Tag: Education

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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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A Letter to Our Leaders: Open the Schools


A friend recently reminded me of the quote from St. Katherine Drexel, “Press forward and fear nothing.” So in that spirit, I write this for my daughter. Because she deserves better. And because if I don’t speak up on her behalf, I am afraid no one will.

This is for you, S.

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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.

Teacher Unions: A Mixed Bag


I’ve wanted to write a post on my experience with school unions for a while now and have finally taken a stab at it. This is a huge topic so I’m trying to touch on a few different things that have been on my mind for a while. My experience was a real mixed bag and probably specific to Chicago. I don’t work for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) anymore but somehow I still get all the email from them and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). I’ll try to divvy this into subsections but we’ll see how it goes. One day I will write a short post…

I got my first teaching union when I got a job at one of the largest public schools on the north side of Chicago. There were about 100 faculty members, including special education aides serving a student population of about 1,400-1,500 students. I paid no attention to the union at all until one day the school’s union representative, one of the counselors, burst into my room with a clipboard and said, “I found you! You haven’t signed up for the CTU yet.” I asked her if everyone was a member and she said, “Yes, well, except one person.” I found out later that the lone non-member was “a Republican,” a math teacher who was “admin’s pet” and made all the charts and tables for the principal’s presentations. I got the message and I never said anything political to anyone which made life easier.

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From Andrea Widburg, American Thinker: The San Francisco Unified School District is using the Wuhan virus as an excuse to finish destroying what was once one of the best public high schools in the country. Those who object have gotten a snootful of Critical Race Theory (CRT) for daring to believe in academic excellence. Preview […]

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Revoke the Pulitzer Prize for the 1619 Project: Too Little, Too Late?


I felt vindicated for my early attacks on the 1619 Project when I learned that the National Association of Scholars signed a letter that directed the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke its award of the Prize to The 1619 Project. But my appreciation of the news was short-lived.

The NAS acted nobly in criticizing the 1619 Project. As they said in their letter to the Board:

We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in ‘The 1619 Project.’ That essay was entitled, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.’ But it turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence.

Hybrid Teaching Hell: From the Trenches


Back in August I wrote a post about my first day back to school, “Why Teachers Think About Quitting“. It feels like it’s been years since I wrote it and it seemed like an appropriate moment to step back and take stock of how things have developed since then in this bizarre “hybrid” teaching world. Some of the issues I mentioned in my post from the first day have been resolved in practical terms- but there are other issues that deserve some attention.


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Over 200 rare and very valuable books that were stolen over three years ago, were recovered under a floor at a Romanian house in recent days. Some of these books included first editions by Sir Issac Newton and Galileo. They were stolen from a postal transit warehouse in West London en-route to a Las Vegas […]

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