May 24, 2018

Guns, Charters, And Other Non-Polarizing Issues. Plus Schmitz, Coons, Boston HS, More!

Kirsten Schmitz on some CTE leadership lessons.

I suggest always reading Jack Coons.

You may have missed it, but this week Virginia transgender teen Gavin Grimm won another victory in court. It’s a good reminder that despite all the political action in D.C. on this issue the real action is going to be in the courts. When the Trump Administration rescinded the Obama Administration guidance on this I noted that the Virginia case was likely to be an important one (and that demographics are against LGBT opponents anyway). A good reminder that the courts matter here.

I suspect, though, people won’t be so excited by the courts on another Title IX issue moving through, the Obama Administration’s campus sexual assault guidance. The burden of proof in use in a lot of places and put forward by The Department of Education’s civil rights office may be too low to meet legal muster and is proving problematic in a bunch of ways, including racial bias. There again there is a Virginia case to keep an eye on as well as some others. What’s interesting is that quietly behind the scenes some colleges want the system changed and are with Betsy DeVos on that one, but no one wants to stick their head up in the current climate – that’s an underreported story.


Marc Tucker is an interesting analyst of education and I highlight his work around here a lot. But this piece he just wrote on charter schools seems flawed to me. Marc’s basically arguing there isn’t a lot to learn from the good ones that you can apply to systemic reform. I guess at a technical level that might be right. But that’s because of the problem at the political level. The best charter have a few common elements and are not random flukes – intense focus on results, much more control over who is in front of children on a daily basis, and operating autonomy. Recreating those conditions more generally is pretty tough. But that doesn’t mean there is not a lot to learn there. Here’s an overview of the charter sector from Bellwether, some of the data is a bit dated but directionally the story is still the same. It tells a story that I’d suggest offers some lessons – about both practice and politics.

We’re still arguing over evolution.

This story is about Boston but a lot of places have similar two-track systems of high schools.


Arne Duncan wants parents to boycott schools until gun laws change. He’s been both mocked and praised for this as you might expect. The idea crossed my mind, too, because massive non-cooperation can be a powerful tool for change (and for God’s sake don’t tell them but the kids do kind of hold the power in school when you think about it…).

But, there are a few problems with Duncan’s idea. First, it’s more likely than not to just replicate our divided gun politics. The walkouts earlier this year didn’t happen everywhere and the divides were pretty striking. Second, without a clear agenda it’s hard to know what people would be walking out for or against, and among gun-owners and non-gun owners there is both a lot of agreement on some measures and then a lot of disagreement on others. Third, kids should be in school for a whole bunch of reasons from learning to getting a good meal in the middle of the day.

There are also a lot of education issues that adversely affect a lot more kids each week in school, are solvable, and we might pay more attention to them, too.

But, just this week two little kids in Virginia were killed because of improperly stored firearms that other little kids got their hands on. From Sandy Hook to Santa Fe storage and access seems like an issue to discuss. And that’s an issue where non-cooperation could play a powerful role in driving change – and not involve taking kids out of school. One can be pro-2nd Amendment and also pro-safe storage. And a conversation about with rights comes responsibilities seems more productive than a let’s take away guns conversation, which is great for political consultants on both sides of that debate but doesn’t do much for the rest of us.

You know who is making a lot of money on all this? School security consultants. But there are a number of steps schools can take – many of which are good education practice anyway – that don’t cost a fortune, turn schools into forts, or alarm kids. Here are some ideas about that.

This raccoon just wants a sandwich.

Posted on May 24, 2018 @ 3:15pm

May 23, 2018

News From Bellwether, Higher Ed Happenings, Dog Ate DeVos’ Homework? Again? Lake And Hill, Schmitz, Aldeman, More!

News from Bellwether. 

Chad Aldeman on Colorado’s pension reforms and why they are not great news for teachers. And Chad takes a look at the compensation paradox for teachers, salaries flat but total comp rising.

Kirsten Schmitz on pensions and retirement.

This news from 74 is a signal of the kind of changes Janus may bring. The NEA anticipating membership losses of 300k and cutting $50 million from their budget to get ready.

Today in Betsy DeVos: This is pretty inexcusable. First off, not surprising you’re likely to get a question about it. Second, well there is no second. Unbelievable.

Whiteboard Advisors puts out a weekly round-up of education industry news and happenings, you can subscribe for free to get the unabridged version.

Robin Lake & Paul Hill on protecting students or protecting institutions, not a fully binary choice but some hard issues bound up in that.

Higher ed:

Free speech debate at UVA and free speech lawsuits at Michigan.

New PPI report from Anne Kim on ways of linking the financing of higher education to results.

And Glenn Reynolds calls for curtailing the Ivies.

Watch kangaroos jump a guy to get carrots.

May 18, 2018

Friday Fish Porn – Events Edition, Plus That’s Not A Stripah, It’s A Wahoo…

Ben Wallerstein is not a stranger to fish porn, he’s been featured here a few times. Here he is today with a striped bass – locally called Rockfish – from the Chesapeake Bay week before last. It’s a bruiser, it’s that time of year, and soon you will be able to catch them on the surface in crazy topwater action.

Speaking of crazy topwater action, on June 1, Whiteboard Advisors, Ben is the founder and leader of that firm (where I am a senior advisor), is hosting its annual Insider Out event in D.C. it’s a great event because it’s audience engaged and directed and always has a solid line up of panelists so that leads to real conversations.

You can learn more here.

Fish Porn? Want more? Well here are hundreds of pictures of people in and around the education sector with fish.

Also, not sure how it slipped my mind when he was announced but incoming UVA President Jim Ryan was also featured here with a stripah. He also guest blogged about one of his books but it’s Friday so today it’s fish.

May 17, 2018

Breaking: Bill Gates Is Involved In Education, TN Testing Two-Step, Teacher Pay Bargains, Honesty Gap, Evidence, Laughing Circles, DBFS, More!

Guys, you aren’t going to believe this…Bill Gates and his wife spend a lot of money to influence education policy.

This testing story from Tennessee is pretty fantastic. You’re a state and your testing company isn’t doing a great job for you so you bring in another company to help with capacity and then – surprise! – the second company is owned by the first company. And neither company is named Pearson!

Anyway, I’m always struck how in any conversation about testing things immediately turn to Pearson – certainly a major player – but you don’t hear a lot about ETS, one of the two companies involved here or the American Institutes for Research, another major vendor.

Next time you’re tempted to dismiss bullying as just as rite of passage or something…

Rick Hess proposes a grand bargain on teacher pay. What’s sort of interesting is that to some extent this bargain is happening informally, starting pay or teachers is rising, pay is becoming (somewhat) more front loaded and retirement benefits are being curtailed. But it’s haphazard and the retirement reforms are of varying quality in terms of their utility as retirement policy – eg saving money by making it harder for new teachers to vest. BTW – All your teacher retirement questions answered here! 

This G’town study on college, careers, and earning has some valuable nuance. Achieve on the “Honesty Gap”on state assessments. Evidence and ESSA via C4C and RFA.

Start your day in a laughing circle. Reggio is hot.

Dry Branch Fire Squad.

May 15, 2018

May 14, 2018

Early Ed’s Growing Pains, School Shootings, AF Growth, Mace & College, Kirst Exit Interview, Books Behind Bars, Bears, More!

Important Sara Mead on the growing pains of the early ed movement and the leadership that’s needed to drive progress.

Kirsten Schmitz on your favorite fictional teacher’s retirement deal.  Andrew Frank on participatory budgeting.

In The 74 I ask whether scaring kids about guns is going sour their parents on gun politics – and regardless whether it’s the right thing to do.

Also in The 74, Max Marchitello wants to 2x Title I spending.

Paul Weinstein checks in on the three-year bachelor’s degree idea we’ve discussed around here from time to time.

Alex Hernandez with a three-part look at Achievement First’s story.

This is really not a good look for the Broward County Schools in Florida. And behind the inspiring story of civic activism by the students there is a second story of frustrated parents and students that is not getting the same level of attention. Meanwhile, in our part of the sector, based on incomplete (and now changing) information everyone seems to have a firm opinion about what did or didn’t happen there before the shooting. Also not a good look.

How a keychain mace can keep you out of college, via Ed Navigator.

Keep an eye on this Texas teacher lawsuit.

Another piece of CW debunked. Superintendents stay on the job longer than you probably think.

This Mike Kirst exit interview is a must-read.

Noam Scheiber on the strong union / weak union question.

“Books Behind Bars” on Today. New documentary film coming on this very cool initiative.

This EP event on the future of education in DC looks fantastic.

Also in DC, this is happening. Well…

Only a smeared paw print and icing left behind…  “The more he grew the more like a bear he looked…” Related: bear jail.

School Shootings: Is Scaring The Kids Really A Good Strategy?

A recent Pew survey showed how scared kids are about the possibility of gun violence at their school. Political operatives hailed it, gun control advocates equated it with engagement, and too many educators did the same. But wait, what? Kids being scared isn’t civic engagement, it’s a problem. And one educators and any responsible adult should seek to do something about. I take a look at that today in The 74:

Gun violence is a real problem in American society at large and in our schools. Even in the context of the hundreds of millions of students who have passed through our schools since 1999, most people would agree that more than 200 deaths from gunfire in American schools since Columbine is unacceptable.

For parents, school shootings are especially terrifying and play to our most basic fears about our children. But hard as it may be, given the emotions bound up in an issue like this, our desire to do something about school shootings must be balanced with other imperatives. First, we’re talking about and with young people, and we should endeavor not to make them needlessly fearful. And second, while indescribably horrific, school shootings and especially mass shootings are very low-probability events. That’s not an argument for doing nothing. It’s an argument for appropriately calibrating our response where kids are concerned. And right now, we’re not…

Click through for the entire thing here.

May 10, 2018

Edujob: Director of Research Partnerships Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa

Here is a really interesting edujob from Oklahoma:

The Director of Research Partnerships will play a key role in shaping, managing and communicating the evaluation of the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. This person will report to the managing director of BEST and will manage key relationships, including those with BEST research and evaluation partners and a research and evaluation advisory group.

You can learn more and apply here. 

May 9, 2018

New Analysis: Why Do D.C. Teachers Leave?

Everyone has an opinion about why teachers leave D.C. schools – usually based on some weaponized anecdote or something “everyone knows.” Bellwether’s Kaitlin Pennington and Alexander Brand decided instead to take a look at actual exit interview data with DCPS teachers who left the field (and were not retiring or moving away, in other words, teachers the city could have retained). Here’s what they found.

And more here via Ahead of the Heard.

May 7, 2018