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Newswire – September 18, 2018

NERO FIDDLING.  All the national pundits and people who suck the air out of the room are focused on the she-said/he-said Supreme Court nominee drama in Washington. Meanwhile, the educational ‘Rome’ is burning. Consider the facts and the truth about the pitiful state of so many of our institutions – who are largely responsible for our civil discourse (or lack thereof) today. Here are just 3 examples from just a tiny fraction of today’s local news stories, that don’t seem to be instilling any action in our officials:


MILLENNIALS GET IT.  They are most skeptical of their primary and secondary education, and Higher Ed isn’t worth it, either, they say. In fact, millennials are much more skeptical than not when it comes to nearly every traditional institution, according to a new survey by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG).


THEY ARE NOT WRONG.  And it turns out the same refrain about cost and value has been happening since the 70s – the 1870s that is! “Before the automobile, before the Statue of Liberty, before the vast majority of contemporary colleges existed, the rising cost of higher education was shocking the American conscience: ‘Gentlemen have to pay for their sons in one year more than they spent themselves in the whole four years of their course,’ The New York Times lamented in 1875.”

CAL CHARTER MADNESS.  Then there is this nonsense, where lawmakers are actually going after companies that provide services to schools, not because they are bad but because they have a for-profit rather than a non-profit tax status. As California charter law author Eric Premack points out, the language in the law is so value is it is liable not only to have unintended consequences but will confuse and deter good people from doing great things for kids.

BARRIERS TO ENTRY ARE GROWING.  From California to Washington, DC, advocates and regulators just don’t seem to get that bureaucracy is the problem in education, not the solution. Some great advice to the DC Public Charter School Board, once one of the most innovative in the nation, comes from blogger and parent choice advocate Mark Lerner in his blog. As he says, we only live once.


WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?  There may be a psychology behind why Americans just can’t get more outraged at the state of their educational institutions, lagging achievement, mediocre schools etc. (while they can spend 24/7 debating Blasey v. Kavanaugh)  In a piece called WHY FACTS DON’T CHANGE OUR MINDS, James Clear of Habits Academy suggests that we care more about belonging than truth and facts. The economist J.K. Galbraith once wrote, ‘Faced with a choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.’

Leo Tolstoy was even bolder: ‘The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.’”

Perhaps we might consider suspending belief about what ails American education – and start doing something about it.

LISTEN to Reality Check this week and every week to know what it is you should do. This week’s guest, Jonathan Hage, founder and CEO of Charter School USA and CER Chairman is an innovator, entrepreneur and founder of more than 80 schools serving kids well across 8 states.


Mr. Hage is also an honoree at CER’s Silver Anniversary Summit in October. Join us on the Road to Innovation, for ONE America.