November 21, 2017

Keep An Eye On The Tax Bill, Keep An Eye On Discipline Policy, Too. Plus, The Cannon Rule, Dark Rooms, John King Cooler Than You Think, Kerri Rodrigues Pulls No Punches, Kamras To RVA, And Memphis Blues…

By Bellwether

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Jennifer Schiess on school transportation. This is one of these issues that doesn’t get the attention it should.

What does Aurelia Twitty do when she’s not working? Find out here.

Important package on helping improve student lunch delivery for students who don’t pay full price. A lot of schools have done this informally for a long time in various ways, but more attention to it lately as a practice.

In addition to a lot of other proposals that would impact education, the pending tax bill (House version) could create real problems for charter schools. It also has some provisions (Senate version) that could impact non-profits – including some language on licensing and sponsorships that’s aimed at higher education but could impact some education non-profits, too.

On the tax bill, Republicans don’t want grad students to form unions, but do want to tax their income like workers.  (Meanwhile, left-leaning professors love unions, except for ones for their grad students).

Two thoughts on this Times profile of Edward Blum, the architect of some high-profile efforts to dismantle racial preferences. First, everyone who thinks this Harvard probe is a dud or stunt should pay attention – he seems pretty effective.

Second, this line jumped out:

Rachel Kleinman, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that Mr. Blum’s opposition to affirmative action was related to “this fear of white people that their privilege is being taken away from them and given to somebody else who they see as less deserving.”

Maybe it is rooted in that sentiment, which is a real thing in American politics. But I’ve never met the guy and have no way of knowing what drives him (he says no in the profile, and I found this more in-depth discussion). For my part, I’m generally sympathetic to well-constructed affirmative action programs of various kinds given how American life worked and works today. But what if Blum’s opposition to even those sort of policies is just rooted in a different way of looking at the world and the costs and benefits of various policies and the very real tradeoffs and tensions that always exist on policy questions like this? After all, some non-white people oppose affirmative action, too. If he weighs the tradeoffs differently than I or others do it doesn’t make him right or wrong either, of course, but it might actually be the core of his argument? Worth entertaining.

Why? Because the thing is, in my experience, if you can’t describe the positions of people you disagree with in ways they would themselves recognize then, whether quickly or over time, you’re going to lose the argument. (We call this the “Cannon rule” around Bellwether as a nod to a journalist who teaches the idea at workshops we do). Blum seems to see the world as more of a vacuum than I would argue it actually is based on the evidence, in terms of who gets subtle or substantial advantages or not, especially in education. You can argue about the structure of American life and the best remedies for problems and ways to expand opportunity without amateur psychoanalysis, the evidence is there for all to see and sort through.

Speaking of hard issues, school discipline…

Not too long ago in reference to restorative justice and work to make school discipline less punitive I remarked in an article that there is no good idea the education sector can’t execute badly. That’s pretty safe ground, and this New York instance may be sadly illustrative.  You’re hearing frustration from teachers about this, too, and national leaders like Randi Weingarten have found themselves on all sides of the issue cross-pressured between national politics and membership concerns.

Now, the Trump Administration is preparing to move on discipline policy. A lot of cross-currents colliding on this issue and they sometimes seem to obscure the core problem that students are often disciplined differently for similar issues in ways that are correlated with race. That is a distinct issue from prevalence of incidents or remedies and from disagreements about how the Obama Administration made their discipline policy. And it’s a problem reformers should want to solve given that it’s a long-standing problem and a big deal in terms of the impact on students and their lives.

Mike Petrilli calls for discipline common ground. We have been trying to get work funded on synthesis solutions here involving a broad range of stakeholders for several years. Synthesis is  not where the market is right now, and DeVos and Trump politics only make it more challenging.

John King has a piece in Teen Vogue – Teen Vogue! My kids were impressed when they saw me reading this – and at their age that takes a lot.

Kerri Rodrigues on parental advocacy.

Governance changes on the way in Philly.

Longtime DC schools teacher and leader to lead Richmond public schools in VA.

Is Paul Weinstein’s three-year college idea catching on?

Dark rooms are back.

Memphis Blues.

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