Join Jim and Greg as they welcome new Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and applaud him following up on his campaign promises on his very first day. They also credit the FBI for a successful resolution to the hostage crisis at a Texas synagogue on Saturday but then fume as the bureau, the media, and the president claim the motive for the incident is a mystery. And they hammer the Salt Lake Tribune for suggesting the national guard should be called in to make sure the unvaccinated never leave their homes.

 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and the Founding Editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. He describes the larger political and spiritual lessons Dr. King and the other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) sought to impart regarding nonviolent protest, and the complex relationship among Dr. King, the SCLC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and less well-known civil rights figures like the late Bob P. Moses. They discuss how hymns and literary works such as Langston Hughes’s 1951 poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred),” strongly influenced Dr. King’s sermons and speeches. Dr. Carson compares how racial issues have differed in Southern and Northern cities, noting MLK’s 1966 Chicago Campaign. They explore whether K-12 U.S. history instruction sufficiently covers the Civil Rights era compared to other important periods, and Dr. Carson offers insights on how policymakers, schools, and parents can draw on lessons from the Civil Rights era to better understand race in America. He concludes with a description of the World House Documentary Film Festival, a free, four-day webinar and virtual film festival celebrating MLK, beginning on January 14th.

Stories of the Week: In London, staff shortages from a spike in COVID cases have forced many early education programs to reduce their hours of operation or close. In an era in which technology is replacing books, how can we ensure our children develop the habits that lead to lifelong reading? An EdWeek story explores this question, which is important because long-form and pleasure reading are linked with higher academic performance.

Jim & Greg welcome the return of in-person schooling to Chicago after a four-day hissy fit from the Chicago Teachers Union. They also sigh as President Biden reportedly makes no progress in trying to deter Russian military action in Ukraine. And the Biden administration gets caught flat-footed again as out supply chain problems grow.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they enjoy watching the left openly fight over whether schools should have in-person instruction right now. They also cringe as Russia send troops into Kazakhstan to help crush protesters. And they discuss the January 6th anniversary and why one critical figure has never been found.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike.

She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture. Bari discusses her experiences on the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and her courageous decision to resign from the Times, as well as the public praise and criticism she’s encountered since her resignation.

After noting Sen. Schumer’s latest failure to kill the filibuster, Jim and Greg serve up three crazy martinis! First, they hammer the Chicago Teachers Union for refusing to teach in-person over the Omicron case numbers. They also unload on the Virginia Department of Transportation for continuing an ugly governmental trend of admitting a major problem but insisting that nothing could have been done better in response to the traffic nightmare on I-95. And their heads are spinning as the CDC releases absurdly burdensome recommendations for fighting COVID and that private employers are following the mandates and firing people while nothing happens to unvaccinated federal employees.

Happy New Year! Join Jim and Greg as they are pleasantly stunned to see the European Union embracing natural gas and nuclear power as their wind and solar energy efforts fall far short of producing the amount of energy needed. They also slam Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s latest effort to skirt the filibuster to pass Dem legislation on elections. And they hammer teachers unions for once again leading the charge to return to distance learning or just “pause” schools for two weeks to weather the Omicron cases of COVID.

Happy New Year! Jim and Greg conclude the Three Martini Lunch Award season by announcing their choices for person of the year and turncoat of the year. They also make some rather sobering predictions about 2022.

 

More year-end awards today!  Jim and Greg embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2021 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for the year. For the first two categories, their selections are derived from the same big stories but each has a different focus. But they choose completely different issues when it comes to boldest tactics.

 

Jim and Greg are back for the third round of their prestigious Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they discuss the worst scandals of 2021, with Jim choosing an international mess of epic proportions and Greg opting for a national security crisis much closer to home. Then, they reveal their choices for the best and worst political theater of 2021.

 

As we approach the end of this year, it’s time to start deciding the best and worst of 2021. Today, Jim and Greg begin handing out the their prestigious Three Martini Lunch Awards. In this first installment, they offer their individual selections for Most Overrated Political Figure, Most Underrated Political Figure, and Most Honest Political Figure.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the Senate parliamentarian for correctly ruling for the third time that amnesty cannot be part of a reconciliation bill. They also get a kick out of hearing that a number of House Democrats are furious at the man charged with leading their effort to keep the majority in 2022. And they shake their heads at a story showing how even traditional, private, and religious institutions are bowing to woke indoctrination.

 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, who represents the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin. They discussed last week’s oral arguments, and the background and key legal contours of the case. Bindas described Maine’s school tuitioning program, and the pivotal change in the early 1980s that allowed for the state to discriminate against religious families. They explored the questionable distinction that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit drew between religious “status” and “use” in schooling, and the likely impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 Espinoza decision, which was a major victory for the Institute for Justice and school choice. Bindas shared what makes him hopeful that the Court will rule in the Carsons’ favor, and what he thinks the next legal steps should be to support K-12 educational choice.

Read Pioneer’s amicus brief and op-ed in support of the plaintiffs in this case.

It’s Time to Move on School Choice Reform

 

Teachers’ unions appear to have run into a buzz saw. On October 25, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten tweeted enthusiastic support for a Washington Post article titled “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”

By November 6, Her message had drastically changed. “Parents have to be involved in their kids education. They must have a voice. At the same time, we have to teach kids how to – not what to think.” Sure, Randi.

In the interval, there had been a reality shock: the Virginia governor’s election, this time with an electorate that had wised up. Parents had been appalled when they remotely observed the overtly racist curriculum their children were being taught and then shocked at the blowback, including being charged with “white supremacy” when they protested.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Marc Seifer, author of the acclaimed biography Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla. He reviews what teachers and students should know about the life of Nikola Tesla, the world-renowned engineer, physicist, and inventor who is more widely known nowadays for the electric car and clean energy companies named for him. Dr. Seifer describes the remarkable variety of world-changing gadgets Tesla invented, along with his hundreds of patents, including the alternating-current electricity system (AC), the induction motor, radio-controlled technology and what students today can learn about STEM, inventions, and innovation from studying his work. They explore Tesla’s bitter rivalry with Thomas Edison, their “war of the currents,” and Tesla’s deep struggles with the business and commercial aspects of his work. They also delve into Tesla’s experience as a Serbian immigrant, interacting with a variety of powerful, Gilded Age elite figures, and the renaissance that his reputation has more recently enjoyed. The interview concludes with a reading from Dr. Seifer’s biography of Tesla.

Stories of the Week: What will President Biden’s Build Back Better plan mean for universal pre-Kindergarten education? Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is launching a five-year, $750 million effort to open access to charter schools for 150,000 more children in 20 cities across America. The Department of Education is expanding the Second Chance Pell program, allowing 200 colleges and universities to participate in prison education programs that can transforming lives and help people reenter society.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Matthew Chingos, who directs the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. They discuss the “Year of School Choice,” the welcome 2021 trend of states across America expanding or establishing private school choice programs. Dr. Chingos describes the gradual evolution of private school choice programs from primarily school vouchers to tax credit scholarships and education savings account programs (ESAs), which have been growing in popularity, and how charter public schools fit into this growing portfolio. He offers thoughts, as a researcher and scholar, on how using data to analyze, enhance, critique, and hold schools accountable for students’ academic improvements has transformed K-12 policy discussions, and how COVID-19’s discontinuities will impact accountability and decision making. They explore another topic of Dr. Chingos’ research, the $1.6 trillion student loan debt crisis, reasons why tuition has skyrocketed, and some of the possible pathways forward. Lastly, he shares views on issues of academic quality within higher education, and whether colleges and universities have lost their sense of mission.

Stories of the Week: In California, where only 32 percent of the state’s fourth graders were performing at or above proficient in reading, a proposed ballot measure is taking aim at those practices that protect ineffective K-12 teaching. Despite being the home of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon, the state of Washington has reported that a mere 9 percent of its public high school students were enrolled in computer science courses during the 2019-20 school year.

Happy Thanksgiving! For your holiday feast, let’s remember our three good martinis following Election Day this year as Jim and Greg rejoice over GOP wins in Virginia, strong showing in New Jersey and other areas Republicans generally don’t do very well, and clear signs that the left didn’t learn a thing from the results.

 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Nicholas Basbanes, author of the 2020 literary biography, Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He shares why poetry – from the Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer to Dante, Shakespeare, Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes – may well be the most influential, enduring form of written human expression. He then provides brief highlights of Longfellow’s life, and why he was often regarded as the most popular and recognizable “fireside poet” New England has ever produced. They discuss the tragic death of his second wife Frances Appleton in 1861, and his lasting importance as among our nation’s most celebrated poets, literary figures, and translators of Dante. They review Longfellow’s well-known poems, including “The Wreck of the Hesperus” and “Paul Revere’s Ride,” recited by countless generations of schoolchildren, and their wider cultural impact on interest in poetry in American schools. They also discuss Longfellow’s 1842 anti-slavery work, Poems on Slavery, and his close friendship with abolitionists such as U.S. Senator Charles Sumner; as well as other notable works such as “Evangeline,” and “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport,” that celebrate religious liberty and inclusiveness. Basbanes concludes with a reading from his Longfellow biography.

Stories of the Week: Many state education officials are seeking guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on how to meet the accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act after COVID-related testing disruptions. In Utah, student achievement on state assessments has declined across all grades, subject areas, and student groups in 2021 compared to 2019 (tests were not administered during 2020).