In The Washington Post Chad Aldeman and Alex Spurrier make a couple of key points on the Biden education policy. It’s not empirical on testing or charters, not great for low-income kids, urban kids, and/or racial and ethnic minorities, and it’s also not without some political risk at the margins. The margins might not matter in 2020, but it’s only August.
In The Times a well-written, compelling, but completely evidence free teacher shortage piece. The new teacher shortage crisis is Covid. First, general disclaimer that we don’t have a national teacher shortage, we have shortage in some places and subjects and generally produce more teachers than we need, just not where they’re needed. At some point after decades of teacher shortage sky is falling stuff you’d think some editor would stop and wonder. But the new jam is apparently Covid. On Covid, at Bellwether we’ve been looking at these numbers pretty closely -surveys of teacher views and data, any effect seems likely to be minor with the caveat that this could vary in certain places based on local circumstance and how it’s handled. So more or less like the current “shortage.” We’re going to publish some of that soon.
NASBE has a brief out on the different ways states are engaging teachers in policymaking. OK, but I have questions.
It’s hard to miss that if you stand on the ground of most state capitols you have line of sight to the state teachers association/union headquarters. And if not, it’s nearby. So is teacher voice in policymaking really a big problem? Should we disentangle teacher voice and teacher union voice and what are the implications of that? Privately most legislative staff say they hear from them plenty! Student voice and getting more student representatives on state boards seems more underpowered? (Via NASBE here’s more on that).
A few month ago I noted that the move to get cops out of schools has merit – but it has done be done thoughtfully, with real culture change, and one risk was the classic move of just replacing a public employee with a contractor and calling it reform. In the case of police in schools that would mean a turn to education’s thriving private security industry. In The 74, Mark Keierleber takes a look at how this is playing out in one high-profile community.
This article also from The Post is important. The conversation about schools and Covid lately has largely been about “how” kids will learn – pods, online, hybrid, live instruction – rather than whether they will at all. And a big aspect of last spring was the millions of kids who basically got nothing after mid-March. That could happen again absent intentional and dramatic steps. The only part of the article I’d quibble with is the idea that there are any easy fixes here. Even if Congress acted today it wouldn’t be fast enough given the magnitude of the challenge, so schools are going to have to be creative.
I’m learning about OutSchool, check it out. Here’s an interesting conversation about empathy with some relevance for our sector.