It is week 174 of our new reality and we are wondering what is happening to academic freedom in the Golden State.
“The California Department of Education has threatened to sue two prominent Stanford University education professors to prevent them from testifying in a lawsuit against the department — actions the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California calls an attempt to muzzle them,” John Fensterwald writes in EdSource. “Observers say the dispute has the potential to limit who conducts education research in California and what they are able to study because CDE controls the sharing of data that is not available to the public.”
What is at stake is the ability of researchers to speak freely about their research, even when their conclusions threaten powerful stakeholders in the system.
“The lawsuit, against the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, charges the state with failing to prevent the deep learning loss imposed by the pandemic on low-income students and other high-needs students,” Fensterwald writes. “Reardon, who had co-authored landmark nationwide research on pandemic learning, said he would have considered providing expert testimony. But warned this month by CDE that he’d be breaching his contract, Reardon declined — even though his learning loss research did not involve the data obtained through his agreement with CDE.”
The only way for us to learn from the mistakes of the pandemic era is to be honest about them. And that starts with standing up for the freedom of researchers to share their findings widely and help us all make decisions grounded in the facts.
Last week, we focused on a call from former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg to both political parties to demonstrate the leadership needed to solve this learning crisis and we looked at promising signs from New Jersey’s push to expand tutoring for kids. This week we put the spotlight on a Congressional hearing on generational learning loss that served as a powerful forum for a candid assessment of what went wrong and what we need to do next.
FROM THE FIELD
Executive Director Amanda Aragon of NewMexicoKidsCAN wrapped up the first season of the New Mexico Rising podcast, an in-depth study of New Mexico’s education system, told through interviews with a diverse range of education leaders and officials.
GeorgiaCAN’s Charter Engagement Coordinator Pelleo Badiane worked alongside a parent fellow over the course of seven months to bring the first charter school to Henry County. After a tireless campaign focused on gathering signatures and building parent support, the State Charter School Commission approved Excelsior Village Academies. The team also hosted their annual Back to School panel for families with record attendance.
National Voices Fellow Shelby Doyle spoke to WBRC News in Alabama on school choice, while Fellow Jocelyn Pickford is blogging on issues of curriculum and quality, Jenny Clark spoke to Cato CEF attendees and Santarvis Brown was Brilliance Magazine’s July cover story.
Moment of Resilience
In The 74 Million, Jo Napolitano profiles New York City’s Harbor School, a high school focusing on career pathways from marine science to technology. Students are so excited about the program that 1,000 students applied last year for 198 slots.
“‘I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do and this gave me a good direction,’ said Alevras, who hails from lower Manhattan and plans to study environmental science and aquaculture — the breeding, raising and harvesting of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants — at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island this fall.
Like many of the students in her program, Alevras’s resume is impressive: She’s already improved the local oyster habitat, created her own water filtration system and helped raise 2-ounce junior tilapia until they reached market size.”