June 1, 2017

The Teachers Unions Are Preparing For A SCOTUS Caused Rainy Day, Dogs In Schools, Whitmire On LA, Pensions, Math Crime, Bellwether Case Study, Tony Jack Profile, Remote Work And Online Schools, Defending Trump’s Higher Ed Plan, Voucher Confusion, Malls To

By Bellwether

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People ask, what does Bellwether do? Good question! A bunch of things to build capacity in the field including policy research and analysis, talent strategies, and strategic advising – here’s an example of that. 

With the court back at nine justices, the teachers unions are preparing for an adverse Supreme Court ruling along the lines of the Friedrichs case, which ended 4-4 after the death of Justice Scalia. My shorthand is that if you want to see how this is likely to play out then Wisconsin offers some real clues. Doom and gloom and elation from different quarters but isn’t it more likely the ruling will create opportunities and challenges for the sector? Seems this issue and the Chicago strike will be remembered as the two instrumental moments for the teachers unions this decade. The rest is noise.

I can get behind a trend of dogs in schools.

Whitmire gets behind the LA election. I think the narrative is more straightforward: Reformers did politics in LA – really did it, the blocking and tackling, money, messaging, all of it. And generally when they do that they win. Which is why the teachers unions spend an awful lot of effort trying to scare people off of that strategy.

Donald Trump and his team are being investigated by committees on Capitol Hill, the FBI, and a special prosecutor. It may all amount to nothing or may be truly historic, but it’s a huge headwind regardless. Other than narrow base pandering there is no political logic to the President’s budget request sufficient to get it through Congress and his economic policy is stalled. He’s causing chaos wherever he goes. And his health care plan, no small thing, is a political and substantive disaster. Yet somehow the education world remains panicked that the perennial boogeyman of school vouchers is just around the corner – even as voucher supporters themselves can’t even agree on a way forward. Here’s a headline that understates the situation.

Also, another reminder that most of what you’ve heard about vouchers (and 100 percent of the absolute it’s this or it’s that kind of statements) is probably wrong. Complicated issue with a lot of nuance and gray.

Meanwhile, here’s Jason Delisle and Alexander Holt with the case for the President’s student loan proposal.

Speaking about baseball, Joaquin Andujar who pitched for the Oakland A’s, Houston Astros, and the St. Louis Cardinals once remarked that, “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.’” Relevant today, because Jeb Bush is out of baseball.

“DeVos watch” begs the obvious question, “do I have to?”

Retail is under a lot of pressure but it seems like an opportunity for more space for charter schools, boot camps, training facilities and other educational functions at a time we need them.

Here’s a story about bribing officials to get business. It happens. Don’t do it. What makes this story interesting is that it’s about bribing officials at a pension fund – in New York as it happens. So it’s a reminder of two things that get lost in all the sloganeering about pensions. First, the bribes were from people at an investment fund. All the talk about how pension funds keep workers away from these awful capitalists obscures the fact that these funds invest – and pay fees to invest – with actual capitalists.  And that’s the second point. Pensions have pluses and minuses as a retirement vehicle – so do cash balance plans and 401(k)s. But it’s important to look at them and analyze them like that – as a retirement vehicle – rather than wrap them in all sorts of aspirational ideas they don’t (and can’t) live up to.

Also, via Matt Levine who tracks financial crimes so you don’t have to, here’s a math teacher who got heavy into fraud – using math:

“The reports that you showed us in the return, it was all fake?” the executive asked, referring to a batch of Hamilton tickets, according to the filing.

“No. Some of it was real and some of it was fake,” Nissen was quoted as saying. “The numbers are just all multiplied. It’s the real numbers, but multiplied.”

Thanks Common Core.

Here’s a look at political correctness – includes polling on the attitudes of college students and young people. This is a real issue and it’s unfortunate that Donald Trump with his reverse Midas touch and the “alt-right” has bastardized this conversation from an important one about liberal pluralism and individual rights into God knows what – essentially an ethos that saying racist and/or offensive things as frequently as possible for no real reason at all is somehow a pillar of free speech or something.

Megan McArdle seems right about what you lose if you work entirely remotely (full disclosure I work remotely some but I am writing this fully dressed at a desk). And there are some obvious parallels to the discussion about online schooling. But I’m not sure why this is so binary? A lot of offices – Bellwether amongst them – offers flexible scheduling but still maintains an office and encourages/requires live interaction with other humans. That, too, seems a parallel for a more flexible way of delivering education to some families who want something different.

Wallace on SEL and the infrastructure that is needed to make it real.

Tony Jack profile:

What he found is that colleges and universities, and society in general, tend to treat all low-income students the same. While reading articles for his Ph.D. in Harvard’s sociology department, Jack says the story — whether it was written by an anthropologist, economist, or sociologist — was always the same.

“If you’re poor and black, if you’re poor and Latino, if you’re poor and anything in college, you’ll have this experience. Period,” he says. “There was so little variation in talking about the experience of poor students. I didn’t see in the research what I saw at Amherst.”

So Jack did what made the most sense: He set out to change the research — and the national conversation around diversity in higher education.

Little spellerLong Train.

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