Under State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley’s leadership, Louisiana has safely reopened schools, revamped literacy instruction, introduced new social studies standards, and prioritized academic achievement. Now, the Pelican State is poised to expand educational freedom. Dr. Brumley joins Students Over Systems to discuss the Louisiana GATOR program and plans to provide parents with state-funded education savings accounts (ESAs) to pay for their children’s K-12 education expenses. Dr. Brumley also outlines the Louisiana “Let Teachers Teach” working group’s recommendations for removing classroom distractions and bureaucratic burdens.

On this episode of Students Over Systems, Kelley Williams-Bolar, an educator, mother, and No More Lines fellow, shares her story of being jailed after enrolling her children in a nearby public school. Kelley used her father’s home address to enroll her daughters in a safe and high-performing school not far from her home in Akron, Ohio. The school district hired a private investigator to follow her, leading to Kelley and her father being charged with felonies for “stealing” education. Kelley’s story reveals the real-life consequences of policies currently in place in 24 states that make it a crime for families to enroll their children in a public school using a shared address.

Only 13% of American eighth grade students are proficient in history and 22% are proficient in civics, according to 2022 NAEP results. The Pioneer Institute’s Jamie Gass joins the podcast to discuss the past, present, and potential future of rigorous history and civics instruction as detailed in his new book, Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History & Civics in America’s Schools. Jamie also describes research that reveals that private school students show higher levels of civic knowledge and engagement.

All students should have access to any public school, regardless of their home address and government-imposed school district boundaries. Tim DeRoche, author of A Fine Line: How Most American Kids Are Kept Out of the Best Public Schools and founder of Available to All, joins the podcast to advocate for ensuring public schools are “available to all on equal terms.” Tim argues for breaking the historically discriminatory connection between housing costs, school quality, and school access.

Did you know that 64% of parents wish they had more information about education options for their children? Shelby Doyle with the National School Choice Awareness Foundation joins the podcast to share tips and resources for parents who are seeking alternatives to their residentially-assigned public schools. We first discuss Shelby’s homeschooling experience and then review the tools available to parents at schoolchoiceweek.com, including an interactive state map, seven steps to finding the right school for your child, a “find schools near me” search engine, and questions to ask while touring schools.

In their new book, Getting Education Right: A Conservative Vision for Improving Early Childhood, K–12, and College, Frederick M. Hess and Michael Q. McShane outline a principled conservative vision that could cultivate schools that are formative, flexible, and human. In this supersized Students Over Systems episode, Rick and Mike encourage conservatives to advocate for local control, tradition, and opportunity while avoiding the lure of The Next Big Thing in technocratic K-12 education policy. We discuss the extremely progressive teacher training cartel, parental responsibilities, setting clear expectations for school discipline, “grifters and lunatics” who prey on parents’ frustrations, Edmund Burke’s little platoons, and much more.

What does it mean to truly empower and trust families to make education decisions for their children? Whitney Marsh, Director of Policy Operations at yes. every kid. Foundation, joins Students Over Systems to discuss removing boundaries that restrict where families can send their kids to school, supporting edupreneurs, and implementing effective education savings account (ESA) programs. Whitney advocates for a shift away from excessively regulating education freedom programs to trusting parents’ judgment.

Chris and Christine Stigall, hosts of the Herzog Foundation’s Making the Leap podcast, join Students Over Systems to share how they encourage and equip parents to make choices best suited for their families. Chris and Christine (a former public school educator) discuss both their family’s education choices and concerns they hear from other parents, including how some public schools have become “fancy rec centers.” The Stigalls also describe the Herzog Foundation’s extensive training resources for churches and educators interested in expanding or opening schools.

Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, joins Students Over Systems to discuss the educational industrial complex, the pernicious influence of teachers unions, and the recent growth in school choice programs. Corey explains why he advises leaning into the culture wars in his upcoming book, The Parent Revolution. He also dispels a number of education freedom myths, including the assertion that school choice defunds public education.

Former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, pioneer of the universal education freedom model, joins the Students Over Systems podcast as we celebrate National School Choice Week. We discuss Arizona’s reputation as the Wild West of school choice, the growth of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, and the wide array of education options in the state. Governor Ducey tackles school choice myths and describes why teachers unions relentlessly attack programs that provide students, parents, and educators with freedom and opportunities.

Tera Myers joins the first Students Over Systems episode of 2024 to discuss how school choice empowers parents of students with disabilities. Tera describes her successful advocacy for the Ohio special needs scholarship program that enabled her son to receive an education that met his complex needs. She advises parents to tune out teachers unions’ fear-mongering and to seek, research, and embrace education opportunities in their states.

Nicole Solas joins Students Over Systems to review the IWF Education Freedom Center’s 2023 Naughty and Nice List. Teachers unions that closed schools with strikes top the naughty list. Union leaders Randi Weingarten, Becky Pringle, and Chicago’s Stacy Davis Gates, as well as Baltimore Public Schools, Providence Public Schools, PEN America, and school districts that forced teachers to lie to parents were also quite naughty this year. The nice list features governors and states that expanded education freedom by creating education savings accounts (ESAs) and universal school choice programs, as well as states that passed the Given Name Act. The conversation concludes with our hopes for 2024 and Nicole dispelling a persistent school choice myth.

On this episode of Students Over Systems, host Ginny Gentles talks with Derrell Bradford, president of 50CAN, about school choice and teachers unions. Derrell views prolonged school closures in highly unionized areas as “one of the great domestic policy failures of our lifetimes” and believes allowing funding to follow children reduces unions’ outsized power to disrupt the lives of students and parents. He shares his insights from years of advocating for policies that provide opportunities and leverage to low-income families and describes the benefits of universal education freedom. The conversation concludes with a discussion of steps policymakers can take to address learning loss and empower families.

Ryan Walters is a former high school history teacher who currently serves as Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. He joins Students Over Systems to share his views on teachers unions, parental rights, and protecting children from indoctrination and sexually explicit materials. Superintendent Walters, who is a strong advocate for empowering parents by increasing transparency and offering universal school choice, concludes the conversation with good news: the launch of Oklahoma’s new refundable Parental Choice Tax Credit.

Gerard Robinson helped pave the way for universal education freedom with the 2017 book he co-edited entitled Education Savings Accounts: The New Frontier in School Choice. On this week’s Students Over Systems episode, he provides a historical overview of the early days of school choice, describes the steady growth of the movement over three decades, and addresses the lack of education freedom in Virginia, where he previously served as Secretary of Education. Gerard also shares his concerns about the emergence of click-bait-for-debate and calls for healthier conversations about the merits of school choice.

On this episode of Students Over Systems, special guest Virginia Walden Ford discusses the grassroots parent advocacy movement she led which resulted in the passage of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program almost 20 years ago. Virginia lauds the past congressional advocates for the program, which provides K-12 scholarships to low-income D.C. families, and laments the repeated efforts by school choice opponents to choke off its funding. Virginia’s story inspired the powerful movie, Miss Virginia; and her books, Voices, Choices, and Second Chances and School Choice: A Legacy to Keep, provide inspiration and direction for other parents seeking to expand their children’s educational choices.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott brought the state legislature back this month for a special legislative session to consider a K-12 education savings account (ESA) proposal. Mandy Drogin, campaign director of Next Generation, joins the podcast to discuss the ESA proposal and plans to expand Texas parental empowerment in the Lone Star state by increasing transparency, quality, respect for parents as ultimate decision makers for their child’s education, and choice. Mandy dispels myths around Texas education funding, describes the high demand for school choice in the state, and encourages parents to engage in the legislative process so that every Texas student has access to robust education options.

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward is a champion for the welfare of children and youth. On this episode of Students Over Systems, Senator Ward lays out the strong support in Pennsylvania for education freedom, including the proposed “Pennsylvania Award for Student Success” (PASS) program designed to provide lifeline scholarships to K-12 students trapped in the state’s lowest-performing schools. Senator Ward describes the legislature’s ongoing budget discussions, the governor’s inconsistent support for school choice, and the teachers unions’ relentless demands for more funding, despite record-high K-12 public education funding increases, high per-pupil funding, and unspent federal pandemic aid.

Dr. Lance Izumi, senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, joins the Students Over Systems podcast to discuss why K-12 public schools aren’t as good as middle-class parents think. Dr. Izumi describes three of his recent books that expose the weaknesses of the K-12 education system and highlights stories of parents who are seeking alternatives: Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice, The Homeschool Boom, and The Great Parent Revolt. What happens in California’s education policy often spreads to other areas of the country, so parents will want to hear his concerns about the new California math framework.

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC) joins the Students Over Systems podcast to discuss the federal government’s role in education policy. Rep. Foxx outlines her goals as chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and delves into the hearings and legislation her committee has prioritized this year. We talk about steps the federal government can take to protect parental rights and expand education freedom.