Smorgasbord: Albany, Policy, and Diversity

I went up to Albany on Tuesday with other America Achieves NY Policy Fellows and we spoke with assembly members and senators and were welcomed and introduced by Assemblymember Patricia Fahy on the assembly floor. If you’ve been wondering whether educators should really be involved in policy, I can’t think of a clearer example of the “win-win” when educators point to a clear problem and a clear solution, and they obtain bipartisan support now being written into state regulations.

Principal Elissa Smith (from upstate New York) and special education teacher Jennifer Chernis (from downstate) identified a significant problem in the field that policymakers were not aware of: certified teachers working as teacher assistants couldn’t maintain or advance their state teacher certification. Their solution? Just add the addendum they suggested to the regulations! This was such a clear fix and win for legislators and for educators that they swiftly earned support from both Republican and Democratic representatives and their proposed addendum is moving forward into law. This will benefit a significant number of teacher assistants across the entire state of NY.

This is what can happen when you empower and equip educators to bring policy solutions to problems in the field. If you’re a NY educator interested in being a part of this, you can apply here. Here’s the other viable policy problems and solutions proposed by fellows:

In other news:

There is clear evidence that integration works. NY Times: (Also review the evidence in my policy paper above.)

Yet the track record of Betsy Devos, the barely confirmed and heavily contested new Secretary of ED, does not bode well for efforts to increase diversity in schools. CNN:

Furthermore, Devos’s inevitable focus on school choice will do little for rural schools—the very constituency that has swept Trump and his Republican cohort into office. USA Today:

Diversity is increasing in rural areas, not only in cities. If California is any indicator, there will be negative bluster around this diversity, but an eventual swing back to acceptance. While there are clear difficulties around an increase in diversity in any community, there is also a clear opportunity for starting by increasing exposure to a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in our public schools. NY Times:

An important reminder that smart federal policy can have positive effects on education. The 74:

And a reminder that education is important to long-term outcomes. “Educated people are generally healthier, have fewer comorbidities and live longer than people with less education.” BioRxiv:

Some high schools are breaking out of the traditional school setting. Ozy:

Teenagers who vandalized a historic black schoolhouse were ordered by a judge to educate themselves by reading some real literature. If only they had already been reading these books in school. . . NY Times:

One researcher claims that there is little validity to Bloom’s taxonomy, the ubiquitous source of ranking “higher-order” questions and tasks. “The only distinction that is supported by research is the distinction
between declarative/conceptual knowledge (which enables recall,
comprehension or understanding), and procedural knowledge (which enables
application or task performance).” I, for one, would be more than happy to see these waste-of-time ranking taxonomies go the way of the Dodo. Teachers’ time will be much better spent actually developing educational tasks and resources.

And here’s fish singing “in the coastal waters off Port Headland in Western Australia.” New Scientist:




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