April 17, 2017

Teacher Turnover, Rural Charter Schools, Choate’s Problems, Rose’s Potentials, Voucher Policy, And More!

By Bellwether

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Kirsten Schmitz on private school teacher turnover, teacher turnover, and some takeaways and non-takeaways.

This Choate story is grim. But it’s not just Choate.

Joel Rose* is one of the most thoughtful people on the personalized scene. He sees the potential – and also the risks. Read this.

This Chalkbeat story on voucher accountability has a handy chart that shows how the accountability policy is not binary, yes or no accountability, but rather a continuum of practices.

Dan Weisberg says NY was right to jettison its teacher literacy test.

Here’s an interesting piece on education from Salon. Yes, you read that right. The author, Karen Eppley of Penn State argues for rural charter schools. Yes, Salon, for charter schools. All the editors must have had the weekend off.

As a rule I like, as she does, empowering people to come together and solve problems. And I think giving people choice in education is a pretty essential if complicated policy reform. I’m all for high-quality charter schools. We do a lot of work on rural education. So this article was a big trifecta plus for me.

But I do have a few quibbles with the piece and/or this framing of the issue. First, she’s clearly right that a lot of rural charters are springing up in response to consolidation. This, though, is a double-edged sword. The empowerment side is great, but the charters don’t ameliorate some of the forces that are driving the push for consolidation of rural school districts in the first place, that’s a separate set of issues. And to the extent those issues aren’t addressed charters will struggle as well. There is no sidestepping the hard issues.**

Very much related population density is an important element on a lot of rural issues and education is no exception. Yes, you can have more choice in rural settings than people generally assume – and not just choice driven by technology.  But population density will be a limiting factor on charters just as it is on a range of rural issues – it’s also one of the great benefits of rural life for many. Rural chartering will look different than urban and suburban chartering.

In addition, and often overlooked, many rural schools already operate like charters to a great extent: They are fairly autonomous, bootstrap oriented, generally do their own thing, and naturally counter-authoritarian.  That, too, is an issue with upsides and downsides – not everything about autonomy is an unvarnished blessing, for instance. Sometimes systems and scale can help in education, for instance.

Bottom line: There is more overlap between many charters and rural publics today in the day-to-day life of the school than many on either “side” might assume.

If you can dream it, you can be it.

*Disc: Friend, BW has worked with his org, I’m biased. Still, read it if you’re interested in the issue.

**You may notice a theme around here. Whether pensions, accountability, rural or other issues, we tend to think you have to actually tackle the hard problems. The clever workarounds make for great fodder on panels but are generally underpowered in the real world.

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