This week on “The Learning Curve” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Pulitzer-winning historian David Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University. Professor Kennedy describes some of the distinguishing characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the 1918 flu and the Bubonic Plague in terms of rapidity, scale, mortality rate, and death toll. They also delve into differences, such as our society’s technological advancements, that help ease the disruption; governments’ data gathering capacity to fully understand the impact, and ability to mobilize; and the credibility of our leadership and institutions. They explore whether public health crises have received sufficient attention in K-12 history instruction, and what goes unreported in most accounts; and discuss the delicate balance between protecting civil liberties while avoiding the dangers of spreading misinformation.

Stories of the Week: The Florida Virtual School is gearing up to train teachers to deliver over 100 K-12 courses in mathematics, English language arts, history, science, electives, Advanced Placement, and career and technical education to 2.7 million students, at no cost, until June 30. A Gallup survey reveals that 42 percent of parents are concerned about COVID-19 school closures’ negative impact on their child’s education, and 11 percent are not using any educational resources to fill the instructional gap.

More

This week on “The Learning Curve” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Jay Mathews, Washington Post education columnist. They discuss the unique moment presented by COVID-19, and how it has reinforced the value of classroom teachers, but has also increased uncertainty about the future of testing and accountability. They also talk about Jay’s widely acclaimed biography of Jaime Escalante, the great East Los Angeles high school calculus teacher, who became nationally renowned for dramatically raising the academic bar for urban students and delivering amazing results. Jay shares the five key ingredients for success that he learned from Escalante and excellent charter schools across the country.

Stories of the Week: As millions of parents struggle with homeschooling, one mom shared her son’s hilarious reaction in a Facebook post that went viral. Are we all learning some hard lessons through this pandemic about the value of teachers? In Milwaukee, the 30,000 underprivileged children enrolled in private schools through the parental choice program are continuing to attend class each day through distance learning, while their public school counterparts are being offered free meals and some enrichment material that won’t be graded. How can we overcome the digital divide to ensure rigorous instruction for all students?

More

Member Post

 

In 1972, I took a seed out of a lemon and planted it in a pot. It sprouted and grew, and became a tree, which I still have. Yet it has blossomed only twice in all these years – the second time just a couple of weeks ago. I have yet to learn why. I […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

Decided my MCAT scores aren’t that bad. Give it a shot. Will I be embarrassing myself by asking people to write me letters of recommendation? Yes, but I think I’ll get over it! Hope they do too. Applications, at least to the one school I could commute to, but also some others in Texas I […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

This week on “The Learning Curve” (St. Patrick’s Day edition), Cara and Gerard discuss COVID-19’s ongoing toll on families and K-12 education. They interview Raymond Flynn, former Ambassador to the Vatican and three-term Mayor of Boston. Ambassador Flynn shares thoughts on the world-historical moment presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, how public leaders are responding, and how it compares to past crises. He recalls his background as an Irish-Catholic product of religious schools, who rose to service on behalf of a sainted Pope, to remind us of the benefits uniquely offered by Catholic schools, especially for urban poor and minority communities. He also calls on clergy members, elected officials, and policymakers to strengthen their advocacy efforts on behalf of faith-based education, so that we can finally end the bigoted legacy of 19th-century Blaine Amendments that block access to opportunity for all children.

Stories of the Week: In Philadelphia, the school district is refusing to provide remote instruction during the Coronavirus shutdown, claiming concerns about inequity on behalf of those who lack computers or high-speed internet at home. Is this a genuine recognition of the digital divide, or an excuse to deny 200,000 schoolchildren a quality education? The U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines specifically for America’s 7 million students with special needs, who are especially vulnerable as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More

Member Post

 

I would just like to address the distance learning aspect of the COVID-19. I work in a high school, not as a teacher, and two of my adult children are teachers in another district, one in a small private school. The amount of preparation has been intense. The governor here in Minnesota has given districts […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

God’s gift to the working man or wolves in sheep’s clothing? I side with the latter. Though small, my first experience with a union left an indelible impression. I know others see differently; grateful for their contributions, with stories about how their union came to the rescue More

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

The physical bars and restaurants and being ordered to close in many places but the Three Martini Lunch remains open. Come in and join us! Today, Jim and Greg react to the CDC urging Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks and mayor and governors forcing bars and restaurants to close. They also discuss the awkwardness of the Biden-Sanders debate in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and highlight how Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have pushed Biden into extreme liberal positions on energy, immigration, guns, abortion and more. And they discuss the stunning political fall of Andrew Gillum, who came less than a percentage point from becoming Florida’s governor in 2018.

More

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Dr. Anna Egalite, Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University. They discuss Anna’s experiences as a student growing up in Ireland and teaching at Catholic schools there and in Florida. She was inspired to pursue education policy after observing the differences between the two countries’ views of “public” and “private” education, and was surprised to find that families here didn’t have the same range of school options available to them as those in Europe. She also shares her research on the benefits of school voucher programs in India, which allowed students to attend private schools with longer days and lower rates of multi-grade teaching, with positive impacts on English language skills, especially for females. Lastly, they explore the role of family background on students’ long-term outcomes and intergenerational economic mobility.

Story of the Week: As the nation deals with COVID-19, Cara and Gerard discuss the implications for K-12 and higher education. Students across the country are shifting from campuses and classrooms to virtual learning; how prepared is our education system to deliver quality, online instruction? Are we doing enough to maintain community ties and minimize the disruption for low-income students and families, who have fewer supports?

More

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kevin Chavous, President of Academics, Policy, and Schools of K12, Inc. They talk with Kevin about how his background and experiences visiting local state prisons and schools as a D.C. City Councilor led him to become one of the first Democrats to support charter schools. Kevin describes his work with other education reformers on behalf of the Opportunity Scholarship Program for D.C.’s low-income children and the “three-sector” system of combined federal support for public, charter, and private school scholarships that has resulted in 90-percent graduation and college attendance rates. Kevin calls for reframing public education from a robotic, factory approach to a model that is more responsive to the diverse needs of kids and parents. He discusses his current work in digital learning, promoting an innovative, state-of-the-art online learning curriculum now used in 100 schools, in over 30 states, to engage students unable to thrive in a traditional setting.

Stories of the Week: In Tennessee, the ACLU and other organizations have filed suit against the state over an Education Savings Account program that expands school choice for families in Memphis and Nashville, claiming public schools will be “irreparably harmed” by so-called “illegal spending.” In New Hampshire, some lawmakers are again pushing the state to accept $46 million in federal grant funding that was rejected by Democratic legislators because it was designated for charter school expansion. Are politics getting in the way of what’s best for the Granite State’s 1,300 children on charter school waiting lists?

More

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard engage in a candid conversation about education policymaking with Chris Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Brightbeam, known to many by his popular Twitter & blog feeds as “Citizen Stewart.” Chris shares his background as a student, parent, school board member, and longtime activist, and how those experiences have shaped his outlook on the challenges facing school reform. They delve into the obvious and lesser known barriers to changing the status quo, including the lack of involvement among rank-and-file parents in policy decision making and the disproportionate influence of labor unions in politics and the media. Chris voices concerns about the Democratic political candidates’ growing hostility toward ensuring African-American schoolchildren have access to better learning opportunities, and how the focus on class warfare has misdirected attention from the reality of our public schools graduating individuals who cannot participate in the economy. They also discuss the relationship between education and other issues such as criminal justice reform.

Stories of the Week: This week, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, the inspirational icon featured in the 2016 film, “Hidden Figures,” passed away at 101. All schoolchildren should know her story, unacknowledged for so long, of struggle and triumph in the face of race- and gender-based segregation and discrimination. In Ohio, a new plan from the state superintendent would reduce the minimum scores on the graduation assessment so that students could qualify for a diploma if they demonstrate basic competency, rather than proficiency, in math and ELA. What impact will the lower bar have on graduates’ preparedness for options in higher education and employment?

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Lunch Shaming, Pros and Cons

 

The topic of “lunch shaming” has gathered lots of interest on social media. I’m particularly interested since I sit on my local school board. A quick recap: the feds fund lunches for families who qualify (just over half of our families with a total student population of just over 1,300 kids, K-12). The rest of the parents can send a lunch or put money into an account with the cafeteria service. An important thing to note is that kids in the lunch line can’t tell if someone else is getting a free meal or not.

Some other factors: if the free meal population reaches a high enough threshold, the school can provide all meals for free at federal expense. During the summer, the feds fund free meals for entire families. This is a program of which I suspect most people are completely unaware.

More

This week, Cara and Gerard talk with Margaret “Macke” Raymond, President of Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Macke describes CREDO’s unique role and methodology in analyzing a wealth of data from state education departments to quantify the effect of charter schools on the amount of learning a student receives in a year’s time. They discuss charter performance on average, as well as in pockets of excellence; the performance of urban charters, including Boston; the types of charters that are succeeding consistently and replicating; and the formula for quality both in instruction and policymaking. They also delve into the waning policy support for charters despite favorable public opinion; what the data show about whether charters select or “counsel out” students; “diverse-by-design” charter schools; and the federal role in the charter movement.

Stories of the WeekThe New York Times highlights renewed interest in teaching phonics, a long-debated approach, especially in the wake of recent NAEP results showing only a third of American students are reading at proficiency. In Maryland, to address students’ declining academic performance and teacher retention issues, a state commission is proposing sweeping reforms – but the billion-dollar price tag is raising concerns about accountability for results.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Education and the Jews

 

“Remember for good the man Yehoshua ben Gamla, because were it not for him the Torah would have been forgotten from Israel. At first a child was taught by his father, and as a result orphans were left uneducated. It was then resolved that teachers of children should be appointed in Jerusalem, and a father [who lived outside the city] would bring his child there and have him taught, but the orphan was still left without tuition. Then it was resolved to appoint teachers in each district, and boy of the age of sixteen and seventeen were placed under them; but when the teacher was angry with a pupil, he would rebel and leave. Finally Yehoshua ben Gamla came and instituted that teachers be appointed in every province and every city, and children from the age of six or seven were placed under their charge.”
— From the Talmud, Bava Batra (Yehoshua ben Gamla lived in Jerusalem 1st century CE)

If you’re Jewish, the importance of education is emphasized from a very young age. Our history has taught us about the many benefits of education: maintaining a connection to G-d’s laws; having the tools to function in the greater society; developing a commitment to learning, discipline, and dedication to our roots; and devoting ourselves to the future of the Jewish community.

More

After a fun Presidents Day special, Jim and Greg are once serving up good, bad, and crazy martinis. Join them today as they celebrate Virginia Democrats failing to pass a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” suppressors, and magazines holding more than 12 rounds. They also dive into more offensive comments from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, this time contending that people need a more gray matter to work in the information economy than in farming and that old people diagnosed with cancer shouldn’t receive treatment because it costs too much money. And they react to the criminal convictions for attorney Michael Avenatti and again scold the liberal media for turning Avenatti into the media just because he was an adversary of President Trump.

More

Member Post

 

Academics at state schools tend not to recognize that they are public servants; or at least they don’t see their position the way I do. That is, (1) I write them and (2) they don’t write back. But a professor at UT Austin’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese did write back, promptly and informatively. He […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Special thanks to Bob Bowdon & Choice Media for helping us launch “The Learning Curve”! 

On this episode of “The Learning Curve,” Cara welcomes new co-host Gerard Robinson and guest Neal McCluskey, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. They discuss America’s growing interest in school choice, with 500,000 children now attending private schools through vouchers, tax credits, or Education Savings Accounts, and another three million enrolled in charter schools. They also review President Trump’s federal tax credit proposal, its questionable constitutionality, and its prospects in Congress. Neal describes his public schooling “Battle Map” project that catalogues social conflict in K-12 education, and demonstrates the merits of greater school choice as a mechanism for ensuring government remains neutral in disputes between religious liberty and civil rights. Plus, the avid grillmaster shares his BBQ tips!

More