September 28, 2015

Skirmishing On Obama’s Education Legacy, Charter Outrage and Charter Results, High Schools And Special Education In New York, ESEA Post Boehner, Plus Insiders Opt-Out & Merrill Field

By Bellwether

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The outrage over this new charter school ad in New York seems a little forced, no? It’s unclear how pointing out the statistically well-documented racial disparities in educational outcomes is racist – on the contrary one could reasonably argue that a system that perpetuates that is at least classist if not racist. And making people uncomfortable about these issues – which do not visit Americans equally by race and class – hardly seems like the worst thing an advocacy group could do. On the contrary, kind of seems like the point? And isn’t that especially true when there are actually better options possible within the traditional public sector and the public charter sector in a place like New York City? Small schools and choice are not the only answer – or in my view the only policy changes needed in a place like New York – but they ought to set a standard for ambitiousness against which to judge other proposals. (Here’s Derrell Bradford on the ad.)

Speaking of New York this New Yorker look at high schools in New York and social mobility is so well worth your time. Surfaces some of the values tensions that are always present but too little discussed around the school closure/reconstitution issue. (Yes, I do realize it came out almost a month ago but with young kids I consider getting through New Yorkers within four weeks of publication a personal victory of sorts).

Also New York: Josh Max reflects on special education.

Rick Hess channeled the conservative case against President Obama on education, now here’s the pushback. In the later years of the Bush Administration and afterwards Bush hands and Democratic education policy types were still able to work together on a range of issues both high and low-profile. That sort of common ground seems less likely when the next administration transitions?

Chad Aldeman on Boehner’s departure from Congress and ESEA. I wouldn’t say this absolutely means ESEA isn’t going to happen but it sure does make it harder (and in my view the odds were long to begin with). A few months ago on a panel handicapping ESEA policy and politics for a group of school administrators we discussed the known challenges and then the often unknown ones emerge, too. While they’re by definition know knowable in their specifics you can usually bet on external events interceding. This certainly counts.

But at this point we’re not talking about really reauthorizing the ESEA law because there basically is no ESEA law. It’s unclear, short of Washington State-style outright defiance of the law what can actually cost someone a waiver from federal education law these days.

The LA Times looks at the debate over charter performance in Los Angeles. Comparing charter schools to magnet schools is absurd. But comparing charters to entire district sectors can be problematic, too, depending on the point of comparison and without some controls. But the LA Times article leaves readers wondering what ‘o what the world might be like if there were actually methodologically rigorous apples to apples analyses of charter performance in Los Angeles…

Here’s an analysis of different kinds of charter schools.  Charters as true innovators has never panned out at scale (although low-income families clamoring for better options understandably consider a good school they can attend an innovation). That points up an interesting policy puzzle around accountability and innovation. We want both but that’s a tall order.

Hechinger Report on the recent Whiteboard Advisors Insider survey on opt-out impact and prospects. New CEO at Washington’s E.L. Haynes*. This SCOTUS Fredrichs case is a BFD. More discussion of “The Prize.” That Common Core check stunt wasn’t pretty even if it got a lot of clicks (and going and talking with your kid’s teacher is pretty sound advice).

Not education related but this is a great article about Alaska aviation.

*Bellwether did this search.

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