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Sunday, December 6, 2020

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: So It's Really December Edition (12/6)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: So It's Really December Edition (12/6)

So It's Really December Edition 

Still trying to take care of all the places the cold gets into our house, because apparently the season is serious about things. Still counting down to the magical day when I can go many days at a time without asking, "Well, what has the President done today?" But there are still some good things to read from this week, so here's your list.

How DeVos May Have Started a Counter-Revolution in Education   

Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire in the New York Times explaining how Betsy DeVos has broken up an unspoken treaty between conservative and liberal ed reform folks, and how that may open the door to some actual steps forward.

Are We Compassionate Enough In School?

A hell of a question, posed by guest writer Matthew Fleming over at Ed Week. Pretty cool little piece about some of the things that create fatigue and burnout.

Behaviorism, Surveillance, and (School) Work  

Audrey Watters was a speaker at the #AgainstSurveillance teach-in, and here's what she said. As always, informative and infuriating, including enterprise software, Skinner's box for babies, and test proctoring. 

Anti-Affirmative Action Group Hopes Conservative Supreme Court Will Finally Give Them A Win  

Now that the Supreme Court has been tilted a bit further rightward, all manner of folks are getting ready to take a run at SCOTUS to get their favorite reactionary cause pumped up. So here come Students for Fair Admission, ready to stump for favored admission status for white guys. From the Root.

Rundown Schools Force More Students To Go Remote   

Hechinger Reports with a good look at how some schools were hit extra hard by the pandemic because they'd already gone years without decent maintenance. Let critical resources decay, and they can't sustain an extra hit--go figure. 

VCs Are Pouring Money Into the Wrong Education Startups

Venture capitalists, or vulture capitalists--take your pick, but they're making sure this mess doesn't go to waste. WIRED takes a look at where the money is going.

A Soccer Club and $1.2 Million for a charter school

We mentioned this here at the Institute back when the grant was first issued, but now Carol Burris at the Washington Post has even more details, and the rest of the story (which is that these amateurs didn't even get their school approved). Just our tax dollars--well, not so much "at work" as "being wasted."

Worse than Betsy DeVos: The disturbing story of 2020 school board elections

Jeff Bryant has looked downticket to discover that in many school board elections, pubic education was not the winner. From Alternet.

Online exam monitoring can invade privacy and erode trust at universities  

A Canada-centric look at the rapidly spreading ugly mess that is tecno-proctoring. Short form: it's bad.

Texas high school senior suspended for painted nails  

I'm always leery of these sorts of stories, because there is often another side of the tale that the school isn't free to tell. But I can't think of another side that would make this any less stupid. Sometimes public schools put dopes in charge, and they make dopey policies.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: So It's Really December Edition (12/6)


The Jingle Bells Effect And The Canon
So, if you need a little something to jumpkick you into the season, here's a playlist challenge for you. Yes, that's roughly 76 minutes of various versions of "Jingle Bells," carefully selected, curated and ordered for your listening pleasure. "Jingle Bells" is a curious song to become a Christmas standard, mostly because it has nothing to do with Christmas but is instead the mid-19th century anc
Does Your School Suffer From Advanced Testivitis
In some quarters we seem to have cycled back around to the old argument that the Big Standardized Test provides an assortment of necessary data with no actual downside, so let's trot those puppies out here for this already-maimed year. I've spent a bunch of time talking about why the tests provide no actual benefit ( here , here and here , for example), but let me take a moment to look at the oth
Election Polling and the Big Standardized Test
From the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal to the Atlantic and beyond, writers weeks after the election castigating the pollsters for yet another less-than-stellar year. But education writer Larry Ferlazzo moved on to another question—” Could Polling Errors in the 2020 Election Teach Us Something About The Use Of ‘Data’ In Education. ” He’s onto something there. Thinking about the Big St
Back On The No-Longer-Trailing Pandemic Education Edge: Digging A Ditch
I've been offering updates from my own small town/rural corner of the universe for just one more data point about how various school districts are dealing with pandemic education. We don't all need to write about New York City schools. My region had a decent shot. In a county of 50,000 people, we had a total of 70 cases at the beginning of September. All schools opened for face-to-face instructio
Is This How Post-pandemic Ed Tech Will Be Different
Andreesen Horowitz is a silicon valley venture capitalist investment firm looking to strike it rich in the ed tech world. That is more than enough reason to distrust them ( here's just one article laying out how vc firms --particularly tech ones--are wrecking our world). But they want to play in the ed tech sandbox, which is another reason. But they have some thoughts about how ed tech will look
The 2020 Edubook Christmas List
Time to go hunting for books for the people on your Christmas list, and I have some recommendations for you if there are people on your list who care about public education (and really, everybody should). Before we start shopping, let me also direct your attention to , an online vendor set up to benefit local independent booksellers instead of, say, giving Jeff Mezos his next gazilli
Donors Choose Monday: Expanding the Library
This week's project is exactly the sort of thing that shouldn't be on donors choose. Mrs. Gibson is an elementary teacher in South Carolina, and she's looking to expand her classroom library. My students are living in a low income area where literacy is our focus in order to meet the needs they may not be receiving at home. My focus is to bring in books that we help them connect with other cultur
ICYMI: Long Weekend Edition (11/29)
Thanksgiving was not so bad at our house; the board of directors had a lovely time and I was able to talk to both grown children. So we'll call it a win. In the meantime, people keep writing stuff and I have some of it here for you to 

CURMUDGUCATION: The Jingle Bells Effect And The Canon

CURMUDGUCATION: The Jingle Bells Effect And The Canon
The Jingle Bells Effect And The Canon

So, if you need a little something to jumpkick you into the season, here's a playlist challenge for you.

Yes, that's roughly 76 minutes of various versions of "Jingle Bells," carefully selected, curated and ordered for your listening pleasure. 

"Jingle Bells" is a curious song to become a Christmas standard, mostly because it has nothing to do with Christmas but is instead the mid-19th century ancestor of songs like "Little Deuce Coup." It was written by the guy who would be J.P. Morgan's uncle, and who skipped out on boarding school to join the crew of a whaling vessel before later joining the losing side of the Civil War. 

Nobody has any great explanation for why, exactly, this song has persisted, but I have a theory. I think "Jingle Bells" is one of that special sub-group of songs that survives because it's fun to play. 

Most musicians have had that experience. I can remember always thinking that "Moondance" was a kind of "meh" song, until I was out on a gig and called on to play it, at which point I discovered that I would be happy to play that thing all night. The structure is just fun to work around, to play and play with. "Jingle Bells" is like that--it's deceptively simple, but for many musicians, playing it just leads to more ideas about what you can do with it. It can spark you to do really good stuff. There's something in it that persists even as you translate it into a dozen different idioms.

I thought about that effect this week as I watched the canon wars flare up again in tweeterland. As usual, people both for and against swapping out pieces of revered literature got ugly and defensive and angry, and the argument seems, in many ways, beside the point because it leaves the teacher CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: The Jingle Bells Effect And The Canon

EdAction in Congress December 6, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress December 6, 2020 - Education Votes
EdAction in Congress December 6, 2020

Democratic leaders push for bipartisan COVID-19 compromise

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are working toward a bipartisan compromise to address the rampant spread of COVID-19 that is preventing the safe reopening of our schools and our society. The effort took on new urgency earlier this week, as Congress tried to complete its work for 2020 and a bipartisan group of senators released a framework.

The framework would provide significantly less than legislation passed by the House, but could help break the eight-month logjam in the Senate that has denied millions of Americans the help and support they so desperately need. “In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, it’s time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) failed to embrace the compromise even as it gained support among Republican senators. Instead, he circulated a new plan much like one that previously failed to advance, stressing the need to secure the support of lame-duck President Trump.

Pressure for Congress to act continues to mount as U.S. coronavirus cases approach 14 million, the death toll nears 300,000, and working families reach the breaking point. The pain and suffering will further increase at year’s end due to the expiration of previously enacted relief measures—among them, the suspension of student loan payments, a nationwide moratorium on evictions, and enhanced unemployment benefits.

Key NEA goals for a coronavirus package include at least $175 billion to stabilize education funding and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and educators plus at least $12 billion in emergency funding for the established E-rate program to narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap (16 million students are unable to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access, devices, or both). NEA priorities also include relief for student loan borrowers, support for child health and nutrition, economic help for those facing hunger and homelessness, paid sick leave, and state and local aid to avoid laying off educators, firefighters, and other essential public servants. TAKE ACTION 


Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will chair the House Appropriations Committee in the 117th Congress that officially begins Jan. 3.


Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced the Rural Revitalization Act to provide up to $50,000 in student loan relief for people who commit to living and working in rural communities for at least eight years. Co-sponsor Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) committed to reintroducing the legislation in 117th Congress, ensuring continued consideration in coming days.