Guns, Charters, And Other Non-Polarizing Issues. Plus Schmitz, Coons, Boston HS, More!

Kirsten Schmitz on some CTE leadership lessons.

I suggest always reading Jack Coons.

You may have missed it, but this week Virginia transgender teen Gavin Grimm won another victory in court. It’s a good reminder that despite all the political action in D.C. on this issue the real action is going to be in the courts. When the Trump Administration rescinded the Obama Administration guidance on this I noted that the Virginia case was likely to be an important one (and that demographics are against LGBT opponents anyway). A good reminder that the courts matter here.

I suspect, though, people won’t be so excited by the courts on another Title IX issue moving through, the Obama Administration’s campus sexual assault guidance. The burden of proof in use in a lot of places and put forward by The Department of Education’s civil rights office may be too low to meet legal muster and is proving problematic in a bunch of ways, including racial bias. There again there is a Virginia case to keep an eye on as well as some others. What’s interesting is that quietly behind the scenes some colleges want the system changed and are with Betsy DeVos on that one, but no one wants to stick their head up in the current climate – that’s an underreported story.


Marc Tucker is an interesting analyst of education and I highlight his work around here a lot. But this piece he just wrote on charter schools seems flawed to me. Marc’s basically arguing there isn’t a lot to learn from the good ones that you can apply to systemic reform. I guess at a technical level that might be right. But that’s because of the problem at the political level. The best charter have a few common elements and are not random flukes – intense focus on results, much more control over who is in front of children on a daily basis, and operating autonomy. Recreating those conditions more generally is pretty tough. But that doesn’t mean there is not a lot to learn there. Here’s an overview of the charter sector from Bellwether, some of the data is a bit dated but directionally the story is still the same. It tells a story that I’d suggest offers some lessons – about both practice and politics.

We’re still arguing over evolution.

This story is about Boston but a lot of places have similar two-track systems of high schools.


Arne Duncan wants parents to boycott schools until gun laws change. He’s been both mocked and praised for this as you might expect. The idea crossed my mind, too, because massive non-cooperation can be a powerful tool for change (and for God’s sake don’t tell them but the kids do kind of hold the power in school when you think about it…).

But, there are a few problems with Duncan’s idea. First, it’s more likely than not to just replicate our divided gun politics. The walkouts earlier this year didn’t happen everywhere and the divides were pretty striking. Second, without a clear agenda it’s hard to know what people would be walking out for or against, and among gun-owners and non-gun owners there is both a lot of agreement on some measures and then a lot of disagreement on others. Third, kids should be in school for a whole bunch of reasons from learning to getting a good meal in the middle of the day.

There are also a lot of education issues that adversely affect a lot more kids each week in school, are solvable, and we might pay more attention to them, too.

But, just this week two little kids in Virginia were killed because of improperly stored firearms that other little kids got their hands on. From Sandy Hook to Santa Fe storage and access seems like an issue to discuss. And that’s an issue where non-cooperation could play a powerful role in driving change – and not involve taking kids out of school. One can be pro-2nd Amendment and also pro-safe storage. And a conversation about with rights comes responsibilities seems more productive than a let’s take away guns conversation, which is great for political consultants on both sides of that debate but doesn’t do much for the rest of us.

You know who is making a lot of money on all this? School security consultants. But there are a number of steps schools can take – many of which are good education practice anyway – that don’t cost a fortune, turn schools into forts, or alarm kids. Here are some ideas about that.

This raccoon just wants a sandwich.

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