Another Bellwether Education blog training coming in February. Applications due in December. More here.
Last week I offered some thoughts in U.S. News & World Report on lecturing Trump voters that were really about the rampant assumption of monocausality since the election. I voted for Clinton. I’m no fan of Trump. But all of his supporters are not odious and castigating all of them doesn’t hold up intellectually (and even if for some reason you believe it, it’s counter-productive politically and actually empowers the actually odious ones). Of course, you could write the same piece the other way because some of the truisms among Trump supporters are just as absurd. But the basic point is that it’s a sprawling and diverse country and we could all – urban, suburban, exurban, rural, whatever – do a bit better engaging with that.
Related, within the education world (among those who didn’t support Trump for President, which is a majority) people seem to be breaking into two factions. One are the Never Trumps who just refuse to work with him and instead prefer to carry on the arguments from the campaign. These range from the folks calling out anyone who seeks to serve in the administration to folks just quietly planning to do politics rather than policy for a few years. On the other side are the folks who are saying, basically, ‘oh well, this is the world for the next few years let’s see how we can adapt to it and get something done for kids.’ They’re not coming over to Trump’s way of looking at the world but are talking about how to operate in this new environment. So a lot of operators, especially those deeply integrated with federal policy are less about castigating the incoming administration right now than trying to figure out who the deputy assistant secretary they will be dealing with might be. I’m not arguing that there is a right or wrong answer. Trump is not a normal political event so there is no template or tradition for the proper response. But, organizations that need to work with Congress and the administration will have some tough choices to make about pragmatism versus political idealism in the Trump era.
Also related, is it me or has the incoming Trump administration done a really poor job defending Betsy DeVos after they nominated her? Some of her friends, political allies, and related groups have come forward but overall they’ve sort of left her hanging out there. Not even much of an argument from the transition about why she’s a good choice. For the record, I think she’s (a) an acceptable nominee in the category of presidents deserving a fair degree of discretion about who they choose to serve in their administrations and the context of the ed debate and (b) I think no one really has any idea what kind of secretary she will be. A lot hinges on the deputy and subcabinet picks who will oversee operational and line roles and I can see her being effective in a bully pulpit/leadership role or getting eaten alive by the scope of the job, the politics, and what could be a pretty impromptu style of governing across the administration. Too soon to know. Here’s an interview with DeVos about choice from last year, a bit vague but some flavor. Also here’s (BW board member) Paul Reville in TES on DeVos and the moment.
DeVos must have an answer for some hard questions about her views on regulations and quality in the choice sector – not just in confirmation but as the new administration designs policy. Expect to hear a lot about stuff like this as well as the authorizing problems in Michigan. Reality check though: None of this is as simple as you are hearing on Twitter. In Michigan, for instance, some of the worst actors are for-profit but also so are some of the best. The anti-choice types will make a bunch of noise but that ship has sailed and parents are speaking. This does, however, set up an interesting – and important – debate among people who support choice about the role of regulation and quality measures in choice systems. That debate was muted during the Obama years but should burst into full view now.
Think I am kidding? Just today here’s Shavar Jefferies and Peter Cunningham on that today. And here’s Mike Petrilli responding.
Oh my. This post by Steve Fleishman touches all the right points for me. Dry fly fishing and evidence in education…plus drift boats.
From Wisconsin two non-recount articles worth paying attention to. First, the DeVos pick is energizing school choice supporters there. That will have some political implications going forward. Second, a deep dive on the fortunes of organized labor there since Act 10. Warning signs for teachers unions elsewhere that are not just about people who oppose unions:
Dave Weiland, an Oconomowoc school district teacher and local union leader, thinks the state union was stuck in a 1920s mentality.
“The gravy train was running, and they didn’t see the curve,” he said.
RiShawn Biddle unpacks NEA political spending.
Looking for someone to blame about the election? Start with Diane Ravitch, apparently she could have delivered some rust belt states if she had wanted to. Also, is Ravitch honoring Fidel Castro with this post? It’s that long and all over the place. And Kevin Carey responds.
The ESSA regs are out. This matters but now a bit TBD because of the election.
Thoughtful pushback on anti-standardized testing ideas.
Annual Fordham charter sponsorship report.