I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

You’d think no one would do anything else while the History of Education Society was meeting in Columbus, Ohio, but there were still some headlines this past week:

The Chicago teachers’ strike is over, after 11 days. Was it worth it? At Vox.

The district also committed to spending $35 million to shrink oversized classrooms and to prioritize schools that serve the most at-risk students. The deal includes a 16 percent pay raise for teachers over five years, and a remarkable 40 percent raise for teaching assistants, clerks, and other lower-paid workers. The new, five-year contract will also boost investment per pupil and reduce the number of students in each class.

Teachers had wanted more, though. They also wanted more affordable housing in the city for students and teachers. That’s something no teachers union has demanded in recent contract negotiations.

chicago teachers strike againWhat happens to public schools when there are fewer students? The view from MI:

Fewer students mean less funding. But schools costs don’t drop in lockstep with enrollment declines, as school officials point out.

Another evangelical college shuts its doors, at WCPO.

[Cincinnati Christian University] did not “operate with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and auxiliary functions” or establish processes governing fair, ethical behavior among its employees.

Didja miss the headline that Queen Betsy was held in contempt of court? Two historians explain why at WaPo.

Last week’s ruling forced the department to admit wrongdoing. But its actions were not an accident or oversight — abetting the exploitation of our nation’s most vulnerable students goes to the very core of DeVos’s vision for education.

How Trump’s Bible teacher became a shadow diplomat, at NYT.

[Ralph] Drollinger himself is aware that some foreign governments’ interests in his studies might not be entirely biblical. “I can get these guys to help me,” he told me a few weeks earlier, speaking of his allies in Washington. “And everybody overseas wants to know someone in D.C.”

Why is Liberty U’s star professor leaving? At NA.

Karen Swallow Prior, a longtime English professor at Liberty University and a high-profile voice in the evangelical movement, will leave the school next year because of mounting frustrations over what she said is an administration-led campaign toward standardization that limits academic independence.

“For me, teaching is an art and I need the freedom to express that art,” Prior, who has accepted a position at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, said in an interview this week.

“Trump cult?” Not so fast… at R&P.

Scholars of new religious movements have shown that the mythology of cultic mind-control is more rhetoric than reality. It is easy to understand why critics of the president dismiss him as a cult leader, and his political followers as brainwashed. But it says a lot more about the power of the language than it does the president himself.

Sports page: Congrats to the Nats, but please stop saying a Washington team hasn’t played in a World Series since 1933. The Negro-League Washington Homestead Grays played in the 1948 World Series, at SUSIH. HT: PS.

BH_Grays-1024x521Jill Lepore’s This Americaresurrecting the tradition of liberal history, at The Nation.

Driving the demagogues out of the Barnes & Noble will require more than just taking back the nation as an object of serious historical inquiry. Lepore also sees a need to show that object in a more flattering light. Whereas many of her colleagues narrate US history as a tragedy and a chronicle of oppression, Lepore sets out to capture a fuller range of feeling. Her version features “a great deal of anguish,” she admits, but it also contains “decency and hope,” “prosperity and ambition,” “invention and beauty.” Lepore’s relatively upbeat tone is more than a sensibility; it’s a politics. The Bill O’Reillys of the bookshelf, she insists in This America, have not only taken control of the national story but also claimed for themselves the mantle of patriotism. Lepore wants to take it back for liberals. . . . In the end, she argues, it is liberals, not radicals, who can deliver progressive change. They do so using the most powerful tool within reach: the nation.

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Apparently there was some news this week about a whistle blowing in Ukraine or something. In the ILYBYGTH International Offices, though, the stories below were the top ones to grab our attention:

Whom do Americans trust? Well, nobody, really. But they trust school principals more than they trust religious leaders. From Pew.Pew principals or preachers II

What’s wrong with judging teachers by students’ test scores? The view from Florida at TBT.

teachers who don’t even teach math or reading receive VAM scores based on the school’s average, not what they’ve done in the classroom. They are judged on variables they can’t even influence.

The answer is not that complex. Put in place a good principal — a good leader — and let her run the school and build support. If she rates a teacher “highly effective,” the state should trust her judgment and not micromanage by wielding a flawed VAM score as a cudgel. It’s one thing to measure performance in the classroom. It’s another to use a faulty measurement that unfairly punishes some good teachers and deprives students who need them.

So, wait: ARE religious children more generous? A retracted study leads to more questions at PT.

In 2015, a paper by Jean Decety and co-authors reported that children who were brought up religiously were less generous. The paper received a great deal of attention, and was covered by over 80 media outlets including The Economist, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Scientific American. As it turned out, however, the paper by Decety was wrong.

What should evangelicals do about getting kicked off campus? One piece of evangelical advice at RNS.

Today, evangelicals should not take to social media to complain that Christian conservatism is under attack. Rather, we should grieve that our LGBTQ+ neighbors don’t feel safe on our campuses and do something about it.

Chicago teachers gear up for another strike, at CT.

The union’s demands boil down to a hashtag, #PutInWriting, which social media users have appended to statements of support for CTU and demands that the city codify certain promises in contract language. The mayor has promised and budgeted for more nurses, social workers and special education staff, but the union wants those commitments made in a legally binding contract.

chicago teachers strike

How many kids are praying at your public school? New app hopes to boost numbers, at CT.

SYATP phone

Does she have a K-12 plan? A look at Sen. Warren’s ideas about schools at CB.

She has been a staunch advocate for holding schools accountable for their test scores and graduation rates, describing that data as a tool to push for racial equity, though more recently she’s criticized “high-stakes testing.” She has also praised charter schools in her home state while pushing for greater oversight of the schools nationally, especially those run by for-profit companies.

In the News: The Chicago Teachers’ Strike and the “Educrats”

As several commentators have pointed out, the Chicago teachers’ strike puts Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an awkward position politically. He has been gleefully endorsed by conservative Republicans such as VP nominee Paul Ryan.  Emanuel’s fight with the teachers’ union puts him on the side of union-busting GOP governors such as Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. 

In cultural politics, too, fighting with a teachers’ union puts Mayor Emmanuel in the company of decades, even generations, of conservative educational activists and intellectuals. As I discussed in an article in Teachers College Record a few months back, teachers’ unions have often been the primary villain in conservative versions of American educational history.

Free-market pioneer Milton Friedman, for example, blamed America’s educational woes on the increasing power of teachers’ unions. In Free to Choose (1990) the Friedmans explained that even well-meaning teachers and school administrators always want “greater centralization and bureaucratization” at the cost of worse schooling (pg. 157). Since the 1950s, Milton Friedman had argued that teachers’ unions invariably degraded education, since most teachers are “dull and mediocre and uninspiring” (Capitalism and Freedom, 2002 edition, pg. 96). Union control of school, Friedman believed, protected less talented teachers and led to less efficient, less effective schooling.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty argued that the choking tendrils of unions and educational bureaucracy had almost killed real education. “Education evolved,” Rafferty argued in 1964, “from a sparkling, beckoning opportunity into a more humdrum, sober-sided obligation. It became hedged about with legal requirements and equalization formulas, credentialing criteria and personnel-pupil ratios.” (What Are They Doing to Your Children, 1964, pg. 109).

In the 1980s, conservative educational thinker Sam Blumenfeld called the National Education Association “the Trojan Horse in American Education.” Educational experts, Blumenfeld noted—what he called “remote educational commissions in far-off universities” (Is Public Education Necessary, 1981, pg. 4), had long planned to discredit traditional values in the eyes of American schoolchildren.

For these conservative educational thinkers, teachers’ organizations epitomized all that was wrongheaded about American public education. For free-marketeers like Friedman, unions selfishly choked out all alternate ideas about schooling. For traditionalists like Rafferty, union bureaucracy forced a pernicious pablum down the intellectual gullet of America’s schoolchildren. For more extreme conspiratorial thinkers such as Blumenfeld, teachers’ unions carried out a long-standing plot to rob Americans of their patriotic and spiritual heritage.

And now Rahm Emanuel stands on their side. Emanuel will be gleefully supported not only by contemporary conservative politicians like Paul Ryan, but by generations of conservative educational activists and intellectuals.