This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a landmark trilogy on the Civil Rights era, America in the King Years. They discuss the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday the nation observed on Monday. They review Dr. King’s powerful, moving oratory, drawing on spiritual and civic ideals to promote nonviolent protest against racial injustice, and how, as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he shared leadership of the movement with organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. They also discuss the pivotal role that school-aged children played in the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, and how to talk with schoolchildren today about those heart-wrenching images such as six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted by U.S. marshals as she desegregated the New Orleans Public Schools, and young students facing Bull Connor’s dogs and fire hoses in Alabama. Branch shares thoughts on how to ensure that the women involved in the movement, including Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Diane Nash, receive due credit for their contributions. He concludes with a reading from one of his books.

Stories of the Week: President-elect Biden is backing up his pledge to get kids back to school with a proposed $130 million in stimulus funds to cover the costs of reconfiguring K-12 classrooms, improving ventilation, personal protective equipment, and other social distancing requirements. Will the cash infusion work, and will support be offered to income-eligible private school students? A U.S. Government Accountability Office study takes a close look at school improvement efforts across all states, with some promising findings.

Join Jim and Greg as they expose the insanity of Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who says the National Guard could be a threat to Biden since many of them probably voted for Trump. They also pummel Joe Biden for yet another nomination based solely on identity politics rather than competence. And they also condemn Biden for planning to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite many good reasons for the project to continue.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three crazy martinis! They slam New York City schools for scrapping the entrance exam to the kindergarten-level gifted program because the results “don’t reflect the diversity of the city’s population.” They also discuss the allegations of sexual impropriety against longtime campaign manager John Weaver that forced him to quit the Lincoln Project. And Jim shreds CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy for openly encouraging cable providers to dump right-leaning channels like OANN and Newsmax.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a pianist, conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and son of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They discuss his father’s legacy, his courageous work to debunk the Soviet Union’s utopian myths, and key lessons American educators and students should draw from his life, writings, and battle with Soviet communism. They also explore his warning to Western democracies in his historic “A World Split Apart” Harvard Commencement speech, about their own crippling “short-sightedness,” “loss of will,” and crisis of spirit. Ignat describes his family’s 20-year exile in rural Vermont, recounted in his father’s newly released memoir, Between Two Millstones, Book 2, in which Solzhenitsyn expounds on the vital importance of local self-government, the rule of law, liberty, and what he called “self-limitation.” Ignat describes the education he and his brothers received at home, his own impression of the strengths and weaknesses of American education, and what inspired him to become a classical musician and conductor. He concludes with a reading from one of his father’s works.

Related: 2018 op-ed by Jamie Gass: “As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard kick off the new year with Eva Moskowitz, CEO & Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools, a network of 47 schools enrolling 20,000 K-12 students in New York City. Eva shares her own education path, and how it influences her leadership and philosophy. She highlights some of the methods Success Academy has pioneered and implemented to drive outstanding academic achievement for the city’s most underserved students, as well as adjustments the network has made in response to COVID-19. They discuss the next U.S. Secretary of Education and the critical issue of school reopening, as well as learning loss and other challenges the pandemic is bringing to light and exacerbating for New York City’s public school children. Eva also shares thoughts on innovative approaches to resource allocation, and the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality teachers and principals. She concludes with advice for the next generation of educators.

Stories of the Week: Gerard and Cara review some of the major priorities for Miguel Cardona, President-elect Biden’s nominee for U.S Secretary of Education. In Indiana, a new report finds that only 43 percent of the state’s public education employees are teachers. Is the support staff hiring surge, especially at this time, crowding out higher teacher compensation and other classroom needs?

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Writing in Education Week last February, Bettina Love, professor at the University of Georgia and co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network, declared that “Anti-racist teaching is not a teaching approach or method, it is a way of life.” That thinking has landed here in Illinois. Like every state, Illinois requires that programs for developing teachers […]

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A few weeks ago, out on my customary weekday pre-dawn bicycle ride, I observed that through my right eye there was one full moon, but through my left eye there were three. I’d already noticed, in recent months, a change in focal length between my two eyes, and my optometrist confirmed this back in October; […]

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Linguistics sounds like a field I would study, but I never have. I think I’d rather just study languages. It was for example rewarding to observe, in the Brazilian movie Central Station, the character played by Fernanda Montenegro saying to a skeptical friend, “Come on, help me out” in English subtitles, but in spoken Portuguese […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jim Blew, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education. Assistant Secretary Blew shares lessons from leading and implementing K-12 public education reform efforts in often contentious policy environments, and the unique challenges of the current partisanship and gridlock in Washington, D.C. He describes Secretary DeVos’s courageous work on behalf of public and private school choice, as both a public official and private philanthropist, and why it caused such a stir from the national teachers’ unions and defenders of the status quo in Congress. The discussion concludes with a focus on the D.C. voucher program, the most successful federally-funded K-12 private school choice program ever established, its future prospects, and the outlook for private school choice programs across the country.

Stories of the Week: The New Hampshire state legislature will move forward on the first phase of a $46 million federal grant-funded initiative to double the number of charter schools, after Democratic lawmakers voted against the grant last year. Lily Eskelsen García rose from school cafeteria worker to president of the National Education Association – will President-elect Biden choose her as the next U.S. Secretary of Education?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why My Children Are Not Part of the ‘Lost Covid Generation’

 

The fifth-largest school district in the nation, Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV, has been closed since March 16 of this year. And when the governor initially signed the order to close schools, it was to be for two weeks. The notice sent to parents said, in part, “This closure will continue through Monday, April 13, which includes the already scheduled Spring Break.”

But instead of just two weeks of halted instruction, Las Vegas students have now been out of the classroom for 269 days. And although there has been “school” for the last few months, it would be a very hard case to make that students are getting the education they signed up for.

NPR recently aired a report in which they discussed the “lost Covid generation,” which is the term UNICEF has used to describe the effects of school closures due to Covid. The report states that students worldwide have lost an average of 47 days of instruction this year. And, no doubt, that could have harmful effects on children everywhere.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Daniel Walker Howe, Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University in England and Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. Drawing from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, he provides background information on Horace Mann, the first secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, founder of the common school movement in public education, and a prominent abolitionist in Congress. They explore Mann’s vision of primary and secondary public schooling as a conduit for political equality and citizenship in a democratic society, and what common schools meant for African-American and female students. They also explore the religious origins of very high rates of adult literacy in early Puritan New England, as well as the Founders’ constitutional vision of state and locally-driven K-12 education.

Stories of the Week: Last week, we said goodbye to one of America’s leading public intellectuals, Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, author of over a dozen books, prominent libertarian, and syndicated columnist. After the Every Student Succeeds Act required states to be transparent about funding on school-level report cards, some states are publishing this data, but not others – which presents challenges in terms of spending priorities as budget cuts loom.

Join Jim and Greg, even though there are no good martinis today. They wince as Joe Biden taps radical lefty Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services. They also walk through the thoroughly unsurprising allegations that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo runs a toxic work environment. And they fume as the Chicago Teachers’ Union says returning to in-person instruction is due to racism, sexism, and misogyny while national unions convince Joe Biden to demand $100 billion to reopen elementary schools.

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My late wife and I home-schooled our six kids through elementary school, and the older three through high school. Our approach was heavily reading-focused; we had a big home library consisting of hundreds of books, mostly mid-20th century children’s and young adult fiction and non-fiction. We used Saxon math, and they suffered through an awful […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Caroline Hoxby, the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution. Professor Hoxby shares what inspired her interest in charter schools, school choice, and social mobility, and the major lessons she has learned about K-12 education policymaking in the U.S. throughout her career. She discusses the benefits of randomized lottery-based research in yielding the most reliable charter school effectiveness data. They also delve into the growing disconnect between the nation’s increasing per-pupil expenditures and stagnant student achievement, and the long-term implications of these data regarding social mobility and the nation’s economic vitality.

Stories of the Week: Will COVID-19 usher in a whole new approach to school funding that ties spending to students’ needs or mastery? Defying expectations based on past recessions, enrollment in K-12 private schools has increased during COVID, according to the results of a new survey of 160 independent schools in 15 states.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Avoid the Pitfalls of Student Loan Forgiveness

 

One looming issue facing the incoming Biden administration is what to do with the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loans, mostly held by the federal government. The most recent internal government analysis found that the United States will lose about $400 billion on its current portfolio of $1.37 trillion, a number likely to increase as the government continues to allocate about $100 billion per year in new student loans. Notably, that analysis did not include the roughly $150 billion in loans backed by the federal government but originated by private lenders.

By way of comparison, private lender losses on subprime loans in the residential lending market were about $535 billion during the 2008 crisis. The student loan and subprime mortgage crises share the same root cause: by statutory design, the government wished to expand both markets, such that loans were made with little or no examination of the borrowers’ creditworthiness. The meltdown of the residential home market arose because private lenders relied on the implicit federal loan guarantee. In the end, this practice pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the holders of weak mortgages, over the edge, and ultimately resulted in the wipeout of all the private common and preferred shareholders of the two companies.

Fortunately, the absence of private shareholders ensures that the student loan crisis is not likely to generate such chilling collateral consequences. But the problem of borrower defaults will not go away soon, given that the federal government continues to pump billions of dollars each year into student loans. Unfortunately, this constant infusion of new capital into the lending market is causing increases in college tuition that outstrip inflation, imposing additional costs on individuals who do not take out student loans, and raising the overall cost of education above competitive rates.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Arizona Voters Pass Billion-Dollar Tax Hike; Lawyers Say ‘Not so Fast’

 

Arizona has been a welcoming environment for voter-led initiatives. If you produced enough signatures, you could get damn near anything on the ballot. The statehouse tightened up the requirements after 2006, which featured 19 propositions — some of which contradicted each other.

This year, there were only two: legalizing weed and hiking taxes on the wealthy for education. (This, after the state increased teacher pay by a whopping 20 percent.) Both measures passed but in Arizona, that just means the lawsuits begin.

First out of the gate is the Goldwater Institute, a limited-government nonprofit with a strong track record of holding tax-and-spenders’ feet to the fire. They’re taking on the education tax hikes … because they are utterly unconstitutional.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Carl Bistany, the president of SABIS® Educational Systems, an education company founded over 130 years ago that serves young women in the Middle East, and poor and minority students in the U.S. Carl describes SABIS’® successful model for educating underserved and at-risk students, especially its use of regular, consistent testing, to bridge achievement gaps among those who are often seen as the most challenging to educate. He describes some of his proudest accomplishments, as well as barriers that have made it difficult, politically, for for-profit school management companies like SABIS® to operate and expand their successful models. They also explore some of the most promising developments in K-12 education reform internationally, and in the U.S.

Stories of the Week: Ohio lawmakers have passed a proposal that would overhaul the criteria for the state’s largest private school tuition program, to serve more low-income students currently enrolled in public schools whose performance ranks in the bottom fifth. A study by Bellwether Education found that the rate of teacher retirement in six of seven states reviewed has declined by five percent. Has COVID-related virtual instruction helped retain veteran faculty?

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In case search engines weren’t having enough fun, I pitched Bing this. Of course the hits were about one or the other but not both. I was shown FAQs. “What is the most effective intervention for malnutrition?” I guessed “Food” but the answer was…nutritional education! I suppose the idea is that everybody always has enough […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they discuss Senate Democrats unloading on Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over Democrats failing to win several highly targeted seats this year. Is his job safe? They also unload on Joe Biden’s plan to tax gun owners $34 billion and ban some of the most popular rifles and magazines on the market. And they dissect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo melting down over COVID, schools, and law enforcement officers refusing to endorse his absurd policy on Thanksgiving gatherings.