When Rebecca Friedrichs first started teaching in Orange County nearly 30 years ago, she was surprised to discover how little recourse her school had to remove poor quality teachers from their posts. For decades, she would do her best to contain her frustration with a system – backed by powerful public sector teacher's unions – that protects inept, long-time insiders (read: tenure) at the expense of students and outstanding young faculty. Finally, an opportunity arose for Friedrichs to become the lead plaintiff in a free speech case against the California Teachers Association, and take a stand against mandatory dues for non-members who oppose the union's practices. Her side appeared on the verge of a landmark Supreme Court victory when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly – leaving the court divided 4-4, which affirmed the lower court's ruling in favor of the union. Friedrichs and her attorney, Terry Pell (President of the Center for Individual Rights), will Bob to explain why they are still fighting on behalf of teachers and students to have Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association reheard once a ninth justice is confirmed. The saga of Scalia's Supreme Court vacancy continues on the show of ideas, not attitude.
If there’s a silver lining on the homogenous new “Common Core” educational standards, it is that over a dozen states have responded by providing or expanding educational choice opportunities to their citizens. Research has consistently shown that increasing choice and competition in education improves outcomes – at least for the students who have been lucky enough to participate in the handful of experiments with charter schools, vouchers, education savings accounts and the like. However, a new study on a Louisiana voucher program has unearthed a troubling finding for supporters of a freer market in education. Students zoned to failing public schools who applied for and received a voucher by lottery performed worse on math and English tests than those who lost the voucher lottery in the first two years of the voucher program. Jason Bedrick, a policy analyst with Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, has a theory on the outlier research paper. He joins Bob to solve the puzzle.
The Folly of Overregulating School Choice - Education Next by Jason Bedrick, 1/5/16
The Year of Educational Choice: Final Tally | Cato @ Liberty December 14, 2015
Ian Paris is an undergraduate at University of Missouri (aka "Mizzou"), but graduate students and faculty on campus are turning to him for leadership on the principles of a free academy – namely, freedom of speech. How did things get so upside down? Paris joins this special show, hosted by BZS producer Charlie Deist, to tell the story of how events on campus quickly escalated to front page national news.
Paris is President of the Mizzou Young Americans for Liberty chapter which has created multiple environments for dialogue, including a "Free Speech Wall" – well-timed to coincide with the increasingly un-progressive tone of student groups on campus, including one professor's call for "muscle" to deal with a student reporter.
Paris reminds fellow Free Speech advocates that you can't defeat hate with more hate – or diversity training – and he shares what's worked and what hasn't. Here's one tip: Broaden your vocabulary. Don't be afraid to use, and accurately define, words like diversity and justice. After all, it's Liberty *and Justice* for all.) Listen for the rest of Ian's points, and stay tuned for the closing audio of Professor Click's altercation with student reporters.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was unpopular with many Americans when states began passing it five years ago. The initiative details what K-12 students should know in English and math at the end of each grade level, and has since been adopted in 42 states. Now, the results are beginning to come in. While outcomes are trending positive in many states, the tests revealed that California has been performing poorly – worse than previously known under more relaxed standards. Robert Pondiscio is vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where he writes about education and education-reform issues. Pondiscio recently wrote an op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune, arguing that we shouldn’t shoot the messenger, i.e., blame the new standards. Having spent time both in the classroom and the policy arena, Pondiscio is positioned to see how it functions and how it falls short. He joins Bob this Sunday to discuss how California is failing to prepare many of its students for the future, and how increasing educational choice through charter schools can help.
Since the initial waves of political correctness and subsequent censorship swept across college campuses in the 1990s, many cases have been fought and won in favor of free speech. The overturning of unconstitutional speech codes, for example, seemed to herald a new era for individual rights in higher education. These victories resulted in no small measure from the tireless efforts of FIRE – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Yet the battle is hardly over. Bob's guest tomorrow will be Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE. As Greg explains in his new broadside, "Freedom From Speech," there are several new threats to free speech brewing. Colleges are beginning to include “trigger warnings” on standard humanities curricula. Controversial commencement speakers are being subject to "disinvitation campaigns," and a general culture of outrage is preventing a robust debate. This "chilling effect" can be observed both in academia and, increasingly, in society at large. Greg joins the show to discuss the latest challenges to free speech, and to look at the special role played by our universities in creating this stifling environment. They also examine the new "affirmative consent" laws, such as the one recently passed in California, and the dangers they pose to due process.
The Shadow University by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate
We all insist on choice when it comes to what kind of car we drive, where we buy our groceries, and who cuts our hair. Yet Americans have long abided by restrictions on how their children are educated, with one-size-fits-all public school districts limiting parents’ choices in one of the most fundamental areas. Jeff Reed, Communications Director for The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, believes it is time to break up the government’s monopoly on education. After decades of controversy over school choice, The Friedman Foundation claims it now has the empirical evidence to finally put the standard objections to rest. Bob and Jeff break down the new findings, including several real world examples of how increased choice is creating new opportunities, reducing costs, and even improving existing public schools.
Later, Bob looks at recent foreign policy debates over Russia’s interventions in Ukraine, which some perceive as a threat to liberty worldwide. Public opinion, however, suggests the United States has lost its appetite for foreign intervention. What should libertarians make of it all?
Bob also examines a controversial new Tennessee law that enacts criminal penalties for women who take drugs during pregnancy and have children with birth defects or addictions as a result.
Early this year, Cathy Young, author of two books and a columnist for The Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal (to name merely a few news outlets) caught Bob’s attention with “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” Her thoroughly researched article, which appeared in Reason Magazine, tells the story of how the government encourages kangaroo courts for sex crimes on campus. Young men are tried (if you can call it that) in quasi-judicial proceedings, with none of the safeguards Americans would expect. If found “guilty,” the damage to the accused is often greater than it would be in a criminal proceeding. This a feminism gone wild, or as Cathy identifies it, an uncontrolled and abusive “rape culture” crusade which damages both young women and young men. College should be an environment where the rules of civil society are taught and reinforced, not abused and ignored. Even worse, this loss of civil liberties takes place with the express encouragement of Washington, with none other than Joe Biden leading the charge. Who would have thought that sex could become an issue to be exploited for political gain? Will we become a nation of geldings (look it up)?
By popular demand, John Rothmann joins Bob once again to cross rhetorical swords on the issue of school vouchers which has become particularly timely in light of the House Republican bill to fund vouchers. The teachers unions are up in arms. This is a wedge issue that separates parents of minority kids from the Democrats. Interesting, and fun.
For the past several decades, a dominant educational issue has been the choice between public, private and charter schools. Parents have also had to evaluate and determine which school districts are the best. But that was the past. Today, they are offered all of those choices plus the option of home-school teaching assisted by computers. This does not mean teaching kids how to use a computer, but rather using a computer as the teacher. The choices are more vast than ever and they give parents the freedom to control how their kids are taught. Next step, bringing market discipline to a college education so students will be able to pay college tuition based on the market value of the knowledge purchased, not the artificially high prices created by the duel influences of government price supports. No one, and I mean no one, knows this better than Katherine Mangu-Ward, joins Bob in this episode. Katherine is a Yale graduate and a managing editor of Reason magazine (Bob’s favorite) who formerly worked as a reporter for the Weekly Standard and as a NY Times researcher. Bob also discusses the alphabet soup of totalitarianism – the IRS, NSA, and FISA courts. So much to cover, so little time. So very important. Don’t miss tomorrow’s show.
In the opinion of the Founders, no right is more worthy of protection than the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, providing freedom of conscience and the right to speak one’s mind. Yet those in power find themselves threatened by those who exercise this right and government becomes tempted to limit speech, which is our most essential right for maintaining a free society. The First Amendment is under attack on our college campuses, of all places. Speech codes pervade. Censorship is rampant. Politically incorrect views are banned. And these are the institutions which will produce tomorrow’s voters and tomorrow’s leaders! Greg Lukianoff, President of the Foundation of Individual Rights (“FIRE”), is a leading expert on the subject, and his book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” is a must read. In this encore episode, he joins Bob to discuss his findings. After listening to the show, you’ll think twice about making that contribution to your alma mater.
Evidence from the student loan crisis would lead us to believe that a root cause of our economic doldrums stems from a shortage of anthropologists, fine arts majors and women’s studies experts. That must be why our federal government subsidizes the loans taken out by students with these majors. The reality is that college graduates owe almost a trillion dollars in student loans and almost all of it is guaranteed by Washington. If the holder of an ethnic studies degree cannot find meaningful employment (how could they?) and defaults, you and I pick up the tab. In this episode, Bob welcomes Arvin Vohra to his show. Arvin is the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 5th CD, the seat now held by Stenny Hoyer: the Democratic House Minority Whip. Arvin is an educator and a published author including “Lies, Damn Lies and College Admissions.” Bob and Arvin discuss student loan bailouts, bank bailouts and retail politics. Meet one of the rising Libertarian stars.