Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A new poll from Dan Jones and Associates, published this week in Idaho Politics Weekly, shows that 2/3 of Idahoans view public schools favorably or very favorably. The percentage with those views is higher than that for private schools, charter schools, online schooling, or home schooling.

The percentage of Idahoans choosing a rating of "5" (very favorable) or "4" for Public Schools was 66%. For Private Schools, the percentage was 63%; for Charter Schools, 55%; Online Programs, 41%, and Home Schooling, 38%.

Even when looking at the average ratings for the different options, Public school came out on top in the Jones survey:

The random survey was conducted with 601 respondents, and has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

The Jones survey results would appear to directly conflict with the results of a survey conducted by the Albertson Foundation in 2015, which indicated that "public schools fall short".

Monday, August 15, 2016


Here are a few interesting articles from across the web for the month of August.

Seattle School Board requests alternative assessment option

As reported in the Seattle Education blog, the Seattle School District Board of Directors adopted a resolution requesting the authority to pursue an assessment alternative to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. 

The Board vote was 5-1 in favor of the resolution, which says, in part, "This resolution calls upon the state to take all actions necessary to allow Seattle Public Schools to move forward with the use of an alternative assessment."

The Seattle Education blog is written by Sue Peters, A Seattle School Board member, and Dora Taylor, President of Parents Across America.

The blog also references research done by San Jose State University Professor Dr. Roxana Mariachi, and links to an article she wrote about the California SBAC implementation. Dr. Marichi is more than critical of the SBAC; her research indicates that it is an invalid test. The article is a fascinating read.

Public School Paradox

In The, Alia Wong writes an interesting feature entitled "A Public School Paradox : Why do so Many Presidents Send their Kids to Private School?". which examines the pattern of U.S. Presidents sending their children to elite private schools while in office. 

From the article: "When President Jimmy Carter assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable: He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school...Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906. She still is."

Community Schools Initiative in New York City

From the National Education Policy Center in the School of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder, a research review of the Community Schools Initiative in New York City.

The Boise District will embark on its own Community Schools Initiative this fall, in partnership with the United Way of Ada County and other community partners. The Boise initiative is modeled on the Family Community Resource Center Project in the Vancouver, Washington School District.

American Schools - More Unequal Than We Thought

The outstanding New York Times research section The Upshot featured another article by Michigan State professor Dr. Susan Dynarski, indicating that the typical measure of poverty used in education, free and reduced lunch, does little to reflect the "persistently disadvantaged", and that their performance on achievement measures is far lower than what is predicted by free/reduced lunch calculations.

Dynarski writes: "...It appears that years spent eligible for subsidized school meals serves as a good proxy for disadvantage. When we look back on the early childhood of persistently disadvantaged eighth graders, we see that by kindergarten they were already far poorer than their classmates."

(Not) the Answer to Teacher Shortages

Pennsylvania English teacher Peter Greene writes an insightful blog called Curmudgucation, which is one of our favorites. In his most recent post, Greene writes about the Utah State Board's decision to allow anyone with a degree to teach in the state.

From the post: "The board says it's not so bad because local districts can still set whatever job requirements they want. But let's think about this. Which districts will be able to recruit actual teachers by offering better conditions for employment, and which districts will be left even further behind in a talent bidding war? Which districts do you suppose will end up filling classrooms with unqualified faux teachers? Yes, this is a plan that will further shaft students and families of poorer communities."

Well it's not just Districts that are poorer, but also those that are less well-funded and thus have less capacity to hire the best. The net effect is that while Boise may have about the state average in terms of free/reduced lunch students, and perhaps more students who are persistently disadvantaged, Boise patrons are willing to fund education at a higher rate than most in the state, and the District has a supportive culture for its teachers. So, where will the most qualified and best prepared teachers eventually land?