Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Here are some news items from the State of Washington and the City of Seattle; please note that the state and city are run by Leftists through and through.
First, items relating to the pandemic. Two weeks ago, our Dictator closed all state restaurants for inside dining, closed gyms, and reduced capacity allowed at all indoor retail establishments, including grocery stores for a 4-week period. This was a response to “surging coronavirus cases” in the state. Please also note that the Dictator is issuing these rules from his desk, with no input from the elected state legislature.
Corey DeAngelis is the director of School Choice at Reason Foundation and the Executive Director at Educational Freedom Institute. Corey and Bridget discuss school choice, which would mean allowing a tax payer’s education dollars to follow their child to wherever they’re getting their education – public school, private school, or charter school – rather than automatically being paid to their local school district. They delve into the effects of Covid and how families are seeing their school system leaving them high and dry while still getting their children’s education dollars, why school choice would be good for individual teachers, and where the money being poured into the school system is actually going. They also cover why this shouldn’t be a partisan issue since it’s a market-based reform in education and an equalizer in society, and they explore some of the arguments against school choice. Don’t miss Corey’s book School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom.
No magazine this week but there is still plenty to talk about!
The guys first dive headfirst into the debate about reopening public schools. As is typical of our culture, it turned into a political battle with President Trump wanting schools across the nation to open up and unions decrying the idea of doing so (with the help of Democratic politicians who do what the unions want) unless it is “safe.”
Across the country, schools are preparing to reopen in September with rigorous hygiene protocols to protect against Covid-19. Now, in the aftermath of nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, activists are making a renewed push to incorporate “antiracism” content into classrooms. According to Eden, “antiracist schools will teach very different material from the schools of yesteryear.”
In Gary B. v. Whitmer, a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit last week held that the state of Michigan owed a constitutional duty to ensure that students in the worst-performing public and charter schools in Detroit receive “a basic minimum education, meaning one that provides a chance at foundational literacy.” The logic behind this theory is straightforward enough. Illiterate young people have no ability to participate in democratic deliberations and no skills to support themselves or their families. And society overall is made worse off with fewer able participants to join a well-functioning economy.
In the majority opinion, Judge Eric Clay detailed the bankruptcy of Detroit’s public school system, whose dismal educational performance, he wrote, was driven by “the absence of qualified teachers, crumbling facilities, and insufficient materials.” He then correctly concluded that the state has general oversight and control over the educational system and is thus a proper constitutional target to remedy the bankrupt and derelict Detroit school system. The case was decided on the pleadings, which let the majority define its right to a minimum education without getting into the details of how best to implement the right in practice. One major problem with the decision is its inability to define the content of this positive right to government support. Full disclosure: Judge Eric Murphy, who dissented on these grounds, is my friend and former student.
Gary B. relies on Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, which enables federal courts to provide a remedy against any Governor or other state officials who have brought about “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” That Section covers violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that no person should be deprived of the protection of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor denied the equal protection of the laws.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is introducing a Senate bill to keep kids in school from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The proposed goal is to align schedules between the average school day and workday. While this might be convenient for working parents, it would trap students in classrooms for 10 hours, five days a week.
The actual goal is something different: strengthening teachers’ unions, federalizing local schools, and further replacing the family with the state.
In a glowing profile, Mother Jones attempts to sell Harris’s plan:
Ray Domanico joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s controversial and divisive leadership of the nation’s largest public school system. Domanico details Carranza’s emphasis on ridding schools of purported racial bias in his recent essay for City Journal, “Richard Carranza’s Deflections.”
Over the past four decades, with varying levels of success, Carranza’s predecessors in the chancellor’s job have launched numerous policies and programs aimed at better serving students. By contrast, Carranza has put forth no substantive plan for improving the schools, instead charging that the system is overrun by racial prejudice.
Today, I interview Spotted Toad, of Twitter fame, about his book on education. He now works in public policy research, a moderately quant guy, as he says–but he was once an idealistic Teach For America kinda guy, who taught the sciences for ten years in public schools in New York and then upstate, among the poor as well as the well to do, in different communities and different periods of the ongoing failure of Progressive education reform. He eventually wrote a lovely, all-American, Emersonian book of reflections on his experience and you can buy it for 99 cents on Amazon as e-book and read it in an afternoon. It’s intelligent and poetic at the same time, devoid of narcissism, and serious about the problems a young teacher faces. This is the sort of conservatism I think we should encourage and so this is me doing my part!