Additional Topics

Is there a more annoying manifestation of our political and cultural divisions than the debate over school discipline? On the Left is the “restorative justice” crowd, clamoring for an end to “exclusionary” practices before critical questions about the impact of this step have been answered; on the Right are the “no-excuses” folks, asserting the necessity and efficacy of suspensions based on the blithe assumption that they promote order and safety.

At times, both sides seem to view dialogue and consequences as mutually exclusive, even though common sense suggests they might be usefully combined. Any decent parent penalizes bad behavior and insists on an apology when one is warranted (as do many educators). Yet at the policy level, in loco parentis is too bipolar for that. For the discipline doves, disparate suspension rates are proof not just of racial bias (which is only part of the story), but of the indefensible and counterproductive nature of punishment generally. (Never mind that this logic would obviate the need for courts and prisons if applied outside the schoolhouse.) For the hawks, no policy is too shortsighted and socio-emotionally indifferent to rationalize by invoking the sanctity of the learning environment. The possibility that suspended students might return to class...

“In a private meeting at the White House in 2014, Mr. Obama told a group of young black activists that change was ‘hard and incremental,’ one participant said at the time. When some activists at that meeting said they felt that their voices were not being heard, Mr. Obama replied, “You are sitting in the Oval Office, talking to the president of the United States.”

—“Obama Says Movements Like Black Lives Matter ‘Can’t Just Keep on Yelling,’” The New York Times, April 23, 2016

At the opening plenary session of the New Schools Venture Fund meeting in San Francisco earlier this month, CEO Stacy Childress promised attendees that the meeting was going to “push” them to explore issues of race, equity, and education. For some, it was a face push. The session featured a panel discussion between a top Teach For America executive active in the Black Lives Matter movement, an activist concerned with the plight of undocumented youth, and a USC sociology professor who brought half of the audience to its feet with a remark (as paraphrased by someone in the room) that “the story of America is the story of progressive social movements, government, affirmative action, the GI bill, and...

  1. One of State Auditor! Man’s superpowers, it appears, is the ability to create two news stories with a single press conference. Case in point: his announcement on Monday of the results of an attendance audit at charter and district schools. We told you briefly in that day’s clips about the findings, but his other point – an assertion that the Ohio Department of Education might not be the best-run agency in all of state government – got as much or more attention than the audit findings. Fiendishly clever. Here you can find the full video of the press conference in four pieces. A fifth piece here includes full commentary from our own Chad Aldis on both of State Auditor! Man’s truth bombs. Y’all know I love both Yost and Aldis, so take it from me with love: fish-eye lenses are not flattering. (Ohio Capital Blog, 5/23/16)
     
  2. Chad is also quoted in these stories reporting the auditor’s press conference. First up, Jeremy Kelley focuses on the part about ODE, although Chad is quoted only on the attendance audit findings. (Dayton Daily News, 5/23/16) Public radio reporter Andy Chow economically addressed both of the auditor’s topics in his
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Rachel Skerritt

As the instructional leaders within schools, principals hold the key to education reform. The principal serves as the mission driver and resource strategist for families, community partners, faculty, staff, and students. In DC Public Schools, these duties bring enormous rewards, but also immense pressure: Principals have implemented rigorous common assignments across content areas and grade levels; launched a successful teacher-leader initiative that allows strong educators to assume leadership roles and remain in the classroom; and helped DCPS achieve the status of fastest-improving urban school district (twice) on the most recent NAEP assessments—all while doing the daily work of schooling.

The DCPS principal force understands the impact of every decision related to instruction, hiring, operations, and community building. And with the myriad skills needed to manage the demands of a busy campus, it is essential that DCPS build a pipeline of strong talent to lead our 115 schools for years to come. This was the impetus for starting an internal principal training program at DC Public Schools.

In 2013, the Mary Jane Patterson (MJP) Fellowship was established. Named after the district’s first African American principal, the program prepares high-performing DCPS educators for principal positions in DCPS schools. Fellows complete an eighteen-month, cohort-based series...

  1. Ohio Auditor Dave Yost (!) has been absent from these pages for a bit. And here’s why: He and his team have been preparing a report of their findings during an attendance audit of charter and district schools across the state. Seems like things are generally better than last year’s audit, but a number of problems persist, especially in the district-run hybrid “site-based” charters examined. This is just a preliminary report from The D. More to come later this week, I suspect. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/23/16)
     
  2. Yet more coverage of the Win-Win Agreement in central Ohio; specifically, what local parents in the affected areas think. Surprising to see who knows about the agreement and who does not. Developing story, as they say. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/23/16)
     
  3. The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has a new superintendent. He is Chris Knight, moving from the same post in Toledo. A great choice for the fifth-largest diocesan school system in the country. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/20/16)
     
  4. Central Ohio’s rural-suburban districts reported smoother testing processes this year as compared to last year, both in online and paper-and-pencil modes. You might say they were “walking on AIR”. (Newark Advocate, 5/20/16)
     
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  1. There are no less than three pieces about charter schools in the print version of the Dispatch today. How many does it take to officially count as “obsessed”? First up is an editorial once again lauding the awesomeness that is United Schools Network. Sponsored by Fordham, USN schools make us proud, as Chad’s quote attests. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/20/16). Next is a piece discussing SB 3. You might recall SB 3 as the “education deregulation” bill intended to exempt high-performing districts and schools from some regulation as a reward for demonstrated awesomeness. It is the end of the legislative session prior to elections, and SB 3 was perhaps going to be stuffed like a Christmas stocking prior to quick passage. One with a lump of coal in it called a “similar students” measure, which would replace Ohio’s current value-added growth measure. Chad is on record, as is governor Kasich, as being against anything which would weaken accountability for student success. SB 3 and its amendments have been declared dead until at least the lame-duck post-election session. Whew. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/20/16) You might have noticed the reference to ECOT in that last piece, the online charter school behemoth which is
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  1. Editors in Lima opined over the weekend on the topic of school choice. In a decision I could not have predicted, every option but charter schools gets a pass. Go figure. (Lima News, 5/14/16)
     
  2. Speaking of charter schools, a new iteration of Citizens Academy (part of the Breakthrough Network) is coming to southeast Cleveland in 2017 with the blessing and assistance of Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Shhh… Don’t tell the editors of Lima News. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/16/16)
     
  3. And speaking of school choice, the first graduating class for Akron’s STEM high school has big plans and seems to have gotten a big boost from their non-traditional learning environment. Kudos! (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/16/16)
     
  4. Editors in Akron opined favorably on the choice of Paolo DeMaria as the next state superintendent of public instruction. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/16/16) And that positive opinion was formed before DeMaria negotiated his base salary downward…in favor of a performance bonus option. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/17/16)
     
  5. As of yesterday, a total of 27 candidates have applied to be CEO of Youngstown City Schools. The Academic Distress Commission is to begin its review of applicants at a meeting
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  1. Here is a nearly unvarnished look at the amazing work of the United Schools Network of charter schools here in Columbus. As sponsor of all the USN schools, Fordham is referenced and Chad is quoted in here, but it is seriously the hard work of network boss Andy Boy and his talented staff working tirelessly on behalf of their students and families that is the real story. Reporter Bill Bush left almost all of his skepticism at the schoolhouse door (on the way out anyway) in order to tell that amazing story. He too is to be commended. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/16/16)
     
  2. Meanwhile, Chad was also chatting with the Detroit News, whose editors were readying their opinion regarding the possibility of Detroit Public Schools undergoing a transformation similar to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Spoiler alert: they didn’t seem to like that idea. (Detroit News, 5/14/16)
     
  3. Editors in Columbus were thinking about education as well, and opined this weekend in favor of the choice of Paolo DeMaria to be the new state supe. Fordham’s 2015 “Getting out of the Way” report on the potential for education deregulation – on which DeMaria was primary investigator – is
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  1. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two days, the big news in Ohio is that the state board of ed named a new superintendent this week. He is Paolo DeMaria, former state budget director, education advisor to two governors, high-level staffer with the Department of Education and the Board of Regents, and current principal with Education First Consulting. Whew! He has also worked on projects with us here at Fordham over the years, which the following stories note to varying degrees: Patrick O’Donnell was first to the post with the news. This is a later piece from him featuring a nicely detailed look at DeMaria’s career and puts some important questions to him on the topics of school choice, Common Core, and other hot-button issues. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/12/16) Gongwer’s announcement includes reaction to the pick from our own Chad Aldis.  (Gongwer Ohio, 5/11/16) Chad’s comments make up part of this piece, which also features a likely-obligatory finger wag at the state board for not picking former Springfield supe David Estrop instead of DeMaria. (Springfield News Sun, 5/11/16)
     
  2. Here are a few pieces of coverage of the new state supe, not mentioning
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The grit edition

On this week’s podcast, Robert Pondiscio and Brandon Wright discuss why teachers turn to the internet for lesson plans, whether David Brooks gets it right on grit, and how reformers can better facilitate effective parental choice. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern explains how voucher programs across the globe affect math and reading achievement.

Amber's Research Minute

M. Danish Shakeel, Kaitlin P. Anderson, and Patrick J. Wolf, "The Participant Effects of Private School Vouchers across the Globe: A Meta-Analytic and Systematic Review," EDRE (May 2016).

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