Tag: school choice

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Senator Patricia Puertas Rucker, a West Virginia state Senator and Chair of the Education Committee. Thanks to her leadership, West Virginia now has the widest, most universal education savings account program in America. Senator Rucker describes the lessons other state legislators across the country can learn from West Virginia’s successful experience. A Venezuelan immigrant, she shares her inspiring story of coming to the U.S., and becoming a state legislator who has led a transformational school choice initiative. She describes how her personal narrative, including her experience homeschooling her five children, some with special needs, drove her later efforts as an elected official to promote wider school choice. She reviews some of the central issues animating parent coalitions that have been prime movers in expanding school choice programs, especially for parents of children with special needs and families of faith.

Stories of the WeekSchool choice offers important alternatives to contentious political debates in K-12 education – but we should refrain from urging parents to abandon all traditional districts, many of which offer high-quality instruction. In New Mexico, a bipartisan group of legislators and parents overwhelmingly support charter public schools, contrary to the divisiveness over charters that exists in many states.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Denisha Merriweather, the director of public relations and content marketing at the American Federation for Children and founder of Black Minds Matter. They discuss Denisha’s inspiring personal narrative, from a struggling student to a leading national spokesperson for school choice. She shares her experience of receiving a Step Up for Students education tax credit to attend the Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, a small private school in Florida, and how it differed from her public school experience and changed her life. They delve into the organization she founded in 2020, Black Minds Matter, “a national movement to celebrate Black minds, support excellence, and promote the development of high-quality school options for Black students,” and Denisha explains the group’s long-term goals.

Stories of the Week: Results from a survey of 1,788 teachers in England revealed that 44 percent plan to leave the profession by 2027, citing the stressful workload and lack of public trust. Harvard is receiving criticism for its decision to end its undergraduate teacher education program and instead require candidates to enroll in the Graduate School of Education’s new Teaching and Teacher Leadership master’s program.

New MI adjunct fellows Kathleen Porter-Magee and Wai Wah Chin join Brian Anderson to discuss the New York City education system, the reforms the Eric Adams administration could make, and the continuing need for choice, pluralism, and merit.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Georgia Republicans Help Defeat School Choice Bill

 

There was a bill in Georgia Senate to provide a $6,000 voucher to help provide students with an alternative to failing public schools. Eight Republicans voted with Democrats to kill it

Sen. Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican who supported the measure, said that some schools outside metro Atlanta cost less than $6,000, or not more than that amount. He predicted parents would “work harder” to earn a little more money to afford to send their child to a the school of their choice

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Leslie Hiner, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Director of Legal Defense & Education Center with EdChoice. They discuss the the landmark U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in Brown v. Board of Education, among the most important in the nation’s history, and how Brown’s call for racial access and equity in K-12 education has helped inform the work and advocacy of the school choice movement. They also review important SCOTUS decisions such as Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002 related to school vouchers; and Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue in 2020, extending a public scholarship program to religious schools. They then explore the key legal contours of Carson v. Makin, a Maine school tuitioning case that the Supreme Court will decide this year, and its wider implications for school choice in America. Ms. Hiner offers thoughts on the next legal battles, as well as how and where school choice opponents will likely strike back.

Stories of the Week: The American Federation of Teachers and the AAUP are planning to join forces on objectives such as protecting academic freedom, and supporting increased funding for public higher education. A Pew Research Center survey shows that support for school principals has declined among Republicans, likely connected to contentious policy debates around mask mandates and history curricula.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-host Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with Virginia Walden Ford, education advocate and author of Voices, Choices, and Second Chances, and School Choice: A Legacy to Keep. She shares her experiences growing up and desegregating high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in the mid-1960s, and the lessons she carried forward in her school choice advocacy in Washington, D.C. She describes how her role as a student, mother, and grandmother informed her leadership in the nation’s capital, and the steps it took to mobilize parents, work with politicians and policymakers, and successfully launch the city’s school voucher program. She offers insights on what school choice advocates need to do today to expand educational opportunity at a time of heightened partisanship. They also discuss what it was like working on her two books and 2019 film, Miss Virginia, based on her involvement with the civil rights movement and the fight for educational equality. Ms. Walden Ford concludes the interview with a reading from one of her books.

Stories of the Week: In New Jersey, school districts will no longer require mask wearing for the first time since the pandemic began – leaving the decision up to hundreds of local school leaders. In Boston, school superintendent Brenda Cassellius has announced plans to step down at the end of the school year, amid growing calls for state receivership.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Andrew Campanella, the president of National School Choice Week. They discuss why 2021 was called the “Year of School Choice,” and the implications of more academic options for K-12 education reform across America. They delve into the reasons why political support for even the highest performing charter public schools has eroded, the path forward to rebuild wider coalitions, and why for-profit school management companies for charters are so controversial. Andrew offers insights on innovative models that thrived during the pandemic, including micro-schools and learning pods, lessons we can draw from digital and blended learning, and how state policymakers have responded, in some cases with restrictive measures to undermine these models. Lastly, they discuss the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in favor of school choice advocates in the landmark Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue decision, the follow-on Carson v. Makin case, and its likely impact.

Related: Read Cara Candal’s new report for Pioneer Institute, “Modeling an Education Savings Account for Massachusetts.”

Northwestern University law professor John O. McGinnis joins Brian Anderson to discuss the Chicago Teachers Union’s push for remote learning, the political geography of the Windy City, and whether Chicagoans can hope for better governance.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation, and adoption. Ian shares his background in entrepreneurial school leadership and policy research, and how he became interested in K-12 education reform. They discuss his work to advance quality school options for poor and minority kids as CEO of Public Prep and now cofounder of Vertex Partnership Academies, a character-based network of schools based on International Baccalaureate’s (IB) world-class curriculum. He weighs in on why policymaking around school choice and academic content has become politicized, and the kinds of content K-12 students should be taught, through the 1776 Unites project for example, to prepare for college coursework, meaningful citizenship, and pathways to prosperity.

Stories of the Week: Should the state take over management of the Boston Public Schools? A Boston Globe opinion writer makes the case, noting the disproportionately low-income and minority student population enrolled in the district’s chronically underachieving schools. A US News story highlights the benefits of high school internship programs, to help students get a head start on career preparation before college.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, who represents the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin. They discussed last week’s oral arguments, and the background and key legal contours of the case. Bindas described Maine’s school tuitioning program, and the pivotal change in the early 1980s that allowed for the state to discriminate against religious families. They explored the questionable distinction that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit drew between religious “status” and “use” in schooling, and the likely impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 Espinoza decision, which was a major victory for the Institute for Justice and school choice. Bindas shared what makes him hopeful that the Court will rule in the Carsons’ favor, and what he thinks the next legal steps should be to support K-12 educational choice.

Read Pioneer’s amicus brief and op-ed in support of the plaintiffs in this case.

It’s Time to Move on School Choice Reform

 

Teachers’ unions appear to have run into a buzz saw. On October 25, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten tweeted enthusiastic support for a Washington Post article titled “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”

By November 6, Her message had drastically changed. “Parents have to be involved in their kids education. They must have a voice. At the same time, we have to teach kids how to – not what to think.” Sure, Randi.

In the interval, there had been a reality shock: the Virginia governor’s election, this time with an electorate that had wised up. Parents had been appalled when they remotely observed the overtly racist curriculum their children were being taught and then shocked at the blowback, including being charged with “white supremacy” when they protested.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Matthew Chingos, who directs the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. They discuss the “Year of School Choice,” the welcome 2021 trend of states across America expanding or establishing private school choice programs. Dr. Chingos describes the gradual evolution of private school choice programs from primarily school vouchers to tax credit scholarships and education savings account programs (ESAs), which have been growing in popularity, and how charter public schools fit into this growing portfolio. He offers thoughts, as a researcher and scholar, on how using data to analyze, enhance, critique, and hold schools accountable for students’ academic improvements has transformed K-12 policy discussions, and how COVID-19’s discontinuities will impact accountability and decision making. They explore another topic of Dr. Chingos’ research, the $1.6 trillion student loan debt crisis, reasons why tuition has skyrocketed, and some of the possible pathways forward. Lastly, he shares views on issues of academic quality within higher education, and whether colleges and universities have lost their sense of mission.

Stories of the Week: In California, where only 32 percent of the state’s fourth graders were performing at or above proficient in reading, a proposed ballot measure is taking aim at those practices that protect ineffective K-12 teaching. Despite being the home of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon, the state of Washington has reported that a mere 9 percent of its public high school students were enrolled in computer science courses during the 2019-20 school year.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ). They discuss IJ’s 2020 landmark U.S. Supreme Court win in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and its implications for state Blaine Amendments, bigoted legal barriers that have blocked religious liberty and school choice for over a century. They delve into the current legal and political status of school choice in America, at a time of unprecedented support for education savings account, education tax credit, and voucher programs. As lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Maine school tuitioning case, Carson v. Makin, recently granted certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court, he explains the central issues, and what another major victory could mean for religious school parents. They then turn to higher education, and Michael offers thoughts on why access to religiously-affiliated primary and secondary schooling is still viewed so differently than students attending religiously-affiliated colleges and universities through state and federal grant and loan programs.

Stories of the Week: EdWeek reports that school board meetings across the country have become increasingly rancorous as a result of growing partisanship, the lack of local news coverage, and social media – to the detriment of students’ academic success. The U.S. Department of Education announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, allowing up to 200 colleges to provide prison education programs for those who have previously been unable to access federal need-based financial aid.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara celebrate the 30th anniversary of charter schools with Nina Rees, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. They discuss recent research showing that African-American and low-income students in charter public schools outpace their peers in traditional district schools. Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) and other sources have shown that Boston’s charter public schools lead all the nation’s urban public schools in terms of academic performance and bridging achievement gaps. Yet, special interests and policymakers have been calling for stringent limitations and regulations on these schools and their growth. Nina offers insights on where the right-left charter school coalition stands and how to bridge recent partisan divisions. She shares thoughts on how the sector can grow despite the rising influence of teacher unions in states with some of the highest-performing charters. Nina also describes efforts charter schools have made to become leaders in increasing teacher diversity, and they explore how teacher- and school-driven improvements in charters such as KIPP may hold the key to the future of K-12 education reform.

Stories of the Week: In Maine, a state scholarship program that assists families with tuition for public or private schools – but not religious schools – may become the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case. President Biden’s American Families Plan includes $9 billion to address the nation’s teacher shortage, providing funding for teacher preparation, professional development, and retention programs, as well as initiatives to increase teacher diversity.

Covid Debacle Should Spur Education Reform

 

The Arizona legislature failed this year to pass a bill that would have required third-grade students to be held back if they failed to learn to read adequately. The unsuccessful bill uncovered some unhappy truths about the state of education.

Third grade is recognized as a critical progression point for reading proficiency. Students through third grade are taught to read, after which they are expected to read to learn. Those unable to do so suffer a lifelong handicap in today’s knowledge economy with enormous economic and social consequences.

In 2019, 60 percent of Arizona’s third-graders failed to meet our own reading standards. Unfortunately, nothing really new here.

Rob Long is on for Jim again today. Join Rob and Greg as they cheer states expanding their school choice programs as unions continue to keep public schools closed. They also discuss New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordering faster, preferential COVID tests for family and friends while the rest of New York waited much longer for results. They also shake their heads as San Francisco lefties state that whites and men will not be receiving welfare benefits. And they wrap up with their memories of the assassination attempt again President Reagan 40 years ago today.

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?

Member Post

 

I contend much of today’s political turmoil can be traced back to the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The Occupy Wall Street movement sprung up on the left, and the Tea Party movement on the right. While there are many differences between the two movements, both expressed dissatisfaction with the state of our economic system, which […]

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On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” CEO-elect of the American Federation for Children Tommy Schultz joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss how teachers unions are hurting children’s academic and social development by pushing to keep schools closed and why their anti-scientific demands highlight the importance of school choice.

 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard kick off National School Choice Week with Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, co-author with Kate Hardiman of a new book, Unshackled: Freeing America’s K–12 Education System. Justice Bolick shares his experiences serving on a state supreme court, and how it has shaped his understanding of America’s legal system. They discuss his new book reviewing the country’s ongoing struggles with the often outdated, command-and-control structure of its K-12 education system and how state lawmakers can best craft legislation to expand flexible, parent-driven educational options. They also talk about the disastrous effects of COVID on student learning, and U.S. schools’ competitive disadvantage relative to international peers. Justice Bolick offers analysis of some of the possible legal, bureaucratic, and educational challenges and opportunities in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Espinoza case, including fewer impediments to school choice at the state level. They also talk about why religion and schooling remain such a third-rail issue in the K-12 system, in contrast to America’s decentralized and choice-driven higher-education model, in which students can access government scholarships and loans regardless of where they attend college or university.

Stories of the Week: With Catholic school enrollment declining across the country, Cara previews some of the key points in Pioneer Institute’s new book (which she co-edited), A Vision of Hope: Catholic Schools in Massachusetts. A number of President Biden’s appointees to the U.S. Department of Education have ties to First Lady Jill Biden, a former educator, or to teachers’ unions. Is a close White House linkage likely to improve results for students, or just continue the status quo.