Sunday, April 30, 2023

ICYMI: So Long, April Edition (4/30)

Well, that was a month. God bless all the teachers out there in the midst of testing season,

I'll remind everyone that part of the purpose of this weekly collection of pieces is amplification. It is harder than ever to break through the media fog, whether we're talking about legacy media, online media, or social media. You can help by sharing anything that you think others should read. Tweet. Post. Do whatever it is that people do on Instagram. You can help make writers some noise in the world.

These States Have the Most 'Underqualified' Teachers Stepping in to Fill Open Positions

Now that states have been pushing laws to let any warm body into a classroom, we can start to see the effects. From Edsurge, here's an article complete with an interactive map that lets you see which states have the most not-exactly-qualified teachers in the classroom. 

A Far-Right Moms Group Is Terrorizing Schools in the Name of Protecting Kids

David Gilbert wrote this piece about Moms for Liberty for Vice, and it is blistering, with some specific tales of people who have crossed M4L and an exceptional retelling of their origin story. A good antidote to M4L's attempt to push out PR about how nice and non-threatening they are. An important read.

Gaslighting Americans about public schools: The truth about ‘A Nation at Risk’

Another important read from this week. Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post hosts the true story of A Nation At Risk (celebrating another one of its birthdays) from James Harvey, who was part of that report's creation. What better person to debunk that influential festival of cherry picking and logic chopping. And this link is to MSN's copy of the piece--so no paywall.

The Lies America Tells Itself About Black Education

Bettina Love at EdWeek with another take on A Nation At Risk, well worth your time. She pulls up the sub-text of the report--that the US was falling behind in education because it was spending too much time and money on Those Children. Another important read.

New “Ed Reform” Coalition Shows How Media Allows Billionaires to Control Narrative

Maurice Cunningham, expert on dark money in education, takes a look at the hottest new coalition in Massachusetts.

Are Schools Responsible for the Racist Behaviors of Students?

Nancy Flanagan wonders who bears the responsibility when students start acting out racism.

Classical Charter School of Leland requires boys to get their hair cut short, because, I guess, the 21st century still hasn't made it everywhere yet. The Native American Rights Fund is not a fan of that policy.

Chromebooks’ ‘Short’ Lifespan Costs Schools Billions of Dollars, Report Finds

Maybe your district heard it, too-- the claim that by going digital, we could save all sorts of money on textbooks. But it turns out that Chromebooks are actually super-expensive. Lauraine Langreo has the story at EdWeek.

‘We need help’: Portland middle school principals plead for help to manage student behavioral problems

Reporting from Portland about behavioral issues through the roof. 

Should Monroe Tax Dollars Be Used to Open Charter Schools in Escambia? More Fiscal Shenanigans in Florida.

Florida leads the way once again. If nothing else, this serves notice that "the money should follow the child" will be jettisoned once it does its work. Sue Kingery Woltanski has her eye on Tallahassee.

Review: Christianity and Critical Race Theory

I ordered this book on the strength of the review. Turns out Jesus didn't necessarily demand that His followers had to reject CRT. This looks like a thoughtful piece about, among other things, the church's need to deal with its own racism.

Stop Giving Away Our Tax Dollars to Private & Parochial Schools.

Steven Singer would like to have a few words with elected representatives about the tax credit scholarship program in Pennsylvania.

Spring Branch ISD cancels trip to see play due to performance that was not 'age-appropriate'

This week in Dumb Culture War Moves, a parent complains that a performance of James and the Giant Peach includes actors who play multiple parts in flamboyant costumes that don't always match their birth gender. So the district canceled the trip. 

From McSweeney's. Made me chuckle.

At, I covered a new working paper from Mark Weber and Bruce Baker, school finance wizards, that finds another influential factor for how long districts stayed remote. 

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Friday, April 28, 2023

PA: Hillsdale Comes To Pennridge

“Our end goal is that every single kid who leaves Pennridge loves this country and understands our constitution,” said board member Ricki Chaikin. “Right now, that’s not happening.”

That's a board member of Pennridge schools, a district that just okayed a contract with Vermilion Education, LLC. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, that's because the company was the center of a controversy just a few weeks ago when the Sarasota, FL, board considered (and ultimately rejected) a contract with the education consulting firm. Who are these guys (or, perhaps, this guy)?

The Sarasota board considered board a contract with Vermilion Education, LLC . If Vermilion's website seems a little sparse, that's because they have only been operating for a few months. Their promises and principles are suitably vague-- I mean, here's the whole pitch --

The address Vermilion lists on the Sarasota contract proposals is a single family home (1640 square feet) in a residential neighborhood of Hillsdale. And their personnel--well, so far, it looks like one guy.

That guy is Jordan Adams, fresh from Hillsdale. There's a lot of story with Hillsdale (here's a short-ish version or get into it more heavily with a whole series of articles), but the current version is a private right-wing christianist college whose head, Larry Arnn ("Teaching is our trade; also, I confess, it's our weapon"), is the same MAGA-fied guy who headed up Trump's 1776 Education thingy (and said teachers are the dumbest). They've provided a platform for a lot of school privatization and taxpayer subsidies for private christian school rhetoric from heavy hitters like Betsy DeVos and Christopher Rufo, all arguing that government shouldn't be running schools--churches should.

Hillsdale has long had a charter school initiative called the Barney Charter Schools, and more recently they've been behind the launch of many "classical" academies around the country.

Jordan Adams is a Hillsdale grad ('13), which means he was a Hillsdale student when they were launching the Barney schools, and eventually became their Associate Director of Instructional Resources. I'll let you draw your own conclusion about his fitness for the role:

“I mostly focus on the history and Latin curricula, figuring out how things are taught in a fourth-grade or eleventh-grade classroom,” said Adams. He looks forward to experimenting with more accessible resources for teachers: “When you’re a first-year teacher, you’re just trying to stay one day ahead of what you’re supposed to be teaching. You don’t have time to sit down and read a long text about teaching. But maybe if there’s a short video that is clearly titled and easy to access, you might conceivably watch it while you’re making dinner.”

If only there were a place to go where you could study teaching so that you knew what you were doing on more than a day by day basis. Adams's original undergrad plan was to work at a think tank, then he went to grad school for a Masters of Humanities. One more educational amateur rediscovering the wheel. But apparently reinvented it well enough to move up to interim director of curriculum for the Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office, a job he was holding back in October of 2022.

Adams was part of the crew that screened the Florida math textbooks that DeSantis accused of being too indoctrinatey.

Adams is no longer listed in any current capacity as employed by Hillsdale, though there is no peep about his departure. Not sure what we can make of that.

As was the case in Sarasota, Pennridge added the Vermilion contract to the agenda 24 hours before the meeting,

Pennridge School District is located in the Southeast, just north of Philly, in Bucks County. Their board has been pretty relentless in pursuing repressive and reactionary policies. They have trouble telling creationism from science. They banned Banned Books Week. They tried to clamp down on student expression. And they blew up DEI policies (even as they demonstrated why they needed such policies in place). And they are considering Hillsdale's ideological, biased and not very great 1776 Curriculum (Hillsdale is presided over by Larry Arrn, the guy that Donald Trump appointed to create an anti-1619 curriculum). 

As was the case in Sarasota, it's not really clear what Adams and Vermilion are supposed to do, and since they appear to have no previous track record (the site is still nearly bare and there's no sign anywhere that they have any previous contracts). It's still not clear how close Adams ties to Hillsdale remain. But now the taxpayers of Pennridge get to pay for Adams to do something, for some amount of money, to be completed sometime. Good luck to them. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

What We've Forgotten About Pandemic Schooling

Some folks in Congress are going to use the pandemic as a cudgel to beat on teachers today. So any time this topic gets brought up, here are a few basic points to keep in mind.

Schools were not closed.

School buildings were closed, and teachers were working their butts off to deliver education in a variety of ways. Most commonly that meant cobbled-together tech-based systems, but in some communities (like mine) it meant teachers driving packages of hand-outs to unwired homes out in the sticks. But the notion that schools were completely shut down and teachers were sitting at home eating bon-bons and enjoying a paid vacation is utter bullshit. 

Teachers wanted to return--safely.

It would be a Herculean challenge to find any significant number of teachers who said, "Boy, this remote teaching is awesome. I want to do it forever." Teachers wanted to be back in the building--if they could do it without risk to the safety and health of themselves and their loved ones. But across the nationm we got variations on this conversation.

District: We would like to get the school buildings open again. Would you come back?
Teachers: We'll gladly come back as soon as you've put some safety measures in place.
District: We're not going to do that.
Teachers: Then we would rather not come back.
Certain Folks: Teachers are forcing us to close schools for no reason.

You can add a variant form, particularly after vaccinations became available, in which the district says, "Tough shit. Come back anyway."

National unions do not control locals

The weirdest variant of these arguments has been the one where Randi Weingarten personally kept schools closed, as if the presidents of the national unions can exert control over union locals. There are two probable reasons that MAGA pushes this argument. 1) They are projecting their own ideas about how they think government should work i.e. one strong boss who controls everyone beneath him and 2) Randi makes a visible target and personification of the Evil Unions. 

As Jennifer Binis observed this morning on Tweeter, attacking unions is always a handy way of badmouthing teachers without looking like you're attacking teachers. 

Local school districts were on their own.

One of the pandemic details that seems to have fallen completely down the memory hole is just how much local districts were on their own in making all decisions about pandemic response. The CDC and Dr. Fauci offered "guidance," but that was often evolving, and it was up to local authorities to sort it out. Nationally, the Trump administration was MIA. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos shrugged and said, "Not my job" until she eventually caught the political winds that demanded re-opening everything no matter what.

States provided strict guidelines--until they didn't. Then local districts had to sort it out themselves, which usually meant a handful of duly elected ordinary citizens who hadn't actually run for office in hopes of becoming crisis managers. who, in most cases, talked to their teachers and their parents and other folks to try to come up with a functional plan. Or, in most cases, a plan they could use until it turned out they needed a new plan.

Local teachers unions and parents and school boards were divided on the same lines as the rest of the country. Different districts had different sorts of resources (East Egg gets a new HVAC system, West Egg gets a box fan in some classrooms). Different political leaders weighed different factors (To get businesses open, we need to warehouse children somewhere). Different communities had different levels of trust. Different communities had different levels of disease impact.

Worth noting that polling has repeatedly found that parents were mostly happy with how their district sorted things out. 

Armchair hindsight quarterbacks can just knock it off.

I'm not sure we'll ever completely sort things out, both because there's still so much we don't know, but especially because so much smoke has been churned out by political opportunists. The conversation will always require a variety of voices and some conflicting viewpoints. 

But one sort of voice I'm positive we don't need is the voice of anyone arguing that it was obvious way back when that X was the right answer, and everyone who did something else was a big evil stupid fool.

Nothing was obvious. Not in 2020, not in 2021. Maybe 2022 brought some clarity, but I'm not sure we're ever going to have clear understanding--just a bunch of political talking points. And we'll never, ever know what would have happened if we had done X instead of Y. 

Conspiracy theories are dumb.

The notion that the pandemic and the pandemic response was all manipulated and controlled by dark forces is dumb. The best explanation I can come up with for the pandemic response is this:

Lacking clear information and clear direction from leaders, stuck in an evolving situation caused by an unprecedented and lethal health crisis, most people tried to make the best decisions they could. The available choices ranged from bad to really bad. 

If there was ever a time we needed more grace and less politics, this is it. But instead, today, Congress brings us politics.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

It's Testing Damn Season Again

So the phone rings yesterday (now that the Board of Directors are full-fledged kindergartners, we're on the district robo-phone list), and it's the announcement that third-through-sixth grade education is about to be suspended for more important things--testing.

It will take the next three weeks. Please have your child to school on time. Please feed them. Please don't schedule doctor or dentist appointments during the school day during these three weeks. 

Three weeks. Three. Weeks. 

Kindergarten will be spared. In some area schools, first and second graders will take other tests, not because those tests yield any useful data, but because they will help prepare the students for when the tests Really Count. 

The testing won't take up the entire day, but the chance of educating students during the other hours becomes exponentially smaller with the disruption of routine for students who are worn out from sitting and testing for hours. At my old high school, testing is limited to only some grades, but because there are so many shared teachers, school stopped for everyone.

Administrators face an unmanageable choice-- compress the testing to "save" the most days, and the test results will suffer, because students can only do so much of that standardized testing baloney in a day before they just shut down. But the more the testing is spread out, the more days are disrupted.

And when they come out the other side, it will be well into May and students will smell summer. Testing season doesn't just mark an interruption of the school year, a weeks-long pause, but in many schools, the end of the year. Not a pause, but a truncation, an amputation of the last stretch of school year.

For what? 

In Pennsylvania, the results of the Big Standardized Tests will be used to rate schools and teachers. The state will also pretend that the tests generate actionable data. 

They do not. 

A fancy shmancy website will provide graphs and charts that tell teachers which and how many students scored in certain brackets--basically, the state gives each student the equivalent of an A, B, C, or F on each test. But (as in most states) the teachers cannot see how the students answered particular questions, not even what the questions were. This is not useful data (and it's not even delivered in a timely manner). And the tiny bit of information revealed is not anything that teachers did not already know. A five minute conversation with a student's previous teacher told me more than BS Test results ever could.

Do you want extra education time to make up for Learning Loss, or to simply expand educational offerings and opportunities for students? Get rid of the state test.

Do you want to claw back some financial savings and reclaim taxpayer dollars for more educational supports? Get rid of the state test.

Do you want to refocus schools on meeting students needs for education and support instead of focusing on getting the students to provide the test scores the school needs? Do you want to focus on the whole child instead of the test-taking child? Get rid of the state test.

This is such a waste. A waste of time, resources, attention, money and teachers' professional expertise. A bad idea poorly executed. End it. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Teacher Evaluation: The Revolution Didn't Work

The National Bureau of Economic Research has just dropped a working paper entitled "Taking Teacher Evaluation to Scale: The Effect of State Reforms on Achievement and Attainment," and you can read the whole 72 pages of the thing if you wish, but instead, I would recommend a very thoughtful review of the paper by Matthew Di Carlo, a senior research fellow at the Albert Shanker Institute. 

"The Rise and Fall of the Teacher Evaluation Empire" spins from the working paper into the decades long history of attempts to "fix" teacher evaluation somehow and (spoiler alert) why it has consistently failed.

This isn't the first time that the revolution in teacher evaluation has been tagged unsuccessful. Di Carlo tries to break down the whys and wherefores, and I think he gets it mostly right.

Di Carlo notes that evidence on teacher evaluations is "mixed, with no clear pattern-- low stakes, high stakes, various versions, some work well, some don't. The key issue for Di Carlo is that we don't know why the ones that work, work. 

So, there is some good evidence out there, but it is far from perfectly consistent, and it is still outweighed by what we don’t know about teacher evaluations (including, most crucially, why systems do or do not work).

I have some thoughts, but those can wait for a bit.

One major failing he points to is the combination of "implicit overpromising" and the "short-sighted policy analysis environment" resulted in a demand that systems be implemented RIGHT NOW and that results be visible IMMEDIATELY. Well, yes. The whole modern ed reform movement has been marked by a manufactured urgency, an insistence that major changes need to be made quickly, an education implementation of the techno-ethic of move fast and break things.

Change doesn't happen quickly in education, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that students themselves cannot be turned on a dime. Di Carlo is right on the money here:

So long as every policy needs to harvest quick testing gains to be considered successful, there won’t be many acknowledged successes, many potentially successful policies won’t be tried, and those that are tried will be in danger of being shut down prematurely.

So we've been hammering at this stuff for a while, particularly when No Child Left Behind laid the foundation for a Fire Our Way To Excellence policy approach. If you're old enough, you remember reformsters arguing with a straight face that if 50% of students scored poorly on the reading Big Standardized Test, that meant that 50% of the teachers stunk and should be fired. The notion that teacher rewards and employment decisions could and should be tied to test scores was irresistible to some folks, including outfits like TNTP that ground out fake research materials like the irredeemably dumb "Widget Effect." Besides being a bad policy idea destined to fail, the "throw out the bad apples" policies were brutal on teacher morale, mostly because policies makers adopted a stance of "Assume all teachers stink until they can prove otherwise." 

Which was bad enough, but since "prove otherwise" meant "be somehow associated with better student scores on a bad untested invalid standardized test' or even "somehow get those bad test data run through a magic VAM formula," teachers too often found themselves caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare in which they were guilty of bad teaching unless "evidence" emerged from the back end of a mysterious and unreliable process over which they had little influence. More nightmare fuel from the notion that if an evaluation system didn't find lots of bad teachers, it must not be working correctly.

So yeah. I have a few thoughts on why the evaluation revolution didn't pan out.

And yes, this is a good time to reiterate that as long as "success" is measured by scores on a mediocre test, it will be hard to achieve and, more importantly, counter-productive to pursue.

Di Carlo argues that there's no evidence for any particular approach to be a winner at scale. He also offers four reasons that he thinks the "rate harder, and rank more rigorously argument is baloney. 

First, there's plenty of evidence that evaluations can work without any ratings attached to them at all. Second, teachers will respond to a second-highest rating. Third, when you rush these systems into schools, with such speed that nobody has any reason to trust them, administrators will shy away from handing out the low ratings. Fourth, nothing matters if the evaluation is not provided with actionable feedback. In other words, "You suck. Go do something about that." does not get you an improved teaching staff.

So "can teacher evaluation reform be salvaged?"

Di Carlo points out that evaluation systems work by changing behavior, which they do either by 1) changing the person in the job into another person by hiring and firing or 2) helping the person in the job do better work. For that to work, the system has be credible and trusted. Di Carlo notes that all means of improvement are voluntary. Hence the need for some kind of useful feedback.

I'd say that useful feedback is one of the two critical elements in teacher evaluation. What's the other?

Di Carlo just about has it figured out:

... there is consistent evidence that principals—their training, the time and resources they have to conduct observations, the culture they create—are vital to the success of evaluations and accountability systems.

That's it. That's everything. It's not "vital"--it's the only thing that really matters. If you have a building principal who professional judgment you trust, the format and elements of the evaluation can be configured any number of ways, and it won't really matter. Conversely, the best evaluation system in the world will be worthless junk in the hands of a principal that teachers can't trust.

States can certainly screw this up, mostly by creating an evaluation system that is so regimented that it ties the principal's hands. Such a system won't make an untrustworthy administrator into a trusted one, but it will keep a trusted principal from being able to use their judgment to steer the process into a useful approach. Likewise, swamping a principal in an evaluation system so detailed and time-consuming that for three months of the year they can't get any of the rest of their job done--that system does not help anyone. Neither does mindless "this is fine" happy talk.

I am absolutely a fan of meaningful, useful teacher evaluation. I have yet to meet a teacher who particularly enjoys working with a teacher who is not pulling her weight. And I am an Edward Deming fan--you get better work out of your people in an environment heavy on trust, and you do the opposite by relying on fear and punishment (and to be clear, when you create a system where getting a living wage depends on being "rewarded" for doing well, you are creating an environment based on punishment). 

A system that depends on threats and punishment and fear will not create excellence in the school, will not help teachers improve, will not create a healthy environment in which students can learn (see also: the old management maxim that your employees will treat your customers the way you treat your employees). 

But for at least twenty years, we have let the fans of fear and punishment direct the course of teacher evaluation. They have, predictably, failed to achieve any of their promised goals. It's time for them to step back and let other approached prevail.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

ICYMI: Concert Season Edition (4/23)

Yes, it's that special time of year when every performing group trots out its spring program, starting with the community chorus with which my wife sings. So that's where I'll be today. Hope you're enjoying something pleasant as well. Here's some reading from the week.

Dr. Greene: A Reflection

Gregory Sampson's reflection on his current superintendent is really a valuable reflection on the toxins that have entered public school systems.

Arizona charter teachers vote to unionize

BASIS gets a teachers' union, because when you're an opaque oppressive for-profit company, your employees don't always trust you to do the right thing.

Parents, educators in Pa. and beyond organize against Moms for Liberty

Turns out other kinds of moms can organize, too. From the Penn-Capital Star.

News 9 owes Clinton teacher an apology…

Out in Oklahoma, someone tried to smear a teacher, and one news outlet ran with the story. Now we know what really happened. Courtesy of The Lost Ogle.

Fixing the child care crisis starts with understanding it

At Vox, Rachel Cohen tries to break down the child care crisis--only it turns out that nobody really knows exactly what the problem is.

Why GOP culture warriors lost big in school board races this month

At Politico, Juan Perez looks at why slamming books and LGBTQ persons and other culture war stances turned out to be a losing stance for school board elections. 

Would you buy a used car from Dan Patrick? His desperate sales job on taxes, vouchers

Bud Kennedy in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram looking at the Texas Lt. Governor's flailing attempts to sell some unpopular policies. Spoiler alert: his plans don't include leaning on democratic processes.

Michigan’s 3rd Grade Retention Law Held Back More Black and Low-Income Students

At EdWeek, Sarah Schwartz looks at the results of Michigans 3rd grade reading retention law. Turns out it may have less to do with who can read, and more to do with who is able to work the system.

An Eastern Oregon district does the math and finds way to give teachers ‘life changing’ raises

Well, how about that. It can be done. 

Why Teachers Are Turning Down Lucrative Offers to Stay at This Texas School

And look-- Denisa Superville at EdWeek has the story of a school district that teachers love so much they turn down raises just so they can stay there.

Kids Aren’t Being Fed Propaganda, You Are (the real story behind the Indiana CRT scandal)

Indiana conservative media are all over a story about catching schools secretly CRT-ing kids. Shane Phipps explains what the real story actually is.

Sarasota County Schools rejects controversial plan to hire outside consulting firm

In the surprise story of the week, Sarasota's school board decided not to hire the months-old consulting firm run by the Hillsdale College guy. A whole lot of folks showed up to say it was a bad idea, and in the end, even a longtime reporter was surprised.

Teaching Civics in an Age of Book Bans

Jacob Goodwin at the Progressive. He's New Hampshire's 2021 history teacher of the year, and he has some thoughts abouty civics in the age of gag laws.

Company that makes millions spying on students will get to sue a whistleblower

You may remember Ian Linkletter, the Canadian who got in trouble with Proctorio, the cyber-proctoring company, for posting things that they had left lying around in public. Now they get to sue him. Cory Doctorow has the story and the background and the tech-savvy analysis (and the rage) that you need.

How School Voucher Programs Hurt Students

Josh Cowen describes, again, what he's learned about vouchers and voucher research in the twenty years he's been in the voucher research field. This time he's in Time magazine!

The Cruel Dystopia of Success Academy

Here's a look from the inside of New York's marquee charter school system, from a former teacher who was fired (and who never signed an NDA). It's not pretty.

Florida at Center of Debate as School Book Bans Surge Nationally

It took three New York Times reporters to assemble this tale of reading repression in Florida, including the Mom For Liberty who warns that, without these rules, a child could accidentally pick up a book about a penguin with two dads.

Public schools would have to display Ten Commandments under bill passed by Texas Senate

Texas is determined not to be out-Florida-ed by Florida, so here's this stupid idea.

Empowering Rogue School Boards Will Allow For More M4L Mayhem

Of course, you can't out-Florida Florida, where a Representative has filed an amendment to give school boards the power to hire and fire any staff member in a school district. Accountabaloney for the details.

Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here's why it doesn't have mass shootings

The secrets include emphasis on training and keeping guns out of the hands of problem people.

Over at this week, I took a look at Gayle Greene's new book (you should read it) about teaching and the humanities, and looked at a new study buttressing the argument that content knowledge matters for reading.
We do this reading digest every Sunday here at the Curmudgucation Institute, and you can stay caught up with what I keep putting out into the world by signing up for my absolutely free substack.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

IN: Anti-SEL Activist Loses In Court

It was February of 2020 when Jennifer McWilliams decided to go public with her thoughts about the use of a social-emotional learning program in Frankton-Lapel Community Schools. And that was part of quite the journey for her.

Hired in fall of 2019, McWilliams was a Title I instructor, an uncertified teacher's aid and at will employee of the Indiana district. But the fall of 2019 was a noisy time in Indiana schools, and McWilliams had concerns:

As the school year started, Red for Ed - a national movement for the teachers union, was in full force. Jennifer began researching what was behind Red for Ed and was disturbed by what she found. The information supporting Red for Ed was extremely misleading, and many policies hurting public schools were being pushed by the union. So she began Purple for Parents Indiana to bring awareness to parents and communities in order to protect children and parental rights in the education system.

Purple for Parents uses the tag line "Reasonable * Accountable * Responsible" and they also post articles like this one about how Rockefeller and Kinsey are part of a century-long plot to bring about the New World Order. 

McWilliams, according to later sympathetic accounts, was apparently busy ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

McWilliams also warned that unions such as the National Education Association and government employees were peddling socialism and shifting elections through the “Red for Ed” movement — all on the taxpayers’ dime, and in violation of legal prohibitions on political activity by state workers while on the job.

Standing against the radical Red for Ed movement, McWilliams founded a chapter of Purple for Parents in Indiana that now has almost 2,000 members. Especially disconcerting, she told The Newman Report, was the exploitation of naive children to advance the NEA’s nefarious political agenda.

“It was very difficult for me to watch the children be used as pawns in the political game,” she explained in a statement to FreedomProject Media. “Those kids had no idea why they were wearing red and I highly suspect many parents didn’t know either.”

The district had adopted the Leader In Me program in 2017, a widely used SEL program that is spun from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. McWilliams was not happy about this, either, and her litany of complaints will sound familiar. "Usurped the parents' primary role for teaching morals." Took time away from important academic learning. Her complaints also included that teacher evaluations were based on how well they implemented the program, and that the district was going to start mentoring other districts. 

McWilliams went to Facebook with her concerns. She shared a link to an article critical of LIM that criticized it for a "cult-like" atmosphere and accused it of religious roots in Mormonism (Stephen Covey is Mormon). And she posted her own comments. Stuff like this:

We are in our third year and it literally has taken over EVERYTHING. The Language, awards, all bulletin boards, the [sic] have a Committee dedicated to pushing this garbage into the community & children homes, and teachers are even being evaluated on how well they implement it. At this point I’m not even sure how you could opt your child out because it’s incorporated into everything we do. We are being advised & graded on how well we use the program & next we will mentor another school to begin using it. Parents have NO CLUE.

School staff and administration saw the posts, including the claims that were simply untrue. The district is not training anyone, parents are informed of the program, and teachers are not evaluated based on LIM use. Administrators met, then met with McWilliams, where they expressed concerns about her effect on staff morale, her willingness to be a team player, and her spreading of untruthful information about the school. McWilliams was given a choice of resigning or being fired. 

One of her own versions of her history simplifies all of this.

In September 2019, she started to inform parents and citizens about the concerning changes in the education system. In February 2020, Jennifer was fired for exposing the SEL program at her school. She now has an ongoing federal 1st amendment case to defend her right to free speech.

McWilliams got herself represented by the Bopp Law Firm. The firm was founded by James Bopp, Jr., a conservative activist and former vice-chair of the Republican National Committee. He has been associated with work on campaign finance and election laws (no limits on giving, please) and anti-abortion model legislation. His firm defended Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn when their involvement in the January 6 insurrection threatened their re-election eligibility. He's the general counsel for National Right To Life and Focus on the Family.

They opened with a demand for a preliminary injunction against the school district. The court said no.

Like many before her, McWilliams found a new career as a right wing victim. Fired for standing against indoctrination. First amendment lawsuit. Half a million Youtube views for her tale. A GoFundMe

And she has played the circuit, in April of 2022 starting up her own consulting business as "the country's leading expert on how Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs have infiltrated every school district in America." She wrote an affidavit for a Tennessee CRT lawsuit. She consults and trains Moms for Liberty chapters, is a content consultant for Courage Is A Habit, an author at The American Mind, and a consultant for Center for Renewing American. She even works as a Teacher Ambassador for Kids and Country, Rebecca Friedrich's outfit. And she does lots of pod and media appearances. And she does M4L gigs. And other stuff, some of it far from home. She's frequently billed as "former teacher," even though she isn't. Meanwhile, Purple for Parents Indiana's Youtube channel has been quiet for a year.

Her big pull quote from her website:

Social Emotional Learning is transforming the attitudes, values, morals and worldview of this generation of children and it must be stopped systemically. I have the knowledge, passion, and experience to help freedom-loving patriots do exactly that and I’m looking forward to building this movement from coast to coast.

With all this going on, it may not be any kind of big deal that McWilliams lost her lawsuit against the school district that effectively helped her launch this second career. 

In December of 2022, in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Indiana, Judge James Patrick Hanlon made his ruling on the cross-filing for summary judgment, a decision that was barely covered by anyone at all. 

Hanlon ruled in favor of the district, noting it might be arguable that McWilliams believed what she said, but it was clear that the district acted reasonably. McWilliams had argued that administration hadn't taken enough time to investigate, but the court found that since her comments published in plain sight, there was no question about what she said, and since her comments were about things known by administration in the performance of their duties, there was no need to do deep research on whether her statements were false or not. Her First Amendment rights were not violated. 

At this point, that seems kind of beside the point. You can still hire McWilliams to come exercise her First Amendment rights in front of your group, one more suffering conservtive-ish patriot fighting all sorts of stuff. Thus do such hustles become careers.

Charter Schools Want More Money

If you're old enough, you can remember the days when one of the selling points of charters was that they would do more with less. Well, pack that notion in the junk drawer right next to your powerless Motorola Razr. The trend continues to be legislators attaching charters more solidly to the taxpayer trough.

In Indiana, Rep. Bob Behning is shocked--shocked!-- to hear that charters receive on average $7,000 less per pupil than public schools. Do we need to look into this more closely? No, we need a new law that simply forces public school districts to share their assets with any charter school that says, "Gimme." Ka-ching!

Democrat Rep. Ed Delaney has pointed out the obvious--that this will require taxpayers to fork over even more money just to avoid losing services in their local school. And Delaney also points out (for what may be the gazzilionth time) that the charter system lacks oversight and accountability.

“You’re going to give money to people who are not under your control,” Rep. Delaney said, “This is really a novel idea. This has nothing to do with the understanding we gave our taxpayers twenty years ago.”

But when it comes to forcing taxpayers to subsidize non-public schools, you always have to look at Florida.

HB 1259 is wending its way through the legislative process, but the fundamental idea of the bill is clear enough--charter schools get a cut of any construction money (capital improvement, etc) raised by the public district to which they're attached. 

In other words, if East Egg School District decides to raise $1,000,000 for a new elementary school, and Bogwash Charter School has 2% of the students who should be at East Egg, then Bogwash is entitled to $20,000 of that. Ka-ching! Well, practically speaking, what it really means is that if East Egg needs to raise a million for a new school, they'll actually have to raise one million, twenty-some thousand to cover the amount that Bogwash Charter gets to skim right off the top. Or they build a slightly smaller school.

There are a lot of details wrapped up in this (including the mysteries of Florida school finance), but the notion is a simple one--every time a public school builds or renovates something, charter schools get a nice little bonus. Proponents of the bill argue that this is about "parity" and getting more money for charter school students. 

I guess when the money follows the child, it's not enough.

House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell calls it. 

“This really is about the businesses, the contracts, the leases for these buildings. Not really school performance, not really providing the students with the things that they need,” Driskell said.

Well, yes. The charter school business is at least as much about real estate as it is about education. These sorts of legislative attempts to direct more and more money toward charter schools have been ongoing for years. The amount of money that follows the child is never satisfactory (unless we're talking about public schools, in which case they already get more than enough). 

Charter schools are absolutely a means of taxation without representation, a mechanism by which taxpayers are required to fork over money to feed education-flavored businesses that do not at all answer to those same taxpayers. These kinds of laws are just ways to expand the business model. Ka-ching.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

McKinsey Has Some Data On Teacher Attrition, And Some Of It Is Interesting

McKinsey, the 800-pound gorilla of the business consulting world, took a look at the Great Teacher Exodus. They have some data, and some thoughts, and for a change, it's not all junk.

McKinsey surveyed 1,800 educators in February and March of 2022, and to their credit, they frame the report of results in sentences like "When school districts can’t attract and retain enough teachers, students suffer" instead of trying to call it as a shortage, as if the teacher tree out in the back yard just mysteriously failed to yield fruit. To their discredit, they also bring up Learning Loss, but there are still some interesting moments in this report.

The pattern of attrition and the pandemic

Per US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020 (aka The Lost Year) was the worst year in a decade for teacher loss. However (plot twist) that was not due to quits, which were actually down, but due to layoffs and discharges. Now the overall attrition ("separations" the bureau calls them, which has unfortunate resonance for those of us who have done the divorce thing) is back to pre-pandemic levels, but where quits used to account for forty- or fifty-some percent of that loss, for 2021 and 2022 it's sixty-some percent.

Openings are running far ahead of hirings. No surprise there. ESSER funds are allowing many districts to create new positions--which they then have trouble filling.

Who wants to leave?

About a third of the respondents. As usual, this doesn't mean much without figures from previous years, but the breakdown is interesting. Younger teachers (<34) are more likely to say they want out, and elementary and middle school teachers are less likely to say they plan to get out than high school and pre-K folks. 40% of free and reduced lunch school teachers plan to get out, while only 25% of low FRL counts.

Why they stay. Why they leave.

Huge props for asking both questions, because people often assume they're the same question, and they aren't. 

The list of factors, in order, for those who consider leaving and those that actually have left-- compensation, expectations, well-being, and leadership (leadership is actually ranked higher by those who left than those just thinking about it). Workplace flexibility brings up the rear.

But stayers stay primarily for meaningful work, followed by colleagues, compensation, geography and community. 

Classroom teachers and school leaders have different views.

They stay for completely different reasons. While meaningful work is way at top for teachers, for educators (70% say that), for administration--well, only 23% say that's why they stay. 

In fact, only two factors garnered the top percentage of administrative response--and that was only 30%. 30% of school leaders cited well-being and career development for why they stay, followed closely by workplace flexibility and expectations. 

When it came to factors contributing to considering departure, the largest percentage of school leaders cited lack of well-being (31%), with meaningless work, workplace flexibility inadequate compensation, and lack of community close behind.

McKinsey's bright ideas

Having gathered this bit of data, McKinsey would now like to offer some thoughts about recruiting and retaining teachers. 

You probably can't afford to give them more money, so look at some other stuff. Like maybe support staff or, hey, a school nurse. Administrators could help out with class coverage so that teachers aren't losing time.

Then, for a 'sense of purpose and meaning in their job," schools could try "nonfinancial incentives" including "public recognition." Also, we hear that there are other factors important to carbon based life forms:

Across industries, 70 percent of people noted that they define their purpose through their work, which is also true for educators. Therefore, education systems could focus on helping educators at all levels find purpose in their work.

Seriously. In my summers in private industry, we used to make fun of this kind of consultant advice, where some guy in a suit would instruct you how to mimic human behavior. Use people's names when you talk to them. 

To enhance the satisfaction and sense of purpose of school leaders specifically, actors can consider taking steps to increase the time available for leaders to connect with students and provide greater support to teachers—both in and outside of the classroom—through coaching, feedback, and mentorship. In addition, providing support for completing administrative tasks, for example, could help free up leaders’ time so they could focus on developing relationships with stakeholders in the district and help alleviate challenges associated with well-being and burnout.

It's like educators are some sort of alien species--an alien species that could never on its own think of groundbreaking ideas like "have someone help them with work so they have more time to do other stuff." Oh, well. The data is kind of interesting, even if the authors have no idea what to do with it.

PA: Going After Climate Change Porn

Wiser heads have pushed back in Kutztown, but it's worth noticing how the boundaries of what kinds of books students must be protected from just keep expanding.

Kutztown schools have a cool annual tradition, the One Boo, One School program, in which every student in every class reads a selected book, thereby allowing for all sorts of projects and discussion and shared educational experience, including a meeting with the author, and it's one of those things that makes me wish I could go back to the classroom to pitch it at my own school.

Only this year's program was almost scrubbed because some of the new conservative members didn't like the book choice.

Too much sexualized content? LGBTQ stuff? 

Nope. Climate change.

The book selected was Two Degrees, by popular teen lit author Alan Gratz. It's a sort of disaster/adventure story featuring teen characters who must navigate a world that has become hostile due to climate change. So readers get adventure stuff and also discussion of climate change issues. 

“We’ve gone through a couple of years where fear was used to shape our students’ perspectives,” he said. “Is that a good thing to continue as we talk about climate change, using a fear-driven book? Do we want our children to look at us in the way we live in this community and say it’s wrong?”

I'll give him credit for articulating what drives so much of these attempts to limit students' reading rights-- what if our children look at some aspect of our lives and say it's wrong--but not much else. 

And so, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer, the program was axed:

The district superintendent, Christian Temchatin, had already called off the “One Book, One School” program before that board meeting, after some teachers told him they didn’t want to get dragged into a political controversy over a program intended to promote literacy. Call it a different kind of dangerous “climate change”: a political climate in which global warming is now joining racism and LGBTQ issues as under fire by culture warriors who don’t want young minds exposed to debate around such ideas.

That was a few months ago. Since then, the progressive grassroots organization Red Wine & Blue raised money to buy 200 copies to give away to Kutztown students. Gratz heard about the cancellation, and arranged to have a meet-and-greet at a local bookstore, with two signing events happening last Saturday.

“The reason I’m writing these books is because kids are asking me to write about these topics,” Gratz told me. “We always want to say we’re trying to protect children by keeping these kind of things from them, but honestly the world is coming at kids faster than before. The kids have been going through active shooter drills since kindergarten” and have also been exposed to debates over tough issues like racism at a young age. The world is coming at them, he said, “and I hope that books like mine can give them a way of seeing what’s happening in the world without having to experience it just yet.”

May 16 is election day in Pennsylvania, and in Kutztown, with several seats open on the board, the contest is heating up. On one side, a slate from the Concerned Citizens of KASD, who call for banning what it called “critical race theory” as well as diversity programs in the Kutztown schools, and which has been showing up at board meetings with signs like, “We Do Not Co-Parent With the Government.” On the other side, KOFEE (Kutztown Organized for Educational Excellence) running on an “Open Books, Open Minds” platform. Four KOFEE candidates were at the book signings Saturday.

Again, none of this was sparked by alleged porn or CRT or SEL or any of the ideas already on the Naughty List. Just climate change. The list of ideas that some folks want to hide from children just gets longer and longer. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

ICYMI: Happy Taxes Edition (4/16)

You've still got a couple of days--use them well. If you're already done, just hush. Nobody likes a showoff. There were bits of good news this week, including Oklahoma's decision to, at least for the moment, not authorize a Catholic cyber charter school. So here's your reading for the week.

The People We Need To Reach Aren't Online

At Book Riot, Kelly Jensen argues that social media is not where the fight over censorship is being won or lost. She also offers a sadly long list of some of what's happening out there.

Child labor push in Iowa forgets our history

A reminder from Iowa about the troubled history of child labors and the ubiquity of the business complaint, "But that kind of law would ruin us!"

What’s Behind the State Takeover of Houston’s Schools

Jeff Bryant at The Progressive breaks down the hostile takeover of the giant Houston school district. Spoiler alert: it's not about education.

At Texas Observer, David Brockman looks at " the latest front in Christian nationalists' battle to undermine separation of church and state."

A Well of Conservative Support for Public Schools in Rural Texas

New York Times (so mind the paywall) look at the conservatives who are putting up resistance to subsidizing private schools for rich folks in the cities, all at the expense of rural public schools.

Education Profiteering Accelerates in Texas

Didn't realize we were going to spend so much time in Texas this week, but Thomas Ultican has dug up some of the connections between the players in Texas.

School's transgender policy trumped teacher's religious rights, US court rules

In one of many "you can't make me use the students' preferred pronouns" cases in the country, the court finds in favor of the district. 

St. Pete school will continue showing movie about Civil Rights icon

That Florida school that was contemplating the cancellation of a movie about Ruby Bridges decided to do the right thing and show the film.

Gary Rubinstein has always tracked the real numbers at Success Academy, and he's done it again this year. 100% graduation rate? Not really.

'Algebra for none' fails in San Francisco

Interesting look at how school choice plays out when it comes to segregation.

Where parental snooping is becoming the law

Among the scary laws being floated out there are laws that would require tech companies to give parents full access to their child's online activity. Politico breaks it down.

Exercise your Rights, Parents!

Vanessa Hall blogs in Virginia, and she has some thoughts about the performative Parents' Rights bill the GOP is bating around in DC.

As a parent, I sympathize with my students' moms and dads – not politicians using them

It's true--a huge number of teachers are also parents. Larry Strauss takes the balanced look at USA Today. 

Amy Adams lives in Iowa and argues here for the rights that parents really need (and they aren't the ones right wing groups are talking about)

Florida is getting ready to pass yet another dumb law--this one could criminalize giving your undocumented immigrant neighbor a ride to church. 

The US Finally Started Building A Functional Childcare System During The Pandemic. We’re About To Tear It Down.

Bryce Covert at Talking Points Memo looks at how pandemic funding helped build child care --with money that's about to run out.

Adventures in Censorship: The Adventures of Schloomphy Boopher!

David Lee Finkle dug back into the Mr. Fitz files for a story of book censorship in schools that could have been written right now. 

Larry Cuban digs out an old code of conduct for education reformers, and it's not bad. It's not been used, but it's not bad. 

Fox Chapel seniors win first place with video on suicide prevention

From a district in the Pittsburgh area. No implications for school policy (other than, isn't it nice some schools can afford a digital media lab), but a nice reminder of the good work that students can do.

One of my most fun theater gigs in a long time was pit conducting for a production of Spongebob The Musical, so this post from Jose Vilson hits me right in the feels. It's true--the show is a fabulous celebration of a positive view in dark times. 

This Cal Newport piece in The New Yorker (mind the paywall) is hands down the best explainer I've seen about how chatbots do what they do (which does not involve actually understanding anything). Everyone should read this piece.

As always, you're invited to sign up for my free substack, because these days it's good to have more than one way to connect on line. It's free, and you get everything that I'm throwing out into the void.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Rise and Fall of the Teaching Profession

This is a fascinating working paper from Matthew Kraft (Brown University) and Melissa Arnold Lyon (University at Albany). It's from last fall, but it's one o0f those papers to just hang on to because its relevance will not fade any time soon.

Kraft and Lyon tracked four aspects of the profession-- prestige, interest, preparation and satisfaction.

Prestige means the "reputation and social standing" of the profession, as measured by a variety of studies that look at that sort of thing by examining many factors. Interest looked at how many people wanted to get into the profession via traditional college teacher prep programs. Preparation--how many people are coming out of the pipeline? And satisfaction looks at measures of teacher job satisfaction.

The paper is a brisk 68 pages, and it reaches a conclusion that is simple and clear:

The time-series figures we present on the state of the teaching profession reveal dynamic and surprisingly consistent patterns across all four constructs. We find compelling evidence of three major periods of change in the status of the teaching profession across the last half century. Prestige, interest, preparation, and satisfaction declined rapidly in the 1970s, rose swiftly in the early to mid-1980s, remained somewhat steady for the next 20 years, and then began declining precipitously around 2010.

Emphasis mine. 

Ordinarily I would write up a study like this over at, but that space calls for a less personal approach, and this study surprised me by being extremely personal. I went through high school and college in the 70s, started my first teaching job in 1979, and retired in 2018. So this study basically covers my life, and it rings absolutely true.

So the study lays out its methods and data clearly, and it's right there for you to examine (it all seems solid to me), but I'm going to talk about how all this looked on the ground at the time.

The drop of the seventies was real enough. After I left for college, my old school district had its first teacher strike in pretty much ever. Many of them had started around the same time, and were middle-aged family guys who were noticing that wages hadn't kept up with life.  I graduated from a school where most folks were pre-med or pre-law; nobody was breaking down the doors of the ed department, and we understood that we were never going to be rich or beloved.

In 1979 I landed in Lorain, Ohio, just in time for a strike. By the late seventies we had all reached one of those moments that comes when everyone sort of agreed that teaching paid poorly, yet it took lots of noise and uprising to do anything about it, accompanied by the usual handwringing ("Yes, teachers should be paid better, but when they go about this it's so unseemly, and doesn't help their cause at all.")

And as the study suggests, right after I started in the profession, things got better. Pay got better, respect got better. And it stayed better for quite a while.

That precipitous decline of 2010? Well, that was a year. It was sinking in that the budgetary hammering of education from the Great Recession was not going to be followed by a rebound. It was also sinking in that Barrack Obama, rather than reverse the high stakes testing and manufactured failure policies of No Child Left Behind, was actually going to double down on them. We were all just starting to hear about Common Core by the end of the year. And Race to the Top and the Core were both premised on the idea that US public education was failing, and that failure was the root of other societal failures (like poverty), and that the cause of this massive failure was probably all those bad teachers. Even the president of the NEA, the Very Unfortunate Dennis Van Roekel, supported the Core not just because he thought it was swell, but because he appeared to buy into the whole Massive Failure of Public Education narrative. If you were a classroom teacher in the early teens, it seemed that nobody--not Republicans, not Democrats, not even union leaders--was supporting you. 

On the ground, there was a marked shift in how all these Great New Reform Ideas were delivered. Under No Child Left Behind, the emissaries from the state department of education descended upon us for waves of professional development, but it was all designed to win us over, to get us to buy in. They would talk, explain, cajole, and construct convoluted metaphors to try to get us to buy in.

But sometime right around 2010, that changed. The delivery of the Latest Big Thing became, "This is what's happening. We don't give a rat's ass whether you like it or not. You'll shut up and do as you're told, or we'll just roll over you." Well, in more bureaucratically diplomatic language, of course.

2010 was the Year It All Sank In, finally. The insane demands of high stakes testing, the ones that required every district to have 100% above average test scores by 2014, the ones laid out on a curve that shifted from a gentle upward slope to a steep cliff (a shift that was set up to coincide with Bush's successor), the ones that guaranteed that in 2014 every district in the country would be either liars of failures--all of this was a feature, not a bug. 

On a personal professional level, 2010 was about the year that I started losing the juggling battle. My life as a professional had always been about getting one more ball in the air, finding ways to be more efficient so that I could squeeze one more piece of learning into the year. But 2010 was around the point where my professional development became about not losing any more than I absolutely had to as the school took away days and weeks of teaching time to give practice tests, actual tests, and "We'd like you to start using these workbooks we've bought--we think they'd help get some of our at risk kids to achieve higher test scores." Data days. "We got you a sub so you can spend these days in a department meeting to align the curriculum with the standards (and in a few years, we'll do it again)."

And all of this, on the state, federal and local level, done to teacher-- not with them, and certainly not while consulting their expertise. "No thanks," said all the Powers That Be. "You've done enough already, what with destroying the US education system and global standing and economy and all." 

In other words, this part of the study's findings was completely unsurprising. But it's nice to have independent research to corroborate our lived experience. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

The Libertarian Argument Against Religious Charters

The Catholic Church's proposal for a religious cyber charter school in Oklahoma has been denied, though the church has been given a month to revise their application and take another run at it, so the game's not over yet. 

I could argue--again--all the many reasons that religious charters are a terrible idea, but today let's change it up and let somebody from the school choice camp make the case. Here's Neal McCluskey from the Very Libertarian CATO Institute:

The danger of entangling religion and government when government decides which schools can exist is real. Most directly, an authorizer might reject a charter application because it is religious, or of a disfavored religion. But even if that were not the motive, it could easily be suspected, with religious applicants wondering if their religious status led to their rejection, and possibly to open accusations of religious animus. On the flip side, a non‐​religious applicant that was rejected might point to a religious one that succeeded and suspect religious favoritism by the authorizer.

Now, this argument is based on some erroneous assumptions, including the notion that charters are public schools, but his central point is solid--there is no way to have religious charter schools without also having a real de facto, or implied Government Department of Deciding Which Religions Are Legit. People from many places on the political spectrum can agree that's a bad idea.

McCluskey also argues that religious charters would "end up enrolling students who otherwise would have attended private schools."

Religious chartering would carry a strong incentive for private schools to give up much of their autonomy in exchange for the financial security of being “free” public schools. But that could well be a net loss of choice: Yes, it could make more schools available to families, but also constrain what those schools could do or teach, making each one a less meaningful option.

So, if you give parents these particular choices, they won't make the correct choice. 

If the goal is more freedom in education, choice supporters should put their resources into advancing private choice, such as the universal programs that have ballooned over the last few months. It avoids government entanglement concerns while fostering much more true choice. Indeed, as Shaka Mitchell of the American Federation for Children just argued, charters should be looking to become private schools, not vice versa.

So, if the goal is not to serve the needs or desires of students and families, but to defund public education to the greatest possible extent, then charters must yield to vouchers. 

The tension between charter and voucher advocates has been around for years, and was a notable subtext of Betsy DeVos's rise to Ed Secretary. 

I think McCluskey is wrong to imagine that similar entanglements between government and religion will not happen in a system of private school subsidy vouchers; ultimately the government is going to be forced to decide whether or not each religious group has been properly subsidized to a non-discriminatory amount

But he's absolutely correct that religious charters will result in government involvement in religion. One more reason that a secular, religion-free public system is the better choice.