March 25, 2015

Dem Divide, Teacher Evaluations, AFT/UFT Charter School Spin, What? Coggins Asks Opting Out To What?

By Bellwether

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This New York Times article on the Democratic divide on education and what it portends for Hillary Clinton is pretty boilerplate (and if you think it reads like it was written a few years ago don’t miss the correction) except for one quote:

“I think it will be different than the Obama administration in the sense that both the teachers’ union and the reformers will really feel like they have her ear in a way they haven’t,” said Ann O’Leary, a onetime aide to Mrs. Clinton in the Senate and now a senior vice president at Next Generation, a group involved with the Clinton Foundation on an education initiative.

Absent more context hard to know for sure if that’s a shot at the insularity of the Obama Administration, but it sure sounds like one!

Charter spin! On Monday at the CCSSO meeting American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten brought up the charter school she started that has since been shut down by the union because it was facing closure from state officials for low-performance. She made two surprising points – surprising to anyone following this – but it would have taken a lively discussion on a tangent so there was no follow up. But, first Weingarten said the school failed largely because it wouldn’t exclude some kids – with the implication that other charters do. And second she said the high school the union also started was doing great. In fact, the high school was not granted a full charter renewal earlier this month because of concerns about performance.  Its graduation rates are high but only one in five students is college ready when they graduate. File that under all schools are hard but high schools especially so. On the K-8 school, the state authorizer was moving to close it because it met just one of 38 academic goals it was expected to and because it was under-serving comparable schools for students with disabilities and English-language learners. All that data are right here in the state’s memo on the school (pdf). Charters and special education and ELL students is a complicated issue but this isn’t the talking point that is going to work for the union.

In RealClearEducation Teach Plus’ Celine Coggins asks what the endgame is for the testing opt-out movement. I’m OK with opt-outs actually, but only in a broader context. I also think parents ought to be able to have some say over who teaches their child, too, and I like school choice (especially for the poor), and  think home school kids ought to be able to play varsity sports* if they’re good enough and participate in public school activities. In other words, today’s barriers are pretty arbitrary and the only opt-out policy that doesn’t make sense to me is the one where the people calling for testing opt-outs are also opposing choice and charter schools and other efforts to unbundle the system some in order to better serve kids. Actually, seems kinda reactionary? And unfortunately, that’s the opt-out movement we have.

Eduardo Porter has a thoughtful look at teacher evaluations in The Times.

Spent some time with the folks from Mastery Connect this week. Companies like that, Class Dojo, and so forth are quietly building an army of teachers who like and use new tech enabled tools. It’s like the Civil War. While the battle rages in the east things are happening in the west.

If you like real estate this issue with Stockton University and Trump is interesting

Today is the 98th Anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. It sure seems a long way from there to the debates in this sector today.

*Looks like a bill to allow this is going to be vetoed in VA.

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