When the Next Big Thing turns out not to be so big, case #8,762,398

Google Fiber. From the Associate Press via the Charlotte Observer:

Google’s parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks.

The company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious – and expensive – Google Fiber program, is stepping down as CEO of Access, the division of Google corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., that operates the 5-year-old program.

In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it’s already operating, including Charlotte; Raleigh-Durham; Atlanta and Austin, Texas.

Google Fiber’s announcement this week doesn’t change its plans in Charlotte, and work here continues as planned, said Kate Luck, a spokeswoman for the city.

Does anybody really think that what’s left of Google Fiber will now as aggressively build out its network in Charlotte or the Triangle? No, didn’t think so.

“It is not clear whether the RTT grants improved student achievement”

The above statement comes from a Mathematica Policy Research assessment of Race to the Top (RTT), a federal grant program that awarded more than $4 billion dollars in grants to states.  North Carolina received a $400 million grant during Round 2 of the competition in 2010.

The authors conclude,

…there is no conclusive evidence on whether the RTT program (or the policies and practices promoted by the program) improves student outcomes. In addition, few studies on the implementation of RTT-promoted policies and practices comprehensively examine all the areas described in the RTT application, and few examine whether the policies and practices used by RTT states differ from those used by other states.

Simply put, states may have raised student achievement, but the researchers could not determine if RTT had anything to do with it.

The Obama administration claimed that RTT would improve educational outcomes, yet they made it impossible for evaluators to determine if grant recipients achieved that goal.  That is both infuriating and predictable.

Drop in number of teachers who resigned to teach in another state

During the 2014-15 school year, 1,028 teachers said that they resigned to teach in another state.  According to the draft 2015-16 State of the Teaching Profession Report, 828 teacher reported that they exited the classroom last year for that reason.

Overall, around 0.9 percent of the 95,549 teachers employed in North Carolina between March 2015 and March 2016 chose to resign to teacher elsewhere.  In 2015, approximately 1.1 percent of teachers bolted for schools over yonder.

Focus on raising pay for early career teachers was the correct policy

Below is another chart from the draft 2015-16 State of the Teaching Profession Report.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 11.12.07 AMThe chart suggests that early career teachers are much more likely to leave the profession to teach in another state or change careers.  Raising the base salary for these teachers may begin to curb attrition when it is more likely to occur, that is, during the first five years.

Departing teachers less effective than peers

Here is a critical point from the draft 2015-16 State of the Teaching Profession Report.

Additionally, analysis of the effectiveness of teachers who no longer remain employed in NC public schools shows that departing teachers are, on average, less effective than their counterparts who choose to remain employed in NC public schools. (p. 25)

This is one of the positive, yet rarely acknowledged, aspects of turnover.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 11.09.10 AM

Draft report: Teacher turnover rate was 9 percent last year

The N.C. State Board of Education just posted the draft 2015-16 State of the Teaching Profession Report.  It indicates that the overall attrition rate for 2015-16 was 9.04 percent.  Note that the attrition rate includes retirees.

Because of changes made to the report, N.C. Department of Public Instruction researchers say that this year’s data should not be compared to rates from previous years, including the 14.84 percent rate reported last year.

I’ll post additional information from the report later today.

Meanwhile….in New York….

As you probably are aware, early voting is an issue here in North Carolina, with an NBC News analysis concluding “long wait times may bear out recent concerns that the controversial Republican-backed cuts to early voting, in combination with other voting changes and population growth, could restrict access to the ballot in some areas.”

(Interesting footnote—NBC characterizes Greensboro as a “predominantly African-American city.” While Gboro certainly has a thriving black community, I wouldn’t describe it as “predominantly African-American.”)

So you can imagine my surprise when listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air” last night to hear this interesting bit of information on the state of New York. Fresh Air host Terry Gross was interviewing Rick Hasen, founder of the Election Law Blog and author of the book “The Voting Wars.” Gross asked Hasen about early voting (emphasis mine):

There have been fights between Democrats and Republicans over extending early voting or cutting it back, and this has led to some litigation. There are some states – Pennsylvania is probably at the top of that list, put New York on there, some Northeastern states – that offer no early voting, that offer no absentee balloting for people who don’t have a good excuse, like being unable to get to the polling place because of a disability or being out of the country. So there are some places where voting is still very hard. And some of these states – take New York, you know, you’ve had Democrats in charge for a long time, and yet voting is still more difficult than it needs to be.

As for federal —“universal” voter registration—Hasen adds it’s “the kind of system I like to say that has unified Democrats or Republicans. They all hate it…” Why would Democrats hate it? Because it would involve voter ID…..

Newsweek keeping an eye on N.C.’s election

Newsweek parachutes into North Carolina to keep an eye on North Carolina’s election–specifically speaking black voters’ access to the polls:

Jen Jones, Democracy North Carolina’s communications director, says thus far the biggest concern has been reports of three- and four-hour waits in Wake and Mecklenburg counties—home to the state’s biggest metropolitan areas around Raleigh and Charlotte—during the first few days of early voting. The group has not received any reports of individual voter intimidation from Trump-aligned poll monitors. Trump’s website asks users to volunteer as poll watchers, but Jones said her organization had not heard of the GOP training any observers who may have signed up. The state Republican Party did not respond to an inquiry from Newsweek.

“What we’re concerned about is…you have a people who are not involved with the political process until this election going to the polls and just standing there and watching. And that can be intimidating,” says Jones. She also noted that many polling locations in the state are subject to open carry gun laws: “You may have someone with a gun standing there watching you vote.”

Autrice Campbell Long, a middle-aged bank employee, didn’t have any problems while voting October 21 in Durham but said the rhetoric coming from Trump and his supporters made her a little nervous. If anything happens, “I think it’s going to be more on Election Day, I get that sense,” she said. “I plan to bring my mom and have her vote early as well, to avoid any drama that might occur.”

Hello—-am I the only one who remembers liberal political groups monitoring the polls to make sure the 2004 election wasn’t stolen—which by the way many still claim was stolen?