March 23, 2017

Trump’s Budget Cuts, Reading, ICE And Schools, Endrew F, Ian Rowe, Rick Perry And A & M, Suspension Debate, Maryland Debate, A Lot Of Jalen And More!

Kate Pennington says Trump’s call to cut Title II funding should instead open up a discussion about how to spend it.  Sarah Silverman and Elizabeth Combs say the cuts are a mistake.

From where I sit this about covers the Hanna Skandera situation.

Miami Sup’t Alberto Carvalho says no ICE in the schools there.  See NYC, too. The political reality is that if you’re a school system CEO in many parts of the country and you’re not saying this then you’re way out of step.  I’m very sympathetic on a human level and not that long ago even conservatives who wanted much tougher immigration rules wanted it done in a way that didn’t wreak havoc on families or adversely impact kids. Times have changed and both compassion and a tacit understanding of some grey areas seems to have evaporated. Hopefully, ICE would/will show some restraint rather than brinksmanship and painting anyone into a corner – we’re talking about schools here after all. And creating a situation where school officials have to openly defy legal orders isn’t something you want to force if you can avoid it. Remember back when the Obama Administration issued a guidance on transgender students and bathroom access and some state officials said no way we will enforce this? People cheering school officials now jeered them then. And vice versa. This is dangerous ground.

More than the minimum. SCOTUS unanimous in the Endrew F case on IDEA quality (pdf). The Times links it to the Gorsuch confirmation debate. Behind the scenes a lot of speculation about what this might mean for already pressured special education finance. The SCOTUS decision, penned by Chief Justice Roberts, made clear it’s not a blank check but there will be implications.

Nevada ESA data and debate.

Really provocative Ian Rowe on reading, myopia, and reform.

Suspensions are down, discuss!

Maryland is debating ESSA accountability. And this Baltimore charter school is struggling. I’m leery of grand theories of why schools thrive or struggle – the work is difficult and contingent on a host of factors. That said, hard to miss that these ed school sponsored charters have a rough record. All these ideas work great in theory but sometimes not so well in practice?

Edsall on “soft skills” and character.

Department of silver linings: The Trump presidency is just filled with teachable moments!

Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry is questioning the validity of the presidential election – the one at Texas A & M.

Two things about Jalen Rose. A lot of kids are named after him, and that will make many readers feel old. He also launched a charter school in Michigan.

Moose ball.

Posted on Mar 23, 2017 @ 12:14pm

March 22, 2017

Charter Schools And Fake News, Brookings And Real Analysis, Remediation Reform, Structural Inequality, More Middlebury, Hassels, More!

Looking for a new opportunity? Scroll down this page for a lot of edujobs including Educators 4 Excellence, Building Excellent Schools, and a bunch of others.

Charter schools were the focus of a lot of “fake news” way before fake news was a thing. 74′s Romy Drucker is moderating a panel to talk about that today in California. You can watch here. It’s a real issue. We don’t pull our punches on charter quality problems (pdf), or quality problems in the education sector overall, but I’m amazed at the misinformation we also get media inquiries about.

Meanwhile, Derrell Bradford notes that while the charter debate rages most parents are sidelined.

NAPCS out with a new ranking of the nation’s charter school laws.  KY has a new charter law as of this week, btw.

Travel alert: The fight against reform is migrating to Africa. A whole continent’s worth of new junkets and adult on adult fights.

More attention to how much non-credit remedial classes at colleges can set students back or off-track. CSU taking a new tack.

Brookings Brown Center annual education report is out today. This one is always a must-read if you like your thinking home-grown rather than outsourced.

Everyone wants to talk about structural inequality these days, but this is what it looks like and a lot fewer seem to have the appetite to root it out because that’s a lot more contentious and alienating than virtue signaling.

The report said that “hold-harmless policies” protecting elementary schools from budget cuts as well as concentrations of the most experienced teachers in wealthier neighborhoods, who earn the highest salaries, are “systematic barriers to achieving budget equity.” And increased pension obligations, plus a double-digit salary raise after years of no increases, “make real change difficult,” the report said.

Interesting take on Middlebury and the rampant income inequality in elite higher education:

The quintessentially liberal commitment to free and open dialogue is indispensable for building mutual understanding and respect in a diverse society. Cultural separation fueled by economic inequality, however, undermines that dialogue and respect. The spectacle of rich, “progressive” protestors refusing to hear a lecture on the roots of their own privilege; well, it tells you how much work there is to do. The class gap in American today is economic, educational and residential. Perhaps most dangerous of all, it is cultural, too. Mutual distrust across class lines is one of the causes of our current toxic politics. Greater understanding, shared learning and self-reflection are all needed now more than ever. And you don’t learn anything by shouting others down.

The Hassels with a reality check on class size reduction.

Life as a lookout. 


Edujob: Vice President of Growth Strategy and Development @ Educators 4 Excellence

Great job at a high impact organization focused on empowering teachers: Vice President of Growth Strategy and Development.

The Position of Vice President of Growth Strategy and Development presents an exciting opportunity for a seasoned professional and leader to shape E4E’s growth strategy and development functions, affirm and celebrate E4E’s mission, support its ongoing successes, and ensure the organization’s sustainability as a leading vehicle for teachers’ voices during a rapid period of growth. Just as E4E is building a movement of teachers leading change, we are building deep partnerships with a community of donors and partners that support teacher leadership with a variety of resources.

Educators 4 Excellence is implementing an ambitious three-year growth plan. Currently operating with an annual budget of $15M, the organization anticipates continued budget and new site expansion over the next few years. Reporting to the Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, and serving as an E4E National Team member and a Senior Leadership Team member, the Vice President of Growth Strategy and Development will play a critical role in establishing an overarching organizational growth strategy, funding priorities, and systems that support E4E’s programmatic goals and objectives, in addition to raising essential support that will sustain the organization’s efforts over the long-term.

Building upon the strengths of existing advancement endeavors and aggressively pursuing new opportunities for site expansion, funding, and engagement, the Vice President’s efforts will include leading, managing, and developing a highly capable fundraising staff responsible for building relationships and soliciting funds nationwide from a wide range of fundraising channels. S/he will also be charged with assisting chapter Executive Directors and their local development teams to fundraise and strategically seize opportunities to achieve sustainable growth at the local level, as well as support fundraising of new site expansion launch funds as needed.

The Vice President will thrive in a cross-functional, collaborative, goal-oriented environment. S/he will build a positive team culture focused on professional development, individual opportunity, and growth.

Learn more and apply via this link.


March 21, 2017

Betsy DeVos Speaks! Budget News, ESSA Flex, Duncan On OCR, More!

On this date in 1963 Alcatraz closed. Not so well known, it had a pretty robust CTE initiative.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos defended the President’s budget to an audience of state officials yesterday. I listened but still basically think this.

Behind the scenes more and more people shifting from “give DeVos a chance” to “this isn’t going to work.” In a town where perceptions can become reality she needs to get in front of that.

This story has a lot going on: The teachers union official doing double duty in the state legislature is just a small piece of it – and a more common story than you might think. We also have people who thought the states would just jump at the ESSA opportunity to do cool things learning otherwise, our cargo cult approach to things – project-based learning! – plus our field’s aversion to difficult conversations, and more. So it’s basically why we can’t have nice things in one bundle.

Education got a cameo in the Gorsuch hearing.

NASBE with some questions you might want to ask about your state ESSA plan. DeVos is basically saying, do what you want! One former state officials said after her talk to CCSSO yesterday that the key standard for whether a state plan passes muster seems to be whether it has enough postage to get to D.C. (but presumably not with these stamps).

Bellwether will be reviewing state plans as they come in and highlighting really strong and really ineffective proposals – stay tuned for that.

Arne Duncan says keep OCR. Will we see some creative policy ideas in the post-NCLB, post-ESSA regs world?

This looks like an interesting event on accountability design. 

Sadly, soon after they arrived they watched it fly straight into a wind turbine. Hey kids, Red Bull + vodka = trouble. Rabbit punches back.


March 20, 2017

Books! Plus Trump Budget, Ohio ESSA, KIPP – UFT Legal Wrangling, ICE And Schools, Autism And Sesame Street, More!

It’s March 20th, spring is coming! On this date in 1852, the abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin was first published as a serial. Today the book is controversial because of some of its language and portrayals and sometimes is part of fights about what students should read in school. But in the 19th-Century it was considered subversive and widely credited with helping the abolitionist cause. It’s said that President Lincoln called Harriet Beecher Stowe the woman who started the war but like many quotes attributed to Lincoln it’s unlikely he actually said it. Still, Stowe’s work trailed only the Bible in sales as a 19-Century bestseller. 

Don’t forget to check out TeacherPensions.org for the latest on that issue. And here are 16 still timely education policy ideas if you’re looking to get something done.

Ohio is hitting pause on its ESSA plan.  KIPP and UFT are tangling over union representation there.

Gerard Robinson on reactions to President Trump’s budget proposal: Sure, the president is punching you in the face but he’s also giving you this nice vanilla wafer! Mark Keieleber looks at the ICE/sanctuary/schools issue. Sandy Kress says they’re lowering the bar in Texas.

New muppet on Sesame Street, Julia, and she’s autistic as part of Sesame’s focus on that issue.

Policy thinker and reinventing government maven David Osborne has written a novel of historical fiction, The Coming. It’s based on the life of Daytime Smoke, the Nez Perce child of Virginia explorer William Clark. Compelling story but the novel bogs down in places when Daytime Smoke tries to reorganize the bureaucratic operations of the various Native American tribes in the west. OK, no, that doesn’t happen. This is an interesting work of historical fiction and a cool new direction for David. Check it out!

Mike Petrilli on Eureka Math. 

Sweet story on reading the weather.


March 17, 2017

Edujob: CEO Building Excellent Schools

Here’s a high-impact edujob: CEO of Building Excellent Schools:

BES seeks a visionary and strategic CEO to lead the organization through its next phase of growth and impact by expanding the Fellowship program to train and support more mission-driven leaders to create the best urban charter schools in the nation.

The CEO will join BES at a time of transition and great opportunity. After two decades of charter schooling, an effective model for urban education has emerged. Thanks in large part to the work of BES, we now know how to close the achievement gap. BES is uniquely positioned to continue to evolve that model and bring it to scale across the country, affect the lives of tens of thousands of children, and powerfully contribute to the national conversation on the transformation of American public education.

BES’s founder, Linda Brown, is transitioning out of her role as leader of the organization. She will continue to contribute to the organization during the new CEO’s first nine to 12 months by cultivating and recruiting Fellows and ensuring a successful transfer of leadership and knowledge to her successor. This is a unique opportunity for an experienced and growth-minded executive who is excited to learn from one of the charter school’s pioneers while laying the foundation for her/his leadership of Building Excellent Schools.

The CEO will report directly to a seven to nine-member Board of Directors, and direct reports include the Chief Academic Officer and Director of Development. BES has a staff of 30 people, approximately half of whom are based in Boston and half who work remotely from over eight locations.

You can learn more about the role and how to be considered via this link.


Don’t Mess With The Zumba Lobby! Education Budget Politics, Dual Enrollment, Wisconsin’s Union Status Quo, And Nice Hockey Fighting. The Line Is Here! More!

Here’s Betsy DeVos’ statement on the President’s budget request, it seems lukewarm as these things go. ”I look forward to continuing to engage with Congress as we roll out the President’s priorities and put the needs of students first” she said. That’s (a) patently untrue. No cabinet official looks forward to this but (b) she’s hoping they fix some of this. That’s budget politics. A 13 percent cut to your agency in your first year on the job will make a great joke on the dinner speech circuit some day but for now is a problem. Not even a lot of enthusiasm from the Rs. It’s all fun and games until someone cuts after-school funding. (Also, in that article, the Zumba lobby is ferocious.)

Speaking of budget politics, yesterday was “the sky is falling!” day of anti-budget messaging. Today is “this is at odds with the research” day. Who knew all these programs had so much research?

My take, via USN, is that for a guy promising us greatness and boldness and action and all of that, this budget is small in every way and especially on big bold ideas. 

Be sure to check out The Line, a new publication in education led by John Deasy. I’m on the advisory board and some cool stuff coming.

It seems very likely that the SCOTUS is going to strike down today’s agency fee arrangements for public employees and basically make every state a right to work state. Teachers unions are preparing for this now. If you want to see how that might play out, Wisconsin is a good place to examine. Matt Barnum takes a look at the scene there.

Checker Finn says there is a standards problem with dual enrollment.  Jay Lynch and Nathan Martin on making ed research more impactful. J.D. Vance is heading home to the Buckeye State.

“We got to work on our cardio this summer, huh?”


March 16, 2017

The Trump Budget

President Trump didn’t do charter schools in any favors with this budget. He made them a target and the policy isn’t even that creative. In U.S. News & World Report I look at that and all the reasons today’s budget request is unimaginative and a missed opportunity overall:

The presidential budget request is always a mash up of policy, politics, signaling and negotiation. Yet even with the caveat that any budget request is best taken seriously but not literally, President Trump’s first budget stands out as an exceptional missed opportunity in education and across a range of federal agencies. Ignore the theatrics about Trump’s new battle with Big Bird, he won’t win that one. And remember that some of the programs the president is putting on the chopping block are ones that President Obama sought to cut, too. Instead, what’s most tragic about this budget is how profoundly unimaginative it is at a time the country needs big ideas…

You can read the whole column by clicking here. Or defend your favorite programs or tweet me budget tips @arotherham.

Posted on Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:46pm

Trump’s Budget, Small And Not Bold, Gulen, Flynn, And Charter Advocacy, Wells On Start-Ups, Hill On Vouchers, Marchitello Sees Opportunity. Bold Racooon! More…

Bellwether’s Mary Wells with some advice on start-ups and being an entrepreneur. Max Marchitello says Trump may give progressives an opportunity to regroup.

Turns out former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s firm is behind the anti-charter campaign the Turkish government has been waging and that anti-charter activists and think tanks here gleefully picked up. Stay classy everyone!

The President’s budget proposal is out. Big cuts proposed to education and a few large programs including after-school and Title II and it includes what looks like a Title I portability pilot as well as a private voucher pilot. But small increase for public charter schools relative to school choice overall – even though just creating more good public schools via chartering is both the most obvious and the best strategy to expand educational opportunity we have. The budget also cuts education programs elsewhere, including at NASA. And cuts across government in general. Budgets go through a lot of twists and turns but this is not a great opening bid for a serious forward looking budget framework. It’s striking in its lack of imagination, creativity, or boldness.

Bottom line, if you don’t like the President’s meat habits you’ll really hate the budget request.

Paul Hill on vouchers. Rethinking CTE in Detroit. Guns in schools.

Ladner on the disconnect between charter policy and NAEP scores.

Don’t drink box wine. Or something.

AIR has an ESSA website to track what’s going on.

This raccoon is not a bank robber.


March 15, 2017

Oh, Wait, You Meant Those Regulations? The DeVos Reality Settles In. Plus, Tackling Dummies Into Plowshares? Great Moments In Teacher Eval, Federal Budget Politics, Charter Growth, MA Charters, Tuck’s Running, Skywalker’s Feuding, Leafy AZ, McCluskey’s Consistency, Chaltain’s Talk, Plus Toads! More!

Today is March 15th! Beware!

Bonnie O’Keefe on the new ESSA regulatory regime. Also, breaking: Groups that recently cheered Congressional jettisoning of federal regulations now realize what that might mean….

Here are the regs, or rather the non regs.

This lede is quite true:

Washington greets the president’s annual budget release the way it does a forecast of a few inches of snow — which is to say, often with a huge overreaction.

But also true that various social programs are facing some real pressure under a Trump administration’s budget framework and what conservatives on the Hill want. That would have consequences. For a bit of historical perspective, though, welfare state spending grew under Reagan (and Thatcher for that matter) as well as George W. Bush. So you just never know how these things are going to play out.

Also, a Department of Education aide is feuding with Luke Skywalker. 

New report on food security/hunger and college students (pdf). Focuses on community college students but it’s a broader issue. Here’s one innovative initiative to address this issue from a Texas HBCU. Turn your football facility into a farm.The president of this college is in DC to speak at an Aspen Institute event tomorrow.

Frank Bruni (and Van Jones) think college students are too coddled. I’m not sure why it took Middlebury to wake people up to problems of illiberalism on campus and the ensuing effects on American life but here we are.  Also don’t miss Stephen Carter on the broader issues.

Charter schools still growing but the rate of growth is declining. NACSA with some important data on what’s going on. 

What did Massachusetts teachers unions think of their game plan to bottle up the state’s charter schools? All the details plus some forecasting here. Alternative and more clicks headline? The teachers unions put a ton of effort into defeating school improvement in MA and GA instead of focusing on key presidential states and you’ll never believe what happened next….

Can Randi Weingarten stop President Trump’s infrastructure plan? The flacks who planted this story sure think so – and she owes them a sweet raise because it’s a good one and a signal. Stay tuned…

Marshall Tuck announced this week he is making another run for Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. He outperformed expectations last time and came close to winning, keep an eye on this race. CRPE says the power of persuasion is key for state chiefs.

I was unaware the Arizona suburbs were especially leafy, all the ones I have visited were not. But, Matt Ladner says they can compete for students anyway.

Hat tip to Neil McCluskey of CATO. I don’t agree with him on some policy questions but in a town where people change their views to fit the prevailing political winds or advance their career he’s admirably consistent on questions around choice, federalism, and policy.

Seems like we read some version of this article every few years, it’s always treated as new and novel.

Presumably everyone in the education world can at least agree to please not bite the kids? It’s been a while since I did teacher prep but I think they covered that in the first few classes. Penultimate graf is awesome for eval nerds by the way.

Sam Chaltain on the future of learning (and movies).

This toad is fantastic.  Strangers ask him if he was wearing pants.

Posted on Mar 15, 2017 @ 12:02pm

March 10, 2017

Mead On Trump’s Childcare Idea, See Ya ESSA Regs! LGBT And Schools, Steele On Collaborating, Great Moments In Project Based Learning, And Edujobs!

Lots of edujobs down the page, scroll down – especially if your week was not what you hoped!

The Obama Administration’s ESSA regs are history. They were not perfect, this stuff never is, but it’s a lot of work out the window and needless uncertainty for states and school districts trying to implement the new law.  Also, huge blow for Democrats who tried to put lipstick on this pig when it first passed and now are left holding the bag. But education is merely a bit player in a broader tectonic political change that is happening right now. 

In U.S. News & World Report Sara Mead takes a look at problems with President Trump’s child care plans and some ideas for improvement.  Also in US News’ Lauren Camera on President Trump’s education chances.

Andrew Rayner on why the LGBT issue is more than the bathroom debate. Secretary of Education DeVos met with parents of LGBT youth this week.

There’s a Jacobin quality to the professional education left – so Jennifer Steele says they might as well work with DeVos. Well, not exactly but close enough! Read the piece, interesting take.

School project turns up German World War II plane with the pilot still inside.


March 9, 2017

Must Read School Finance, More Middlebury, Teacher Prep Regs Gone, Gorsuch, Turnarounds, CAP Reports, NEA Reveals, Yale SOM, And More!

Scroll down for edujobs at GreatSchools and elsewhere. And it’s Yuri Gagarin’s birthday. He and his colleagues had everyone in this country pretty freaked out in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Scroll down for JFK on the education aspect of that.

Must read on finance: Here’s Bellwether’s Jenn Schiess, Max Marchitello, and Julie Squire took a look at Ohio’s school finance situation for Fordham (pdf). Includes a set of recommendations for policymakers there.

Must read on finance II: Max Marchitello says Chicago is right and the pension system there is deepening systemic fiscal inequities. We’re crunching data on that and a few pretty remarkable things are apparent.

When even Senator Sasse, who has shown some real flashes of independence, is protecting teacher prep programs you know how hard reform is. If you’re looking for a silver lining I guess it’s that bipartisanship isn’t dead in the Senate. The protection racket for low-quality teacher prep programs remains bipartisan. Last fall Ashley Mitchel and I took a look at why the regulations, though far from perfect, represented an important opportunity for the sector. 

NEA press release today announces “Reports reveal Gorsuch repeatedly ruled against students with disabilities.” OK, we’ve talked about (here and here for instance) his take on those issues and reasonable people can certainly disagree on special education policy or his take on that and other education questions. I carry no brief for the guy. But the good news is that you don’t need “reports” to “reveal” his take on questions like this because the great thing about court opinions is that they’re almost always public.  Special education case law is, in fact, basically its own little industry.

Shep Melnick on the OCR challenges at ED:

The incoming leaders of the civil rights office will have a chance to improve its regulations, but only if they willing to be everything our President is not. Rather than act precipitously and unilaterally, they should demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and public participation by following APA’s notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures. They should collect reliable information on such matters as the prevalence of sexual assault on campus and the effectiveness of proposed remedies. They should invite debate rather than shove disagreements under the rug, as the civil rights office has so often done in the past. They should show respect for Supreme Court interpretations of civil rights law, rather than devise clever end-runs around them.

Pushback on the four-day school week idea.  Traction for the three-year college idea?

Laura McKenna on Middlebury via the Atlantic. And here’s Johnathan Last on the same:

…And anyone who is so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between Charles Murray and Milo Yiannopoulos is too stupid to be in college. Period, the end…

…What Middlebury president Laurie Patton should have done was tell the students:

Look, if you’re here to protest you’re a doofus. This isn’t the Ann Coulter Power Hour designed to drum up outrage and sell books. It’s a sociology lecture by a distinguished scholar and if you’re too dumb to understand and are hell-bent on signaling your virtue by making a spectacle of yourself, then I will personally write up your expulsion papers. At this very moment there are a hundred kids in New Jersey waiting to pay full tuition and take your slot.

OK, but maybe scholarship students instead?

Joe Nathan on education customization. More Minnesota customization via Jennifer Ford Reedy. And through the wayback machine: JFK at the University of Virginia on U.S. education.

Mitch Chester and John White pushback on turnarounds and the narrative of impossibility. There are a bunch of ways to look at this question of the efficacy of turnarounds, but one lens might be what strategy is most likely to create the most good seats for kids in the shortest amount of time? But then a keenly related question is what do local communities want to do with their schools and how does that relate to the first question? The evidence to date gives a reasonably clear sense of the probabilities on the first question but the second one is pure values and politics and while choice helps it doesn’t fully answer the hard decisions policymakers must make.

CAP on school accountability. Plus CAP on different ways to classify schools in accountability schemes. Meanwhile, the high school testing situation in California is really interesting.

The Yale School of Management education conference, which is usually quite good, is coming up.

Textual reading of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.   And while I’m basically of the mind that the best STEM initiatives in the early grades are just really good public schools so kids have choices later on in their education - there are obviously specific things schools can do as well. Here’s a video look at one initiative from a coalition of groups working on this issue.

Big snakes.


Edujob: Director Of Research At GreatSchools!

Want to lead research on a treasure trove of data about parental engagement with school decisions? If so, don’t miss this opening for a Director of Research for GreatSchools. From the JD:

The Director of Research, reporting to VP, Growth and Strategy, will be responsible for the following activities:

  • Identify promising scalable, information-based interventions to pilot and study in the area of parent engagement in preK-12 education, in tight collaboration with product leadership. Outcomes of interest include increased demand for high quality schools and increased involvement in supporting learning at home.

  • Drive GreatSchools’ research agenda to better understand the impact of information on parents’ attitudes and behaviors in supporting their children’s education, with a focus on underserved populations.

  • Develop partnerships with external experts, researchers, and strategic partners and work with them to facilitate, design, and implement mission-aligned research and evaluation projects.

  • Create actionable insights for improving products and programs based on results of internally and externally-driven research.

  • Contribute to fundraising and partnership development efforts by effectively communicating about our theory of change, evidence of impact, and areas for further research.

  • Translate research findings for a broad audience and contribute to GreatSchools’ thought leadership efforts.

You can read the entire JD and learn how to apply and be considered here.


March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day And Education, ACA, Best Districts For Teachers, Worst Places For Pensions, Chance The Rapper, Partisan Realignment, Giant Rubber Bands, And More!

“Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”

- Canadian pol Charlotte Whitton*

Today is International Women’s Day and Kirsten Schmitz digs into some education data germane to gender issues in education – where are all the female superintendents?

Scroll down for some great edujobs including one in Oakland for Surge Institute.

Still the early innings but pay attention to the Obamacare repeal/replace debate in Congress, big implications for education depending how it goes.

LA School Board election results. Washington D.C. voucher politics.

Firsthand account from the Middlebury professor in the middle of the Charles Murray protest:

As the campus uproar about his visit built, I was genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgement on Dr. Murray’s work and character, while openly admitting that they had not read anything he had written. With the best of intentions, they offered their leadership to enraged students, and we all now know what the results were.

NCTQ looks at great school districts for teachers. This reminds me of the late J.J. Baskin who had an idea to do a “best places to work” for teachers magazine package like you see for other fields.

Chance the Rapper is meeting with Illinois’ governor to discuss education policy and now he’s donating to the Chicago schools. 

Elsewhere in dysfunctional education economics Puerto Rico’s teacher pension fund has some problems.

Here’s a video looking at how LIFO works in New Jersey.

Partisan politics drive a lot of the education conversation – but what if the party structure changes? New Brookings paper looks at the rare, but not unprecedented, occasions of party break-up.

If your students are fidgeting you can get these giant rubber bands for them. Then you don’t have to worry about the fidgeting, just the giant slingshots they can build.

*Yes, I know she’s controversial, but it’s a great line.

Posted on Mar 8, 2017 @ 4:02pm

Edujob: Executive Director, Oakland, For Surge Institute

Surge Institute is growing and hiring its first ED for an expansion city. From the JD:

Founded in 2014, The Surge Institute inspires and increases the trajectory of emerging education leaders of color so they may bring new ideas, perspectives, and solutions that positively impact the communities of color that make up our urban schools. The Surge Fellowship, the flagship program of The Surge Institute, is a one-year cohort-based fellowship program designed for these leaders. The vision of the Fellowship is to dramatically change the face of leadership in education reform by training, supporting, connecting, and elevating high-capacity African-American and Latino leaders across organizations seeking to dramatically improve education options and outcomes for low-income children. Fellows are exposed to role models who help them realize Surge’s four objectives: to dream big, focus inward, know the landscape, and make an impact.

As we support our third Chicago fellowship cohort and recognize a rising demand in other cities, Surge is growing and seeking new talent to support its evolution, ensure impact, and maintain a commitment to excellence in execution. Surge’s growth includes an expansion of the current Chicago program and extension into Oakland, CA, a community rich with homegrown talent and commitment to amazing outcomes for students, families, and community.

The founding Executive Director, Oakland will be chiefly responsible for all aspects of successful execution of the Oakland Surge Fellowship program. This includes being the chief brand ambassador for Surge in the Bay Area – building and maintaining relationships with partners and funders – while ensuring delivery of a high-quality Fellowship program. A successful Executive Director will be passionate about closing the opportunity gap for underserved students of color, driven by concrete outcomes and results, obsessive about details and organization, and exceptional in building lasting partnerships with Fellows, partners, connectors, and funders throughout the region.

Learn more and learn how to be considered via this link. 


March 7, 2017

Will The Senate Stall ESSA Reg Repeal? That Plus David Harris On The Indy Model, Pondiscio On Choice, Trucker Cats, And Valerie Jarrett On Working Across Ideological Lines. More!

It’s March 7th! On this date in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell received his patent for the telephone. More recently, in 1965 this date marked the start of the Selma to Montgomery marches during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, more commonly known as Bloody Sunday.

In the education world today that you may have missed:

Good bones! David Harris on what the Indianapolis story might teach the Trump Administration about school choice.

Republican Senator Portman (OH) says slow down on the ESSA rules repeal. 

Department of clarifications: Per yesterday’s mention of a Bloomberg story about left-leaning groups being targeted by hackers for ransom CAP’s CEO Neera Tanden pushes back on the Bloomberg account.

Valerie Jarrett on working across ideological lines to get things done. Panic at the Pondiscio on getting smart about school choice.

In my darker moments I wonder about this.

Trucker cat.


March 6, 2017

Should Students Be Forced To Dissect? SCOTUS Punts, John King Starts, Pensions, Hackers, Opioids, Hess and Boser Books, Gordo Cooper Birthday, More!

On this date in 1927 Gordon “Gordo” Cooper was born in Oklahoma. He was a pilot and a Mercury astronaut and, in 1963, the last American to fly in space alone. He also went into space as part of the Gemini program and was memorably portrayed by Dennis Quaid in the film version of The Right Stuff.  Cooper passed in 2004.

New York Times looks at pensions and a key issue that hasn’t received the attention it should: As states try to compensate for problems with their teacher pension plans (under-investment, bad design, or both) they are doing it by making the pensions work even less well for teachers than they already do. You can learn about Bellwether’s teacher pension work – mentioned in the article – here. 

Waiting for Gorsuch? The SCOTUS passes on the VA case involving a transgender Virgina high school student.

Snapchat windfall for Bay Area Catholic high school that received a good stock tip.

Surging opioid deaths. Lots of implications for education.

John King interview with 74.

Hackers targeting left-leaning groups with ransom demands – including some that work in the edu sector.

Keep an eye out: There is going to be a “bare-knuckle fight with Follet and Barnes and Noble.”

Tuition grant program in Arkansas targeting high-need fields. Emma Brown goes to Kentucky to look at the debate over a long-standing school integration policy there. A lot of kids in Massachusetts want to go to charter schools there.

Last week Democrats in Oklahoma’s legislature criticized the Bellwether report on rural education for not talking about funding enough -sadly no link to a really fun email blast available. But the report was the results of focus groups and interviews, so they should take that up with their constituents. Still, they jumped all over us using Bible verses, which I can only take as a positive broadening of the Democratic party tent. Elsewhere, we were attacked twice last week for being irredeemable lefties so it’s entirely possible people are just even more spun up than usual about the conflation of education policy and politics right now.

Rick Hess has a new book out: “Letters to a young education reformer.” The title alone will make everyone who can remember the I’m Rick Hess B**ch days feel old. But well worth a read. The kind of book that if you agree with all of it then you either didn’t read it or you’re the type to outsource your thinking. But some pushes worth considering.

Ulrich Boser has a new book out on learning. “When it comes to learning, people believe a lot of things that aren’t really supported by the research” he writes. If you agree with that then this fascinating book is for you.

Two reminders that various chatter last week brought to mind: First, when you start a conversation, kids, with “how can you be for X, Betsy DeVos is for X!” you reveal yourself as a hack. Try thinking about ideas not personalities. It’s surprisingly liberating. Second, as we get into the crucible on school choice here again soon remember that on pretty much all these school choice issues – public, private, charter, etc… – the real action is around program design not type. It’s quite possible to design a lousy charter school plan and a good voucher plan or vice versa. We have several decades of evidence on this. Amateurs talk about choice in terms of types of programs, pros talk about it in terms of policy design.

The debate over dissection in science class continues. Flipping coins into the water not good luck for this turtle that lives there.


March 3, 2017

Bears. At A School. In Connecticut. For Real. Elsewhere: Iowa Pensions With Chad Aldeman, Kress On Centrism, Civic Ed, Dreamers, Superintendent Salary Data, Teachers Union Money, Dogs Catching Fish! More!

Scroll down for edujobs.

In the Des Moines Register the pride of West Des Moines Valley High Chad Aldeman takes a look at the pension issue there. Phillip Burgoyne-Allen says Trump provides a Sputnik moment for civic education.

OK, looks like someone is owed an apology

Two schools in Southington, Conn., were placed in “Secure School Mode” when a black bear was spotted nearby Tuesday morning, according to WFSB.com.

Charter growth is slowing (slowing pace not negative growth)  in some places but that’s not universal – for instance in Minnesotta steady growth. Some CSC data if you really want to get all  Minnesotta charter nice.

Virginia could take a step toward having a real charter law and offering parents and students some actual choices but don’t bet on it.

Superintendent salary data.  Teachers union financial data.

Seattle Dreamer arrest context and backstory.

Noise versus signal. Or why the education debate is such a mess.

Some days you just look out at the education scene and wonder to yourself,

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…

Anyway, Sandy Kress has some thoughts on all that as it relates to education.

Yesterday I put up a video of a debate about charter schools. Matt Barnum fact checks. Stuff like this is especially fun.

Opera lunch. This dog catches fish. More dog fishing action footage here.


Edujob: Founding CEO Blue School Partners

Here’s a great edujob in Denver. Founding CEO for Blue School Partners:

Recognizing both the urgency and the opportunity [in Denver], a group of local and national funders and community partners have come together to create Blue School Partners (BSP).  BSP will play three primary roles in the city:

  • Strategic Leader – BSP will coalesce partners in support of a vision and strategies to dramatically improve academic outcomes, and hold all of the stakeholders accountable for achieving those outcomes.  BSP’s independence will allow it to approach this task with urgency, long-term commitment and stability, and a focus on both excellence and equity.
  • Investor – BSP will raise and coordinate the use of philanthropic resources commensurate with the scale of the challenge.  BSP will ensure that the resources available are aligned with an effective high quality seats strategy, and are used to support the most critical strategies, tactics, and partners.  BSP will initially focus on investments in quality schools development, expanded pipelines for effective school leader and teacher talent, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Advocate – BSP will work to ensure the existence of a policy environment that supports the success of quality schools.  BSP will seek an environment where school leaders have the autonomy they need to make the best decisions for their students: where schools operate under clear performance expectations and consequences, parents are able to make informed choices for their children, and resources are equitably allocated to support the growth of what is working.

Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education has adopted the Denver Plan, an ambitious commitment to ensure that 80% of all DPS students attend schools rated blue or green on the School Performance Framework (the district’s report card on school quality as measured by a number of variables) by 2020. The Denver Plan commits the district to providing great schools in every neighborhood in the city.  Blue School Partners’ goals embrace and build on the goals already set by the district.  BSP has set an ambitious goal of creating or improving 35,000 quality school seats in Denver by 2030.

You can learn more about this opportunity and how to nominate or be considered here.


March 2, 2017

Pennington On Eval, Robson On Rural, Sup’t Of The Year Fishing Hook, Family Structure, Tax Credit Structure, Voucher Debate, And Does Money Matter Anyway? Dog Wants A View, More…

Kate Pennington on why you have to read below the headlines on teacher eval stories.

Rural communities are not monolithic on education either. Kelly Robson on that.

Pushback on criticism of the Trump transgender student policy. Here’s a new website tracking what former Obama education folks are up to. And via Brookings here’s Arne Duncan on inequality and education and the state of American life.

Ian Rowe continues to push on family issues at Fordham. Tax credit vouchers are messy. And just how much does money matter in education? 

Congrats to the new Superintendent of the Year, Mathew Utterback, who hails from some really good fishing water.

One category in Smithsonian’s photo contest is the American experience. Great pictures including a sweet one of prom dinner. 

McDonalds is mimicking Starbucks – one under-appreciated way is around internet access and how in many communities the restaurant is a hub for free wifi.

Is Siri making your kid a brat?

The Iditarod teacher training conference is going on.

So is a debate on charter schools. You can watch one installment after the jump below. Are they overrated? (Hit refresh if it doesn’t load)
Continue reading


March 1, 2017

Trump To Congress, DeVos To HBCUs, Budget Debate, And Guns In Schools, What Would Madison Say? Pahara, Social Security And Teachers, Sloths! More!

New ranking of states from U.S. News & World Report, big education component.

And new Pahara fellows!

On this date, at noon, in 1781,  the Articles Of Confederation were ratified. We all know how that turned out.

Today in unfolding governance experiments, President Trump spoke to Congress last night. A few odd moments but nothing really crazy happened so the event is naturally being hailed as a big success. Any other politician and the knock on the speech would have been ‘a long laundry list of things with few specifics.’ Expectations matter in politics. He mentioned education but like most of the policy proposals he discussed, few details.

Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is still getting heat for her comments linking HBCU’s to school choice – an unforced hammer – nail error – and a lack of context or sensitivity to context about the history of HBCUs. Getting less attention is this remark by DeVos:

Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.

We discussed why that matters on the HBCU executive order yesterday. But more than that given the coming budget fight and the likely pressure on non-defense discretionary spending in the budget this sentiment reads like groundwork laying for a tough budget climate.  There will be a lot of resistance to aspects of the Trump budget plan but it’s unclear Education will fare well in a budget fight given its institutional strength and current leadership. You’re already hearing more about State and foreign programs than education. And Republicans would like to shift some education spending to the tax side through some large tax credit aimed at school choice. The obvious political move is pushback that includes real ideas about tangible structural reforms that are long overdue in an education system that doesn’t work for too many Americans – and the funding to help that system do what it needs to be. But don’t hold your breath.

Also, forget the actual budget math, lines like this work politically because of how Americans think federal dollars are distributed.

“We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.”

That was one of the strongest lines of the night for him and builds a clever political box. If President Trump learns that politics doesn’t have to be as hard as he makes it, watch out.

Earlier this week Kirsten Schmitz and I looked at one big idea – getting all teachers into Social Security. 40 percent are not covered today and it’s bad for them and a missed opportunity for Social Security’s fortunes, too.

Speaking of retirement policy did you know that the AARP has its roots in teacher retirement? It’s true!

Mike Rowe is all over the CTE issue. Education has its own voice over star on the ed policy scene – insiders know who I am talking about – but Rowe’s not bad either.

Schools and guns debated in MT. You know who else was against guns in schools?  Jefferson and Madison. So we don’t have to speculate what the founders might have thought on this one…

No one has yet successfully answered this trivia question. A number of guesses for Peter Cunningham, the former Arne Duncan hand. He’s a talented musician but that’s not the correct answer.

Sloths. On rocking chairs.

Posted on Mar 1, 2017 @ 11:34am

February 28, 2017

Aldeman On Schoolhouse Economics, Accountability, DeVos On HBCUs, Medicaid And Kids, Bolick On Gorsuch, Bison!

Breaking: Economics don’t stop at the schoolhouse door. Chad Aldeman on the strange case of Georgia. 

Don’t tune out entitlement reform: Why Medicaid matters to students.

People are saying that the Trump and congressional actions on ESSA are going to gut the accountability. OK, that’s technically true. But ESSA hardly had any accountability to start with. It’s like complaining that someone is taking the flavor out of tofu. Conor Williams on that. 

Today in tone deaf statements. Or today in to a hammer everything is a nail. In case you didn’t hear, Betsy DeVos said something about HBCU’s, Twitter hated it. If she’d left out the school choice mentions or, better, added some context about why HBCUs evolved in the first place, she’d have been fine. Or maybe not, she can’t win at this point.

But, some of the controversy about the statement seems to be an effort to distract from what the White House is planning to do on HBCUs. Except that same controversy over the statement seems to be overshadowing the signal she sent on funding – or lack thereof! So in a weird way it’s backfiring. Or something.

Anyway, bottom line: The President is moving ED’s HBCU initiative to the White House but that’s only meaningful if it’s muscular, otherwise it’s just a new address.

Interesting Clint Bolick on what to expect if Neil Gorsuch is confirmed.

Where the buffalo roam.

Posted on Feb 28, 2017 @ 1:04pm

February 27, 2017

Teachers And Social Security, Pearson, DeVos And Rural, Trump Budget Numbers, Fake School Lunch Controversy, Real Bear Numbers, Dylan And Simon, More!

In The 74 Kirsten Schmitz and I take a look at teachers and Social Security and some coming debates and opportunities:

At some point, the marriage of convenience between Republicans and President Donald Trump will end. One likely cause? Irreconcilable differences about entitlement spending. And teachers should watch out that they don’t get caught in a nasty custody battle…

The bottom line is that about 40 percent of teachers aren’t covered by Social Security, this exacerbates a retirement system that isn’t working for most teachers in the first place (pdf).

Julie Squire challenges Betsy DeVos to get serious on rural schools. The answer to every question about rural education isn’t distance learning or virtual charters…

Pearson’s US higher ed struggles and its financial performance. Here’s the case for Pearson.*

In DC agencies getting budget parameters on spending for the next fiscal year. And President Trump doing an EO on HBCUs. Future of Office of Civil Rights at ED still uncertain.

On the budget, this is not where the final numbers will land. Congress has a say. But it does seem likely to force any ambitious education reform over to the tax side of the budget. That’s unfortunate because tax side initiatives generally offer less leverage on various educational problems.

Betsy DeVos is not – at least not yet – against the free-lunch program in schools. Seriously people.  She was (a) making a joke and (b) free at point of transaction versus inherently free is an issue we should discuss in a non-gotcha way (c) there is so much more going on with this administration that are real problem there is absolutely no point in creating fake outrages.

Reality check from an Ed Week reporter who must have wondered why they had to write this…

For a serious look at the school lunch issue check out this article ostensibly about West Virginia and Jamie Oliver but really about much more. This Bellwether publication includes two lunch policy ideas, one from Tom Colicchio and another from Lindsey Shute and Eric Hansen. 

Basically to settle a bar bet I did some desk research on whether there are more bears than p-12 students in Alaska. Figured I might was well share what I found. Strictly speaking the bet was grizzly/brown bears. And the answer is no overall. But, if you expand the definition of bear to include black and polar bears in addition to brown bears then the answer is yes. There are about 4700 polar bears, 30,000 brown bears, and about 100K black bears in Alaska. There are 133K p-12 public school students. I did not include any potential grizzlies in the count at all.

Here is a messy story from Florida about a teacher trying to help a troubled student.

Last week for USN I looked at the transgender bathroom guidance debate and its larger implications (big deal for affected students but you can see the story’s end now) and public lands and hook and bullet and rural voters. 

Here’s Bob Dylan and Paul Simon on Sound of Silence.

*Good time to mention again that I don’t invest in education stocks because it creates too many conflicts with my work.

Posted on Feb 27, 2017 @ 12:24pm

February 24, 2017

Transgender Guidance And the Administrative State, Pensions, DeVos, And Personalized Learning On The March, Voucher Goal Posts, Flores’ Campaign, And Did Education Activists Go To The Mat On The Wrong Trump Official? Happy Birthday Smith – Hughes. Susan Tedeschi Education Trivia Contest! And Much More!

The Smith – Hughes Act turned 100 yesterday. Happy birthday!

I wrote a short primer yesterday for USN looking at the transgender bathroom guidance issue. Its immediate practical impact is pretty muted but the signal it sends about the White House direction is a big deal. This week I also took a look at public lands, gun, Democrats, rural voters, and hook and bullet voters in a USN column. 

Yesterday White House aide and Trump brain trust Steve Bannon gave a talk at a conservative gathering in D.C. where he described much of the Trump agenda as being about dismantling the administrative state. Ideas like that undergird yesterday’s transgender policy announcement because conservatives argue that regardless of the merits it’s executive overreach to anchor the policy in a guidance attached to federal law as the Obama administration did.

The problem, of course, is that American society is complicated and so various theories about government tend to wilt when they encounter actual problems. The administrative state is easy to rail against but does things people want done. For instance whatever one thinks about the federal role in education, Title IX, or any of the rest of it the fact is some transgendered students are getting bullied, and worse, and there is something schools can do about it. That’s why even among those who thought the Obama-Duncan approach on this was clumsy many were OK with it.

There is also an inescapable irony here. If you want to shrink the administrative role of federal agencies then Congress has to do its job – or as Kevin Kosar might say, make Congress great again. That’s been a challenge for a while and the idea that the administrative state is making up for various congressional dysfunctions is not an idea that originated with Bannon. Trump though, at least so far, seems much more enamored of Article II of the United States Constitution than really any other part of the document.

Elsewhere:

Bellwether’s Max Marchitello on Betsy DeVos and accountability. Not surprisingly Betsy DeVos’ approval ratings took a hit from her bruising confirmation process.

Chad Aldeman on Iowa pensions – keep an eye on that issue.  Marchitello says the NEA is going full-ostrich on pensions.

Kai-Lee Berke on light touch assessment.  ACT talks with students about their views post-election (pdf). Non-alternative fact: For education Matt Barnum is a national treasure

Education activist and leader Yolie Flores is running for Congress.  Should education activists have fought Sessions harder than DeVos? Today in special education rights.

If we were not just tossing accountability this could make a nifty 5th indicator.

The Trump Administration faced a choice on school choice. They could try to figure out a way to meet candidate-Trump’s promise of a $20 billion school choice plan and move on or they could put together a really robust school choice plan that could get real bipartisan support. They may be leaning toward the former. Related: Even if you support choice there are so many reasons that Title I portability is a lousy policy idea it’s hard to know where to start.

Also on choice, there are a bunch of plausible reasons for why a couple of new voucher evals are showing negative results. But voucher proponents are moving the goal posts. I’m old enough to remember when student achievement was the coin of the realm.

While everyone is focused on Trump and Washington right-to-work legislation is moving in the states. Missouri, now Iowa, and elsewhere. Washington isn’t the only place they make laws.

Personalized learning going big in RI.

Admiral McRaven, now a higher ed figure, is not pulling punches on Trump:

“We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Are conservative quotas a good idea in higher education?

If you can tell me first what education person played back-up guitar for Susan Tedeschi back in the day then I will send you a prize – a great book from Harvard Education Press plus bragging rights.


February 23, 2017

Five Things To Keep In Mind About The Transgender Bathroom Debate

I take a look at what’s going on around the bathroom debate in U.S. News & World Report today. Namely it might be lousy politics for Republicans but it’s the first battle in a coming Title IX war. It’s more symbolic than impactful right now. And the education world is a mess when it comes to this idea of deferring to local communities. Plus the kids mostly don’t care:

Count me among millions of Americans who don’t care what bathroom people choose to use (or what gender they want to identify with for that matter). Do what you want. But for millions of others it’s a big deal, which is why, despite all the other challenges America is facing at home and abroad, we’re still ferociously debating potty policy in Washington, D.C.

Because everyone is so worked up, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on in the fog of bathroom war. Here are five things to keep in mind…

You can read all five here via USN.


Public Lands & Guns

A little off-edu but in U.S. News & World Report I take a look at the skirmishes over public land access and the political opportunity they offer Democrats among hook and bullet voters on guns and conservation.

It was easy to miss in the political chaos of the past few weeks, but America’s anglers, hunters and conservationists won a victory in Congress this month when a bill intended to facilitate the transfer of federal land to states was pulled by its sponsor. It’s an episode with lessons on environmental policy and – more importantly for Democrats – a path forward on the contentious issue of guns.

You can read the whole thing here and tell me on Twitter what caliber of Democrat you prefer.


February 22, 2017

DeVos And Transgender Bathroom Policy, Plus Rural And Pensions!

President Trump didn’t undo DACA but he may be about to rollback the Obama Administration expansion of Title IX in the transgender bathroom issue. Carolyn Phenice explains the complexities surrounding the executive action and the court cases that are sorting out this contentious issue.

Important: Betsy DeVos is apparently not on board but isn’t going to resign over it.

In case you missed it, as part of our ongoing rural education work Bellwether spent some time in Oklahoma listening to education stakeholders there.

New NCTQ – Ed Counsel look at pension debt. The fiscal problems are real, and states ought to pay their bills, but the debate about all that overlooks the core structural problem: Only one in five teachers qualifies for a full pension anyway. More than half don’t get one at all. More on all that here.


February 21, 2017

DeVos, It’s Always DeVos, Plus Bellwether On Rural Education, DACA Policy, Teacher Mobility, Mastery, Labor’s Fortunes, Arnold’s Fortune, Charter Growth, Ed Politics, And More! Plus Raccoon Rides And Old Books

Bellwether did a set of interviews and focus groups about rural education in Oklahoma with stakeholders there. Interesting and important perspectives. State media here.

And, Bellwether is hiring, scroll down the main page for details and other edujobs.

Some real life from Bitter Southerner:

At their core, Southerners are defined by a fierce loyalty to family. This bond is unwavering and — supposedly — unconditional. But time and again, sexual and gender identity tear Southern families apart.

Thousands of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer are kicked out of the house every year by their families. LGBTQ youth make up an estimated 40 percent of the total homeless youth population.The consequences of family rejection and discrimination are often deadly.

As expected White House immigration policy will include a cut out to protect DACA students.  Support for that from all over the political spectrum and even adding together people who didn’t like the Obama executive actions with those who don’t like the policy probably doesn’t land anywhere near enough votes right now.

The 74 takes a look at teacher certification and geographically mobile teachers. It’s an issue and there are some misaligned policies. The article mentions though, and this is key, that the opposite problem also exists. Namely, blanket policies that exist in some states and create backdoor ways in that don’t account for quality or past performance. The bottom line is an old story: A heavily labor-dependent field is not very good at doing HR.

Also in The 74 a really interesting and don’t miss look at Mastery in Philadelphia and some of the complexities of leading edge work today.

It’s going to be a long few years….We’ve heard for decades that the secret to improving school is just to empower teachers rather than have administrators or others dictate to them. More recently there are websites and Facebook pages dedicated to the idea, public relations campaigns from advocacy groups, and it’s a common talking point for teachers union leaders. It’s also a reasonable sentiment even if some of the issues like curriculum, standards, and preparation and professional development are more complicated in practice. In any event, new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a school last week and basically made this exact same point and it, of course, set of a firestorm. It was an ill-considered thing to say given how she clumsily phrased it, but that’s besides the point with these kinds of things. DeVos is off to a rough start that leaves plenty of reasons to be concerned and there are plenty of unforced errors from her team but still…the velocity is a bit much and everyone might take a deep breath.

We recently discussed briefly a Rich Yelelson take on labor’s challenges with President Trump. Here’s another look at the machinations within organized labor about how to deal with or engage with Trumpism:

Some unions that have opposed Mr. Trump are finding occasions to thread the needle — like the Communications Workers of America, the union involved in the Momentive strike and a onetime backer of Senator Bernie Sanders’s progressive presidential campaign. It repeatedly denounced Mr. Puzder’s nomination, but in a continuing dispute with AT&T Wireless, it has echoed Mr. Trump’s call not to ship jobs overseas.

Unions in the public and service sectors, on the other hand, lack economic interests that would provide common ground with the new administration, and their membership is increasingly urban, African-American and Hispanic — easily alienated by Mr. Trump’s pronouncements on race and immigration. The Service Employees International Union, a leading service-sector force, has taken a largely oppositional stand.

Many union leaders are at a loss to explain how Richard L. Trumka, the head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s pre-eminent labor federation, will navigate these crosscurrents in the coming months.

Mr. Trumka’s answer for the moment is to proceed gingerly. In an interview, he said that he had a productive meeting with Mr. Trump during the transition, and that the president deserved praise for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But he has vigorously protested other policies, like Mr. Trump’s immigration restrictions.

“We’re going to call balls and strikes,” he said.

Robin Lake on charter growth. Legal win for Washington charters.

Last week I mentioned Tom Kane’s Ed Next essay on evidence and education. Michael Barber and Nathan Martin respond to Kane.

John Arnold profile.

Sandy Kress on the coming edu debate.

What’s up with online preschool?

Today in elections have consequences:

Since Election Day, for-profit college companies have been on a hot streak. DeVry Education Group’s stock has leapt more than 40 percent. Strayer’s jumped 35 percent and Grand Canyon Education’s more than 28 percent.

You do not need an M.B.A. to figure out why. Top officials in Washington who spearheaded a relentless crackdown on the multibillion-dollar industry have been replaced by others who have profited from it.

New class of Pahara Next Gen fellows, including Bellwether’s Jason Weeby, are ready to face the Jedi trials!

Teaching, song, and dance via the NEA Foundation.

New homes for old books. And in case you missed it, a trash truck riding raccoon.

*Disclosures: Bellwether has worked with Pahara, NEA Foundation, and Mastery. Our pension research and policy work is supported in part by the Arnold Foundation. And standing disclosure, I am a senior editor at 74.


February 17, 2017


Kaplan, Rayner And DeVos! Plus Bracy On DACA, Shoales On Eval, David D On ESSA, And Kane, Dynarksi, Robinson, And More! Bar Office Hours Plus Bail News, Too.

Marnie Kaplan on how to not cause – or to avert – an early childhood education workforce crisis. Andrew Rayner on life and life at Bellwether.

Axios talks conformation reflections with Betsy DeVos. She’s not the only cabinet official who matters to school policy. David Deschryver on what’s next on ESSA regs. Becca Bracy on DACA.

Michael Barber on patch and mend or transformation?

This Stephen Carter column is on bail but it points out something that education reformers would do well to remember – sometimes wonky issues offer high-leverage benefits. Bail, and the related issue of fines create enormous challenges for citizens and the criminal justice system. Within education the same sort of opportunities exist underneath the choppy politics and all the noise. Discipline is an obvious place, aspects of special education, certain vendor arrangements, transportation, and so forth.

Tom Kane has a plan for education research in the ESSA era. And Mark Dynarksi looks at the latest voucher research and some questions it raises. Van Schoales on the Colorado teacher evaluation bill’s implementation seven years in.

Gerard Robinson compares education secretaries.

Public sector v. private sector unions and politics.

The annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gates about their foundation’s work is both interesting and light on education.

ESSA Playbook from ExcelInEd. Achieve on what data states track on post-secondary.

Apparently office hours in bars are big in Texas.