As disruptive as the 2020/2021 academic year was, it led to many positive educational changes that will be transformative and long-lasting. Most notably, parents have been re-empowered to take back the reins of their children’s education from government bureaucrats and teachers unions. Frustrated by school closures and district “Zoom schooling,” families fled public schools in droves over the past year, and there are several signs that these families won’t be returning this fall.
According to an analysis by Chalkbeat and the Associated Press, public school enrollment fell by an average of 2.6 percent across 41 states last fall, with states such as Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Mississippi dropping by more than 4 percent. These enrollment declines far exceeded any anticipated demographic changes that might typically alter public school enrollment.
How many of these students will be back in a public school classroom next year? Not as many as public school officials hoped.
Our K-12 schools are organized more like a swim meet than a swim lesson. The emphasis is on student placement results rather than on ensuring all students learn. Students move on to the next lesson, concept, or skill regardless of whether mastery was achieved at the previous level.
Donald P. Nielsen explains this analogy in Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education:
In a swimming meet, the purpose is to determine who is the fastest swimmer. In public schools we spend a lot of time grading students on what they have learned and then ranking them, rather than ensuring that every child has learned. What we need, however, is a public school system that is organized like a swimming lesson. In a swimming lesson, the instructor’s goal is different. The goal is to make sure all students, even the slowest, learn how to swim. Swimming meets can be a result of swimming lessons, and grading can be a result of learning, but ranking students by ability should not be the primary goal of teachers or of the system as a whole.
In swimming, as in any other athletic or artistic endeavor, classes are grouped based upon the current achievement level of the students, not based on age. A swimming coach would never consider putting advanced swimmers and beginning swimmers in the same class, even if they were of the same age. Similarly, a music teacher would not put an advanced piano player in a class with beginners…. Age is not a relevant factor in either swimming or piano lessons, but it is the overriding factor in our schools. No other major learning activity is strictly age-based. Our schools shouldn’t be either.
The University of North Carolina, after briefly considering the possibility of offering a full-time tenured position to Nikole Hannah-Jones, has ultimately reneged and turned down the offer due to mounting pressure, the New York Post reports.
Jones, the founder of the controversial “1619 Project” and an alumnus of the university, is now reportedly being considered for a mere five-year contract where she would instead serve as a “professor of practice.” The decision was ultimately made by UNC’s board of trustees, even though the left-wing faculty of the university overwhelmingly supported hiring her full-time.
Susan King, dean of UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, called the decision “disappointing” and “chilling,” before baselessly claiming that Jones “represents the best of our alumni and the best of our business.”
A study revealed that a sizable portion of professors discriminates against conservatives.
The Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology published a report entitled “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship,” which found that a “significant portion of academics” discriminate against conservatives in hiring, promotion, grants, and publications.
The study evaluated data in the United States, Britain, and Canada to determine the extent of anti-conservative bias in academia.
Recently I spoke with a teacher at an exclusive private school, tuition $40,000 per year, located in Northern Virginia. He described the ongoing deterioration of the school’s standards, including a dumbing down of academics, more cheating, parents demanding higher grades for their children, and a pervasive climate of political correctness.
About a week ago I began scrutinizing how the New York Times’ 1619 Project relied upon the work of the controversial “New History of Capitalism” genre of historical scholarship to advance a sweeping indictment of free markets over the historical evils of slavery. The problems with this literature are many, and prominent among them is its use of shoddy statistical work by Cornell University historian Ed Baptist to grossly exaggerate the historical effect of slave-produced cotton on American economic development. Baptist’s unusual rehabilitation of the old Confederacy-linked “King Cotton” thesis is unsupported by evidence and widely rejected by economic historians. His book The Half Has Never Been Told has nonetheless acquired a vocal following among historians and journalists, including providing the basis of a feature article in the Times series on slavery.