Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, June 12, 2023





Are you ready to take a plunge into the wacky world of right-wing Christian nationalism and charter schools? Hold on tight, 'cause we're about to go on a wild ride!

First, let's define our terms. Right-wing Christian nationalism is a political and religious ideology that seeks to make the United States a Christian nation governed by biblical law and values. In other words, they want to turn America into a theocracy. Charter schools, on the other hand, are publicly funded but privately operated schools that are granted autonomy from some state and district regulations in exchange for accountability for student outcomes. They're part of the school choice movement, which advocates for giving parents more options for their children's education.

So what do these two things have in common? Well, some right-wing Christian nationalists see charter schools as a way to circumvent the separation of church and state and promote their religious beliefs in the public sphere. They also see charter schools as a way to challenge the progressive curriculum and pedagogy of public schools and instill patriotic and moral values in students. Some charter schools are explicitly or implicitly affiliated with right-wing Christian nationalist organizations, such as Hillsdale College, the American Federation for Children, or the Classical Learning Test.

Now, let's take a closer look at some examples of right-wing Christian nationalist charter schools. First up, we have Hillsdale College's Barney Charter School Initiative. Hillsdale College is a conservative Christian college in Michigan that has been influential in promoting right-wing Christian nationalist ideas and policies. Through its Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI), Hillsdale provides curriculum, training, and funding to charter schools that adopt its classical education model, which emphasizes Western civilization, American history, civic virtue, and moral character. Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. BCSI's history textbooks present America as a Christian nation founded on biblical principles, downplay the role of slavery and racism in American history, and glorify American exceptionalism and military prowess. In other words, it's propaganda disguised as education.

Next up, we have American Leadership Academy (ALA), a network of charter schools in Utah founded by Glenn Way, a former Republican lawmaker. ALA's mission is to provide students with "the best educational experience with an emphasis on leadership, patriotism, character development." Again, sounds harmless enough. But ALA's curriculum is based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, which is a back-to-basics approach that emphasizes factual knowledge over critical thinking and cultural diversity. ALA also incorporates religious themes and imagery into its programs, such as patriotic songs, Bible verses, church settings, and references to God. ALA has been criticized for violating the separation of church and state and promoting a Christian nationalist agenda. But hey, at least they're teaching kids how to be good little patriots, right?

Last but not least, we have Great Hearts Academies, a network of classical charter schools in Arizona and Texas that claims to offer "a liberal arts curriculum incorporating advanced math and science, a focus on the arts and foreign language, and a range of extra-curricular activities." Great! Except that Great Hearts has also been accused of fostering a conservative culture that discriminates against students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and low-income students. Great Hearts has also faced controversy for its curriculum choices, such as using books that contain racist stereotypes, teaching creationism as science, omitting sex education, and excluding diverse perspectives from history and literature. So much for that "liberal arts curriculum."

In conclusion, right-wing Christian nationalism and charter schools are a dangerous combination. They're both part of a larger effort to undermine public education and promote a conservative agenda. But hey, at least they're good for a laugh, right? Just kidding. This is actually really scary stuff. Let's all do our part to fight back against this nonsense and protect our public schools from these ideologues.

New breed of charter school pushes limits on separation of church, state My Washington Post subscription allows me to share access to great journalism. Check out this gift article, at no cost to you.Read here: 


Join the movement to support public education. We rely on your support to defend and strengthen public schools. - Network For Public Education 



In a historic development that has left the nation in a state of shock, former President Donald Trump has been indicted on thirty-seven counts in the special counsel's classified documents probe. The charges include obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements. But the real kicker? Trump is facing a charge under the Espionage Act. Yes, you read that right. The Espionage Act.

The news of Trump's indictment has sent shockwaves across the country, with many Americans taking to the streets to celebrate with a "You're Fired" party. Fireworks lit up the sky as people danced in the streets, singing "Ding dong, the witch is dead" and "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye."

But while the nation celebrates, there are some who are still in shock. "I can't believe it," said one Trump supporter. "I thought he was untouchable. I mean, he's the President. He can do whatever he wants, right?"

Wrong. As it turns out, even Presidents have to follow the law. Who knew?

Of course, the news of Trump's indictment has brought up comparisons to Hillary Clinton's email scandal. But let's be real here – there's no comparison. Trump's case is like comparing a speeding ticket to grand theft auto.

And while some Republicans have tried to deflect attention from Trump's case by bringing up Clinton's emails or Biden's son Hunter, it's clear that this is a whole different ballgame. The allegations against Trump, when paired with the available evidence of his state of mind, are dramatically different from the potential charges considered against Biden, Clinton or Pence.

But enough about politics. Let's talk about the real winners here – the comedians. Late night talk show hosts are having a field day with this news, with Stephen Colbert joking that Trump is "finally getting his day in court – and it's not even his wedding day."

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel quipped that "Trump is going to need more than a Sharpie to get out of this one." And Seth Meyers joked that "Trump is going to have to change his name to Inmate #45."

But perhaps the funniest response came from John Oliver, who said "This is like Christmas, Hanukkah and my birthday all rolled into one. I haven't been this happy since I found out I was getting my own HBO show."

As for Trump himself, he took to Truth Social to announce that he had been informed by the Justice Department he was indicted and that he was “summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM.” But let's be real here – we all know he's not going to show up. He'll probably be too busy playing golf or tweeting about how unfair this all is.

So there you have it – the news of Trump's indictment has left the nation in a state of shock and celebration. But one thing's for sure – this is only the beginning. As the investigation continues, who knows what other surprises are in store? All we can do is sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

In the words of John Oliver – "This is going to be f***ing amazing."

Lindsey Graham on Trump indictment: At least Trump isn't a spy - The Washington Post 

Video: John Bolton makes prediction on Trump's political career after indictment | CNN Politics 

Why The Latest Trump Indictment Looks So Bad For Him | FiveThirtyEight 

WTF: DON'T SAY HARVEY MILK? #PrideMonth 🌈 #Pride2023 🌈 #tbats #edchat #K12 #learning



In a shocking turn of events, the Temecula school district is currently being investigated by the California Department of Education. Why, you may ask? Well, it seems that the school board made the grave mistake of blocking a curriculum that mentioned the iconic gay rights leader, Harvey Milk.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Why would they do such a thing?" And honestly, I wish I had an answer for you. Maybe they were afraid that talking about Milk would turn all the students gay? Or perhaps they were just really big fans of censorship? Whatever the reason may be, it's safe to say that their decision has come back to bite them in the behind.

The investigation is still ongoing, but I have a feeling that it's not going to end well for the school board. I mean, when you actively try to suppress important historical figures like Harvey Milk, you're basically asking for trouble. It's like trying to hide a piece of broccoli in your mashed potatoes - eventually, someone is going to find it and call you out on your nonsense.

But let's not dwell on the negative. Instead, let's take a moment to appreciate just how ridiculous this whole situation is. I mean, we're living in 2021 and there are still people out there who think that talking about gay rights is somehow controversial. It's like they're stuck in a time warp where it's still okay to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.

And yet, despite all of their efforts to silence Harvey Milk and erase his legacy, he still remains an important figure in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. His message of love and acceptance continues to inspire people around the world, and no amount of censorship can change that.

So, to the Temecula school board, I have this to say: good luck with your investigation. You may have thought that blocking a curriculum about Harvey Milk was a smart move, but it turns out that it was just plain silly. Maybe next time, you'll think twice before trying to suppress important historical figures. Or, you know, you could just embrace diversity and inclusivity like the rest of us. It's up to you.

Temecula school district being investigated by California Department of Education – Press Enterprise 




Charter schools and religious institutions: A match made in heaven? More like a match made in the land of oxymorons. How can we possibly have religious charter schools? Isn't that like having a vegetarian steakhouse? Or a dry water park? It just doesn't make sense.

But here we are, in a world where one person's mythology is another person's religion, and somehow, we're supposed to navigate this tricky terrain. And let's not forget the American value of separation of church and state. So how do we reconcile all of these conflicting ideas?

Well, let's start by taking a deep dive into the world of charter schools. For those who may not be familiar, charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate independently of the traditional public school system. They have more flexibility in terms of curriculum, hiring practices, and budgeting, but they are still held accountable for student performance.

Now, let's add religion into the mix. There are some schools that are specifically designed to incorporate religious teachings into their curriculum. These schools are often affiliated with a particular religion and may require students to adhere to certain religious practices or beliefs.

So, what happens when you combine charter schools and religious institutions? You get religious charter schools, of course! And if you're scratching your head wondering how this is even possible, you're not alone.

The idea of a religious charter school seems like a contradiction in terms. After all, isn't the whole point of a charter school to provide an alternative to traditional public schools? And doesn't the inclusion of religion go against the separation of church and state?

But here's the thing: charter schools are not immune to controversy. There have been numerous debates about their effectiveness, their accountability, and their impact on the traditional public school system. And now, we have the added complication of religious influence.

So, why would anyone want to attend a religious charter school? Well, for starters, some families may feel that their religious beliefs are not being adequately addressed in traditional public schools. They may want their children to receive a more faith-based education that aligns with their values.

But here's the catch: if you're attending a religious charter school, you're essentially signing up for a specific set of beliefs and practices. This can be problematic if those beliefs conflict with your own or if you don't feel comfortable adhering to them.

And let's not forget about the separation of church and state. This is an important American value that ensures that our government does not favor one religion over another. By allowing religious charter schools to exist, are we violating this principle?

It's a tricky question with no easy answers. But one thing is for sure: if we're going to have religious charter schools, we need to make sure that they are held to the same standards as other charter schools. They should be accountable for student performance, they should not discriminate against students based on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and they should not receive special treatment from the government.

At the end of the day, it's up to each individual family to decide whether a religious charter school is right for them. But let's not forget that education is about more than just academics. It's also about fostering critical thinking skills, promoting diversity and inclusion, and preparing students for the real world.

So, if you're considering a religious charter school, ask yourself: is this really what's best for my child? And if you're still not sure, just remember: there's always the vegetarian steakhouse down the street.

Carol Burris: The New Christian Nationalist Charter Schools via @dianeravitch 

CURMUDGUCATION: The Two Faces of Hillsdale

Could religious charter schools upend American education? - Chalkbeat 





Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning: DOE's Practical and Policy-Based Recommendations

Are you tired of teaching the same old lessons year after year? Do you wish there was a way to make learning more engaging for your students? Look no further than Artificial Intelligence (AI)!

Yes, you heard that right. AI is the future of teaching and learning, according to the Department of Education (DOE). And they're not just talking about using robots to replace teachers (although that would be pretty cool). The DOE has offered both practical and policy-based recommendations for educators to incorporate AI into their classrooms.

But before you start worrying about being replaced by a machine, let's take a deep dive into what AI in education really means.

First off, AI can help personalize learning for each individual student. No more teaching to the middle of the class or struggling to keep up with advanced learners. With AI, students can receive customized lessons and feedback based on their unique learning styles and abilities.

But wait, there's more! AI can also help with grading and assessment. No more spending hours grading papers or trying to decipher messy handwriting. AI can provide instant feedback on assignments and even analyze student performance to identify areas where they need extra help.

And let's not forget about the fun factor. AI can make learning more interactive and engaging through gamification. Imagine your students competing in a virtual game to learn math or science concepts. It's like Fortnite meets the classroom!

But with all these benefits, there are also some concerns. One of the biggest is the potential for bias in AI algorithms. If the data used to train AI is biased, it could perpetuate existing inequalities in education. So, it's important for educators to be aware of this and ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly.

So, what are the practical and policy-based recommendations from the DOE? Here are some highlights:

1. Educators should be trained on how to use AI effectively in the classroom.

2. Schools should ensure that AI is used in an ethical and responsible manner.

3. Policymakers should provide funding for research on AI in education.

4. Schools should prioritize data privacy and security when using AI.

Overall, the DOE's recommendations offer a roadmap for educators to incorporate AI into their classrooms in a way that benefits both students and teachers. And who knows, maybe one day we'll all have our own personal teaching robots. Just don't forget to give them a good grade on their programming!

AI in the Classroom – New Guidance From the Department of Education | Baker Donelson - JDSupra 

DOE Recommendations 

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning 

Insights and Recommendations 

In light of the opportunities and various considerations, the Department outlined several recommendations for schools and policymakers:

  • Emphasize Humans-in-the-Loop. Educational institutions should not view AI as replacing teachers; but, instead, as a supplement and tool available to educators.
  • Align AI Models to a Shared Vision for Education. The Department is encouraging all stakeholders to review educational technologies based on outcomes and the extent to which the AI-based tools fit in context with a broader vision of teaching and learning.
  • Design AI Using Modern Learning Principles. The Department also believes that AI-based education tools must be based on well-founded pedagogical practices and learning principles.
  • Prioritize Strengthening Trust. The Department is encouraging open dialogue between educators and industry participants to improve transparency and understanding around AI-based educational tools.
  • Inform and Involve Educators. Training of staff will be a critical component of adopting and implementing any AI-based tool.
  • Focus R&D on Addressing Context and Enhancing Trust and Safety. The Department has outlined specific goals for researchers in enhancing trust in AI-based systems and determining whether AI-based tools can provide relevant answers and support in context.
  • Develop Education-specific Guidelines and Guardrails. The Department believes that additional regulatory efforts will be needed to address the use of AI in education and that existing laws and regulations related to student data privacy (such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Children's Internet Privacy Act (CIPA), the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and state student privacy laws) will warrant review to consider emerging technologies in schools. Additionally, other laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), will be interpreted as new situations arise from the use of AI in the classroom.