Friday, October 16, 2009

Today's Random Thoughts

-A new RAND report indicates that NYC's retention policy may be helping kids who are retained (GothamSchools, NYTimes).  I haven't read the report yet, but news accounts indicate it finds that kids held back in the past three years have done better than similar kids in the three years prior to the policy.  I'm not sure why they'd pick that comparison group instead of utilizing regression discontinuity to compare retained kids to other, nearly identical, kids who weren't retained.  Meanwhile, Memphis is moving in the opposite direction -- they've decided not to hold back kids in K-3, in part to save money.

-Richard Whitmire says that Michelle Rhee "has no choice" -- she has to "play tough."  I kind of buy that she can't always be a people pleaser in her position, but she'd do well to remember that the people she's dealing with are just that -- people.  And there's seldom any acceptable reason to treat other human beings poorly.  And his argument that charters succeed because they get to "can pick and choose their staff" is asinine.  Traditional public schools choose their staff as well, it just so happens that more of the hiring decisions were made in the past.  And if the district made poor hiring decisions or awarded people tenure when they shouldn't have, the district only has itself to blame.

-Ever notice that the self-titled "reformers" aren't really proposing radical reforms?  Or that there's little evidence that their preferred reforms are even the right ones?  It's really a brilliant sleight of hand, though it does little to help our schools and our children.  More on this on Sunday.

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