Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the egregiously overdue end of the travel ban to the U.S. for vaccinated people from the UK and the European Union. They also shudder after finding out Loudoun County, Virginia, schools have failed to reported abuse incidents for years and that Democrats in the Virginia legislature made it easier to cover up these problems just last year. And they react to the news that Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg has been on leave for the past two months while the supply chain crisis grew worse.

 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), a non-partisan research and policy analysis organization developing transformative, evidence-based solutions for K-12 public education. Robin describes the type of research CRPE conducts and how it has evolved over time, and shares her view of the impact it should have on schools, teachers, and families. She discusses CRPE’s work tracking school closures across the country at the height of the pandemic, the methodology used, and the findings so far. Robin reviews key takeaways from CRPE’s July report on how districts are allocating federal COVID-19 relief funds, and talks about how districts should spend those dollars. After sharing what her team will be focusing on as we emerge from the pandemic, she describes the challenges of leading a non-partisan research organization and remaining committed to the mission during a highly partisan era, with schools and curricula increasingly being drawn into political battles.

Stories of the WeekFinance and economics education improves young people’s financial literacy and helps prevent credit card and student loan debt, and insufficient savings for retirement. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is ending the school district’s Gifted and Talented program by fall 2022, in favor of a new program which he claims is more equitable.
Guest:

Jim and Greg get a kick out of Democrats being frustrated that giving away a ton of money in the “COVID relief” bill is not helping them much politically. They also cringe as a departing Pentagon official warns that China is so far ahead of us in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence that we look like kindergarteners by comparison. And they rip into the Loudoun County, Virginia, school board for apparently covering up a brutal sexual assault against a ninth grade girl in order to advance their transgender agenda.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Raymond Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, and author of several acclaimed and prize-winning books on civil rights, including Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. He shares how he became interested in researching, writing, and teaching about the Civil Rights Movement. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, he describes key figures in the movement, such as Irene Morgan, James Farmer, Diane Nash, and John Lewis, as well as the fear, hostility, and mob violence the riders (and the press covering them) confronted. They review organizations like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and how their opponents responded with terrifying violence across the South. He offers thoughts on how teachers and students should think about the tensions among the Kennedy administration, MLK and SCLC, and the often younger, student led-groups like CORE and SNCC. He concludes with a reading from his book about the Freedom Riders.

Stories of the Week: Civil Rights activist and education reform activist Dr. Howard Fuller’s support for school choice stems from his determination to provide Black students a quality education by any means necessary. Research from the Center for Research and Reform in Education shows that students in grades K-12 have been most seriously impacted by the effects of COVID-19-related learning loss.

Here’s Proof the Biden Administration Has Weaponized the FBI to Target Political Opponents

 

If one were seeking confirmation that the Biden Administration has continued the Obama Administration’s policy of pitting government agencies against its political enemies, here it is.

Last week, the far left National School Board Association solicited President Joe Biden’s assistance in their battle against parents who oppose the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and mask mandates. In a letter to Biden, they made the case that these parents should be treated as domestic terrorists. I posted about this request here.

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer on the resolve of Taiwan’s president and people in the face of growing Chinese threats. They also have questions as Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the FBI will start investigating alleged threats made against school officials in highly charged debates around the country. And they sigh as Dr. Fauci gives contradictory answers on whether he recommends people visit with family over the holidays and the CDC comes out with absurd guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome news of a new COVID treatment that greatly improves a patient’s chance of staying out of the hospital. They also shake their heads as evidence emerges that Democratic leaders have been lying for months about Sen. Joe Manchin offering no specific changes he would make to the reconciliation bill. And they fire away as Education Sec. Miguel Cardona says parents are getting upset at school board meetings because “their guys didn’t win” last year.

National School Board Association Demands Biden Treat Fed-Up Parents as Domestic Terrorists

 

Image by Sabrina Eickhoff from Pixabay

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has consistently trailed his well-known opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a long-time Clinton ally and one-time governor of the state. If Youngkin is able to pull out a win in November, he may owe it to McAuliffe’s rather telling blunder on the topic of critical race theory during their Tuesday night debate.

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe told his opponent.

FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings Find Increased Student Support for Censorship

 

Last week, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), working alongside College Pulse and RealClearEducation, published the second rendition of our College Free Speech Rankings. Among the takeaways? Prospective college students who want a college with a strong culture of free expression should consider Claremont McKenna College or the University of Chicago, which come first and second (with CMC taking the top spot held by UChicago last year). By that same token, they might want to think twice about DePauw University, which finishes last for the second consecutive year.

When we published our first edition of the rankings last year, the nearly 20,000 students at 55 institutions made it the largest survey of college student attitudes on free speech ever conducted. Nowhere to go from there but down? Nonsense. This year, we surveyed nearly triple the number of schools (159) and nearly double the number of students (over 37,000). The report takes into account the varied dimensions of free expression on campus, including the ability to discuss challenging topics like race, gender dynamics, and geopolitical conflicts; whether students hold back from openly sharing their views; and official campus speech policies.

The rankings found that more than 80% of students report self-censoring their viewpoints at their colleges at least some of the time, with 21% saying they censor themselves often. Only a third of students say that their college administration makes it either very or extremely clear that it will protect free speech on campus. What’s more, some illiberal streaks among the student population seem to be trending in the wrong direction. For instance, 66% reported some level of acceptance for speaker shout-downs (up 4 percentage points from FIRE’s 2020 report), and 23% agreed that it’s acceptable for people to use violence to stop certain speech (up 5 percentage points). Additionally, students generally showed much greater intolerance for campus speakers with conservative positions.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Mike Goldstein, founder of the Match Charter School and Match Teacher Residency in Boston. He shares why he became involved in K-12 education and founded Match Charter, and some of the innovations the school has implemented, such as high-caliber teacher preparation and use of Ivy League-educated teachers to drive successful student achievement. They discuss Match’s high-dosage tutoring program, and Mike shares the results of an experiment begun six years ago to replicate it in school districts. Mike also sheds light on charter graduates’ economic mobility, including job prospects and earning gains after college. Lastly, they delve into how charter supporters and leaders in Massachusetts and other blue states should proceed now that opposition is on the rise in states with some of the highest-performing charters, and what must be done to bridge the growing political divisions within K-12 education reform.

Stories of the Week: In New Mexico this year, the state is experiencing a 40 percent spike in the retirement of education employees. In Illinois, nearly 40 cents of every education dollar is spent on pensions.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-host Cara Candal talks with Julie Young, ASU Vice President of Education Outreach and Student Services, and Managing Director of ASU Prep Academy and ASU Prep Digital. They discuss the implications of COVID-19’s disruption of American K-12 education and the future of digital learning. Julie describes the enrollment growth her organization has seen as a result of parent demand for alternatives to public offerings, which comes on top of the growth in online schooling that pre-dated the pandemic (an 80 percent increase in enrollment during the last decade). Julie answers critics who claim digital schooling can’t work for early childhood, urban, or special needs students. She shares insights on quality digital education curriculum materials and approaches to subject areas that some assume are not well suited for digital learning.

Stories of the Week: Co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson discuss a Wall Street Journal investigation into Facebook, showing that the company is aware of mental health issues especially among teen girls, connected to Instagram. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has ordered school classes to resume in grades seven to 12 – but only for boys.

A Revisit to the Village

 

“The simple message of It Takes a Village is as relevant as ever: We are all in this together.”- HRC, It Takes a Village

That is, until the going gets tough. Then you’re on your own.

Member Post

 

They’re not much trouble beyond a small administrative expense. They match many of their living peers in academic ability but with much less likelihood of being truants or having other behavior problems. This may be the future of public education!  But the ghost students. My goodness. Preview Open

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,” guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom. They next discuss his newest book, Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus, and general lessons about the Israelites that leaders, teachers, and students could use in addressing the challenges of modern life. They explore the influence of the Book of Exodus and the themes of liberation from captivity on the Civil Rights Movement, and several of its major leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what teachers and students today should learn from Exodus about deliverance from life’s hardships. Dr. Kass shares why he became interested in the Great Books, and their crucial role in helping 21st-century students receive a complete liberal arts education and lead fulfilling lives. They discuss Western education’s increasing focus on vocationally oriented and often technocratic skills at the expense of humanistic education, and why we should be concerned about it, especially in our hyper-technological era. The interview concludes with a reading from Dr. Kass’s newest book on Exodus.

Stories of the Week: Co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson discuss New York Times story on the plight of America’s nine million students in rural school districts that are underfunded, disconnected, and face myriad challenges. Pioneer Institute and other organizations submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin, to expand access to private and religious schools for families in Maine.

America Experiences a Homeschooling Boom

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things here in America. As every parent knows, one of the major disruptions took place in the realm of education. News has been coming out that among the disruptions in education has been the number of parents choosing to homeschool their kids. Now, we’re not talking about the quasi-homeschooling that all kids experienced when their schools closed and all the kids went to Zoom School, we’re talking about folks who have decided to unenroll their students from public or private school and teach their children themselves.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, a New York Times best-selling biographer of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. Kate shares why she has written about these historical African-American figures, and how she thinks parents, teachers, and schools can draw on their lives to talk about race. She describes the deeply segregated Jim Crow landscape of Fannie Lou Hamer’s native Mississippi Delta, the challenges she faced, and the influence of Freedom Songs and spirituals like “This Little Light of Mine,” often performed at her rallies, on her tireless advocacy. They discuss Hamer’s courageous voter mobilization efforts during Freedom Summer and at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, both during the summer of 1964, and why it’s so important for Americans to know about this unsung heroine of the Civil Rights era. They also explore Hamer’s reception by President Lyndon Johnson and the often male-centric Civil Rights Movement.

Stories of the Week: Around the country, K-12 online learning is experiencing a decline in interest among families, especially in programs with less live instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. A report from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that just over 40 percent of 2- and 4-year college students across the U.S. during the 2020-21 academic year were men.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. They discuss the realities of K-12 education before COVID-19, with declining NAEP scores and persistent achievement gaps, and what can be done to address COVID-19-related learning loss, especially in STEM. Nancy offers thoughts on America’s competitiveness with high-performing countries in the STEM fields that drive the global economy. Lastly, they delve into teacher preparation in STEM fields, and how education schools and state departments of education can help address the country’s ongoing STEM deficits.

Story of the Week: Schools in all but two states — New Hampshire and New Mexico — are experiencing a shortage of special education teachers to meet demand as students return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

Ron DeSantis Fights Back–Again!

 

Governor Ron DeSantis is prepared to defy ignorance and fear, and he takes action consistently and courageously. He knew that schools would try to enact mandatory mask mandates throughout the state, and before they could, he banned mandatory mandates. The commissioner of the Department of Education, Richard Corcoran, backed him up:

Just days after a state judge ruled that the governor’s ban was unconstitutional, Florida’s education commissioner on Monday announced the state was withholding funds from Alachua and Broward counties ‘for their continued violation of state law.’

Holding Up a Mirror to my Students, And Myself

 

My practice at the end of my first class of the semester is to see if students want to ask me any questions. A young woman asked me, after my answering the question about alma maters and degrees, including my ThM in Old Testament, “So, did you ever think about becoming a pastor?” It was refreshing to hear such a forthright question, to which I answered, “Yes, I did consider becoming a pastor but discovered that I loved teaching.”

Other questions followed but she and a friend stayed behind after class ended to thank me for my answer, then added, “I am not religious, but I am a spiritual person.” Listening to my culture, I was not surprised by her admission. I had heard it before. What struck me about the conversation was her honest declaration. It was good to hear a student so well articulate her belief, and I thanked her for it

The brief conversation made me think again about how everyone believes something. Claims are staked on those beliefs. My job, as a professor, is to hold a mirror up to myself and my students, asking each one of us to be honest about those beliefs. We may not agree with each other. In the pluralistic public sphere, the freedom of belief is imperative in America. To appreciate others’ points of view without necessarily capitulating ours is important. My responsibility in the public university is not to change students. My job is to make sure they have had an opportunity to consider all sides of an issue before taking upon themselves the responsibility to own their belief. And today, I introduce my students to Thomas Sowell.