History is happening this moment. A country is defining itself. Authentic, inspiring patriotism is surging through the Ukrainian people. Whatever happens next, President Volodymyr Zelensky personifies patriotism, honor, courage, dedication. If Ukraine survives as an independent nation, as the U. S. Secretary of State promises, 2022 will ring for decades, probably centuries, as Ukraine’s greatest historical moment.
As Covid enters its Omicron phase, common sense is beginning to creep in. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have cut quarantine time to five days from ten days not because new research has suddenly produced a new magic number but because a ten-day interval is disrupting the country’s transport systems, restaurants, health provider networks, and economy as a whole.
Betsy DeVos must be quietly enjoying her retirement from public office. After resigning in protest against presidential actions during the closing days of the Trump Administration, she is beginning to see the fruits of her steady advocacy of school choice throughout her term in office. When she took office in 2017, public support for choice had been in the doldrums.Throughout the latter years of the Obama administration choice support drifted downward, as can be seen in the graph from EdChoice polling shown below.
Nothing in the historical record has disrupted American schools quite like Covid-19. Millions of students will lose more than a year of classroom instruction. Only the most hopeful think schools will return to normalcy before next September. An entire generation can expect a drop in lifetime earnings of 5% to 10%, economists tell us. Even worse, social and emotional development have been stunted. Schools no longer provide eye and ear exams, nurse office visits, and ready access to social services. Children from low-income backgrounds are suffering the most.
In September we released an article on the Education Next website titled “Charter Schools Show Steeper Upward Trend in Student Achievement than District Schools.” Using a sample of more than four million test performances, it compares the progress made by cohorts of charter and district school students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2005 to 2017. Overall, students at charters are advancing at a faster pace than those at district schools. The strides made by African-American charter students have been particularly impressive.
In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court strikes down agency fees. The unions have said that the case is a corporate attack on teacher interests. Eric Heins, the President of the California Teachers Association, insists that “corporate CEOS, the wealthiest one percent, and politicians who do their bidding” launched the lawsuit. “They want to use the Supreme Court to take away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions,” he says.
But a majority of the public—and of teachers themselves, don’t see it that way.
D minus. That’s the generous grade to give the Obama Administration—based on student test performances in math and reading over the eight years it held office (2009-2017). Its final grade became apparent just this week when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the official report card for U. S. schools nationwide, released the 2017 results. Student gains registered over the Obama years were trivial at best, far short of those accomplished during what must now be referred to as the halcyon days of the George W. Bush Administration.
Charters are making a rebound—at least among Republicans and African Americans. Last fall, the 2017 Poll administered by Education Next (EdNext) reported a steep drop in support for the formation of charter schools. Only 39 percent of the public supported charters, a remarkable change from the 51 percent level of support registered in 2016.
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?
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.
As the United States entered the 21st century it was trying to come to grips with a serious education crisis. The country lagged behind its international peers, and its half-century effort to erode racial disparities in student achievement had made little headway. Many people expected action from the federal government.
The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. When making their case, unions would have the public believe that public school teachers stand solidly behind them.
Education analysts often compare U.S. schools to those in Finland, Korea, Poland, even Shanghai. Surprisingly, the nation of Germany rarely appears in this discourse, even though it has much in common with the United States. Each of the two nations is the largest democracy, with the biggest economy, on its continent. And each has a diverse population, strong unions, a federal system of government, demand for a skilled workforce, and a school system that in 2000 was badly in need of reform.
Two major public opinion polls have just been released. First, Education Next (EdNext) released its ninth annual survey of over 4,083 respondents, which is administered by Knowledge Networks. (Along with Michael Henderson, we are responsible for the design and analysis of this survey.) Shortly thereafter, Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) released its own survey of 3,499 respondents, which is administered by Gallup.
n 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.