Sara Mead asks why we pay so much attention to college costs and so much less to child care costs? Kids get under-counted in the census and the problem is especially acute for Hispanic students. This matters for a host of reasons, including how federal funds get distributed for educational initiatives and education politics more generally.
Bloomberg takes on safe spaces. NPR looks at Words Unlocked, a cool poetry initiative for incarcerated students.
One of public education’s great shibboleths is this idea that all public schools happily take all kids and that’s why we can’t have choice. In practice special education students and others with special needs are concentrated in various programs. That often makes great sense and improves quality. But there is a darker side as well – adjudicated students returning to school, homeless students, and various kinds of migrant students often find themselves unwelcome. AP takes a look at how that’s playing out for migrant students. I remember one “there are no American tanks in Baghdad” style conversation I had with a school official, that occurred within a mile of a migrant camp, and he told me there are no migrant students in his community…This idea of balancing choice and specialization with mass service is going to become an even bigger issue going forward for this sector and we’re not even very good at talking about it let alone designing equitable and effective policies.
Meanwhile, charters and special education.
Here’s a story with the headline saying it’s about the good news behind bad test scores. But then there isn’t really good news? Maybe the good news is that the test score releases allow for stories like this? Good news if you’re a journalist. The article suggests we just can’t ignore achievement gaps any longer. But that’s only good news if you have no sense of educational history or educational politics. The sector really excels at ignoring and minimizing those issues.
Anyway, guess what? the achievement gap is a problem in all communities, including affluent ones? So why did we pass ESSA? Oh, right…Interactive version of the data here.
*The urge to nudge scores upward had nothing to do with incentives and penalties, such as those under the No Child Left Behind law, that increase the pressure of schools to deliver better results. The patterns before and after No Child Left Behind were essentially the same.
*The primary motivation seems to have been “altruistic,” in Dee’s words: many test graders wanted to spare students they knew from the consequences of failing to graduate, particularly those with a prior record of high achievement and good behavior.
*The manipulation of test scores was more prevalent in schools with largely African-American and Latino student populations. Indeed, it artificially narrowed the black-white gap in graduation rates. Had there been no manipulation, the researchers estimated, the gap would have been 5 percent wider.
*Two reforms after 2011 – prohibiting teachers from grading students in their own schools, and prohibiting graders from re-scoring tests that of students who came in just below the thresholds – eliminated virtually all of the manipulation.
Also new CALDER paper looks at the impact of cheating on students. (Short version: It’s adverse).
But none of this matters because this idea of making sure kids learn in school is crazy. Here’s Jane Sanders:
The standardized tests that they do as a marker is one thing. I think the standardized tests that they say: do you know fourth-grade English or fourth-grade history? I think is a disaster and absolutely would not support that.
Matt Levine takes a look at public pensions and political activism. Punchline: No one has any idea what’s going on:
I have never quite understood how you are supposed to run a pension fund, particularly a public pension fund. There are two basic goals:
- Advance the political and employment interests of the people whose money you manage (which, for a public pension, means both employees/retirees and also taxpayers/voters).
- Make them as much money as you can.
Sometimes those goals conflict, and when they do, they seem sort of incommensurable. Should you do what your beneficiaries (or taxpayers) would want politically, morally, or in their role as public employees? Or should you just keep your head down and make money? I don’t have any great idea of how you balance those things, and I’m not sure the California Public Employees’ Retirement System does either…
I’ve asked legal and industry experts about this related to things like the AFT’s enemies list of money managers and whether that crosses lines. Consensus seems to be that it’s all bad for beneficiaries (who presumably should want their money managers only focused on managing their money as effectively as possible) but tricky legally because hedge fund performance in particular is so all over the place you can make a plausible case for dropping just about anyone at any time. Here’s more on the union versus hedgies battle. A lot of complaining about the fees but isn’t the lack of awareness about the fees from pension officials even more worrisome?
Meanwhile Pearson’s earnings are down. But the AFT-led shareholder revolt went pretty much nowhere outside of allies. I have absolutely no idea if that means you should buy or sell Pearson. You can probably argue it either way.
I used to look at the balance sheets and P & Ls for state charter associations and wonder if they were in the education advocacy business or the insurance business. Now, I look at the AFT and wonder if they’re a union representing teachers or some sort of activist investment project. Good thing there are no core educational problems in our sector that need solving.