February 12, 2016

Today In Nominations And Self-Nominations, Rural Education, Bob Hughes, Sense On Vouchers, Do Big Donors Hate Unions?

By Bellwether

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You can’t make this stuff up: Maine’s Governor LePage is appointing himself education commissioner. Guess it’s good that John King doesn’t work for Le Page. President Obama is formally nominating him to be secretary. Republicans are saying the water is great, come on in! We’ll see.

Elsewhere in personnel news a huge get for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Bob Hughes. Thoughtful and committed guy.

Do big philanthropists like charter schools because they hate unions? Richard Whitmire:

Here was a Silicon Valley startup star, the former CEO of a publicly traded company, being told to sit tight and log more seat time. Neither Danner, nor Jobs, could imagine achieving success by rewarding software engineers based on seat time.

Danner often pointed to union contracts he thought made schools unworkable. “Look, the union contract in San Jose Unified is 452 pages long,” he told me. “We’re a startup. The whole point of a startup is to be flexible. The job changes every day.”

And that’s the real point about these guys: They’re not so much anti-union as they are pro-startup. Tech CEOs live in a world where a single talented software guy binging through a weekend can solve a problem that has stymied platoons of software experts for months. You pay that guy the same?

Here’s how they view schools: They hire from a lower-level talent pool (based on college SAT scores), reward based on seat time and lay off based on seniority. That just drives them crazy. It’s more about wasting talent than loathing unions.

Paul Hill on rural education:

Rural area salary scales are often low, so parents and working students have trouble paying college bills. College-eligible rural students face a financial dilemma: pay for long commutes to college, or pay rent in cities distant from their homes. Many find they can’t handle these costs long enough to graduate, and become discouraged, especially if they fail courses or must do remedial work that doesn’t bring college credit.

Despite these challenges, many rural schools are finding ways of improving students’ readiness for college. Rural schools are sharing teachers who have rare skills with nearby districts, and using online learning resources. Others are forming close partnerships with community and 4-year colleges and enrolling seniors in both high school and college classes. Such measures force K-12 educators out of their comfort zones but they have real promise for children who might otherwise be afraid to pursue college entry or enroll but are unready for college work.

Also from Hill here’s a measured take on vouchers.

Solid advice on safe, comfortable (and tasty) backcountry travel from someone who knows.

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