Odds & Ends, Plus Prince


Keep an eye on the public comments for the proposed regulations to restrict charter school growth. Apparently not going as planned. What’s unfortunate here is that charter school policy in 2022 is not charter policy in 2012, or 2002, or 1992, so there is room for a thoughtful conversation about lessons learned and the future of the federal charter program. This gambit just isn’t it.

Last week I wrote about common errors and how they confuse important issues and also about why “groomer” is the new “CRT” and why that’s no good.

Matt Yglesias on quality policy analysis.

I heard from someone who used to work at a well-regarded center-left think tank that one of her colleagues noticed this exact problem earlier. But when she raised the issue, she was told to keep quiet because the care groups have always been supportive on other issues.

That is the most explicit statement of Coalition Brain that I’ve heard, but I think it’s a widespread syndrome across causes and institutions. Everyone is supposed to mind their own business and support the team, not directly fire at anyone else. And of course it’s true that politics is fundamentally a team sport and a game of coalitions.

This phenomenon is pretty pervasive and it’s why people are left confused about things like evidence on pre-K (not as robust as you’ve been told), school choice (on both the right and the left because of different narratives), school funding and finance (we spend more than many think but less equitably than many others think). Media has some culpability here, too. There are some exceptions, but in general political reliability is the coin of the realm these days. That’s not good for decisionmaking.

This NCTE statement is getting a lot of attention. More after Nellie Bowles highlighted it in her newsletter last week. There are also some issues with the writing, which is ironic. This line, in particular is causing angst,

The time has come to decenter book reading and essay writing as the pinnacles of English language arts education.

This reminds me of the equity math workbook that went around last year. There was a lot in it that made sense – who can be against focusing on representation to help more students see themselves in math? All that, however, was swamped by the woke word salad of the document. The same dynamic is at work here. And again, the irony. Yes “decentering” books seems like a bad idea, especially now. But not all the ideas in the document are lousy and some are what good teachers do now.

By popular demand – here’s young Prince talking about teacher strikes on Minneapolis.

What do NFTs mean for education?

I think nothing!

No, that’s not quite right. Though education’s futurists are speculating. An NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for $2.9 million at the height of the NFT craze and the other day was valued at less than $15k by the NFT “market.”  Reminds me of the old joke that the way to make millions in education is to start with billions.

But there is something here that’s less profitable but potentially more useful. Using blockchain or distributed ledger technology for student data and credentials. Every time you raise this it leads to a Bitcoin joke – it’s probably how Libertarians feel with every predictable gold or weed quip – but this technology could transform education data and make it easier for students to carry portable and verifiable credentials from place to place. That’s an equity issue for some students now, a huge system fragmentation issue in general, and over time a systems issue for all student as education becomes more unbundled.

Steve Rees on interim assessments:

If students who take interim tests show little benefit, and if teachers misinterpret results often even after discussing them with colleagues, this shouldn’t lead to test-bashing. It should lead to a review of who’s in charge of test quality and interpretation.

Max Marchitello on teacher retirement in California:

In short, CalSTRS is expensive, it is largely ineffective, and it compounds inequities in school funding.

Can education help fight obesity? Matt Rees is on the case. 

Here’s a thoughtful take on school pandemic closures worth your time if you follow that debate and the politics around it. But I think one issue that doesn’t get enough attention here is how much – with the notable exception of Black parents – parent sentiment on schools being open or not seemed to follow whether schools were actually open for in-person instruction or not. One interpretation is that when schools were closed, people thought they should be closed, trusting officials to make good decisions about safety. And when they were open they understandably thought the inverse.

There is going to be some new case law coming out of the changes schools are making in response to social concerns. We’ve talked about some First Amendment questions. Here’s a case in Albemarle, Virginia, to keep an eye on.

School of hard knocks. Hotchkiss, Princeton, Toni Morrison and the early years of MacKenzie Scott via a Times profile.

Feels Like Rain. Purple Rain.



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