Search results for: "a nation at risk"

John Thompson, retired teacher and historian in Oklahoma, shares his thoughts about the Network for Public Education Conference in Indianapolis. He begins by trying to wrap his brain around my provocative claim that “We are winning.” After I received his post, I explained to him that everything the Reformers have tried has failed. Every promise they have made has been broken. They have run American education for a decade or a generation, depending on when you start counting, and they have nothing to show for it. I contend there is no “reform movement.” There is instead a significant number of incredibly rich men and women playing with the lives of others. The Billionaire Boys Club, plus Alice Walton, Laurene Powell Jobs, and a few other women. This is no social movement. A genuine movement has grassroots. The Reformers have none; they have only paid staff. If the money dried up, the “reform movement” would disappear. It has no troops. None. Genuine movements are built by dedicated, passionate volunteers. That’s what we have.

Thompson writes:


The Network for Public Education’s fifth annual conference was awesome. It will take me awhile to wrestle with the information about the “David versus Goliath” battle which is leading to the defeat of corporate school reform. But I will start by thinking through the lessons learned from retired PBS education reporter John Merrow and Jim Harvey, who was a senior staff member of the National Commission on Excellence in Education and the principle author of “A Nation at Risk.” Harvey is now executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable.

Merrow explained that charters are producing “a scandal a day.” Using the type of turn of a phrase for which he is well known, Merrow said that charters have had “too much attention but not enough scrutiny.” He says that some mom and pop charters are excellent, but online charters should be outlawed. Then he punched holes in the charter-advocates’ claim that rigorous accountability systems could minimize the downsides of charters.

Merrow says that one reason why it isn’t really possible to scrutinize the costs of charters is that there is no longer a real difference between for-profit and nonprofit charters. Choice has created a system of “buyer beware.”

Harvey added that journalists have been accused of cherry-picking charter scandal reports but “there are so many cherries.” Then he recounted inside stories on the writing of the infamous “A Nation at Risk” and how the report was “hijacked,” as he provided insights into how corporate school reform spun out of control.

As Harvey and Merrow discussed, before the report it was difficult to get the press to focus on the classroom. Conflicts over busing to desegregate schools would get the public’s attention, but Harvey didn’t think that “A Nation at Risk” would attract much of an audience. He thought that the key sentence in the opening paragraph hit a balance. The sentence began with the statement that the American people “can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people,” and the paragraph concluded with, “What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur–others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments. “

Had it not been for manipulations of the report by those who were driven by a political agenda, the words in the middle could have been read as intended. Harvey wrote, “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

Harvey didn’t write the extreme statement that followed. In fact, he had edited out the sentence, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

Clearly the report became part of an attack on public education. In contrast to the social science which preceded it, and the research that experts like Harvey embraced, the campaign kicked off by “A Nation at Risk” blamed schools, not overall changes in society that resulted in some lowered test scores. NAEP scores were also misrepresented by categories,like “proficiency,” which facilitated falsehoods such as the idea that tests showed that 60 percent of students were below grade level.

President Ronald Reagan announced the report along with the false statement that “A Nation at Risk” included a call for prayer in the schools, school vouchers, and the abolition of the Department of Education. Then, as Reagan ran for reelection in 1984, it was clear that the report was being used demonize not just teachers but government itself.

And that leads to the emergence of venture philanthropy in the 1990s. As Merrow recalled, during and before the 1980s, donors such as Ford and Annenberg foundations tinkered around the edges in seeking answers to complex conundrums. They offered money without micromanaging school improvement. Since then, technocratic school reform was driven, in large part, by the Billionaires Boys’ Club. It “weaponized” testing in an assault on public schools.

Harvey attributed that unfortunate transition, in significant part, to the realization that education is a $750 billion industry with profits to be made. It attracted 25-year-olds who knew nothing about education, and soon they were running policy.

Had corporate reformers taken the time to scrutinize the evidence, they would have had to confront the research which existed before and after “A Nation at Risk,” and that its author respected. As Harvey and David Berliner have written, an evidenced-informed investigation would have considered “the 80 percent of their waking hours that students spend outside the school walls.” Had they looked at evidence, edu-philanthropists should have understood the need to “provide adequate health care for children and a living wage for working parents, along with affordable day-care.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/04/26/the-landmark-a-nation-at-risk-called-for-education-reform-35-years-ago-heres-how-it-was-bungled/?utm_term=.a3382caf8d2c

Whether we are talking about the obsession with test and punish micromanaging or the faith in charters, corporate reformers failed to consider the complexities of the school systems they sought to transform. But, they did their homework in terms of public relations. In addition to demonizing teachers, public schools, and other public sectors, corporate reformers stole the language of dedicated educators and civil rights. They’ve presented their teacher-bashing and privatization campaigns as a “civil rights” movement.

Educators must reclaim our language, and craft messages for a new, constructive, holistic campaign to improve schools. One step toward new conversations requires us to learn from the past. John Merrow and Jim Harvey are remarkable sources of institutional history and the wisdom required for the type of discussions that are necessary.

 

In his regular column at Education Week, Marc Tucker cites Anya Kamenetz’s incisive reporting on “A Nation at Risk” and agrees that the report was fake news. The commission agreed in advance that American education was in decline and cherrypicked facts to prove its conclusion. His column is behind a paywall.

Tucker says that achievement was not in decline at the time the report was written. The American people, he says, were lied to. He cites a contemporaneous report by Daniel Koretz, now at Harvard, then at the Congressional Budget Office, which

“showed that there had indeed been a decline, mainly in high school performance, that had begun in the 1960s.  But he reported that this decline ended with the cohort of students that entered school in the late 1960s.  As that cohort wended its way through the grades, they continued to do better than their predecessors, and those that followed also did better.  Further, Koretz reported, the poor and minority students whose test performance was analyzed showed no dip in performance in the period in which the performance of virtually all other students of all ages was falling.

“Put this picture together and you will see that the American people were lied to.  Their children had not been falling off an educational cliff right up to the day the report was released.  Instead, the performance of American students had been doing better and better beginning with the cohort of students who had entered school in the late 1960s, FIFTEEN OR SO YEARS before the panel sounded its famous false alarm.”

Tucker notes that at least one observer thought that “A Nation at Risk” was beneficial, but he does not agree.

”At the end of her story, Kamenetz quotes Jim Guthrie, now a professor at Lynn University, who has held many prominent positions in the American education establishment.  She asked him what he thought about the lack of evidence presented by the authors of the 1983 report. “My view of it, in retrospect,” he says, “is seldom, maybe never, has a public report been so wrong and done so much good.”

“Let us leave aside the question as to whether the end justifies the means to consider, for a moment, whether Guthrie is right.  Is it true that A Nation at Risk has done the United States a world of good?  What’s the evidence for that?

“Once again, there is none.  For as long as there was a long-term version of NAEP (that is the version in which the items in the assessment did not change over time, permitting valid comparisons over the long haul), the scores of high school students changed only very slightly from the 1970s, when the survey was first administered.  The 1970s, you recall, was the decade before A Nation at Risk was released, so this data shows no change in high school performance since the report’s release.   From the time that PISA, the international comparison of student achievement administered by the OECD, was first given in the year 2000, to the present, the scores of U.S. students have been steady to slightly falling, while students in a growing number of other countries have been doing better.  PISA also surveys high school students.  So there is good reason to believe that there has been no improvement in the academic performance of high school students since the release of the report.  Guthrie might have been referring to the maelstrom of “reforms” instituted in the United States since A Nation at Risk was released in 1983, but reform is not improvement, and there has been precious little improvement.”

He writes that the negative tone of the report

“delegitimized the teachers and school administrators in our public schools and ushered in policies based on a profound distrust of the very professionals on whom the improvement of the system would depend.  The subtext of the “reforms” so much admired by Guthrie and his colleagues is the charge that it is the regular public school teachers, their unions and the school administrators who are responsible for the alleged failure of the country’s schools and reform should be about circumventing or at least weakening their control of the system…

“The attitudes toward teachers and teaching, and the actions that flowed from those attitudes, have led to a steep decline in the number of high school students deciding to be teachers, the long slow relative decline in teacher compensation, the early retirement of many capable teachers, the steady decline in the average tenure of school principals and superintendents and the rise in employment of unqualified teachers. William Bennet, President Reagan’s Education Secretary, famously declared school administrators to be “the blob.”  While the United States was busy attacking its education professionals, the countries whose students are now outpacing ours were working hard to raise the status of the profession of teaching by improving compensation, raising standards for entering the profession, creating incentives for the most competent professionals to share their expertise with others and instituting myriad other measures, all of which can be characterized as investing in the profession.  Not one of these countries chose to improve their education system by implicitly attacking the competence and commitment of their education professionals.  A Nation at Risk set the tone and provided the rationale for all of this.”

He adds:

”Kamenetz closed her report with another observation I have made in this space.  She wonders whether, rather than painting a picture in which the report produced important gains in American education despite the failures of American educators, it might be more accurate to paint a picture in which we see American educators succeeding despite the attacks on them stimulated by the report.  In this view of the world, one that I think has a lot of merit, we need to see the steady scores of American high school students since the 1970s as a victory.  Why?  Because they held steady in spite of a substantial increase in the proportion of students living in poverty, recent increases in school segregation by socio-economic status and race, a decrease in the equity of school funding within states and an increase in the spread between teacher compensation and the compensation of others with the same amount of education.“

Tucker closes by saying that our education system needs vast improvement to keep up with a changing world, not by looking to the past, but by looking to a different future to meet new challenges, a future in which all must be well educated.

 

 

 

In this report by NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz, we learn that the famous 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” we learn that the Reagan-era Commission “cooked the books.” Kamenetz interviewed two of the original commission members and learned that the commission knew its conclusion in advance, then cherry-picked facts to prove its claim that the schools were ”mired in mediocrity.”

She writes:

“In the context of declining resources and rising child poverty, maintaining steady or slightly improving test scores over decades could be described with other words besides “flat” and “disappointing” — perhaps “surprising” or “heroic.”

“But the narrative established by “A Nation At Risk” still seems to be the one that dominates how we think of the data.

“[Professor James] Guthrie, for one, thinks that’s been, on balance, a good thing, because it brought education to the front and center of the U.S. agenda.

“My view of it in retrospect,” he says, “is seldom, maybe never, has a public report been so wrong and done so much good.”

My view: The militaristic tone of the report created a false sense of panic, based on distorted facts. The report promoted a wrong-headed narrative that encouraged politicians to engage in grandstanding and in frankly destructive forays into education policy. It shifted control of education policy from educators to uninformed politicians. It created a political demand for standards and testing, while pointedly ignoring the growing proportion of children living in poverty. Since poverty is the root cause of low test scores, this was a strategy guaranteed to fail.

Nothing good came of this foray into policy making by propaganda.

 

 

“A Nation at Risk” was published in 1983. It launched the false narrative that American public schools were failing. The nation was in recession, and the authors of the report blamed the schools. When the economy improved, no one said, “Oops, we were wrong about the schools.”

In this article, James Harvey and David Berliner reflect on what the report said, and what needs to change to create real reform.

Although there is powerful evidence of significant improvement in American schools since 1971, as Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s first secretary of education, recently noted, “A Nation at Risk” itself ignored that evidence in favor of launching what turned into a “shock and awe” campaign that promoted a consistent narrative of school failure.

Part of the shock and awe campaign used the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  With the encouragement of Secretary Bennett and his allies, this excellent assessment was diverted from its original purpose of measuring what students at various grade levels actually know to a new goal: judging what students at various grade levels should know.

Adding to the confusion, NAEP’s governing body, the National Assessment Governing Board, adopted three vague terms to define performance benchmarks: Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. Almost nobody understands what these terms mean. Analysts, journalists, and state officials use the term “proficient” as the barometer of success despite the fact that the government has consistently maintained that what most people would consider to be proficient performance would not meet NAEP’s definition of proficiency.

So we are told every few years that only about a third of our students are “proficient” in reading or mathematics under NAEP’s benchmarks as though that were information of great value. Yet it is clear from recent research published by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League (“How High the Bar?”) that the vast majority of students in most nations cannot clear the NAEP bar of “proficiency.”

Indeed, government officials acknowledge that to understand how many students in the United States are performing at grade level, the appropriate benchmark to examine is “basic,” not “proficient.“

What to Do?

Nobody should think for a minute that there aren’t very real problems with learning in America.  There’s a lot to be done.  But we’re not going to solve our school problems by exaggerating them or by misleading the public about school quality.

It is simply not true that American schools are failing 60 percent or more of their students, as NAEP’s proficient benchmark suggests. NAEP’s data indicate that nearly 70 percent of fourth graders are performing on grade level in reading, with 80 percent performing on grade level in mathematics. For 8th graders, the rates are 76 and 70 percent, respectively. While it would be gratifying to see higher numbers, these results are a much better guide to action than the deceptive picture of failure painted by the misleading term “proficient.”

“How High the Bar?” recommends that NAEP adopt benchmarks used by international education assessments, such as low, intermediate, high, and advanced. These terms provide a much more neutral and accurate take on student achievement.

It’s time also that we put an end to educational policy-making grounded in testing and tax cuts. As the recent wave of statewide protests across the nation indicates, educators are tired of standing by, their dignity under assault while their incomes stagnate and books and buildings fall apart.

Of course we should build more flexibility into the system, along with more variety and greater responsiveness to student and parent preferences.

Finally, we should go back to some of the advice the excellence commission received during its hearings but tossed aside in developing its report.  Oddly, President George H.W. Bush adopted some of these ideas in his “America 2000” program. Make sure all infants have a decent start in life so that they’re “ready” when school begins.  Worry about the 80 percent of their waking hours that students spend outside the school walls.  Provide adequate health care for children and a living wage for working parents, along with affordable day-care.

We can’t afford these things? Nonsense!  The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. It can certainly provide its citizens with the basics that other nations provide to theirs.

Mercedes Schneider’s reviews Betsy DeVos’s speech to her friend Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Betsy and Jeb have this in common: They both hate public schools and have devoted their life to demeaning, belittling, and attacking the schools that 85-90% of American children attend. They are in love with consumer choice, and they would like nothing better than to direct public funds to religious schools, for-profit schools, cyber schools, and homeschooling.

As Mercedes notes, Betsy (or more likely, a speechwriter) discovered “A Nation at Risk,” The 1983 jeremiad that blamed public schools for the loss of industries to Germany and Japan. The report was written in the midst of the 1982 recession, and the commissioners decided that the schools were to blame for the downturn. When the economy recovered, no one bothered to thank the schools.

Betsy devoutly believes that choice will fix everything, but “A Nation at Risk” didn’t mention choice.

And she continues to ignore the evidence of the past 25 years of choice. Her home state of Michigan is overrun with charter schools, and its standing on NAEP fell from the middle of the 50 States to the bottom 10 from 2003 to 2013. The news out of the New Orleans all-Charter District throws cold water on the Charter Movement, as New Orleans continues to be a low-performing District in a low-performing State. The evidence on vouchers continues to accumulate, and it is not promising. In the most recent voucher studies, students actually lose ground. After three or four years, those who have not left to return to public schools catch up with their peers who stayed in public schools, but that’s probably because the weakest students left.

Now that Betsy is talking numbers, maybe she will pay attention to the research on charters and vouchers and admit that her favorite panacea is not working.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Three Decades of Lies

We have endured 30 years of lies, half-truths, and myths. Bruce Biddle and I debunked many of these untruths in our book, The Manufactured Crisis, in 1995. But more falsehoods continue to surface all the time. The most recent nonsense was “U. S. Education Reform and National Security,” a report presented to us last year by Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice. A Nation at Risk had us losing the political and economic races to the Soviet Union and Japan. Did we? No. Our economy took off, the Soviet political system collapsed, and Japan’s economy has retreated for two decades. So much for the predictions of A Nation at Risk.
NAR_Berliner (2).jpg
David C. Berliner

The newest version of this genre by Klein/Rice has us losing the military and economic races to China and others. But this odd couple seems to forget that militarily we spend more than Turkey, China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India, Italy, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, and Canada combined. If we are in any danger now, or in the foreseeable future, we must have the most incompetent military in the world.

As for economic subjugation? Not likely. The Chinese are still stealing our patents. They still manufacture things for us. More important, they still have around 300 million of their population in remarkably deep poverty and millions more in near-poverty. They need to bring a population about the same size as the United States out of poverty. They must provide enough food, drinkable water, clean energy, breathable air, and employment for an urban population that is expected to reach nearly 1 billion people in coming decades.

Will China be competing with us, or will they be so deeply involved in trying to satisfy these pressing internal needs that we are of only secondary concern to them? None of us is smart enough to know, but Klein/Rice, like the authors of A Nation at Risk, like to create devils. Be afraid! Be very afraid! Then, as part of the exorcism, these writers promote destroying the evil public schools, which then brings to us a new age of national success though vouchers, charters, tax credits, and online schooling. What a crock.

These critics never blame our economic woes on, say, Jack Welch, America’s most admired CEO. Welch is quoted as saying he wishes he could put every factory GE had on a barge and tow it to wherever in the world labor was cheapest. Could such leadership affect our economic problems? None of these school critics ever blame GE for the neglected neighborhoods and family poverty that hampers success in many of our schools. Yet it has been reported that GE, led by patriots like Welch, earned profits of more than $14.2 billion in 2010, and paid no federal taxes that year. In addition, GE received $3.2 billion in tax benefits that year. Is it possible that the health of our economy and military are related to factors like these? Nah, blame the schools. In A Nation at Risk and the Klein/Rice report, it is not Welch and his ilk that endanger the United States, it is our teachers and their unions; it is lazy parents and incompetent administrators.

Condoleezza Rice must be quite trustworthy as an educational critic since I once read a column of hers titled “Why We Know Iraq is Lying.” Joel Klein is a trustworthy critic since he gained experience failing to help the New York City schools improve, and was linked in the press to educational fraud. He now works at a for profit educational company.

And Bill Bennett, who promoted A Nation at Risk and was first author on “A Nation Still at Risk,” is also not to be taken seriously. He made a lot of money from speeches that promoted morality and attacked the public schools. But at the same time he was losing millions of dollars gambling, and went into the “for profit” ed business. So Bennett and Klein gain much by badmouthing public schools and promoting privatization plans.

Frankly, it looks to me like our nation is more at risk from critics like these than it is from the hard-working teachers and administrators trying to help poor kids and their families get ahead in a nation that is increasingly stacking the deck against the poor. It really is not an achievement gap between the United States and other nations that is our problem. We actually do quite well for a large and a diverse nation. It’s really the opportunity gap, not the achievement gap that could destroy us. If only the wealthy have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for a post-industrial economy we are, indeed, a nation at risk.

David C. Berliner is Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University. His interests are in the study of teaching and general educational policy. He is the author, with Bruce J. Biddle, of The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools.

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This article originally appeared on Education Week’s OpEducation blog.

Republican-controlled state legislatures are writing scores of new laws to restrict voting. Some are passing laws that would permit the legislature to reverse the will of the voters.

Our democracy is at risk. The right to vote is fundamental. Voting should be encouraged, not restricted.

One hundred scholars signed a “Statement of Concern” about the current drive to make it harder to vote. Please read it.

Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards
STATEMENT
June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Signatures are still being added. This list was last updated on 6/1/21 at 9:00 a.m. ET.

John Aldrich
Professor of Political Science
Duke University

Deborah Avant
Professor of International Studies
University of Denver

Larry M. Bartels
Professor of Political Science
Vanderbilt University

Frank R. Baumgartner
Professor of Political Science
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Sheri Berman
Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Benjamin Bishin
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Riverside

Robert Blair
Assistant Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs
Brown University

Henry E. Brady
Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

Rogers Brubaker
Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles

John M. Carey
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Michael Coppedge
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Katherine Cramer
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Larry Diamond
Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute
Stanford University

Lee Drutman
Senior Fellow
New America

Rachel Epstein
Professor of International Studies
University of Denver

Henry Farrell
Professor of International Affairs
Johns Hopkins University

Christina Fattore
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Morris P. Fiorina
Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University

Joel L. Fleishman
Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies
Duke University

Luis Fraga
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

William W. Franko
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Francis Fukuyama
Senior Fellow
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Stanford University

Daniel J. Galvin
Associate Professor of Political Science
Northwestern University

Laura Gamboa
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Utah

Martin Gilens
Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Social Welfare
University of California, Los Angeles

Kristin Goss
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke University

Jessica Gottlieb
Associate Professor of Government & Public Service
Texas A&M University

Virginia Gray
Professor of Political Science Emeritus
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Jacob M. Grumbach
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Washington

Anna Grzymala-Busse
Professor of International Studies
Stanford University

Jacob Hacker
Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Hahrie Han
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Thomas J. Hayes
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Connecticut

Gretchen Helmke
Professor of Political Science
University of Rochester

Amanda Hollis-Brusky
Associate Professor of Politics
Pomona College

Daniel Hopkins
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Matthew B. Incantalupo
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Yeshiva University

Matt Jacobsmeier
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Hakeem Jefferson
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Bruce W. Jentleson
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke University

Theodore R. Johnson
Senior Fellow & Director, Fellows Program
Brennan Center for Justice

Richard Joseph
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Northwestern University

Alex Keena
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Virginia Commonwealth University

Nathan J. Kelly
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Eric Kramon
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
George Washington University

Katherine Krimmel
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Didi Kuo
Senior Research Scholar, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Stanford University

Matt Lacombe
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Timothy LaPira
Professor of Political Science
James Madison University

Michael Latner
Senior Fellow
Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy

Yphtach Lelkes
Assistant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

Margaret Levi
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Steve Levitsky
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Robert Lieberman
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Scott Mainwaring
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Jane Mansbridge
Professor Emerita of Political Leadership and Democratic Values
Harvard University

Lilliana H. Mason
Associate Research Professor, Department of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Corrine M. McConnaughy
Research Scholar and Lecturer, Department of Politics
Princeton University

Jennifer McCoy
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Suzanne Mettler
Professor of American Institutions, Department of Government
Cornell University

Robert Mickey
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Michael Minta
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Terry Moe
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Jana Morgan
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Mason Moseley
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Russell Muirhead
Professor of Democracy
Dartmouth College

Pippa Norris
Professor of Political Science
Harvard University

Anne Norton
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Brendan Nyhan
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Angela X. Ocampo
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Norm Ornstein
Emeritus Scholar
American Enterprise Institute

Benjamin I. Page
Professor of Decision Making
Northwestern University

Tom Pepinsky
Professor, Department of Government
Cornell University

Anibal Perez-Linan
Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs
University of Notre Dame

Dirk Philipsen
Associate Research Professor of Economic History
Duke University

Paul Pierson
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Ethan Porter
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
George Washington University

Robert D. Putnam
Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University

Kenneth Roberts
Professor of Government
Cornell University

Amanda Lea Robinson
Associate Professor of Political Science
Ohio State University

Deondra Rose
Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and History
Duke University

Nancy L. Rosenblum
Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government Emerita
Harvard University

Larry J. Sabato
University Professor of Politics
University of Virginia

Sara Sadhwani
Assistant Professor of Politics
Pomona College

David Schanzer
Professor of the Practice of Public Policy
Duke University

Kim L. Scheppele
Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
Princeton University

Daniel Schlozman
Associate Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Kay L. Schlozman
Professor of Political Science
Boston College

Cathy Lisa Schneider
Professor, School of International Service
American University

Shauna Lani Shames
Associate Professor in Political Science
Rutgers University, Camden

Gisela Sin
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Illinois

Dan Slater
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Anne-Marie Slaughter
Professor Emerita of Politics and International Relations
Princeton University

Charles Anthony Smith
Professor of Political Science and Law
University of California, Irvine

Rogers M. Smith
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Susan Stokes
Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago

Alexander George Theodoridis
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chloe Thurston
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Northwestern University

Antonio Ugues Jr.
Associate Professor of Political Science
St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Omar Wasow
Assistant Professor, Department of Politics
Princeton University

Christopher Witko
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Pennsylvania State University

Christina Wolbrecht
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Daniel Ziblatt
Professor of Government
Harvard University

*Institutions and titles are listed for identification purposes only.

The Sun-Sentinel in South Florida wrote a scathing editorial about the Senate Republicans who failed to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection that endangered the lives of members of Congress as they fulfilled their Constitutional duty to certify the winner of the election.

It begins:

The Republican Party was on trial along with Donald Trump. Both now stand convicted, if not by the Senate, then definitely in the eyes of the nation and the world: The ex-president for planning, inciting and inflaming a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to keep himself in power, and the party for excusing that monumental crime against the American people.

The seven Republicans who voted him guilty were 10 too few to convict him, but they deserve the nation’s love and thanks for their devotion to the Constitution. So do the House impeachment managers, who made a virtually flawless case leading to the most bipartisan impeachment vote ever, 57 to 43.

The 43 senators whose votes acquitted him chose the wrong side in the eternal conflict between conscience and cowardice. They prostituted our democracy to a demagogue and despot. They made a dead letter of impeachment and set history’s stage for others like him.

Those contemptible senators, including Florida’s Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, have cost their party any claim to the respect and trust of the American people.

The damage is beyond repair. It has betrayed the nation. The moment calls for the remaining responsible Republicans, however few or many, to break away. The case for a new party is as urgent as when the GOP was founded in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery.

The nation cannot do without the political balance provided by a center-right party proudly bound to constitutional principles, such as the peaceful transfer of power. Until now, no president of either party had defied the expressed will of the voters.

But the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower has become the party of Trump, who holds it in such thrall that only 10 of its House members and seven of its 50 senators dared to hold him responsible for the worst crime it was possible for an American president to commit.

That so many others could accept his having put their own lives at risk on Jan. 6 can be understood only in the context of their political ambitions. Their careers matter more to them than anything else, least of all their oaths of office.

The party of Trump is extremist and infested with cadres of domestic terrorists like the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois and the Oathkeeepers.

An example of its moral bankruptcy was the vote of the Wyoming party to censure Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, for her courageous vote to impeach Trump.

Abraham Lincoln would not recognize what Trump has made of the party, but Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez very well might.

The House impeachment managers proved beyond reasonable doubt every element of a cynical and criminal conspiracy on Trump’s part.

The editorial continues, and it is worth reading in full.

Mull over this line: “only 10 of its House members and seven of its 50 senators dared to hold him responsible for the worst crime it was possible for an American president to commit.

As Cong. Jamie Raskin asked on the Senate floor, “If these acts do not deserve impeachment, what does?”

It is hard to imagine anything worse for a president to do, unless he lined up his opposition and shot them. Would the 43 Republican Senators have held Trump accountable if he did that? One wonders.

The standardized tests to which our students have been subjected for two decades have not improved American education. They have degraded it into endless months of test preparation, for tests of dubious reliability and validity. Schools have reduced or eliminated the arts, recess, civics, and other subjects because they “don’t count.” Only the tests count.

Standardized tests do not reduce achievement gaps. Standardized tests do not increase equity. Standardized tests label children as winners or losers, and the same students are labeled “losers” or “failures” year after year by these flawed instruments. Standardized tests are highly correlated with family income. Standardized tests had their origins in racist and eugenicist theories. They should be thoroughly discredited, but our policymakers refuse to see the harm they do.

Federal law requires that every student in grades 3-8 take standardized tests in the spring. The teachers are not allowed to discuss the questions. The scores are returned 4-6 months later, when the students have different teachers. The teachers are not allowed to know which questions students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None.

FairTest              
National Center for Fair & Open Testing

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer    (239) 395-6773
            mobile    (239) 699-0468

WHAT:    National Town Hall on Suspending High-Stakes Testing in Spring 2021 

WHO:     U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman, New York — House Education Committee 
                Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, Dean, University of Kentucky College of Education 
                Dr. Lorrie Sheppard, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Colorado 
                Dr. Jack Schneider, Asst. Professor, Leadership in Education, University of Massachusetts 
                Dr. Lisa Escarcega, Colorado State Board of Education 
                Roberto Jiménez, School Committee Member, Chelsea, Massachusetts 
                The event will be MC’d by Bob Schaeffer, Executive Director, FairTest, 
                            and Ilana Spiegel, University of Colorado Board of Regents. 

WHEN:   Tuesday, January 26, 2021 — 6:00pm EST 

WHERE:  online via Zoom webinar 

HOW:      Register at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FCKpfQKmSqmXKMo-KKH3Og  — recording available via Facebook after the event

WHY:       Public school parents, educators, and community leaders believe that no test score is worth risking the lives of students and school personnel. Forcing children to return to classrooms to take government-mandated standardized exams would be dangerous and irresponsible. No one needs a test to know that many low-income children in under-resourced schools have fallen further behind. Results from tests administered this spring could not be valid or reliable; the conditions in which students tried to learn have not been “standardized.”


                Parents and educators overwhelming support canceling spring 2021 exams.  According to the “Understanding America Study” by the University of Southern California, nearly two thirds of parents agree with suspending this year’s testing mandates. Fully 72 percent of Black parents favor cancellation. So do the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.


                The time and resources spent administering tests this year would be better invested in educating students while supporting their emotional needs.  Federal testing requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act and state high-stakes exam mandates must be suspended for at least another year.

Anya Kamenetz, education reporter for NPR, writes here about research findings that suggest the risk of reopening schools during the pandemic have been exaggerated.

Of course, there is good reason to be concerned because the U.S. Congress has not passed the funding needed by schools for safe reopening. Congress has bailed out major corporations, but allotted only $13.2 billion for the nation’s nearly 100,000 schools and more than 50 million students. Public schools were not allowed to request money from the $660 Billion Paycheck Protection Program, but charter schools, private schools, and religious schools were eligible to request PPP funding, and some received millions of dollars.

Kamenetz begins:

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2,000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it’s time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

“As a pediatrician, I am really seeing the negative impacts of these school closures on children,” Dr. Danielle Dooley, a medical director at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told NPR. She ticked off mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, missing routine medical care and the risk of child abuse — on top of the loss of education. “Going to school is really vital for children. They get their meals in school, their physical activity, their health care, their education, of course.”

While agreeing that emerging data is encouraging, other experts said the United States as a whole has made little progress toward practices that would allow schools to make reopening safer — from rapid and regular testing, to contact tracing to identify the source of outbreaks, to reporting school-associated cases publicly, regularly and consistently.

“We are driving with the headlights off, and we’ve got kids in the car,” said Melinda Buntin, chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, who has argued for reopening schools with precautions.