Transgender Guidance And the Administrative State, Pensions, DeVos, And Personalized Learning On The March, Voucher Goal Posts, Flores’ Campaign, And Did Education Activists Go To The Mat On The Wrong Trump Official? Happy Birthday Smith – Hughes. Susan Tedeschi Education Trivia Contest! And Much More!

The Smith – Hughes Act turned 100 yesterday. Happy birthday!

I wrote a short primer yesterday for USN looking at the transgender bathroom guidance issue. Its immediate practical impact is pretty muted but the signal it sends about the White House direction is a big deal. This week I also took a look at public lands, gun, Democrats, rural voters, and hook and bullet voters in a USN column. 

Yesterday White House aide and Trump brain trust Steve Bannon gave a talk at a conservative gathering in D.C. where he described much of the Trump agenda as being about dismantling the administrative state. Ideas like that undergird yesterday’s transgender policy announcement because conservatives argue that regardless of the merits it’s executive overreach to anchor the policy in a guidance attached to federal law as the Obama administration did.

The problem, of course, is that American society is complicated and so various theories about government tend to wilt when they encounter actual problems. The administrative state is easy to rail against but does things people want done. For instance whatever one thinks about the federal role in education, Title IX, or any of the rest of it the fact is some transgendered students are getting bullied, and worse, and there is something schools can do about it. That’s why even among those who thought the Obama-Duncan approach on this was clumsy many were OK with it.

There is also an inescapable irony here. If you want to shrink the administrative role of federal agencies then Congress has to do its job – or as Kevin Kosar might say, make Congress great again. That’s been a challenge for a while and the idea that the administrative state is making up for various congressional dysfunctions is not an idea that originated with Bannon. Trump though, at least so far, seems much more enamored of Article II of the United States Constitution than really any other part of the document.


Bellwether’s Max Marchitello on Betsy DeVos and accountability. Not surprisingly Betsy DeVos’ approval ratings took a hit from her bruising confirmation process.

Chad Aldeman on Iowa pensions – keep an eye on that issue.  Marchitello says the NEA is going full-ostrich on pensions.

Kai-Lee Berke on light touch assessment.  ACT talks with students about their views post-election (pdf). Non-alternative fact: For education Matt Barnum is a national treasure

Education activist and leader Yolie Flores is running for Congress.  Should education activists have fought Sessions harder than DeVos? Today in special education rights.

If we were not just tossing accountability this could make a nifty 5th indicator.

The Trump Administration faced a choice on school choice. They could try to figure out a way to meet candidate-Trump’s promise of a $20 billion school choice plan and move on or they could put together a really robust school choice plan that could get real bipartisan support. They may be leaning toward the former. Related: Even if you support choice there are so many reasons that Title I portability is a lousy policy idea it’s hard to know where to start.

Also on choice, there are a bunch of plausible reasons for why a couple of new voucher evals are showing negative results. But voucher proponents are moving the goal posts. I’m old enough to remember when student achievement was the coin of the realm.

While everyone is focused on Trump and Washington right-to-work legislation is moving in the states. Missouri, now Iowa, and elsewhere. Washington isn’t the only place they make laws.

Personalized learning going big in RI.

Admiral McRaven, now a higher ed figure, is not pulling punches on Trump:

“We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Are conservative quotas a good idea in higher education?

If you can tell me first what education person played back-up guitar for Susan Tedeschi back in the day then I will send you a prize – a great book from Harvard Education Press plus bragging rights.

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