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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 They discuss his new book reviewing the country’s ongoing struggles with the often outdated, command-and-control structure of its K-12 education system and how state lawmakers can best craft legislation to expand flexible, parent-driven educational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.