August 14, 2020


Friday Fish Pics – Georgia Largemouth!

Ben Sayeski a former school principal, is Managing Partner at Education Strategy Consulting, a data analytics firm. Here’s his daughter with a nice largemouth bass – a common species where the Georgia-based Sayeksi family is.

Friday Fish Porn is a longtime but sometimes episodic feature (that’s why they call it fishing not catching) around here. It’s straightforward: Education people or their families  with fish. Hundreds since 2006. (Unless specifically requested we go with Friday Fish Pics when it’s kids.) Send me yours!


August 13, 2020


August 12, 2020

Via Ken Wagner

Per the post below, former Rhode Island education commissioner and consultant Ken Wagner writes:

Equity is the closing of four gaps – the belief gap (i.e., deep conviction that all students can achieve at high levels); opportunity gap (i.e., all students have real access to high impact opportunities, including social networking), quality gap (i.e., the opportunity promise is not a false promise – the available opportunities are also of high quality); and the achievement gap (i.e., subgroup outcomes on performance indicators, which often lag the prior three leading equity indicators). Equity is not adequately described or addressed with a focus only on the achievement gap.

More via this exit interview.


Is “Achievement Gap” Racist?

This 74 article today is an important look at a genuinely important conversation. Is the “achievement gap” a racist  phrasing or one that leads to negative stereotyping? Recommend the article. A few reax:

When I first read the article I remembered a civil rights leader who, remarking on the fecklessness / faddishness of the education world observed that the kids don’t really stand a chance. Their point was just that the sector struggles with hard conversations and politically fraught ones  and adult politics usually win. Seemed too pessimistic at the time…

I’m obviously more in the Chris Stewart camp here (though Shavar Jeffries makes an important point that politically we should tie these issues to broader ones) but am interested, especially given the history of the system, in the education equity policies that address the disparates we see today absent a strong focus on those disparities, which would seem to include identifying and quantifying them. What are those ideas or policies that would include systemic accountability besides radical school choice and just letting parents decide, which is popular on parts of the left as well as the right?

It doesn’t seem hard to believe that media coverage about the achievement gap could lead to negative stereotypes (but if you believe that the differences we see by race and ethnicity and income in achievement on state assessments owe to kids rather than the system they are in that’s not an “implicit” bias, it’s an explicit one. I don’t know why we persist in saying that people – especially in education – who don’t have high expectations for all kids have an implicit issue, that’s an explicit problem!)

Yet here’s the thing: It was many school leaders and self-identified public education advocates at the front of the line arguing that requiring schools to have kids on grade level in reading by 3rd-grade, or narrowing achievement gaps, and all the rest of the standards-based reforms was unrealistic. Those ideas really took hold during NCLB and they rarely said the quiet part out loud, except about special education kids, but if you want to perpetuate stereotypes it’s stuff like this that’s doing it. In the early days of NCLB design the ideas put forward as ambitious timetables for improving performance ( 2030 to get kids on grade level, really, and this was 2001) were totally insane, that’s why the 2014 goal ended up being put in place. And no one is going to accuse the media of a lot of context in its NCLB coverage.

In other words, a little scrutiny on decades of pushback from a system charged with educating kids filtered through an often credulous media might be a good place to look for at least part of why people struggle with the “achievement gap” construct, and might remind us that whatever we call it next, the pushback will still be there. Why? Because this sector is not looking for the right phraseology, it’s allergic to accountability.


August 11, 2020



August 7, 2020

Friday Fish Pics!

2020 is no picnic, but there are a lot of worse ways to wade through it than by taking a kid fishing.

Here’s education consultant Cami Anderson doing exactly that with her fantastic son on the Truckee in Northern California. It’s not risk free, the child of a mutual friend of mine and Cami’s once walked into my backcast in Colorado and got a – thankfully barbless – hook in the back. Every time things don’t work out just right for that kid I blame myself.

But, overall very little can go wrong and a lot can go right. Get outside

Photo credit her husband Jared Robinson – who is a very solid angler and a great person to spend time on the water with.

Wait, Friday fish what? Friday Fish Porn is a longtime but episodic feature around here but it’s quite straightforward: It’s education people with fish. Hundreds since 2006. (Unless specifically requested we go with Friday Fish Pics when it’s kids.) Send me yours!


August 6, 2020

First Look: Chesterfield County Educators Talk With Bush Center Team On School Reopening

As you may have heard, a lot of attention on school reopening, Bellwether is co-hosting a webinar on that later today that you can join or watch later. I’ll have more on that soon, too.

Today, here’s a first look at conversation from the George W. Bush Presidential Center with some Virginia educators about the challenges of delivering education in today’s Covid-19 environment.

Chesterfield County Public Schools’ Chief Academic Officer Sharon Pope and Chief of Schools Lisa High talk with the Bush Center’s  Mikel Royal, Ann Clark, district advisors for the George W. Bush Institute’s School Leadership District Cohort, and Anne Wicks who directs education reform activities at the center. You can read a transcript or watch below.


July 24, 2020

Friday Fish Porn

I’m spending some time today with students in a professional learning community in Colorado. Ordinarily, a Colorado summer trip would be a fantastic opportunity to slip some fishing in. But here we are. In 2020 it’s a Zoom meeting.

Parker Baxter is in Colorado so he’s getting out more. Here he is on the Blue River which, in my experience was a river that was tough to crack but really good fishing once you did figure it out. It’s a tributary of the mighty Colorado River. And beautiful settings.

Parker, a longtime CRPE hand, former NACSA staffer, among other edu roles, is now at the University of Colorado Denver.

It’s not his first time here.


Friday fish what? Friday Fish Porn is a feature that started in 2006 when Jim Griffin played hooky from work and sent me pictures of all the fish they were catching (on a flip phone….). Now, hundreds of pictures later, here we are. And we also have lots more Fish Pics if you want to send me your kids under a different header. Education and education connected people with fish, simple as that.