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Podcast

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...

Paths to equity in private school choice: Matthew Ladner, pocastED

Note: This is part of a three-part series of podcasts on Nevada's new education savings account program. See our conversation with Seth Rau of Nevada Succeeds here. In Part 3, we will talk with Howard Fuller. Nevada's first-of-its-kind education savings account program has highlighted a philosophical difference among some within the school choice movement, which has previously aired on this blog and elsewhere. Should private school programs be open to all students, or should eligibility be limited to the disadvantaged — such those with lower incomes, or those with special needs? In a recent piece published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Howard Fuller, long a...
McGrath FLVS

Blended learning and keeping up with kids’ needs: Amy McGrath, podcastED

Increasingly, Florida's school districts are offering virtual courses and district leaders are talking about adapting to an environment where at least some learning is digital for nearly all their students. At the same time, Florida Virtual School, an institution that helped pioneer these shifts, is recruiting students for a new, physical campus at its Orlando Headquarters. Some students taking classes with the state's largest online learning provider will soon have a place to meet in-person with teachers and fellow students, where they'll be able to work on projects and receive support. Amy McGrath, the director of FLVS Campus, explains in a podcast interview that the Florida...
Eric Garner protest

Eric Garner and the soul of education reform: Derrell Bradford, podcastED

The tragedies that drew thousands of people into the streets in cities around the country this past weekend have also prompted soul-searching in the education reform movement. If our goal is to respond to the educational needs of disadvantaged communities, can we ignore the other injustices in their lives? How can we help transform the institutions that failed Eric Garner, long before he died at the hands of New York City Police? Derrell Bradford, executive director of the New York Campaign for Achievement Now, wrote this reaction to the non-indictment of the officers responsible for Garner's death, which is worth reading...

Black pastor (and former Democrat) explains support for school choice

If there's one thing Republicans have right, it's about the power of competition to shake up unresponsive bureaucracies, including those that oversee public school systems. So says prominent African-American pastor Manuel Sykes, who had Tampa Bay political circles buzzing last week amid an announcement that he would be moving to the Republican Party. The move may have been precipitated by local issues like local Democrats' efforts to stifle his run for Congress, but it's also another indicator of political crosswinds that have buffeted left-leaning school choice supporters for years. Sykes, the longtime pastor at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg,...