Reaganland: Public Education and America’s Right Turn

In the latest episode of Have You Heard, we talk to Rick Perlstein, author of the monumental new history Reaganland, about America’s ‘right turn’ against public education. As Perlstein recounts, public schools were at the very center of the culture wars of the 1970’s. From parents in the northeast revolting against court-ordered busing to the textbook wars of Kanawha County, West Virginia that culminated in the bombing of the school board offices, 1970’s America was a site of simmering resentment, which was then weaponized by a rising generation of new right activists.

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Jennifer and Jack’s book, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, is out and available wherever you buy books!

The Zombie: The Undying Attacks on Schools of Education

Perhaps no issue is as deserving of ‘zombie’ status in the great education debates as schools of education and their myriad failures. [Insert specific criticism here]. In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, education historian Lauren Lefty, co-author of Teaching Teachers: Changing Paths and Enduring Debates, joins Jack and Jennifer to explore why this particular zombie can never be slayed. Complete transcript here.

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Back to the Lab Again

In which I visit Arne Duncan’s alma mater on the hunt for *secret sauce*

The University of Chicago Lab Schools

The University of Chicago Lab Schools which Arne Duncan attended from K-12.

Reader: you are almost certainly aware that our Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan, has many excellent ideas regarding how to enhance the excellence of our failed and failing public schools. But did you ever pause to ask yourself *from whence did those ideas come?* It’s field trip time and our destination is none other than the very school that nurtured young Arne’s spirit: the University of Chicago Lab Schools, the bastion of progressive education founded by none other than John Dewey himself in 1896. And since I know that you are, at this very moment, administering a high-stakes test, I recently took it upon myself to drop in on the school on your behalf. Continue reading →

Greetings from Choice-o-Rado

The ‘C’ is for ‘Choice’

Is there such a thing as too much choice? Reader: this is what is known as a rhetorical question—and the rhetorical answer is “no.” But don’t allow me to make up your rhetorical mind for you. I insist that you accompany me on an extra-special field trip, to the choiciest burg in our 50 states: Douglas County, Choice-o-Rado. Regular readers will recall DougCo from our inaugural visit and a recent return. What brings us back again? In a word: choice. Continue reading →

Choosy Kids Choose Choice

A wealthy Colorado county strives to become the choiciest place in America

It’s one of the great unfairnesses of our time: why are kids on the wrong side of the excellence gap getting all of the “choice”? Now, thanks to the bold innovativeness of one Colorado county, kids on the right side of the excellence divide may soon have all of the choices they can choose from. Welcome to Douglas County, the wealthiest county in all of Colorado—and soon to be the choiceiest. Continue reading →