July 26, 2017

You Want Context? We’ve Got Context. NAACP And Charters, Teacher Prep, And More! Plus School Naming, Marmot Slapping, And What’s Betsy DeVos Been Up To?

By Bellwether

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Yesterday I took a look at school choice history, which doesn’t really fit the narratives various political factions are advancing. It’s more complicated – and more interesting – than that. Matt Barnum on the same issue here.


Two quick thoughts on the NAACP charter school issue that is at the fore today. First, more to it  than you are probably hearing regardless of whether you’re a charter friend or foe. There is real disagreement about charters and choice and, also, not all of the NAACP’s concerns about charter schools are baseless. Second, there are a variety of African-American membership, service, and civic organizations in this country – some with much more age diversity than the NAACP. In my admittedly unscientific personal poll I’m struck how few friends and colleagues are members but instead belong to other organizations. That means it’s an important organization with a storied history, but don’t myopically focus on the NAACP any more than you would any other organization in the midst of a complicated and fluid landscape. And the overwhelming consensus of the polling on this issue is that the NAACP leadership is out of step with black parents on this issue.


The debate about changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Northern Virginia is coming to a head. The Virginia NAACP’s position that renaming everything in sight (e.g. roads, bridges, etc…) is not productive but that schools and certain other public entities are a unique situation seems more than reasonable. But, I can’t help but notice we put a lot more energy into the fight over what to name this school than into addressing the quality of education students receive inside the school (it’s not great especially for a county as wealthy as Fairfax). It doesn’t have to be a choice, but it seems like there is some sort of broader lesson about education politics and priorities here? Anyway, sending black kids to subpar schools named after dead confederates does seem to add insult to injury but that just doesn’t get as much attention as the name issue. (There is also an irony with Stuart’s name becoming a symbol of this debate because among hard-core “Lost Cause” types Stuart gets a lot of blame for Lee’s loss, there is a whole “what if” genre about it).

Teacher Prep

Every article on teacher preparation should come with a disclaimer about the backdrop of the research – there is no evidence any one approach is better than another right now and that includes masters degrees. That’s pretty well-established in the literature. Seems like important context for thinking about various proposals? Here’s an article about charter schools in New York possibly getting to train their own teachers. Charters elsewhere have done some of this and it’s gone OK. Also seems like important context! And last time I looked job-embedded and clinical training were all the rage in teacher prep. Except, apparently, when it’s charters doing it. Here are some ideas on this from Bellwether.


Get post-secondary education.

Alyson Klein on what Betsy DeVos has been up to. This, too, seems to be on its way to being a popular literary genre.

Schools matter and we should focus on them to learn about what works. There is more to this new study than that, but it’s the shorthand takeaway.

NBPTS is taking on cash infusions from NEA for its operations. 

They want to help teachers with housing in Detroit. Great idea given the reality of real estate and where schools are located and the other challenges. Other places have tried similar strategies.

Slap-fighting marmots.

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