November 6, 2017

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).

Conservatives To Government: Help! Newark Debate, Honest Accounting On Pensions, Free College, Accountability, Procurement, And Reform And Reformation, More!

Earlier in the week I reviewed a Phil Lesh + PHJB show for GratefulEd and discussed what looks like a coming clash between the focus on improving curriculum and the broader debates the country is having for US News.

Sara Mead on Martin Luther and education reform. Really! She can do that.

Chad Aldeman reviews a recent report on teacher pensions – are apples to apples comparisons too much to ask for?

Reasonable people can disagree about what to do about this problem. Some advocate 401(k) style approaches while others favor traditional pensions but with some tweaks. And there are hybrid options like “cash balance” plans that have aspects of both of those approaches. The reality is that there are trade-offs with every approach and it’s possible to design lousy pensions and good 401(k)s and vice versa. What we shouldn’t disagree about, however, is that this conversation is too important not to be informed by the best data and honest straightforward analysis of what it means and what those trade-offs and choices are.

A lot of interesting things are being written about personalized learning lately, here’s Phyllis Lockett’s take.

The debate over Newark.

Ian Rowe wants a debate with Bill Gates.

Accountability does seem like a dirty word in a lot of education circles.

Denis Newman with questions to ask and ways to think about getting the right intervention for your school.

School choice as a perennial political wedge issue.

Rick Hess wants the federal government to withhold research funding from colleges that trample free speech. Seems like one can agree that the speech situation on campus is a little out of control right now in some places, but also question whether this is a workable or desirable solution. Workable because of the range of institutions and their varying free speech obligations as well as the inherent messiness of the issue. And, if you think that the Obama Administration’s sexual assault guidance to schools created a bunch of unintended consequences then I’m not sure why you’d assume anything different here? Seems like a better solution is for colleges to fix this through their own leadership?

Whatever you think of free college proposals, they’re not really a targeted equity solution.

Gang of farm animals prowls neighborhood.

Posted on Nov 1, 2017 @ 8:55am

October 30, 2017

The Mockingbird Debate Isn’t Past, It’s Prologue

The debate over Biloxi’s decision to ban and then not ban To Kill A Mockingbird was in some ways predictable, but it’s also about coming attractions. I look at that in U.S. News today:

…Few discount its literary and historical merit, it won a Pulitzer, but its value as part of the canon of books American public school kids read is more contested. Most recently, school officials in Biloxi, Mississippi removed it from the reading list after parental pressure and then subsequently restored it after pressure from the other side and a high-profile debate. Still, you need a permission slip to read it there now.

We’ve had fights about what to teach in public schools as long as we’ve had public schools. And controversial books are frequently under fire – “Huckleberry Finn” is a perennial target along with “Mockingbird.” Lately this debate is seen as a symptom of the growing affinity for safe spaces and the idea that education should be free from troubling ideas.

Really, though, it’s an old story. What’s new is the coming collision between the education field’s growing attention to curriculum and our broader debates in society today…

You can read the entire thing right here. You can find me on Twitter and tell me what books you’d ban or why the Satanic Verses was a masterpiece @arotherham.

To Ban A Mockingbird! Justin Trinidad Profile, Valdivia, Bradford, NCLB History, Whitmire Looks Forward, Mitch Chester, More!

In USN I take a look at the recent Mockingbird dust-up and what it might preview about a coming debate in our sector.

What does Justin Trinidad do all day? Funny you should ask! Interview with the Bellwether research assistant here.

Phil & Friends review via GratefulEd.

Richard Whitmire on charter district collaboration in Texas.

Here’s a nice piece about Mitchell Chester.

Some NCLB history in this John Boehner profile.

Derrell Bradford on what’s next after JanusOutside of the hysterics on both sides, (greatest thing ever or death blow for democracy) people’s take on this seems to owe a lot to how they answer a more fundamental question about the K-12 education sector: Are the teachers unions, in their current posture, more a cause of our educational problems or a symptom of them? If you think the latter you’re more likely to see a less linear path ahead if the SCOTUS strikes down mandatory dues.

Lucia Martinez Valdivia:

Understanding this argument requires an ability to detect and follow nuance, but nuance has largely been dismissed from the debates about speech raging on college campuses. Absolutist postures and the binary reign supreme. You are pro- or anti-, radical or fascist, angel or demon. Even small differences of opinion are seized on and characterized as moral and intellectual failures, unacceptable thought crimes that cancel out anything else you might say.

No one should have to pass someone else’s ideological purity test to be allowed to speak. University life — along with civic life — dies without the free exchange of ideas.

In the face of intimidation, educators must speak up, not shut down. Ours is a position of unique responsibility: We teach people not what to think, but how to think.

 Realizing and accepting this has made me — an eminently replaceable, untenured, gay, mixed-race woman with PTSD — realize that no matter the precariousness of my situation, I have a responsibility to model the appreciation of difference and care of thought I try to foster in my students.


If I, like so many colleagues nationwide, am afraid to say what I think, am I not complicit in the problem?

At Reed and nationwide, we have largely stayed silent, probably hoping that this extremist moment in campus politics eventually peters out. But it is wishful thinking to imagine that the conversation will change on its own…


Actually, the intersectional Left will leave at least one enduring legacy: a generation of university-educated people – “progressive” yet deeply illiberal

On which hunts.

October 27, 2017

Katzman & Cohen Make You Think, Freeland Fisher Does, Too, And The Satanists Make You…Oppose Corporal Punishment…Low-Income & Higher Ed, Second That Emotion….More!

Hailly Korman does your reading for you and sums up the new National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges report.

John Katzman and Steve Cohen jointly call for economically-based affirmative action in the WSJ.

The lede of this one is worth pausing on:

We disagree in principle about affirmative action. One of us, a frequent fundraiser for Democratic candidates, believes that it’s better for colleges to have a diverse student body that more faithfully reflects the nation; and that we need to counterbalance the impact of poverty on education and opportunity, which often means giving special consideration to minority students. The other, a former Reagan staffer, believes consideration of race is intrinsically unfair and hinders race relations.

Regardless of whether you agree with Katzman or Cohen, ask yourself if you can make both of these arguments in a way that people who hold them would recognize? In other words with nuance and without caricature. Try it. And when is the last time you read an article deeply examining and advocating the view you disagree with? Can you name three prominent analysts associated with each position – even better multiracial and multiethnic figures on both sides? Try this same exercise with three hot-button education issues – say choice and testing, too. It’s PX90 for your mind.

Also, related, collaborative work on the steps universities can take to help low-income students graduate.

But it’s awfully hard to graduate them if they aren’t, you know, enrolled in the first place.

Jeanne Allen very wishy washy on “Backpack Full of Cash.”

People don’t like who Betsy DeVos talks with and where she spends her time.

The department did not name the Dark Overlord in its warning…

Julia Fisher Freeland:

This phenomenon helps explain what reformers often bemoan as a “status quo bias” that frustrates new ideas in education. Although that bias is often cast as a political problem, it is also, in fact, an organizational management problem.

The Satanists are fighting corporal punishment:

The Satanic Temple paid to place a billboard along Highway 281 in Three Rivers that reads, ” Our religion doesn’t believe in hitting children.” There are also images of a pentagram and a goat’s head, which the group usually employs in its displays.

Leaders of the group say the advertisement is directed at the Three Rivers Independent School District board, which voted in July to include a policy regarding corporal punishment. The vote was unanimous.

Phil Lesh & Friends with Nicki Bluhm and Robert Randolph: “Second That Emotion.”