In Search of a Political Home

With the 2020 presidential campaign gearing up, dear ol’ Eduflack is feeling a little lost. The intensity of identity politics has me hearing we must be for free college for all, we must reject the notion of charter schools and school choice, and we must condemn communities like those in West Virginia where I graduated from high school. Not doing so simply shows we are part of the problem that is preventing progressive ideals from taking control of our representative democracy.

Over at Medium, my latest explores the complexity of my political and social views, and my hope that there are millions like me that are starting to grow tired of the increasing number of litmus tests that are being applied to demonstrate we belong in our political tribes. As I write:

As an education advocate fighting for equity and school improvement, those on the left attacked me for being a “neo-liberal” who was seeking to privatize and profit from the public schools. When I insisted that school improvement was about far more than just charter schools and school choice, those on the right and those in the reform movement accused me of not being a true believer, of being too sympathetic to both the teachers unions and the neighborhood public schools that educated me and my children.

Give it a read. Let me know what you think. Let me know if I am indeed a solo man without an island.

 

 

When It Comes to Higher Ed, President Trump is Absolutely … Correct

Since the 1960s, we’ve seen college campuses as ground zero for free speech. We expect students to find their voice while at college, taking a major step forward in becoming productive members of our civil society.

So it is disturbing that too many campuses are now looking to shut down free speech, looking to control political rhetoric to keep all calm and to ensure that fringe or dissenting ideas aren’t heard in the public square. Instead of free speech, we are exercising socially acceptable speech, teaching today’s college students that silencing opposing voices is more important than debating and disproving them.

Whether standing for right wing speech or free speech, President Donald Trump is absolutely correct to call out, and use the power of the executive, to encourage debate, not squelch it.

We explore this important topic on the most recent episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen. We won’t be silenced. 😀

Federally Subsidized Teachers?

There is little question that public school teachers deserve to be paid better than most are. After all, the job is more demanding than it has ever been, and we are asking more and more of educators each and every year.

Today, we expect teachers to be instructors, counselors, nurses, and psychometricians. And we do so as we increase classroom sizes and cut back on other school supports.

So it is no surprise that when someone like US Senator and presidential aspirant Kampala Harris calls for significant teacher pay raises funded by billions in new federal funding, we take notice.

But before we go embracing the latest plan, let’s consider it for a second. For decades, we have insisted that education policy was to be made at the state and local level, now we want greater federal involvement. And at a time when the US Congress has never been more dysfunctional, we now want teacher pay to be part of the annual federal budget process?

We explore these questions on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen!

Basic Skills for Teachers?

For years (and years and years) now, we have been hearing horror stories about the teacher pipeline and an inability to get good educators in the classroom, particularly in those classrooms that need them the most.

There are almost a many ideas for addressing the pipeline issue as there are Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. Dear ol’ Eduflack has been involved on several of them, including the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program, an effort that had transformed teacher preparation in six states and at 31 universities, and the creation of a new, competency-based graduate school of education focused on teaching mastery.

With efforts like these, the focus has been raising standards, hiking expectations, and ensuring aspiring teachers are spending as much time as possible in k-12 classrooms. At no point did we consider eliminating accountability or dropping the bar.

Yet that seems to be what Florida is currently looking at, as the state legislature explores eliminating the basic skills test for teachers to be. <insert shaking head and face palm here>

As Jeffrey Solochek reports in today’s Tampa Times:

Patrick Riccards, chief strategy officer for the New Jersey-based Woodrow Wilson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers several teaching fellowships, found it ironic that Florida would consider lowering its criteria to become a teacher at the same time it touts its efforts to fill classrooms with the “best and brightest.”

In Texas, he said, some teacher preparation programs have become adept at reducing expectations as a way to find more educators. The problem, Riccards said, is those new teachers don’t always last very long. 

Then schools have to go look again.

Teachers want to be treated as professionals, he added. Not passing a basic skills test doesn’t seem to match up with that goal.

Give the full article a read. And let’s share a collective weep for the future of teacher education in the Sunshine State.

Trump’s EduBudget … Not Again!

Another federal budget proposal, another attempt from President Donald Trump and his administration to dramatically cut the budget of the US Department of Education.

The two previous years have shown us that Trump’s edu-budget is nothing more than bad theater, with virtually no chance of proposal becoming law. But the annual effort to slash ED tells a disturbing story.

And what is that story? We try to tell it on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

Fatherhood is No Joke

As a society, we still marvel at that “stay-at-home” dad, viewing him largely as an oddity worth questioning. We question the motives of those fathers who volunteer in their children’s schools, holding them up as heroes for simply making the time. We doubt the motives of those men who would prefer to spend their Saturdays at the local park rather than at the golf course. And we ridicule those who would make a choice opposite to Beto’s preferring weekends at home with the kids, rather than on the road raising hundreds of millions of dollars, in pursuit of the top political prize.

From Eduflack’s latest on Medium on presidential aspirant Beto O’Rourke making light of his parenting approach

A New Era of Teacher Activism?

For the past year, we have watched state after state, city after city, address teacher strikes. Originally, these labor actions were about increasing school resources – boosting teacher pay, reducing class sizes, and ensuring counselors and nurses were available in the schools.

But lately, we are seeing a new side to such strikes. Teachers in West Virginia struck last year to boost pay and benefits. Last month, they took to the state Capitol to protest proposed state policies, including expansion of public charter schools.

So one has to ask, are we entering a new era when it comes to teachers activism? Dear ol’ Eduflack explores the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network.

Click here to give it a listen.