Bellwether’s Brian Robinson on learning loss:
It’s time to move beyond the semantics of what to call the problem and instead figure out what we’re going to do about it.
Yesterday Merrick Garland announced that DOJ would take a look at what’s happening with regard to school board meeting protests and parents threatening school officials.
This after an NSBA letter asking for federal help.
One way to read the letter he sent is that it’s a big nothing. Basically, ‘we’re going to have some meetings.’ It’s flag showing or bone throwing and little more. Another is that it’s an example of government overreach, chilling dissent. (A third is that the calvary is coming, but c’mon.). DOJ says more measures coming.
In any event, there are three risks here. One is just engaging the prosecutorial mechanisms of the federal government in what is largely a debate about curriculum. There already are federal, state, and local tools to prosecute those threatening or planning violence against school officials – and they should be used, this is unacceptable.
The second is the backfire potential. As everyone knows a fire needs oxygen and fuel to keep burning. This Merrick Garland action seems like it might be oxygen and fuel with regard to the CRT debate. Movements need signals, either as rallying points or targets,, Garland just hung up a big one.
Third, obviously, keeping public officials safe or more precisely failing to do that.
A few other things here worth noting. It’s weird how last summer the big push was for everyone to get on board with “defund the police.” Now the pressure is to fall into line over getting the FBI involved…the FBI!
I don’t really see a conflict of interest because AG Merrick Garland’s son-in-law works for Panorama, an education climate company. But it’s the kind of thing people will spin up about now.
Meanwhile, sexuality seems like more of a flashpoint here than people realize and more consensus than people realize.
Anyway, with these various protests there has been conduct that crosses legal lines. The question remains it seems, are things happening that local and state authorities can’t handle on their own? In other words, can they keep people safe without federal intervention. If not, this is warranted. If so, it’s politics.
At some level the whole school board contretemps is about power – who has it, who wants it, who gets to make decisions about what kids learn. It’s an old story that way.
I remember a conversation once with some very wealthy people about philanthropy. And it became clear that the wealthy people they knew all engaged in philanthropy, as a matter of course. There was a time in the 90s and 00s that if you were real wealthy and not doing ed reform or some other high profile philanthropy it was seen as pretty gauche.
But these wealthy benefactors of a variety of causes didn’t seem to know a lot of people who spent their money golfing, boating, and/or swirling in the bottom of a glass. They were modest not ostentatious about wealth. Despite the fetishization of billionaires where a lot of money and a lot of power resides is with those folks who are fantastically wealthy but not billionaires or anywhere near that. And they’re not doing “philanthropy” as we think about it in this sector.
That all occurred to me reading this interesting Joan Coaston essay in The Times. If you don’t follow her writing, recommend. In a lot of situations we should think about who has power in more sophisticated ways than we often do.
A few education implications from the Ozy meltdown, but here’s a graf from Ben Smith’s after-action:
What that left, said a former employee with knowledge of the company’s analytic data, was a real, if tiny, fan base — just not the one Ozy liked to talk about. “The classic demographic for Ozy was a retired female white teacher who used Ozy to stay young and stay woke and loved learning about the world from it,” the former employee said. Samir Rao, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer, would sometimes joke about bringing in the AARP as an advertiser, the former employee added.
What remains of that radicalism is the critical race theory fight, and as I have argued, it’s fundamentally a consolation prize – CRT is rhetorically extreme in many of its manifestations, but it makes nothing happen directly, has given conservatives a big meaty target to attack, and any progress that might stem from it depends on teachers being willing to teach it and students not just listening to but accepting what they hear, which is, it’s fair to say, not how it always works in the classroom. I’ll ask again: when you marched last summer, did you march for minor curricular changes in some public K-12 schools? Or did you march to change the world?