December 9, 2021

Poor Behavior On Pension Reform, Lake Is A Sun Devil Now…And The Most Important School Choice Case You Never Heard Of…

By Bellwether

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Big get for the ed school at ASU. CRPE is leaving the University of Washington to go there (in February, perfect time to visit). Significant on a few levels. It’s an open secret that not everyone thinks that the brand of reform CRPE promotes is all that great. On the other hand, evidence suggests it’s where the puck is going overall, and especially in the sun belt, so this might end up being a very smart play by ASU. (Update – if for any reason this wasn’t clear, I think this is a big loss for U of W, who are thinking too short term and should have done whatever it took to keep these folks).

Via Daily News the new chancellor in NYC is an interesting pick with a background full of openness to innovation. More here via NYT, which has the Dan Weisberg announcement.

Panic at the Pondiscio says check your privilege.

From the math wars. This from USAT is about teaching math ($) is a lot more than the pretty stale “is math racist?” debate. And from MDRC evidence on math in early ed. 

Using GPS to track school buses is not new, but it’s expanding.

Parents like it. You can tell where a bus is in many communities or at the parking lot at the airport. Not to mention everything else we easily track now. So they increasingly expect it.


But “big brother” concerns about children’s privacy have been raised, and labor unions have complained about extra responsibilities placed on their members.

This seems like a bad posture for an industry that is bleeding customers (stark terms but that is what’s happening) and needs to become more client friendly? There are a lot of legit privacy issues in K-12 but where a bus is seems pretty marginal – and in aggregate GPS data from buses can help make routes more efficient in higher density areas.

Per Matt Ladner, the whole transportation issue is starting to get more attention.

This stuff is obviously not helping with parent relations either. As we’ve discussed, after everything that’s happened since 2020 pop up shut downs or just regularly planned shut downs is a truly inexplicable posture for a sector that wants political support. By the way, in case you didn’t hear, the Supreme Court heard a pretty important school choice case this week.

The SCOTUS case is a big deal. Maybe it’s just me, but the attention to it seemed pretty muted. In the past these big cases garnered a fair amount of advocacy attention. Maybe after Espinoza the fight has gone out of opponents, or maybe it’s Covid or the composition of the court? In any event, surprised there is not more attention to it.

Finally, a couple of months ago I got an email from a teacher, upset, asking why we [Bellwether] were looking at her pension. In this line of work you get some crank emails but this person, let’s call her Mrs. T, didn’t present that way. She seemed genuinely concerned. And she had reason to be.

It turns out some outfit is doing what looks like FOIA scrapes on teacher pensions and then packaging it in auto-generated content. For instance like this or like this.

It’s a free country, but there are a few problems with this approach. First, as we often do, it’s possible to describe the contours of pension policy without tying things to individual named teachers. You can build a profile of a “typical” teacher. We built several for our recent pension rankings, for instance. And because teachers are in a system they often have no choice about singling them out by name is unnecessary and gratuitous.

Second, the article makes it appear as if they’ve talked to us at Bellwether (and also with other pension analysts). That’s not the case at least for us, we’ve never spoken with these people, they are just pulling from our published work.

Rotherham said a sizable amount of teacher pensions are made in the last five years of a pension, approximately between 25 and 30 years of contributions.

That’s true, but it wasn’t “said” in the standard usage of that in journalism. It’s from the report. Said implies an interview.

And we wouldn’t work with someone on a project like this. We’d never single out an individual teacher on the pension issue, it’s just not appropriate to discussion a large scale public policy issue like pensions.

It’s poor form and certainly doesn’t help the pension conversation.

There is no Arizona

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