Odds & Ends: New CRT Survey, Rural Ed, Eric Adams Pre-Takeaway, Edsall On Ed, More!

What does it say about our sector that it falls to the Marxist who wrote a whole book criticizing reform and schooling to write the most straightforward stuff about the patent absurdity of our testing “debate?” It’s at least entertaining I guess.

Rural education blog series via Bellwether – rural is more diverse than perhaps you think? And here’s a state standards review for civics and history via Fordham.

This student speech case today is a fun one to read. I like the decision, and it seems I like Tinker more than Justice Thomas as well. Still, it seems hard to miss a lot of tricky questions around boundaries these days. Where colleges should enforce Title IX procedures on sexual assaults is a contested issue with the federal guidance and technology means more cases like Mahanoy today. What does “in school” mean in a Snapchat world?

Edsall on education,

Education, training in cognitive and noncognitive skills, nutrition, health care and parenting are all among the building blocks of human capital, and evidence suggests that continuing investments that combat economic hardship among whites and minorities — and which help defuse debilitating conflicts over values, culture and race — stand the best chance of reversing the disarray and inequality that plague our political system and our social order.

I assume this apparent Eric Adams victory (he seems pragmatic on charter schools) will occasion a bit of soul searching about the disconnect between the elite progressive left (and parts of the right, of course) and other Americans, including those they purport to speak for? Last year I wrote a column arguing we should lessen the police presence in schools but the issue was more complicated and situational than a lot of the rhetoric. School officials appreciated it, activist types found it insufficiently strident for the times. I was literally asked why I would say there are any good school resource officers because obviously there are not. That’s ridiculous, of course.* This isn’t new, it’s a defined issue. And one leaders in education’s non-profit world would do well to pause and discuss as the divergence continues to grow between education as a pragmatic quality of life issue and education as a repository for various culture war issues.

New Morning Consult/Politico poll out today covers some education ground. A few things jump out. Women who identify has political independents are split in whether they trust Democrats or Republicans in Congress more on education. Worth watching heading into the midterms.

Independent women are also sour on “CRT” with just 13% with a favorable view (caution small n subgroup on all of this). But in general the debate about CRT seems to have a three salient characteristics. 1) It’s increasingly partisan 2) it’s confused** 3) if it doesn’t get redefined into a better political valance, it’s a liability for Dems.

One way to think about it is that in general Dem education positions are popular right now and the ones that aren’t (charters for instance) aren’t causing a lot of political pain. But the path to eroding that support runs through culture war issues, and that’s why Republicans are begging that fight. Dems can at once not compromise on values and sidestep that trap.

How? Maybe on social questions I’m just an optimist by habit, but it seems to me that the ‘we need to do a better job teaching history, including the history of racism, and why the past is in some ways present,’ ‘don’t coerce speech and political viewpoint in public schools,’ and ‘don’t do dumb age-inappropriate things’ camp is actually quite large and diverse. It’s just a bit politically homeless in a strident debate.

*The more nuanced position, put forward by people like Cami Anderson is that that the costs in terms of school culture outweigh the benefits, there is evidence on both sides of that and it’s a rich conversation worth having.

**On the confused, this seems like the voucher debate. The term “critical race theory” engenders a lot of opposition. When you ask people if they think schools should teach about racism you get more modest numbers and reactions. When you ask people if they support giving parents school choice options with public money they tend to say yes. If you ask them what they think of vouchers, they’re much less inclined. Terms matter.