Mail Order Schools: the Past and Present of Distance Learning

Students flailing without real teachers. Sky-high dropout rates. Aggressive sales pitches. Sound familiar? Have You Heard revisits America’s first great love affair with distance learning, the learn-by-mail craze that swept the nation 100+ years ago. The case for distance learning made by the original (for profit) edu-preneurs was virtually identical to what we’re hearing today. But while they sold the promise of “personalized learning” free from the distraction of classmates, distance learning 1.0 suffered from the same problem that plagues its 21st century counterpart: learning alone has never worked for the vast majority of students. Special guests: education historian Bob Hampel and “Young Jack,” a student at an early 20th century correspondence school. Complete transcript available here.

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States of Shock: the Coming Budget Calamity

A looming budget calamity worse than the Great Recession could mean mass teacher layoffs and deep cuts to school spending. In our latest episode Have You Heard previews the bleak budget forecast, how to avert it, and why the GOP seems to want states to go broke. Experts Bruce Baker, Sarah Reckhow and Jesse Rothstein weigh in, and, in a sign of what’s to come, we meet a teacher whose alternative school is going online and for-profit next year. Full transcript of the episode is here. And if you enjoy Have You Heard, please consider supporting us on Patreon.

The Right to Read

In the latest episode of Have You Heard we dig into the recent – and surprising – decision by a federal court declaring that there is in fact a constitutional right to education. One catch: the court defined that right very narrowly as a “basic minimum education.” Jennifer and Jack explore what the ruling does, and doesn’t mean, with the help of an all star cast, including Noliwe Rooks, author of Cutting School; Michael Rebell, executive director of the Center for Educational Equity; and former Detroit teacher Stephanie Griffin.

Full transcript of the episode is here. And if you enjoy Have You Heard, please consider supporting us on Patreon.

Access Denied: Why Don’t We Have Internet for All?

The gaps between the Internet haves and have-nots have never been more glaring. Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance helps us understand the origins of our digital divide and how to get to a system of high-quality, affordable internet for all. Full transcript of the episode here.

The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Please donate at Patreon.com/HaveYouHeardPodcast.

You’ve Got Questions. We’ve Got Answers

What do you want to know about education in a time of pandemic? We put that question to Have You Heard listeners, then rounded up an all-star cast of experts with answers. Should I tell my son that the online assignments he’s been doing won’t count? What do we want kids to remember about this time? And now that we’ve all seen for ourselves that edtech is NOT a silver bullet, will we finally be able to force some accountability from the industry and its boosters? Special guests include Derek Black, Audrey Watters and Ethan Hutt. Complete transcript here.

Got a question that you want us to tackle in a future episode? Email Jennifer or tweet us @HaveYouHeardPod