April 10, 2020

Making Plans in The Lingering Uncertainty

“We find ourselves in a river. Which of the things around us should we value when none of them can offer a firm foothold?”


Here we are, waiting for something to happen. For the curve to flatten, for vaccines to arrive, for some good news to peek through dark clouds.


I recently heard economist Tyler Cowen dub this moment “the Lingering Uncertainty”. I feel that when the quarantine is lifted, I will walk outside and find the world much changed from how I left it.


Massive changes have already come to teaching, practically overnight. The Center on Reinventing Public Education has begun to document all of the responses school districts have jury-rigged to keep their students learning. There is no common thread.


“If you’ve seen the present then you’ve seen everything- as it’s been since the beginning, as it will be forever. The same substance, the same form. All of it.”


We see before us:  a general sense of crisis. Conflicting guidelines from decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels. Opportunists touting unproven panaceas. And trained professionals on the scene doing their best with inadequate resources and overwhelming need.


Am I describing the current response to COVID-19, or America’s education policy of the past few decades?


This moment feels strangely familiar to anyone who has followed the travails of education “reform” and change in recent memory.


“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”


This is the first post in a new series focused on how we can fill the gaps of the Lingering Uncertainty with solutions to broken funding formulae, kneejerk policy decisions, and the chicanery of charter schools.


Those who move first have the advantage. This moment is an opportunity to refocus on fundamentals, to use the attention and energy of crisis to build with purpose.


This blog series will cover:


  • The psychology behind why politicians and policy makers react instead of anticipate. 
  • What economists and sociologists can tell us about changes to education funding and policy during the Great Recession.
  • How education union leaders can navigate economic slowdown and school funding shortfalls to address the chronic problems of their school districts and state.


What questions and concerns do you have about the future of your school district and union? Email me at taylor@educationunionlab.com, and I’ll aim to address them in future posts.


Note: all quotes are from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, with translation by Gregory Hays.

May 21, 2020
Charter Schools On Ice

A new path to freeze charter school growth right now

read more

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