Join Jim and Greg as they serve up two bad martinis and a crazy one. First, they groan as the Biden administration foolishly pursues a new Iran nuclear deal that in several ways would be even worse than the original. They also fume as California lays out plans to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035, explain how electric vehicles are a thoroughly unacceptable option for millions of Americans, and how government has no business forcing options on us that we don’t want. And they have a LOT to say about the Biden administration’s rollout of its plan to force Americans who didn’t take out student loans or have paid them off to cover those costs for others.

Photo courtesy Ramona Bessinger

On this episode of Take Back Our Schools, Beth and Andrew welcome Ramona Bessinger, a teacher who bravely spoke out about the racialized curriculum in her school district. Ramona talks about what prompted her to speak up and the push back she got from her school, other teachers, parents and students. She discusses the article she wrote for Legal Insurrection exposing her school’s divisive CRT based curriculum and the retaliation she received for writing it. Ramona also shares her views on why it is so difficult for other teachers to come forward and oppose the ideological takeover of our nation’s schools.

Ramona Bessinger is a 23-year veteran public school teacher, currently teaching English at Classical High School in Providence, RI. Ramona has extensive experience developing curriculum and has served as a school base model classroom. As a teacher of American Literature, World Literature, Multicultural Literature, Ramona brings a diverse understanding of English instruction for K-12 learners. Ramona is also a mother, patriot and active in restoring truthful pro-American K-12 Education and Curriculum Standards for all children.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome news that Democrats in Florida admit being “fatalistic” in knowing Republicans are very likely to win statewide races. They also unload on the Biden administration over it’s plan to “forgive” $10,000 in student loans and pass the bill over to people who never took out the loans or responsibly paid their bills. Finally, they discuss Rep. Jerry Nadler’s surprisingly easy win in a member vs. member New York House primary and Rep. Carolyn Maloney blaming her loss – at least in part – on misogyny and a sexist system.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Alan Taylor, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of the book, Thomas Jefferson’s Education. Professor Taylor shares some highlights of Jefferson’s career, his views on the importance of primary and higher public education in serving the political aspirations of his state and region, and Jefferson’s role as the architect of the University of Virginia, whose buildings embody his Neoclassical outlook. Professor Taylor reviews Virginia’s complex, 18th-century history as the most politically influential, populous, and wealthiest state, but one that was heavily dependent on agriculture and slavery. The interview concludes with Professor Taylor reading from his book on Jefferson.

Stories of the Week: A Washington Post column raises concerns about data showing that we are under-educating our children through low academic expectations, especially those from low-income and minority backgrounds. In Wisconsin, Act 31 requires that K-12 public schools instruct students in the history of the state’s Native Americans – but some estimate that less than half of the schools are implementing it.

Join Jim and Greg as they assess Rep. Liz Cheney getting trounced in the Wyoming congressional primary, her odd Lincoln reference in her speech last night, and whether she is really planning to run for president in 2024. They also shake their heads as the political left and their media allies drop the bogus talking point that their massive spending bill reduces inflation and admit it’s just advancing their big government goals on climate policy and more. And they hammer Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for continuing to demand that all students be vaccinated for COVID before being allowed in schools when up to 40 percent of black students remain unvaccinated.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Charles Chieppo talk with Doug Lemov, author of the international bestseller, Teach Like a Champion. Doug describes how he became interested in charter schools, dating back to the late 1990s in Massachusetts, and how the sector developed into a nationally recognized success story. He discusses his experience with the Uncommon Schools charter network, cited by Stanford’s CREDO for helping students make the greatest academic gains of any large charter network in the country. They delve into some key findings from Teach Like a Champion on academics and teacher qualifications. They also explore how parents and schools should address COVID-related learning loss, especially among the most vulnerable students. Finally, Doug shares highlights from his new book, Re-Connect: Building School Culture for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging, on the impact of excessive screen time on students’ learning and mental health.

Stories of the Week: Is the future of gifted and talented education uncertain, and if so, will that remove incentives for some families to remain in public schools? In The Washington Post, Virginia education secretary Aimee Guidera outlines the Youngkin administration’s plans to ensure every family has access to a quality education.

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Three decades ago, I came as close as I ever should have to becoming a schoolteacher: that is, I took some teacher-certification courses. None of which explored the concept of unteachability. At the time, and just months later when I got a job as a university instructor, I felt this condition not only existed but […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Charles Hobson, a retired resident scholar at the William & Mary Law School, 26-year editor of The Papers of John Marshall, and author of The Great Chief Justice: John Marshall and the Rule of Law. Dr. Hobson shares what students should know about the longest-serving, most important chief justice in the history of the Supreme Court, and his influence on our understanding of the U.S. Constitution. He reviews some of the most important Court decisions in American history. He also describes Marshall’s relationship with President Thomas Jefferson and their divergent views on the authority of the Court; as well as Marshall’s paradoxical position on African-American slavery. They explore the “Marshall Trilogy” of foundational Court decisions about Native Americans; and Chief Justice Marshall’s role and legacy of using the Court to safeguard the rule of law under the Constitution.

Stories of the Week: In Arizona, 40 students enrolled in the Applied Career Exploration in STEM (ACES) Camp engaged in immersive, hands-on activities and explored a wide variety of STEM careers. All 50 U.S. governors have agreed to expand K-12 computer science education in their states, prompted by a letter from 500+ business, education and nonprofit leaders urging an update.

In this episode of Take Back Our Schools, Beth and Andrew welcome back former math teacher, journalist and educational hero, Paul Rossi. Paul discusses his seven week purgatory from Twitter for exposing videos of toxic racial literacy curriculum that has infiltrated private schools across the country. Paul also talks about his recent expose of his former school, Grace Church, where a drag queen was invited to perform in bi-weekly chapel, and students were pressured to dance along. We also discuss how identity politics in schools has shifted from race to gender and sexual orientation, and Paul shares his own experiences as a teacher witnessing this transition. 

Paul Rossi is a mathematics teacher, writer, and whistleblower who disclosed the impact of CRT at Grace Church School, where he taught from 2012 to 2021. He is currently a Senior Education Analyst writing for LegalInsurrection.com, and an advisor to the Educational Liberty Alliance.

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Remember the time we were foolish enough to contemplate that affirmative action was finally going to be tossed into the dustbin for good? That time has come and gone. Now corporations have a new campaign for the Supreme Court’s approval of this disastrous policy under the auspices of “diversity”; since the evidence of affirmative action’s […]

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Communism will never go away. Its enchantments are too great. What is more debatable is where it will “take” next. Could easily be the U.S.A. Heck, it “took” in such disparate places as China, Cuba, and Hungary. I guess East Germany too, though that is hard to say, since the country was called into existence […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Milly Arbaje-Thomas, President & CEO of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (METCO) and Roger Hatch, co-author of Pioneer’s report, METCO Funding: Understanding Massachusetts’ Voluntary School Desegregation Program. Milly shares her background as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and deep involvement with anti-poverty and neighborhood-based organizations in Boston. She describes METCO’s history, the challenges METCO participants face, and the program’s proven track record of achieving excellent results for minority students from Boston and Springfield. The discussion turns to METCO’s complex funding model, and Roger Hatch summarizes the main findings of his recent report. They explore institutional barriers to expansion, despite the program’s contribution to diversifying greater Boston’s suburban districts (METCO students constitute very high percentages of those districts’ minority student population). They talk about the fiscal implications of METCO in suburban districts, including state and district funding and transportation costs; and possible financial reforms.

Stories of the Week: Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauds President Biden’s reversal of a proposal to curb charter school expansion. Basketball legend and civil rights trailblazer Bill Russell passed away this week; Cara and Gerard pay tribute to him.

Professor Sues U. of Wash. After Being Punished for ‘Inappropriate’ Opinion on Land Acknowledgments

 

Perhaps you’ve heard of “land acknowledgment” statements, which have come into vogue in educational and cultural institutions. In the higher education context, the gist of such statements — sometimes placed on course syllabi, sometimes spoken at meetings, exhibitions, or performances — is to state that the institution’s campus sits on occupied indigenous lands. This year, the University of Washington’s computer science department encouraged its faculty to issue such statements, offering approved language on how to word them. 

UW computer science professor Stuart Reges didn’t think much of this, viewing the exercise as performance (he’s not alone), so he crafted one of his own to make a point. More than four months later, after being accused of creating a “toxic environment” and subject to a seemingly unending harassment investigation, Reges has sued his employer to vindicate his First Amendment rights. Reges is represented by my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Richard Epstein, the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, and author of The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government. He describes the influence of 17th and 18th-century English ideas on our Founding Fathers’ views of ordered liberty and self-government. He traces federalism’s legal roots and explains why the concept of “competitive federalism” among the states and with the national government remains hotly contested. They discuss federalism as it relates to education, with early state constitutions delegating wide authority to local governments and citizens. Professor Epstein distinguishes federalism from infamous states’ rights arguments from antebellum America, or unjust state and local laws like Jim Crowism and segregation, and offers insights on how to strike a balance between the federal, state, and local governments in terms of ensuring basic rights. He explores how policymakers at all levels should think about using classical liberal constitutionalism to achieve wider access to educational excellence. The interview concludes with Professor Epstein’s reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship has issued a report calling on the government to prioritize instruction in entrepreneurial skills. In Utah, women constitute 72 percent of K-12 educators, but only 13 percent of school superintendents, according to 2019 study by the national School Superintendents Association.

Louisiana Enhances Student Due Process, Free Speech Protections, While Dept of Ed Threatens Both

 

Last month, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed two bills into law that will significantly strengthen key civil liberties in higher education. HB 185, introduced by Rep. Charles Owen, codifies important free speech protections for students at Louisiana’s public colleges, while HB 364, introduced by Rep. Scott McKnight, provides critical due process protections. My employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), advised Louisiana legislators as they drafted and revised each bill.

HB 185 makes important revisions to Louisiana’s existing campus free speech law. Among its provisions, the law adopts the speech-protective definition of student-on-student harassment established by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which defines student-on-student harassment as conduct “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” HB 185 also prevents colleges from charging security fees to students and student organizations based on the content of their expression or the anticipated reaction to an invited guest’s speech.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Bernita Bradley, founder and president of Engaged Detroit, a parent-driven urban homeschooling advocacy coalition. Bernita shares her background, and how she became a nationally recognized parent advocate for urban K-12 education reform. They delve into problems with the chronically underperforming Detroit Public Schools, the ways in which parents have responded, and the tensions in Detroit between the traditional public schools and charter schools. Bernita describes her daughter’s experience during COVID, why it was a turning point, and how it sparked an interest in homeschooling. She shares how Engaged Detroit and other parent organizations’ efforts to organize parents across the country are progressing, and the main lessons K-12 education policymakers should be learning from parent-driven school reform efforts.

Stories of the Week: A new study from a team of political scientists found that those college grads who worked for Teach for America were significantly more likely to vote than their peers who applied but weren’t admitted to the program. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has called for the abolition of the agency she once led, and giving more authority back to states and localities.

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This from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten: Our delegates and committees put in the work on the issues keeping families up at night, from climate change, to accessible healthcare, to the crushing crisis of student debt, to the terrifying safety issues plaguing too many workplaces. https://t.co/PTrGHKl7XM Preview Open

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UCF Honors the Law Prohibiting Anti-Racist Statements

 

How many times have you asked yourself what would it take to stop the universities from insisting that students and professors are racists? Surprisingly, in Florida, it hasn’t taken much effort at all, thanks to the consistent actions of Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Board of Governors which oversees the university system. In fact, the Board of Governors is exploring additional prohibitions to be included in the rule.

To review how we arrived at this moment, Gov. DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act”:

On this episode of Take Back Our Schools, Beth and Andrew speak with Bob Eitel about the Biden administration’s proposed changes to Title IX rules. Bob explains how the Obama administration manipulated Title IX to erode due process in favor of kangaroo courts and secret inquiries. He discusses how the Trump administration under Secretary Betsy DeVos reversed the Obama changes, and how the newly proposed Biden rules not only threaten free speech and academic freedom, but trample parental rights and have the potential to destroy girl’s and women’s sports at the university and K-12 level. Bob also shares his view that Title IX is being used to usher in radical gender ideology and is effectively a backdoor to fundamental cultural change. 

Bob Eitel is a co-founder and president of Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is fighting to reduce the power of the federal government and the influence of government sector unions in education and workforce policy and to defend the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans in the classroom and the workplace. Bob previously served as Senior Counselor to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from 2017 through 2020 where he supervised the implementation of the Secretary’s regulatory agenda and was an architect of the Secretary’s reforms concerning Title IX and the Higher Education Act.   

Additional information about the proposed Title IX rules can be found on DFI’s website (https://dfipolicy.org/titleix/). Concerned Americans can submit a comment about Title IX to the Department of Education through either www.dfipolicy.org or https://protecttitle9.org.

Join Jim and Greg as they celebrate Arizona leading the way on universal school choice – including parents keeping money for private tuition or homeschooling. They also groan as Canada’s vaccine mandate for people entering the country will mean 10 players for the Kansas City Royals can’t play in Toronto. And they analyze polling showing potential Georgia ticket-splitting as Gov. Brian Kemp enjoys a healthy lead while GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker is slightly behind.