I’m the father of two adult sons who are thankfully out of the K-12 educational system. I say thankfully because I found education inherently anxiety-inducing. Turning your kids over to a school for years is no simple thing and my own ambivalent memories as a student didn’t help.
I’m pretty sure it’s always been this way, but today it just seems at a fever pitch of awfulness. There’s growing (and ineffective) per-pupil spending; lack of meaningful choice for many, if not most, parents and students; a lack of transparency and accountability; the lingering effects of COVID-related lockdowns; the rise of highly politicized curricula about everything from critical race theory (CRT) to gender and sexual orientation; and a return to fights over library books.
Today’s guest is Robert Pondiscio, an education expert with the American Enterprise Institute who wrote How the Other Half Learns, a fantastic book about Success Academy, a controversial and highly effective charter school system based in New York City (watch my 2019 interview with him about that). What’s more, he actually taught in a low-income public school in the South Bronx.
Pondiscio is going to add another worry to our list of concerns: Schools aren’t teaching kids to read in any meaningful way. He’s a strong advocate for all forms of school choice and reform, but he says choice itself is simply not enough to help the lower-income kids who can most benefit from a really good education.
We talk about all that, plus wokeness and a ton of other related topics. Let’s call this episode “Everything You Wanted To Know About What’s Wrong With K-12 Education But Were Too Afraid To Ask.” It first ran as a Reason livestream at YouTube (watch here) and is cohosted by my colleague Zach Weissmueller.
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