Here’s what education’s leading intellectuals are up to these days. Diane Ravitch:
Oxycontin has made the Sackler family of Connecticut very rich. Forbes says they have a net worth of $15 billion. A fortune built on death and ruined lives. Pharmacists have been murdered by opiod addicts in search of the pills.
Jonathan Sackler is a major donor to the charter movement. He launched ConnCAN and 50CAN to sell privatization. Killing public schools too.
OK. Reasonable people can disagree about charter policy. Charter supporters disagree about charter policy. Here at Bellwether we disagree about charter policy. But that’s all pretty irrelevant in this instance. In writing this I have to assume Ravitch, and I’m glad for this, has never seen someone fighting serious pain close up? Opioid addiction is a huge problem but so is pain management and poor pain management for seriously ill people. So forget the charter politics or the hyperbole, this is just offensive on a human level.
Here’s the beginning of a pretty revealing education op-ed:
SOME CHARTER schools do an excellent job with the students they enroll. Many come up with better test scores than do their public counterparts. It does not mitigate the victories these schools may have achieved to state the clear and simple fact that, on average nationwide, charter schools are not running circles around the public schools that serve the vast majority of children. Some do better. Some do worse. Some have been consistent disappointments. The pattern here in Massachusetts may, for now, appear to be a rare exception to the norm, but as charter schools proliferate, their record seems to be increasingly uneven.
In other words, charters in Massachusetts are really good – this is something basically everyone agrees on and the evidence convincingly supports – but because some other states have a mixed record kids in Massachusetts shouldn’t have more of them. There are then hundreds more words about charters elsewhere and adult politics.
Also in MA, Senator Sanders (I-VT) comes out against the charter cap raise there:
“Wall Street must not be allowed to hijack public education in Massachusetts,” Sanders said in a statement. “This is Wall Street’s attempt to line their own pockets while draining resources away from public education at the expense of low-income, special education students and English language learners.”
There are plenty of reasons to be for or against charter schools but Wall Street really has nothing to do with it. More generally, this seems like a pretty suburban populism. If you care about social mobility and inequality then how can you be against schools with results like this (pdf) for urban students in Massachusetts?
And here’s Richard Whitmire on the Denver charter model and its promise – and what it takes.
This Noah Smith column on risk and entrepreneurialism has an interesting education parallel. When you talk to mid-career educators, teachers, administrators, superintendents, you at times hear a desire to start or join new things but a reticence because of the realities of life for most people – mortgages, pension contributions and participation timelines, college costs on the horizon, and other mundane but important considerations for most people at that point in life. I certainly wouldn’t want to over-romanticize it and say there are thousands of Don Shalveys or Jamar Mckneelys just waiting out there. But there are certainly dozens, if not hundreds, and the multiplier effect from even those numbers would be substantial. But a risk aversion that may not make sense to someone in Silicon Valley but resonates with most Americans understandably impacts their decision-making. This issue is even more compounded for educators from lower income backgrounds, obviously. Perverse incentives abound but it seems like an issue philanthropy could help tackle.
Will personalized learning ameliorate or exacerbate equity issues? Here’s Jim Shelton of CZI with the positive case.
Here’s an old story made new: Teacher tests tend to have disparate impact issues. The new and vaunted EdTPA is a teacher test. The new EdTPA has disparate impact issues.
And here’s an interesting item on support for Trump within the NEA.
Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy wood fired showers?