The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews on An Optimist’s Guide to American Public Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post and author of the recent book, An Optimist's Guide to American Public Education. Jay describes the three key trends in K-12 schooling that he views as cause for hope.

Poll Finds Mixed Views About Schools’ Pandemic Performance

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts residents have mixed opinions about how K-12 education has functioned, but they tend to view the performance of individual teachers more favorably than that of institutions like school districts and teachers’ unions, according to a poll of 1,500 residents commissioned by Pioneer Institute.

BBC Classics Prof. Bettany Hughes on Athenian Democracy, Socrates, & the Goddess Aphrodite

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Bettany Hughes, award-winning historian, BBC broadcaster, and author of the best-selling books Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore; The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life; and Venus and Aphrodite: History of a Goddess. Prof. Hughes shares insights from her most recent book about the ancient deity known as Venus to Romans and Aphrodite to the Greeks, and her impact on our understanding of the mythology and history of beauty, romance, and passion.

UK Classics Scholar Kathryn Tempest on Cicero, Brutus, & the Death of Caesar

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Kathryn Tempest, a Reader in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Roehampton in London, UK, and author of Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome and Brutus: The Noble Conspirator. They discuss the historical, civic, and moral lessons political leaders, educators, and schoolchildren today can learn by studying the Roman Republic and the lives of key figures from that era such as Cicero and Brutus.

Key Madison Park Program Lags Other State Voc-Techs, but Shows Signs of Improvement

The co-operative education program at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which places students in paid positions with local employers, lags far behind other Massachusetts vocational-technical schools in terms of both placements and number of employer contacts.  But with the school as a whole beginning to improve after years of turmoil, the co-op is also showing promising signs, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

WSJ Drama Editor Terry Teachout on Jazz Greats Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and guest co-host Kerry McDonald continue our celebration of Black achievements with Terry Teachout, drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, and author of such books as Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington.

UGA Prof. Valerie Boyd on Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance, & Black History Month

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard celebrate Black History Month with Professor Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Georgia, and the definitive biographer of Zora Neale Hurston. Boyd discusses why Hurston is such an important novelist and cultural figure, and the influence of Hurston’s 1937 classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, on American literature.

Never Forgetting – Holocaust Remembrance Day – 25 Resources for K-12 Students

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Memorializing International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th and learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust during WWII.

Links

/
Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary…

Knowledge is Power: Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method – 10 Resources for High School Students

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Sir Francis Bacon and the scientific method.

Additional Resources

/
  Francis Bacon: The Temper of a Man, by Catherine…

The 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower – 15 Resources for K-12 Students

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage.

UConn’s Prof. Wayne Franklin on James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, & American Democracy

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Wayne Franklin, professor of English at the University of Connecticut and definitive biographer of the American literary figure James Fenimore Cooper. As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Prof. Franklin reviews Cooper's background and major works, especially the "Leatherstocking Tales," including The Last of the Mohicans, which are distinguished for their enlightened and sympathetic portrayal of the disappearing tribes.

Ghost Dance – Native American Heritage Month – Resources for K-12 Education

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 schoolchildren to Native Americans in U.S. history.

Additional Resources

/
Getting to Know the Native American Indian Tribes – U.S. History…

MCAS testing essential to address falling test scores

/
Amid the chaos that was created by schools suddenly being shuttered in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sense to cancel administration of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. But supporters of pending legislation that would place a four-year moratorium on using MCAS as a high school graduation requirement and create a commission to study alternatives to the tests are no longer responding to a crisis; they are using it to advance their anti-reform agenda.

Disputing Democracy – 5 Contentious U.S. Presidential Elections – Resources for K-12 Education

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 schoolchildren to the great, contentious presidential elections in U.S. history.

LSU’s Prof. Andrew Burstein on Washington Irving, the Headless Horseman, & the Presidency

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Andrew Burstein, the Charles P. Manship Professor of History at Louisiana State University, and author of The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving, and with Nancy Isenberg, The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality.

“Double, Double Toil and Trouble” – 15 Halloween Resources for K-12 Students

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 students to the history behind Halloween.

Halloween – Additional Resources

/
Halloween Jack-o'-Lantern Pumpkins Trick-or-Treating …

The Commonwealth of Health -Massachusetts’s Great Medical Innovations – 15 Resources for High School Students

/
In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing high school students to great medical innovations from Massachusetts.

NCTQ’s Kate Walsh on the Crisis in K-12 Teacher Prep, Quality, & Evaluation

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. They discuss the qualifications of those who enter the teaching profession, explore teacher preparation, and key differences between teacher preparation, accreditation, and job prospects in the U.S. and other countries. They also speculate about what a Biden presidency might mean for K-12 education policymaking, and discuss how to diversify the teaching pipeline.

Medical Inventions – Additional Resources

/
  Cotton Mather, Smallpox Inoculation, Boston, MA,…

The Republic of Gadgets – America’s Great Inventors – 25 Resources for K-12 Education

/
Understanding the enduring public and private benefit that great inventors and their contraptions have made to our civilization is to better appreciate the connections between human necessity, creativity, and ingenuity. Yet, in American K-12 education very little focus is placed on studying who America’s great inventors were and the central role they’ve played in shaping our republic of gadgets. We’re offering a variety of links on the topic for parents, teachers, and schoolchildren to enjoy and better realize authentic innovators.

The Houses of Great American Writers – 25 Resources for K-12 Education

According to the Brookings Institution research, teaching great fiction is declining across America’s K-12 education system, so we’re offering resources to help parents, teachers, and schoolchildren to better appreciate great American writers and the places where they wrote.

Harvard PEPG’s Prof. Paul Peterson on Charter Schools, Digital Learning, & Ed Next Polling

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Paul Peterson, the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University.

Award-Winning Writer Brenda Wineapple on the 170th Anniv. of The Scarlet Letter & Pres. Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Brenda Wineapple, author of the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life and The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. They discuss her definitive biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the 170th anniversary of the publication of his classic novel, The Scarlet Letter.

“Architecture is Frozen Music” Great Massachusetts Buildings – 25 Resources for K-12 Education

/
Understanding enduring public and private architecture is a key way to learn about art, ideas, and how they harmonize with our democracy. Yet, Massachusetts buildings are often never discussed in K-12 education. We’re offering a variety of links about outstanding houses and architecture across the Bay State for parents, teachers, and schoolchildren to enjoy, visit, and better appreciate, including: