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Of all the 48 continental states, the Grizzly Bear State, as it was originally known, has the hottest, driest valley (Death Valley), the highest hill (Mt. Whitney), the largest living tree (Sequoia), the most people, and the greatest number of domestically raised turkeys living outside the state capital (Sacramento). But when it comes to K-12 education, are the views of Californians any different from those living elsewhere across the United States?

As compared to other undergraduates, Hispanic students are 33 percent more likely to be enrolled in a two-year college rather than a four-year university. According to the National Center on Educational Statistics, Hispanic students constituted 23 percent of the 2014 undergraduate enrollments in colleges offering an associate's degree, but only 17 percent of the enrollment in institutions offering a bachelor's.

As lawsuits multiply and partisans continue to squabble over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning migration from six majority-Muslim nations, liberals in the mainstream media have been pushing the line that America’s historic tolerance of religious diversity no longer extends to adherents of the Islamic faith. A just-released Education Next survey tells a different story.

President Donald Trump’s poll numbers have slipped well below levels enjoyed by prior presidents during their first one hundred days. But on one issue—school choice—the president is pushing the numbers in the direction he desires. It’s time for him to push his school choice agenda.

Alexis de Tocqueville concluded in the 1830s: “The situation of the Americans is entirely exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be put in the same situation.”

Disadvantaged students make up the fastest growing segment of American children today — and a robust workforce and a skilled economy will depend on their academic success. California is doing things differently — a bold experiment to bring America’s largest public school system back from the brink. Is it working?

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January 24, 2017
By Doug Gavel

President Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education has accelerated the discussion around the issue of charter schools, for which DeVos has long advocated in her native Michigan.  Charter schools are publicly funded, quasi-independently-operated community-based schools intended to serve as incubators for novel teaching and learning models, but their effectiveness within the public education system has been an issue of longstanding debate. 

When Donald Trump selected an advocate for school choice, Betsy DeVos, to be secretary of education, he was acknowledging what many parents have noticed for some time: District-run public schools aren’t educating students well.

With Donald Trump set to enter the Oval Office, Vice President-elect Michael Pence seems likely to shape the federal role in education for the next four years. As a former governor who made school reform a top priority, Pence will interpret the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a barrier to federal oversight of state and local decisions. Testing will continue but how to respond to test results will be left to the states. The lowest-performing schools will be identified but the federal government will be reluctant to instruct states as to the steps that need to be taken to improve them.