December 13, 2018

School Choice Case, Native Ed, Student Voice, Homework, More!

@ Bellwether:

Cara Jackson on the reform label debate, and some context.

Katrina Boone on education and Native Americans.


Keep an eye on this Montana school choice case.

Parkland report.

Despite all the talk about student voice, it’s remarkable how few states involve students in state board policymaking in anything beyond a ceremonial role. NASBE takes a look at that in a new brief. And, did ya know that Bellwether’s Rebecca Goldberg was a student member of the Maryland Board of Education?

Interesting look at homework. The punchline is that it should be about quality not quantity rather than yes or no, but we’re a long way from there in a lot of places.


December 11, 2018

Get Good Grades! But…Plus: Srinivasan, Cerf, Vo, Jackson, And More! School Choice & Mental Health…Weather Report…

Last few days at Bellwether:

Last week I wrote about George H.W. Bush’s education legacy.

Bellwether’s Cara Jackson and AIR’s James Cowan on teacher evaluation via CALDER. And Bellwether’s Truc Vo on the variance in outcomes among various Asian populations and some texture to the “model minority” idea. Also, Chad Aldeman checks in on Texas pensions and teacher retirement. You missed Ashley LiBetti’s paper on early ed and teacher prep? Here’s a cheat sheet via Ed Week.


I had a few reactions to this Adam Grant Times piece on straight A students and life in general. First, all else equal, get good grades. That’s a classic “well, what’s the worst that can happen?” piece of life advice. But, very much second, the last few grafs are key. I was talking with a student who leads the Black Student Alliance at her university, a pretty elite one, and despite some race problems on campus was having trouble recruiting students to run for office in the organization because they recognized (probably correctly) that grades and transcripts were a better play for many kinds of jobs than an interesting and impactful resume of activities and wanted to guard their time. That’s one example of a problem employers should think about. Third, it brought to mind again what I see as a glaring blind spot in the education reform community – and often the education community at large: We don’t spend a lot of time with and around people who hated/did poorly at/had bad experiences in school.

Bruno Manno on George H.W. Bush. 

LaVerne Srinivasan on why fragmentation is the enemy of progress in education.

Chris Cerf with a good reminder on how fast all the self-flagellation among reformers can go off the rails. Never forget how faddish this field can be and that we’re talking about other people’s’ kids here so faddishness is a problem to keep in check.

School choice is clearly deleterious to the mental health of some adults, just check out Twitter. But for students, here is some early evidence that more choices for parents may help with mental health issues. Here’s a non technical take.

Willingham on audio books versus print ones.

Janus may not be good for teachers unions but it’s good news for their lawyers and other lawyers around the education sector.

And here’s a new look at collective bargaining agreements.

The Trump Administration School Safety Commission is wrapping up its work.

Cold, Rain, and Snow. Late capitalism.

December 7, 2018

The Bush (41) Education Legacy

In 74 I take a look at President George H.W. Bush’s legacy on education:

As the nation acknowledges President George H.W. Bush’s extraordinary legacy of service from the battlefields of the Pacific to the Oval Office by way of a lifetime of service in various elected and appointed posts, we might pause to also reflect on his consequential role in education. In fact, while the ceremonies and funeral arrangements were unfolding in Washington, education types were streaming into the city for Jeb Bush’s Excel in Ed conference — more familiarly known as JebFest — a timely reminder that despite the pushback, acrimony and evolution of education policy, we’re fundamentally still operating in an education world his father was instrumental in creating.

It seems like ancient history now, especially in today’s frenetic news cycles where weeks feel like months, but it was not that long ago, in 1989, when Bush and then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton called the nation’s governors together to discuss education…

Entire column here.

December 6, 2018

Rocketship Not Just Changing Student Lives, Early Ed Teacher Prep, Rural, Contrary Views On Title IX, Wagner, Finn, Williams, Jeffries, Goldhaber, Election Fallout, Bellwether Is Hiring! Urban Visualizes, Pensions Fudge,

We’re hiring at Bellwether.

Bellwether’s Lynne Graziano on the kind of things that can change a career or life trajectory.

Ashley LiBetti with a new paper on early education teacher prep, what the research shows, and what it could show.

Here’s a volume on rural ed in part by Bellwether alum Andy Smarick and featuring Bellwether Senior Associate Partner Julie Squire.


Janus is causing a lot of focus on large unions but it’s the smaller states that may see the impact earliest. 

Finn on Levy and Bush:

At a time of anger, division, self-absorption and small-mindedness in so many places, it’s both refreshing and inspiring to remind ourselves that it doesn’t have to be that way and to recall two great Americans who embodied that abiding truth.

Ken Wagner:

“While I cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation, I am supportive of efforts to secure more legal protections for student access to a quality education. Education rights are civil rights,” Rhode Island Commissioner Ken Wagner said in a statement.

Harvard is also being sued over its single gender policy. And with 81 million people a day visiting PornHub this seems like a reasonable topic of inquiry.

I’m a Democrat and a Feminist. And I Support Betsy DeVos’s Title IX Reforms.

New survey data on where the public is (and teachers are) on education.

“California Rule” in the dock again in California. And with the stock market gyrations a good time to remember that the assumptions pension plans use are often works of fiction.

Perry Stein on what’s up with the new sup’t in DC. And more here.

Cindi Williams on Washington State charters. Also from Washington State, Dan Goldhaber on why test scores matter.

Matt Frankel and Shavar Jeffries talk education at Bloomfield College.

Some data visualization of school and neighborhood segregation.

DQC on data and ESSA.

Late election returns:

Whiteboard’s David DeSchryver, Anna Edwards, and Alison Griffin on the impact of the election on edu. DFER’s Charlie Barone on what the returns do, and don’t, mean for education.

Tracy Chapman.

December 3, 2018

November 30, 2018

BW On JHU, A Loss, Teacher Bonds, Credit Recovery, Jeffries, Rhim, & Finn, And Get Your Big Percents Off Barnum’s Lawn!

A few Bellwarians, including some JHU alums, weigh in on the Bloomberg gift to Johns Hopkins.

Harold Levy has passed. Thoughtful presence on the education scene who will be missed.

Here’s an important look at credit recovery programs.

We keep arguing that the problem is the tests, things are pretty good otherwise. And then the tests keep showing the same thing. Weird. Anyway, Ken Wagner takes no prisoners.

Hakeem Jeffries, who likes charter schools, is the new Democratic Caucus Chair in the U.S. House.

Charters on average get less money.

Two thoughts on this Lauren Morando RhimChecker Finn debate about specialized charter schools for students with IEPs. First, charters overall need to do a better job with special education students but some context matters. In particular, the idea that traditional public schools serve every student everywhere is nonsense. Public schools appropriately concentrate services to improve quality for students, use private placements in some cases, and otherwise ensure that students are served at system level rather than a school level. Lessons for the charter sector are obvious – authorizers must be thinking about this at a systems level, too. Second, Checker makes an important point on choice and it’s interesting how some parents are attracted to charters precisely because of how they choose to handle special education. This is a really complicated policy area.

Fun with percents – Matt Barnum unpacks some recent rhetoric about teacher diversity.

Bonds for teacher housing get a nod in annual Bond Buyer awards.

Longshot lawsuit.

Darkness 1978.

Posted on Nov 30, 2018 @ 8:05am

November 26, 2018

Emerging CMOs, Longstanding Problems, Pensions, Dual Enrollment…Betsy DeVos Still A Political Liability…

Thinking of growing your school network? This might be for you:

The Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is looking for the next generation of entrepreneurs from across the country to join the 31 talented leaders of color who have received support through the Emerging CMO Fund to date. Through the Emerging CMO Fund, CSGF will support the growth of the next cohort of high-performing, early-stage charter school networks led by entrepreneurs of color. This program is available to entrepreneurs of color who currently lead a single-site or an early-stage charter school network and want to grow one to two more great schools.

Sandy Kress sounding an alarm on accountability. Kate Walsh with one on behavior value added, too.

Predicting that Betsy DeVos is resigning is a pretty good parlor trick. It’s like calling for a stock market crash, keep it up and sooner or later you’ll be right. But with a lot of cabinet turnover looming including a complicated situation at Justice and other posts looking like they’ll come open it seems unlikely the President would send DeVos packing given the low-priority he puts on education and the effort it takes to replace any cabinet official. But, from a political standpoint if there were a reason to replace her this would be it: If you thought Democrats could use the Trump – DeVos stuff effectively in the minority, then just wait until they are controlling committees. And, DeVos has left the Dems plenty of low-hanging fruit – especially on for-profit colleges but also on other issues. Politically, her brand plus her policy preferences makes her impossible to lay off of. Even on issues where behind the scenes there is a fair amount of support (eg the Title IX regulations) no one is coming forward to defend her. That’s a political headache that is not going away.

We spend a lot of time complaining about how research doesn’t penetrate the education policy and practice space – and it’s a real problem (see for instance reading, charter schools, teacher effectiveness, etc…). But, the issue of race and teachers is an issue where research findings are evolving. Important caveats/complicated questions apply and the challenges are real, but it’s a pivot based on new research and an interesting/important one and the kind of thing we don’t see all the time.

California’s public employee pensions, including teacher pensions, which are of particular interest to key Democratic constituencies, are a ticking time bomb. Add that to the list of reasons Gavin Newsom ought to consider a 2020 presidential bid. Hard coalition splitting choices likely await before 2024.

Speaking of California, here’s an interesting Marketplace story about the tensions between protecting open space and having revenue for public services, including schools.

Dual enrollment pushing and shoving.

Here’s a bear wandering into a police station snack room.

November 21, 2018

Future Trends?

Two issues to watch:

In the 74, Ray Pierce of the Southern Education Foundation on the collateral damage some reform efforts can cause to traditional sources of African-American political power – especially in cities.

Meanwhile, in Florida, it appears the school choice program there may have played a role in the election of Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis, who drew an unusually high, and possibly decisive, degree of support from black women in Florida in his race for governor against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.