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The professor for the Aztec & Spanish Empires course wasn’t exactly pessimistic about classes reverting to in-person – I mean he didn’t explicitly predict the current suspension would be maintained beyond the two weeks originally announced – but he sure wasn’t cheerful either. He said something, or wailed something, about a 40% positive rate. This […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation, and adoption. Ian shares his background in entrepreneurial school leadership and policy research, and how he became interested in K-12 education reform. They discuss his work to advance quality school options for poor and minority kids as CEO of Public Prep and now cofounder of Vertex Partnership Academies, a character-based network of schools based on International Baccalaureate’s (IB) world-class curriculum. He weighs in on why policymaking around school choice and academic content has become politicized, and the kinds of content K-12 students should be taught, through the 1776 Unites project for example, to prepare for college coursework, meaningful citizenship, and pathways to prosperity.

Stories of the Week: Should the state take over management of the Boston Public Schools? A Boston Globe opinion writer makes the case, noting the disproportionately low-income and minority student population enrolled in the district’s chronically underachieving schools. A US News story highlights the benefits of high school internship programs, to help students get a head start on career preparation before college.

Michigan Democrats: ‘All Your Children Are Belong to Us’

 

Hey, you know how some people refer to public schools as “government schools” and say that their mission isn’t really education, but social indoctrination and enforcing social conformity? And how other people say, “That’s kook talk. Get away from me, you kook! With your crazy kook talk.” Well, the Democrat Party of Michigan has firmly weighed in on the side of the kooks.

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.

 

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.

 

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Do girls like Harry Potter? A Brazilian girl named Tatiana does. I know this because in some of her videos there are on the walls around her, or on her T-shirt, images and references that are Harry-Potter-y. And I know that only because I looked them up: until I did, only the name of the […]

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FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff: ‘We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness.’

 

In his new feature for the January 2022 edition of Reason magazine, Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I also work, puts to readers: 

We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness. If we are to find a way out, we must understand how we got here and admit the true depths of the problem. 

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.

Elite Universities’ Fall of Failure on Free Expression

 

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to Ricochet readers that America’s most elite colleges and universities are often far from elite where their performance on free speech is concerned. Even so, as we’ve been writing at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) over the last couple of weeks, their cultures of free expression have been showing some signs of seriously ill health. A quick rundown:

  • Yale University attracted nationwide scorn this fall for its treatment of a law student, whom it pressured to issue a public apology over an email promoting a social event that made a joking reference to a “trap house.” But as my colleague Adam Goldstein and I wrote recently, another, less ballyhooed incident likewise raises serious concern. Psychiatrist and author Sally Satel delivered a lecture to the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine (where she is a visiting lecturer) discussing the year she spent working in rural Ohio treating people struggling with opioid addiction. Following her lecture, a group of “Concerned Yale Psychiatry Residents” demanded that Satel be stripped of her lecturer title for her “dehumanizing, demeaning, and classist” remarks, seizing upon, of all things, a reference to an “artisanal coffee shop.”
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology came in for heavy criticism after its department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences rescinded its invitation for University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot to deliver its annual John Carlson Lecture. The reason for Abbot’s disinvitation had nothing whatsoever to do with the scientific nature of his planned lecture; it was because he’d previously published a column criticizing university diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and proposing what he believed to be a fairer alternative. As my colleague Komi German documents, that’s only the most prominent in a string of free expression challenges that has seen MIT stumble.
  • Most recently, the Stanford University Undergraduate Senate denied funding to the Stanford College Republicans, who sought to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus for a lecture. Audio recordings of the senate’s vote make clear that viewpoint discrimination played a role in the decision. ​​One student senator is recorded saying that “if you’re against the individual speaker, then I think it’s fine to vote in that way.” Or, put differently, it’s perfectly fine to let your personal politics and morality supersede your duty to treat funding requests in a viewpoint-neutral manner.

Food for Thought on Cursive and More

 

I read this article a while back and kept thinking about to the point I decided to make a post. Here’s a link to the study it cites, for those who want to go straight to the source (and have the patience to read it).

The short summary is that writing cursive is better for your brain and its development.  However, I’m aware of some (and I believe it’s a small number) of schools dropping the teaching of cursive as outdated in favor of teaching “keyboarding” (distance learning because of COVID didn’t help).