Eduwonk | Education News, Analysis, and Commentary
Eduwonk is a blog off ideas, analysis, and commentary about education policy and politics. Eduwonk is a blog written by Andrew J. Rotherham. A 2006 Education Week study found Eduwonk to be one of the most influential information sources in education and the most influential education blog.
Obviously President Trump as a free speech champion is ludicrous given some of his rhetoric. But hopefully this lands as a big nothing and people don’t take the bait. President Trump is adept at getting into his critics’ heads and using the reflexive opposition to whatever he does to get critics out of position politically. In other words, yes universities should protect free speech and free inquiry, yes as they have to now under the law, and yes there are some problems – and always have been from different directions at different times – although it’s hardly the “crisis” some make it out to be.
This Alia Wong story on some of the myths surrounding the Stuyvesant debate makes some important points and highlights some frequently overlooked caveats. But her take on the public opinion is pegged to a 2014 survey when there is morerecent data that paints a more textured picture of the landscape.
Do we have a disdain for high school sports? I don’t know how widespread it is outside of the general debate about how people view sports. But, I do wonder whether decoupling sports from high schools more, or really supplementing non-school leagues for high school aged athletes, might allow for more people to view sports as a life long inclusive activity rather than one where people are weeded out. You could still have elite sports leagues but also broader participation in less elite ones. That has health and other implications.
There are definitely political benefits to universal programs in terms of durability and support, but free college, as it’s generally proposed, is a giveaway to the wealthy. Surprised this dynamic isn’t discussed more.
We were all there to witness history in the making as my long-time friend Everton Blair was sworn in as the youngest school board member in Gwinnett County history. That night, he also became the first Black person to serve on the County’s board.
I talked with Matt Lewis about the college admissions scam and the education scene more generally for his Matt Lewis and the News podcast.
Contrary to recent perceptions, we find the opportunity gap—that is, the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement—has not grown over the past 50 years. But neither has it closed. Instead, the gap between the haves and have-nots has persisted.
In her notebook entry, Yelena Shevel, 10, reported that she likes going to the swimming pool and the shooting range equally. Mykhailo Deinikov, 8, wrote that he believes “it’s important to defend the homeland because it can be captured by the enemy very easily and we can be taken hostage and killed.” Yet he also wrote about his peacetime dream of becoming a fish researcher: “I do not want to become a soldier because it’s scary. I dream that there will be no more wars in the world.”
Backstory on the FBI’s admissions investigation. And it’s useful to remember that there are poor parents in jail for committing fraud to get their children into better public school options – because they couldn’t afford to move to the neighborhoods with good schools and did not have choice options. In other words, yes the higher ed game is rigged in myriad ways, but the K-12 system is, too, it’s just done in such plain sight we’ve come to think of it as unremarkable. So unremarkable, in fact, that it’s some of the loudest voices against wealth inequality most vocally defending the education status quo on parent choice.
Are the teachers unions behind the recent protests? It depends.
And here’s what happens in a broken relationship. it’s suboptimal for schools to close for protests, it’s suboptimal to intimidate teachers for exercising their voice. But when everyone wants to amp stuff up instead of working it out here its where we are.
The study design has some serious limitations – it’s only federal giving, which is only tracked above certain amount thresholds, it looks at that giving over time but only a snapshot of who foundations support, doesn’t look at for-profit educational firms and companies, doesn’t look comprehensively at state based organizations (which are more ideologically diverse) and business groups and others, and most importantly the heterodoxy/amount of viewpoint diversity of various organization is probably not well represented by political giving because people choose to give or not give for all sorts of reasons. In addition, there is no reason to assume that education types are any more likely to be single issue voters than others. So for instance someone could think that the Jeb Bushs, Brian Sandovals, and Bill Haslams of the world are good to work with on education policy but nonetheless not support them for office financially or otherwise for other reasons. This is the position a lot of Democratic education reformers find themselves in. On that note, it’s also impossible not to note the irony that many reformers who are quite left leaning in their politics – Don Hirsch, Howard Fuller for instance – are nonetheless constantly identified as right wing. The politics of this sector are bananas.
All that said, while this study seems set up to provide the bleakest possible take, it’s silly to deny that this issue of ideological homogeneity is a real phenomenon in our sector. Of course it is. It profoundly affects how we think about the range of available policy choices among other things – and is one reason a Hirsch or Fuller can seem right wing, to a hammer everything’s a nail. Even accounting for the limits of the analysis the figures in the report are startling. Likewise, even accounting for some curious methodological choices that excluded some groups that have received Gates money and that seem likely to lean more R, I’d be amazed if there is even rough parity with broader demographics. It’s a problem and while on the one hand schools are inherently political creations and always have been (just ask Socrates) to the extent partisanship and inflexible ideologies infuse the sector it is an issue given the diversity of the public pubic schools serve, and as on other issues of diversity one the sector, should seek to do better on.
On this particular aspect of diversity Bellwether does more than most, has some internal systems to try to check this, and we are generally somewhat unique in our approach and priority on this – it was refreshing to see some folks point that out unsolicited on Twitter last week given that our approach to this carries also real costs because it’s such a polarized time – but we have work to do, too. In any event, when the dust settles I assume that this will result in some new grant money for some right-leaning groups and genuine heterodoxy will continue to remain homeless because it’s out of fashion right now on the left and on the right.
Bottom line: Two things true at once, some problems with this analysis but also some problems with ideological diversity in the education sector and the ed reform part of that sector.
Elsewhere in Rick Hess, he wants an executive order from the president on campus free speech and makes the case here. Free speech and academic freedom are real issues, but an EO seems like a deliberately politically charged way to get at it and exactly the kind of executive overreach/potential for unintended consequences people were concerned about with the previous president.
At Bellwether we do some work with New Classrooms Teach to One and we also have a lot of concerns about the equity implications of walking back the emphasis on grade level standards but this is an important issue to discuss because it’s not straightforward and there are real tradeoffs. It’s possible they are canaries. Michael Horn on all that in Forbes.
Just in time for the primaries! In case you were worried the discipline debate was going to quiet down, Max Eden has a book coming this summer with the father one of the students killed in Parkland. Will make a splash and presumably it’s going to advance this story and this debate, which is really the crux of the differing approaches:
[Broward School Sup’t] Runcie disputes that the discipline matrix is too soft on kids.
“In many ways, it’s tougher because it calls for mandatory types of interventions,” he said. For example, it used to be that a student suspended for vandalism would be sitting at home or wandering the streets, he said. Now they are assigned to an intense program through Promise to help correct their behavior
But Fitzgerald, the former Sunrise Middle school teacher, thinks discipline has become lax.
“A lot of principals are afraid,” she said. “You don’t report theft because reporting it makes your school look dangerous.
“There are a lot of things going on in the school that are being overlooked. Only when things are obvious and egregious will they arrest the child.”
Big school choice announcement from the Trump Administration (the funds could be used for activities beyond school choice but that’s the headliner). Ordinarily, and historically, when multiple choice options are in play it’s generally good news for public charter schools. Some of the earliest charter laws passed as a third way compromise in the face of real pressure for school vouchers and that dynamic still shows.
In this case, however, it’s sort of an open secret that President Trump doesn’t care much about education and that even within his administration there are disagreements about the merits of the tax credit policy. What’s more, it’s hard to see an action forcing mechanism to make the threat of this legislation credible or to see a Democratic House acting on it. In normal political times you’d never discount a presidential priority but this isn’t a priority and these are not normal times with a president who can stay on any message for long. Counterfactual: It would have been fascinating to see a serious school choice plan from the administration – focused on blue cities and with real money behind it. This is not that plan and why it’s more likely to be a good Democratic talking point more than much else. Meanwhile, the Trump branding is not helpful for school choice more generally but is a boon for the teachers unions. Good times.
In introducing the bills now, O’Donnell and the co-authors may be moving ahead of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, whom Newsom has asked to create a panel of experts to look at the financial effect and other impacts of charter schools. Newsom was responding to the Los Angeles Unified school board’s request for a moratorium on new charters in Los Angeles while the state considers changes to the state charter law. The as yet unnamed commission is to recommend its changes by July 1.
Periodically students decide not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and school officials do stupid stuff like escalate the situation and have them arrested. And then everyone gets a soap box. What’s amazing, though, is that there is – literally as the kids say – Supreme Court precedent on this. And it’s not recent. Kids don’t have to stand. That this is even a thing is a good reminder of the sprawling nature of our educaiton system.