Saturday, September 19, 2020

The 1776 Unites Curriculum Isn't So Great

During Dear Leader's call for more patrio-centric re-education, he referenced and Betsy DeVos praised the 1776 Unites project as an example of the kind of thing he wants to see in schools. So I went to look at it, and, well, it has some problems.

What Is It, And Where Did It Come From?

The "curriculum" has been launched just last week as an "inspirational alternative" to the New York Times 1619 project. The 1776 Unites initiative was launched back in February with somewhat stronger language about the 1619 project. It came from the Woodson Center, the organization founded by Black conservative activist Bob Woodson, who said upon launching that it was intended to counter the "lethal" narrative of 1619.

"This garbage that is coming down from the scholars and writers from 1619 is most hypocritical because they don’t live in communities [that are] suffering," he continued. "They are advocating something they don’t have to pay the penalty for."

So, not a fan. He pulled together an assortment of other Black conservatives, and in February the website was launched:

1776 Unites is a movement to liberate tens of millions of Americans by helping them become agents of their own uplift and transformation, by embracing the true founding values of our country.

The website includes a library of essays, with titles like "The Cult of Victimhood," "Living by the grace of God and the power of applying oneself," "Embrace black patriotism over victimization," "Slavery does not define the black American experience," and "The 1619 Project perpetuates the soft bigotry of low expectations." 

There's an awful lot of bootstrapping rhetoric on the site, the good old-fashioned "if you're poor it's your own damn fault" kind. But I'm in no position to evaluate the group's standing as Black activists or intellectuals; I am, however, comfortable evaluating the usefulness of their educational tools.

What's Offered In The Curriculum? 

Well, not a lot, actually. You need to sign up your name and info to get access to the download page--in fact, you need to submit that info every single time you want to go to the download page--where you will find three lessons. Two are about Black history, focusing on Biddy Mason and Elijah McCoy. The third is about "building character" and the Woodson Principles. The page hints at an intent to grow this effort that is "essential to building a resilient, patriotic population." 

But for right now, you've got just the three lessons.

Lesson One: Biddy Mason

There are several elements here, starting with a Power Point presentation of 18 slides. The images are a curious mix. On the slide about Biddy's early life, one photo is an actual photo of young Biddy, a copyrighted photo that belongs to the UCLA, Library Special Collections folks, but it's used without any acknowledgement or caption (I had to reverse Google it), while the other photo is of a mother with what looks like a newborn baby. That can't possibly be Biddy; a reverse search suggests its a stock photo from Getty Images taken by W. Eugene Smith; it's also uncaptioned and uncredited. This is an issue through the slides--some photos are credited, some are captioned, and several more are not. 

The actual content is thin and context-free. Her 1,700 mile trek to Utah, which ended up in California, is given a couple of sentences. In California, she sued for her freedom and won in 1856. The slide asks if you know what year the rest of the slaves in America were emancipated, and the answers 1863 which--well, no. The Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves in the Southern states free, but did no such favors for the slaves in the border states. And since the proclamation was issued at the beginning of 1863, while the Civil War was still raging, it didn't actually do a thing--it couldn't kick in until the North had actually beaten the Southern states in question. 

The rest of Biddy's story, which the slides continue to tell in very broad strokes, focuses on the economics. She worked for wages and invested her money. Her purchase of property in Los Angeles, leading to considerable wealth, is attributed to her wisdom and not to any fortunate timing. The slides tout that she became one of LA's "first prominent citizens and most important landowners...during the 1850s and 1860s," which seems like a kind of loose reading if she only became freed in 1856, and even looser when you learn she bought her first property in 1866 (you don't learn that from this lesson). Her philanthropic work and large fortune ("about $8 million today") are emphasized. Students are asked what causes they would give money to, and what kinds of people "you would like to help in your life?"

Activities and Assignments   

Look up some famous philanthropists (Carnegie, Gates) and find out how they made their money and what they fund. Do some real estate research in your own town and figure out what you'd invest in. Which parts of the country are growing or shrinking, and which would make a good investment right now? If you had a million dollars, how would you invest it? Without using the words, the writer suggests a pair and share. At the end of your life, if there were a memorial to you, what would you want it to say? 

Are you noticing anything about what a$pect of Biddy'$ life is being focu$ed on here? Will it help if I show you the targeted 

Vocabulary List

Profit, Assets, Appreciate/Depreciate, Philanthropy, Investment, Interest/compound interest, Down payment

Critical Thinking and Discussion Questions  

What are some advantages she faced? What are some disadvantages? How about you? "How hard is it to maintain a positive mindset in the face of adversity?" Why do you think Biddy was generous to others, even after her life was filled with hardship? How would her life have been different if she had become discouraged? Note: there are no questions along the lines of "What if her owner had beaten her to death before she got to court" or "What if she had arrived in LAS too late to get in on the growth boom?" or "What if she had ended up in some place that was busting rather than booming?" There's also no attempt to encourage students to dig deeper past the paper thin outline of her life.

Like so many things that try to pass them off as critical thinking exercises, these aren't even close. Here's an important pro tip about critical thinking questions-- if you are trying to direct students toward a specific conclusion or realization, you aren't doing critical thinking. This is why Dear Leader's vision of a curriculum that tells one certain shiny story of America will always be anti-critical thinking.

Lesson Plan 

This isn't a lesson plan. There's a paragraph that manages to sum up the entirety of the actual content of the lesson  in a few sentences. There are some suggestions about when the lesson might be appropriate. Oh, and you can use it for Social and Emotional Learning, too, because it "highlights resilience, grit, determination, self-reliance and other positive inner resources and character traits." 

There's a "lesson prompt"-- "Have you ever wondered what happened to people who were born in slavery but were later freed?" And suggestions that you could use the power point, or watch some videos, and basically you could use the stuff in this packet. This is a lesson plan as conceived by someone who has never written an actual lesson plan ever. What exactly will the teacher do, in which order, following what time frame? Who knows.


Links to four youtube videos about Biddy Mason. All four, including the one that's only four and a half minutes long, provide far more depth and information than this lesson does. One is just a panel discussion, but all are informative. 

MC Questions

A bank of multiple choice questions to use. They are terrible. How did she win her freedom? Was she born free, moved to a free state, escaped and moved to the North, sued and won her freedom in court, or died as a slave. Some of the answers are ridiculous and could only be used to test if the students were conscious during the power point, and in this particular case, two answers are correct (she could only sue for freedom because she was in a free state). The other four questions are similar, though one is the only one to offer "All of the above," which is, of course, correct. 

Standards and Learning Objectives  

Four and a half pages of standards cribbed from a variety of sources, including CASEL, ASCA, NCSS, Common Core, and AP US History. They have stretched like crazy here. Just a few of the standards this lesson claims to meet--

From AP: 5.3.11.B The women's right movement was both emboldened and divided over the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution.

From NCSS: 8 Science, Technology and Society

From ASCA: A:C1.6 Understand how school success and academic achievement enhance future career and vocational opportunities

CASEL: Stress management

CCSS: A whole lot of speaking and listening, for some reason.

The Learning Objectives list includes the student being able to: explain the difference between a slave state and a free state, define the vocabulary (not use it?), identify at least one financial investment opportunity, explain/interpret a quotation using their own words.

Lesson Two: Elijah McCoy

Worried I'm going to drag you through all that again? Don't worry-- the only thing done for McCoy is his 15 power point slides. Those include one that asks students if they've ever had a job, one that asks "what kinds of things need to be invented right now," and two oddly redundant slides that credit him as the basis for the saying "the real McCoy," a claim that a quick Wikipedia check would tell you is shaky, at best

Honestly, I've assigned slide-style presentations about important people over the course of my career; this looks suspiciously like the one done by the student who scanned one source, copied some random photos, and then did his best to squeeze out a few more slides for padding,

The Woodson Principles   

Okay, I was going to take a quick look at this, but the list of ten principles is mis-formatted on the power point slide and another slide asks if students know what a GED is. Woodson's ten principles look like any good unobjectionable corporate training list, but is this a good way to teach them? I think not. Moving on.

So Many Issues   

Fact-checking. Editing. Chopping the heck out of a couple of actually quite exceptional stories. McCoy and Mason really are impressive individuals with extraordinary stories. But these stripped down versions don't begin to do them justice. It's hard to know why--Mason's story is filled with people who stepped up to help her at critical moments, from helping her get her day in court to giving her a place to live when she was freed--have they all been excised to highlight "self-reliance"? 

It's extraordinarily unclear what the target audience is here. The tone and language feels like maybe fourth or fifth grade, but the standards lists high school standards. You are never going to capture high school attention with material this bland and thin. The exercise reminds me of beginning student teachers I would work with who knew they had some stuff they wanted to cover, but had no idea how they should exercise their own leadership and planning to make the lesson happen. "I'll go over some of this and then there will be a discussion, and the students will, you know, learn about all this other stuff that will just come up, somehow." Or maybe it's just the work of another bunch of people who don't have any real idea what teaching involves. Or maybe they were focused on what they wanted to say about the material that they treated the "curriculum" itself as an afterthought. And you can argue about the scholarship behind the 1619 Project, but there's no scholarship going on here at all.

In short, teachers should absolutely be teaching about Biddy Mason and Elijah McCoy. Under no circumstances should they use these materials to do it. And if Dear Leader is counting on 1776 Unites to create his super-patriotic curriculum or beat back the evil lefty forces of the 1619 Project--well, this sample indicates that it's just not going to happen. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Is Betsy DeVos Flip-Flopping?

Betsy DeVos visited a private school in Grand Rapids that is currently open for face-to-face school, and she observed that not re-opening school buildings is a "tragedy."

This seems like a radical shift of direction for the secretary of education. For one thing, one of her mantras has been that we should fund students, not institutions or, presumably, the buildings in which those institutions are housed. DeVos has also been a huge advocate of computer-run education, insisting that the modern miracles of technology should set students free from traditional school-in-a-building.

But with the advent of the pandemic, DeVos seemingly shifted gears, going so far as to threaten public schools with funding loss if they don't open up right away. And here she was in Grand Rapids, praising a private school that opened up and sadly castigating public schools that haven't. 

So did Betsy DeVos suddenly change her mind? 

That seems unlikely; DeVos is nothing if not singleminded and focuses. Tales of her career in education reform do not include any sudden epiphanies that lead to a new shift or focus. So how to explain this sudden apparent 180 degree flip. Let me offer a couple of theories.

One theory is that she is simply following Trump's lead, and Trump on education (as with some other policy areas) is best understood as the cranky old grampaw who thinks the world would be a lot better if everything was the way (he thinks) it was Back In His Day. Though DeVos was not a Trump fan back in 2016, she has become a solid team player for her boss, one of the few who has never, ever suggested that some chunk of dumb just fell out of his mouth. .

But just as likely is that DeVos is doing what she has always done--taking whatever position best supports privatized education. Pre-pandemic, when public schools were open for face-to-face instruction, she could criticize them for not having changed for a century, for being the same old dead end, thereby promoting the notion that folks should get out of public school and into a private school with cool modern techy things etc etc etc.

But in the pandemess US, public schools have, in many cases, shut their doors and deployed all sorts of 21st century gimcracks and geegaws, she needs something else to criticize them for. If she can get them to open up in traditional style, then her old criticisms can still be used. Plus, since nobody on the federal or state leader has offered up the leadership, guidance, resources or money needed to make opening up in a pandemic really work, she has the security of knowing that more public school failures are sure to follow. And if they don't open back up, DeVos can (and has) criticize them for not providing Real Schooling, unlike these nice Catholic schools over here that are open for face to face instruction. Plus, failing to re-open helps DeVos leverage the idea that public schools should be defunded and families should just get education vouchers.

In short, there is no hypocrisy or flip-flopping here. DeVos has a few solid principles that stay in play. Anything that helps private edu-businesses is good. Anything that makes public schools look bad is good. The pandemic has provided several win-win scenarios for DeVos; they only look inconsistent if you aren't looking in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Check Out "On Teaching" At The Atlantic

I've been poking through the thirty-three articles posted by The Atlantic as part of their On Teaching series, and it requires a little more recommendation than my weekly Sunday round-up. If you're only going to read one batch of articles this month, read these.

And if you're only going to read one article this month, start with the anchor essay, just published today. In it, Kristina Rizga writes about her two-year quest to answer the question, What is good teaching? The beauty of this-- and of the entire package-- is that she looks for answers by talking to actual veteran teachers. The focus of the project was the soon to be lost wisdom of the boomer teaching cohort. Check out this part-of-a-paragraph:

The majority of Baby Boomer teaching veterans—who just over 15 years ago constituted more than half of the teaching force—have retired or will retire in the next few years. “On Teaching” aimed to collect the wisdom of some of the nation’s most accomplished veterans to find out what has helped them bring out the best in their students. The 15 teachers I got to know closely—from rural Oklahoma to Mississippi, subarctic Alaska to suburban Arizona, California, Texas, Kentucky, and Michigan—told me that effective teaching depends on paying attention to students as individuals, addressing their needs with cultural sensitivity, and seeking the active support of peers. But they also told me that their capacity to teach successfully has been weakened by misguided, top-down policies, chronic funding cuts to public education, and growing structural inequities. To do their jobs fully, they said, they need basic resources—and they should be viewed as experts on what their students need.

The variety within the pieces is impressive, from "Why a Career and Technical High School Has a Genocide Studies Class" to "Teaching Theater Through Four Decades of Social Change" through "The Questions Sex-Ed Students Always Ask." There are several good pieces about the teaching of writing. And while several writers have contributed to the collection (Melinda D. Anderson, Emily Richmond and Alia Wong, to name three), the bulk of the work is from Kristina Rizga, one of my edu-journalism favorites. She is credited as the co-creator of this project, and her contributions (18 of the 33 pieces) are top notch.

The project doesn't deal with teachers who are necessarily famous outside their own corner of the world (which is how it usually is for most of us), but what's really striking about it is that it treats the teachers with respect. The writers act as if these teachers are actual experts in their field and worth listening to, and as such get to comment on many major issues in education, as well as tracing the influence of policy ideas in the last few decades.

This shouldn't be a big deal, but of course, it is. So many education journalists turn to bureaucrats, edu-preneurs, thinky tanks, and advocacy groups (okay, I may have been redundant there) when they want to write about education, as if all these barnacles on the great ship of US education know as much as the sailors sailing the ship. You can go days reading about education without seeing a single actual teacher quoted, while Mike Petrilli turns up in every other article.

Some of it, I'm sure, is practicality. You have a piece to get done right now, and teachers are all working, but the advocacy guys are right at their desks, ready to take your call. Edu-preneurs send you ten pitches a day, while actual classroom teachers send out, generally, zero pitches a day.

For years, I read and read and read and read about education, and even when you know better, you just become numb to the fact that writing about education rarely includes the voices of educators. To have a series of articles centered on those voices is just such a breath of oxygen.
My hat is off to Rizga, the other writers, and The Atlantic itself. I'll even take it off for the funders of this project, who are the same deep pockets we find elsewhere in education (Hewlett, Spencer, Gates) for funding something worthwhile for a change. The two year span spent on this project was time well spent. It should be a book, or a monthly series that runs forever. I'll leave you with the final paragraph of the anchor piece. Speaking of the teacher featured in this piece, Rizga writes:

Moore summed up the consensus among nearly all the veteran teachers I spent time with for the “On Teaching” project: “The people who set the policies for how we do education are not the people who do education, and the very best teachers are rarely invited to help shape the policies or the structures.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Scrap the Big Standardized Test This Year

When schools pushed the pandemic pause button last spring, one of the casualties was the annual ritual of taking the Big Standardized Test. There were many reasons to skip the test, but in the end, students simply weren’t in school during the usual testing time. Secretary of Education issued waivers so that states could cancel their test (which is mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act).

But that was last year.

This year, many states are already indicating that they will seek waivers again. South Carolina and Georgia have both announced their intention to get federal permission to skip the test. The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would suspend the state’s MCAS exam for four years.

Meanwhile, thedepartment of education has signaled that it is not ready to let testing go. Discussing the waivers in a virtual press conference, assistant ed secretary James Blew said “Our instinct would not be to give those waivers.”

Instinct or not, there is no good reason to go through with the Big Standardized Test in the coming school year.

First of all, there’s the cost in time and money, both of which will be in short supply in the coming year. States are anticipating a financial crunch, and schools will need every possible minute to deal with the considerable challenge of starting and running a school ear in the midst of the pandemic. Any supposed benefits of testing must be weighed against the costs. So what would the benefits of testing be?

In that same conference, Blew also said, "Accountability aside, we need to know where students are so we can address their needs."

It’s not clear who “we” are in this statement. Teachers will certainly need to know where students are, but teachers are perfectly capable of doing the same sort of beginning of year assessments that they do every year—and they can get results far, far more quickly than the big tests can. For many reasons, the tests offer little actual utility for teachers, even in the best of “normal” years.

If the “we” Blew is talking about is state and federal government, that seems unlikely. Under both parties, the department of education has for years focused on punishment rather than assistance. We need not dig deep into the history for examples—it has been clear for months that schools need all manner of assistance, from PPE, to support and training for distance learning, to leadership and guidance about how to meet these unprecedented challenges. But the department has not chosen to address those needs, but has instead threatened to cut funding for schools that don’t fully open while offering no assistance in making such an opening safe. 

“We need the data in order to give schools help,” has been a technocratic mantra for decades. It has resulted in the collection of a great deal of data and a very small amount of actual assistance.

Nor has that data been useful. At worst, test results are indicative of things other than actual student achievement. In 2016, Christopher Tienken and his research team showed that a school’s standardized test results could be accurately predicted with just three pieces of demographic data. American education researchers David Berliner and Gene Glass just compiled a reckoning of the many ways that the Big Standardized Test comes up short, including research showing that teachers could predict test results for their own students, meaning that the actual test results don’t tell teachers anything they don’t already know. Two years ago Jay Greene, head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, was writing about the disconnect in test scores, showing that raising a student’s test score does not raise the student’s “life outcome.”

Remember, also, the obvious. The Big Standardized Test purports to measure reading and math skills; the entire rest of the students’ educational experience goes unmeasured.

Any data from tests next spring will be exceptionally useless. It certainly won’t be comparable to any other normal year’s results. Nor will it be possible to fairly compare individual schools, each of which has faced its own particular challenges in 2020. At best, the data will convey a message of, “The pandemic has made this school year veery different from any other.” There’s no reason to think we need a standardized test to draw that conclusion. In fact, some testing experts are suggesting that even the kinds of off-the-shelf diagnostic tests not required by ESSA are also best avoided this fall.

Administering the Big Standardized Test mandated by the federal government is costly and requires weeks of preparation above and beyond the big block of time required to actually administer the test. That kind of investment of time and money demands a solid return for aiding student education in this challenging time; that’s a return that the Big Standardized Test can’t deliver. They should be scrapped for the 2020-2021 school year.

Originally posted at

Monday, September 14, 2020

Time To Deal With The Substitute Shortage

This is not the biggest issue facing schools right now-- but it's not nothing. And in some districts, it's about to become a critical issue.

The state regional education office for our area announced a special opportunity to get quick and easy training to become an emergency certified substitute teacher. And it only costs $25! And that sound you hear is me slapping my forehead hard enough to push my hairline back another inch. "We are desperate for your help, but we're going to charge you money to provider it to us."

Why didn't the regular teacher leave this guy a guide?
The substitute teacher shortage is not new, just as the teacher shortage is itself not new. It's just that right now, it's critical, as a wave of teachers decide that right now would be a good time to go sit at home and avoid catching a major disease. School districts are trying a variety of responses, from actually raising the pay of subs, to relaxing requirements so that more warm-bodied humans are eligible, to outsourcing the problem (which has a lousy track record), to "expressing concern," to just doing nothing in particular and hoping that something magical will solve the problem.

The problems are many. Substitute teaching is often a go-to area for trimming costs, so that the pay is just not great. As a retired teacher, I'm qualified to sub (I'd have to get a waiver from the pension system to do it, but that's not impossible), but I've done the math, and with two small children to take care of, I would basically be subbing for free. Also, like much of the substitute pool, I'm in a high risk age group, so that's a factor to consider as well.

There was a time when the sub pool included retirees, homemakers pulling in a little extra cash, and fresh-out-the-wrapper teachers hoping to get a foot in the door. But in many districts pay has stagnated, aka been going backwards in real dollars. When I entered the field, I could live--barely-- on sub pay, which meant I could be available all the time, which meant I could work more, which meant I could treat subbing as an audition and hope to have a shot at openings that appeared--which is how things worked out for me. Nowadays a starting hope-to-be-a-teacher needs another job to make ends meet.

Districts that are serious about subbing issues hire full-time substitutes. Give them a real salary, real benefits, and just assign them wherever they're needed every day. But too many districts balk at the cost; let's not employ the cow if we can get the milk at cut-rate prices.

A good sub is worth her weight in gold-- to the regularly employed teachers. Raise your hand if you have avoided taking a day off because you knew in your heart that it would take three days of extra work to fix what happened with the sub the one day you were out. Not all subs are great; some are only just enough to fulfill the district's legal requirement for a human adult in the room. But for too many administrations, the bare minimum is plenty. In too many districts, while teachers may not get the respect they deserve as education professionals, subs are disrespected a hundredfold worse.

Subs are not invited to in-service sessions. They're not given any training in the policies and procedures of the district. They are treated like easily-fungible meat widgets. In some schools, they're barely given the info necessary for the day ("Oh, yeah-- there's an assembly that period. Guess we should have told you something.") In districts where administration communicates poorly with regular staff, subs are left completely in the dark.

In short, in many districts, there is literally nothing about substitute teaching that could make it appealing to anyone (with possible exception that you don't have to do anything to prepare and when you walk out the door at day's end, you are done). And yet as the pandemic whittles down the staff in schools across the country, you'll hear choruses of whining and the cricket-like whir of wringing hands, as if the solution was some sort of mystery, as if substitute teachers are delivered magically on unicorns fed by heavenly manna.

It's a job. If the job isn't attractive enough under the conditions that you have currently set, you have to improve those conditions (both financial and otherwise).

There are many many issues in education that the pandemess is providing an opportunity--even a requirement--to address. The problem of substitute teaching belongs on the list. Certainly not at the top of the list--but definitely on it.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

School Choice Is Not For Those People

 Choice fans promote the idea as one the provides each family with the school of their dreams. Everyone, declares Betsy DeVos, should have a school that provides the right fit. 

Well, almost everybody. Two recent stories underline that what families can choose is what the folks in charge of the marketplace decide they can choose.

In Indiana, a lawsuit has emerged from one of several incidents of private Catholic schools firing gay teachers for being gay. In September, the feds entered the lawsuit on the side of the schools. Their argument, which has percolated up in several different contexts, is that discriminating against certain groups falls under the school's First Amendment rights. A religious organization, argues the government, should not have to hire anyone whose beliefs don't match the organization's. So canning any LGBTQ teachers is totally okay, as far as the feds are concerned. 

The message to LGBTQ students could not be clearer--"we don't want your kind here." 

And if that wasn't clear enough, Alabama has been making it clearer. Back in January, an application from Birmingham AIDS Outreach to open up an LGBTQ charter school was turned down by the Birmingham school board. Alabama has a Public [sic] Charter School Commission  that stands ready to overrule local school boards in case the charter is turned down, but the board has now shot down Magic City Acceptance Academy twice--first last May, and again just last week. Last week four of the eight board members abstained, three voted in favor of the school, and one against, which adds up to no. 

So school choice is only for some students, and those decisions are not going to be made by  elected officials are answerable to the public, nor are choice schools going to be bound by the same rules that operate in the public school world. 

ICYMI: Rainy Sunday Edition (9/13)

 A quiet rainy morning here in PA. And can't we all use a little peace and quiet. I've got a few things for you to read this week.

FLVS Frustrations   

A lot of money has ben pumped into the Florida Virtual School, but nobody seems to be in charge. How's that working out? Accountabaloney takes a look (and you should pay attention, because FLVS has contracted itself out to a few other states).

POLITICO charter article misses the point   

Jan Resseger takes a look at a recent Politico article chiding Joe Biden for his charter position, or lack thereof. As always, a thoughtful, well-researched response.

Learning the Wrong Lesson About Education Reform   

An excerpt from Andrea Gabor's book After the Education Wars (which you should read) in the Saturday Evening Post. 

Remote Learning Is Turning Classrooms Into Police States   

At Salon, a look at how some schools are way way over the top in rule enforcement for their distantly earning students.

CC broke the law; so does defunding schools using 1619   

From Jay Greene's blog, we get a look at what some on the right think about Trump's proposed punishment for schools using the NYT 1619 project-- they don't like it.

Teach for America's congressional intern program   

One of TFA's little tricks for building its influence is to offer congresspeople free intern's. One more way in which TFA is troub le beyond its unprepared classroom tourists.

Cyber schools may benefit from the pandemic, but that doesn't mean their students do   

The Philadelphia Enquirer points out the Pennsylvania's cyber schools are not so great for students. "Not just disaster capitalism, but a disaster."

Midwest dispatch: the gospel of school choice  

Somehow I missed this when it first dropped. I wish Sarah Lahm wrote more. Here she is at the Progressive looking at some of the side-effects of the charter movement (hypersegregation, anyone?) in the midwest.

Musical Chairs   

Here's the story of how on Iowa school district is skirting the rules like a contrarian seventh grader following the letter and sneering at the spirit.

Florida schools defy DeSantis  

Meanwhile, in Florida, school districts are defying the governor's order to keep covid stats under wraps.

The Costs of Cutting School Spending   

A look back at the results of the Great Cutting of 2008, with an eye toward tyhe big cuts that are happening right now. From Education Next, but still work a read.

Are Your Students Watching History?

Nancy Flanagan considers the question of just how much real-time history should be let into the classroom.

How DeVos was thwarted  

Now that it's all done, here's Wendy Lecker explaining how Betsy DeVos's illegal plan to funnel CARES money to private schools was stopped by court.

Half of PA schools don't have a teacher of color  

A shocking stat. Sojourner Ahebee is at NPR with the story of why that's a hard problem to solve.