Friday Notes

I’ll try to write more about the proposed charter school regulations, but for now here’s a pretty good take – except these regulations are not the work of bureaucrats, this is a political decision. The proposed regs are bad. And bad by design in ways intended to constrain the growth of charters and lay the groundwork for a broader pushback. This isn’t a big surprise, the Biden education team said in 2020, in multiple ways including a policy document, that they were going to do this. That was ideology from education advisors. The cold political calculus now that he’s President is that politically the benefits outweigh the costs. Special interests love the regulations, future charter parents are not an organized group, and the charter community under-punches its weight politically these days. Here’s another look at the issues in play

Marion Joseph passed earlier this month at 95. There are people better off than they would be otherwise because of her work. That, from where I sit, is a legacy. She was tenacious and was a reading reformer before it became cool.

The other day we talked about state boards of education.

Here’s an interesting view from a reader, who is a local school board member:

I definitely agree state DOEs shouldn’t be boosters or apologists, but they shouldn’t be regulators either (or at least just regulators).  They need to act like OWNERS – that is, the ones responsible for making sure the organization produces the best possible result.  To my way of thinking, that lack of ownership and resulting accountability makes sustained ed system improvement very difficult (FL and DC being the only two exceptions that come to mind).  Using your analogy, if the state DOE is the SEC, then who is the owner – presumably the local school board?  But, as you know, most school board members are just well-meaning volunteers, often influenced by adult interests, and will struggle to drive long-term, sustainable improvement.  Even when they do, they are only a couple of election cycles from unraveling (e.g, Denver).
So if the local board cannot or will not drive accountability and performance, who will?   There can be a “market model” here, where the “consumer” drives improvement – arguably FL’s choice-happy system is an example, and there’s no denying their results.  But to me that looks like an exception, driven by the uniquely effective efforts of former Gov Bush and his team (and probably other things I’m unaware of).  For most, unless state agencies define their mission as muscular change agents, instead of semi-passive regulators, improvement will be sporadic and short-lived – they (and their Governors/legislators) need to own their result.

What the attack on charters and this issue of regulation or ownership have in common is among the various divides is this one about whether the best way to help public schools is to defend them or make them better. We talked about that at SXSW last month:

There are fun NOLA education bits in this fantastic John Batiste video that won a Grammy the other night. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in that wonderful city this week. Have a great weekend, thanks for reading.

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