Williams: Coronavirus pandemic reveals the reality — and the risk — of America’s child safety net being its public schools
What’s a school for in the 21st century? Start with the bedrock: they’re for helping children develop academic skills and access core content, right? Those famous R’s: reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, you know the deal. We also count on them to grow democratic citizens — informed, aware, civic-minded community members. But that’s just the beginning. Public...
By Conor Williams | March 18, 2020
Remembering LA parent leader whose example inspired families across the country seeking integrated schools
The first time Courtney Everts Mykytyn and I spoke, we almost didn’t get around to talking about schools. I was trying to interview her for an Atlantic Monthly article I was writing about privileged families hoarding access to dual language immersion programs. But we couldn’t stop talking about our kids. Hers were about a decade...
By Conor Williams | January 6, 2020
Commentary: When success is not enough — charter schools delivering better outcomes for low-income students still target of progressive ire
“Video games are bad for you; they’re distracting,” says one kid. “They’re too violent,” says another. It’s jarring to hear middle-schoolers talk down on-screen entertainment, but the boys in this Bay Area classroom are doing their level best — and in Spanish, no less. To be sure, they’re practicing taking positions and marshaling evidence as part...
By Conor Williams | July 10, 2019
An interview with Courtney Everts Mykytyn on her quiet movement to integrate schools in L.A. & beyond
After a prolonged lull, American school integration debates have reignited in recent years. Courtney Everts Mykytyn, the founder of California-based Integrated Schools, is quietly becoming a force in these conversations. Her four-year-old group describes itself and its mission this way: “Integrated Schools is growing a grassroots movement of, by and for parents who are intentionally, joyfully...
By Conor Williams | February 11, 2019
Interview with former Sacramento schools chief, author of ‘Wildflowers: A School Superintendent’s Challenge to America,’ on educating the ‘whole child’
The present erosion of American democratic institutions has a range of ugly consequences — anxiety, distrust, polarization, etc. But most concretely, our current political catastrophe has produced heavy gridlock. Creative, productive policymaking is at an all-time low — including in education. The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act ended the No Child Left Behind era...
By Conor Williams | October 8, 2018
Williams: California, where orange is the new red and school accountability just got much harder to read
Oh, California, you paradise, you far-flung western shoal, you frontier beyond purple mountains and fruited plains, you earth-shaking technological marvel, you never-ending party — California, you’re the land of good news, where the economy booms and the culture is wildly, diversely, supremely cool. You’re the golden realm at the end of our national rainbow. Fittingly,...
By Conor Williams | November 13, 2017
Commentary: Raising LA high school graduation rates by any means necessary is an empty accomplishment
Education is full of priorities: getting kids ready for kindergarten, getting children reading on grade level, developing students’ STEM skills, building social-emotional skills, addressing nature deficit disorder (children spending too little time outdoors), developing thoughtful citizens, training future workers to compete in a global marketplace, and so on and so forth. They’re all interlocked to a certain...
By Conor Williams | July 24, 2017
LA education activist Yolie Flores on schools, politics, and why she’s running for Congress
Yolie Flores is one of 24 candidates who will compete in the April 4 special primary election for the 34th Congressional District seat which includes downtown LA, Koreatown and the city’s northeast region. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff election will be held on June 6. When longtime representative Xavier Becerra...
By Conor Williams | March 28, 2017
The cool factor in embracing California’s bilingual-education vote: Multiculturalism
Now, at the tail end of a historically fraught election season, seems like as good a time as any for a reminder: Multiculturalism is one of the jewels of American civilization. How can you tell? Because it’s delicious. Californians know this better than anyone else. By the time the rest of the country is discovering...
By Conor Williams | November 3, 2016
Desperate for bilingual teachers? New paper says you should start with your classroom aides
I have all sorts of principles for guiding my thinking about education. But my grand, unifying theory, the thing that determines how all the other stuff hangs together, basically rests on two claims: 1) there are enormous systemic inequities built into American public education, and 2) the decentralization of U.S. political institutions makes rapid policy-driven...
By Conor Williams | June 3, 2016