April 28, 2016

States And Talent, Less NAEP Means More NAEP? Transparency Means Better Finance? Oakland Charters, Names At Yale, Tenure And Free Speech, Prince And Students!

By Bellwether

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Christine Campbell on principals and how states think about talent in education.  Phillip Burgoyne-Allen argues for a bit less NAEP, which could mean more NAEP:

If we didn’t have the data above from 2005, 2009, and 2013 – meaning these NAEP tests were only administered every four years – would we really be missing out on much? As the graph below shows, we’d still have the same trend lines and the same idea of how math and reading performance looked over the past decade. The fact is, taking these tests every two years just isn’t very productive.

In Oakland the League of Women voters honors a charter school supporting parent advocacy organization with its Making Democracy Work award.  Either they didn’t get the memo or it’s a bold kids-first call. I think the latter.

Accountability for doing your job may make you more likely to go to work. Marguerite Roza says you can’t turn back the clock on transparency’s impact on school finance.

Noah Feldman defends a quite undesirable Florida professor fired for what looks like some off-the-wall views about the Sandy Hook shootings. Echoes of Ward Churchill. A lot going on here. The university did fire the professor but not, officially anyway, for his views but rather for paperwork issues. That seems, as Feldman points out, a troubling backdoor way to do this.

It’s certainly not cut and dry, but what about the front door? It seems central to free inquiry that you should be able to say what you want in your areas of expertise and research no matter how shocking or offensive it might be to many or to some or just a few (especially a powerful few). But it’s unclear why academic freedom should in practice be some sort of get out of jail free card to just say whatever the hell you want about anything you want? You teach rhetoric and composition, for instance, is running around saying that Israel and the U.S. were behind the 9-11 attacks integral to your academic work? Maybe so, yes, but it’s certainly not cut and dry.

I’m a strong supporter of free speech rights and protecting professors from political pressure is vital – especially in today’s climate (in higher ed tenure has other benefits, too). But, it’s worth at least asking if there are any reasonable lines here? Feldman says that when you’re teaching incorrect facts that’s one line. But the obvious question of whose facts takes you down a troublesome path pretty fast. And this is an especially complicated question when, as in this case, you’re dealing with a discipline that covers a lot of ground and issues – he was a professor of communications. A field like rhetoric or law presents the same challenge. Whether you can cloak yourself in an official state role to say anything you want about anything or whether your absolute protections should be related to your field of academic work seems like a something at least worth discussing?

In other words, I tend to agree with Feldman but the case would be stronger if higher education leaders made it with more nuance than just saying free speech and academic freedom. There is a “why” question that’s not unreasonable to ask and ought to be answered around an expansive approach here.

Elsewhere, try to figure this one out: Despite protests Yale is keeping a building named for notorious slavery advocate because that helps everyone remember or something but is also dropping a term with an etymology that long predates slavery. Critics say it’s donor pressure.

When Prince rocked LA – but just for special need students.

Elon Musk is going to Mars.

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