Dems, Dial It Back A Few Clicks. Please. It Matters. Down With Dress Codes! And Probably The Sweetest Fish Pic Ever.

ICYMI earlier in the week I wrote about why, despite the stridency about non-profit and for-profit status, tax status actually doesn’t matter a lot in key ways.

Last week I took a look at AI and suggested that while bias is an issue given how these models work, we shouldn’t over-index on it. Google over-indexed on it. Nellie Bowles has a good take on that.

If you missed our Science of Reading webinar based on this new Bellwether report, it’s here:

My team, really working hard to get the most awkward screen grabs.

Read The Room

Also last week, I sat down with Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises to discuss Black History month and history teaching and why it’s so hard. The pressure from the right is amply documented, but Sonja also got into the pressure from the left in some pretty candid ways.

I can’t embed it but you can watch and listen to that here.

This is not a minor thing, the 2024 election will be close and while it won’t turn on education as an issue, education will matter as a frame. People seem to be noticing that things are a little, well, weird. Just this week Joe Klein (the journalist, not Joel Klein, calm down haters) pointed this out:

Now this may just be one school. Let’s hope so. I fear not. And I’m certain of this: It will make a killer negative ad for Republicans next fall. Oh, you say: Only a minuscule number of Dems actually believe this crap. Remember, Defund The Police? Very few Democrats, outside AOC’s Suicide Squad, believed that either. The Republicans are still using it.

It’s not just one school. Here (as Sonja also pointed out) is more or less what normies think:

Furthermore, she said, the coloring book presents controversial ideas “as fact.” But, “it’s not necessarily true. It’s not like every black person believes in these principles.” 

Shufutinsky agrees: “There is nothing in these principles that talks about honoring greats in black American history. There is nothing in here that is actual scholarship. It doesn’t speak to education. It speaks to ideology.”

Ruy Teixeira who has been documenting this trend went deep on education for Education Next. Why Education Next? Well, AEI’s Rick Hess is a senior editor there, Ruy, despite a long Democratic pedigree, now works at AEI…because… (Note Klein’s critique of Teixeira as well.)

Cat Power was in DC this week to play the setlist from Dylan’s “Royal Albert Hall” concert at the Lincoln Theater. As Bob himself might say, “something is happening here and you don’t know what it is.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that this is all more nuanced than you’ve heard (and in some cases than they told you) and, as Klein notes, many perceived views are not so broadly held. We did a deep dive on all that last year at Bellwether. I point it out around here a lot, obviously to no avail. And the non-profit sector is no help because it’s so elite and left that centrists and moderates appear to be conservatives.

This coalition of the shrilling would all be sort of amusing in its way if the stakes were not so high in November with the real prospect that Donald Trump could return to The White House. The thing for Dems is this is fixable, and fixable without compromising the party’s core values. People want merit, choices, and opportunity in public schools. Those are, or were, Democratic values. The idea that Black lives matter as an inclusive organizing principle, don’t comprise. The political agenda of Black Lives Matter? Well, have you read it? Freedom to live your life as you want and be free from discrimination is a core commitment that should not be compromised. Playing whatever sport you want regardless of fairness or safety, teaching kindergarten students that doctors make mistakes when it comes to the sex and gender of babies, luxury beliefs about family structure, are those postmodern fads really the hills to die on? In 2024?

Are they really in any way helpful to public schools?

Hair And Dress

In the 2022 Eduwonk In and Out list I said keep an eye on the CROWN Act. A lot of people were like the what? Well, after this week in Texas now you know. But here’s the thing. I don’t doubt race is an issue with this school district, the comments about how this relates to affirmative action are just bizarre. But it’s also a broader issue of dress codes. The ruling may be technically correct in terms of what the Texas legislation doesn’t include. But outside of court, so what? Broaden the aperture. Why does it really matter how this young person wants to wear their hair? There are some health and safety reasons to regulate hair, which CROWN policies allow for. But that’s for specialized occupations and situations. It really should not matter in school day to day and it hardly falls under the kinds of expression schools can appropriately regulate. In the 2024 In and Out list I said dress codes would be in the dock. It’s about time. (They’re often also sexist.)

Coming Attractions

I was in Arizona this week to take in some 9U baseball. Actually, I was there because Jed Wallace and I were invited by the Charter School Growth Fund to record WonkyFolk live in front of their convening there. We had never done that, it was fun and the audience added a lot. Former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was the opening act before us. I did not know he was an ice cream baron before running for elected office. His take on that part of his career was interesting and reminded me of what schools and coffee have in common. We’ll put the show up next week.

It’s Friday, So Fish:

Chi Kim is one of those people in our sector who when you learn a few things about them you can still be surprised by the next one. She teaches at UVA, is on several important boards in the sector, and is CEO of her own venture. Earlier in her career she was a principal. Follow her on Twitter/X here.

She’s also on the board of an organization in Costa Rica, FECOP, focused on sustainable fishing. She sent me a wonderful fishing lure from that work a few months ago. And she sent a few pictures. The room was dusty when she sent this lovely one fishing with her father in California:

Here’s a more recent one:

Chi is the latest entry in this unique archive of hundreds of pictures of education types with fish. Whether fish pics or fish porn (that second fish is pretty nice) send me yours!

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