Tax Policy And Teacher Shortages, Plus Ward On Culture, CREDO On Ohio, Kettleman On Reading, Pearson Sells, More!

We released our annual report today, look back at some of what we did at Bellwether in 2018.

Lynne Graziano on an amazing school leader. Tresha Ward on school culture and tools to help school leaders think about culture intentionally. Ryan Frailich on the myth of the gold plated teacher pension. Max Marchitello on how longer life expectancy for teachers is good news but good news with a cost. 

Also, just a reminder, the teacher shortage rhetoric you’ve been hearing and reading isn’t quite right. Teacher shortage crisis is an almost surefire way to get a headline, it’s just an awkward fit with the facts on the ground.

If every state were Ohio it would be understandable if few people thought public charter schools were a really good idea – this new CREDO report on Ohio released last week has bright spots, the results for low-income African-Americans are important, but is overall pretty grim – and the online charter schools remain an enormous problem there. Thankfully, Ohio is not representative (and online charters skew the data ), here’s a January Bellwether deck with a comprehensive look across the sector.

Speaking of charters, this article overstates things but a real issue is some shady real estate deals and other sweetheart deals. Yes, sure, there are shady deals all around the education sector but that’s not much of a defense, and charter advocates need to take the lead in cleaning up some of the problems before they become headlines because it should be obvious by now that politically one bad example offsets dozens of good ones.

Seems unlikely we’ll get through the presidential campaign season without some proposals to exempt teachers from income taxes – here’s one from former Senator Bob Kerrey and Leo Hindrey Jr. A few years ago Kaitlin Pennington and I took a look at a similar push in California and the basic idea applies here, too. There are plenty of places where we should be paying teachers more but the optimal way to do that is to, well, pay teachers more. Carving workers out of the tax code isn’t sustainable or a path to a respected profession. Kerrey and Hindrey give the game away when they compare their idea to policies for Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers, enormously worthy work but not the professional work that teachers want to be seen as (remember, a key talking point against Teach For America is that teaching is not like the Peace Corps). There is some promise in targeted tax incentives, I’d argue that housing is a place where targeted tax credits could accomplish a few goals at once in some communities, but just exempting classes of workers from the tax code is a great soundbite but lousy policy.

Almost two years ago we talked with Pearson CEO John Fallon about the digital direction he was taking the company and plans to sell Pearson’s instructional materials business. That sale has happened to an investment firm.

Buzzy Kettleman on the foundational nature of reading.

And Zig Engelmann has passed. Appropriate that this remembrance is by a guy from Australia because the establishment here marginalized him at every opportunity. Worth reflecting on how the education equivalent of climate deniers thrive in this sector but someone like Zig was fought at every turn.

Also seems kind of amazing there are about the same number of schools named for James Buchanan as for FDR…. One takeaway from an interesting Fordham look at school names. There are no schools named after Trump yet, but perhaps there should be?

Great moments in interdisciplinary teaching. Use some judgement out there people.