February 22, 2018

Janus Is Coming! A Teen Suicide Crisis Is Already Here. Pension Math And Pension Scandals, Charter Analyses, JeffUVA News, NM Profile, More!

Axios and The 74 are hosting a forum with governors tomorrow morning in DC (the NGA’s winter meetings are starting). Via The 74 today, I want to hear about schools, and guns, but also this:

At the same time, suicide rates for young people are soaring — nearly 5,500 lives lost in 2015. You’ve heard a lot about the flu and school shootings the past few weeks. Yet today, for people ages 15 to 24, suicide is a far more likely cause of death than those problems plus all other diseases put together. Only accidents claim more 15- to 24-year-old lives. And suicide is the third-leading cause of death for kids 10 to 14. One issue need not be pitted against the other — both demand attention — and gun policy and suicides are keenly related. But it’s worth remembering that suicide is claiming 15 times as many young lives as all the school shooting deaths since Columbine — each year. We should hear more about it from the nation’s leaders.

Whole scene setter for the event here.

Max Marchitello on some rough pension math in Massachusetts.

The Florida teachers pension fund AR investment is awkward but not the real scandal with that state’s teacher pension system.

The teachers unions should put Eugene Volokh on retainer, he’s making the strongest case against Janus out there. And there is a case waiting after Janus, too. By the way, “We can no longer take for granted our membership,” is a really terrible message.

And it looks the New Jersey teachers union has the whip hand again. 

The state pushing and shoving on the new 529 policy continues.

Big news from JeffUVA. More color via EdSurge.

Race and housing.

Janice K. Jackson profile.

People are upset at David Coleman. Read the actual email.

The Chiefs are launching a public coalition and campaign on state work. And here’s a profile of what’s happened in New Mexico.

This article about a federal investigation isn’t that surprising – outside groups are often involved, not surprisingly people tend to get worked up about the groups they don’t agree with. But the ACLU sure is hostile to school choice…

CREDO eval of the New Orleans charter restart strategy. Are we still allowed to say productivity? Here’s a look at charter school productivity.

And charters and unionization, new data, trends might surprise you.

“The bite was hot.”

February 20, 2018

The AR Isn’t The Real Florida Teacher Pension Scandal

A Bloomberg article today points out that the Florida teachers pension fund invests in a company that makes AR-15 rifles (many companies do, the AR is a platform with a long ago expired patent not a specific gun). It’s awkward, definitely, and irresistible given the moment. And especially so because is not some random AR copy but the same model apparently used in last Thursday’s school shooting in Florida.

But anyone going through these pension fund investments will find all sorts of stuff like this. If you invest in index funds or mutual funds you may not want to look to closely at what you own either or at least might want to look before you get too outraged about this. And as we’ve discussed here, the average teacher has a lot more private equity and hedge fund exposure than the average American. Pensions are a big source of investment capital. The teachers unions might be a little less sanctimonious about pensions and their business dealings more generally, but none of this is news.

Anyhow everyone is acting shocked even though it’s not that shocking. The last time we heard about the FL teacher pensions fund I think it was because they were invested in a company that privately managed public schools.

The most interesting part of the article is this,

“As fiduciaries, the SBA must act solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries,” John Kuczwanski, a spokesman for the agency, said in an emailed statement. “As primarily passive investors, we essentially own the entire market subject to any legal limitations.”

Fair enough, except the American Federation of Teachers pretty clearly pressures asset managers over their political giving as it relates to teacher pensions and teacher collective bargaining. So someone is playing games here.

The bigger scandal is that it takes Florida teachers eight years to vest for a pension (that would be illegal in the private sector) and seven in ten teachers never vest at all. Meanwhile only 11 percent reach the normal retirement age to get a full pension. Other states have similar problems. That’s the pension scandal that ought to be getting headlines.

February 16, 2018

School Shootings, Joel Rose Speaks! More Aldeman, The Conservative Argument Against Janus, Guns, ESSA, DACA, CCSSO And Many More Acronyms! Plus Bacteria News…

Scroll down for edujobs at KIPP, New York Charter School Center, and Partnership Schools.

And still more from Chad Aldeman on turnovers.

Yesterday I wrote about new ideas for changing gun politics in this country.

Don’t miss this Joel Rose interview.

The conservative case against Janus.

The FBI was warned about the Florida school shooter.

Yesterday I mentioned that while school shootings – and gun violence more generally – is a substantial problem, there is an inflation and hype of the numbers. More on that here.

And speaking of “crisis” rhetoric here’s a worried story about how fewer students are majoring in education as undergraduates. It’s a crisis! Except you don’t have to major in education to go into teaching and there is some evidence that content majors are stronger preparation. Anyway, panic…

The BASIS school where some tech elite send their kids.

Chu and Atkinson on ESSA.

Teacher labor strife in West Virginia.  And DC education politics getting rougher.

No deal on DACA as immigration falls apart in the Senate.

Fensterwald checks in with Kirst in CA. Kirwan Commission draft report out in MD – interesting for what’s in and what’s not.

CCSSO, Aspen, and America’s Promise on state equity work.

Arts field trips and student learning (and norms).

Belly button bacteria.

Posted on Feb 16, 2018 @ 4:41pm

Edujob: Vice President of Advancement @ Partnership Schools

Looking for a values-based and mission oriented edujob? Here you go, this one at Partnership Schools:

Partnership Schools is accepting applications for the role of Vice President for Advancement. The ideal candidate will be an experienced non-profit development leader who shares an unwavering commitment to preserving the legacy of urban Catholic education in America. The VP’s role in that effort will be focused on ensuring that the Partnership raises the necessary funding it needs to drive our trailblazing work managing six network schools serving over 2,000 preK-8th grade students in the south Bronx and Harlem.  To achieve these results, the VP of Advancement will both support the Executive Director’s fundraising activities and be a key fundraiser themselves, responsible for all fundraising and development activities including expanding and diversifying the Partnership’s funder base as it moves from raising $8.5MM to over $12MM annually in the next four years.
Reporting to the Executive Director, the VP will develop and implement a strategic development plan and lead the Partnership Schools’ Advancement team, building an effective and efficient fundraising department.  This includes hiring the team, creating the fundraising campaigns, and developing the systems and processes to track all gifts, activities, tasks, and events.  In addition, the VP will work closely with the board of trustees and support board members in their fundraising role.  Successful candidates will be outstanding writers, great people and project managers, and will have a track record of success in fundraising, written and oral communications, and improving existing development systems.  The successful candidate will help forge new relationships to build the Partnership’s visibility, impact, and financial resources.

February 15, 2018

Our Broken Gun Debate…

Here we go again. Another mass shooting and more “thoughts and prayers” versus angry tweets disconnected from the political landscape of the gun issue. Plus plenty of blaming. In U.S. News & World Report  I look at different strategies we might try, since the ones we have are not working:

The school massacre in Florida is horrifying. Seventeen families grieving children they sent off to school as if on any other day. Other families facing all manner of trauma. And again, the hope that maybe this will be the one that changes politics and policies

Don’t bet on it.

If a classroom full of first-graders getting gunned down wasn’t a shock to the system, a building full of college students or 58 people at a concert, then why will this latest horror show change anything?

Gun control groups tell us they’re winning or just a few votes or little more in donations away from turning the tide. Really? The big gun debate animating Washington right now is over whether to make state concealed carry permits reciprocal among the states so that if you’re licensed to carry anywhere you’re licensed to carry everywhere. That might sound sensible except for the tremendous variation in what it takes to get a permit in different states. In practice it’s a race to the bottom that tramples on states’ rights.

In fact, what usually happens in the wake of these shootings is a loosening of gun laws, not “common sense gun reform”…

You can read the whole thing here

Chad Aldeman Turns Over, Florida, 529 Policy In The States, DACA Deal, Graduation Rates, Dance With The One…Well You Decide, Please. Plus Orphan Train And Sup’t Salaries, More!

Nuance alert: Chad Aldeman on teacher turnover.

There are too many school shootings, everyone should be able to agree on that. And what happened in Florida yesterday is horrific and the idea of 17 families grieving kids who left for school that morning as on any other day is just incomprehensible. But beware the hype – a lot of the numbers being tossed around on the number of shootings this year are inflated using broad definitions – that point to a gun and violence problem in this country for sure but are not strictly speaking school shootings as we think of them. Schools have their problems but are still a pretty safe place for kids, for many kids safer than the other places they spend time each day.

Here’s Brandon Wright on the recent graduation rate news from DC and the larger implications.   The basic issue here is that our school system could barely graduate two-thirds of the poor and minority kids it’s charged with educating (and is entrusted with for more than a decade of their live). People, thankfully, said do better! And here we are.

I don’t know how anyone can in any way excuse these messes. But, if you think this is all just too much to ask or the result of “accountability” as many are implicitly and explicitly saying, then how can you not support school choice? Especially for low-income Americans who most desperately need access to good schools. Because if we can’t even do this, well…

When you step back what’s happening here is people are being asked to do what they are supposed to do – graduate kids in a meaningful way – and it’s a three ring circus all around. Really not a great look.

Anyway, the reality on graduation rates this past decade or so is probably two things true at once: Some genuine improvement everyone involved can take pride in and also some BS via “credit recovery” that isn’t meaningful, credential inflation, and outright gaming. But we don’t do “two things true at once” very well in this sector.

Actually, we don’t do one thing true at once very well apparently: Inclusiveness should not mean your daughter has to dance with anyone who asks. C’mon. Today in the department of troubling overcorrections.

There is an old joke in school finance, ‘what has six balls and screws teachers? The lottery.” This article about why a school district can’t use lottery dollars for school construction has a line that gives away the game:

A Department of Education spokesperson said the Lottery money funds more than a dozen school-related programs that were formerly paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Supplant much? (bold added).

When I looked at the new 529 tax policy – expanding the accounts to allow private k-12 expenses – I mentioned that,

Most immediately, the new provision will create debates in some states that offer their own tax-benefits for 529 bills about whether money used for K-12 expenses, rather than the original higher education purposes of 529s, should qualify for additional state tax breaks.

It confused some folks but this new policy brief gets at the landscape on that issue and the state ins and outs in more depth.

Odds & Ends:

Congress working on a DACA deal, a new study has people excited.

Teacher networks in Tennessee.  A legacy charter school in Boston organizes.

Today in Betsy DeVos: She doesn’t always tell the media where she’s going. And it’s harder to give away  your salary than you might think.

Superintendent salary data.

“Orphan Train”

February 14, 2018

Edujob: Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy @KIPP

Here’s an edujob that will have you in the middle of things: Director of Government Affairs and Advoacy at KIPP:

KIPP’s government affairs team has a reputation for being pragmatic, dedicated to building bipartisan allies, and unwavering in our focus of keeping students at the center of all that we do.  The Director of Government Affairs and Policy reports to the Senior Director of Government of Affairs and Policy and will lead KIPP’s federally facing presence inside the beltway.  He/she is a member of the Government Affairs Team, who works collaboratively with the CEO, Co-Founders, KIPP Foundation Board, KIPP Through College, PR/Marketing teams as well as a coalition of high-performing CMOs and other advocates, think tanks and thought leaders.  To date, KIPP’s federal affairs work has spanned K12 education policy, higher education policy, tax policy related to school facilities, and immigration policy to protect Dreamers.

Learn more and apply here. 

February 13, 2018

Edujob: Policy Data Analyst @ The New York City Charter School Center

Here’s a great edujob at a high impact education organization in New York City:

The New York City Charter School Center (Charter Center) seeks to hire a skilled data and research analyst to help the Charter Center fulfill its role as an essential source of accurate and timely data, and data-driven analysis, about public charter schools, education in NYC, and related topics. The Data and Research Analyst will have primary responsibility for the data systems that allow the Charter Center to collect, maintain, analyze, and share quantitative data that bear on charter school policy questions, including managing the organization’s utilization of a CRM database (Salesforce).

An integral player in the Charter Center’s mission-critical dealings with parents, teachers, school leaders, public officials, reporters, and philanthropists, this position requires both diligent attention to detail and a driving, proactive curiosity.  The Data and Research Analyst will work collaboratively with Charter Center colleagues to fulfill data requests, and provide analyses in support of the Charter Center’s advocacy agenda.

Learn more and apply here.

February 12, 2018

Hands Off Head Start! Berea Fixed, Charters In NZ, 12th-grade NAEP, DI, Rural Ed, IDEA Bee, ND Cows, More! And Don’t Make A Federal Case Of It!

From Bellwether:

Don’t make a federal case of it! Or do. Hailly Korman explains how Janus ended up at the SCOTUS. Bonus: Here’s an interesting argument against Janus.

Sara Mead says hands-off Head Start when it comes to immigration enforcement.

Hailly Korman looks at ESSA and juvenile justice.

At the Games:

Classroom Champions in the news as some of our athlete mentors are in Korea (I’m on the board). Of course, this medalist is barely older than our students…

And here’s a live chat with athletes and leaders on the 22nd classrooms and schools can participate in.

Federal & State Policy:

You may recall that some of the pushback on state ESSA plan evaluations was that it was just Washington knows best types trying to shape the world in their view. In fact, not everyone complaining about the quality of  state ESSA plans is from Washington, some are leaders from the states…

Berea gets its fix in budget deal. Dreamers, still in limbo.

John White pushes back on the failure narrative.

Are California’s fiscal reforms paying off? The governor there wants to know where the money is going. Meanwhile, the federal education budget coming this week is mostly theater but here’s a preview. And school construction not happening in the initial infrastructure proposal.

Also WSF pilot released. And Betsy DeVos checks in on her first year on the job.

The case for 12th-grade state-level NAEP.

The latest interpretation of Title IX and bathroom policy from ED.

And guys, you won’t believe this but traditional pensions are not the only way to do retirement for teachers…


Drees and Hughes – Catholic schools must think differently.  Charter politics in New Zealand.  Charter politics in Chicago.

Odds and Ends:

I mentioned a meta-analysis of DI research recently, Panic goes deep on why it doesn’t penetrate.

So these are the people hectoring the rest of us about working conditions?

IDEA spelling bee.

Concern from early tech leaders about the tech they created.

Rural education…

Overshadowed by attention to the challenges faced by nonwhite high-school graduates in cities, low-income black, Hispanic, and Native American students in rural areas like this are equally unlikely to go on to college.

Farm to table is hot among college students.

February 6, 2018