Curmudgucation

The Goal of Abolishing Public Education Dates Back Decades–And It's Now Within Reach

The election of Donald J. Trump as president offers the best opportunity in decades to shrink the size and power of government and increase individual liberty. 

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The State That Betsy DeVos Holds Up As A Model Is Hemorrhaging Teachers

According to a report by the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Florida's teaching shortage now borders on critical. Midway into the school year, thousands of public school students in South Florida lacked permanent teachers. And the problem will only get worse "as more educators flee the classroom and the number of those seeking teaching degrees plummets."

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How Hackers Held an Entire School District Hostage

A hacker group named The DarkOverlord achieved some notoriety last year when it hacked into a server and stole the new season of Orange Is the New Black, along with some other material, and attempted to shake Netflix down for ransom. Then, this fall, Dark Overlord  hacked into a school district, essentially holding it hostage and terrorizing the local community for days.

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In Ruling Over a Religious School Playground, Supreme Court Has Started To Tear Down The Wall Separating Church and State

The basic question was minor. The implications are huge. The bottom line is that supporters of using public tax dollars to support private religious schools got some major support from the Supreme Court today.

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5 Top Reasons Tech-Oriented Education Reforms Often Fail

Robyn Schulman is a Forbes contributor covering "the intersection of education and entrepreneurship." She the senior editor of thought-leadership for 51talk, "a leading education startup in China." So she's not necessarily the kind of person I'd be inclined to pay attention to. But her new Forbes piece is a worthwhile read.

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When Students Flee Troubled Charter Schools, Who Pays the Price?

One feature of "unleashing the power of the free market" in education is supposed to be a sort of regulation by the market's infamous invisible hand. Customers will "vote with their feet," driving the bad actors out of business.

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Is It Finally Time to Abandon 'Goal-Oriented' Parenting?

In July. Dr. Alison Gopnick appeared in the Wall Street Journal plugging some thoughts from her soon-to-be-published book The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children.

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The Death of Public Education in Erie, Pennsylvania

While functional states may be basically all alike, when it comes to education, dysfunctional states are all dysfunctional in their own way.

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There Have Never Been Fewer College Freshmen Interested in Teaching

This comes courtesy of UCLA's annual survey of first time freshmen, a survey that has been collecting data for about fifty years. You can read the full survey results in a report here.

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Why Students Need to Know There Is No One Right Answer

Humans come out of the womb predisposed to believe in one right answer, and some of us spend our whole lives searching for it.

I watch my students (mostly high school juniors) struggle with it. There's supposed to be one right answer for which college to pick, which career to pursue, which partner to marry. One beloved fantasy has persisted for all the decades I have taught (and my years as a student before that). "I wish," says a student, "that somebody would just appear and tell me what I'm supposed to do. I wish somebody would tell me what the right answer is."

Growing up, I believed in one right answer even as I didn't. Like many 15-year-olds, I believed many of the right answers proposed by the people in charge were wrong, and that I knew what the one right answer really was. I went to college and learned there were two kinds of English professors: those who believed that there was one way to read each work, and their job was to teach us what it was, and those who believed that there were many right answers, and their job was to teach us how to find an answer that could be argued successfully with evidence and sense. I decided I wanted to be the second kind.

I still thought there was one right answer to most of life's questions, and that was a belief I rode right through marriage and into divorce, plus any number of other major and minor screwups. I believed that the way to navigate life was to lock the steering wheel in place and set a brick on the gas pedal, and if you hit a tree or drove off a cliff, that just meant you needed to recalibrate the steering wheel and get a different-sized brick.

Eventually, sitting in the rubble at the bottom of a cliff, I saw a light bulb. The right answer is that there is no right answer. The best you can hope for is guidance by principle, relationship, context, and timing. You drive the car based on where the road goes, where you want to go, maintaining a speed that keeps you connected to the road and turning the wheel at the right moment.

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