Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
“The poverty rate is very predictive of how much you lost,” Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford who helped lead the analysis, told me.
Sunday, November 27, 2022
The network behind the books pulled from Beaufort Co. schools, and the one fighting back
Saturday, November 26, 2022
What I mean by “culture of urgency” is to unite all constituents around a mission and to be clear about where we currently fall short. Urgency does not mean to place so much pressure on teachers and staff that their longevity in the profession is unlikely.
Friday, November 25, 2022
The central claim of this Essay is that racial integration of public schools—though much maligned—is indispensable to moving America’s democracy away from its exclusionary origins and into a well-functioning, racially inclusive democracy. Choice in the private market exacerbates inherent and unresolvable tensions between school choice and racial integration. School choice generally operates against a backdrop of racial pluralism, racial subordination, and racial power imbalance that puts choice in tension with principles of equality, tolerance, and universal citizenship. Expanding school-choice options to include private religious schools is likely to exacerbate these tensions in ways that threaten the possibility of moving into a functioning multiracial democracy.
School integration undoubtedly requires Black and brown students to bear heavy costs. But given the realities of white supremacy, the costs of not pursuing integrated schools are even greater. Pursuing integration sets a path toward disrupting the racial subordination that is inherent to segregation in America. Because of America’s history of white supremacy, segregation in America makes material and social equality impossible.
First, under the school-choice model, parents are not required to consider how their choices impact the broader community. Parents instead select schools that fit their preferences, even if that preference is for a school that teaches discrimination, intolerance, or myopic American history.
Finally, racialized power dynamics place true choice out of reach for marginalized Black and brown students.
Allowing school choice to be contoured by religion and race opens up the possibility for the dominant racialized religion to be used as a sorting metric that enhances the relative value of some students’ education while devaluing the education of others. Put another way, certain kinds of religious education could become sought-after status markers that are unavailable to those who are not part of the dominant race or religion.
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Every year on this day, in my regular column in our local newspaper, I take a whack at the complicated feelings around Thanksgiving. This is from last year, and it's about as close as I've come to saying what I want to say. Happy Thanksgiving.
I have steadfastly avoided arguments about the historical basis of today’s holiday. No version of the first Thanksgiving is made better by the human impulse to flatten complicated human beings into two dimensional good guys and bad guys.
The Pilgrims appear to have been absolutely sincere in their faith, but with that comes an absolute certainty that they were right and everyone else was wrong. “Let’s establish a colony where everyone is free to worship as they wish,” said no Puritan ever. And the native tribes and bands that they encountered may have seemed more primitive than the European immigrants, but they had their own web of complicated and occasionally nasty political wranglings in which the Pilgrims represented a whole new factor.
Our colonial history is a complicated, messy tangle, worthy of careful inspection and thought. Kind of like all the rest of our history. But history is an endless conversation, not a single story set in stone, which means that history-based holidays are always going to be problematic.
But Thanksgiving isn’t just about history. It’s about gratitude, which absolutely deserves at least one holiday, because gratitude is everything.
We Americans aren’t very good at being grateful. We’re like the idea of being self-made, of pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, of doing the work to be deserving of rewards. This often leads us into a strange sort of pseudo-gratitude—“Thank you, God, for giving me the things that I have earned and so richly deserved.”
That’s not really thankfulness. The Puritans themselves had a counter-argument—in their view of God and humanity, the only thing that human beings actually deserve is to burn in Hell forever, so anything else was a gift from God, something that you did not deserve but which God gave as a gift. In the Puritan view of the world, you could never, ever stand before God and say any version of “I earned this. I deserve this. So you must give it to me.”
We play the cards we are dealt in life, and we alone are responsible for what we do with them, how we play them, how we make the best use of them. But we don’t pick them ourselves. We do not make ourselves. And we don’t do anything alone.
It can be discouraging to take a hard look at our favorite self-made success stories, because they are all fables. Our favorite billionaires got started with family money or government money or important connections that gave them a leg up. I can’t think of a single success story, big or small, that doesn’t depend on the assistance of others. At the very very minimum, modern success stories depend on a basis in a stable nation with stable currency and a functioning infrastructure.
There’s nothing wrong with getting assistance from people, circumstances, luck, grace. We are still responsible for what we do with all of that. Nobody is a success based on only their own personal effort and work, but nobody is a success without putting effort and work into it.
But to deny the importance of the assistance we get, the crises we didn’t have to navigate, the breaks that were handed to us—well, that’s when we forget to be thankful. And gratitude is everything.
Without gratitude, we become hardened and unkind. From believing that we did it all ourselves, it’s an easy step to thinking that anyone who doesn’t have what we have—well, that person must be lazier or dumber or just generally less deserving than we are. Thankfulness naturally leads to a desire to pay it forward; the lack of gratitude leads to saying, “Not my problem. They need to take care of themselves.”
When we think all our success is self-created, we start to take it as proof that we are better than those who don’t have what we have. Thankfulness leads to empathy, to the ability to say (and mean) “There but for the grace of God go I.” Lack of gratitude leads to thinking, “I would never, ever be in that position. I’m just too smart and good. Those people must deserve their misfortune because they are lazy or bad.” Ingratitude concludes that you have been paid what the world owes you. Gratitude realizes what you owe the world.
So the challenge today is to think about what you’re truly thankful for. What do you have that is a gift of other people, God, fate, the universe? What in your life is more than you deserve? What do you have to be truly thankful for?
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Over at The Verge, a story copublished with The Markup reveals that Facebook was looking over millions of our shoulders as we prepared our taxes.Major tax filing services such as H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have been quietly transmitting sensitive financial information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online, The Markup has learned.
The data, sent through widely used code called the Meta Pixel, includes not only information like names and email addresses but often even more detailed information, including data on users’ income, filing status, refund amounts, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts.
The Learning Policy Institute offers an explanation for days of learning. The short form is that a typical growth on a standardized test score, divided by 180, equals one day of learning. If you want a fancier explanation, LPI looks via CREDO to a 2012 paper by Erik Hanushek, Paul Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann:
To create this benchmark, CREDO adopted the assumption put forth by Hanushek, Peterson, and Woessman (2012) that “[o]n most measures of student performance, student growth is typically about 1 full standard deviation on standardized tests between 4th and 8th grade, or about 25 percent of a standard deviation from one grade to the next.” Therefore, assuming an average school year includes 180 days of schooling, each day of schooling represents approximately 0.0013 standard deviations of student growth.
Monday, November 21, 2022
|This frickin' guy|
I tell the story often — I get asked “Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?” The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call. If you ask, “Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?” It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing.
If there’s something in the textbook that shouldn’t be there, it’s okay to identify that and call it out. But that’s just openers. That’s identification of a risk. Then the question is, so tell me how it is the case that you’re gonna go convince the people of Cedric County, Kansas, that they need to identify school board members who are going to push through a curriculum that actually returns to the ideas that made America unique and special.
If our kids don’t grow up understanding America is an exceptional nation, we’re done. If they think it’s an oppressor class and an oppressed class, if they think the 1619 Project, and we were founded on a racist idea — if those are the things people entered the seventh grade deeply embedded in their understanding of America, it’s difficult to understand how Xi Jinping’s claim that America is in decline won’t prove true.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
What you don’t know about the UW System’s new charter schools should worry you
Saturday, November 19, 2022
Friday, November 18, 2022
It's a small local story, but I want to highlight it because it shows that some school districts can figure it out.
Darien Public Schools are located in Darien, Connecticut. According to Niche, they're a top-rated district with A and A+ rating for everything except diversity (C-). The district serves a little under 5,000 students, and was singled out by the state for excellence in managing its way through the pandemic. Darien is a costal town on Long Island Sound with a median household income of $232,523, a preponderance of Republicans, and low taxes. Median home price is $2.2 million. Both film versions of the Stepford Wives filmed in Darien.
But in 2021, more than 70 teachers left the district (double their pre-pandemic rate). Only five of those were retirees. The board and the teachers union agreed--some sort of action had to be taken. What to do?
Darien didn't lower the bar by deciding to hire any warm body that could stand up in a classroom. They didn't shrug and say, "Well, just jam more kids into the classrooms we still have teachers for." No, they did something radical:This week, the school board approved a three-year contract with Darien educators that will cost the district a total of $6 million but gives teachers the biggest increase in salaries in more than a decade and the highest starting salary among districts of comparable size and affluence.
That's right. They got competitive. They recognized that the high cost of housing in the district means it's an expensive place to teach, even if the expense is measured in many hours of commuting. They extended maternity leave, to twelve weeks plus five days.
Not every district has the kinds of resources that Darien has, but every district has the ability to compete with comparable districts. Every district has the ability to look at the down side of teaching in their schools and ask themselves, "What would make our district more attractive." Every district can work to use its strengths to offset its drawbacks.
Or they could just shrug and say, "Well, there's a teacher shortage. Nothing we can do about it." Darien's approach seems more useful.
We have heard about the Honesty Gap before, way back in the spring of 2015. Achieve.org was one of the first to make some noise about it (Achieve, you may recall, was instrumental in launching Common Core), but in short order everyone was going on about it, from Jeb Bush's FEE to the Center for American Progress, Educators for Excellence, Students First--all the reformster biggies. The Honesty Gap even got its own website, which is still running today (it's owned by the Collaborative for Student Success, a CCSS promotion group that is tied directly to The Hunt Institute, which is in turn "an affiliate center" of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lists the usual suspects as collaborators-- Gates Foundation, Achieve, NEA, The Broad Foundation, et al.)
|That's one dishonest looking thermometer|
In 2015, when the Honesty Gap was having a moment, Rianna Saslow was a high school freshman at The Galloway School, a private school in Atlanta, founded in 1969. (Current tuition for grades 9-12 is $31,150.) Saslow went on to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and graduated with a BA in Political Science and a second one in Educational Equity just about six months ago. Then she went to work as a policy analyst at Education Reform Now, the 501(c)(3) arm of Democrats [sic] For Education Reform, a reformy outfit started by hedge funder Whitney Tilson to get Democrats on board with the reformster biz. To get a sense of how ERN plays, they just hosted their 12th annual Take 'Em To School Poker Tournament, where you could grab a single seat for $2,500 or a whole table for $100,000 (cocktail ticket for $250).
It's Ms. Saslow who is going to reintroduce us to the Honesty Gap, and I bring her story up for a couple of reasons.
1) A reminder that for some people, these reformy ideas really did first appear a lifetime ago. I may remember a time when the dismantling of public education was not a major narrative; folks like Ms. Saslow do not.
2) A reminder that none of this stuff dies, no matter how much it deserves to. It just keeps coming back. Therefor so must the refutations.
Saslow's piece appears at The 74, which is always a mixed bag. Some of their education journalism is top notch; their opinion section is reliably tilted in the direction of the education disruptors, defunders, and dismantlers. The piece provides a bit of an echo of The 74's earlier coverage of the Virginia report that brought up the Honesty Gap for the usual purpose--to discredit public schools.
Like too many models of the 3D crowd, this is not an honest attempt to understand a problem in education in order to find a solution. But let's take a look at Saslow's piece and see what issues are hidden there.
Saslow starts by holding up the NAEP as a "highly respected and objective set of assessments that consistently holds students to a high level of rigor and acts as a neutral referee in comparing students to one another." Wellllll.....folks have taken issue with the NAEP for as long as it has existed. One NCES study found that about half of the students rated Basic actually went on to complete a Bachelor's Degree or higher; in other words, despite what the test said, they were college ready.
Saslow suggests that it's a shortcoming that NAEP offers no individual school ratings, but that's not what it's designed for. This is a recurring problem with Big Standardized Tests, this notion that if a yardstick is good for measuring the length of a shoe, it can also measure the length of an interstate highway, or the relative humidity, or atomic weight, or how ugly that pig is. Instruments are only good at measuring what they're designed to measure.
Saslow moves on to the complaint that is the heart of the Honesty Gap. States give their own BS Tests:But, by and large, states set a bar for academic proficiency that is lower than that for the NAEP.
If families are provided with overly optimistic data, how can leaders expect their support when looking to implement robust policies and practices to improve public education?
Closing the honesty gap requires commitment at all levels of leadership. State policymakers must ensure that their assessments are academically rigorous, and they must set benchmarks that reflect true grade-level proficiency.
On the district level, administrators must ensure that instructors have access to standards-aligned, high-quality instructional materials. And within the classroom, teachers must provide consistent and reliable grades that allow students, families and school leaders to monitor progress before higher-stakes exams take place.