December 5, 2017

Robin Lake Basically Ghostwrote This Blog Post, Plus DeVos’ Hand, Revisiting RAND, And Arete. More!

By Bellwether

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I talked with The Line about school choice and why I joined their editorial board.  Yesterday I reviewed a recent Dead & Company show.

Cannot remember if I posted this article about the Arete project and Laura Marcus – but you should read it.  Very cool to see this idea come to life.

This past weekend’s AP charter segregation story rested on two common analytic problems in this debate. First, when analyzing the impact of choice schools the benchmark should be comparable schools in the community rather than some idealized standard. Second, comparing schools to school districts leads to flawed conclusions because schools, generally, draw from smaller areas than school districts.  Both of these issues are a function of housing segregation. Researchers and analysts call issues like this unit homogeneity, in common parlance it’s called apples to apples. Either way the AP fell for it. (Also important to note that outcomes matter, plenty of nominally “integrated” schools have practices that result in internal segregation, achievement gaps, and all the rest).

Here’s Robin Lake:

But when researchers Zimmer, Gill, and Booker took a closer look, they found that kids attending racially concentrated charter schools had come from equally racially concentrated district schools. It turned out, charters were simply locating in majority-minority low-income neighborhoods and serving the at-risk kids who live there. Los Angeles is about 80% Hispanic. New Orleans is more than 80% black. Charter schools that locate in those cities are trying to serve those students. This is not segregation; this is school founders doing exactly what policymakers hoped they would do (as required in most state charter laws): serve kids most in need of a better education.

The irony, of course, is that there are problems with charter enrollment, particularly for ELL students and students with special needs. See this Bellwether deck on charters for more on that. But we’ll never get to talking about that kind of issue with stories like this one driving the debate. And we also won’t get to the conversation about what chartering could do – with appropriate policy support – to help attack the segregation problem that is an issue for all public schools because of housing and the related issue of school district boundaries.


Betsy DeVos is playing a tough hand:

“Betsy absolutely cares about those families,” said Howard Fuller, a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee who helped found the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a group that supports school choice. “But her boss doesn’t, and she’s not a free agent.”

College Board on college credit in high school – this is an important issue policymakers are taking another look at.

Important analysis from Ed Trust-West about the achievement of Hispanic students in California.

Jenga, but with kids’ learning. Keep an eye on this issue.

The California governor’s race could be interesting on education. So the proposed new 529 policy is a joke in terms of expanding choice for families but it’s good politics for Ted Cruz. The Douglas County, Colorado voucher program is ending, implications beyond that community.

The cost / benefit question on Greek life on campus.

Here she is again! Thoughtful Robin Lake and Ashley Jochim on the portfolio approach.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie I was reading for a project.

Don’t assume that because an area is affluent overall that everyone is thriving….school accountability implications there.


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