Tag: Education

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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Join Jim and Greg as they get a kick out of New York Democrat Rep. Max Rose posting a six-second ad just to bash deeply unpopular Mayor Bill de Blasio and hope it means Rep. Rose is feeling nervous. They also wade into the supposedly explosive revelations about President Trump’s coronavirus approach in Bob Woodward’s new book. And they fume as our tax dollars help pay for an event calling for an end to capitalism and even the United States itself.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and guest co-host Kerry McDonald are joined by Michelle Rhee, founder and former CEO of StudentsFirst and prior to that, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Michelle shares how her liberal arts background and Teach for America experience prepared her for a career in education leadership. Michelle reflects on the reforms she initiated at DCPS, the challenges she faced navigating notoriously difficult D.C. politics, and the rewards of working with her successor, Kaya Henderson, to implement lasting reforms and deliver great results for kids. She offers recommendations for restructuring K-12 schools, especially in larger, urban districts. They also discuss the ways in which schools and districts are being radically decentralized during COVID-19, with virtual schooling, homeschooling, and pandemic pods.

Stories of the Week: Through pandemic pods, parents without a lot of financial resources or home space are getting creative to set up meaningful learning environments across the country. A study on school responses to COVID-19 that appeared in EducationNext shows that leading charter school networks shifted seamlessly to remote learning, within days of the mid-March shutdowns. How did they succeed, and is it replicable?

Why Teachers Think About Quitting


Yesterday was the first day of school and I thought about quitting for most of it. Mostly I’m just relieved it’s Saturday today.

I work at a small independent Catholic school. Our admin decided that we would reopen for in-person instruction (which is clearly preferable to remote for all the obvious reasons), but offer a remote option to students who preferred to stay home — “hybrid” instruction. Leave it to admin to give it a name that makes it sound like it’s a perfected model. Herein lies the problem. Our school’s remote experience last spring worked pretty well mostly because everyone was remote at the same time so there was no balancing act required, at least for school.

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Marxist agitators and leaders are stepping forward and owning up to who they are. But they have been quietly in the shadows among us for a long time. I was disturbed to learn the degree to which they literally have taken over our education system. They have made such overwhelming inroads that it’s questionable whether […]

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The latest COVID-19 data out of Sweden suggests that not only is the country approaching zero deaths on a daily basis, they are also approaching zero new cases. Has Sweden reached herd immunity, and if so, how long until we do so here in the U.S.?

Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and Scott Immergut of Ricochet discuss this topic and more—including new orders on school reopenings in Texas and whether we should delay the presidential election due to COVID—on today’s episode of COVID in 19.

Join host Joe Selvaggi and co-host Rebekah Paxton of Pioneer Institute as they talk with Harvard Medical School Professor Benjamin Sommers on the most current scientific observations regarding the health and safety of reopening schools. The episode looks at the risks to students, teachers, administrators, and the public at large from the novel coronavirus, and offers ideas for optimizing outcomes in the fall.

Dr. Benjamin Sommers is a practicing primary care internist, and he is also Professor of Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. From 2011-2012, he served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and he served part-time in an advisory role from 2013-2015. His current research projects focus on barriers to health care access among low-income adults, insurance markets, and the health and economic effects of state Medicaid policies. He received a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard and an MD from Harvard Medical School.