Tag: Education

School Diary: How to Anger a Budding SJW

A small eruption of social justice warfare erupted today at the start of class. Thoughts, critiques, suggestions, etc…all warmly welcomed.My class was waiting to begin when a chatty Hispanic student- call her K- said: “well, I read this article in the Washington Post…but I shouldn’t talk about it now…”

K has been my student for a year and a half so I should have known better than to take the bait. Most of her tuition is paid by a fund that sends “promising” students from public schools to independent/private schools in the state. We know this because she speaks about it constantly, to everyone. She’s generally cheerful, inarticulate, and uninformed (“Ok, so this Helen Keller person… I don’t really know who she was, but anyhoo, so… my sister said that she was blind and deaf. And she couldn’t talk either? But how… like I don’t wanna be mean or, like….well mean I guess but I mean how is that possible? Like at the same time?”)

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Tommy Schultz, CEO-elect of the American Federation for Children (AFC). They discuss how COVID-19 school closures have increased the interest in alternatives to public schools, and what AFC’s polling shows on shifts in attitudes toward school choice options in both urban and rural communities. He shares predictions for school choice policymaking in the Biden administration and the largely Republican-controlled state legislatures. They explore the past successes of the left-right coalition in K-12 education reform that delivered charter schools, testing, and accountability, but has since splintered, and how the remnants of that coalition might respond to the teachers’ unions. Tommy offers insights into how advocates will need to communicate and mobilize state-by-state over the next five years to dramatically expand private school choice programs like vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and education savings account programs, which currently serve approximately 550,000 out of 56 million total K-12 students.

Stories of the Week: A new Pioneer Institute report on Boston’s only vocational high school (which also received coverage in The Boston Globe) calls for improved alignment between course and co-op offerings, and actual employment opportunities. New research from EducationNext raises concerns about over-diagnosis of Black and Hispanic students in special education programs. In some school districts, students are continuing remote learning, even while playing on sports teams – is this the right message to send about academic priorities?

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss the staggering number of students who fell through the cracks because schools were closed and the impact that could have. They also roll their eyes as Elizabeth Warren and a couple of allies in the House propose a wealth tax, and they discuss why New York Democrats suddenly seem so eager to boot Gov. Cuomo.


Why We Need Shakespeare Now More than Ever


Yes, the War Against Shakespeare has been going on for years now. But the Woke Supremacists in universities are stepping up the volume, because, you know, Shakespeare is not relevant today. It’s not just because he represents white-supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and all other -isms. No. He’s not relevant.

What can Shakespeare possibly have to say to today’s youth, or today’s young adults, or even today’s old adults? How can Shakespeare possibly be relevant to them? Let’s take a moment to imagine…

Member Post


The individuals who rise to national prominence here in the U.S. puzzle me with their apparent mediocrity–the lackluster communication skills (or slick speaking ability devoid of content), the lack of clear principles, the absence of fresh ideas. I find it frustrating that we can’t elect strong, principled leaders in a country of more than 300 […]

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To the kids of California,  Like you, I grew up here. I’ve thought about you so much the last eleven months, and wondered how it must feel to be you. It must be confusing, to drive through town, and see tourists wine tasting and people dining out. Entire homes have been built from the ground […]

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So the saga of the Chicago Teachers Union versus Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools continues. Some random thoughts on what’s going on. Where we left off: on January 24th, 10,000 teachers for kindergarten- 8th grade were supposed to report to their classrooms. They failed to do so at the CTU’s urging and set off […]

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Teri is back behind the mic, giving you an update on: her life these last six months, where Smart Girl Politics is headed and her new project.

Please be sure to go to fierce.substack.com/ to join in the fun!

Jack brings on Reason editor Robby Soave to discuss the struggle (against . . . teachers?) to reopen schools, and the terrible consequences for kids — you know, the people the schools are supposed to be for — of their being closed.

School Diary: Diversity Day


Today was Open Hearts Day, a.k.a. Diversity Day at my school, an occasion that admin has been talking up for weeks now. Some of you might have had similar diversity training experiences at work; I’d be curious to know if this is similar to what you’ve been through.

My first year at school, we literally called this day “Diversity Day.” Each homeroom put a table outside their classroom in the hallway and the students placed items on the table that reflected their ethnic heritage. I put my globe on the table with bright dots to reflect the different places that my students’ families had come from. Then we all walked around and admired everyone’s tables.

Chicago: Teachers Won’t Come Back


Preschool teacher Kirstin Roberts teaches students outside Brentano Elementary Math & Science Academy since it isn’t “safe” inside.
As a former employee of CPS (Chicago Public Schools, for the uninitiated), I have been watching as the saga of the “reopening of schools” has been unfolding here. I still receive all the CPS emails, as well as those from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). The competing narratives about going back to work have been fascinating and I thought I’d do a little write-up here. Feel free to chime in if you’ve been following and have thoughts about how this is going down…

CPS planned on a hybrid re-opening scheme this fall but the CTU protested that it wasn’t safe so CPS went remote. Throughout that time, CPS provided updates about the HEPA filters they installed in the schools, cleaning procedures, the polling from the community who wanted to return to in-person teaching, etc. All this led to January’s phased re-opening (note: the CTU did not endorse this plan)- on January 4, 5,800 teachers were meant to return to prep for the January 11 start date for pre-kindergarten age children and only 49.7% came back. Some taught remotely, some taught even outside the building in 27°F weather (see the photo above). And the CTU said that teachers who did not want to return had the Union’s full support. CPS and the city said they would face “progressive discipline”- i.e., risk being fired.

Technology, Disheartenment, and a Piece of Torte


Those born in the US right after the Second World War arguably have had the easiest life of any humans ever living on the planet. This statement does not apply to people who served, suffered, and died in the Korean, Vietnam, and Middle East Wars or experienced natural disasters during that same era. But otherwise, let’s be honest: the ride for my generation has been easy, fueled by confidence in the American Dream and decorated by every comfort known to man.

Raised when the values and virtues defining our nation were taught to each child, I have been able to spend significant time in actively Communist countries and those previously devastated by Communism. How often I thought: “Ah, my homeland could never experience horrors like indiscriminate censorship, character assassination by legislative or political policy, or the tragic reduction of an individual’s life and legacy to the status of ‘non-person’ (regular features of life under Communism).” I wore my confidence like a badge of honor!

Building our own Tsunami


We know the country is in trouble. Our tendency is to point to movements, campaigns and organizations for our present circumstances. And yet, sadly, we must look at human nature, our lives in the 21st century, to realize how we’ve arrived at this moment. Most of us could not have imagined the advancement of accusations of racism, the teaching of socialism, the totalitarian lockdowns and the corruption of culture. On reflection, however, I think I can see how we arrived here.

As human beings, we are mostly averse to change; others have said that it’s not the change that disturbs us, but the potential outcomes. But first, we must acknowledge that change is even occurring. And for the last several years, we either didn’t notice the changes, discounted their importance or simply tried to ignore them. We saw the impending changes as happening outside our own lives, happening to others, and we chose not to pay attention to them. Or we flicked them away like annoying flies, disturbing our peace of mind or the predictable course of our lives. We didn’t realize that those flies that we were trying to ignore were actually tsunamis-in-waiting.

An Open Letter to Dr. Jill


Dear Dr. Jill,

I’m writing as one doctor to another. Actually, two doctors to another since I have two doctorates—a juris doctor and a Ph.D. Yes, as you probably understand, it took a fair amount of time and a lot of hard work to earn those two degrees, and I’m rather proud of them.

Living in the Hate of the Common People


Someone at a social media site, who I will not dignify with a link, wrote, “I think we need to find a way to stop the working class from voting altogether.”

This individual, who is in the UK and is obviously a furious anti-Brexiter, also wrote: “Idiots and racists shouldn’t be able to ruin the lives of people who do well in life by voting for things they don’t understand. The problem in this country boils down to low information morons having the ability to vote.”

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The San Francisco Chronicle ran an interesting op-ed this morning from a black student who describes how they were stigmatized for the being “Asianized” when they focused on academics. This piece provides an interesting counterpoint to the notion on the left that disparities between ethnic groups can be explained only by racism and not other […]

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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?

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.

Arizona Voters Foolishly Choose New Taxes


Arizona voters have some serious ‘splaining to do about the passage of Prop. 208, which raised education funds by boosting income tax rates up to 98% for high-income filers. How could this have happened?

Arizona schools have already received over $1 billion in new sustainable monies over recent years, with more coming. More importantly, Arizona public schools, without receiving much credit, have become a remarkable success story.

Academic achievement gains for minority students are among the highest in the nation. Arizona charter schools excel in competitive rankings.