USED Asst. Sec. Jim Blew Talks Sec. DeVos, School Choice, & K-12 Politics

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jim Blew, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education. Assistant Secretary Blew shares lessons from leading and implementing K-12 public education reform efforts in often contentious policy environments, and the unique challenges of the current partisanship and gridlock in Washington, D.C. He describes Secretary DeVos’s courageous work on behalf of public and private school choice, as both a public official and private philanthropist, and why it caused such a stir from the national teachers’ unions and defenders of the status quo in Congress. The discussion concludes with a focus on the D.C. voucher program, the most successful federally-funded K-12 private school choice program ever established, its future prospects, and the outlook for private school choice programs across the country.

Stories of the Week: The New Hampshire state legislature will move forward on the first phase of a $46 million federal grant-funded initiative to double the number of charter schools, after Democratic lawmakers voted against the grant last year. Lily Eskelsen García rose from school cafeteria worker to president of the National Education Association – will President-elect Biden choose her as the next U.S. Secretary of Education?

Guest:

Jim Blew serves as the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education until January 20, 2021. Prior to joining the Department, Jim advocated for education reform across the country. His roles included serving as director of the 50CAN affiliate Student Success California, national president of StudentsFirst, and national director of the Alliance for School Choice and its predecessor, the American Education Reform Council. Jim also helped guide the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 reform investments for nearly a decade. Before committing himself full-time to education reform, Jim worked at political and communications firms in New York and California. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College and a master’s in business administration from the Yale School of Management.

The next episode will air Wednesday, January 6th with Eva Moskowitz, the CEO & Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools.

Tweet of the Week:

 

Newslinks:

With new GOP leadership, New Hampshire poised to use federal funds to double state charter schools

https://www.concordmonitor.com/With-new-Republican-leadership-New-Hampshire-to-move-forward-on-federal-charter-school-grants-37626989

From School Cafeteria ‘Salad Girl’ to U.S. Secretary of Education? The Rise of Former NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

https://www.the74million.org/article/analysis-from-school-cafeteria-salad-girl-to-u-s-secretary-of-education-the-rise-of-former-nea-president-lily-eskelsen-garcia/

Get Updates on Our Education Research

Browse recent episodes:

Dr. Adrian Mims on The Calculus Project & STEM

Dr. Mims navigates through the contentious "math wars" and underscores the pivotal role of Algebra I as a gateway to higher math. He also evaluates the negative impact of Common Core math standards, and proposes strategies to combat pandemic-induced learning setbacks and bridge the gap in math proficiency between American students and their international counterparts.

Yale University Pulitzer Winner Beverly Gage on J. Edgar Hoover & the FBI

Yale Prof. Beverly Gage, author of "G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American," delves into the enigmatic life and career of J. Edgar Hoover, tracing his formative years in Washington, D.C., his rise to prominence as director of the FBI, and his enduring influence on American law enforcement and politics.

UK U-Warwick’s Benjamin Smith on Mexico’s Cartels & Drug Trade

Prof. Benjamin Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade, provides insights into various aspects of the Mexican drug trade, including its historical context and the evolution of illicit drug products over time. He discusses key cartels and their methods, the impact of the drug trade on Mexico's murder rates, the immense financial scale of the trade, its effect on Mexico and the U.S., and the challenges law enforcement face in combating it. Smith explores the relationship among Mexican cartels, other foreign countries, and the illicit drug market in the U.S.

DFER-MA’s Mary Tamer on MCAS & Teacher Strikes

Mary Tamer focuses on the historic impact of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act on the commonwealth’s students’ high achievement on national and international measures. She explores the politics of the Massachusetts Teachers Association advocating against the MCAS test as a graduation requirement. In closing, Ms. Tamer also discusses the rise of teacher strikes and their implications for education reform in the Bay State.

U-TN’s Robert Norrell on Booker T. Washington & Voc-Tech

Prof. Robert Norrell explores Booker T. Washington's early life in slavery, his transformative leadership at Tuskegee Institute amidst Jim Crow racism, and his advocacy for vocational education as a means for racial uplift. He also discusses Washington’s 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery; his controversial White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt; and his often overlooked legacy following the activism of the 1960s Civil Rights era.

BC’s Dr. Matthias von Davier on TIMSS & K-12 Global STEM

Dr. von Davier explores his educational background and its influence on directing TIMSS & PIRLS, shedding light on psychometrics and standardized testing. He discusses the shift in education policy's focus, the global education data landscape, and the pandemic's effects on K-12 education around the world. Dr. von Davier addresses the alarming decline in U.S. educational performance, emphasizing the urgency to bridge achievement gaps. Drawing from international experiences, he highlights global examples for American policymakers from higher-performing countries, emphasizing the crucial links between education, skills, and innovation on the global economy.

ExcelinEd’s Dr. Cara Candal on National School Choice Week

Dr. Candal delves into the evolving landscape of K-12 education in the U.S., examining the expansion of private school choice programs post- U.S. Supreme Court decisions, changing political dynamics around charter schools, strategies of the national school choice movement in low-performing states, the role of parent-driven models during the pandemic, the significance of voc-tech education, and addressing underperformance and achievement gaps.

NYT Bestseller Jonathan Eig on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jonathan Eig delves into MLK's early spiritual leadership, the influence of Langston Hughes on his speeches, his relationship with his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's challenges. He discusses historic events in Birmingham, Alabama, the March on Washington, MLK's struggles in Chicago, the Poor People's Campaign, and the events leading to his assassination in 1968. Eig underscores the multifaceted aspects of MLK's life and provides insights on drawing lessons for contemporary challenges in race relations and leadership.

Olympic Track Medalist Gabby Thomas

Gabby Thomas, Pioneer Valley native, Harvard alum in neurobiology, and Olympic sprinter, won bronze and silver in Tokyo, she also pursued a master's in epidemiology. She shares her journey excelling both in academics and athletics.

Two Time Pulitzer Winner T.J. Stiles on Cornelius Vanderbilt & American Business

T.J. Stiles delves into the life of America’s first tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, exploring his rise to historic wealth in steamboats, shipping, and railroads. He discusses Vanderbilt's legal battles, philanthropy, and enduring legacy, exploring his business competitiveness and wide impact on 19th-century America’s economy.

Smith College’s Carol Zaleski on The Lord of the Rings & Narnia

Prof. Carol Zaleski discusses the literary impact of the Inklings, focusing on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, exploring their lives, works, and enduring moral contributions in today's cultural landscape.

Emily Hanford on Reading Science & K-12 Literacy

Emily Hanford, host of the hit podcast Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, discusses the science of reading, the long whole language v. phonics debate, the impact of the digital age on learning, and the importance of academic background knowledge for children becoming better readers.

Francine Klagsbrun on Golda Meir’s Leadership and the State of Israel

This week on The Learning Curve, Francine Klagsbrun, author of "Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel," discusses the remarkable life and legacy of the woman who left Kiev as a child, grew up in Milwaukee, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine, was a signatory to the declaration of independence for the state of Israel, and rose to become that nation's fourth prime minister.

Hillsdale’s Dr. Kathleen O’Toole on K-12 Classical Education

Dr. O'Toole explores Hillsdale's mission and its impact on K-12 education, delving into classical education, Greco-Roman ideals, Enlightenment principles, and the college’s efforts to enhance education. She discusses the challenges faced in exporting Hillsdale's model to K-12 public schooling, critiques of American education, and the role of the liberal arts in fostering academic unity amidst societal divisions.

National Alliance’s Nina Rees on Charter Public Schools in America

Prof. Albert Cheng and Charlie Chieppo interview Nina Rees from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on policy gains, charter school growth, challenges, debates, federal spending, and academic recommendations.

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch on Jonathan Swift & Gulliver’s Travels

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch discusses Jonathan Swift's satirical genius, political critiques, and literary legacy. He emphasizes Swift's wit, insights, and commitment to liberty, and closes the interview with a reading from his book, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World.

Vanderbilt’s Dr. Carol Swain on U.S. History, Race, & 1776 Unites

Dr. Carol Swain, a political scientist, discusses her background, experiences with discrimination, faith's role in justice, and her work with 1776 Unites and public intellectuals on The Learning Curve podcast.

Leslie Klinger on Sherlock Holmes, Horror Stories, & Halloween

Mr. Klinger discusses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe's influence on the detective genre, and the significance of 19th-century horror stories such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in popular culture.