August 8, 2017

Dirty Data Jobs And Project-based Learning! Sausage Making, Charter Demographics, Educator Pay, Teacher Voice, More!

By Bellwether

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There is a lot of talk in education about project-based learning and the rigor of these efforts varies widely. But, here’s an authentic experience with big time results! A group of Massachusetts students found out that the not-so-new arena there wasn’t living up to the terms of the deal for its establishment. Million dollar remedies now in the works.


Here’s a good look at all the machinations that go on before that big headline in the New York Times about the latest word from researchers on vouchers. You also want to read this.


A micro-debate broke out last week about whether Boston charter school leaders are overpaid. Rick Hess points out that the charter schools they lead are doing pretty well. Actually, that’s an understatement, they’re the best in the country as a group. Rick makes the obvious point that we ought to be paying great educators more regardless of where they work. Except it’s not so obvious, apparently. It’s a weird signal on the politics of the sector that self-annoited education “advocates” like to argue that one group or another in education is overpaid rather than arguing that great educators in this sector are generally underpaid wherever they happen to work.

Teacher voice

Roberto Rodríguez is taking the helm at TeachPlus. In an interview with Politico he notes that,

“We’ve had a disconnect between the policy conversations in Washington and what’s going on in the field with teacher policy and development,” Rodríguez told Morning Education.

What an odd situation given that some of the most powerful interest groups – not just in education, in the entire country – happen to be groups that represent teachers and spend enormous sums on their behalf in electoral and governmental politics. Hill staffers say they hear from them all the time. In fact, these groups thwarted key parts of the Obama education agenda. So why the disconnect?

Is data too dirty of a job?

I am a Mike Rowe fan, the show is entertaining and educational, and I like his willingness to speak his mind even where I don’t agree. His cautions on the tendency many have to look down on jobs that don’t require a college degree or people who work with their hands is important. But, when he talks about college and loans I wish he’d engage with a few pieces of data. First, in his account of the downturn and unemployment he neglects to note that college and/or graduate school was a good (though not bulletproof) insurance policy against unemployment. And the statistics tossed around about student loans are usually averages and obscure that the median debt load for students is manageable and proximate to the differences in earnings you can expect from getting a college degree – in other words, it’s not a bad investment if it leads to the kind of work you want to do. Finally, in a variety of fields that don’t require college degrees per se you still see that people with them make more than their peers. All of this may well change over time as credentialing evolves and higher education changes, but right now post-secondary training or education is a must, and college isn’t a bad idea at all.

Department of two things true at once:

The demographics of charter school staff don’t mirror the communities they operate in, but charters are doing a better job on this front than traditional public schools. (Bellwether did a survey of a sample of urban districts last year and found the same results.)

Today in Betsy DeVos is rich:

Betsy DeVos invested in a brain performance company despite week evidence of its effectiveness. I’d hazard a guess that the financial evidence wasn’t as weak as the product performance evidence, people love these companies. DeVos’ disclosure forms make for interesting reading because apparently the ultra-rich have trouble figuring out where to invest all their money (presumably index funds are too boring) because she is invested in a remarkably random set of businesses.


Kids and devices.

New Urban Institute tool to help you think about education spending over time. 

Butch Trusty on how to grow good seats in cities (pdf).

Ride PMC.

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