degrees.

Let’s dip into just one example here: Will Success ever be as good as Uncommon Schools, also based in New York? Uncommon is the Ginger to the Success Fred Astaire; it dazzles while backfilling its classes through 9th grade (Success cuts off new admissions after fourth grade).

Uncommon’s alumni earn bachelor’s degree at a rate of 50 percent, a rate that in a few years is projected to climb to 70 percent, the same rate experienced by students from wealthy families. Will Success ever be that good? Hard to say; its first graduating class, with just 17 students, is about to head off to college.

You’ll never see Uncommon’s leader, Brett Peiser, bashing unions and politicians. Maybe that’s why the school chancellors in both New York and Newark reached out to Uncommon and asked them to run professional development programs. This is big stuff; rarely written about.

So that’s why I put myself on a Success Academy writing diet. Moskowitz runs some amazing schools, but she’s a unicorn, and all that unicorn coverage distorts what’s really going on with charters around the country.

Education writer Richard Whitmire is an accomplished paddler and fisherman and the author of several books.

Posted on Dec 11, 2017 @ 12:18pm

What I’m Reading:

Reminder, we’ve got 34 ESSA reviews coming tomorrow.

Department of Education explainer on Endrew F. case implications.

Parallel play on civil rights and education.  And this on the same issue from U.S. News. Very much related: Petrilli on school discipline. Not long ago we talked about PX90 for your mind – the school discipline issue is a great one to try that workout on.

Fensterwald goes deep on CA funding issues.

Teaching about economic inequality.

New ideas in Detroit. And a Janice Jackson profile from Chicago.

The invisible primary – some education impacts here.

“Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains”

Here’s a good example of why strategic planning pays off.

December 8, 2017

Amy Wilkins Takes No Prisoners! Plus, ATR Debacle, Success For Success, Music Ed, ESSA Reviews, Laine & Lane, More!

Coming attractions: Working with the Collaborative For Student Success, Bellwether convened a crew of state and federal policy experts to evaluate state ESSA plans. Round 1 results here, on Tuesday the 34 round 2 states will be released.

Justin Trinidad on music education.

Amy Wilkins:

The problem is the mindset of revanchists who peddle stories like these — professional anti-reformers who go nuts when approaches other than those they sanction and control deliver results for the students whom they insist cannot learn at high levels.

There is no comparison — none — between the enforced segregation of the pre–Brown v. Board era and the choices black families make when they enroll their children in better schools. It’s ludicrous to suggest the two are in any way similar. In fact, it’s far closer to the spirit of Jim Crow to tell a black student that she has to go to her dismal neighborhood school because the better charter school up the street is not white enough to satisfy the defenders of the status quo.

Jon Chait on the same issue.

That this isn’t occasioning more outrage is an indictment of this sector. It’s what inequality looks like in practice but from the usual suspects…crickets:

…the department said that it had placed only 41 of the teachers, who were part of a pool known as the Absent Teacher Reserve. As critics of the plan had feared, they were disproportionately employed in schools that serve high-needs students.

Here’s Elizabeth Green with a bold (and stronger than I’d characterize it substantively) thing to say in the current climate:

Of all the reforms that have set out to free schools from this trap, to date I’ve seen only one that works: the implementation of charter-school networks. Large enough to provide shared resources for teachers, yet insulated from bureaucratic and political crosscurrents by their independent status, these networks are creating the closest thing our country has ever seen to a rational, high-functioning school system. They have strengthened public education by extracting it from democracy as we know it—and we shouldn’t be surprised, because democracy as we know it is the problem.

Also, I’m not big on revealing people’s school choices, but here’s one already revealed and there is more of this than you’d think listening to the usual suspects:

Their names, I learned, were Joel Greenblatt and John Petry, and they were the hedge-fund managers who, as founders and board members of Harlem Success Academy, had recruited Moskowitz as their CEO. They were, I also learned, very nice gazillionaires. Petry, who graduated from the same Maryland public-school district I did, helped throw me a book party in 2014. To this day, he and his wife send their own children to Success schools. In the decade after my Harlem visit, he always cheerfully took my calls, though “Ask Eva” was the refrain when it came to on-the-record comments.

Deep dive on the portfolio model.  And a look at how it’s playing in KC.

The fight over money.

Geography and Demography: You could write this Oklahoma article about a lot of states. The South. Changing racial make-up of the nation’s big city mayors.

Don’t agree with all of this but definitely worth reading.

December 6, 2017

ESSA Reviews, Test Scores, Taste Scores And More! Plus Moodys On Higher Ed & Aldeman On Russia

This Rick Hess column about reviewing ESSA plans – that I assume is aimed at our ESSA review project even though he doesn’t say it – is kind of interesting. For starters, I had thought Rick was in the advising and analysis business, but apparently that’s wrong and they’re running some sort of school or auto body shop over there at AEI.

Substantively what jumps out is that apparently the new conservative education position is not that federal law should be minimalist and not-prescriptive and so forth. Instead, the new position is that federal law should not matter at all or doesn’t matter at all.

Hess makes a reasonable point that some of the states are putting in place goals that are questionable, at best. We agree and the ESSA reviews point that out. And that’s why a comprehensive review matters, to see what supports are or are not in place and whether it’s a paper chase or serious effort in different states. Yet it’s quite a leap from dubious work by some states to saying that none of this ESSA process matters at all. It matters because it’s the best signal of what states are going to be up to under the new law – and of course down the road looking at what they’ve actually done will matter, too, but it’s too soon for that work now.

But this part is of Hess’ critique is worth responding to because it’s so far wide of the mark, at least as far as our work is concerned:

Bizarrely, the whole exercise proceeds as if there were some agreed-upon “one best” approach to educational accountability. Of course, there’s not. In fact, the actual authorities on accountability—you know, the folks who spend lots of time examining how accountability works in practice—usually take pains to note that the “right” approach to accountability will vary with culture, context, and experience.

We agree! That’s why the Bellwether/CSS review was made up of former state chiefs and state policymakers as well as experts on various aspects of the policy – and very intentionally people with diverse views on federal policy, accountability, and other key issues (round 1 here and round 2 here). That so many state level people are willing to put time in on this speaks to the value they see. Around AEI I think they call that a market signal? Anyway, the entire project was specifically designed not to be one-best approach to how states should do this work but rather one best method for evaluating state approaches: Bring together diverse expertise to talk each plan through on its specifics. You can see the results from the first round and stay tuned for round two via this website. That lands next week.

Back at the ranch, global test scores causing alarm.

The only reason we know any of this is….data. DQC with new report cards out.

This Upshot column should spark some conversations on school quality. You shouldn’t fetishize growth any more than you fetishize status scores but a good push here.

And on school quality, check out this new resource in Boston.

Here’s perhaps the one test the education world actually loves, and it’s got some flaws.

Speaking of tests:

So, I came to the conclusion that I care about my students’ test scores. Do I think that they are the only thing that matter? Of course not. Do I think that they are the most important aspect of teaching and learning? No. But do I think that standardized tests results are solid predictors for how kids will do after high school? Yes. Do I think they help hold us educators accountable in a way that we need? Yes.

Moody’s downgrades higher ed.

London’s very best restaurant.

December 5, 2017

Robin Lake Basically Ghostwrote This Blog Post, Plus DeVos’ Hand, Revisiting RAND, And Arete. More!

I talked with The Line about school choice and why I joined their editorial board.  Yesterday I reviewed a recent Dead & Company show.

Cannot remember if I posted this article about the Arete project and Laura Marcus – but you should read it.  Very cool to see this idea come to life.

This past weekend’s AP charter segregation story rested on two common analytic problems in this debate. First, when analyzing the impact of choice schools the benchmark should be comparable schools in the community rather than some idealized standard. Second, comparing schools to school districts leads to flawed conclusions because schools, generally, draw from smaller areas than school districts.  Both of these issues are a function of housing segregation. Researchers and analysts call issues like this unit homogeneity, in common parlance it’s called apples to apples. Either way the AP fell for it. (Also important to note that outcomes matter, plenty of nominally “integrated” schools have practices that result in internal segregation, achievement gaps, and all the rest).

Here’s Robin Lake:

But when researchers Zimmer, Gill, and Booker took a closer look, they found that kids attending racially concentrated charter schools had come from equally racially concentrated district schools. It turned out, charters were simply locating in majority-minority low-income neighborhoods and serving the at-risk kids who live there. Los Angeles is about 80% Hispanic. New Orleans is more than 80% black. Charter schools that locate in those cities are trying to serve those students. This is not segregation; this is school founders doing exactly what policymakers hoped they would do (as required in most state charter laws): serve kids most in need of a better education.

The irony, of course, is that there are problems with charter enrollment, particularly for ELL students and students with special needs. See this Bellwether deck on charters for more on that. But we’ll never get to talking about that kind of issue with stories like this one driving the debate. And we also won’t get to the conversation about what chartering could do – with appropriate policy support – to help attack the segregation problem that is an issue for all public schools because of housing and the related issue of school district boundaries.


Betsy DeVos is playing a tough hand:

“Betsy absolutely cares about those families,” said Howard Fuller, a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee who helped found the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a group that supports school choice. “But her boss doesn’t, and she’s not a free agent.”

College Board on college credit in high school – this is an important issue policymakers are taking another look at.

Important analysis from Ed Trust-West about the achievement of Hispanic students in California.

Jenga, but with kids’ learning. Keep an eye on this issue.

The California governor’s race could be interesting on education. So the proposed new 529 policy is a joke in terms of expanding choice for families but it’s good politics for Ted Cruz. The Douglas County, Colorado voucher program is ending, implications beyond that community.

The cost / benefit question on Greek life on campus.

Here she is again! Thoughtful Robin Lake and Ashley Jochim on the portfolio approach.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie I was reading for a project.

Don’t assume that because an area is affluent overall that everyone is thriving….school accountability implications there.


December 4, 2017