Remainders: Unseated Indiana schools chief heads to Florida

  • Indiana’s outgoing education chief was selected to run schools in Florida. (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Millions of federal “turnaround” dollars (wait, what?!) have been distributed to city schools. (DOE SAM)
  • With teachers at the helm of turnaround, some Boston schools improved, a study found. (Hechinger)
  • Recent charter school co-location hearings sound like past ones, according to reports. (Insideschools)
  • A union activist says there are signs that the UFT’s leadership might postpone elections. (Ed Notes)
  • England’s education secretary wants schools to dock the pay of teachers’ who organize. (Guardian UK)
  • Before picking presents for your child’s teacher, a guide to the city’s gifting policies. (Insideschools)
  • A mom (who’s also a professor) is holding Chicago accountable for its school space planning. (DNAInfo)
  • Families zoned out of Brooklyn’s P.S. 321 are already making plans for the new school’s PTA. (DNAInfo)
  • KIPP’s Dave Levin theorizes classroom ratios of interaction, questioning, and work. (Team & Family)
  • A teacher describes how he communicated his aspirations for a student who acts tough. (Jose Vilson)
  • Democratic schools, where students set the pace, could be attractive to today’s harried families. (Atlantic)
  • In honor of today’s date, here’s what newspapers said last time 12-12-12 happened. (Fast Company)

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

We’ve reached out for reaction from DeVos’s team and will update when we hear back.

home sweet home

‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers

PHOTO: Detroit Land Bank Authority
This home on Harvard Road was up for auction the week after Detroit announced a half-off-on-city-owned housing deal for teachers.

Friday’s announcement that all Detroit school employees — whether they work for district, charter, or parochial schools — will get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority stirred a lot of discussion.

Some of our commenters on Facebook had high hopes for the deal:

But one commenter wondered if it’s the city of Detroit that’s actually getting the best deal, not the employees — or other people seeking to buy homes in the city:

And others argued that people who already live in Detroit won’t benefit from this deal:

Still, some readers appear to be ready to move — and have even picked homes to bid on (though not necessarily from the Land Bank Authority)!