Despite COVID backlash, Thurmond sails toward second term as California schools chief
California’s race for state superintendent is in its final days. But according to some local observers, the outcome has been in hand for most of the year. Incumbent Superintendent Tony Thurmond might have avoided campaigning entirely, in fact, if he’d picked up just a few extra points of support in the June primary. Instead, he...
By Kevin Mahnken | November 3, 2022
Heading into midterms, GOP finds all school politics is local
The staging is classic for a campaign ad in late-September: a close-up of a disappointed-looking woman sitting at a kitchen table. The speaker is a mother of five in Wichita, and the target of her reproach is Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. A Democrat, Kelly was America’s first governor to order K-12 buildings closed in the spring of...
By Kevin Mahnken | October 25, 2022
Nation’s report card shows largest drops ever recorded in 4th and 8th grade math
National testing data released this morning reveals severe damage inflicted on student math and reading performance, reaffirming COVID-19’s ongoing educational toll. Even as some states have shown evidence of academic recovery this year, federal officials cautioned that learning lost to the pandemic will not be easily restored. Eighth-grade math scores on the National Assessment of...
By Kevin Mahnken | October 24, 2022
New poll: Majority of adults don’t trust educators to handle sensitive topics
New polling on the American education system shows widespread approval of local schools — along with ominous signs of dissatisfaction among both parents and the public at large. In a report published today by PDK International, a professional organization for teachers, over 1,000 adults expressed higher levels of faith in their community’s public schools than have ever...
By Kevin Mahnken | September 6, 2022
In the ‘Crosshairs’: Beleaguered School Superintendents Face COVID Wave of Firings
Facing Regional Shortages, U.S. Schools Now Employing 160,000 ‘Underqualified’ Teachers
L.A. vs. the Wonks: District’s 8th-Grade Reading Miracle on NAEP Draws Scrutiny
State of Play: Girls’ Athletics Rising — With or Without Trans Kids on the Team
16 Under 16: Meet The 74’s 2022 Class of STEM Achievers
Q&A: Education reporter Anya Kamenetz on COVID failures & students’ Stolen Year
At the moment in March 2020 when American schools were transitioning to remote instruction — around the time when people were making jokes about Corona beer and commentators still mused about spending two weeks to “flatten the curve” — Anya Kamenetz was making calls. Kamenetz had spent years covering the heaviest stories on the education...
By Kevin Mahnken | September 1, 2022
New research: Summer learning boosts math performance, college graduation
With August underway, America’s kids have begun nervously counting the days until vacation ends, while their parents are eyeing back-to-school sales and carpool schedules. But the education policy world is still soaking in the glories of summer — or, more precisely, summer school. New research released last month has offered persuasive new evidence of the...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 16, 2022
COVID learning loss comparable to that inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, study finds; math drops outpace reading
Learning loss during the pandemic may have exceeded the damage inflicted on New Orleans students by Hurricane Katrina, according to a recently released study of standardized test scores. Setbacks in math achievement exceeded those for reading, and achievement gaps between comparatively rich and poor schools expanded dramatically. As the United States approaches the end of...
By Kevin Mahnken | June 1, 2022
New research points to ‘Loudoun County effect’: When parents clash over ideology, kids’ school performance suffers
Since the 2020 election, schools have emerged as some of the most contentious venues for American cultural discourse, with debates over the teaching of race, human sexuality, and U.S. history erupting into yelling matches and viral confrontations. The political impact is increasingly seen in state and local elections, where school board members have faced a...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 16, 2022
An interview with writer Jonathan Chait on the Democratic war over education reform
Jonathan Chait has been writing about the fraught politics of education reform for over a decade. The veteran political columnist for New York Magazine is a vigorous advocate for the pillars of liberal education reform: high academic standards, school choice, and test-based accountability for schools and teachers who aren’t meeting expectations. It was an outlook that largely...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 11, 2022
New research tracks charters’ early moves during pandemic
Sign up here for LA School Report’s newsletter. A new study suggests that charter schools heavily prioritized student engagement and instruction in the early days of the pandemic, with many navigating a quick transition to online learning and beginning to embrace a hybrid model by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. This facile response,...
By Kevin Mahnken | February 17, 2022