Don’t Mess with Texas’ Schools

Have You Heard heads to fast-growing north Texas for a first-hand look at how support for public education is upending the state’s politics. Spoiler: GOP candidates are scrambling to paint themselves as lovers of public schools and their teachers. But does their new-found love translate into actual policy? And will former GOP voters who prize public education end up changing the way they vote?  Part of our series on education and politics in 2020, this episode captures a trend with major implications for Texas and beyond. Transcript available here.

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Michigan’s School Choice Mess

Have You Heard heads to Michigan to learn about a lesser-known part of the state’s free market education experiment: inter-district school choice. More than 100,000 Michigan students attend school in a district other than where they live. The outflow of students has pushed urban districts to the brink and spawned a competition for enrollment among rural and suburban districts.

Full transcript here. And if you’d like to see (or hear) more from the Have You Heard investigative road crew, consider supporting us on Patreon.

The Rise of the *Portfolio* Model for Schools

The portfolio model of school district management—it sounds technocratic, even a little bit weedy and yet it’s arguably one of the hottest button topics in our great education debate today. You may have heard the ‘p’ word mentioned in the context of recent teachers strikes in LA and Denver, and if you haven’t, well, you’ll likely be hearing it soon. That’s because there’s big money lining up to bring the portfolio model to a school district near you. A new organization backed by two billionaires—that would be Reed Hastings of Netflix fame and hedge funder John Arnold—will be pushing aggressively and expensively to expand the portfolio model across the country. But what is it exactly? In the latest episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack are joined by Katrina Bulkley, author of Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance and the New Portfolio Models for Urban Education Reform. Bulkley walks us through the central tenets of portfolio-ism and also sheds some lights on why districts that have embraced the portfolio push seem to be, well, on fire.

You can read a full transcript of the episode here. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.

One Year In: Reflections on the DeVos Education Agenda

Has it really been a whole year since VP Mike Pence cast his tie-breaking vote, making Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education? Congrats! You survived – and DeVos remains Trump’s least popular cabinet official. In this episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack reflect on DeVos’ first year, a task they prepared for by watching, reading, and listening to WAY too many DeVos speeches. (Note: don’t try this at home, or in close proximity to sharp objects). Their top takeaway: after 365 days, DeVos remains misunderstood and misunderestimated. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you will experience the 46 longest seconds of your life – and still have many minutes to go in the episode!

Cashing In On Our Unequal Education System Goes Way Back

Education reform is often referred to as the *civil rights issue of our time.* But as Noliwe Rooks, author of the new book Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education, tells Have You Heard, today’s reformers are the latest in a lengthy tradition of profiting from an unequal education system. Rooks coined the term *segrenomics* to describe the blend of segregation and economics that dates back to the earliest days of public education. Today *segrenomics* comes with a decidedly high-tech gloss (think, for example, the huge push to get personalized learning into urban classrooms.) But as Rooks explains, the goal of finding experimental ways of educating poor students of color, while leaving the structures of segregation and inequality intact, dates way back. One of our most ear-opening episodes yet! You can also read an edited version of the interview here.