Monday Reading List: The Opinions of the Presidents, Voting in North Carolina, and Complicated Local Dynamics

Welcome to the week, friends! After two solid weeks of national political ribaldry, Lawrie Mifflin and Meredith Kolodner at the Hechinger Report offer a breakdown of the education content of the conventions:

School choice and charter schools tend to be the divisive issues in the Democratic Party. Many unions – traditional bulwarks of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts – support teachers and other educators in opposing charters because most charters employ non-union teachers. But many parents and even some union educators believe that certain charter schools merit support, for their efforts to find innovative teaching methods and to boost the learning success of children from historically disadvantaged populations ... Although racial tension in the streets and with police forces were major topics at the convention, racial segregation in the nation’s schools was not – except for speeches highlighting Clinton’s past work to fight school segregation. Interestingly, the wife of Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, actually lived through the process in Virginia, as he noted in his speech.

It seems that both parties hewed to the less controversial, more "base-pleasing" elements of their platforms during the convention festivities. It's almost as if the candidates and parties were more focused on consolidating their respective bases and winning elections than providing meaningful policy solutions to complex issues of governance. Fancy that?

Now that the conventions are over, we can start playing a favorite quadrennial parlor game: who will be the next secretary of education? Peter Cunningham is first out of the gate with a set of guesses for both candidates. He's more informed than most, given his closeness to former education secretary Arne Duncan:

If Trump actually wants someone who cares about public education and knows something about it, he has plenty of options on the right side of the political spectrum. For example, New Mexico state chief Hanna Skandera or former Arizona superintendent of public instruction, Lisa Keegan. If he wants a champion for choice, he might tap Nina Rees, a former assistant secretary of education who now runs the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ... President Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, appears to be taking her cues from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who managed to walk back long-held party positions on accountability and choice ... Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who advised the Obama campaign on education and appeared to be secretary-in-waiting, only to be passed up for Arne Duncan, would also be a safe choice for President Clinton ... Clinton could also turn to a super-competent but less controversial reformer like departing D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

The operative clause in Cunningham's analysis for the Trump side of the ledger is "wants someone who cares." Also, it's unclear to me why anyone with self-respect would choose to work for the man, but I've been disappointed by smart, reasonable people before. On the Clinton side, I'm biased, but here's me if she chooses Henderson:

Try to un-see THAT!

In other presidential news, Andrew Ufifusa at EdWeek looks at how the candidates spent money on their own children's education experiences:

First, Griffith compared the candidates' private school tuition costs for the schools from which their children graduated to average per-student expenditures in public schools in the children's home state: New York in three of the four Trump children's case; California, in Tiffany Trump's case; and the District of Columbia, in Chelsea Clinton's case. 

There are more charts and graphs worth perusing in the piece, but the headline seems to be "we do one thing with our own kids while advocating something else for yours," and that's the truth for BOTH candidates and their party leaders. No matter who the next president is, though, the White House is about to become decidedly less nerdy.

Moving to the local level, a federal court struck down a 2013 North Carolina voting law that disenfranchised Black voters with "surgical precision." Those are the court's words, not mine. Here's David A. Graham at The Atlantic on the significance of the court's ruling:

In 2008, Barack Obama narrowly won North Carolina in the presidential election. But in 2010, Republicans captured both houses of the legislature, and two years later McCrory defeated Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, as Mitt Romney edged Obama. The GOP undertook a program of conservative reforms, overturning a tradition of bipartisan moderation in the state. Among those changes was the voting law. While a bill had been under consideration, the Shelby County decision led state Senator Tom Apodaca to comment, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  ... The decision is a huge win for civil-rights advocates, who have argued in cases around the nation that voter-ID laws and other similar truncations are fighting a problem that does not exist—there is minimal evidence of voting fraud, despite insistence that such laws are essential to maintaining the sanctity of the vote—and are in fact designed to limit turnout among traditionally Democratic voters, and therefore help elect Republicans.

Last week in Vox, former Mitt Romney advisor and GOP strategist Avik Roy admitted that "For the entire history of modern conservatism, its ideals have been wedded to and marred by white supremacism." It is because of that marriage that GOP election strategy relies on preventing Black communities from voting. Given the unique history of the two political parties, it's hard to imagine a future where this is not the case, but ALL of us will be better off when one of our two major political parties' fates is not tied to the systematic disenfranchisement of non-White voters.

In other local education action, check out Erin Einhorn at The Atlantic/Chalkbeat on the complicated relationship between Detroit schooling and private philanthropy. The New York Times has the story of increasing test scores for both traditional public and public charter schools in New York City. This is complicated news for Mayor Bill deBlasio, because it forces him to declare victory on the basis on a testing regime his political base wants to eradicate. 🤔🤔🤔

Finally, Derrell Bradford has a moving piece called "Did My Black Life Matter" today. Here's a teaser before I leave you:

I woke up, dead. It was tough to make out that it was me, but it was. My body was twisted and mangled. There was blood everywhere. My blue Tottenham Spurs jersey was shredded, filled with holes, and my red blood was starting to turn it purple. This must have just happened—I could still hear the crack of the bullets echoing off the nearby buildings.I woke up, dead.