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The 74 Interview: Outgoing Louisiana Chief John White on the New Orleans Experiment, His Longevity and What It Means to Be Well Educated – The 74

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

See previous 74 interviews: Sen. Cory Booker talks about the success of Newarks school reforms, civil rights activist Dr. Howard Fuller talks confronting Elizabeth Warren on charter schools, criminologist Nadine Connell talks about the data behind school shootings, former U.S. Department of Education secretary John King talks the Trump administration and more. The full archive is right here.

When you tell people youre going to conduct an exit interview with John White, Louisianas state superintendent of schools, reactions are swift. The longest-serving state education chief in the country, White has steered some of the most audacious education and school-improvement initiatives of the era, ranging from prodding teacher training programs to professionalize to creating a list of evidence-based curriculum and incentives for districts to use.

And, of course, guiding the grand experiment that has been rebuilding New Orleanss schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina into a system of independent charter schools, first under the control of the state-run Recovery School District and now, in an unprecedented governance arrangement, by the elected Orleans Parish School Board.

In the process, White has acquired a public profile thats unusually high for an education policy wonk. And so it is perhaps inevitable that in the weeks since he announced he will step down this spring, the education community grapevine has lit up with speculation about his next act.

White recently sat down with The 74 to talk about his tenure, what he learned from being a classroom teacher and what challenges education advocates should be thinking about next. He did not quell any of the rumor-mongering about his own future except to note that he will continue to be involved in Propel America, the nonprofit he co-founded that works to bridge the gap to skilled, entry-level jobs for high school graduates. And he is a new dad.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

The 74: Your friend Paymon Rouhanifard, former superintendent in Camden, New Jersey, suggested I ask about your experience as a teacher. In his view, much of what youve done in the years since you taught in Jersey City was influenced by that experience.

White: I learned a lot about what it meant to be well educated. I have carried a sense with me from then about not just wanting kids to graduate and not just wanting them to do well on certain measures, but also wanting them to have a good education. One thing this job has allowed me to come back to is the essentials of being well educated and insisting there are non-negotiables that have to do with what that means.

One of those things is to have a base of knowledge, having read certain materials and had certain discussions and studied certain places and people. If you havent done those things in this society, its very hard to think critically or strategically because you simply arent playing with the raw material, the raw knowledge that well-educated people are playing with.

I struggled with that as a teacher. Ultimately, I arrived at a pretty good plan for my kids to bolster not just their conventional skills, but the knowledge of the world and of history that would allow them to be good readers and critical thinkers.

Whats a present-day example of an outgrowth of that belief?

Were one of four states thats operating an assessment pilot under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is effectively a test that is purely based on curriculum and texts.

As an English teacher, I always ask myself, to what degree are my kids going to be able to step into a literature seminar at a university and be comfortable with and perform in that environment? The test that weve designed and are now implementing with more than 10,000 kids actually measures, Did you understand and can you make sense of the books that youve read? Not just, Can you adequately summarize this passage youve never seen before?

Thats a different level of understanding and a different level of education.

Other education leaders who have tried to make the kinds of big changes you led had much shorter tenures that often sparked political backlash. What enabled you to persist?

Ive worked for the state of Louisiana for nine years. Ive been in this role for eight years. Its a shame that we think of that as a long tenure. Students and school leaders deserve much greater continuity than they get.

I think we all can acknowledge that education has a particularly long tail in terms of impact. It takes time to see whats worked at the scale that were contemplating across 700,000 or 800,000 kids.

I always thought it would be better to be more invested for the long term to see things through to greater levels of fruition and to be able to evaluate whether the things youve done have worked while you were still in office.

In terms of why Ive been able to do it, the people who work around me in the organization have persisted too. And the team of board members and legislative leaders and superintendents and teachers, teacher leaders that have been in my orbit very regularly.

You have to have that team. Our ability to keep the team together allowed us to weather political vicissitudes and to confront strategic challenges over a longer period of time.

New Orleans schools returned to local control a year and a half ago. Is there still work to be done in easing the tension between autonomy and accountability? Im thinking of the ongoing grading scandal at Kennedy High School and other issues that seem to have bedeviled the Orleans Parish School Board.

Big urban school systems are messy. They have a history of underserving low-income kids of color and people with disabilities in every city in this country. Part of the problem is that theres not a light shined on their struggles, whether their struggles are manifestations of corruption or incompetence or just circumstance.

Look at New York City, where I was before. That is a massive bureaucracy that employs 120,000 people. For the media or the public to get a lens into the daily dysfunction of the bureaucracy is a very difficult thing. Theres a lot of forces working to make sure that the world doesnt know just how difficult educating kids is and how often people fail at that challenge.

In every other school system [than New Orleans], theres an incentive to make the world think that everything is OK. The legal watchdog on the system is also the system itself. Thats a contradiction.

In New Orleans, you have a situation where the watchdog is only a watchdog, and thats the school district office. So things like the grade-fixing at Kennedy High School, as one example, they come to light largely because there is a watchdog and the watchdogs job is to transparently lay those things out and deal with them and find ways of making sure they dont happen again.

We have a circumstance now in New Orleans where buses have not, in 13 school management organizations, been adequately reviewed. The school board isnt going to the media and denying it. Theyre addressing it. Theyre putting out statements and theyre sanctioning people who wont get on board.

The incentive structure is different. So when I see things happening like that, of course Im disappointed, but those things exist in every large school system in the country. Whats more shocking is that there are not more stories about it.

There are a number of places around the country where education policymakers are attempting to find a third way giving schools in traditional districts charterlike autonomy but not going as far as New Orleans. Texas, for instance, has created attractive incentives for districts to ask outside nonprofits to run schools.

There are a number of experiments going on around the country that are playing in the gray space between pure autonomy and pure regulation. Renaissance Schools in New Jersey. The empowerment zone concept thats at work in Springfield, Massachusetts, which I know [the nonprofit organization Empower Schools] is taking elsewhere, including Denver.

These are incredibly exciting innovations because in a way, more than collective bargaining, the one thing that is the most static in the system across 14,000 school districts is governance. That is the ultimate force right now for uniformity, for kind of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Of course, all those things come with risks. If youre claiming to be creating autonomies, but in fact the incentives political or otherwise are not those that people who are really autonomous truly possess, you could be risking creating a charade and a whole bunch of work that ultimately really doesnt manifest itself in anything particularly different for kids.

Autonomy is a word that needs to be scrutinized and understood for why its so powerful before you just go around granting it. Its not a thing that exists in shades of gray, in my experience: You either come to work feeling that your job is to fulfill the mandate that someone else has given you or that your job is to fulfill the challenges in front of you. An entrepreneur is a self-generating problem solver. An actor in a compliance-oriented system is simply absorbing passively what theyre told to do. Of course, in all of our jobs, there are variants of both of those things.

There is a risk in thinking that you can finely thread that needle. I have not seen a lot of experiments where people think, Well, well give them autonomy on this, but not on that and still have it result in really entrepreneurial behavior.

About your initiative to vet curricula and push schools to use high-quality materials, versus what we know plays out when teachers of varying talents take to, say, Pinterest in search of lessons how do you enable teachers, or, for that matter, their leaders, to be entrepreneurial in a way that promotes excellence?

Thats a question were wrestling with. Ironically, were sitting here in New Orleans, the school system where schools exercise the greatest flexibilities of any district in the country. Then [there are] the other 63 counties we call them parishes where we have done a lot to say curriculum is a non-negotiable. Your curriculum shall have certain features, and the publishers that live up to that standard will be active here, and the ones that dont will not.

That would seem to be the antithesis of autonomy. But I would say two things. First, there are conditions within which autonomy flourishes and conditions within which that does not. Autonomy flourishes in the presence of coherence.

We in the education establishment in America have treated [curriculum] as ancillary, as if its like its the drapes on your walls and windows rather than a fundamental piece of the framework of your home. In every other functional education system in the world, it is thought of as a foundational piece.

Theres nothing hurtful to autonomy about there being standards, about there being clear assessments that measure those standards and about there being a curriculum that embodies the standards. That encourages autonomy because it creates a road map for teachers. They know that if they roughly follow that map, then theyre going to get, in a linear way, to the goal. Its a trust environment.

We in the education establishment in America have treated [curriculum] as ancillary, as if its like its the drapes on your walls and windows rather than a fundamental piece of the framework of your home. In every other functional education system in the world, it is thought of as a foundational piece.

Secondly, your principal has to be in a position to translate the academic program into a system of learning for teachers. I dont care how good your curriculum is, I dont care how autonomous your school if your principal cant take the academic program and translate it into a daily means of teachers reflecting on outcomes, learning the curriculum and making plans for future implementation, that wont be a good school.

Youve gotten pushback from both sides politically on vouchers. Was it worth it?

I dont view our traditional public program, our charter public program and our nonpublic program as different from one another. In my view, school choice has a moral dimension and a practical dimension. The moral dimension is that affording rights to the privileged and not to the underprivileged is anti-American and wrong. And the practical dimension is, in a world where there are not enough good schools, why would we take off the table the ability of someone to attend a good school?

Unfortunately, the issue of private school choice, or school choice generally, is typically neither approached from a moral perspective or a practical perspective. Its approached from an ideological perspective, which means its a purity test for both conservatives and liberals. Im not that interested in purity tests.

Im for school choice. Im also for good schools. Im not for funding bad schools, and I am for increasing enrollment at good schools. So we have an accountability system. The accountability system has shown that there are good private schools and there are not-so-good private schools. Im for kids going to the good private schools. It seems very simple to me.

On the left, there is an aversion to even entertaining the notion of publicly funding religious institutions, which is tying one hand behind our back, I think, because you are taking off the table potentially very rich opportunities for social-emotional, values-based education. In a state like Louisiana, taking off the table the ability of kids to attend institutions that have served kids here for literally centuries.

Im for school choice. Im also for good schools. Im not for funding bad schools, and I am for increasing enrollment at good schools. So we have an accountability system. The accountability system has shown that there are good private schools and there are not-so-good private schools. Im for kids going to the good private schools. It seems very simple to me.

On the right, theres an aversion to regulating those schools and establishing even a very limited bar for minimum standards of quality. I cant see the justification of that from either a moral or practical perspective. Morally, it cant be right that we grow schools that are failing to teach young people basic things like reading. And from a practical perspective, if our goal is increasing the odds that youll be able to attend a good school, why on earth would we accept schools that are patently failing generations of kids, all in the name of them escaping failing schools?

Whats next in terms of educational progress, writ large? What is the next frontier?

Families are ridiculously strained in the first five years of childhood and in the years immediately following childhood. I appreciate the fact that Democrats and Republicans now are generating ideas in that space.

Complementing a childrens agenda should be a family and work agenda. Im excited about the popularizing of childcare, of maternal and paternal leave policies. Im excited about the promotion of work attainment systems and subsidies and education subsidies to get certain credentials. The cost of college and debt reduction.

In the K-12 system, we just passed a federal law that were supposed to be implementing. This is not the time for bunches of new ideas. This is the time for following through on our commitments, and it will take new and creative ways of doing that work.

For example, if we believe that our job is to get kids to grade level on standards, standards-based assessments and otherwise, we need better curriculum, we need better teacher training at scale, we need a generation of better tests. We need colleges of education and other prep programs to get serious about educating kids on using specific curriculum in a way that is seamlessly integrated with schools themselves.

We need early college courses that are challenging our students in terms of the real rigor of the world beyond. We need a legitimate career and technical program that involves workplace-based education.

Nothing that Im saying is new, but the law is new. If youre implementing the law in a way that is really faithful to the goal of elementary and secondary schools, youre doing all those things. And what I see is an aversion to talking about the substance of schooling.

Has becoming a dad changed your worldview in terms of your work?

No. I mean, I want to leave open the fact that it might in the long run. The day I became a parent is the day that I most viscerally felt how fortunate I am. Because when youre given the charge by God or nature or whatever power you ascribe it to, to take care of a person who has nothing, you really do realize how much you have. And especially when you walk around the maternity wards of these hospitals and you glance at the different circumstances among the people especially in a city like New Orleans, where you really have the wealthy and the poor in the same shared little space you understand what is I think sort of cheaply called the achievement gap. You understand its roots very deeply.

Whats next for John White?

I have no plans. Im going to take some time and figure it out. Ive been very blessed to have extremely good mentors, to work for incredible people and to have worked on, in my view, the most important domestic issue that our country presented me. And Ive done it for 21 straight years. I am going to take a little bit of time and think about how I replicate the learning and the mentorship and the mission orientation that Ive had in the first 21 years of my career in the next 21 years.

Link:
The 74 Interview: Outgoing Louisiana Chief John White on the New Orleans Experiment, His Longevity and What It Means to Be Well Educated - The 74

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

A time to grow and a time to pause – Science Magazine

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Seasonal or environmental pressures are sometimes best dealt with by putting growth and reproduction on hold. Many animals have evolved mechanisms for reversibly arresting development at discrete developmental stages, so that the arrested embryo or larva can wait for more favorable conditions in which to resume development, grow, and reproduce. One common form of developmental arrest is diapause, which generally constitutes a genetically programmed arrest at a discrete point in development, most often in an embryonic, larval, or pupal stage (1). Diapause also involves physiological changes that protect the arrested animal from aging. On page 870 of this issue, Hu et al. (2) identify some of the mechanisms that maintain embryonic diapause in an emerging model of vertebrate aging, the African turquoise killifish. These findings might provide insight into the mysteries of aging and longevity.

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A time to grow and a time to pause - Science Magazine

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Managing Complications Associated With Increased Longevity in Beta Thalassemia – Hematology Advisor

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Beta thalassemia syndromes are among the most common monogenic disorders that occur globally and are generally inherited as autosomal recessive diseases. The beta globin gene HBB is found on the short arm of chromosome 11, and to date, more than 200 pathogenic HBB mutations have been identified. Beta globin and alpha globin combine to create the adult hemoglobin tetramer, which comprises 2 chains of each; however, reduced or absent synthesis of beta globin chains can create an imbalance that leads to accumulation and precipitation of free alpha chains in the red blood cell precursors. The result is anemia, which then stimulates erythropoietin synthesis that results in intense proliferation of bone marrow, skeletal deformities, dysregulated iron homeostasis, and increased levels of reactive oxygen species in the erythroid cells. Based on the severity of the phenotype, beta thalassemias are classified as either transfusion-dependent (TDT) or nontransfusion-dependent (NTDT).

Advances in understanding the pathophysiology of beta thalassemia have substantially improved patient management and led to a robust increase in life expectancy. However, longer survival brings its own set of issues. Moreover, the underlying pathophysiology of the syndromes has not been eliminated, and current treatments, although effective, are associated with complications. Improvements in survival have also been associated with age-related disorders that occur in the general population.

In a review article published in Expert Review of Hematology, Irene Motta, MD, of the department of clinical sciences and community health at the Universit degli Studi di Milano in Italy, and colleagues discussed the management of common complications that have been observed in patients with beta thalassemia.

Cardiovascular diseases remain a significant cause of morbidity and the primary cause of death in patients with both TDT and NTDT. More than 70% of deaths in this patient population are due to cardiovascular disease, and arrhythmias are becoming more prevalent in adults who have experienced previous iron overload.

All patients transitioned to adult care are monitored closely for these complications, said Hayley Merkeley, MD, MSc, FRCPC, of the division of hematology at the University of British Columbia in Canada. With respect to cardiac concerns, patients receive echocardiograms every 1 to 5 years depending on their symptoms, as well as a cardiac [magnetic resonance imaging scan] every 6 [to] 12 months.

Arrhythmias should be treated as in the general population. Although ablation strategies can be considered in select cases, there are currently no specific recommendations for it.

Adrenal insufficiency is another complication of thalassemia, although the researchers noted that among all of the thalassemia-related endocrinopathies, adrenal insufficiency in particular has been poorly studied and underreported in adult patients. Because it tends to develop gradually over time, and symptoms may be nonspecific and attributed to chronic anemia, undetected adrenal insufficiency may eventually present as a life-threatening acute crisis.

It is recommended, therefore, that the annual endocrinological evaluation for patients with both TDT and NTDT who are older than 18 years should always include basal adrenal function evaluation (adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH] and cortisol basal levels), and replacement therapy with cortisone acetate should be given if a diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency is made. For patients with low or borderline basal cortisol levels, an ACTH stimulation test should be performed in order to identify adrenal insufficiency.

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Managing Complications Associated With Increased Longevity in Beta Thalassemia - Hematology Advisor

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How much you need to save every month to earn $40,000 a year in interest alone for retirement – CNBC

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Most Americans are confident they will be able to retire comfortably.

A 2019 study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement found that 63% of U.S. workers are confident that they will be able to fully retire and still live well.

And if they plan to stop working in their 60s, that leaves a huge variable of how many years of retirement they will need to fund.

An "interest-only" retirement plan removes one of the biggest fears about life after leaving your job: Will my money outlast me?

Because if you can save enough now, you can fund your retirement by living off your returns without ever touching your nest egg.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers, and we can tell you how much you need to save to get $40,000 every year in retirement, without taking a bite out of your principal.

First, some ground rules. The numbers assume you will retire at 65 and have no money in savings now.

For investing, we assume an annual 6% return when you are saving and a more conservative 3% rate for your interest-only retirement. We do not factor in inflation, taxes or any additional income you may get from Social Security and your 401(k).

Check out this video to learn more.

More from Invest in You:How much you can expect to get from Social Security if you make $40,000 a yearThe real 'Catch Me If You Can' con artist says this classic scam is making a comeback

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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How much you need to save every month to earn $40,000 a year in interest alone for retirement - CNBC

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Clearday Announces $3.2 Million Opportunity Zone Investment, New Headquarters, and Northeast San Antonio Site Transformation – StreetInsider.com

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

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Clearday Announces $3.2 Million Opportunity Zone Investment, New Headquarters, and Northeast San Antonio Site Transformation - StreetInsider.com

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How a publishing company started by a former slave has lasted for 120 years – Yahoo Finance

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

While Twitter and Facebook occupy time that many consumers could spend reading books, R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation CEO LaDonna Boyd does not view social media as a threat to her business. Shes the fifth generation CEO of a publishing company started over 120 years ago by her great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Richard Henry Boyd, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Twitter is definitely not my competitor at all. I think that theres so many different ways to share a story. Theres a medium that suits everyone whether you want 140 characters on Twitter, or if you wanna write the next long novel, Boyd told Yahoo Finance.

R.H. Boyd Publishing prints, publishes, and distributes Christian materials to over 10,000 churches, organizations, and individuals across the country. The company has over 40 full-time employees and numerous offsite editors, proofreaders, and writers. Boyd credits the companys longevity to its ability to master its expertise and meet the faith-based needs of its consumers.

For us weve had to ebb and flow if you will, with the industry and the market but were doing well, she said. Were very strong and I think its because we have a passion and were experts in our field so that helps us kind of stand apart from many others. But were all feeling it of course. You just have to be able to transition and to shift and pivot. So having digital resources and just engaging with your consumers in a different way.

Rev. Dr. Richard Henry Boyd Credit: R.H. Boyd Publishing Co.

Born a slave, Boyds great-great-grandfather couldnt read and write until he was 22 years old. He was born in 1843 in Mississippi so just imagine that existence. That harsh upbringing and just that tumultuous time in our history, Boyd said. After he was eventually freed, he became a pastor.

Boyd said that, in overcoming the injustices of being a slave, her great-great-grandfather empowered the next generation of African Americans to own their own narrative through Christian education. He wanted to kind of go against the system if you will and give his people an opportunity to have their own voices and tell their own stories and have their own narrative and something so special and intimate as their faith walk, she said.

The accomplishment of the Rev. Dr. R.H. Boyd reverberates today nearly 100 years after his death. When he founded the National Baptist Publishing Board, now R.H. Boyd Publishing, in 1896, he started out by working with a small group of churches using money he and his wife had saved.

When he died in 1922, he had become a noted entrepreneur. He co-founded One Cent Savings Bank, now Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co., in 1904. It was the first minority owned bank in Tennessee. Ten cents was the minimum deposit required to open an account back then. Boyd was president of the bank from 1904 to 1922. Boyd also founded the Nashville Globe Publishing Company in 1905 and the Negro Doll Company in 1911.

Credit: R.H. Boyd Publishing Co.

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How a publishing company started by a former slave has lasted for 120 years - Yahoo Finance

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