May 31, 2009

Notes on a Sunday afternoon

About an hour ago, I was fearing that I'd have to drive again to my office because I had left feedback sheets there, in the way that I realized last night I had goofed during the week, failed to print them out and failed to bring home the right cable to transfer student papers from my computer to the ebook reader. One drive to campus early Sunday morning later (with detour to park for walk with spouse), I was back home for the very first transfer of stuff from new university laptop to ebook reader. Works.

I suspect this computer cost the university about 70% of what my old computer did, and like everything else computerwise, it's much faster. Good things: wider screen, same weight, runs cooler, faster, has more flash-card readers, has integrated webcam and mic, universal PC image gives me access to a range of program installation so I don't have to hunt all over the internet tubies to install my essentials, VPN (virtual private network) program that works without clogging the computer. Okay things: twice as much HD space. Since I don't engage in huge amounts of multimedia stuff, that's fine. Weird things: (1) Dell fingerprint reader. Tried it for two days, and now it's off, since I am obviously trying to forge my own identity (or so says the computer). (2) Microsoft Office 2007. I'll deal, but I don't see what the big deal is.

For the 1.2 readers curious about Friday night's odd entry, it came during coming-back-from-cafe-drive pondering time when a few thoughts came together. The motivating issue: what do you do if the relative size of a problem is large enough that targeting makes absolutely no sense? And that wandered into a few ideas about ways to resolve apparently irresolvable problems. There are two ways of looking at the three techniques in that list (fuzzy-logic algorithms, multiple imputation, and limits): each moves away from determinative solutions in some way before returning to one, and each adds degrees of freedom in some way to the analysis. And of the three, I can only figure out why one (multiple imputation) should work, in the larger sense of "yeah, I grok that." There is probably nothing substantive to work with in the list, but I wanted to write it down so I didn't forget it.

As usual, May has been a whirlwind (two birthdays, one anniversary, end-of-K-12-and-academic-year-in-higher-ed stuff, beginning of summer term stuff, ...). This year June will be hectic, but not quite as much.In a few minutes, I will head somewhere with nothing internet-capable, so I can do some reading of student work. I will see how much I can catch up with things this week, before my spouse heads to two weeks of professional-development summer camp/h***. (Not all PD is bad, but her experiences with her district staff has been mediocre at best. But she says it's not h***; it's purgatory, since it'll end.) But time to fit in some peace and quiet. Yes, reading student work out of reach of the internet counts as peace and quiet.

And I'm not sure for whom I'm rooting in the NBA finals. I grew up in L.A., but I live in Florida, and more importantly, I can't help but admire Howard's work ethic and ability to dominate a game. Then again, Bryant isn't exactly porridge. I think I'll just hope for a series anything like the more exciting series thus far in the playoffs.

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Posted in The academic life at 2:27 PM (Permalink) |

May 29, 2009

Unhappy with my brain right now

  • Fuzzy logic
  • Responders/nonresponders
  • Donald Rubin and multiple imputation
  • Dichotomous variables
  • Record linkage: whether a linkage allows one to determine outcome
  • Limits
  • Category theory

You have now been infected. That is all (for now).

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Posted in Out of Left Field Friday at 11:14 PM (Permalink) |

Disappointing debate over teacher unions

I wish I could say I had learned something from the education globule's recent debate over the role of teacher unions, but I haven't. When the apparent tail end of the discussion ends with a claim that "unions... are tenacious and need to be defeated, over and over and over again if reform is to advance," I shake my head. Insert "Fordham Institute and other think tanks" where Mike Petrilli had written "unions," and you probably have Jerry Bracey's views on one of those days when the air conditioning breaks, the power goes out, and the roof begins leaking. It's more than a touch of demonization, or what's worse, facile reductionism (a more damning intellectual sin, in my book). 

Surprisingly, Andy Rotherham's rejoinder isn't much more substantive. Maybe there is a role in recapitulating the arguments for people who haven't heard them before, but this blog conversation has read to me much like Joan Scott's 1986 article Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis ($JSTOR), to which one of my fellow graduate students in the late 1980s accurately responded (and the following is a rough paraphrase), "Well, yes, this makes sense, but by now it's obvious rather than productive." 

One of the missing pieces in all this is some sense of the historical roles teachers unions have played over the past century, at times when they have been both powerful and not. Petrilli and others are focusing on three roles of teachers unions: collective-bargaining agents, public representatives for teachers (including lobbyists in legislatures), and scapegoats. The collective-bargaining role of teachers unions is relatively recent, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, and given the variation in legal authority (the "why is Mississippi so bad if it doesn't have collective bargaining?" question), the facile answer now is "because they lobby."

That's an interesting hypothesis, but I have yet to see a single study documenting evidence for the claim that the reason why many school structures in Mississippi are similar to those in Massachusetts is because of the tremendous lobbying power of the Mississippi Association of Educators (the NEA affiliate), or that those school structures are the primary reason why Mississippi's education is inferior. Which structures are the same? Ah, things like changing classes in high school. Bureaucratic rules. You want to throw away things like an academic curriculum? And teacher lobbying is responsible for all that? Maybe it has something to do with institutional isomorphism, or the authority of administrators at midcentury, when many of these structures were consolidated, or the inertia that Mary Metz calls the script of "real school" and Tyack and Cuban call the "grammar of schooling." Homework, folks: do your homework first.

I stick "scapegoat" in that list because teachers unions have been scapegoated in the past in matters entirely unrelated to the concerns of today's... I'm with Elizabeth Green here in needing a better descriptive than "reformer," "reformy person" (I think Alexander Russo gets credit for that), or "wannabe reformer" (and I don't know from whom I've heard that phrase). In Florida in the 1960s, teachers and their unions were accused of various things from communism to sheltering gay teachers. In the early 20th century, the Chicago Federation of Teachers was accused of ... being a union and consorting with unions. Now Petrilli blames "unions" writ large for not being reformy-ish enough for him. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, gave it to Goodwill.

Two other roles Petrilli (and many others) are ignoring. One is the role of unions in social movements that extend beyond them. An example of that is the type of innovative organizing drive that UFT had with day-care workers, which simultaneously addressed issues of social class, gender, race, and early childhood education, not to mention the historic focus of teachers unions with K-12 employees in bureaucratic systems. To put it bluntly, childcare workers are on the low end of the education totem pole, women who work for pittances given the huge responsibilities in caring for young children. Childcare is also one of the hidden underbellies of the changing gender dynamics of the American workplace, making possible hundreds of thousands of two-earner and two-professional-earner households, not to mention professional single-mother households. Organizing childcare workers is the type of thing you'd expect SEIU to do (such as in its janitorial organizing campaigns), not UFT, and there will be consequences down the road inside UFT in terms of policy and leadership, and interesting possibilities in other cities.

Reaching back further in time, teacher unions have been involved in a range of social movements from the Progressive Era (with the Chicago Federation of Teachers, Jane Addams, and other progressives suing to recover uncollected taxes from corporations to pay for city services) to the post-WW2 civil rights movements. Teachers unions often have struggled with these issues, but it has also bolstered them. Case in point: the 1968 teachers strike in Florida, where according to my colleague Barbara Shircliffe the public images of teachers was often explicitly multiracial, a message of cross-racial solidarity that's hard to miss as dramatic in the 1960s.

That relationship has not always been negotiated smoothly, as Daniel Perlstein describes in his history of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville controversy, and that touches on the fifth role of teachers unions historically, as organizers of teachers' social identities. Probably the best theorizer here is Ira Katznelson, who has argued in multiple palces that people construct their social identities and roles around different contexts. In the U.S., he argues that there is often a split between the identity at work and the identity in one's home, and the outcomes of political conflict often revolves around how and where those active in a controversy define themselves. Perlstein's book Justice Justice! is an uncomfortable reminder that workplace solidarity is not always synonymous with justice.

A more interesting and productive conversation could revolve around the last, largely ignored issue. How are teachers' social identities formed, and how do workplace politics (including unions) feed into that? To the extent that teachers see themselves as either technical test-preppers or astructural "facilitators," they're ignoring real needs of students, and the context of those tendencies are important. Even the reformy-ish-ist folks believe that, or they wouldn't argue so hard for "reconstitution," "reconstruction," and other proposals to disrupt local school culture. So we all agree with school culture. We all agree that teacher unions matter. Does anyone else see a huge research opportunity rather than a place for pat answers?

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Posted in Education policy at 10:27 PM (Permalink) |

May 28, 2009

OCD in collaboration

I spent some time this afternoon working with colleagues in a teaching-like context (planning a weeklong summer workshop), and while we had talked about a number of possible ways to run the week, it wasn't until one of us brought in a grid of the week divided into days and hours that we started to flesh it out. We now have most of the week sketched out, including accommodations for when one of us is unavailable because of prior commitments. 

This level of planning is essential because it's hard to think about portioning out 30 hours in a single week in collaboration with others (yeah, yeah--assistant principals and head nurses are ridiculing me as they read). But we're cooperating. Thus far, only one of us at a time is heading off on a tangent, and we are politely taking our turns at being distracted.

At least the project is a blast. It's one of those outside activities with a nominal stipend where I don't really want to figure out my hourly wage for it, but it's one of the most worthwhile extra projects I've done in many years. Yes, you'll all find out about it in due time, since the work products will go public sometime in the next year.

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Posted in Teaching at 5:07 PM (Permalink) |

May 24, 2009

The three-year degree already exists

Yesterday's Washington Post article on the three-year degree argument skimmed over what most such proposals ignore: there already is a three-year degree, and I don't mean the small number of three-year degree options that have largely failed to attract students. I mean the way that students currently speed up their college education: AP classes and dual enrollment in community-college courses while in high school. The Post story briefly mentioned George Washington University student Justin Guiffre, who might graduate a year early with AP credit. A college friend of mine did the same in the 1980s. I have known some students at USF who have also used AP class credit to finish general-education requirements early, which makes graduating a semester early almost automatic, and a year early quite possible.

Maybe I am naive or out of touch, but I don't recall this being a focus of any discussion vis-a-vis the three-year degree. Instead of blathering on about "better marketing" (which always rescues flops regardless of the merits of an idea), maybe American Council of Education President Molly Corbett Broad should be asking where students use AP credits and where they don't, and why. And maybe we should be asking whether a three-year-degree option would address the reasons for swirling or academic probation or lack of academic support from the institution, or any of the many reasons why degree completion is lower than many of us would like. Until then, the three-year-degree proposal is facile, not substantive. 

No-shoe-leather-used alert: did anyone else notice that the only students Valerie Strauss quoted were from George Washington University, less than two miles from the Washington Post headquarters, and Howard University, which is within three miles. They're both private, nationally-known colleges and not the typical college or university. Maybe she should have talked with University of District Columbia or University of Maryland students to see what the public-university student perspective is.

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Posted in Higher education at 8:40 AM (Permalink) |

May 23, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Mixed Metaphors

"Investing in the status quo is not going to move the ball down the field," said Arne Duncan in discussing California education, and I wince. This is a Secretary of Education who thinks "incent" is a word, and when asked yesterday what happens when he plays the president in basketball, he answered,

Everyone asks me that. We usually don't play one-on-one. We usually play on the same team. We do pretty good.

No one has spoken using perfectly-correct grammar since Peter Jennings died, and Duncan is nowhere close to Joe Biden on the embarrassment scale (let alone GWB). But for someone who runs a Department of Education? Even if it is largely irrelevant to policy debates, this is at least a little embarrassing. 

Addendum (2 pm): And to prove that no one is perfect, I realized that I should have used using in the paragraph above, where I have now added it. That correction does not necessarily make me any better a user of language than I was at 9 in the morning, but maybe I am a little less of an abuser of language.

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Posted in Education policy at 8:50 AM (Permalink) |

May 22, 2009

Shamless book plug in response to Kevin Carey

Kevin Carey has a very interesting personal history of school funding reform in Indiana, and then later writes that maybe he should have written differently, without "lie" as a verb.

In retrospect, titling that post "Lie To Me" and talking about hiding information from parents was a bad idea--as is blogging at 4 AM after a night on the town.

I'm tempted to forgive Carey if that (a late night on the town for stakeholders) is also the origin of the Indiana school-funding reform. That's the type of government caucus I can join!

It looks like Indiana is one of a very rare bird of state, one that equalized school funding without massive legal pressure. The only other case I know (though I could be missing others!): Florida, in 1973. See chapter 3 of Education Reform in Florida (Dorn and Borman, eds.). It looks like Carey's description is very different from what Deanna Michael and I learned about Florida, which was open, very political, and has been remarkably stable for several reasons. And Florida's equalization law was passed in the same year that the Supreme Court removed ALL legal pressures for Florida to do so. Yet they did it anyway.

No, the legislature wasn't being entirely altruistic. But to discover why, as well as to understand why the equalization law was more effective for those public purposes in the long run, rather than the short run, you need to buy the book! Or at least read it. (Disclosure: I get absolutely zero royalties; all the authors agreed to donate royalties to two small national learned societies and one local historical society in the Tampa area.)

May 21, 2009

Kibitzing mayoral control

I hope that my friends in New York will forgive this intrusion, but after Randi Weingarten's op-ed this morning, which I suspect will break the legislative logjam on mayoral control in NYC, I have a few perspectives for denizens of New York or any other entity considering mayoral control:

  • Any governance system requires an independent body that has access to information and can investigate issues in a school system. If mayoral control means one-person rule with no checks, that's a recipe for arrogance (which is what thousands have complained about in NYC). The odd-duck status of the NYC Department of Education should end in the same way that Dick Cheney's claim to be a fourth branch of government: I don't care if an entity is officially a city department, state agency, or a Little Furry Creature from Alpha Centauri, someone's got to be able to audit the books and watch what's going on. More importantly on the policy side, the cowboy PR flacks in the NYCDOE have to have someone watching over their shoulder with authority to request ANY data. See my arguments about the need for regional/local independent investigatory bodies.
  • There is a broad middle ground between the chaos of the pre-2002 system and a Putin-like plebiscite dictatorship. I've picked up scents of the latter in the pro-mayoral-control arguments, and that's disturbing. But neither is necessary. One potential solution is the idea of fixed terms for mayoral appointees (and I suspect that'll happen in NYC). Another way to put governance in the middle ground is to give a broadly elected body a limited number of times per year that it can overturn an executive decision (and possibly structured so that it can veto n decisions in areas of school openings/closings, m decisions on pupil regulations, etc.). That would make the PEP or any school board the public conscience of the system without giving a board enough authority either to create havoc or to create incentives for political corruption.

As most education historians would point out, restructuring governance is the relatively easy reform, and there is no guarantee that different governance translates into better schooling. But to the extent that we're going to focus on governance, it's probably wise to think about concrete issues instead of championing a supposed panacea model.

[minor editing 10 pm 5/21/09]

GAO report on child restraint, abuse, and death

Anyone who has children or has worked in schools should be sobered by this week's GAO report on the use of restraint tactics with children with behavior problems, especially children receiving special education services. There are summaries of the report in articles appearing in USA Today and the Palm Beach Post, and Charles Barone is correct in pointing to the statement of one advocate (from an organization I can disagree with strenuously on some other things), that positive behavior support is not rocket science. (If I remember the 2004 IDEA reauthorization correctly, it's been a requirement of federal special education law in many circumstances for 5 years.)

I have had plenty of friends and relatives who taught in schools with tough behavior, including one school with enough behavior problems that there was a team trained to respond to situations where a student was violent. Not verbal behavior or "acting out" but throwing-chairs-and-punching violent. I don't recall ever hearing from any of them about metal handcuffs, or the types of dangerous holds/positions described in the GAO report. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think it is impossible to draft appropriate professional standards for how to address dangerous behavior by students with or without disabilities.

So is this how we get some agreement on the need for national standards?

May 20, 2009

A blogger to USDOE?

Peter Orszag is being joined by Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, the newly-announced assistant secretary of education nominee, who has maintained a blog while running the Pomona school district.

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Posted in Education policy at 9:11 AM (Permalink) |

Worst-governed state?

A few thoughts on the budget catastrophe that California is facing:

  • Before voters imposed a supermajority requirement for crafting a budget several years ago, California's political system was broken. Voters approved Prop. 98 to guarantee a slice of general revenues going to K-12 and community colleges for a reason, even if the rigidity was not well thought through.
  • The "fix" of a supermajority and the elimination of nominal deficits several years ago didn't work.
  • The "fix" proposed on yesterday's ballot was an awful mess, because it refused to face the central problems. Nonetheless, the ballot measures would have been better than what California now faces.
  • Don't expect the problems to be solved anytime in the near future.

The fallout--an additional gap that has to be filled with taxes (not going to happen with the supermajority requirement) or cuts--is going to devastate a number of schools and colleges, and while I thought I was in the least governable state in the union, I have now seen the Florida legislature act at least a little more rationally than other major political actors in various states. South Carolina's governor, both political branches in California, Nevada's governor, and Arizona's legislature are among the actors who have outdone Florida for destruction in the name of political expediency, and that's hard to do (and comes after I exclude the notable folks who were shooed out of office because of scandal rather than mismanagement). But I have a single person's perspective, so maybe there's a contest we can have about the worst-governed state in the country. I wish I could suggest criteria, but there's a wealth to choose from, and maybe we should have different parts of the contest, sort of like there's the talent competition, etc., for beauty pageants:

  • Duct-tape governance competition--the state with the worst constitution, that is impossible to change, too easy to change, warped, inviting conflicts of interest, etc. Alabama and California are probably going to vie for this one.
  • Ostrich-impersonation competition--states where politicians are the best at sticking their heads in the sand to avoid uncomfortable choices. Florida's going to place highly in this one.
  • Lotus-growing competition--similar to ostriches, except that everyone points to the obvious problems and somehow argue that lotuses grow out of them, interpreting a dungheap as a site for beauty instead. Florida's hydra-like higher-education system, where every community-college president dreams of running a four-year college with a "leadership institute," is my nominee, but I'm sure you can figure out others. 
  • Mushroom-feeding competition--the state with the worst "keep everyone in the dark and feed them ****" decision-making.
  • Mushroom-eating competition--the state where politicians are the best at delusions about the future.
  • Dollar-grab competition--politicians that (would) do their best at shamelessly grabbing someone else's money in a transparent box even if they knew they'd be watched the whole time. I'll put my bets on Illinois or New Jersey, but Florida's got a shot at this one, too, with its former Speaker of the House.

Put nominations for each competition in comments!

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Posted in Education policy at 8:35 AM (Permalink) |

May 19, 2009

A day in the life of a summer course

Third class of the summer session this morning, first one where students were supposed to have finished readings. This is an undergraduate social-foundations class, and the readings for this week include Gary Becker on human capital, Sam Bowles on social reproduction, and either the start of Paul Tough's Whatever It Takes or Joe Williams's Cheating Our Kids (which is apparently out of stock now).The summer session is only ten weeks, so they need to hit the ground running. I tossed the schedule around a bit to put the suck-the-reader-in books at the top of the term.

We start with an ungraded quiz. The incentive to do well here is because the questions might show up on the (absolutely graded) final exam. The last item is to propose scoring criteria (jargon: rubric) for one question on the back of the sheet. The substantive questions are of the compare/contrast sort with an implied 3-4 sentence answer, and I provide the broad hint that the authors "cannot all agree." Student groups talk about their answers, propose them on the dry-erase board, then we talk about the sketchy phrases, and they turn in the sheets, which I've now read.

Next is a quick exercise suggested by the latest edition of Wilbert McKeachie's college-teaching classic: they read drafts of their weekly papers to a peer, give reality-check feedback (i.e., after the reading, the listener summarizes what she or he thinks the main point is), and then hear me remind them to use formal citation mechanics, even if the format for the paper may be informal. 

We then started to talk about the books -- they first had to find someone at a different table who read a different book and represent their book to their classmate. Then as a whole, we compared the settings, the (inferred) motivations for each author, the (implied) major questions in each book, and the assumptions behind those questions. Students decided they wanted to discuss Bowles and Becker rather than have me lecture, so we spent the rest of the two-hour class talking about those ideas, discussing how Bowles and Becker would interpret Geoffrey Canada's personal history and education, and figuring out where Barack Obama's stated views on college would fit.

Somewhere in there we had questions on the logistics of the class, I met the three students who registered after the second class last week, I discovered that a PDF I thought I had locked for editing had been locked so students couldn't open the file (ouch), and we left loads of potential issues on the table. That's life. Thursday they upload a draft section of the major paper for the course (the section where they don't need a critical mass of readings under their belt yet), and Friday they upload the final version of the weekly paper. And somehow I will return feedback and grades Tuesday morning.

In some ways I am "working without a net" this semester, with a little more turnover on readings than usual. In particular, I dropped Kozol's The Shame of the Nation and paired Williams with Tough this semester. Maybe I should have dropped Williams because of the limited supply of books, but while Kozol and Williams were great contrasts the last time I taught this course (they both express outrage over unequal education in many of the same cities, but their explanations are worlds apart), I wanted to get Tough in there, and I may stick with Tough as a universal reading because of Chapter 2. But switching books always creates a little more demand in thinking-on-my-feet skills because I don't have experience in how students will respond.

Also, because of the compressed schedule, I made a commitment to learn student names in the first week. I'm awful with names and used every mental trick I could. I think I'm about 80-90% of the way there, and for a class of approximately 40, that's good for me. Right now, students are trying to keep up with the readings. My challenge is to keep the class rolling, to identify students who are behind from the get-go, and to manage the reading/feedback in a compressed semester.

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Posted in Education policy at 2:37 PM (Permalink) |

Quick notes on administration

Three writings on transitions to administration and faculty-administration relations:

One of my concerns about Olson's piece is that it assumes that the upwardly-and-horizontally-mobile administrator is the norm (though maybe we should call this "diagonal mobility"). And while it is absolutely true that this is a common pattern among top leaders in elite/quasi-elite/wannabe-elite institutions, it is not necessarily true among mid- and upper-mid administrators, many of whom have stayed in place for substantial chunks of their career. (Perhaps Olson has his assumption because he is currently in a diagonal path? He started at one of USF's campuses, went to Illinois State as a dean, and is now provost at Idaho State.)

I suspect that the difference between the more- and less-mobile administrators is one source of hidden tensions in administration (which I've observed as a faculty member at a few institutions). It isn't that less-mobile administrators are going to be inherently less strategic than many of the more-mobile administrators. It's also that the less-mobile administrators often take on the burden of explaining institutional memory to their newer colleagues. (I bet they also translate some part of administrivia to folks who just moved from faculty to administration.) So Tenured Radical's comments about faculty having to teach new administrators is also applicable to administrators who have remained in place longer than new administrators.

Then there's the other side of things: faculty often get to pontificate in public when administrators make decisions with which they disagree. That's not always the case with mid-level and mid-upper academic administrators. Either in personnel cases or with regard to policy, it's sometimes the case that someone tells an upper-level administrator, "Here's why I think this option would be a mistake," and the advice is not followed. Often, when I hear administrative circumlocutions in response to "why the h*** did the university do this?" questions, I assume that it's a gentle way of saying, "I told my boss this was a mistake, but my advice was ignored, and my role here is to do my best not to damage people on both sides of the issue." 

One of the reasons to understand this internal debate is because faculty can shape the internal debate by providing information to administrators below the upper rungs. The most common route I've seen for the passing of these ideas/trial balloons/arguments is from chair to associate dean/dean/associate provost, but that's not the only possibility. The minimum (though not sufficient) requirement to participate is credibility/non-a**h***dom. If you are as honest as you can, over time you might help shape the internal administrative debate, even if people disagree with you.

But on the other hand, if a faculty member distorts information three or four times in succession on these issues, credibility is shot. Shot in the same way that administrator credibility is shot when promises are broken or information distorted. Shot as in, "Your name is tossed around as a trope for selfishness and delusional thinking." Shot as in, "Everything you say will be replied to with a sigh and a mental note, 'Oh, Ghu, another two hours I'll waste following up and documenting that this is not true.'" Academic freedom gives (and should give) you the right to speak up on matters of governance, and that necessarily includes the right to prove yourself a total doofus. I try to avoid being a doofus more than once or twice a year, though.

I know that guy! (Delta higher-ed cost project)

I am pleased as punch that Nate Johnson's new Delta Cost Project report is being publicized nationally. I first met Nate about a decade ago when he was working deep in the bowels of the Ralph Turlington Education Building in Tallahassee, before he was plucked by the former state university system chancellor to be his data guru, and it was a good choice. Nate now works at the Florida branch of the Evil Empire (aka University of Florida), but I'm sure we can rescue him from the Dark Side some day, and until then, maybe he can have occasional opportunities to do work like the project released today. If it's like his other work, it'll careful and cognizant of a range of ways to look at important issues.

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Posted in Higher education at 8:15 AM (Permalink) |

May 14, 2009

Changing higher ed, from Mr. Obvious Man

Craig Smith tagged me in an AFT FACE entry asking about the future of/a better vision for higher education, and given the way that Mark Taylor's schizophrenic vision of higher ed prompted not only a flurry of comments but thoughtful comments by Dr. Crazy, Dean Dad, Marc Bousquet, Timothy Burke, H. Saussy, and Michael Berube, among many others, not to mention Andrew Delbanco's review essay, it's time for me to underwhelm the universe with ten obvious comments about the future of higher education.

  1. Marc Bousquet is wrong in some very significant ways, but he's absolutely right in many others, and if his creative ravings prompt a healthy discussion of higher ed in the long term, my hat is off to him.
  2. In addition to other criticisms of Mark Taylor's curricular utopia, an important purpose of a stable curriculum is to eliminate one huge potential (expletive) waste of time reinventing wheels. It's far more productive to improve the wheels we've got and maybe invent a few carbon-fiber ones than to figure out how to make wheels made of hemp, green beans, recycled computer parts, and spent nuclear fuel rods.
  3. The entire discussion of college "costs" and tuition is off the deep end even while there are interesting sub-arguments. The discussion of tuition almost always ignores opportunity costs and generally ignores non-tuition costs (such as books or the cost of living). The Delta Project's analysis is interesting but entirely ignores the definitional problems in IPEDS reporting and the division of labor in colleges and universities. (I'd love to wave my hands and say, "Yes, fire all the student-life administrators, plow the money into faculty, and don't ask me to advise students!" Somehow, I don't think that's a practical suggestion) The human-capital arguments in favor of debt ignore the fundamental way that college student loans privatize the risks of going to college. At the same time, we have the chance to make a substantial incremental improvement in helping students with a shift to entirely direct lending and the automatic indexing of Pell Grants. I'll take the incremental improvement (it's HUGELY necessary) and still wish for some better model-building. I have no grand theoretical synthesis, but anyone who wants to buy me a good whiskey some evening and talk this over is more than welcome to!
  4. The vocational rhetoric surrounding higher education benefits the liberal arts because it implies that college students are responsible for their own affairs and should not be babied. This is in tension with arguments that liberal-arts programs and either a core or general-education curriculum should be at the heart of undergraduate studies, but on balance the vocational rhetoric of higher education has drawn far more students to college than would otherwise have been the case. We liberal-arts folks should be happy to have the chance to evangelize rather than preach to the converted. Give me 100 enrollees in my classes for a requirement, and I will convert 90 of them into students.
  5. The only national organization right now with a productive agenda on higher-education accountability is the American Association of Colleges and Universities. I'll take that good with the other, mediocre attempts funded by Lumina, but this is not a healthy state of affairs in the long run. The Shopping Mall High School's thesis is as applicable to large universities as to high schools, and until we can clone Cliff Adelman, we need a group of people with intellectual depth discussing the curricular problems at universities. 
  6. Right now, discussions of student learning are largely isolated from the widespread reliance on contingent faculty. Half of the discussions I see blame tenured faculty for avoiding teaching (as if all tenured faculty work at the University of Chicago). Does anyone else see the problems with this?
  7. Academic freedom can survive with a core of tenured faculty at an institution with non-tenure-track faculty, but we don't know the minimum size of that critical mass. For a variety of reasons, while the aftermath of 9/11 threatened academic freedom, it has been far more robust in the past decade than the worst fears in late 2001, including at my campus. At the same time, there are continuing threats, both inside and outside colleges and universities. In many places, tenured faculty are the most active defenders of academic freedom because they are safe; that was a crucial rationale for tenure in the first half of the 20th century, and it remains a valid argument. I have yet to see anyone who simultaneously advocates the abolition of tenure and can also point to a place that survived a real threat to academic freedom without any tenured faculty.
  8. Faculty are fragmented into too many communities of interest to defend academic values in a robust way. All too often, two-year and four-year faculty fail to understand the worlds that the others work in, let alone teaching institutions vs. research institutions, or even primarily teaching faculty and primarily graduate or research faculty in the same institution. Unions and the AAUP provide national organizations to defend values, along with disciplinary organizations, but the barriers are significant.
  9. When administrators ignore faculty organizations or do their best to do end-runs around them, they are missing substantial opportunities to advance institutional interests and feeding the behavior they presumably hate. I winced when I read one book by Derek Bok advising university presidents to do their best to go around the faculty senate or equivalent, because they're largely dysfunctional. Let me see if I understand the reasoning: if faculty senates are full of deadwood, and you go around them, what faculty support can you claim for your initiatives, and what incentive do you give the faculty you think should be in the faculty senate to serve? Oh, yes, and any monolithic model of your university demonstrates an essentially anti-intellectual temperament.
  10. Conversely, faculty who think that all administrators are evil are doing a remarkably good job of undermining collegial governance. There are serious problems with the development of academic administration "tracks" in the past 50 years (see item above), but the fact is that colleges and universities have administrators, you want the administrators to understand faculty and work with them, and what incentive do you give your colleagues to be willing to serve as administrators if they know you'll be the first one putting a target on their backs? Oh, yes, and any monolithic model of your university demonstrates an essentially anti-intellectual temperament.
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Posted in Higher education at 10:36 AM (Permalink) |

May 12, 2009

Should artists know something about money?

It's cringing time for this union activist: Teaching is an art, not a business wrote Hans, commenting this evening on a story about a judicial mandate prohibiting a UTLA one-day strike this Friday. That statement is irrelevant in the specific context (teacher layoffs), is a false dichotomy, and is wrong-headed in other ways. Let's start with the literal claim that art is incompatible with business. The daughter of a friend and colleague went to SMU on a dance scholarship. She was smart and after a minor injury decided to get some business training and is now an administrator in an art-related New York nonprofit. Artists and non-profits need people who are passionate about art and can also manage money (ask members of the Florida Orchestra, which I hear is surviving today in this economy because its new executive director is very competent).

Or to take another example, there's a wonderful segment of Stuart Math's documentary on desegregation in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where one of the old-time activists describes a post-WW2 meeting of residents who were trying to figure out how to create a stable housing market, and a business owner said, "You know, we can be liberal and effective, too."  And they were, running a neighbor-managed real-estate outfit that was crucial in maintaining a stable, desegregated, prosperous community.

So much for the claim that art can't be business and warm-hearted liberals can't think in terms of getting stuff done. But the whole premise is wrong; I don't think teaching is an art. You can make a good argument that teaching is a craft, but there has to be solid practice at the bottom of it. In addition, anyone who is skeptical of the value of high-stakest testing, as I am, has to have something that's just a tad, a teeny, a tiny bit more astute than a statement that screams, "Just let me do what I want when I'm paid with the public purse." That's nuts, both philosophically and politically.

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Posted in Education policy at 11:03 PM (Permalink) |

May 11, 2009

Elsevier and qui tam lawsuits?

Is there anyone else horrified by the Elsevier journal scam waiting not just for academic righteousness but legal action in the U.S. based on the False Claims Act? If federal money was entangled at all in any of the journal nonsense, statements made by any of the fraudulent Elsevier journals could conceivably implicate the publisher if the publisher was knowingly complicit. Because the False Claims Act allows for third-party plaintiffs, anyone who knows of the shenanigans could get a lawyer to work on this very quickly.

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Posted in Higher education at 11:47 AM (Permalink) |

"Governance reform" is not reform

While New York rages over mayoral control, which is all the rage, schools in Pinellas County are headed towards The New Site Based Management, which was the rage in the late 1980s and early 1990s and which Bill Ouchi hopes will be the rage again.

While there are plenty of ways that governance can affect the classroom, I am consistently underwhelmed by the argument that governance reform improves what happens in the classroom. I've seen it all before.

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Posted in History at 7:50 AM (Permalink) |

May 8, 2009

No holy grail, just inexpensive texts, please

I love the inspiration of the Student PIRG Open Textbook campaign as well as the Hewlett Foundation Open Educational Resources initiative, not to mention the excitement over H.R. 1464 over at iterating towards openness (relevant entries one, two, three, and four). I think I'll take the latter's subtitle as my theme on this topic: "pragmatism over zeal." The blog's motto is about open content. I'm going to apply it to the practical issue when common-course texts are more expensive than community-college course tuition: we need good, inexpensive texts.

Open content may be one way to the goal (good, inexpensive texts), but it is not the holy grail. It's a possible path. There are a number of reasons to avoid putting all one's eggs into the open-content basket: the need for development and updating material, respect for the effort that good text authors expend, and the legitimate need to provide an incentive for good texts as opposed to any texts that don't count as highway robbery. In this, I take my philosophy from John Willinsky's The Access Principle: we'll take improvement as it comes.

What are the different paths towards this goal? Let me imagine a few:

  • Open content writing supported by private or public grants.
  • "Loss-leader" investment in texts by institutions.
  • Open content writing supported by communities of users.
  • Self-published textbooks using print-on-demand technology.
  • Some combination of the above.

Some explanation is in order on each of these. Currently, Hewlett is banking on the first: if the foundation can support the writing of text material for some of the most common college courses, it will save thousands of college students. That's pretty good leverage where appropriate. But that's not the only path, and it's important not to rely on that for a few reasons.

One reason to be cautious is because an institution can and should be free to innovate, and sometimes that innovation requires a different approach to material. Or faculty in a department may decide that a grant-supported open text in accounting or college algebra is just junk. So what else to do? In many public universities and colleges, the cost of a textbook for a single large-enrollment class is often greater than even a noticeable tuition hike. (Think calculus texts at $200+.) If a community college or university subsidizes textbook writing for a handful of large-enrollment classes, it can simultaneously save students hundreds of dollars, make a substantial point in public about how it serves the public, and protect its political legitimacy.

A variant of the grant-supported development of open content is the community support of open content text materials. This is a lot harder to organize (even along an open-source software model), but especially in technical fields, this may well be developing even as I write. But it does require some organization.

But what about the many college classes that have a niche but not enough enrollment to attract the attention of a Hewlett Foundation, the federal government (if the bill on open-content support goes anywhere), or an institutional investment? And where there isn't a community of faculty nationwide or worldwide to write and rewrite texts? In essence, grant-funded and community-supported open-content textbooks are going to be most feasible for the largest-enrollment classes. For many other classes, I suspect that faculty could develop texts inside the classes they teach, make electronic versions of the texts available for free inside the institution (to avoid conflict-of-interest problems), and then self-publish the material through a print-on-demand outfit either for their own students who want hard copy (and because that is optional, the conflict of interest is mooted) or for other institutions. Or publish through the Kindle mechanism at Amazon. For a variety of reasons, this allows faculty authors to bet and win on the long tail in niche courses. And for students, the cost of a text can be minimal while still providing net income to authors comparable to royalties through standard text publishing.

There are variations on the theme, but I hope that the obsession with open content for its own sake is replaced with the end goal: cheaper texts for students. I suspect students don't care whether the $25 text they might have access to is published through, is available on their Kindle, or is published through LightningSource and bought online. I suspect that if the text works for them, they'd be happy to pay $25 rather than $200.

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Posted in Education policy at 6:45 PM (Permalink) |

"My university administration has asked me not to speak to the press"

Fellow education policy blogger Sara Goldrick-Rab wrote a painful entry earlier this week about how her administration treats her speaking up on a policy issue in her area of expertise (in this case, her opposition to UW-Madison's tuition hike), and I'm sorry I haven't followed up before now, because if she is reporting correctly (see the comments attributed to her in the Madinson Capitol Times), the University of Wisconsin-Madison administration is infringing on her academic freedom.

I was contacted the night before the initiative was rolled out by vice provost for enrollment management Joanne Berg, who informed me of the news and told me to refer all press inquiries to the University Communications office.

I should note that while I am sympathetic to Goldrick-Rab's policy perspective, I think she's wrong about the policy (for reasons I'd rather explore in a different entry). But my disagreement with her on specific policy grounds is very different from my absolute support for any colleague who is speaking on a matter of public concern, including employers' actions, from her or his expertise. This is one of those cases where I'd prefer knowing more about what's going on at the ground level, but at a first glance, it looks like Berg was acting the bully. Even if there were a miscommunication involved, Berg owes Goldrick-Rab a blunt apology for not remembering that tenure-track assistant professors have a pretty rational paranoia and a finely-tuned power meter. Berg could even use the wording President Obama has to acknowledge error: "I screwed up." 

Anyone want to guess what the odds are that she'll do that?

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Posted in Academic freedom at 6:25 PM (Permalink) |

Does 416 have southern or northern exposure??

Yes, folks, it's the time when having been incredibly inefficient/distracted thus far this week, I finally have cleared enough from my plate to focus on organizing my summer class. I have been pondering bits and pieces of critical stuff for a few weeks, and it's time to crack down and finish updating the syllabus. This is an undergraduate class I've taught oodles of times before and we offer semi-oodles sections of it every semester, so it should be a simple update-and-be-done job, but I've switched around several readings, I'm having all sorts of thoughts on redesigning some parts of my section to have enough wasabi for the wasabi-loving students and still have enough sweet cumin for the ... oh, shoot. Forget the badly-constructed metaphors. I'll leave it as "I want to enjoy the class a little more and need to think explicitly about how to do that and help students a little more as well." I've just looked up the room # and have promptly forgotten whether EDU 416 has northern or southern exposure. My building complex (insert bad psychodynamic joke here) has rather random room assignments, so the even room number doesn't tell me anything. This matters, dear readers, though it's a morning class. I am teaching in Tampa in the summer.

I know what I'm ditching, though: the movie-preview-like introduction of class books the first 3 minutes of the first day of class. A sort-of-cute metaphor for the start of classes when I adopted it (when Don LaFontaine was alive), I think I can move on. More importantly, I need to reconstruct the first minutes of the term if I want to reframe how students look at the class. The simulated case/problem has more layers this year than we've had in the past, and the fundamental goal of any subtle redesign for me has to give students a reason to care about the case and connect it with everything else they're learning. I wish I'd had more time to think about this in the last month, but I'll take what I can, and I look forward to meeting the students on Tuesday morning!

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Posted in Teaching at 6:14 PM (Permalink) |

Does Duncan need a program-closing commission?

The recommended chopping of a dozen programs and half a billion dollars from the Obama recommended budget, and the expected political defense of those programs, reminds me of the various efforts to eliminate programs in the Pentagon that have developed political roots. A few weeks ago, I was wondering if the Pentagon needed a weapons-program-closing commission so that weapons programs such as the F-22 could be killed. But I suspect that the F-22, most of the dozen education programs Obama is trying to kill (several of which were also targeted by Bush), and some other programs that make me wince will instead survive because they will have fierce defenders on Capitol Hill who have a greater reason to fight for their continuation than other Congresscritters will have to kill them. And the outcomes will have little to do with intrinsic merit.

What is needed is the domestic-policy equivalent of the old base-closing commission: something that develops a list of programs in the discretionary domestic budget that should be closed, a list that is submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no or few amendments allowed. There are multiple ways of doing this in a way that will allow ineffective programs to close, but the dangers of ineffective programs go beyond the money wasted to the general feeling that the federal government wastes money. There is a political cost in the long run to rampant corruption or political protection of ineffective programs.

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Posted in Education policy at 5:29 PM (Permalink) |

May 5, 2009

Florida could still jump forward on end-of-course exams

The St. Pete Times is reporting that the death of the Florida House bill mandating end-of-course (EOC) exams in high school starting in science is the death of end-of-course exams, at least for this year. I'm not so sure. If I remember correctly, the legislature authorized EOC exams in principle last year, and there is an alternative funding mechanism: stimulus dollars. Embedded in the stimulus bill is section 14006, which is part of the $5 billion discretionary amount given the U.S. Department of Education. The state's application for state stabilization funds probably satisfies the nominal requirement for Florida to be aligible for a state incentive fund, if the state asks for incentive funds to develop EOC exams. This is precisely the type of project that the state incentive fund is designed for; it would replace the single comprehensive test with a number of tests tied to specific courses and instead of having to upset science teachers (such as in physics and earth sciences) with subjects not included in the first round (the filed bill in the House excluded them), there could be development of a full range of EOC exams in science. Seems like an obvious "yes we'll do that" to me.

I could be wrong; there may be legitimate reasons not to apply for state incentive funds to develop EOC exams. What surprises me is that during the legislative session, there was no public discussion I am aware of about the possibility of using federal stimulus dollars to develop EOC exams. I have heard nothing publicly at all about this, yet it's been an obvious possibility, at least to me. Has any reporter asked Commissioner Eric Smith about this? Is there any legislator or legislative aide who has asked about it?

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Posted in Education policy at 12:43 PM (Permalink) |

May 3, 2009

AP feature in St Pete Times

I have microseconds before my day is captured by other things, but this morning's St. Petersburg Times gave Ron Matus inches and inches of space for his feature on AP classes. Kudos both to Matus for capturing both the promises and risks of expanding advanced-placement classes with a portrait of a student before the exams start ... and to the Times for devoting as much space to this story as it did, the same day that it also devoted pages to a scandal in the state's public investment bureaucracy.

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Posted in Education policy at 8:17 AM (Permalink) |

May 1, 2009

Charters beat the pants off Florida Virtual School on the disruption scale

Maybe it's my training as an historian, but book titles such as Disrupting Class bring out my inner Larry Cuban. Disrupting Class author Clay Christensen points out that he tried to respond to Cuban substantively throughout the book, and the Florida Virtual School is a case in point, both for Christensen and also Bill Tucker. Yet I think the reason why the Florida Virtual School (FVS) both was in danger from and survived a legislative threat was not because it was tremendously disruptive but rather the opposite: it has matched parents' and students' expectations of "real school" to a remarkable degree.

A few times this month, education reporters contacted me, asking about the attacks on FVS, and all I could reply was that it smelled like a typical Florida legislative back-room deal to help someone's friend (or friends): require counties to start virtual-school programs, then the next year cut funding to FVS dramatically and also restrict its mission (thus feeding the county programs--presumably outsourced to for-profit entities--a bunch of guaranteed students). I don't know why that came unbidden to mind; maybe 13 years of watching the state legislature honed my preexisting cynicism? As in many other areas of schooling, it looked like someone saw money in public education and tried to sidle up to the legislative trough.

But that did not come to pass, in large part because a broad coalition of interests pressured legislators to keep the existing mission for FVS and to minimize the cuts (relatively speaking), essentially removing the class-size funding for FVS but (I think) not much else. There are a few notable elements in this battle that readers of Cuban (and David Tyack and Mary Metz) would recognize:

  • The different purposes people identify in using FVS--or the flexibility in the construct "distance learning" and a specific institution (FVS)
  • The way that defenders of FVS used language that reflect a perceived "normality" in online schooling: students, teachers, classes, credits, graduation, honors, etc.

In this context, last month's policy brief by Gene Glass and the response by Cathy Cavanaugh and Erik Black are far closer to Cuban than to Christensen. Glass's recommendations focus on accreditation, teacher certification, curriculum, and assessment. And Cavanaugh and Black agree. Wow, those sounds like standard school policy issues to me!

With one important exception, my own experience as a teacher and parent tracks with all of this. Students in my online course behave in ways similar to face-to-face students: many work very hard, some try to see what classroom (or Blackboard) deals they can cut, all need a certain amount of scaffolding, and their performance varies. My daughter has used the Florida Virtual School, and while the work is nominally independent, she has homework with due dates, times when she must speak with the teacher directly, and she receives grades. If her high school had independent-study options, her experience would probably be no different except that the conversations would be face-to-face and the homework submitted in person rather than online.

The one caveat is the one I have written about before: what/where is dramatic engagement online? There may be nothing wrong with online education as a vehicle for massive multiplayer online parallel play (i.e., independent study), but that's not the face-to-face dynamic. There may be nothing wrong with classes organized around online bulletin boards, and I have been told by several friends how that can generate the type of drama and thoughtfulness that concerns me, and maybe the relevant way to frame the issue is to think about the conditions necessary for such engagement. But enough about me: the fact that I have one generic quibble after approximately a decade of teaching online courses, my daughter's experience, and watching the policy environment in Florida suggests how much I think about online education in terms of the standard structure of schooling.

Maybe I'm not trustworthy on this because of my own biases. So maybe I'm an awful Luddite-prone troglodyte with no imagination, but I've had a blog for most of the decade and edit the English-language side of an online journal. Maybe Gene Glass is also an awful troglodyte, but he started the journal I now edit.

So take from this what you will, but I do not think that the FVS is an example of "disruption." As Bill Tucker's essay in Education Next suggests, FVS did not compete with public schools, private schools, or home schooling but complemented all of them. Maybe that's disruptive, but it continues a long history of supplementation of the school program. Anyone who attended religious schools outside public-school hours should understand that, as well as anyone who participated in private chess clubs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campfire, various volunteer organizations, martial classes, private music groups, and so forth. Or, to take another example, those who have watched television programs with explicit educational purposes in mind. If Clay Christensen is right that online education is fundamentally disruptive, he should be able to point to the disruptive effects of another technology with some educational content: television. Please don't get sidetracked into the "how television ruined young minds" debate. This is about the relationship between explicitly educational television and formal schooling. What happened in that case was not competition or disruption but complementarity and hybridization. The spread of VCRs happened while I was in high school, and I saw Cuban's classic hybridization in process: in selected cases, teachers recommended that my classmates and I watch a program, or they taped a program to show in class for a specific purpose. 

There are four historical cases of potential disruption of schooling routines in the past century, and here I mean honest-to-goodness challenges to the legitimacy of public schools: private commercial schools in the early 20th century, federal youth programs in the Great Depression, Mississippi Freedom Schools and segregation academies in the 1960s, and charter schools in the past two decades. In the first two cases, the challenges were to high schools, and administrators responded in different ways. In the early 20th century, urban public high schools were in the midst of developing tracking, and while there were few challenges to the urban high school after the demise of academies approximately half a century before, one did: the private school teaching commercial skills such as typing and shorthand. Since young women were beginning to see pink-collar jobs as a reward for one or two years of secondary schooling, these commercial schools were practical and valuable. Harvey Kantor explained what happened next: public schools began offering courses to recapture the students. I suspect that the courses were more expensive than most other classes (and that would be consistent with the costs of most vocational education), but the point was to recapture the legitimacy of being the place where adolescents should be in school. How disruptive was that? I think that's arguable: it probably did more to confirm school officials' belief in the rightness of vocational programs than to push them off where they would have driven high schools otherwise. But that is a case where competition (if for legitimacy, not dollars) truly drove public-school behavior.

Edward Krug has the short canonical version of public-school officials' reactions to federal New Deal youth programs: AIIIEEEEEE! The criticisms of the National Youth Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and some other programs focused on federal-state relations, but there is no doubt that school officials saw those programs as direct threats to public high schools at a time when teenagers were flooding schools as the place to spend adolescence. In the end, it was not the criticism of the educators that ended the programs: conservative Congressmen of the late 1930s were uncomfortable with federal work programs in the first place and ended the programs, at probably the first point that they could (in part with the excuse that WW2 and economic recovery made the programs obsolete).

I would probably not put the Mississippi Freedom schools and segregation academies in the same boat for any other question, but in one sense you could say that they both challenged public constructions of race and schooling. In the case of the freedom schools, operators challenged segregated schooling; in the case of segregation academies, operators challenged desegregated schooling (even the mildest desegregation). In several places (such as Jackson, Mississippi), segregation academies successfully siphoned off children of segregationists, and that success in some places drove public-school behavior for desegregation. In Tampa, as my colleague Barbara Shircliffe has documented, county school officials closed the historically all-Black high schools because their primary concern was keeping white children in the schools. There were both financial reasons for doing so and also political reasons, the same protection of legitimacy that drove educators to expand vocational schooling in the early 20th century and criticize New Deal youth programs in the 1930s.

Charter schools have represented a different type of challenge to public schools. At this moment, from a long-term historical perspective, I think charter schools are primarily challenges to urban school systems. Cities are where charters have repeatedly captured a noticeable minority of enrollment, and while there are some isolated attempts to "capture" charter opportunities for other purposes, you could legitimately say that charter schools are disruptive in several cities. Whether that changes the construction of formal schooling inside the classroom is an interesting and entirely unresolved question, but there is no doubt that in some cities such as New Orleans and DC, there are now several sectors of schooling that are public in the senses of both public access and public funding. I would not be able to say whether the relationship between those sectors right now is either complementary or truly competitive, and part of my uncertainty on that score is probably with the organizational leaders of the "public" public sectors (Paul Vallas in New Orleans, Michelle Rhee in DC).

This professional judgment is not about the comparative worth of either the Florida Virtual School or charter schools, though my impression of FVS is consistent with Tucker's. But historians commonly argue about continuity vs. discontinuity, and when someone uses the word disruption, it immediately starts up my mental circuits in that area. So this is an historical judgment about systematic effects. And here's the bottom line: if I were to pick between the Florida Virtual School and urban charter schools as disruptive, I'd have to pick charter schools.

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Posted in Education policy at 5:20 PM (Permalink) |