The Roundup

Education Post takes a quick look at blogs, commentary and analysis from across the edu-sphere. To get these items in your inbox every afternoon, subscribe to the Roundup email.

New Roles for Ken Bubp and Chris Barbic

Neerav Kingsland writes at his blog Relinquishment that Ken Bubp (formerly of The Mind Trust) and Chris Barbic (founder of Yes College Prep and founding Superintendent of the Achievement School District in Tennessee) will be joining him in the combined efforts of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Hastings Fund. Bupb will hold the title of Education Director and Barbic will share the same title as Kingsland, Senior Education Fellow.

With this partnership, we will be copying the structure of venture capital firms, with our aim to serve children rather than make profits.

Parent Resistance Is About Lousy Schools

Chris Butler, a Chicago parent and education advocate, writes at Chicago Unheard about how the claim that parent resistance was a driving factor in the Walton Foundation’s decision to stop funding charter schools in Chicago is unfounded. Butler sets the record straight in his blog by laying out what Chicago parents are really resisting: lousy schools.

Indeed there is a mass parent resistance in Chicago. But, it isn’t against charter schools. What you see in Chicago is an unprecedented, yet unmistakable resistance against chronic school underperformance.

Arresting Parents Misses the Point

Gwen Samuel, parent activist and founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, asks why so many Connecticut parents feel the need to escape the schools in their own zip code and calls out the unlawful arrest of one Mom for doing just that.  Samuel also highlights the painful truth that parents are put in an almost impossible situation when the law requires them to send their children to school, even when their assigned school is of low quality and/or unsafe.

Yet the sad and harsh reality is parents and students that stand up for equity in education are seen and treated as “problems” or anti-teacher unions.  In fact, the struggle is so real, that sometimes parents are arrested and jailed…even when a law hasn’t been broken.

Teacher Shortages Not as Bad as Many Claim

Jill Barshay of The Hechinger Report writes about how recent cries over teacher shortages may actually be overblown. Despite it being hard to find what she calls “fresh national data”, her research leads her to conclude that while there are shortages in some pockets and around certain specialties, surpluses exist in many districts and that’s not likely to change.

Unlike with other job markets, you can’t simply count unfilled job openings. That’s because schools don’t typically leave classrooms of students unattended. The jobs get filled somehow. Some researchers count the number of principals who say they are experiencing hiring difficulties. Of course, that’s subjective.

Kathleen Porter Magee: Why We Are Opting In

Kathleen Porter-Magee, Superintendent of Partnership Schools, a network of six urban Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx, has penned a piece at The 74 explaining why her schools are voluntarily opting in. While she admits that her organization generally stays out of the political fray, Porter-Magee weighs in on the value of testing, the misinformation campaign happening in New York, and the truth about time actually spent testing.

From our perspective, even one student opting out is too many. So it’s important to set the record straight: In New York State, the English and math tests take up less than one percent of the total time a student is in school. That’s hardly excessive.

AFT Beware: We Parents Are On To You

Gwen Samuel, founder of the Connecticut Parents Unions and fierce parent advocate, has written a piece at her newly launched blog, “Gwen Samuel, Because Our Babies Can’t Wait,”in which she calls out the American Federation of Teachers for playing what she calls “political games to keep accountability out of the classroom.” She highlights the baffling hypocrisy of their financial interest in Pearson and puts them on notice that parents are beginning to catch on to the self interest behind their anti testing push.

Parents are beginning to understand the power of data and as a result we are making more informed decisions on behalf of our children.

What We Know: Our Students’ Ability to Achieve is Only Limited by Our Own Investment in Their Success

Nate Bowling is the 2016 Teacher of the Year for Washington state and he uses his platform to write about what he sees and what he knows about educating kids well. In his most recent piece, he reminds us that student potential is really only limited by the investment, or lack thereof, by the adults.

They are literate, but the ways in which they are literate aren’t measurable by our assessments. There’s an academic vocabulary gap, not and intelligence gap. With love and support they’re capable of reaching the same highs as all other students. My students are worth the investment that I make in them as their teacher, and they are worth the investment we ought to make in them as a society.

School Should Feel More Like Playing Hooky

Andrew Rotherham of Bellwether Education Partners has a piece in US News & World Reports in defense of playing hooky. He pushes back on the urge to crack down on absenteeism saying it may not be what’s best for kid. He also shares examples of “hooky” that are enriching and fun and even get kids outside. While he recognizing that absenteeism is a complicated issue, he challenges us to think it differently and to move toward models of schooling that are more imaginative and less traditional,  models where school actually feels kind of like “playing hooky”.

Underneath the easy bromides about staying in school, absenteeism is a complicated collision of issues around personal economics, academic and other student needs, and the increasing desire of parents for more customization in schools. As such, it’s broadly illustrative of the larger challenges facing public schools. It’s also an opportunity.

A School Where Parents Get a Say in Teacher Hiring

Sarah Tully at EdWeek highlights a unique way that Rocketship Charter Schools show how much they value parent input; they include parents in the process of hiring teachers. Based on what school leaders and parents say, it seems to be an idea that works.

“Their input matters,” Smith said. “I can’t recall a time where the parents and I or the school leaders were in disagreement.”

Big Donors Give to Charters Because They Can’t Abide How Districts Hire, Fire, and Promote

Richard Whitmire, senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation and author of several education books, has a piece in the LA School Report that takes a look at why big education donors have moved away from giving to districts and have shifted their money to charter schools. Despite the common narrative that these philanthropists are ‘anti union’, Whitmire reveals that donors tend to be agnostic when it comes to unions; their issue is with how districts hire, fire, and promote.

They’re not so much anti-union as they are pro-startup. Tech CEOs live in a world where a single talented software guy binging through a weekend can solve a problem that has stymied platoons of software experts for months. You pay that guy the same?


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