Category Archives: education policy

the first “civic ed” bill: 1642

The Massachusetts legislature is considering S. 2306, a bill to enhance civic education. I’m for this legislation. Questions about whether the Commonwealth should require civics–or, indeed, any subject–led me to wonder when civics was first mandated in Massachusetts. I think … Continue reading

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what if there were no public or no private schools?

The Atlantic’s Julie Halpert asks us to imagine two scenarios. In one, “every child would have to attend private school, and in the other, every child would have to attend public school. Which scenario would be more likely to improve … Continue reading

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conflict v mistake as a framework for politics

Scott Alexander has an interesting blog post that distinguishes two ways of thinking about politics: “Politics as mistake.” I’d put this one a little differently. The core idea is that institutions have flaws that result from their designs and the … Continue reading

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sorting out human welfare, equity and mobility

Here are three distinct goals that you might pursue if you see education as a means to improve a society. All three are plausible, but they can conflict, and I think we should sort out where we stand on them. … Continue reading

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school choice is a question of values not data

I disagree with my friend Robert Pondiscio about many policies, but I agree with an essential aspect of his argument in a US News article entitled “Asking the Wrong Questions on School Choice.” Some impressive-looking recent studies assert that school choice doesn’t “work” … Continue reading

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mixed feelings on the DeVos nomination battle

I opposed Betsy DeVos’s nomination, I’m grateful to the people who protested it, and I’m sorry she won confirmation. But I’m not sure it’s a good sign that she attracted more effective opposition than the other nominees have. (That is, … Continue reading

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Levinson and Fay, Dilemmas of Educational Ethics

Meira Levinson’s and Jacob Fay’s edited volume Dilemmas of Educational Ethics: Cases and Commentaries is enormously valuable. It not only addresses problems that confront educators every day but also suggests how moral reasoning can be revitalized in academia. The book is organized … Continue reading

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new book on communities using Positive Youth Development

Jonathan F. Zaff, Elizabeth Pufall Jones, Alice E. Donlan, and Sara Anderson have published their edited volume entitled Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Positive Youth Development (New York: Routledge, 2016). “Positive Youth Development” is a whole stance toward adolescents that involves supporting them to do … Continue reading

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thinking like a citizen–about schools

In Education, Justice & Democracy, edited by Danielle S. Allen and Rob Reich, all the chapters address the topic of educational equality in the US. The section headings are “ideals,” “constraints,” and “strategies.” In a longish review essay for Theory … Continue reading

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from soft skills to agency

I’m very pleased to see a blog post by Andy Calkins, Deputy Director of the Next Generation Learning Challenge, entitled “It’s Time to Trash the Terms ‘Non-Cogs’ and ‘Soft Skills.’” Partly in response to the hegemony of standardized testing, some organizations and … Continue reading

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