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Podcast

Building blocks of educational choice – Lindsey Burke, podcastED

Last week, at the Republican National Convention, it was clear that school choice gives conservatives a positive way to talk about education policy. But for people who typically want to keep the federal government out of education altogether, what does a national agenda look like? On the latest edition of our podcast, Lindsey Burke, an education policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says there are ways Congress can promote educational choice without expanding the federal government's role. It can re-allocate existing pots of funding so they follow children to schools of their choice. It can also promote choice-friendly policies in areas where the federal government has...

‘We’ve got to figure this out’ – Connnections Education, podcastED

A virtual classroom might include an aspiring tennis pro traveling in Europe, a child in the hospital battling cancer, and a student who left a traditional classroom to escape bullies. Two decades ago, it would be inconceivable that these disparate students would be learning together, with guidance from the same teachers. And it would be just as inconceivable that their school would be judged based on their combined academic performance. Steven Guttentag, the president and co-founder of Connections Education, one of the country's largest operators of online charter schools, says the diverse needs of students who enroll in online schools create...

‘Improve your schools’ – Todd Ziebarth, podcastED

For critics of a report calling for changes to the way states fund and regulate virtual charter schools, Todd Ziebarth has a suggestion: Raise your academic performance. "The best way to push back on this report is to improve your schools," he said. "If you have schools that get much better results, we're not even having this conversation about policy recommendations." Ziebarth is a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and lead author of the report, issued by three pro-charter organizations, which called out virtual charters for " large-scale underperformance." Among other things, the report suggests states should limit the...

It’s about the child, not the system: Jeb Bush, podcastED

When it comes to politics, I'm not alone. Many members of my generation don't align with either major political party. Our views don't always fit the traditional left-right mold. But we also aren't tied to the status quo. We are willing to break from tradition to make a difference. Our willingness to embrace change is one cause for optimism that Jeb Bush said he found in this crazy political season. In a new interview, we talked about education politics, the importance of creating new educational options, and what politicians might learn if they spent more time in the classroom. The former Florida...

The state of education advocacy: Jim Blew, podcastED

All over the country, new private school choice programs are being created, more of the last remaining holdout states are beginning to allow charter schools, and a growing number of students are enrolling in educational options chosen by their parents. But, on our latest podcast, Jim Blew, who served as the national president of StudentsFirst and will be focusing on California after a merger with the 50-state Campaign for Achievement Now (aka 50CAN), says it's hardly time to declare victory. "Creating high-quality alternatives to the traditional system is a very fragile effort that continues to be under attack every day," he says....

Choice history, choice policy

This is the latest post in our series on the progressive roots of school choice. Credit James Forman Jr. with the best account yet of the center-left roots of the school choice movement. Credit his stint as a public defender for being the spark. Forman, now a Yale law professor, said the district “alternative” schools serving his juvenile clients in Washington D.C. 20 years ago were giving them the least and worst when they needed the most and best. He began exploring options like charter schools, only to be told by some folks that school choice couldn’t be trusted because of...

From sit-ins to school choice

This is the third post in our series on the Voucher Left. Marcus Brandon’s resume starts off like a progressive’s dream. National finance director, Dennis Kucinich for president. Staffer, Progressive Majority. Deputy director, Equality Virginia. But once it rolls into Brandon’s education accomplishments, some fellow progressives get whiplash. During two terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Brandon was a leading force behind bills that created vouchers for disabled and low-income students, and removed the state’s cap on charter schools. Inconsistency? Not for Brandon, a rising political star whose family’s civil rights bona fides are unquestioned. “I tell people that my...

School choice and political power: Howard Fuller, podcastED

Note: This is the third in a series of podcast interviews on Nevada's new education savings account program. We previously spoke with Seth Rau here and Matthew Ladner here. Ever since social justice advocates joined forces with free-market conservatives to create the groundbreaking Milwaukee Parental Choice program in the early '90s, there have been ideological divides in the school choice movement. Because most places have fewer school options than parents want, and private school choice programs have usually targeted disadvantaged students in some way, similar left-right coalitions have formed all over the country. Howard Fuller sits squarely in the social justice camp. When...