Does and should the conservative or “Market” perspective — one focused on choice, pluralism and opportunity as the prime drivers — continue to have a place in the education reform movement, effort, confab, or whatever you want to call it? The answer has three letters: yes. Competition and innovation are essential, and may be the best way to level the playing field for kids of color. (I write this as a person who is deeply skeptical of government’s ability to organize itself around the creation of schools that liberate low-income black and brown kids from academic outcomes that ensure their economic servitude).
Ironically, the storm that has erupted around Pondiscio’s piece may just prove his larger point about a narrowing field of view: Even as the education reform movement strives to become more ethnically diverse, it could also become less so ideologically. This is important, and worth noting. We do not win with a smaller tent against a unified enemy that has created the conditions we battle against.
But this does not mean that “Equity” doesn’t deserve a place as well. Many education reformers identify themselves as “social justice warriors,” striving to give black and brown kids access to better classrooms — and brighter futures because race matters. Yet as often happens in debates about inclusion, the question of whether one perspective can “belong” is seen as one that must co-opt or exclude another one.
Also, isn’t it hard to miss that as both political parties have vigorous debates about redefining themselves education barely registers at all in those debates? And this on the heels of a national education law that rolled back several decades of hard won protections for poor and minority students in federal education policy. That should sober everyone some you’d think? (Although Jay Greene is surely right that the world marches on regardless of who is on what conference panel where or what reform “leaders” say or do and often independent of what happens in Washington). Terry Ryan is not as dour on where ed reform stands as I am.
Rick Hess does nice job laying out the fundamental left-right split in education and life. Also quietly illustrates why so many centrist reformers are homeless in the current debate because both sides can get reductionist fast.
In terms of this specific debate, though, I think the Pondiscio piece much more revealed a debate than sparked one. I haven’t heard any sentiments, on any side, being shared publicly that were not already circulating privately. So at least good to talk about because the underlying issues do matter.
To the other links!
Big time edujob in the south.
The LA Times editorial board rips the hide off the Gates Foundation. I guess that’ll teach ’em to fund media projects! Joking…joking…Actually if the knock on the hidebound education system is that it doesn’t change fast enough isn’t the knock on Gates that they change too fast? Their small schools investments were not the disaster everyone thinks they were but they pivoted before the evaluations came in. And now Gates has hired the guy who led some of the most successful small schools as a senior official. They soft peddled the results of their own evaluations of measures of teacher effectiveness. And while the rollout of Common Core has certainly been a political disaster and the assessment scene is something of a garbage fire, the standards themselves are pretty embedded – even in Texas it turns out! (See below). Plenty of room for more support, of course, but the standards are there. What’s more, pretty much everything Gates has done is because they’ve sat with the various sages in our sector who told them to do this or that. They didn’t just conjure this stuff up. So it’s unclear if the problem is that they listened too little or, rather, that they listened too much? They fund some Bellwether projects – though certainly not as much as we’d like! – so disclosure there.
In DC a little pushing and shoving on ESSA timelines. Here’s a thought: Seems like a Clinton Department of Education might change some aspects of this around – they’d know how to pull the various levers of government to make that happen. A Trump Administration, by contrast, seems like a recipe for the regulations to be in place for a while as they’re likely to have a Department of Education with fewer staffers and appointees with experience on these issues. In other words, the regulations might matter even more, not less, if Trump wins – at least initially.
Education reform efforts in D.C. are so politically inconvenient! Also, if this attack on pensions is any indication, it seems like Randi Weingarten could get some Peter Thiel money to sue Gawker. Also, here is a pensions mess in CA. And pension risk/reward.
And EdBuild breaks down the funding structure across the states. Huge resource.
Student voice in CT. Continuing its Zika-like spread Common Core math now in Texas! Ujifusa breaks down the proposed ESSA regs. Sue Urahn on retirement policy. Jonathan Chait on education’s completely bizarro politics. Son of Michigan Jason Weeby on Detroit. Here’s a pretty cool set of videos with teaching tips via MATCH. Pennington on evaluation backsliding.
Tamara Hiler on teacher licensure. Is there a third way on education in Massachusetts? Third Way on private nonprofit colleges, the problem is not just the for-profits! Recovering attorney Hailly Korman cautions on the limits of suit-based reform. Annie Murphy Paul, Ben Riley, and personalized learning. Should colleges or law-enforcement deal with sexual assault cases on campus?
I am struck by how many young people you meet who are well versed in critical this or that but not deep on whatever it is they’re critical of. That debate is breaking out at Yale. I’m certainly for people reading a variety of material that challenges and engages them from all perspectives but there is certainly value in understanding the content and various meanings of what are generally considered canonical texts because of their staying power even, or perhaps especially, if your project is tearing down that staying power.
Enrollment at teacher prep programs is down nationwide. Teach For America is a teacher prep program. Enrollment is down at Teach For America. But because it’s Teach For America….If you’re really interested check out this paper (pdf) for some additional context and data about all this – including what corps members think.
Remember, the first school person most kids see in the morning is a bus driver or crossing guard.