Sunday, March 19, 2023

ICYMI: Family Visit Edition (3/19)

The West Coast branch office of the Institute is in town for a visit, including the newest addition to the office (picture to follow). So I've spending extra time in the actual physical world. But I've still put together a reading list for the week. Read and learn.

A public school teacher's perspective on vouchers

Texas teacher Cecily Riesenberg offers one of the best speedy dissections of the school voucher issue you're likely to read. From the Amarillo Globe-News.

Preaching to the Choir: Greg Abbott Tours Private Christian Schools (Exclusively) to Make the Case for Vouchers

Forrest Wilder at Texas Monthly notices that Greg Abbott's voucher pitch seems to be aimed at a very specific audience:

Of the seven schools the governor has visited on his “Parent Empowerment Tour,” not a single one has been a public school or a secular private school or a religious school affiliated with Catholicism, Islam, or Judaism. Not even a Montessori. If the goal was to reassure critics that Abbott’s embrace of vouchers wasn’t a recipe for draining the public school system while subsidizing the children of wealthy Christian conservatives in private schools of their choice, well, none of those critics were around to hear it. The governor was quite literally preaching to the choir.

Gov. Abbott To Pay For Buses To Transport Voucher Supporters To Austin

Yeah, there's a lot of Texas on the list this week. Reform Austin has inside scoop that suggests Governor Abbott is spending some money on astroturf for the big voucher push.

Jimmie Don Aycock was a Texas legislator, and he'd like to point in particular to the complete lack of accountability for taxpayer dollars in the Texas voucher plan.

Heck of a piece of research and reporting from Steve Monacelli, showing how some of Dallas's noisiest groups are part of some huge dark money machine. From the Texas Observer.

Texas has taken over the Houston school district. Educational outcomes have not always improved in other states that have done so.

NBC News reports on the state takeover of Houston schools, correctly noting that the history of school takeovers does not suggest that this is going to end well.

And now we're done with Texas. Moving on to the rest of the country.

At risk in Pennsylvania schools - books, political talk, LGBTQ policies

Chris Ullery in Phillyburbs takes a nicely comprehensive look at the various reactionary moves against speech and reading in Pennsylvania.

Parents Defending Education’s Hit and Run Job on Milton Public Schools

Maurice Cunningham is an expert at tracing money trails in astroturf groups, and he has spotted some Parents [sic] Defending [sic] Education [sic] shenanigans in Massachusetts.

Preparing Minority Students for College Success Deserves Conservatives’ Support

Let Robert Pondiscio at the American Enterprise Institute explain to conservatives why they should not be trying to make A Thing out of college prep programs aimed at minority students.

Kansas legislators’ war on the poor opens worrisome new front: School vouchers and tax avoidance

The Kansas Reflector has emerged as a major defender of public education in that state, and Clay Wirestone, opinion editor, has lambasted the voucher plan being pushed there. Here he argues that it's a boondoggle for the rich.

The Reflector isn't alone. Here's the editorial board of the Kansas City Star arguing that vouchers are just a cash grab for the rich.

‘Heartbreaking’: Dozens of RI children with special needs not receiving education

From Eli Sherman and Steph Machado at WPRI. What happens when a district completely failed to fill special ed spots? Special needs students get hung out to dry.

Empowering Teachers: A Strategy For Teacher Retention

Nicole Wolff at Stories from Arizona about an approach that might actually help retain teachers called Visible Learning which ironically she learned about in Houston. 

How one university is creatively tackling the rural teacher shortage

Wyoming has some good ideas about how to better train and support teachers (thereby increasing the odds they'll stick around). Nichole Dobo at Hechinger has the story.

ALL Students Deserve a "Positive Learning Environment"

Steve Nuzum pens a letter to the South Carolina legislature on the subject of their newest Don't Say Gay bill.

Teen Mental Health Distress Didn't Start with the Phones

John Warner pushes back on the recently published assertion that teen mental health crisis kicked off in 2012 (because smartphones). He brings receipt, and points instead toward toxic meritocracy.

How Stressing Preschoolers and Kindergarteners Could Lead to Mental Health Problems

Nancy Bailey points to another possible cause, and she's got research to go with it. 

Why Is the Republican Party Suddenly Weakening Child Labor Laws?

Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire at The Nation point to the disturbing history of child labor and the recent push in red states to weaken child labor laws.

Inside the “Private and Confidential” Conservative Group That Promises to “Crush Liberal Dominance”

Yes, that means they're coming for education, too. ProPublica put a whole reporting team on this story of the next group to try to take over the country.

For your "reasons not to trust AI tools" file, this AP story is heartbreaking. 

For the Dedicated Teacher

Finally, the indispensable Mercedes Schneider with indispensable advice for teachers who need to master one simple word. 

Over at, this week I was plugging the new book from Alexandra Robbins (and I'll keep plugging it, because you ought to read it). And I took one more swipe at the continued misuse of NAEP proficiency. 

Our newest VP. Her portfolio includes drool.

If you want to stay caught up on everything coming out of the Curmudgucation Institute, I recommend subscribe to my substack version. It's free. 

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