Amid the furious debates over critical race theory’s role in the classroom, a slew of new organizations have sprung up. One of these is the Educational Liberty Alliance, which launched this spring with the aim of building a national network of teachers and parents who support freedom of thought and expression in education. Recently, I spoke with Graham Gerst, a lawyer with school-age children who founded the alliance and chairs its board of directors, about what that means, what it entails, and how it fits into our polarized landscape.

— Rick

Rick: Tell me about the Educational Liberty Alliance.

Graham…


Recently, I wrote about how new polling shows the K-12 COVID-19 fights aren’t going anywhere. I can picture plenty of readers seeing numbers like 36 percent of the public opposes mask mandates in K-12 schools and thinking, “Who on earth are these people?” As someone who is conflicted on mask mandates for kids, and thus has some sympathy for both camps, I think it’s well worth taking a moment to consider how the public-health community’s response to COVID may explain some of this reticence.

Insight into this issue comes from a rather unlikely source: a pandemic account from bestselling author…


Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., may have just blown a gaping hole in the education community’s hopes for supersized new federal outlays.

Here’s the deal: Democrats control a 50–50 U.S. Senate by dint of Vice President Harris’ tie-breaking vote, when they can get all 50 Democrats on the same page (the calculus is different on legislation subject to the filibuster). Currently, Democrats are focused on their massive $3.5 trillion bill, which combines Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” and “American Family Plan” into legislation whose price tag is more than four times the price of FDR’s entire New Deal (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Since…


For over a year, schools have been caught up in heated debates over closure, remote learning, social distancing, and masking. While many educators and parents hoped that things would settle down once vaccines were widely available, vaccine hesitancy and the surge of the Delta variant have combined to ensure that COVID-inspired divisions aren’t going anywhere. Indeed, as the recent release of the annual Education Next poll makes clear, they’re increasingly enmeshed with our polarized politics. (Full disclosure: I’m an executive editor at Education Next.)

Ed Next’s annual survey asked nationally representative samples of more than 1,400 general public respondents and…


As students return to school amidst the ongoing disruptions and dislocations of COVID-19, public officials should be focused on providing students the high-quality instruction and support they need to get up to speed. Unfortunately, some officials seem more intent on excusing inadequate instruction. This summer, Kate Brown, governor of Oregon, signed a law repealing the state’s requirement that high school graduates be able to demonstrate an ability to read, write, and do math at a high school level. …


It’s a topic that engenders plenty of discussion in district offices, teacher lounges, private schools, and real estate agencies: What do parents look for when choosing a school? It’s also a question with lots of practical implications for education, from what offerings will help attract families to how we should think about the roles of standardized testing.

Pollsters only rarely seem to wade into this, which means that a given poll can be eye-opening even in normal times, much less after a year or more of COVID-inspired disruption. …


In schooling, proponents of even suspect pedagogies and practices tend to insist that their preferred approach is “evidence-based.” This seems to be the case, yet again, in the debates swirling around “anti-racist” education. I’ve encountered many claims I find unconvincing, especially when they’re advanced by impassioned advocates who don’t seem to have thought all that much about what constitutes credible evidence. (For more on how I think about evidence, check out my Educational Leadership piece from earlier in the spring.)

This has been particularly noticeable when it comes to racial “affinity spaces” and the whole notion that public school systems…


While calls for “free” college and student debt cancellation currently dominate conversations about higher education financing, I’m less interested in solutions that make lucrative degrees a freebie than in those that make them less risky. An intriguing example of the latter is the college “safety net” offered by Ardeo Education Solutions. Since 2008, Ardeo has worked with students at more than 200 colleges and universities to help insure their college educations. I recently spoke with Peter Samuelson, president and founder of Ardeo, about how this works.

— Rick

Rick: What does Ardeo do?

Peter: Ardeo Education Solutions partners with colleges…


Not all that long ago, it was broadly understood that we could find meaningful common ground even with those whom we regard as ideological adversaries. In fact, we recognized that disagreement on some issues doesn’t require disagreeing with someone on everything, much less mark them as an enemy. Unfortunately, amidst our raging culture wars and swirling currents of hyperpolarization, we seem to have forgotten much of this. Instead, it’s become disturbingly easy for all of us to see bogeymen and malicious agendas even where they don’t exist.

For instance, I’ve been clear about my grave reservations regarding much of what…


As the Senate prepared to vote on the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) back in 2001, Sen. Ted Kennedy, the iconic Massachusetts Democrat, told the assembled chamber, “This is a defining issue about the future of our Nation and about the future of democracy, the future of liberty, and the future of the United States in leading the free world.” President George W. Bush and a long list of Republican and Democratic luminaries offered similarly enthusiastic endorsements.

Yet, 20 years on, many would prefer to forget that NCLB and the era of high-stakes testing it brought about ever…

Frederick M. Hess

Direct Ed Policy Studies at AEI. Teach a bit at Rice, UPenn, Harvard. Author of books like Cage-Busting Leadership and Spinning Wheels. Pen Ed Week's RHSU blog.

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