Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hillsdale Statement Must Be Read

 

This letter from Hillsdale College needs to be published and read far and wide.

Amidst the events of recent weeks, a number of alumni and others have taken up formal and public means to insist that Hillsdale College issue statements concerning these events. The College is charged with negligence — or worse.

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National Review Online Contributing Editor Rob Long joins Greg today to serve up your end-of-the-week martinis. First, they get a kick out of Amy Klobuchar taking herself out of the Biden veepstakes when it was already pretty clear she would not be the choice, but they also appreciate her kneecapping Elizabeth Warren’s chances by saying the running mate should be a woman of color. But that gets complicated too, as Rob and Greg react to Black Lives Matter and National Action Network figures suggesting Florida Rep. Val Demings is not really black because she used to be a police officer. And they unpack a lefty blogger’s contention that conservatives should not be able to teach, coach, or be a boss of any kind because they supposedly don’t believe in equality.

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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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Join Jim and Greg as they react to the Minneapolis City Council announcing an end to the police department but only after a year of community discussions. They also react to school officials in three major cities deciding to stop having resource officers in the schools. And they unload on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yet again for his personal and professional approaches to the coronavirus.

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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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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Children’s Books that Bother Me

 

As I have noticed an interest in children’s literature among Ricochet commentators, I would like to write about some less interesting books we have recently received as gifts. Many people may disagree with me. After all we received these books as gifts, and I see from the Amazon reviews that they are much loved with some folks. “Amazing”, “wonderful” and “gorgeous” are the words that bubble up when people discuss this book. I disagree and Ricochet seems the place to air misfit opinions, especially when I suspect the consensus has been established by leftists. I think generally speaking there is far too little judgement these days and I think children’s behavior, parenting and children’s books as well as other cultures and religions should all be fair game for civilized discussion.

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Member Post

 

The closure of schools is a phenomenon that should worry anyone that values education. We are the people of the book, we are proud of our intellectual achievements, we count our Prize Nobel, we built the Start-Up Nation. Still, we took away from our children the ability to learn without even having a serious conversation […]

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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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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Before Standardized Testing

 

A bit more than a week ago, the regents of the University of California voted unanimously to approve Janet Napolitano’s proposal that the UC system cease using the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the ACT to help their admissions departments choose from among their applicants those most apt to profit from the instruction the universities in the system offer. This they did in the face of a UC Faculty Senate study confirming the utility of these standardized tests for that purpose and demonstrating that the poor showing of African-American and Hispanic high school students on these examinations had little, if anything, to do with test bias and much to do with poor high school preparation.

In theory, UC will now design its own test for applicants, but this can hardly be made to produce the results desired – for it will surely be unavailable to students from out of state, and no examination testing the candidates’ intelligence and preparation is likely to produce results dramatically different from what one secures via the SAT and ACT, which do an excellent job of predicting future academic success. In practice, all of this is obfuscation: for, as I argued on 18 May in “The Value of Standardized Testing,” the real aim of those who want to eliminate standardized testing or make it optional is to make it possible for their schools to practice that species of systematic racial discrimination that passes under the euphemism “affirmative action” without anyone being able to prove that this is what they are doing.

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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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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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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Value of Standardized Testing

 

It has become fashionable in the world of higher education to advocate eliminating the requirement that prospective students take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the ACT and then submit their scores to the admissions offices of the colleges and universities to which they apply. Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California (UC), has even proposed that at Berkeley, UCLA, and the other elite institutions in the California system such scores be ignored altogether.

The faculty senate at UC has come down on the other side after conducting, at Napolitano’s direction, an extensive study of the question focused on the utility of the tests and on the question of whether they are a source of racial discrimination. The faculty study concluded that the tests have been useful for distinguishing those who could profit from the courses of study at these elite schools from those who could not and that the existing racial disparities in their student bodies had to do chiefly with poor preparation and not with the tests themselves.

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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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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Higher Education Apocalypse? I Hope So.

 

Darling Daughter tells me the scuttlebutt among her college friends is that, if the school doesn’t reopen for business as usual in the fall, most of them intend to take a gap semester rather than doing the courses online. I’m sure that would be devastating for a great many of our colleges and universities, with their bloated administrations full of well-paid yet academically superfluous employees.

I’m not one to wish ill on businesses: I want the economy to come roaring back, businesses to reopen yesterday, everyone back at work as soon as possible. I’m pro-market, pro-business, pro-capitalism, pro-employer, pro-worker.

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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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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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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

* Or: The Agony of Trying to Be a Supportive Father, Rather Than a Cantankerous and Judgmental Jerk Under the best of circumstances it takes a not inconsiderable effort on my part to resist setting everybody straight on a wide range of subjects. I’ve spent five of my six decades on Earth devoting a significant amount […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Homeschooling Is Dangerous? Who Knew?

 

I’d like to hear what @bethanymandel thinks about this Harvard professor’s idea.

There’s one quote I’d like to pull from the article: “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

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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 Ashley Berner, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Ashley discusses what America can learn from other countries about how to shift from a uniform system in which district schools focus on workforce skills, to one that embraces a liberal arts curriculum delivered by many different models to advance excellence and equity, and close achievement gaps. She reviews which districts and states are incentivizing the use of robust curricula, assessment, and teacher preparation, with successful outcomes, and discusses her team’s alarming report that made national headlines last year on the Providence, R.I. public school system. They also talk about the new NAEP results for history, geography, and civics; the Founding Fathers’ view of the liberal arts’ centrality to democratic citizenship; and how to reverse troubling knowledge gaps. Lastly, they explore what COVID-19 is teaching us about our nation’s readiness, relative to other countries, for the transition to remote learning, and socioeconomic inequities.

Stories of the Week: In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt received criticism from the state’s schools superintendent and teacher union this week for announcing plans to use some federal CARES Act relief funds to support a tax credit program for scholarships that help low-income children attend private schools. In Utah, where only 40 percent of Navajo families have Internet access, schools are working to provide wireless hot spots for about 200 homes. Are issues with Wi-Fi access revealed by the COVID-19 crisis transforming the way we think about equity and states’ duty to educate all children?

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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 Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Michael shares his thoughts on his mentor, the late Clayton Christensen, a renowned Harvard Business School professor, influential thinker, and best-selling author. They discuss the lessons we are all learning from the COVID crisis about technical advancements that allow schools to innovate, in ways that were unthinkable just 20 years ago. Michael explains his view of online learning as a means of shifting the focus from schooling en masse to individual growth and mastery, and the need to provide incentives for meaningful student outcomes. They also explore which states are leading in digital learning, which are lagging behind, and specific initiatives that are making a dramatic difference in children’s preparedness for kindergarten and academic achievement.

Stories of the Week: How should states move forward on online learning during COVID-19? A new Pioneer report by digital learning innovator Julie Young offers tips for state policymakers and district leaders seeking guidance on equipment, teacher preparation, meeting special education needs, and more. In California, Governor Newsom is identifying strategies for re-opening in the aftermath of the pandemic, including staggered start times, classrooms reconfigured for social distancing, and more online learning.

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