Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

The sordid trash heap institution of higher learning where I obtained my graduate degree has made explicit what was long implicit: the modern university exists for no purpose other than to manufacture ideologues of a very particular sort. Beginning next semester all students, all professors, and all TAs will be subjected to mandatory struggle sessions […]

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“Aue Maria” from Mass of the Americas by Frank La Rocca Crossley Hawn, soprano Richard Sparks, conductor Benjamin LaPrairie, organ Glenn Paulson, marimba Sally McLain, violin “Aue Maria” is a Nahuatl setting of the Ave Maria, sung during the de-vesting ceremony at the Mass of the Americas in the Extraordinary Form, celebrated by Archbishop Salvatore […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard mark the Juneteenth commemoration
of the end of slavery with an episode devoted to Civil Rights history. They are joined by Diane McWhorter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. They explore the parallels between the current civil unrest and racial injustice the country is witnessing and what took place in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, including police brutality then and now, and the ongoing connection between race, economics, and political pressure. They discuss the Civil Rights Movement’s success with shifting public opinion, through nonviolent protests and indelible iconography, and whether strong statements and product name changes issued by so many corporations today are likely to lead to genuine structural change. They also delve into the role played by women in the Civil Rights Movement. Diane concludes with a reading from the epilogue of her book, Carry Me Home.

Stories of the Week: In England, the government will be funding tutoring programs to bridge learning gaps as a result of COVID school closures, targeted to disadvantaged communities. Is this a model worth exploring here? New York’s wealthy families have fled Manhattan due to COVID – will they return to those elite schools if remote learning continues in the fall, or shift to the suburbs?

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Brave Man Stands Up

 

Jeff Poelvoorde, whom I met through mutual friends, is a smart, charming, lively, funny guy, a professor of history and politics at Converse College in South Carolina, and an orthodox rabbi. He is also courageous, and when I read his open letter to colleagues and friends, published by the National Association of Scholars, I was sad but not surprised.

The powers that be at Converse had set out “a series of measures to demonstrate the College’s seriousness in addressing the existence of racism and racial bigotry… [including] the mandatory viewing of several videos that purport to address the issues of sensitivity, bias, prejudice, diversity and inclusion.” In his response, Jeff lays out the reasons for his refusal to comply, and it is a refreshing change from the long, abject line of apologizers. The letter is also a model of understanding and manly restraint, and I believe that it is unanswerable, at least from a civilized point of view.

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Prof. Carole Boston Weatherford, a New York Times best-selling children’s book author, and Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winning biographer of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. They discuss the opportunity presented by the national response to the George Floyd tragedy for ultimately improving race relations. Prof. Weatherford discusses the importance of teaching about the lives of African-American heroes and heroines, and their forgotten struggles to overcome adversity; what it means to teach a more complete and less romanticized history that is more inclusive; and how improved curricula, higher expectations, and a diverse faculty can more effectively inspire all children to strive to overcome adversity and empathize with people. She discusses her views on blues music as African-American language in song, and jazz as “the rhythm of daily life”; and how the sophisticated, improvisational artistry of jazz reflects African-Americans’ everyday experiences. Lastly, Prof. Weatherford offers a reading of her poem, “SNCC,” from her biography of 1960’s voting rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer.

Story of the Week: Protesters in Massachusetts, Virginia, and other parts of the country have vandalized and removed statues of explorer Christopher Columbus this week due to his association with colonization and violence against Native Americans. Will these actions spark constructive dialogue about which historical figures society glorifies and marginalizes, or will they merely rile up Italian-Americans and create further tension? As school winds down for the summer and focus shifts to reopening plans this fall, a new Pioneer Institute report with ASU Prep Digital shows that online learning can work for most special needs students, and highlights the importance of meeting the diverse needs of all learners no matter the circumstances.

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard open with commentary on the George Floyd tragedy and K-12 education’s role in addressing racial injustice. Then, they are joined by Jeffrey Riley, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, to talk about the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. Commissioner Riley walks them through the remote learning guidance he issued, the timeline since the closures in March, and efforts to meet financial and technological obstacles in different parts of the state. He discusses work to acclimate teachers to online learning platforms, and options for re-opening in the fall. He also shares an innovative program that he launched in Lawrence that is now available in other parts of the state to respond to the growing demand for vocational education. Lastly, they delve into how to improve the Boston Public Schools, the subject of a recent audit warning about graduation rates, facilities, and academic performance, with 30 of the district’s schools ranking in the bottom 10 percent statewide.

Story of the Week: Cara and Gerard reflect on the George Floyd murder, police brutality, and racial injustice across America, and the important role of school leaders and teachers in facilitating constructive dialogue. How can education policymaking help with this ongoing crisis? They discuss the benefits of increasing access to high-quality educational opportunities and early literacy programs; engaging in conversations about our broken criminal justice system; improving the preparation of police officer candidates; and ensuring that people of all races feel empowered to speak up in support of human dignity and against injustice.

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dana Gioia, a poet, writer, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dana discusses why the arts are so pivotal to the intellectual and civic development of America’s K-12 schoolchildren, allowing them to grow spiritually, emotionally, creatively, imaginatively, and even physically. He also explores how some of the specific skills students learn through music, drawing, poetry, and theater go well beyond traditional subjects. Dana explains why he believes the lack of arts education in our schools is a national problem, and addresses some misconceptions about why schools are not offering it. He delves into why poetry has such a profound connection to the human experience, and the many ways in which it builds self-confidence, emotional maturity, and can lead to intellectual transformation. Dana shares stories about learning from his Mexican-American mother to love the arts, teaching students to appreciate poetry at the University of Southern California, and the success of a national contest that he launched at the NEA, Poetry Out Loud. Throughout the interview, he treats listeners to recitations from Shakespeare and Poe, and concludes with a special reading of one of his own sonnets.

Stories of the Week: A new poll finds that 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to return to their classrooms if schools reopen this fall, and in a separate poll of parents, 60 percent will likely pursue homeschooling options. A USA Today series highlights the benefits of high-quality dual-language programs to close achievement gaps among America’s five million English language learners, especially in states with a growing non-native population.

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Join Charlotte as she discusses how we can all help non-profits that are helping people who have been hurt by the coronavirus.

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John Ellis

John M. Ellis, distinguished professor emeritus of German literature at UC Santa Cruz, is out with a terrific new book, The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, The Damage It Does, & What Can Be Done About It. This slim book makes for depressing reading indeed, covering the landscape of our ideologically corrupt colleges and universities. What needs to happen to change things? Is the financial crisis of higher education brought on suddenly by the coronavirus a reason for hope that college leaders might cut some of the nonsense out of necessity? Are more robust campus policies to protect free expression sufficient to the scale and nature of the problem? (Likely not.)

But along the way we take a detour into some of Prof. Ellis’s earlier work, especially his important 1989 book Against Deconstruction, which delivered a significant body blow to that malignant intellectual fad. In fact I think it is no exaggeration to say that Prof. Ellis’s book, along with a handful parallel efforts, went far in derailing that noxious fad. Alas, it has been succeeded by even more perverse postmodernist hermeneutics (Just saying that almost gives you an intellectual hernia), forming much of the basis of the insidious identity politics of the present moment. Prof. Ellis offers some great war stories about fighting against the deconstructionists back in the day. And I offer a few of my own thoughts in my show summary at the end.

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are happy to be joined by Kerry McDonald, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom. Drawing on her experiences as a homeschooling parent and researcher, Kerry shares thoughts on the major lessons we all should be learning from this educational moment, now that COVID has turned most of America’s 50 million schoolchildren and their families into “homeschoolers.” Kerry reviews which education choice mechanisms, such as education savings accounts, would most effectively support homeschooling, and which states have policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovative K-12 models, such as microschools and virtual charter schools. They also explore the increasing diversity of the two million children in the U.S. who were homeschooled before the pandemic, changing public perceptions, and a Harvard Law School professor’s controversial call for a presumptive ban.

Stories of the Week: Over 100 Catholic schools across the country are permanently closing as a result of the financial losses associated with COVID, impacting an estimated 50,000 mostly low-income and working-class students. How will the closures affect cash-strapped district schools facing an influx of these new students? Kudos to Kelley Brown, a history teacher from Easthampton, Massachusetts, who led her high school history students to win the national “We the People” civics competition. The achievement – a first for the Bay State – was all the more impressive considering the contest was held in the midst of a global pandemic and conducted entirely via Zoom, requiring extraordinary coordination.

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are happy to be joined by Kaya Henderson, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. They discuss the historic reforms Henderson oversaw, including increasing enrollment and improved test scores in an urban district that had been one of the lowest performing in the country. Kaya talks about her unique and authentic leadership style and her focus on re-building the D.C. Public Schools into a viable option that restored confidence among parents. She shares some of the key ingredients for success, the challenges of navigating political forces, her thoughts on the D.C. voucher program, and what really motivated district change. She also credits her controversial predecessor Michelle Rhee with challenging the district’s bureaucracy and creating some of the conditions for success. Lastly, she reflects on how the relationship-building skills she brought to her position are serving her well in her current role with Teach for All, which runs “Teach for America”-style programs in 53 countries; as an independent consultant in the U.S.; and on numerous boards, where she is involved in COVID relief efforts.

Stories of the WeekDr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing this week, cautioned that reentry of students in the fall term would likely be “a bridge too far” due to the lack of available COVID treatments or a vaccine. Are American families and schools prepared for long-term digital learning? This week is National Charter Schools Week, the annual celebration of the charter schools that are educating over three million students, and have been so successful in bridging achievement gaps. Gerard and Cara reflect on the history of the charter movement, the many teachers, families, and local leaders involved in launching it, and the bipartisan political support that it has enjoyed.

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Join me as I interview small business owners Sarah and Hannah about their fashion brand, Gallagher!

For more information about this amazing small business, get a parent’s help and visit shop-gallagher.com

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I’m Shaking My Head…

 

I get mailed a couple of alumni magazines from NC State: one from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (Physics undergrad) and one from the College of Engineering (Nuclear Engineering grad). It’s interesting to see what’s going on at the school, and with other alumni (astronaut Christina Koch did that all-woman spacewalk a while back). I was enjoying reading until I got to the end, when I saw this:

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Join Charlotte on today’s episode where she explains why small businesses are so important in our country. We also learn some new words like “start-up” and “entrepreneurs.”

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Imagine being part of an organization in which the coordinators expected you and your colleagues to produce, meaningfully and with increasing depth. If you didn’t, you would face consequences.   Now let’s turn up the pressure. You and your fellows number in the hundreds per group leader. And as if to heighten the lack of […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Kimberly Robinson, Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Curry School of Education. Kimberly discusses her new book, A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy, and the need for states to establish a “floor of opportunity” to ensure educational equity. She explores models of equity, including funding disparities, achievement gaps, and participation in democracy; and reviews the history of educational equity cases and the relative effectiveness of federal as opposed to state courts as an avenue of reform. She shares analysis of a recent United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruling that set a new precedent for its recognition of a right to a basic minimum education, under the U.S. Constitution, for Detroit students, after that school district was experiencing teacher shortages, out-of-date learning materials, and poor sanitary conditions. Lastly, she describes the inspiration for her work: her parents’ involvement in the Civil Rights movement, and the sacrifices they made for better educational opportunities.

Stories of the Week: New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education expanding federal aid through the CARES Act to private schools struggling to meet new pandemic-related challenges has drawn criticism from public school trade associations. American colleges and universities’ growing dependence on the increased revenue from international students, who pay larger tuitions than domestic students, has some concerned about the financial impact, especially in the COVID-19 era, on the ability to recruit skilled and talented applicants from abroad.

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Reading @rushbabe49‘s earlier post inspired me to share this story of a remarkable lady: About Esther – More

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by John M. Barry, author of the #1 New York Times best seller, The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. John shares two major lessons from the previous pandemic on the importance of social distancing and transparent communication from leaders, and notes some surprising differences between the two crises, not just regarding their contagiousness, incubation period and duration, but also the extent of the government’s closing orders in each case. John discusses his New York Times op-ed this week on the likely impact of warmer weather, and the possibility of a second wave. He also addresses how to talk about this crisis to our children, who are experiencing something that nobody alive has lived through, and the increased responsibility it requires of them. They explore the impact on our global economy, our collective efforts to strike a balance between saving lives and minimizing economic cost, and who was and was not caught by surprise in terms of preparations for a pandemic.

Stories of the Week: In Detroit, where 40 percent of households lack Internet access, one charter school network of 2,400 students has distributed equipment and redirected federal funds toward technology to grow participation in online learning from 30 percent to 90 percent. In a call with the President, Catholic school leaders, including Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, pressed for federal aid to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic, including potential loss of tuition as a result of layoffs, and the expense of converting to online learning.

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Schools are closed, at least the physical plant is closed. This includes higher education, universities and colleges. Now this crisis presents an opportunity. Education for all these pieces is being conducted online. I’m sure the quality and effectiveness of presentation and interaction varies immensely. Probably a lot is being learned about this process across the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How One School Pivoted After Campus Closure

 

I’ve been working long-distance for a small K-12 California school since 2006, and I’ve always appreciated the leadership–but wow, have the principal and faculty outdone themselves since school campuses were closed weeks ago, due to the virus. I could sense in the days preceding the closure that he felt some stress, and I was told that developments with the virus were weighing on him. It concerned me–none of us could predict what was coming and what it might mean for our school.

Then the principal’s letters to parents and staff started coming in: campus is closed until thus and such a date–no, it’s actually closed longer. Here’s the plan–no, here’s the new plan. There was a first phase of online learning with teacher training to buy time, and then everyone settled into a second phase with clear, uniform procedures. All of this was accomplished via positive e-mails and a weekly parent letter; sandwiched between a paragraph of encouragement and links to resources, each parent communication carefully explained any new developments so there were no misunderstandings. Regular social media photos feature young students beaming from their computers at home, seniors posing with certificates, teachers handing out weekly packets to families in cars. Anyone would think it was the best thing that ever happened to the school, and in spite of the uncertainties, extra pressures all around, and financial stress (I actually don’t know how much longer they can keep me on), there have been some upsides to it.

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