An education system, divided: How internet inequity persisted through 4 presidents and left schools unprepared for the pandemic
As COVID-19 shut down its schools, Hamilton County, Tennessee, was ideally situated for the switch to virtual learning. At least in theory. Home to the regional tech hub of Chattanooga, Hamilton County has been celebrated for its pioneering, municipally owned fiber-optic network and the economic revival it has powered over the past decade. The area’s...
By Kevin Mahnken | September 15, 2020
‘Do you really want to spend the money on online Yale?’ For the Class of 2020, gap years beckon
In the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was looking pretty good to Lizbeth Luevano. Before the year even began, she had received early acceptance to Stanford — a dream for the 18-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants in California’s Coachella Valley. After striving to master English in her early years, Lizbeth had developed...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 25, 2020
The achievement gap has driven education reform for decades. Now some are calling it a racist idea
For decades, a coalition of educators, politicians and activists have fixed one goal above all others in their mission to promote equity in education: closing the racial achievement gap. Its very existence — the stubborn divergence in standardized test scores between white students and students of color — belies the progressive dream of a color-blind...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 21, 2020
Democratic school choice advocates struggle to be heard over the din of COVID, Trump & recession as virtual convention ushers in election’s final phase
Every four years, education reformers dare to dream that a presidential election will finally hinge on the issue of school choice. And each time, their hopes are crushed as wars, recessions, and scandals bump their top priority out of the spotlight. The unique conditions of the 2020 election, in which a deadly pandemic and a...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 19, 2020
New study does not find stark differences in how district, charter and private schools responded to COVID-19 crisis
The nation’s K-12 schools reacted to the disruption of COVID-19 in broadly similar ways regardless of whether they were district, charter or private, according to new research released Monday. In general, traditional public schools did not lag behind charters or private schools, except for a few days near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis when...
By Kevin Mahnken | July 22, 2020
New results show America’s social studies scores have taken a downturn in geography and U.S. history
American education observers have gotten used to receiving bad news from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. They received a little more last month, as eighth-graders posted lower scores in geography, civics, and U.S. history in the 2018 NAEP than they did four years ago. Referred to as “the nation’s report card,” NAEP is the...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 18, 2020
Record-breaking coronavirus job losses devastate the least educated — and have already displaced highest degree holders worse than the Great Recession
An ominous reality was made clear in the Department of Labor’s new employment figures Friday morning: Unprecedented job losses hit the least educated the hardest, but even those with higher degrees weren’t protected from the downturn. And just months ago, the United States was celebrating “the longest economic recovery in history,” marked by record-low joblessness among...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 11, 2020
School finance expert warns district leaders to prepare for ‘major financial upheaval’ from pandemic
With a recession on the way, states and localities could be making severe cuts to public education over the next year — and many leaders don’t seem to realize it yet. That was the message delivered this week by Marguerite Roza, one of America’s foremost experts in school finance, in a public webinar. Her presentation...
By Kevin Mahnken | March 26, 2020
America’s young people don’t vote. In a new book, Professor John Holbein explores what our schools can do to produce better citizens — and maybe even get them into the voting booth
How do you get America’s youngest voters to actually turn out on Election Day? It’s a question that experts have asked for the last half-century, and one that may determine the outcome of the 2020 elections. Abundant survey data indicates that voters under the age of 40 don’t favor the prospect of a second term...
By Kevin Mahnken | February 18, 2020
At national literacy summit, state education chiefs warn of reading stagnation
Reading instruction in American schools is so rife with poor curriculum and pedagogical dogma that a prominent academic likened it to “the equivalent of chemistry departments teaching alchemy.” “We’ve had about 130 years of bad practice,” David Steiner, director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University, told the audience at a national...
By Kevin Mahnken | February 3, 2020