Cato’s Neal McCluskey on School Choice & Educational Federalism

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Special thanks to Bob Bowdon & Choice Media for helping us launch “The Learning Curve”! 

On this episode of “The Learning Curve,” Cara welcomes new co-host Gerard Robinson and guest Neal McCluskey, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. They discuss America’s growing interest in school choice, with 500,000 children now attending private schools through vouchers, tax credits, or Education Savings Accounts, and another three million enrolled in charter schools. They also review President Trump’s federal tax credit proposal, its questionable constitutionality, and its prospects in Congress. Neal describes his public schooling “Battle Map” project that catalogues social conflict in K-12 education, and demonstrates the merits of greater school choice as a mechanism for ensuring government remains neutral in disputes between religious liberty and civil rights. Plus, the avid grillmaster shares his BBQ tips!

Stories of the Week: A proposal to give the New York state education department more regulatory authority over private and religious schools has been put on hold. Is increased oversight of private school curricula necessary to ensure accountability, or an infringement on local autonomy? Military families addressed Congress this week to fix the Exceptional Family Member Program, which is supposed to cover services, including private school tuition costs in some cases, for children with special needs. The program has been meeting with resistance from public school districts claiming they can provide sufficient services, forcing families to fight costly legal battles. Is the program a well-deserved benefit for those serving our country, or an unnecessary financial drain on public school systems?

The next episode will air on February 21st, with guest, Margaret “Macke” Raymond, Founder and Director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

Newsmaker Interview Guest:

Neal McCluskey is the Director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. He is the author of the book Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education. His writings have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Forbes. In addition to his written work, Neal has appeared on PBS, CNN, the Fox News Channel, and numerous radio programs. McCluskey holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, where he double??majored in government and English, has a master’s degree in political science from Rutgers University and holds a Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University. Neal tweets at @NealMcCluskey.

Commentary of the Week:

Edutopia: New Studies Link the Arts to Crucial Cognitive Skills

Tweet of the Week:

Next episode’s guest – “Macke” Raymond of CREDO – February 21, 2020:

Margaret “Macke” Raymond is the Founder and Director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

Newslinks:

NY Post: NY education officials pause more private school control after backlash

https://nypost.com/2020/02/10/ny-education-officials-pause-more-private-school-control-after-backlash/

Stars & Stripes: Military Families Take Fight For Special Education To Capitol Hill

https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2020/02/11/military-families-special-education-capitol-hill/27798/

Edutopia: New Studies Link the Arts to Crucial Cognitive Skills

https://www.edutopia.org/video/new-studies-link-arts-crucial-cognitive-skills

Get Updates on Our School Choice Research

Listen to past episodes!

Pulitzer Winner Kai Bird on Robert Oppenheimer & the Atomic Bomb

Mr. Bird focuses on the life and legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “father of the atomic bomb.” He discusses Oppenheimer's impact on history, his early life and education, and his academic achievements in quantum physics. Bird covers Oppenheimer's political views, relationships, as well as his leadership in the Manhattan Project and his role in the Trinity test.

Georgetown’s Dr. Marguerite Roza on Federal ESSER Funds & the Fiscal Cliff

Dr. Roza explores the complexities of education finance and its impact on American K-12 education. She outlines the three phases of school funding over the past 40 years and their effect on equity and student achievement. She highlights that only about half of the K-12 education dollars reach student instruction, with significant funds absorbed by the ever-expanding education bureaucracy.

Harlow Giles Unger on Patrick Henry & American Liberty

 Mr. Unger delves into the life of Patrick Henry as the country celebrates the Fourth of July. He explores Henry's early life, his rise as a lawyer and political figure, and his fiery opposition to British policies. Mr. Unger highlights Henry's famous "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech and his influential role as governor of Virginia, underscoring his enduring legacy in helping forge American independence. In closing, he reads a passage from his book, Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation. 

Prof. Joel Richard Paul on Daniel Webster, U.S. Senate, & “Liberty and Union”

Prof. Joel Richard Paul discusses the statesman Daniel Webster, highlighting his reputation as the "conscience of New England" and one of America's greatest orators. Prof. Paul shares that Webster, despite a modest upbringing, became a leading attorney whose arguments in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases shaped constitutional law. 

Steven Wilson on Charter Public Schools

Mr. Wilson delves into his extensive background, including his tenure at Pioneer Institute, his work with Governor Bill Weld, and his contributions to the landmark 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act. Steven shares insights into the high academic expectations and success of Boston's charter schools, emphasizing the importance of recruiting and retaining quality teachers and principals.

Sheldon Novick on Henry James, American Women, & Gilded-Age Fiction

Mr. Novick discusses the complexities of Henry James’ life and writing career, highlighting his significant literary contributions, the influence of his family's intellectual legacy, and the realistic portrayal of social tensions in his works. Novick explores Henry James’ life experiences that shaped his novels like The Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl. 

USAF Academy’s Jeanne Heidler on Henry Clay & Congressional Statesmanship

Dr. Heidler discusses Henry Clay's legacy as a seminal figure in American history. She covers Clay's early life, his transformation from a Virginia farm boy to a leading statesman, and his being mentored in the law by Founding Father, George Wythe.

Kimberly Steadman of Edward Brooke on Boston’s Charter School Sector

Steadman reflects on her educational background and leadership in urban charter public schools. She discusses the importance of rigorous academic expectations for K-12 students, and how this outlook influences her educational philosophy co-directing the Brooke charter school network. Ms. Steadman shares the challenges faced by Massachusetts charters due to the post-2016 ballot loss, and how she and other charter public school leaders advance supportive policy reforms.

Cheryl Brown Henderson on the 70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, explores her family's pivotal role in the Brown case, detailing her father’s part within the NAACP's wider legal strategy.

POLITICO’s Peter Canellos on Justice John Marshall Harlan & Plessy v. Ferguson

Mr. Canellos delves into Harlan's upbringing in a prominent slaveholding family, his Civil War service in the Union Army, and his rapid rise in Kentucky politics as a Republican. He highlights John Harlan’s mixed-race half-brother Robert Harlan and key legal precedents like the notorious Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which influenced Harlan's views on race and equality. 

Colonel Peter Hayden on U.S. Cyber Command & National Security

General Counsel of U.S. Cyber Command, Colonel Pete Hayden, shares insights about growing up in western Massachusetts, attending law school, his military service, and emphasizes the legal aspects of his national security work. Col. Hayden discusses Cyber Command's mission, distinguishing it from the NSA, while stressing the importance of defending the nation in cyberspace.

Hoover at Stanford’s Stephen Kotkin on Stalin’s Tyranny, WWII, & the Cold War

Dr. Stephen Kotkin explores Stalin's origins, consolidation of power, and his Communist despotism. Kotkin delves into Stalin's cunning political maneuvers, his complex relationships with other Soviet leaders like Lenin and Trotsky, and the devastating consequences of his regime, including the forced collectivization and mass starvation of millions.

Johns Hopkins’ Ashley Berner on Educational Pluralism & Democracy

Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Education Policy director, Dr. Ashley Berner discusses educational pluralism's role in improving K-12 performance, exploring European models and the impact of U.S. school choice programs. Dr. Berner analyzes universal ESAs and vocational-technical schooling, addressing persistent academic struggles and civic knowledge gaps.

39th U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky for National Poetry Month

 Boston University professor, Robert Pinsky discusses his memoir Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet; the enduring influence of sacred texts like the Psalms; and the wide cultural significance of classic poets like Homer and Shakespeare.

U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hilary Crow on K-12 Civics Education

U.S. Chamber Foundation VP, Hilary Crow discusses the state of K-12 civics, emphasizing the Chamber Foundation’s role in addressing America’s wide civic education deficits. Crow highlights a recent national civics survey, alarming civic literacy gaps, and links between political unrest and our nation’s educational shortcomings in K-12 civics.

UCLA’s Ronald Mellor on Tacitus, Roman Emperors, & Despotism

Dr. Mellor delves into the enduring influence of Tacitus, the great Roman historian, on both America’s Founding Fathers and contemporary understanding of politics and government. He discusses Tacitus's insights on the early Roman emperors, unchecked authority, moral judgment of leadership, and the decline of the Roman Republic, as well as ancient lessons for modern governance.

Tufts Prof. Elizabeth Setren on METCO’s Proven Results

Prof. Setren discusses her recent study of METCO, a pioneering voluntary school desegregation program under which Massachusetts students in Boston and Springfield are bused to surrounding suburban districts. She discusses METCO's history, the academic performance of students in the program, enrollment challenges, long-term benefits, and disparities among students.

Pulitzer Winner Joan Hedrick on Harriet Beecher Stowe & Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Prof. Hedrick discusses Harriet Beecher Stowe's wide literary influence on U.S. history. From her abolitionist activism to the publication of international bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin, they explore Stowe's New England upbringing, anti-slavery convictions, and lasting impact on American literature and social reform in the 19th century.

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.