Tag Archives: Educational Policy

What’s changing in classrooms and schools right now? (Part 2) Micro-innovations supported by private and public sources

In the second post of a two-part series, Dulce Rivera Osorio explores what’s changing in schools by scanning news articles that report on educational “micro-innovations” developing by in the US and internationally by non-profit organizations, private companies, and states and education systems. In Part 1, Thomas Hatch introduced micro-innovations and then Rivera shared a number of examples of micro-innovations being made in instruction or school/district operations that have been described in media articles from the US. To learn more about  the numerous proposals to change schools and “reimagine education” post-COVID, read IEN’s previous post: Is anything changing in US schools post-pandemic? Possibilities for rethinking time, place and supports for well-being.

In addition to changes in structures, resources, and practices at the classroom and school/district level, news articles have discussed a variety of micro-innovations that have been introduced by nonprofits and private companies in the US. To give a sense of the variety of initiatives, companies like Highland Electric Fleets and Thomas Built Buses have worked with school districts to cover the upfront costs involved in shifting from conventional buses to electric buses (US schools can subscribe to an electric school bus fleet at prices that beat diesel).

Airbnb, working in partnership with the National Education Association, has developed an adaptation to their hosting approach that provides extra income to teachers based in the US who share their homes through Airbnb (NEA, Airbnb partnership aims to help teachers supplement income). Nonprofits like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs have provided before and after-school programs for some time, but during the school closures of the pandemic they helped provide child care, academic support and access to recreational and arts activities by implementing socially distanced “learning camps” in some parts of the country (New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote). The Boys and Girls Clubs have also been actively developing new programs to support career and workforce learning.  As the The Hechinger Report describes, clubs in Indiana, Washington State, and Montana have been working with Transfr, a technology start-up, to use virtual reality to develop “immersive” career and workforce training simulations for manufacturing, carpentry, public safety, hospitality and automotive industries (Future of learning with virtual reality).

State and national education systems have also been developing responses to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the school closures that rely on a variety of new structures and programs. Alaska is creating its own digital content delivery system to aid rural communities and areas with poor internet connectivity (From Alaska Schools Creating Digital Networks to Aid Remote Learning to a Homework Freeze in Texas to Limit Screen Time, 9 Ways States Are Aiding Schools Amid COVID-19). Texas is implementing a state-wide telemedicine program so that school children can access therapists in school (State telemedicine program allows Texas children to see therapists at schools).

New policies and changes in policies are also encouraging districts and schools to develop new resources and mechanisms to support teachers and schools. In California, lawmakers made innovative changes in zoning policies that allow school districts to build staff housing on any property the district owns without requiring zoning changes from city or county officials (California removes hurdles to building teacher housing). At the national level in the US, federal agencies like the EPA are providing funding for states to take advantage of new technologies and developments that can both save schools money and support the environment (EPA nearly doubles funding to districts for clean school bus rebates). The passage of a $430 trillion spending package designed to address the global climate crisis includes a host of provisions that provide creative ways schools and districts can save money and support the planet. As a new guide from the Aspen Institute and the World Resources Institute (K12 Education and Climate Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act) reports, districts can now get tax credits to support energy-reducing innovations in the form “direct pay” – cash payments to the district instead of through credits claimed by a third party that made the whole process problematic (Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment).

Outside the US, NGO’s, companies, and education systems are also looking for new ways to address issues as varied as a shortage of bus drivers, “remote learning,” and mother-tongue language instruction. In Australia and New Zealand, GoKid, a carpooling app, hopes to aid the shortage of school bus drivers by making carpooling more accessible and easier for parents (GoKid partners to address school transportation crisis). The app helps parents to find carpool partners in a school or school district by providing a rough location map of nearby families and suggesting optimized routes.

In India, as a recent Brookings report explains, the development of young mothers’ groups created new ways to support learning at home during school closures. With the support of the Pratham Education Foundation, groups of 4 – 6 mothers met weekly or fortnightly to share experiences and access “idea cards” sent via WhatsApp containing games, activities, and recipes. For children in grades three to six, youth volunteers led small groups of children in “mini learning camps” for one to two hours per day using simple instructional activities and materials made by the children. In Bangladesh, BRAC dealt with the school closures by creating “phone schools.” In these “schools,” locally-recruited and trained teachers conducted virtual classes in group calls with three to four children. BRAC reported that those calls reached over 180,000 students in more than 7,000 schools (The power of community as a catalyst to tackle disrupted learning).

With emerging evidence supporting the expansion of mother tongue instruction, South Africa has instituted policies to support mother tongue instruction in grades 1, 2, and 3, but now the Eastern Cape education department allows high school students who are taking the matric exams to answer using their home language (Policy options to crack the mother tongue versus English riddle in South African schools). That kind of development can encourage schools to offer mother-tongue instruction through grade 12.  As provincial education official Fundile Gade put it, “China, Singapore and Germany use their own languages. English is a secondary language, like other languages, so it can’t be given preference as if pupils can’t learn and develop outside of English (Matric pupils to write exams in isiXhosa and Sotho at Eastern Cape schools).

US schools can subscribe to an electric school bus fleet at prices that beat diesel, Canary Media

NEA, Airbnb partnership aims to help teachers supplement income, K-12 Dive

New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote, Education Week

Future of learning with virtual reality, Hechinger Report

From Alaska Schools Creating Digital Networks to Aid Remote Learning to a Homework Freeze in Texas to Limit Screen Time, 9 Ways States Are Aiding Schools Amid COVID-19, The 74

State telemedicine program allows Texas children to see therapists at schools, KUT 90.5

California removes hurdles to building teacher housing, EdSource

K12 Education and Climate Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, World Resources Institute

EPA nearly doubles funding to districts for clean school bus rebates, K-12 Dive

Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment, Education Week

GoKid partners to address school transportation crisis, Benzinga

The power of community as a catalyst to tackle disrupted learning, Brookings

Policy options to crack the mother tongue versus English riddle in South African schools, The Conversation

Matric pupils to write exams in isiXhosa and Sotho at Eastern Cape schools, Times Live

Critical tensions in educational policy and practice: Lead the Change interview with Davíd G. Martínez

In this month’s Lead the Change interview Davíd G. Martínez highlights challenges and opportunities for students and educators to work toward fostering systemic equity in schools. Martinez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies at the College of Education of the University of South Carolina where he focuses on connecting policy knowledge and praxis through multi-method inquiry. The LtC series is produced by Alex Lamb and colleagues from the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. A pdf of the fully formatted interview is available on the LtC website.

Lead the Change: The 2023 AERA theme is “Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth” and charges researchers and practitioners with creating and using education research to disrupt institutionalized forms of discrimination. The call urges scholars to challenge traditional methods of inquiry in order to create increasingly useful, responsive, and equity-oriented research that can be used by schools to develop informed policies and practices to better support students. What specific responsibility do educational change scholars have in this space? What steps are you taking to heed this call?

Davíd G. Martínez: Educators, practitioners, and scholars often work together to ameliorate the challenges in education, (e.g, lack of sufficient school funding, educator and leadership burnout and churn, anti-Blackness, and lack of cultural context) (Baker et al., 2021; DeMatthews et al., 2022; Martínez & Vasquez-Heilig, 2022; Watson & Baxley, 2021). Change is occurring, and all stakeholders should be hopeful, but transformation is slow in public schools. At times, seemingly indifferent political regimes exacerbate pre-existing challenges (Tran et al., 2022). Schools are extremely intricate organizations teeming with energy and nuanced in so many ways, and hardworking partners in practice (i.e., students, teachers, administrators) work tirelessly to maintain schools despite these challenges.

The membership of AERA is a community of thought-provoking individuals who care deeply about education, kids, teachers, leaders, parents, and each other. AERA’s 2023 theme focused on systemic inequity continues to guide this focus through an intellectual and spiritual community of Educational Change scholars. The 2023 AERA theme reminds scholars that to support education is an act of daring and an act of strength. To realize this power, scholars must act in solidarity with practitioners. AERA urges its members to critically consider the potential for supporting equitable educational praxis through research that directly informs policy and practice. The 2023 AERA theme is meaningful because it asks scholars as individuals in unique positions of power to acutely recognize our unfinished-ness, recognize our partners in practice, and recognize how we can best support their work.

So, what can the AERA community do? Many of AERA’s members are already engaged in positive practices that build community. Many scholars collaborate with partners in practice to understand the intricacies of education. From my purview, many of AERA’s members listen to practitioners and do so intently. We seek partners in practice who can support our working knowledge of students, classrooms, schools, and districts, and the daily challenges they face. Many of us seek this knowledge to understand how we can best situate our work so it is practical and useful. The 2023 AERA theme is a positive way to acknowledge that our work is not done and to challenge our academic community to continue cultivating the solidarity we require to create positive change in schools.

LtC: In your work, you use legal, policy, and finance frameworks to examine funding inequity and its dire consequences for minoritized school districts, arguing that poverty and racism are systemic issues to be addressed as such. What are some of the major lessons the field of Educational Change can learn from your work and experience?  

DM: In my research, I seek to provoke and create purposeful, critical tension. From my perspective, I want to make explicit that historical policy and law which persecuted people of color, or sanctioned our murder, lead to modern socio-economic constraints (Bell, 2004; Martínez & Vasquez-Heilig, 2022; O’Connell, 2012). To understand modern socio-economic constraints, we must acknowledge the oppression of minoritized peoples, and the advent of laws entrenched in white supremacy that prevented minoritized people from accumulating wealth (Osworth, 2022; Rothstein, 2017). This system of oppression still exists and a cursory, even anecdotal, assessment of schools as a microcosm of this reality requires our consideration.

For instance, one of the major sources of funding for districts/schools are local property tax levies (Green, 2021; Martínez, 2021). Those districts with higher community wealth, and greater commerce, then leverage this community wealth through levies to fund their schools (Kelly, 2020; Knight, 2017). Often the districts with the most severe school funding and resource disparity are districts serving higher proportions of Indigenous, Black, and LatinX students (Baker et al., 2020; Kelly & Maselli, 2022). This then envelopes how I engage in my own research.

In my research, it is important to center the historical context of modern policy. How does policy extend from history and impact communities here and now? For instance, in Martínez et al. (2019) we wanted to understand school finance disparity in the current policy landscape of Arizona and the historical treatment of Indigenous Peoples. This includes the abject degradation of Indigenous sovereignty and policies that have historically, and continue to, impede sovereignty. From my purview, it is important to think about the history of the phenomena we are studying, and how this can help us illuminate the disparities in school funding we found in real time.

“Historical policy and law which persecuted people of color, or sanctioned our murder, lead to modern socio-economic constraints.”

Another lesson I have learned is to understand the phenomena I am interested in from the purview of practice. Before I engage in research, I go out and seek knowledge and guidance from partners in practice. There are many great ideas for research, but our partners in practice who operate our schools are inundated with challenges they must address. Before putting code to program, I’ll often take a little time to ask questions to understand my phenomena of interest from this practitioner perspective. I’ll then sit and think about why school finance disparity persists and whom the disparity targets. Grounding myself in this knowledge helps me a great deal to understand the phenomena I’m studying.

LtC: In your recent work you argue that persistent school finance disparity matters for BIPOC communities, is an equity issue, and must be ameliorated as civil right. How might your findings help scholars and practitioners imagine and implement changes to school finance policy and practice more effectively?

DM: Nationally, schools are about much more than learning. For example, public schools/districts across this country are often one of the largest employers in the geographical area (Jenkins, 2007; Tieken & Williams, 2021). Many public schools/districts across this country offer students public transportation services to and from school, especially in areas with no other public transportation (Buehler, 2009; Phillips et al., 2007; Zhang & Du, 2022). Every public school/district across this country provides full-service meals twice a day, not including mid-day or after school snacks. Many public schools/districts offer healthcare services, and at the very least every school/district offers in-house medical personnel (i.e., nurse).

“Society does not need another Theranos, we do need schools, and to applaud one, and denigrate the other, is a national failure.”

Many, but unfortunately not all, provide temperature-controlled workspaces, working plumbing, and fresh clean drinkable water. Public schools/districts provide entertainment and cultural enrichment (i.e., recitals, theater, arts, live music; cultural celebrations). Public schools/districts provide large scale organized athletic events. Public schools/districts provide mental-health counseling. Public schools/districts provide skills training as part of the curriculum and often as a secondary duty (e.g., photography club, car club, coding club, game club, math club). Many public schools/districts across the country provide post-graduation counseling including test-preparation to support students’ long term educational goals. Most of all, every public school/district across the country provides content, curriculum, and pedagogical experts who have trained to support our kids’ learning. Oh, and we can’t forget the Chief Executive management that keeps the entire organization working as smoothly as possible every day, helping our communities flourish.

Schools/districts provide a high level of service and forcing them to operate with sparse funding for all the services they provide is a tragedy. Billions of dollars flow to start-ups annually, yet school leaders are forced to operate their schools with meager funding increases. I’ll be clear, society does not need another Theranos, we do need schools, and to applaud one, and denigrate the other, is a national failure. To open the faucet of funding to one, while starving the other is a failure of national and state policy. Hopefully, my work in some small way supports discourse about the complications of funding, how we direct funding to schools, which students are served at the highest level, and which are not.

LtC: Educational Change expects those engaged in and with schools, schooling, and school systems to spearhead deep and often difficult transformation. How might those in the field of Educational Change best support these individuals and groups through these processes?

DM: Work directly with practitioners and grass roots advocates/activists! I cannot overstate this enough. We must, as a research community, from a certain position of power, value our partners in practice and our educational community to make certain we are supporting schools in meaningful, practical ways. We must think of how we can go beyond publication, or partnerships to obtain grant funding that supports our career. What practical things are we doing, and what can we do every day?

I admire those scholars who’ve run for school board, or get involved in their children’s schools, or engage in areas outside of their research agenda. I admire those scholars who build pipeline programs for students to access higher education, or support services. I admire those scholars who build coalitions to ameliorate oppressive policy agendas. I think these are practical ways many of us can help support our schools. Many of us are engaged, and it is inspiring to see my peers so committed.

LtC: Where do you perceive the field of Educational Change is going? What excites you about Educational Change now and in the future?

DM: I think the field of school finance continuing to focus on disparities in funding and resources as a function of racism, white supremacy, and segregation is exciting. Thus far, I have exclusively focused on this area. I recently published a paper (Martínez & Spikes, 2021) that examined school finance disparity through a critical policy lens. We sought to understand how Arizona funded its English Learners and found that, by and large, the higher the proportion of English Learners in a district, the less English Learner targeted funding. Baker et al. (2020) recently published a paper examining the disparities between high proportion LatinX districts, and low proportion LatinX districts. The authors found that as the share of LatinX students increases, per pupil spending and revenue decrease. This type of research focuses on much more than socio-economic status and elicits dialogue about the historical nuances of racism that impede economic mobility, and thus educational opportunities. Expounding this type of research can inform policy, and practical solutions, to equitably fund schools that educate our Indigenous, Black, and LatinX students.

I am excited to read work that focuses on policy coalitions and the strength of communities to inform the political and educational landscape for all students. Coalitions cultivate political resistance to ameliorate the status-quo (Tran et al., 2022; Weiss & McGuinn, 2017). There is so much potential then to continuing supporting grassroots organizations engaged in coalition with educational advocates/activists to inform policy agendas.

I am excited about the possibilities of expanding our ontology of education and schools. What phenomena will scholars study? What policy or practice decisions will scholars support through research? How will scholars ensure that partners in practice are practically supported through scholarship? How will scholars use research to resist educational oppression and persecution? Is there space for visceral resistance? I am excited to see how we continue to confront white supremacy and fight the encouragement of fascism through research and scholarship in the United States of America.

“My excitement for the future is grounded in Educators’ power to resist oppressive policy through praxis and scholarship.”

MacLean’s (2017) book Democracy in Chains, describes an historical assault on democratic participation by the “Radical Right” that includes controlling the policy landscape, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Senate, the economic stability of the country, and dismantling public education. MacLean’s depiction is quickly becoming the reality, the United States Supreme Court is under a conservative majority that overturned Roe v. Wade, and conservative state legislators across the country passed or proposed legislation that threatened public schools with economic sanctions if Critical Race Theory was taught in public schools (Epps & Sitaraman, 2022; South Carolina House Bill 4325, 2021). My excitement for the future is grounded in educators’ power to resist oppressive policy through praxis and scholarship. Finally, freedom and democracy are rooted in collective action to seek justice and transformation. Transformation of a country that is intimately comfortable with violence against people of color, violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, violence against women, violence against prisoners, violence against the unhoused, and certainly violence against educators. Through collective action with partners in practice, scholars can support justice for those communities who do not know the luxury of higher education, academia, or the safety of academic spaces.

References

Baker, B. D., Weber, M., & Srikanth, A. (2021). Informing federal school finance policy with empirical evidence. Journal of Education Finance, 47(1), 1-25.

Baker, B. D., Srikanth, A., Cotto Jr, R., & Green III, P. C. (2020). School funding disparities and the plight of Latinx children. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28(135), n135.

Bell, D. (2004). Silent covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the unfulfilled hopes for racial reform. Oxford University Press.

Buehler, R. (2009). Promoting public transportation: Comparison of passengers and policies in Germany and the United States. Transportation Research Record, 2110(1), 60-68.

DeMatthews, D. E., Knight, D. S., & Shin, J. (2022). The principal-teacher churn: Understanding the relationship between leadership turnover and teacher attrition. Educational Administration Quarterly, 58(1), 76-109.

Epps, D., & Sitaraman, G. (2019). How to save the Supreme Court. Yale Law Journal, 129(1), 148-206.

Green III, P. C., Baker, B. D., & Oluwole, J. O. (2020). School finance, race, and reparations. Washington & Lee Journal of Civil Rights & Social Justice, 27(2), 483-558.

Kelly, M. G. (2020). The curious case of the missing tail: Trends among the top 1% of school districts in the United States, 2000–2015. Educational Researcher, 49(5), 312-320.

Gardner Kelly, M., & Maselli, A. (2022). School finance policies, racial disparities, and the exploding educational debt: Egregious evidence from Pennsylvania. Journal of Education Human Resources, e20220003.

Jenkins, C. (2007). Considering the community: How one rural superintendent perceives community values and their effect on decision-making. Rural Educator, 28(3), 28-32.

Knight, D. S. (2017). Are high-poverty school districts disproportionately impacted by state funding cuts? School finance equity following the Great Recession. Journal of Education Finance, 169-194.

MacLean, N. (2017). Democracy in chains: The deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America. New York, NY: Penguin.

Martínez, D.G. (2021). Interrogating social justice paradigms in school finance research and litigation. Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education, 52(1), 297-317. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10780-021-09418-4

Martínez, D.G., & Vazquez-Heilig, J. (2022). An opportunity to learn: Engaging in the praxis of school finance policy and civil rights. Minnesota Journal of Law and Inequality, 40(2), 311-334. Retrieved from https://lawandinequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Vol.-402-Full-Issue.pdf.

O’Connell, H. A. (2012). The impact of slavery on racial inequality in poverty in the contemporary U.S. South. Social Forces, 90(3), 713-734.

Osworth, D. (2022). Looking toward the field: A systematic review to inform current and future school takeover policy. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 4(1), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.46303/repam.2022.1

Phillips, R., Harper, S., & Gamble, S. (2007). Summer programming in rural communities: Unique challenges. New Directions for Youth Development, 2007(114), 65-73.

Rothstein, R. (2017). The color of law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America. New York, NY: Liveright Publishing.

South Carolina House Bill 4325, 124th Session (2021).

Tieken, M., & Williams, S. (2021). Commentary: Times article on rural school misses half the story—Educational success. The Rural Educator, 42(3), 72-73. DOI: https://doi.org/10.35608/ ruraled.v42i3.1289

Tran, H., Martínez, D. G., Aziz, M., Frakes Reinhardt, S., & Harrison, T. (2022). Of coalition and resistance in Abbeville v. South Carolina: A policy regimes analysis. Educational Studies, 1-21.

Watson, T. N., & Baxley, G. S. (2021). Centering “Grace”: Challenging anti-Blackness in schooling through motherwork. Journal of School Leadership, 31(1-2), 142-157.

Weiss, J., & McGuinn, P. (2017). The evolving role of the state education agency in the era of ESSA and Trump: Past, present, and uncertain future. Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.Zhang, Y., & Xu, D. (2022). The bus is arriving: Population growth and public transportation ridership in rural America. Journal of Rural Studies, 95, 467-474.

Scanning the headlines for results from OECD’s Education at a Glance: October 2022 Edition

This week, IEN scans the headlines of stories reporting on OECD’s Education at a Glance for 2022. OECD’s Education at a Glance 2022 provides an annual overview of comparative education statistics. The scan includes aspects of the report emphasized by media outlets around the world. See IEN’s Education at a Glance 2021 Scan and Education at a Glance 2019 Scan for comparison.

The unparalleled growth in tertiary education was the focal point of this year’s Education at a Glance report. The OECD notes women now make up the majority of young adults with a tertiary degree, at 57% compared to 43% for males. Across all 25-34 year olds, tertiary education has become the most common educational attainment level, which the OECD attributes to the labor-market advantages tertiary degrees provide. The indicators in the report included student participation, progress, and outcomes, as well as the resources countries invested in tertiary education. Additionally, the report explored educational outcomes from the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, described by OECD as “a return to normalcy.” Correspondingly, many of the headlines, both those discussing the report in general and highlighting results from particular countries, focused on the results related to tertiary education. As in the past, a number of headlines emphasized problems that the report revealed (Australia; Finland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan) with only a few highlighting more positive findings (Portugal; Spain). 

Figure 1: Trends in the share of tertiary-educated 25-34 year-olds (2000 and 2021), OECD

International 

Education at a Glance 2022: Higher Education Still Pays Off, OECD and NCEE

We must grow multiple pathways to success through an array of post-secondary options, including, of course, the rich array of some baccalaureate options and apprenticeships. ” – Amy Loyd, President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Tertiary education rates reach record high, with more efforts, Mirage News

“The share of young adults with advanced qualifications across the OECD, driven by the growing need for advanced skills in labor markets, reached a record 48% of 25-34 year-olds in 2021, compared to just 27% in 2000. Shares of tertiary educated 25-34 year olds are highest in Korea (69.3%) and Canada (66.4%), according to a new OECD report.”

Many students choosing useless decrees over learning skills, OECD official says, The National

“We have large shares of young people choosing degrees that actually may not exist when they graduate.” – Andreas Schleicher, OECD director for Education and Skills

Education at a Glance: Addressing the need to build a more effective and equitable education system, International Education

“Only three countries reported mainstreaming all four aspects of the SDG 4.7.1 on Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development which includes policies, curricula, teacher education, and assessment, (Brazil, France, and Spain).”

Australia 

Australia’s public education funding went backwards during COVID pandemic, ABC

“The latest OECD Education at a Glance report shows Australian public education expenditure was cut by nearly 2 per cent from 2019 to 2020, by comparison the OECD average rose by around 1.5 per cent.”

Finland

OECD comparison: educational attainment of Finnish young people fallen below average, Finnish Ministry of Education

“In 2000, the proportion of highly educated younger adults in Finland was among the highest in the OECD countries, in the same league as the United States and South Korea. In 2021, instead, Finland’s position had dropped well below the OECD average, ranking at the level of Chile and Turkey.”

Ireland 

Ireland is worst in OECD for education spending as percentage of GDP, report finds, The Irish Times
“Ireland spends less than 36 other developed countries on its education system, when spending is measured as a portion of countries’ gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new report from the OECD.”

Israel 

The OECD report: about a quarter of the young Israelis are neither working nor in school, Globes

“According to the report, the rate of young people neither working nor in school (NEET) is considered quite high in Israel, standing at 22%, compared to 16% in the OECD average.”

Italy

OECD says 34.6% of 25-29-yr-olds in Italy are NEETS [Not in Education, Employment or Training], ANSA

“The proportion of young people in Italy who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic… the proportion of 25-to-29-year-olds who are NEETS climbed to 31.7% in 2020 and then rose further to 34.6% in 2021.”

Figure 2: Trends in the share of NEETs among 18-24 year-olds (2019 and 2021, annual date), OECD

Japan

Japan ranked last in women staff in tertiary education: OECD, The Japan Times

“Japan had the lowest share of female staff in tertiary education in 2020 among 32 comparable member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at 30%…Women represent 45% of academic professionals across OECD countries on average.”

New Zealand 

How NZ education compares to other OECD countries, RNZ

“The number of young New Zealanders with tertiary qualifications had grown in the past 10 years, but not as much as in most other OECD nations… In New Zealand the percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with tertiary qualifications rose 16 percentage points from 29 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2021.”

Portugal

University graduates in Portugal earn more than double salaries of those that left school at 18, Portugal Resident 

“The findings appear to show that graduates everywhere receive higher salaries in the workplace than colleagues without degrees – particularly in Portugal where they can end up earning double the salaries of less qualified counterparts. The report cites Information Technology and Communication as the sector in Portugal paying the highest salaries.”

Scotland 

How do Scottish head teacher salaries compare?, TES

“Scottish head teachers tend to be paid more than the average earned by their counterparts in countries such as Finland, New Zealand and France – but they lag behind heads in England, new figures show.”

Spain

Nearly 50% of Spanish Students Aged 25-34 have a Higher Education Degree, Erudera News

“This was an increase of 8.4 points more than in 2011 and nearly 15 points or 34 percent compared to 2000. Moreover, the figure is above the average for the OECD countries, where the percentage is 46.9 percent, and also above the average for 22 EU countries (45.9 percent), Erudera.com reports.”

Switzerland

Vocational training drives tertiary qualification rise in Switzerland 
“The proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with a tertiary qualification has doubled in Switzerland within 20 years, and at a faster pace than many other countries, according to an OECD study. A key factor in this: Swiss-style higher vocational training and degrees for apprentices.”

United States

U.S. Teachers work more hours than their global peers. Other countries are catching up. EducationWeek 

“U.S. elementary school teachers’ work hours haven’t changed much since 2019, but at more than 1,000 a year on average, American educators work more than 200 more hours than their peers worldwide.”

Teacher shortages (Part 2)? Scanning the headlines from around the world

Teacher shortages are in the news around the world, not just in the US. This week we share Part 2 of the teacher shortage related stories that we encountered during our annual scan of back-to-school headlines. This week’s review draws together headlines from a variety of countries and continents. Last week, Part 1 (“Are students going back to school without teachers? Scanning the headlines on the “teacher shortage” in the US“) focused on articles from the US.

Australia  

Australian education ministers agree to draft national plan to combat teacher shortages, The Guardian

Plans to raise teacher salaries to $130,000 a year to stop sector hemorrhage, 9 News

Short versus long-term solutions to the teaching shortage crisis, School News Australia

Canada 

Despite teacher shortages, some new grads still face roadblocks getting into classrooms, CBC News

“Ongoing teacher shortage ‘a significant crisis for the country,’ says British Columbia education dean”

France 

France to fast-track training of school teachers to fill 4,000 vacancies, rfi

“More than 4,000 teaching jobs have yet to be filled just over a week before some 12 million French pupils go back to school.”

Hong Kong

Teacher exodus creates shortage as Hong Kong schools scramble to hire experienced staff, fresh graduates, YP

Record number of teachers resigned over past two years, in wake of 2019 social unrest

Jamaica  

Retired teachers to be employed to fill shortage, Jamaica Observer

“The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has granted approval for retired teachers and those who are on long-leave to fill areas of specialization where schools are not able to find adequate replacements.”

Netherlands

Four-day school week: some Dutch schools cut classes due to teacher shortage, Dutch Review

New Zealand

Thanks For The Bandaid, But Where’s The Actual Cure For Our Teaching Workforce?, Scoop

Peru 

Government works to appoint some 80,000 teachers in Peru, Andina

Poland and Hungary

Teacher shortages grow worrisome in Poland and Hungary, The Associated Press

“Black-clad teachers in Budapest carried black umbrellas to protest stagnant wages and heavy workloads on the first day of school Thursday. Teachers’ union PSZ said young teachers earn a ‘humiliating’ monthly after-tax salary of just 500 euros (dollars) that has prompted many to walk away.”

UK

Colleges in England struggle to find teachers for critical skills subjects, Financial Times

Secondary schools face 6,000 trainee teacher shortfall, Schools Week

Venezuela

Pay pushes Venezuelan teachers to protest, consider quitting, Independent

Public school teachers across Venezuela had planned to use their annual vacation bonus to buy uniforms for their children, waterproof leaky roofs and get new prescription glasses

Are students going back to school without teachers? Scanning the headlines on the “teacher shortage” in the US

Teacher shortages, at least the news about them, seems inescapable this year. For the next two weeks, we share many of the teacher shortage related stories that we encountered during our annual scan of back-to-school headlines. This week’s post focuses on articles from the US that discuss the shortage, describe the problems with the available data, and explore some of the efforts to deal with the challenges of hiring and retaining teachers; next week, Part 2 will draw together headlines about teacher shortages in other parts of the world.

As students headed back to school in the US in 2022, education news from many major education outlets raised concerns about shortages of teachers. Predictably, headlines describing a teacher shortage crisis were quickly followed by articles questioning whether there was a crisis at all.  Matt Barnum, for example, noted both the reports describing a “catastrophic” teacher shortage as well as those expressing skepticism that there is sufficient evidence to support those claims (Is there a national teacher shortage? Here’s what we know and don’t know).

“The public narrative has gotten way ahead of the data and is even misleading in most cases,” Chad Alderman quoted in The Atlantic

Scanning the stories from the US suggests that there are indeed many places where districts and schools are having difficulty finding teachers to fill available positions. But whether or not and how much of a shortage there is varies from place to place, and by differences in the nature of the position (National Teacher Shortage? New Research Reveals Different Realities Between States). One recent report from the Annenberg Institute estimates that 36,504 full-time teaching positions in the US are unfilled — but shortages are localized in nine states. As one of the report authors, Tuan D. Nguyen, described it to Marianna McMurdock of The74 “There are substantial vacant teacher positions in the United States. And for some states, this is much higher than for other states. … It’s just a question of how severe it is” (National Teacher Shortage? New Research Reveals Different Realities Between States). Joshua Bleiberg and Matthew A. Kraft add in another analysis published by the Annenberg Institute that a lack of up-to-date, consistent data also makes it hard to track any shortages and complicates efforts to explain what might be happening and why (Inconsistent Data Inflate Concerns of Teacher ‘Mass Exodus,’ Paper Argues).

There may be many reasons for teachers to quit. In particular, one survey showed that fifty-nine percent of teachers say they’re burned out, compared to 44 percent of other workers. But it’s not clear the extent to which the number of teachers leaving the profession is significantly greater than it has been previously. Richard Ingersoll and colleagues have long highlighted challenges of staffing schools, pointing to problems with retaining as well as hiring new teachers (NEPC Talks Education). Furthermore, the shortages of teachers are being reported at the same time there have been recent declines in student enrollment and an increase in hiring of teachers and other support staff that has come along with the influx of federal funding to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “[I]s it useful to use the term shortage,” Derek Thompson wondered in The Atlantic, “when, compared with staff numbers before the pandemic, more teachers might be employed in America’s public schools right now than in 2019?” (There Is No National Teacher Shortage).

Headlines:

‘Never seen it this bad’: America faces catastrophic teacher shortage, The Washington Post

 Even Schools Flush With Cash Can’t Keep Up With Teacher Shortage, Bloomberg

PBS News

Teacher Shortages a Reality as Schools Struggle to Fill New Positions, PBS News

Is there a teacher shortage? It’s complicated, CNN

Is there a national teacher shortage? Here’s what we know and don’t know, Chalkbeat

Vox

Are Teachers Leaving the Classroom En Masse?, Vox

How bad is the teacher shortage? It depends on where you live, The New York Times

Teacher Shortages Are Real, But Not For The Reason You Heard, AP News

Yes, There’s a Shortage of Special Education Teachers. And That’s Nothing New , The 74

Why teachers are leaving and what we can do about it, Marshall et. al., Phi Delta Kappan

Respect, pay, support: Why these former teachers quit and what could have helped, Chalkbeat

Schools Are Looking in Unusual Places to Deal With Teacher Shortage, Wall Street Journal

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Public and Private Sector Actions to Strengthen Teaching Profession and Help Schools Fill Vacancies, U.S. Department of Education

Biden administration partners with job firms to address teacher shortage, The Hill

Breaking the Legacy of Teacher Shortages, Linda Darling-Hammond, Educational Leadership

Hope and trepidation:  Scanning the back-to-school headlines in the US

This year’s scan of the back-to-school headlines begins with a focus on the issues, fears, and (a few) hopes expressed in some of the major sources of US education news over the past few weeks. A future post will look specifically at how schools will be dealing with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; one will provide a roundup of back-to-school headlines we are seeing from around the world; and one will survey the many discussions and debates about the realities and challenges of the “teacher shortage”  For back-to school headlines from fall 2021 see Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 1): Pandemic Effects in the US; Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 2): Quarantines, Shortages, Wildfires & Hurricanes; For fall 2020 see What does it look like to go back to school? It’s different all around the world…; for 2019 see Headlines Around the World: Back to School 2019 Edition.

“It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be better,” Lydia McNeiley, a college and career coordinator from Hammond Indiana, summed up the sentiments reflected in many US back-to-school stories this year. Quoted in an Education Week story on “Student Wellness Issues for Schools to Watch This Year”, McNeiley captured the mixed feelings expressed in many of the headlines.

“It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be better,” Lydia McNeiley quoted in Education Week

Despite occasional optimism, for the most part, the talk of “re-imagining” schools has been replaced with stories about the realities of dealing with concerns about missing students, money, socio-emotional development, health, safety, and, particularly with the recent release of the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, learning.

Reports of some positive changes and offerings of hopeful advice are also pprinkled among the headlines For his part, US Education Secretary Cardona noted the importance of addressing issues like how to provide more support for teachers, but he also looks forward to a “return to normal:” “I’m really thrilled that students are feeling that back-to-school excitement the way it was before. It’s not back to school with a caveat.” (U.S. Secretary Cardona: how to fix teachers shortages, create safer schools, EdWeek).

Back-to-school headlines from around the US:

Bracing for the worst, hoping for the best: A country holds its breath as children return to school, U.S. News

As a new year starts, schools prepare for fewer masks, more learning and joy, NPR

Hope, relief and lessons learned: Teachers anticipate a smoother school year , EdSource

COVID-19 ‘shocked’ education with steepest declines in half-century, K-12 Dive

The pandemic erased two decades of progress in reading and math scores, New York Times

Some Students Are Routinely Denied Challenging Work. The Pandemic Made That Worse, Education Week

Cities face crisis as fewer kids enroll and schools shrink, AP 

School is back in session in LA. Where are the students?, NPR

Public School Enrollment Continues to Stagnate, Education Week

49.5 million students were enrolled in public schools in fall 2021…well below the 50.8 million students who were in public pre-K-12 before the pandemic began. Where are the other 1.3 million kids?” – Education Week

Fearing ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ District Leaders Reluctant to Hire Full-Time Teachers, The74 

As pandemic aid runs out, America is set to return to a broken school funding system, Chalkbeat

Inflation weighs on back-to-school buying for many families, AP

Edtech Funding Falls Sharply in 2022Crunchbase

As Free School Meals End, School Nutrition Directors Brace for Challenges, Education Week

As students go back to school, many face a school lunch bill for the first time in two years, NPR

Inflation means teachers who buy their own supplies have to spend more or ask for help, Marketplace

For the first time in 20 years, teachers can deduct more for school supplies, NPR

Teachers Take to Twitter to Crowdfund Classroom Supplies, Education Week

Youth mental health is in crisis. Are schools doing enough?, AP

Kids are back in the classroom, and laptops are still spying on them, Wired

5 Big Technology Challenges Teachers and Administrators Will Face This School Year, Education Week

Eighty-three percent of school district technology leaders report that they will expand their cybersecurity initiatives, with a majority (62 percent) also increasing their cybersecurity budgets…By contrast: in 2020, only 31 percent said they were increasing their cybersecurity budgets. Education Week

‘Heat day’ school closures on the rise because the climate crisis is already here, Daily Kos

First day of school? Nationwide heat waves say ‘not so fast’, District Administration

Another year, another reason to cancel classes: soaring school heat worsened by faulty or non-existent air-conditioning. School closures due to heat are not new but they have been increasing significantly, with numbers doubling in cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver and Philadelphia”, District Administration and Daily Kos.

Stress, Harassment, Censorship: What Educators Face as Politics Roils Schools, Education Week

“Sixty-one percent of principals and 37 percent of teachers surveyed by the RAND Corporation reported experiencing harassment about these politicized topics, which contributed to burnout, frequent job-related stress, and symptoms of depression…. And there are signs this contention has led to a chilling effect: 1 in 4 teachers have been told to stay away from conversations about political and social issues in class. Seventeen states have imposed bans and restrictions on how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, either through legislation or other avenues” Education Week

Back to school in DeSantis’ Florida, where teachers are looking over their shoulders, New York Times

How the Overturning of ‘Roe v. Wade’ Will Reverberate Through Classrooms, Education Week

For some students, back to school will mean better-ventilated classrooms, NBC news 

Let the kids sleep: California becomes first state to mandate later school starts, Today

The Best Advice for New Teachers, in 5 Words or Less: 2022 Edition, Education Week

5 Strategies for a Successful Start to the School Year, Getting Smart

– Thomas Hatch

Collaboration, Coherence and Learning in Educational Improvement: A Conversation with Elizabeth Leisy Stosich

In this month’s Lead the Change Interview, Elizabeth Leisy Stosich talks about her work focusing on understanding how district, school, and teacher leaders can work together to strengthen the quality and equity of students’ learning opportunities and outcomes. Stosich is Assistant Professor and Associate Chair of the Division of Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy at Fordham University. The LtC series is produced by Alex Lamb and colleagues from the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. A pdf of the fully formatted interview is available on the LtC website

Lead the change (Ltc): The 2023 AERA theme is Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth and charges researchers and practitioners with creating and using education research to disrupt institutionalized forms of discrimination. The call urges scholars to challenge traditional methods of inquiry in order to create increasingly useful, responsive, and equity-oriented research that can be used by schools to develop informed policies and practices to better support students. What specific responsibility do educational change scholars have in this space? What steps are you taking to heed this call?

Elizabeth Leisy Stosich (ELS): I appreciate how AERA’s theme this year urges us as scholars to take responsibility for critically considering not simply what we research but how we approach our research and the consequences of these decisions. As educational scholars, we are (hopefully) deeply invested in understanding and supporting meaningful improvements in schools and systems. Yet, as educators and scholars, one challenge we face is that we each bring our own biases to understanding problems in education and, correspondingly, the change that is needed. These biases can lead us to define problems and identify solutions in particular ways, ways that may not reflect the actual problem as experienced by those closest it. For example, as a scholar focused primarily on instructional improvement, I can be quick to identify problems as student learning challenges that require new professional learning for teachers and school leaders. When you’re a hammer, every problem requires a nail. For me and many of the educational leaders I work with, we can be quick to see each problem as simply requiring new or different teacher PD. We can also be slow to give up on ideas that we’ve deeply invested in even when they either are a poor fit for the problem or we see little evidence of authentic improvement.

As educational change scholars, I think a central aspect of centering equity and pursuing truth is to engage as partners with the stakeholders closest to the “change.” In improvement science this is often described as being “user” centered. When we partner with practitioners, we need to take time to carefully understand and define the problems we seek to address with our change efforts. These initial decisions have important implications for the change work we take up. I think we are much more likely to be successful in supporting meaningful change when we engage in shared problem diagnosis and solution identification as partners with educators and the students and communities they serve. Through this collaborative process, we can bring more diverse perspectives to defining the problems we center in our change efforts.

Ltc: In your work, you examine relationships between school leaders on decision-making teams and during policy implementation. What are some of the major lessons the field of Educational Change can learn from your work and experience?  

ELS: In my own research (Stosich, 2020, 2021) as well as a number of large survey studies one thing stands out: principals think they are involving teachers in decision-making and teachers do not agree. Looking closely at decision-making in instructional leadership teams (ILTs), I found one explanation for this gap; principals typically involve teachers in decision-making only superficially. For example, principals may ask teachers to decide whether or not to move forward with a proposed initiative (e.g., Should we do lesson study?) rather than engaging them more fully as partners in problem diagnosis and solution identification (e.g., How could we work together to strengthen our instruction?).

This is a big problem for two reasons. First, truly engaging teachers as partners in decision-making is a powerful leadership practice because it allows for teachers to draw on their instructional expertise and knowledge of students and colleagues to inform the decision. Second, when principals and teachers make decisions together, principals gain teachers’ commitment for implementation as part of the decision-making process. When principals only engage teachers superficially in decision-making, they don’t benefit from teachers’ knowledge in shaping the decision and are unlikely to gain their commitment for implementing the proposed solution.

“Through this collaborative process, we can bring more diverse perspectives to defining the problems we center in our change efforts.”

Ltc: In your recent work investigating how educators experience policy shifts in high-accountability contexts, you find that policy alignment, thoughtful sequencing, slower pace, and extensive support can be helpful in creating successful change. How might your findings help scholars and practitioners imagine and implement policy changes more effectively? 

ELS: I think we would benefit from paying greater attention to the larger environmental conditions we are creating for policy change. What are the conditions we are creating and what do they feel like for the educators responsible for policy implementation?

In a strategy activity in my book with Michelle Forman and Candice Bocala, The Internal Coherence Framework: Creating the Conditions for Continuous Improvement for Schools, we ask educators to reflect on the question: What does it feel like to be a teacher in this school? I think this question is essential in policy change. Do teachers feel like they are focused and engaged in sustained learning in an effort to implement a change that will result in meaningful benefits for students? Or are they overwhelmed by multiple initiatives with little time to really understand and apply new learning about these ideas in their classroom? We typically pair ambitious policy goals with pretty limited support for learning what changes are necessary to meet these goals. Changing practice is difficult and time-consuming work!

My research looking specifically at principals suggests that when principals acknowledge the challenge presented by new instructional policies and frame this challenge as one that requires learning to work with students and content in new ways, they are more likely to close the gap between current practice and policy goals than when they frame the challenge as one of simply executing new approaches (Stosich, 2017). As research from Amy Edmondson and others suggests, when we frame policy change as a “learning” rather than an “execution” challenge, we acknowledge that we don’t know everything we need to know to meet our goals for policy change and, thus, open ourselves to new learning and change. An execution challenge is more appropriate for routine changes, which are rarely the focus of policy change.

In my research with Emily Hodge on the Common Core (Hodge & Stosich, 2022), we found that when policies are introduced in rapid succession even those that are connected and reinforcing can be experienced by teachers and leaders as overwhelming and incoherent. This is particularly true when you introduce high-stakes accountability. We need a supportive environment for learning and change during policy implementation, one that provides the time and support necessary for learning and change before introducing accountability. This should include sustained, job-embedded opportunities for professional learning about the policy change and systems that reinforce and support this learning, such as aligned curriculum and assessment materials and ongoing, developmental feedback for teachers and school leaders.

“Learning is challenging but also rewarding—something we need to acknowledge and celebrate.”

Ltc: Educational Change expects those engaged in and with schools, schooling, and school systems to spearhead deep and often difficult transformation. How might those in the field of Educational Change best support these individuals and groups through these processes?

ELS: Be part of the change yourself! As scholars, we learn and change our thinking all the time (hopefully!) based on new understanding we gain from those with whom we study and work.

We need to share openly with our partners about how we are shifting our beliefs and practice and why. I think this modeling is important for reinforcing the idea that learning and change is an opportunity for growth and not simply an admission of weakness. Just this past fall I really shifted how I think about how people connect and develop relationships through improvement work after a comment from a member of our doctoral program led me to question some of my assumptions. I always assumed that we build the relationships that support our collaborative learning and improvement through working together towards shared goals. A student remarked with some surprise that we seemed to just “get right down to business” working on identifying and addressing problems of practice before really getting to know each other on a more personal level. This comment really struck a chord with me and led me to think more deeply about the very personal nature of change and what relationships could best support our collective change efforts. I tried to reflect openly about this change and how her thinking had changed my own during the course in hopes that this would encourage others to be open to change. I also thanked her—learning is challenging but also rewarding—something we need to acknowledge and celebrate.

Still, change can be personally challenging. Something I read in James Spillane’s (2004) book about standards implementation has stuck with me for a long time: when we ask people to learn new ways of doing familiar things, we risk damaging their self-concept. Essentially, when we ask people to change what they are already doing, we ask them to admit that what they have been doing wasn’t good enough and needs to change. This can feel a lot like telling me that I’m not good enough. I think the change process becomes less daunting when we share openly and model how we are changing our own beliefs and practices. This is important for people in all roles but particularly for leaders—are you asking others to be open to change without being open to change yourself? This creates an inhospitable environment for authentic learning and change, which requires acknowledging the limitations of our current knowledge and being open to new ideas and approaches.

Ltc: Where do you perceive the field of Educational Change is going? What excites you about Educational Change now and in the future? 

ELS: I am excited about the more critical lenses educational leaders and scholars are bringing to their work in educational change. In doing so, there has been greater attention to not only issues of achievement and access but also issues of identity and power as part the focus of change. For instance, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some very exciting work happening in a Bronx Community School District that involves networks of principals working together to address three equity-focused issues: reducing racial disproportionality in chronic absenteeism, strengthening culturally responsive-sustaining education (CRSE), and creating more affirming and inclusive school environments. In my view, chronic absenteeism is an access issue, while the district’s work on strengthening CRSE addresses issues of identity—including ensuring students’ identity is reflected in the curriculum—and power, as they teach students to understand and address systems of oppression. I am energized by the focus on more holistic, student-centered, and culturally responsive discussions of learning and change taking place in so many districts and schools.

My favorite recent book is Decoteau Irby’s Stuck improving: Racial equity and school leadership. One important lesson I took from his research on racial equity improvement is that centering Black and Brown people’s perspectives, what he describes as “Black and Brown people’s influential presence,” is essential for understanding problems and monitoring progress (and setbacks) with attention to the influence of race and racism. This involves much more than simply seeking out the perspectives of Black and Brown youth, educators, and community members on the change work at one point in time. Instead, it involves building the organization—the school or district—in ways that will ensure Black and Brown people are not only present but actively influencing our change work at every step—including the problems we identify, the decisions we make about how to work on them, and all our learning along the way.

References

Forman, M. L., Stosich, E. L., & Bocala, C. (2017). The internal coherence framework: Creating the conditions for continuous improvement in schools. Harvard Education Press.

Hodge, E. & Stosich, E. L. (2022). Accountability, alignment, and coherence: How educators made sense of complex policy environments in the Common Core era. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. https://doi.org/10.3102/01623737221079650

Irby, D. J. (2021). Stuck improving: Racial equity and school leadership. Harvard Education Press.

Spillane, J. P. (2004). Standards deviation: How schools misunderstand educational policy. Harvard University Press.

Stosich, E. L. (2017). Leading in a time of ambitious reform: Principals in high-poverty urban elementary schools frame the challenge of the Common Core State Standards. Elementary School Journal, 117(4), 539-565. https://doi.org/10.1086/691585

Stosich, E. L. (2020). Central office leadership for instructional improvement: Developing collaborative leadership among principals and instructional leadership team members. Teachers College Record, 122(9). https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=23383
Stosich, E. L. (2021). “Are we an advisory board or a decision making entity?”: Teachers’ involvement in decision making in instructional leadership teams. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2021.1995879

Is Schooling Around the World the Same? Classroom photos from France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Sweden and India

Do schools around the world show the same basic patterns of organization and instruction found in US schools and classrooms over the past 100 years? Larry Cuban explored this question in a series of speculative blog posts over the past few months. Cuban acknowledged the limitations of his unsystematic review of classroom photos he found on the internet, but Cuban’s reflections also serve as another opportunity to continue conversations about what has and hasn’t changed in schooling over time and across contexts. To that end, in this week’s post, Thomas Hatch pulls together some of Cuban’s observations and photos.

To what extent does the prevailing organization of the age-graded school and dominant teacher-centered way of instruction found in many U.S. public schools characterize schools and classrooms in other countries? Larry Cuban asked this question in a series of seven blog posts that began with Schooling in the U.S. and around the World (Part 1). He posed this question as one means of challenging his own observation of these patterns in the US, wondering, “perhaps I am incorrect because there are other ways to organize classrooms and teach elsewhere in the world of which I am ignorant. This latter possibility of my being unaware of other patterns in organizing schools and teaching approaches in other nations is one I want to explore. I may be incorrect in claiming these historic patterns of schooling and teaching in the U.S. are present in other nations.”

Subsequent posts then went on to describe the basic organization of education in France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Sweden, and India and a non-representative scan of online pictures of classrooms in each system. Cuban also shared responses from readers who had experience in schools in Russia, Japan, and France (Chemistry Lesson in Russian Secondary School (Mary Sue Burns); Japanese Classrooms: From Chaos to Complete Control (Mary DeVries); Teaching in a French School (Renee Z. Wang)

Cuban’s posts show photos with common images of students sitting in rows facing the front of a classroom:

Clockwise from top left: Sweden; Uttar Pradesh, India; Preschool in Japan (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama); 1st grade in Russia; secondary school classroom in Germany; Second grade classroom in France

Some of those posts also show photos that feature both the same classroom organization that dominated US classrooms throughout the 20th Century and the display or use of new technologies invented at the beginning of the 21st Century:

Schoolchildren listen to a teacher showing how to use “GraphoLearn”, an application on a digital tablet, to learn to read, in a primary school in Marseille, France & classroom use of technology used in a pilot project in India

Along with the pictures of students in sitting in rows around the world, an occasional picture shows students and teachers seated in a circle:

Sweden; India; Japan; Germany (Gordon Welters for The New York Times)

While acknowledging the short-comings of his approach and inviting readers to challenge his generalizations, Cuban concluded “…similarities are obvious:

  • Every nation compels parents to send their sons and daughters to school up to a decade or more.
  • Every one pays the costs for schooling either directly or indirectly.
  • Every one is age-graded.
  • Every one publishes national (or state) curriculum standards for each elementary and secondary school subject.
  • Every one tests student performance in elementary and secondary school subjects.
  • Every one has at least one teacher for each classroom.

Some are national (or federal) systems and some are state-operated with the federal government and states splitting funding and supervisory responsibilities. All of these nations and their states set curriculum standards for each subject and administer tests to determine if schools and students are meeting those standards.

Some nations have centralized systems (e.g., France, Russia, Italy, Japan) where ministry officials make decisions for schools and some are decentralized (e.g., Canada, U.S. Norway) with states and local districts having a moderate degree of discretion to alter what national authorities require. Whether centralized or decentralized, individual schools in every nation have some autonomy in adapting national or state curriculum when organizing for instruction. Need I add that once they close their classroom doors, teachers also exercise discretion in teaching the lesson they planned for the students in front of them that day.

What needs to be stressed that these commonalities among nations in establishing and operating systems of schooling over the past century exist side-by-side with inevitable within-nation variations between rural and urban and wealthy and poor schools that exist. Both commonalities and variations influence the schooling and teaching that occurs daily.”

For Cuban’s full posts see:

Schooling in the U.S. and around the World (Part 1)

Schooling around the World (Part 2)

Schooling around the World (Part 3)

Schooling around the World (Part 4)

Schooling around the World (Part 5)

Schooling around the World (Part 6)

Schooling around the World (Part 7)

Chemistry Lesson in Russian Secondary School (Mary Sue Burns)

Japanese Classrooms: From Chaos to Complete Control (Mary DeVries)

Teaching in a French School (Renee Z. Wang)

What role do professional organizations play in helping educators navigate these tumultuous and dangerous times? Lead the Change responds to the US Supreme Court

In place of this month’s Lead the Change (LtC) Interview, Alex Lamb, LtC Editor posed this key question to leaders of several professional organizations in education. Below, we share Lamb’s introduction, her question, and the responses she received. Lamb is a postdoctoral researcher in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy program at the Neag School at the University of Connecticut.

Note from Alex Lamb, LtC Editor: This month, we decided to pause our regular format to better respond to the wave of recent Supreme Court rulings deeply impacting the daily lives of millions of educators and school children specifically. These rulings have shaken many of those in our community and ushered in sweeping changes to the systems we rely on for care and learning.

As I read the news, I felt scared, rageful, demoralized, and dehumanized. I thought about
how we might use this platform and this community to build coalitions that move us to a better future. In these desperate times, how can we lean on our communities to find solace and energy for the path ahead?

In this issue, we hear from the leaders of professional organizations, AERA (American Educational Research Association), AEFP (Association for Education Finance and Policy), UCEA (University Council for Educational Administration), and our Educational Change SIG chair. In hearing from these leaders, we hope to provide guidance, solidarity, hope, and community. I asked them to respond to the following question:

Recently, there have been a rash of Supreme Court decisions that have fundamentally reshaped American society and schools including women’s rights to bodily autonomy, the use of public funds for religious schooling, and shifting rules regarding prayer in schools. What role do you see professional
organizations of education scholarship playing in helping scholars and practitioners navigate these tumultuous and dangerous times?

These leaders all generously offered ideas about how to best move forward in these trying times. I
hope you find something in this issue to support and sustain you. These responses helped me to
feel less alone, and I hope they can do the same for you. Take care of yourselves.

-Alex

The Work of Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth

H. Richard Milner IV, President, AERA,

Felice J. Levine, Executive Director, AERA

The questions posed to us by the editor of the Lead to Change Series are very timely and
complex. There is no single function or role that defines what we do. The American Research Association (AERA) as a scientific member association has multiple tools and approaches at our command consonant with our mission.

On matters of public policy and position taking, AERA has been enabled by a statement on Position Taking and Policy Processes Guidelines adopted by AERA Council in January 2005.1 That document overviews the range of ways that AERA as a professional research association can address significant social policy issues through research. The value of featured symposia, teach-ins, and professional workshops at the AERA Annual Meeting; research briefings to governmental agencies and holding public fora that bring together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners; special issues of journals elevating research and research directions; and professional development workshops to build capacity in the research community are just some of those ways.

When the issues are societally significant and the research is compelling, AERA with Council’s approval has prepared and led research amicus briefs or joined sign-on letters to communicate the scientific studies and scholarly bodies of work that need to be considered by courts or policy bodies. AERA has done so over two decades in a series of “affirmative action” education cases before the Supreme Court. The decision to do so is consonant with AERA’s mission to serve the public good and make accessible research when the education research is compelling, when the issues are of high social significance, and when distortion of research for advocacy ends may also be evident.2

As we at AERA see it, professional research organizations have an essential role in supporting and facilitating the advancement of knowledge, in building the capacity to do so and in fostering wide awareness of that knowledge to peoples around the globe. Especially in these deeply polarizing and political moments in the United States, our attention to salient issues of public significance needs to be more rather than less elevated, and we need to press for evidence-based decisions. Where there is germane education research, we also have an organizational responsibility to be sure that work is visible and accessible in policy and practice settings and that researchers in our field are encouraged to do so.

“Education research must be designed intentionally to bring to light when policy or practice formulations harm certain groups or the collective good.”

The work of professional organizations in response to Supreme Court decisions such as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the decisions on religion and schooling bring to the fore all these issues. To be sure, members of AERA embody an enormous range of diversities and have various belief systems. Members also reflect a spectrum of political views ranging from ultra-liberal to highly conservative. They also approach their research and the problem spaces they probe from different epistemological orientations. They draw from divergent conceptual and theoretical tools. They construct different conjectures and support or are active in different forms of advocacy or mission organizations that reflect those interests and views. What binds us together, however, is our members’ commitment to our research mission—to advance knowledge in ways that embrace discussion and debate, that allow for and consider divergent questions and issues, and that arrive at research implications or applications based on the best of our knowledge at any point in time.

“The lives of many women will never be the same under this ruling, and our organizations must be responsive to these shifting times.”

In our view, this means that AERA must be steadfast in our emphasis on research—in naming, speaking out against, and building systems to dismantle injustice and inequity based on robust and sustained study.3 To be consequential – it should lead to evidence about education in relation to the potential deleterious effects of rulings and policies that have a real bearing on physical, psychological, and emotional health and wellbeing of our members as well as the communities in which we study. In this way, education research must be designed intentionally to bring to light when policy or practice formulations harm certain groups or the collective good. Moreover, education research must be consequential in making recommendations based on science— for what these moments of societal shifts might mean for the lives that education helps to shape.

As an organization, we hope we will as a community work to do the following:

  1. Listen to, be sensitive and empathetic toward, and work in collaboration with the people most influenced by oppressive policy and practice shifts. This means that expectations for research, knowledge production, teaching, and service in institutions such as higher education, think tanks, and other organizations must shift expectations based on needs of women.4
  2. Learn about and make recommendations on ways to co-construct communities of health and wellness and not operate from a business-as-usual framework. The lives of many women will never be the same under this ruling, and our organizations must be responsive to these shifting times.
  3. Focus our research, teaching, and service on matters that address intersections of the Supreme Court rulings and education. In short, educational organizations have a responsibility to work with communities to design research agendas of education consequences in theory, practice, praxis, and policy.
  4. Share what we know widely and often. What we learn and come to know from education research must be shared as widely as possible with communities inside and outside of the academy. As politicians make decisions about education, they should be able to rely on the world’s largest education research association to find answers to problems. Because those outside of our communities may not read traditional outlets with education research such as full-length books or journal articles, our work can be informative and shared through blog posts, poetry, data-rich opinion essays, social media commentaries, music, short films, YouTube clips, and newspaper articles.

Consonant with steps 1-4 above, AERA’s 2005 guidelines also provide for AERA’s speaking out in opposition to or in support of public policies that centrally affect our field (see 2005 guidelines on “mission-oriented policy and position taking”), including related to the education research workforce. The Dobbs decision is likely to have an adverse impact on women graduate students and professionals in education research. The implications of this situation for further actions by AERA, including with other scientific associations, is under active consideration.

AERA has not heretofore been silent in unparalleled times. But we reaffirm that our responses must be guided by the best of what we know from sound empirical research in pursuit of truth and the Association’s commitment to diversity and equity for all.

Jason A. Grissom, President, AEFP

The Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) is a professional organization for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners tackling the most important education finance and policy issues of the day across the spectrum from early childhood to postsecondary education. Our primary goal, stated in the AEFP mission statement, is to promote research and connections between researchers and policymakers/practitioners that can inform education policy and finance and, ultimately, improve educational outcomes.

The question of how professional organizations like ours can help scholars and practitioners navigate the current environment is one for which we have very incomplete answers right now. That’s why I start with our mission: when organizations face new questions, mission statements can provide direction. And ours highlights that two ideas sit at the center of AEFP’s work: research and connections. So, in thinking about how AEFP can help our members respond to the current moment, I start with those ideas.

Let’s start with research. An important way we can meet the current moment is by creating space and visibility for timely, high-quality research to inform the policies and practices that must respond to these big changes in our social environment, especially as they intersect with education. Our members care deeply about current issues and no doubt will be generating new evidence about these shifts and their impacts on students and educators. We can promote that evidence and help push it into public debate.

To this end, the last annual conference featured a special track for research on racial and other forms of educational equity and another for research on COVID-19. We organized “policy talks” (featuring researchers and practitioners in public conversation) that directly addressed these topics. We invited a keynote who spoke to the connection between research and advocacy around this “dual pandemic.” We plan for our next conference to similarly highlight research, policy, and practice around social and educational issues exemplified in Texas, given that Fort Worth is slated to host the event. This means directing attention toward research at the intersection between education and, for example, reproductive care or LGBTQI+ rights that are so salient in Texas and beyond.

The point is that AEFP members often shape their research in response to issues of the day, and we want the conference and our other events to be ready vehicles for sharing, discussing, and spreading that research. Professional organizations like ours are uniquely positioned to play this kind of elevating role.

“A more inclusive community is going to supply better answers to more complex problems of policy and practice.”

Finding new ways to build connections are just as important. A defining characteristic of AEFP has always been the sense of community among its members, and community feels more valuable now than ever. One of our major initiatives of the last year has been the creation of new “community groups” organized around different aspects of identity (e.g., scholars of color, LGBTQI+ members) to promote networking, reflection, and professional learning opportunities. In tumultuous times, a role of professional organizations is to build this kind of connective tissue, and indeed this year we are doubling down, investing new resources and starting new groups. Tighter connections to fellow travelers can be key sources of support and reinforcement.

They can also present new opportunities for collaboration around the research the field needs to address the challenges a rapidly shifting policy environment poses. That’s why it’s so important now that we strengthen connections not just among the kinds of researchers and policymakers who traditionally have made up AEFP’s membership but among a more diverse set of voices. A more inclusive community is going to supply better answers to more complex problems of policy and practice. The current moment should be (and in our case, at least, is) intensifying efforts of professional associations to become more welcoming and deliberately inclusive of a diverse membership.

David DeMatthews, President, UCEA

Education research societies, such as the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), play a critical role in encouraging and supporting education research and preparing the next generation of researchers and practitioners. Education research societies provide important opportunities for training future researchers and practitioners, disseminating research findings, and incubating and testing innovations and new ideas. Over the past few years, the importance of these research societies has become even more critical.

“Over the past few years, the importance of these research societies has become even more critical.”

Perhaps more than ever before, education researchers and practitioners are working in a highly politically-divisive environment. Climate change continues to disrupt life on our planet and the work of education systems while many elected officials deny its existence. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted communities, families, students, and educators. The murder of George Floyd and ongoing calls for racial and social justice led many state legislatures to make it illegal to teach about racism or a true accounting of U.S. history. The Trump administration’s separation of children from families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the January 6 th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and a wave of recent Supreme Court decisions undermine American values, civil rights victories, and the separation of
church and state (e.g. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization; Carson v. Makin).

The current divisive political context is a serious challenge for education research societies and its members, but also serves as an important opportunity to reflect, build and strengthen relationships, and further advance knowledge for the public good. At this moment, education research societies are extremely important because they serve as powerful, formalized social networks able to speak to broad social challenges and offer the public evidence-based insights into complex issues. However, education research societies must be even more intentional about how they mentor aspiring and current researchers and practitioners, how they sponsor and disseminate research, and their approaches and opportunities for incubating new ideas.

Moving forward, education research societies can be more responsive and further their missions by:

  • Investing in preparation pipelines that attract more diverse researchers and practitioners capable of drawing from different disciplines and experiences;
  • Partnering and participating within other research societies and practitioner organizations to champion research, practitioner knowledge, and justice;
  • Safeguarding academic freedom so researchers and practitioners can raise questions and new ideas without fear of retribution;
  • Strategically investing into areas of research that can serve the public good and address pressing problems of practice;
  • Mentoring researchers and practitioners to be more effective at communicating research findings and relevant information in nation, state, and local policy arenas.

These actions are not comprehensive but can bolster the impact of education research societies and their members as they seek to advance the public good. Many education research societies are already engaged in these efforts, so it is also important that researcher and practitioner members remain engaged, volunteer, participate in governance and oversight activities, and offer ongoing support within their respective societies.

Jennie Weiner, Chair, Educational Change SIG

As someone who considers herself an intersectional feminist and spends quite a bit of my professional life thinking about how to make educational systems more equitable and better places for adults and students to grow and learn, it is perhaps not a surprise I have recently been in conversation with a number of people, including some of my students, colleagues, friends, and family members trying to make sense of these court decisions and seeking advice of how to respond. Never have I felt so unable to provide comfort or really answers of any kind to myself or others. I feel gutted, I am despairing, and honestly, I don’t know what to do.

My paralysis is not due to a lack of affiliation or a failure of those in positions of power or leadership in our field to try to give comfort or purpose to our work. Rather, I am at a point where I think, just as our foremothers argued, that using the very systems that enabled these things to happen will not work to change them. I don’t think these are problems that can be solved with better research or doing more of the work we have always done (or even some of what we haven’t). The tools that I have as an educational researcher are insufficient to make the laws of this country treat me and other women, girls, and any other pregnant person as human beings with bodily autonomy and the right to live. No matter how good I am making my work accessible via social media or through op-eds, I do not believe I can make those in power reinstitute the separation of church and state or to stop the use of public funds for religious education and prayer in school.

So what to do? Well, I might suggest that there are lots of people who have been fighting for our rights and the rights of educators, communities, and children without it being officially sanctioned by those in power and that we should be looking to them and not to the academy for answers. I note here that some of these are folks are in our SIG and AERA more broadly and have worked hard to tell us that we would never get real transformation through the existing system. There are also community organizers, educators, parents, young people, and lots of others who have long been doing this work and know what to do and how to do it. We should ask them what to do and listen when they tell us. I’m trying to follow this advice and do all I can to listen deeply to them, learn from them, use my resources to uplift, bankroll, and promote their work.

“There are community organizers, educators, parents, young people, and lots of others who have long been doing this work and know what to do and how to do it. We should ask them what to do and listen when they tell us.”

This does not mean I am giving up on my work or educational research more broadly and what I believe it can do – move people to ask different and hopefully more thoughtful questions about change and school systems and equity. In this best cases, such efforts will then lead to new and better solutions. As such, I still plan to engage in my research, serve the larger education community, and teach and learn from my students. In my professional life, I will continue to make a stink that can push the academy, the professional organizations with which I affiliate, and my institution to be fairer and more humane.

As the Educational Change SIG, I would suggest too that we can do the same in our organization and respective institutions. We can push for policies and structures that challenge the status quo and evoke research ideas and methods that promote equity and justice. But I am also going to be honest with myself that while this work is important, it is not, in and of itself, my solution to how to navigate these times, nor do I expect it to be – and that makes me feel just a little bit better.

Notes

  1. American Educational Research Association. (2007, January/February). AERA position taking and policymaking processes guidelines. Educational Researcher, 36(1), 50-54. https://www.aera.net/Portals/38/docs/About_AERA/AERA%20Position%20Taking.pdf
  2. See, e.g., Levine, F. J., & Ancheta, A. N. (2013). The AERA et al. amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin: Scientific organizations serving society. Educational Researcher, 42(3), 166–171. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X13486765
  3. Note that AERA adopted a social justice mission statement in 2004 reaffirmed in 2006. See American Educational Research Association. (2007, January/February). AERA social justice mission statement. Educational Researcher, 36(1), 49. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0013189X06299093
  4. The adverse impact of COVID-19 for graduate student and early career women and women of color was pointed out in Levine, F. J., Nasir, N. S., Rios- Aguilar, C., Gildersleeve, R. E., Rosich, K. J., Bang, M., Bell, N. E., & Holsapple, M. A. (2021). Voices from the field: The impact of COVID-19 on early career scholars and doctoral students [Focus group study report]. American Educational Research Association; Spencer Foundation. https://doi.org/10.3102/aera20211v

The LtC series is produced by Alex Lamb and colleagues from the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. A fully formatted pdf of this month’s post is available on the LtC website.

“The public school as neutral common ground is over”: Sam Abrams on the Supreme Court’s support for public funding of religious schools in the US

This week, Sam Abrams lays out some of the key implications of recent Supreme Court decisions related to education, highlighting that by failing to acknowledge related foreign precedents, the US Supreme Court has made clear that religious schools can get public funds without adhering to the same standards and regulations as public schools. Abrams is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education at Teachers College Columbia University; Director, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education; and a Fulbright Visiting Professor, University of Turku, Finland, 2022-23. He is also the author of Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press, 2016). This post was published originally as The Telling Gap in Carson v. Makin by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education. 

In tandem with its reversal of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court stands to substantially alter everyday life in America with its recent decisions of ­Carson v. Makin, amplifying its support for public funding of religious schools, and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, allowing prayer in public schools. The significance of Kennedy is blunt. With the Court ruling 6-3 along party lines that the dismissal of a football coach at a public high school in the state of Washington for holding post-game prayer meetings violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, we can expect similar meetings as well as Bible study sessions, nativity pageants, and the like in public schools across the country. Such events will surely lead some students to feel coerced into participating for fear of disappointing peers and authority figures. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor indeed noted that a lower court had determined that some players said they joined the coach’s prayer meetings “because they felt social pressure to follow their coach and teammates.”

The significance of Carson is more subtle but equally profound. In Carson, the same justices ruled 6-3—as forecasted on this site following oral arguments in December—that Maine’s exclusion of religious schools from partaking in its Town Tuitioning Program likewise violated the right to free exercise of religion. This program covers all or part of the cost for students in rural districts without high schools to attend either public or nonsectarian private high schools in nearby districts or beyond (if the school is public, the total cost is covered; if it is private, coverage is pegged to per-pupil statewide average spending). With this decision, we can expect religious groups in considerably rural states across the country to lobby legislators to create programs similar to Maine’s.  

But there’s another dimension to Carson, which derives as much from what it did not say as from what it did. To grasp the wider implications of Carson requires understanding what is missing from the decision. While many countries—such as BelgiumFrance, and the Netherlands—have for many years allowed a considerable portion of their students to attend religious schools with public funding, the Court did not cite such foreign practice. In the Netherlands, in fact, 55 percent of students attend religious schools with public funding. Why then didn’t the Court cite foreign practice? This indifference to foreign practice holds, as well, for the majority opinions in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002, validating the provision of government-funded vouchers to cover tuition at religious schools in Cleveland, and Espinoza et al. v. Montana Department of Revenue in 2020, mandating that if a state permits students to attend private schools with scholarships funded by a tuition tax-credit program, it cannot bar religious schools from participation.

American jurisprudence does tend to stick to domestic precedent, but that custom cannot explain this disregard for education policy abroad.

American jurisprudence does tend to stick to domestic precedent, but that custom cannot explain this disregard for education policy abroad. After all, former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted with the majority in Zelman, was a prominent champion of deference to foreign practice and inspired others to follow in his path. In authoring the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Kennedy famously drew on British legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights to overturn state laws criminalizing homosexual relations. Two years later, Kennedy made use of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child in writing the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons to nullify the constitutionality of the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

The answer to this question is crucial. To have invoked foreign practice would have been to invite trouble. Publicly funded religious schools in such countries as Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are regulated to a degree that American proponents of religious schools would find unacceptable. In Carson, Chief Justice John Roberts conceded in this light that while Maine public schools must adhere to specific standards for instruction in a range of subjects, that is not so for nonsectarian and religious private schools. Though accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), such schools, wrote Chief Justice Roberts, “are exempt from these requirements, and instead subject only to general ‘standards and indicators’ governing the implementation of their own chosen curriculum.”

In Carson, Chief Justice John Roberts conceded in this light that while Maine public schools must adhere to specific standards for instruction in a range of subjects, that is not so for nonsectarian and religious private schools.

As Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in his dissent, one of the two schools at the heart of Carson, both of which are accredited by NEASC, considers academic and religious education “completely intertwined,” so much so that “in science class, students learn that atmospheric layers ‘are evidence of God’s good design.’ ”At religious as well as nonsectarian private schools funded with public money in such countries as BelgiumFrance, and the Netherlands, curricula must comport with national standards (meaning, for example, no attribution to divine design for atmospheric composition). In addition, teachers must be certified and guaranteed access to union membership while members of the LGBTQ community cannot be barred from either enrollment or employment.

The parameters of NEASC and other independent school organizations across the United States do not come close to such expectations, as Justice Breyer’s point about science education indicates. Indeed, many religious schools, such as the two defining Carsonrefuse to hire gay or lesbian teachers. While Maine passed an amendment to its human rights act to bar schools from receiving public money if they discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, that does not mean other states motivated by Carson to create similar programs will enact such protections; nor does it mean that Maine’s amendment will go unchallenged on the grounds that it interferes with an institution’s right to free exercise of religion.

In a guest essay in The New York Times, Aaron Tang, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, cited this amendment as a model for deflecting the impact of decisions like Carson, but he neither acknowledged that other states implementing town tuitioning programs might not take such action nor recognized that Maine’s amendment might not last. Setting aside whether public funding of any form of religious schooling poses a threat to democratic values by fostering societal division and conflict, as Justice Breyer claimed in his dissent, there can be no doubt that public funding of lightly regulated religious schooling poses precisely such a threat.

Setting aside whether public funding of any form of religious schooling poses a threat to democratic values by fostering societal division and conflict, as Justice Breyer claimed in his dissent, there can be no doubt that public funding of lightly regulated religious schooling poses precisely such a threat.

Policymakers abroad have understood this. And it is basic to our own tradition. The Supreme Court made this clear in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, ruling unanimously that Oregon could not, as decided by a statewide referendum in 1922, bar private schools from operating but that it was empowered to carefully regulate them. “No question is raised concerning the power of the State reasonably to regulate all schools,” the Court declared in Pierce, “to inspect, supervise and examine them, their teachers and pupils; to require that all children of proper age attend some school, that teachers shall be of good moral character and patriotic disposition, that certain studies plainly essential to good citizenship must be taught, and that nothing be taught which is manifestly inimical to the public welfare.”

With Carson building on Zelman and Espinoza, public funding of religious schooling appears irreversible. But that does not mean the message of Pierce and the lessons from abroad cannot be heeded. With Kennedy, the public school as neutral common ground is over.” With Carson building on Zelman and Espinoza, public funding of religious schooling appears irreversible. But that does not mean the message of Pierce and the lessons from abroad cannot be heeded. With Kennedy, the public school as neutral common ground is over.