The Learning Curve Podcast

Wednesdays at 12 pm

“The Learning Curve” is where you’ll find straight talk about the nation’s hottest education stories – news and opinion from the schoolyard to the 2020 campaign trail. Co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal serve up provocative commentary and interview school leaders, innovators, bestselling authors, policymakers and more. Listeners can find “The Learning Curve” on iTunes (Apple Podcasts), StitcherSpotify, and the Choice Media mobile app. They can also find it online at Ricochet and Pioneer Institute.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, International Best-Selling Author & Human Rights Activist

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This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, founder of the AHA Foundation, and author of the books Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women's Rights, Infidel: My Life, and Nomad: From Islam to America - A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations. 

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About Our Co-Hosts

Cara Stillings Candal, Ed.D., serves as Director of Educational Opportunity, focusing on private school choice, for ExcelinEd. Cara has spent the last 10 years working in education policy as a Senior Fellow with both Pioneer Institute and the Center for Education Reform. She was also a founding team member of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) and a research assistant professor at Boston University in the Department of Educational Leadership and Development. Cara has authored/edited more than 25 papers and three books on education policy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Indiana University, a Masters of Arts in Social Science from the University of Chicago and a Doctorate of Education from Boston University. Cara is the author most recently of Pioneer Institute’s book,The Fight for the Best Charter Public Schools in the Nation.

Gerard Robinson is the Vice President for Education at the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation (ASCF) in Charlottesville, Virginia. ASCF uses basic and applied research to educate the public and key societal leadership groups about the nature and challenges of late-modern society and conducts inquiry into humane and democratic responses to these challenges. Previously, he was Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity, in Washington, D.C. Robinson is a fellow with AEI, and was Commissioner of Education in Florida and Secretary of Education in Virginia.

Browse all episodes below:

CREDO’s Macke Raymond on Charter Schools’ Quality & Growth

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CREDO's Margaret “Macke” Raymond joins "The Learning Curve" this week to discuss charter school performance; the types of charters that are succeeding consistently and replicating; and the formula for quality both in instruction and policymaking.

Cato’s Neal McCluskey on School Choice & Educational Federalism

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This week on "The Learning Curve" podcast, Cara Candal 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, and some of its many benefits.

Julie Young, Virtual Schooling Pioneer

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Julie Young, CEO of ASU Prep Digital High School, joins The Learning Curve podcast this week to talk about the digital learning revolution.

Susan Wise Bauer on Classical Education & Homeschooling

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Bob Bowdon & guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Susan Wise Bauer, writer, historian, homeschool parent, and author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, as well as numerous other books.

Dick Komer on Espinoza v. Montana & the Bigoted Legacy of Blaine Amendments

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On this episode of “The Learning Curve,” Bob & Cara are joined by Dick Komer, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice. Komer led the oral argument this week before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiffs in the high-profile school choice case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.

Derrell Bradford on the Future of Education Reform

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Bob Bowdon is joined by guest host Alisha Thomas Cromartie, personal growth coach, education leader, and former Georgia state legislator. They talk with Derrell Bradford, Executive Vice President of 50CAN, about the future of education reform.

Montse Alvarado on Protecting Religious Liberty in Schools & Society

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Montse Alvarado of the Becket Fund joins The Learning Curve podcast this week to discuss Becket's work to protect religious liberty in K-12 education, the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court school choice case, and more.

Lance Izumi on How Charters Are Meeting Diverse Learning Needs

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Happy New Year! This week on "The Learning Curve," Cara and Bob talk with Lance Izumi, Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, about his new book, Choosing Diversity.

Will Fitzhugh on the Enduring Relevance of History Research & Writing

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Will Fitzhugh, founder and editor of The Concord Review, an international journal that has published high school students’ history essays for 30 years, joins "The Learning Curve" this week.

Joy Pullmann on the Fallout from Common Core

Joy Pullmann, executive editor of The Federalist, talks with The Learning Curve about the mediocre NAEP and PISA results, after a decade of the Common Core national education standards and the failed experiment with federal involvement in standards, curricula, and tests. They also discuss social emotional learning, parental involvement, and the media’s coverage of K-12 education policy issues.

This Week on The Learning Curve: E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Background Knowledge & Educational Equity

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This week on "The Learning Curve," Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at UVA, and acclaimed author, discusses a critical ingredient of academic achievement, the shared background knowledge needed for language proficiency and cultural literacy.

Steven Wilson on Anti-Intellectualism in K-12 Education

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Co-host Bob Bowdon talks with Steven Wilson, Founder and former CEO of Ascend Learning, a charter school network in Brooklyn, New York. They discuss the emergence of anti-intellectualism in K-12 schooling.

Jason Bedrick on Religious Freedom & Private School Autonomy

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Bob and Cara talk with Jason Bedrick, EdChoice’s director of policy, about New York’s controversial “substantial equivalency” proposal that would give the state Department of Education oversight of school curricula at yeshivas and other private and parochial academies.

Dr. Lindsey Burke on LBJ’s True Education Legacy

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Dr. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation talks with The Learning Curve co-host Bob Bowdon about her new book, The Not-So-Great-Society, co-edited with Jonathan Butcher, and why the LBJ era is an inflection point for federal intervention in local school policy.

NH Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut on State-Driven K-12 Reform

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New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut joins "The Learning Curve" podcast this week, plus Bob & Cara break down the new NAEP results, and share education stories out of Denver and Detroit.

The Learning Curve: Andrew Campanella, President of National School Choice Week

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This week on The Learning Curve, Bob talks with Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week and author of the new book, "The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child."

Dr. Howard Fuller on School Choice & Presidential Politics

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Cara and Bob talk withthe the great Dr. Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Education, about his passionate activism on behalf of education reform, his concerns about the lack of support among Democratic presidential candidates for charter schools & more!

The Learning Curve: “Wilfred McClay on his new book, Land of Hope”

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Wilfred McClay, University of Oklahoma Professor, discusses his new high school textbook, "Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story," that seeks to provide an account of this nation's rich and complex story that puts it in proper perspective, and that is both honest and inspiring.

This Week on “The Learning Curve”: Natalie Wexler on her new book, The Knowledge Gap

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Bob & Cara talk with Natalie Wexler, author of "The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System–And How to Fix It," about the shift in K-12 education, even in the Common Core era, from an emphasis on academic content to empty skills and strategies.

The Learning Curve: National Education Podcast

“The Learning Curve” is where you’ll find straight talk about the nation’s hottest education stories - news and opinion from the schoolyard to the 2020 campaign trail.