October 23, 2017

Teacher Pensions, Teacher Politics, WeWork Coding, Charter Schools Growing, DeVos And Special Education, Macron’s Dog, More!

By Bellwether

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Confused about teacher pensions in Kentucky – and who amongst us isn’t? Chad Aldeman and Kirsten Schmitz unpack the debate there. 

Union politics in the Trump-era.

WeWork – which has a large real estate footprint – moving into coding training.

Teacher diversity gaps via Brookings.

In eighteen states it takes ten years to vest for your teacher pension, half of teachers never vest nationally, and only 1 in 5 teachers get a full pension. Yet people still want to argue this is a sensible retirement policy for an increasingly mobile field like education. And the argument that because younger workers don’t accumulate much in the way of retirement savings then that’s OK in education, too, is insane. Lots of people also struggle with health care, that doesn’t make it something desirable to import into our field. And you can get young people off to a good start with savings though some basic steps like immediate vesting, portability, good employer matches to encourage savings (in the case of a 401k). In other words there are things we can do. Also, there is this.

This NAACP tax status move is going to have an impact on education politics, funds like this are harder to raise and the teachers unions are a key source. It’s a good reminder that if the SCOTUS curtails union power this session things will not be as linear as a lot of partisans on both sides seem to think.

Charter schools are one of those issues where the averages obscure the real story. For instance, did you know there are now 208 districts with more than 10 percent of students in charter schools, but only three with more than 50 percent? This NAPCS analysis provides some important context on all that and a textured picture of what’s happening out there in terms of enrollment share.

Betsy DeVos got rid of a bunch of special education guidance documents the other day and everyone is predictably going nuts. Here’s the deal:

  1. The way the Department did this is inexplicable, they just hung a kick me sign on their backs. A little context and this would have been a non-story. Unbelievable given that it’s late October now. We may yet have a special education debate but this really isn’t it.
  2. Most of the people complaining about this in the spirit of “it’s the latest outrage!” couldn’t name 3 of these memos if their lives depended on it.
  3. Christina Samuels at Ed Week does a nice job with context that has mostly eluded the hysterical coverage. The Post, not so much.
  4. The law remains in effect as do the key regulations. Worth noting that school districts and parents are often in different places on this issue – there is a whole body of law and army of lawyers due to that. So this doesn’t fit cleanly with the Betsy DeVos undermining districts storyline either.
  5. Special education law is really complicated, one of the most complicated education issues around. So it’s best not to learn about it on social media.  I did a book on it years ago, have firsthand experience in multiple ways, and wouldn’t begin to put myself forward as an expert.

Emmanuel Macron’s dog is the hero we need.

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