June 21, 2018

Whose Fault Is Janus Anyway? Riley In Stone, Department Of Ed Probably Is, Too. Bears…

Interesting Linda Greenhouse essay on Janus. Traces the history and the politics in play here. Also makes the case for the difference between the legal legitimacy and sociological legitimacy of government actions and implies that the court will undermine it’s legitimacy with a nakedly political play here.

I’m not so sure, that seems overwrought on the specifics of this case. Besides, the court has done nakedly political things, just ask President Gore, and yet it endures because it’s an instrumental institution to our democracy.

But it points up an aspect of this case I’ve been surprised has not received more attention – how you go about exercising your agency fee rights in the first place. Generally in conversations I hear about this people make it out as though it’s some sterile box checking practice – like deciding whether or not you want transportation reimbursement or vision insurance from your employer. No biggie either way. Whatevs as the kids say.

In some places that’s how it goes down, yes. But often there is a lot of social pressure put on teachers* – pressure that in some cases might even be construed as intimidation. Though I think there are real issues at stake, Greenhouse notes that the Janus case is in no small part one of the Court’s own creation as the conservative justices have left bread crumbs asking for a case like this for some time. But in the same vein, this is one reason I’ve wondered about this issue and these cases as a creature of the teachers’ unions* own creation, too, because they don’t make the agency fee process as clean and easy as it might be. In other words, one can agree with them on the merits of the case in theory but also think that in practice they’ve created an untenable situation for individuals through how this plays out. The legal and social aspects play out in multiple ways.

In any event, we’ll know soon what the court thinks. Expect a ruling in the next few days. Here’s a deck that outlines the context and what’s at stake.

*Although its effect will likely be broad, Janus is a case with a different public sector union member involved not a teacher. Friedrichs, its precursor, dealt with a California teacher. In the above I’m discussing teachers, I don’t have experience with how this plays out with other public sector unions.


Former Ed Sec Dick Riley is getting a statue in SC.

We’re going to have another conversation or debate about restructuring the education department and merging it with other agencies.

The video, which the sheriff’s office embellished with bear sound effects, shows Lade smash a rear window, allowing the bear to climb out and run off.

*Headline changed, editing error.

June 20, 2018

DSST Wins, Who Will Win Janus?, Mockingbird Debates, WFF Strategy, More!

Janus is not a simple yes/no proposition. Kelly Robson looks at what’s under consideration.

Congratulations DSST.

Lauren Morando Rhim on the school discipline debate.

Catholic schools and Fordham thinks they’re good!

Millennials will save the day on school improvement! Romy Drucker makes the case.

Walton Family Foundation deep dive on their work supporting school creation and where it’s going.

Dan Goldhaber and Cyrus Grout on low-cost ways to address teacher shortages.

To Kill A Mockingbird is good versus To Kill A Mockingbird is no good.

June 18, 2018

Public Schools, Choice, and Privilege. Plus Controversial Experiential Ed, Gaps, Harvard’s Fight, And More…

Harvard gets ready to fight over its admissions practices. Harvard has a pretty big fight on its hands.

Trust for Learning RFP on early ed: practice, policy, and systems change.

Janus inoculations.

Your periodic reminder that traditional public schools are not as “open to all” as billed. Related: Check your privilege.

And a periodic reminder to always read Willingham on learning styles.

Gender achievement gaps.  Sandy Kress isn’t happy with the narrative on education in Texas.

Laura Waters on the education political drama in New Jersey.

Kevin Carey on more transparent college pricing information.

Here’s a teacher tenure case you may not have heard about.

Success Academy and the diverse by design issue. And the craziness over school space continues.

Checking in on the ATR…

Experiential ed:

“Yes, it was abusive and very unnerving,” he said. “But I think they’re doing it for the greater good.”

Do new staffing models for personalized learning work? Depends!

Rural schools without enough kids.

CAP on alternative accountability systems.

The sliding doors and interior layout on a minivan are hard to resist.

June 13, 2018

Jobs And Fit, School Violence, Adjudicated Youth, Gender And NYC Schools, Embeds, More!

A few years ago I talked about job fit – using hockey coach Bruce Boudreau as the example – and how we don’t think about that enough in education. This week Chad Aldeman and Kaitlin Pennington talked with Mathematica’s Steven Glazer about the same thing, but NBA this time!

In The 74 I looked at how a boozy bender of all things is a good example for kids.

One school’s experience with MS-13.

High school in an adult jail. Powerful journalism. Audio version here.

Deep dive with Laurene Powell Jobs.

The gender angle on the NYC school debate.

This case of the teacher who claims they shouldn’t have to call transgender students by their chosen name is kind of odd. Within reason shouldn’t you just call any student by the name they prefer to be called? If you’re not good with that do you really want to be working with young people in the first place?

This isn’t Cameron Crowe embedding himself in a high school but it is still a really interesting take on work today and the practical implications of what’s being discussed about higher ed, skills, jobs.

A lot of chatter about this Max Eden article on an in-school death and what lessons it holds for the debate about discipline in school.

Susan Tedeschi, Angel From Montgomery and Sugaree.

June 12, 2018

The Bender Is A Teachable Moment!

The Washington Capitals are celebrating their first Stanley Cup win today, they are coming off of a pretty epic bender this weekend where they partied like you’d expect hockey players to. And that – and their whole reaction to winning – is something of a teachable moment about showing your feelings and living in the moment. I take a look at that in The 74:

…Now, as the binge enters its fifth day, with a citywide parade no less, the clucking is starting that this is not what role models do — or that part of winning is acting like you’ve been there before.

Forget that.

Even though the celebration is not entirely G-rated it’s actually a good lesson for kids: Don’t be too self-conscious and don’t be afraid to show your emotions…

Click through to read the entire argument here.

June 11, 2018

Janus, Edujobs, Bradford On Integration, Willingham Is Never Average, Newark, Kane, More!

Scroll down for some Edujobs. Here at Bellwether we are growing and  hiring for a few roles, several openings on our evaluation team and a new analyst role.

Kelly Robson with a handy Janus explainer.

I take a look at Social Security and physically demanding jobs.

False alarm on a Janus ruling today but we’re going to run out of June Mondays soon so stay tuned. Here are some resources to help you get up to speed on the case – and why it matters.

Derrell Bradford points out some inconsistencies in the arguments that school integration should supersede other reform efforts.

Pam Moran exit interview.

Dan Willingham on “The End of Average.”

You will not believe this: There may have been some political shenanigans in Newark with the superintendent search.

You’re hearing more conversations about efficacy and ed tech and more discussions on research and evaluation. Here’s Tom Kane with some colleagues on one idea. 

GoPro engulfed in molten lava, keeps filming.

Social Security And Social Security And Teachers

Here’s a funny thing. In D.C. these days everyone dresses like it’s Dawson City – seriously, my office is in a historic African-American neighborhood but come happy hour you’d swear you were in a logging camp (albeit one with a healthy contingent of yogis). There is even a place you can throw axes for fun. But old habits die hard, and Washington still mostly governs like Gucci Gulch.

A great example is the debate over Social Security’s retirement age, where white collar professionals breezily discuss raising the retirement age as though it’s no big deal. And for many it’s not, but if you work on your feet all day or in a physically demanding job it’s a different story.

I take a look at that in The Hill and look at some of the options, including my favored one, to address the problem.

Also, worth noting – though not the focus of the article – 40 percent of teachers are not covered by Social Security. You can learn more about that problem here. 

June 8, 2018

June 6, 2018

NY Equity Debate, CA Results, Jim Ryan’s Commencement, Parent Rights, Civics, More!

Good overview of the California ed stakes/results last night.

Big debate in New York City over admissions to the city’s selective public high schools, which function as their own school system within the school system. They’re not at all diverse relative to the demographics of the public school population in the city. People fall roughly into three camps about that issue 1) that’s a problem that is going to require some complicated fixes b) that’s not a problem policymakers can do a lot about and c) that’s a problem and the admissions have to be changed. Here’s the school chancellor:

“Either you believe that black and Latino students can’t perform and don’t have a role in these schools, or the system is somehow not set up to capture the full array of talent in our school system,” he said. Right now, only 9 percent of specialized high school students are black or Latino.

What’s interesting, is that you can agree with the chancellor, Richard Carranza, and think that the system has failed kids up until the point they test for these schools – or don’t even bother to test. So one solution is the new admissions strategy city officials want to move to, but another is to get serious about early – and universal – screening for talent, better support for students around admission to these schools, and better quality of education overall in the early grades. In other words, a big question here is whether the city’s approach is really progress or just a band-aid on a much deeper wound? Sure, there are plenty of people against both of those approaches who think the status quo is fine, but the fulcrum of the debate should be elsewhere and with a long term focus.

The debate on this will be noisy and it won’t be pretty – people will have a field day with hypocrisy from many parents and all that. Politically, the mayor’s move will also undercut the argument that diversity need not come at the expense of merit – people are already seizing on that. Income versus race preferences may also emerge as a big issue. His hostility to charters is little help here. But underneath all that are some serious questions about what a genuinely equitable system might look like and why we have to have this conversation in the first place?


This is a great commencement address.

Tim Daly on a parental rights template.

This is the kind of conversation we should be having, learning from evidence.

Civics education should be teaching students about the civic process, not intellectually massaging them to adopt your left, right, center, libertarian, anarchist, or whatever views.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” is back, that’s not necessarily good news.

Harder They Come.

This seems indisputably true:

“When an active ‘bullfight’ comes out over the radio,” police wrote, “meetings take pause and everyone listens for the next update.”

Posted on Jun 6, 2018 @ 12:12pm