Joe Biden & NPR Have The Same Problem, Jed Wallace And I Have The Same Wardrobe, Plus Edujobs, Teachers And AI!

Jed and I have a new WonkyFolk out. Most of you listen on various podcasts apps but if you watch on YouTube you’ll see that although we don’t preplan Jed and I are aligned and on point on fashion. We talk about AI, ASU-GSV, charter school history, charter school present, politics, and why Jed wants charter folk to get crisp. I own up to my biggest parenting mistake and being a lousy boyfriend. 

Words On Fashions

ICYMI – I wrote recently about why these phony hair shirts reformers are wearing are a bad fit. Sure there have been mistakes and missteps but that’s true in any area of social policy and there has also been progress. Fordham republished it this week.

In the Richmond Times I wrote about school accountability in Virginia and why we’re long overdo to have some. There is pretty much nothing Glenn Youngkin has said about school accountability that the Education Trust and various civil rights groups didn’t used to say as well. The only thing that’s changed is the politics.


And people said teachers would be slow to adopt this stuff! A Maryland teacher used AI to create deepfake recordings of his principal. Chaos ensued.

Edujob! (Paid advertisement)

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Oh Dems…

In February on a WonkyFolk I said I thought Joe Biden’s electoral chances were better than it appeared. I still think that although there are obvious caveats. First, this mess on campus is a liability. Second, the convention in Chicago, which could mar things right as most people start paying attention to politics. And then third, of course, health and gaffes. That’s fine with me as far as a status quo, Donald Trump is unfit in my view and so I want to see Biden prevail. But it’s worth asking, given Trump’s record, lack of support from his cabinet when he was president, and that most charitably you could say he was unconcerned with illegal acts to thwart the the transfer of power, why the hell is the election even this close?

There are a lot of reasons why, and education is not foremost amongst them. But education does matter as a frame and in a close election, everything matters. It turns out that Black and Hispanic parents are a demographic quite likely to be switching from Biden to Trump. (In a close election switchers matter a lot, too, because they take a vote and get a vote).

From The Economist:

There are a few plausible reasons why this might be (everyone will graft their favorite one on). But it does align with some other polling. Here’s an interesting take on some of the dynamics.

Meanwhile, DFER has a new poll also suggesting trouble on the education issue specifically.

(If you want an unsparing take on all this here’s former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty).

None of this is all that surprising, President Biden has an education policy pretty skewed towards white progressives. People care. What is surprising? He already has those votes in the bag. His immediate political problem is a bleed he can ill-afford among Black and Hispanic voters. Here, education might help, or at a minimum the White House might practice a little more do no harm in its politics. Cutting the public charter school budget is a signal there is just no reason to send. It tickles the teachers’ union, sure, but you already had their endorsement.

In the Uri Berliner piece on NPR that caused the recent dust up and cost him his job he noted:

The New York Times confirmed the same demographic challenges despite an emphasis on diversity at NPR.

It’s not hard to discern why. The data are clear that the median Black or Hispanic voter is to the political right of the median white progressive. Yet white progressives graft their own political preferences onto “people of color,” who are in fact a diverse group as far as viewpoint is concerned, and more generally. They are mostly, like the rest of us, normies. It’s why, politically, although consultants keep reinventing the wheel you can do a lot worse than a good schools, safe neighborhoods, economic opportunity agenda.

This idea that everyone is super-progressive is reinforced by the bubbles people operate in. If you work in an education non-profit, or perhaps at NPR (though I used to do paid commentary for them I have never worked there) you’re not going to run into a lot of Black conservatives, for instance. What’s more, the big divides are in fact by education level and geography – as Berliner noted about NPR’s listenership. You do see that same issue show up in elite education circles.

The sooner education leaders key in on this the better it will be for the political health of the public schools. The sooner Joe Biden’s political team does the better it will be for the country.

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