Klein Speaks, RiShawn Responds, Trigger Take, Sperling, And More

Travel problems leave me with a little extra time on my hands today so…

Why hasn’t the education community reacted more, one way or another, to the appointment of Gene Sperling to lead NEC at The White House?  He’s a strong advocate of education for girls in the developing world – a major economic, civic, and social issue.  In addition, Sperling was instrumental in the creation of Gear-Up, a tireless defender and promoter of the program, and a key reason it became a successful model for how to help get students on track for college (and back before college-going was all the rage).  That speaks to his policy instincts in terms of how government can help address problems.  And, with the ongoing “Gainful Employment” debate likely to heat-up in the new Congress, Sperling’s views on the for-profit higher ed industry (not favorable) will become even more important in the debate.

Joel Klein has the days must-read (at least until Michelle Rhee’s policy agenda hits the streets) about teacher pensions in the WSJ. Bonus clever lede.  Increasing attention to this problem over the past few months.  My take short take here. If this keeps up the unions are going to look back on the good old days when Klein had a job that didn’t give him time to write!

Also, here’s an interesting take on the parent trigger in CA. In general I’m in favor of anything that empowers parents, especially low-income parents, within the public education framework of access and accountability.  But I’m still unclear how, without a lot of support, many of these initiatives don’t repeat the problems of school-based councils and create a lot of chaos.

Forceful Sally Jenkins on big time NCAA sports.

Paul Peterson writes-up the results of the Education Next book poll. One can marvel at the irony of a journal that has done a great job publishing some important empirical work from public and professional opinion surveys to analysis of current reform efforts deciding to do a self-response internet poll with no controls. But before people ascribe too much to the results (eg, “a reality check for those who think school reformers have won the war of ideas”) isn’t the most straightforward explanation the straightforward one? Self  response polls favor the mobilized and organized.  Old story in education.  I happen to think reformers haven’t won the battle of ideas, either, but this survey doesn’t move me on that score.

RiShawn Biddle’s continues the scale discussion here. My response to his earlier post is here. To be clear, my point is not that there isn’t a place for one-offs.  Even though we have to look at scale I’d be opposed to a policy, on for instance charters, that only allowed for replicable models.  That’s why the smart cap idea on charter caps values scalability but creates space for both kinds. And there is, of course, something to the idea that 100 one percent solutions get the job done.  My point merely is that a system of this size is  not going to be turned entirely by one-offs.  So, I take RiShawn’s point about standards and how they can facilitate a system of one-offs, it’s the point I was trying to make in this column about what to expect/not expect from Common Core.  But, in terms of the system overall at a fundamental level size matters, as they say.

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