September 24, 2015

Clever, Duncan In Politico, Teacher Pensions, Moskowitz Is Agile, Whitman Is Barbed, Camden, Trump Hits Homecoming. Plus A D.C. Visit!

By Bellwether

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Via Eduardo Porter a pretty good summation of the problem a lot of people are trying to solve.

Everyone is chattering about the Arne Duncan profile in PolitcoRare bit of truth here:

…National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, whose union has called for Duncan to resign. “But his reforms are so ridiculous, he’s uniting teachers, PTA’s, principals, everyone. We’re writing each other’s talking points!”

The NEA does actually write talking points for these groups and has for years! Wait, what? Oh right, probably not what she meant…

Anyway, on Duncan, things have gotten sort of ridiculous. All these people in DC and around the country told him to do all these things. And he did. Sometimes that meant spitting the difference where that might not have been the best course. So sure, Randi Weingarten is correct when she says that federal education policy is a “mess.” But a lot of people besides Duncan share some blame for that and most of them are just distancing themselves from Duncan at this point. Also, if you do this work long enough there will be a bunch of disaffected people who are happy to chat with reporters about their disaffection. (And Congress, for their part, did give Duncan the authority they’re now so frustrated with).

In a few ways all this reminds me of the Gates Foundation and small schools. The foundation asked what to do. People in the education sector said small schools. They did it. And then the same people started mouthing off about what a bad idea it was so the foundation changed course (even though over time the results bore out what the foundation was trying to do in the first place). On at least some issues Duncan can reasonably hope for a similar trajectory.

In a lot of ways Duncan gives as good as he gets in that article. But Congress is an easier target than some of the politics that have created the mousetrap Duncan’s in. All the crying is a little worrisome though…

Duel enrollment: This is a clever move by higher ed in MN. They’re protecting turf against encroachment from K-12. Sucks for the students but they are doing it very nicely. Nice pushback here.

Eva Moskowitz promised agility. So far she’s delivering on that. Los Angeles charters are delivering results, so not surprisingly people want more. They tell me economic integration is so easy! Better than choice! But then stuff like this keeps happening.

Yesterday via USN I took a look at some bananas financial advice for people in their 20s but how young teachers are going to take a hit whether they follow it or not. Lots of information about teacher retirement policies here.  And playing from behind at the big pension casino is always tough.

So now people are discovering Clever:

Clever’s success stands in marked contrast to a similar enterprise, called inBloom, a company that several years ago proposed to act as a data conduit for schools.

Indeed! And one of those contrasts might be that, until now, there were not big splashy articles about Clever…

Speaking of discoveries, wasn’t Paymon Rouhanifard supposed to be the community activist whisperer? I could barely get any work done with all the incoming emails about how he was so different than Cami Anderson in Newark. Maybe, and Paymon is impressive, but an alternative hypothesis is that the organized resistance just hadn’t ramped up in Camden yet? This work is hard and some conflict is unavoidable. See Duncan, Arne above.

In New York City Mayor de Blasio’s education agenda has some things to admire, as did his earlier emphasis on pre-k education. But this line:

Yet these ambitious initiatives will fail or fall short if the quality of reading instruction is mediocre or if the program becomes a patronage boondoggle in which well-connected people are hired regardless of talent.

from The Times editorial board seems like a vital caution that applies pretty much across the board with his education policy initiatives. Panic sees a lot of problems.

A research agenda on school discipline.  Is student data the lockbox of 2016? David Whitman is throwing more Common Core darts at conservatives. Donald Trump visits a school dance and offers kids some good advice – which makes the rest of what he’s doing seem even that much more cynical…

There is a visitor to Washington this week. He’s bringing people together. Building community. And spreading a message of peace. You can learn more here.

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