Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Catching up on Education Reading

My desktop is full of stories.

This one, from the Flypaper blog via the Fordham Institute, was an interesting read about school discipline.  I confess from my own experiences in tutoring a kindergarten class that I have my own opinions.  But the clash of thought comes in a couple of forms:
“Here's the thing to remember about discipline systems at school—every one of them codifies somebody's value system, sets in rules and regulations judgments like ‘being compliant is good’ or ‘a good student is one who questions authority,’” Greene wrote. “When a system codifies love of compliance (and can't distinguish between compliance and cooperation) and negative labeling of any sort of age-appropriate behavior (five year olds running! zounds!!), my eyebrows go up.”
I have to smile as the author, Robert Pondiscio, seems to think what parents want to see school discipline is a strong "pro-school choice argument."  Do parents choose schools on the basis on the thinking around behavior and discipline?

So the clash comes from "whose values" and the fair enforcement/expectations are for classroom/playground/hallway behaviors and the need for teachers to be able to effectively conduct teaching and learning.

Speaking of school choice, I found this opinion piece from Western Washington's Johann Neem who teaches history to be worthy reading.  It's called, "Early America had school choice. The Founders rejected it."
As DeVos recently proclaimed, "School choice is about recognizing parents' inherent right to choose what is best for their children. That's the manifestation of expanding human liberty in America."
The Founding Fathers saw freedom as the cornerstone of the nation and public schools as essential vehicles to secure it. Guided by their vision, we should work to fix America's public schools, not abandon them.

The revolution transformed how some Americans thought about education. These Americans agreed with Thomas Jefferson that the future of the republic depended on an educated citizenry. They also believed that the opportunities offered by schooling should be available to rich and poor alike. Many state constitutions included clauses like Georgia's in 1777: "Schools shall be erected in each county, and supported at the general expense of the State." But how to execute this directive? The best way, American leaders ultimately concluded, was to encourage local public schools and to limit the growth of academies.
A fascinating read from Inside Philanthropy on what is happening in Texas with one high-powered philanthropist, Charles Butt.
Texas has the second-highest number of public school students in the U.S., just after California. Some 5 million kids are enrolled in more than 1,000 public school districts around the state. And nowhere is the K-12 population growing faster than in Texas, which is projected to see a 14 percent increase in students enrolled between 2014 and 2026.
Butt has given about $150M in grants for teacher training and leadership training for school administrators.  
Beyond the size of Butt's gifts—among the biggest for K-12 in recent years—what's significant about these commitments is that Butt is not focused on bolstering charter schools or the array of nonprofits that support choice and accountability strategies. Instead, this mega-donor is looking to improve leadership and teaching in the traditional school districts that still educate the vast bulk Texas school children—and will for the foreseeable future.  

Butt has apparently concluded that his giving will have the greatest impact by bolstering the school system that exists, as opposed to building out a parallel K-12 universe. These days, more top donors seem to be thinking along the same lines as Butt. Even as existing charter funders double down on this strategy, it appears that fewer of the new mega-donors arriving in K-12 are focusing on choice. 

A notable feature of Butt's gift to improve teacher training is that it targets university-based programs rather than groups such as Teach for America, a perennial favorite of many ed reform funders and a key supplier of teachers for charter schools.
A fairly honest assessment of what might be challenges for state ESSA plans from the American Enterprise Institute.  They first laud the massive changes in New Orleans after Katrina when the entire city became a charter school district.
After Katrina, the city’s troubled school system was fundamentally altered. Today, nearly all of its public-school students attend charter schools, and there’s a significant voucher program allowing kids to attend private schools. The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans — a Tulane-based collaborative — has studied numerous aspects of these reforms. Among the most notable findings is that since Katrina, the city has seen astonishing gains in test scores and high school graduation and college-going rates.
In a series of valuable reports, including several recently released, ERA found, for instance, that initial reforms led to the dismissal of thousands of teachers; NOLA teachers today report lower job satisfaction, less job security, and less autonomy; average teacher salaries are lower and there are fewer teachers per pupil; and the teaching force has grown less black, experienced, and local. All of this is on top of the passage of politically difficult reforms related to special-education funding, school enrollment, and the power of the local board.
In other words, though the reforms had measurable, meaningful benefits for students, they also had a major — and not entirely positive — influence on democratic self-determination, the workforce, compensation, race relations, and local authority. The previous system had created a peaceful equilibrium on those matters; the reforms unsettled it, contributing to a backlash, which led to a new law re-empowering the local board.
Said another way, many federally focused reformers of recent vintage have had the luxury of offering conceptual exhortations — “Decentralize!” “Equity!” “Higher standards!” “Close the achievement gap!” — because Uncle Sam doesn’t run the nation’s schools.
Now that authority is back in the hands of those who do run systems of schools, the question isn’t about whether to have better tests, more school choice, different funding formulas, more CTE, or more rigor. The question is how? 
Education Next has an op-ed from the ever-entertaining Rick Hess who compares all these ESSA plans to TPS reports from The Office.
What made them so memorable was how true-to-life they felt. Management’s quasi-religious belief in the power of this paperwork and the importance accorded to the reports . . . yep, we’ve all been there. And, if you’ve spent much time around schooling, you’ve been there time and again.

In fact, that paper deluge is one of the less-appreciated fault lines in schooling—the one that divides educators and bureaucrats. It’s easy for paper-shufflers (in school-district offices, state agencies, Washington, or foundations) to get enamored of their data sheets and reporting systems. They excitedly look on their strategic plans and reports as indispensable to driving real change. To others, however, it all looks like a case of comfortable bureaucrats creating busywork for people with better things to do.
And in the "who asked you" category, it was announced that the NewSchools Summit for 2018 will take place in Burlingame, California.  from May 8-9th.

Who is NewSchools? 
As a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm, we use the charitable donations we receive to support education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education to create great results for all students. 
And the "Summit?"
This is an annual invitation-only gathering for education innovation thought leaders who bring important and diverse perspectives in PreK-12 education.

Summit provides a platform for more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, funders, and policy makers to share ideas on how we can reimagine schools so they prepare all students, from every background, to achieve their most ambitious dreams.  
Their "community of philanthropists" includes The Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative DAF among others.   (To note in supplemental news, Eli Broad, who started the Broad Foundation, is stepping down.)


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Good grief.

Helen said...

So, basically, the teacher got busted for cheating. Classy.

Anonymous said...


US News reports on Gates Foundation's new plans for education

Gates Foundation to Shift Education Focus

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

Folks, please use the open thread for those kinds of stories.