This week Andy is talking while Jed is walking…hiking the Camino Trail with his wife, Amy. Andy is talking with Morgan Polikoff, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Southern California (USC)’s Rossier School of Education.
Their conversation focuses on public opinion on education, particularly parent opinion, and the similarities and differences of post-pandemic K-12 experiences for students, parents, and families. A theme running through the discussion is how to build and use an accurate data model to overcome the overt political efforts to drive a wedge between parents and the public education system, shed light on the issues, and to create a healthy culture of free expression to work through complicated issues (e.g., transgender, sports, gay rights, and controversial topics and diversity in the curriculum).
This week some of the topics include:
- Introductions and Morgan’s K-12 school experience and impetus for becoming an education professor (00.00.33)
- Broadly speaking the similarities and differences of post-pandemic K-12 experiences for students, parents, and families (00.06.21)
- Politics, social desirability bias, and the divergence in public opinion between parents with students in the K-12 system and general citizens who don’t have children (00.10.30)
- The trend to split votes and issues on partisan identities rather than different educational opinions (00.13.55)
- The likelihood of education being a salient national issue in the presidential election (00.18.35)
- Public opinion and transgender issues in school and in general (00.21.02)
- The ability of movements to pick valence issues to support their positions (00.23.06)
- The gray area schools have operated in on adolescent issues is shrinking due to a toxic trend of picking positions and forcing people to conform to them while public opinion surveys show most people don’t support those positions (00.26.07)
- Using data to get outside your political bubble, be objective, and get to the truth on educational issues (00.31.05)
- For example, Democrats underestimated the popularity of DeSantis’ early childhood policies and then were unprepared when he extended all those policies to high school (00.36.05)
- Protecting against motivated reasoning and political identity to accurately research public opinion regarding educational issues by keeping two opposing opinions in mind (00.37.03)
- The disconnect between what shows up in the academic data, national and state formative tests, and how most parents think their kids are doing fine academically after returning to school post-pandemic (00.39.50)
References and notes:
You can use the following links to access:
- The UAS Education Project data, documentation, and publications focused on “Understanding Coronavirus in America” by USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CSER)’s Center for Applied Research in Education (CARE)’s Understanding America Study (UAS) Education Project
- Morgan Polikoff’s book, Beyond Standards: The Fragmentation of Governance and the Promise of Curriculum Reform
- A Controversial Topics Report from USC Dornsife CSER and USC Rossier School of Education
- Bellwether’s Common Ground: How Public K-12 Schools Are Navigating Pandemic Disruptions and Political Trends
- Politico’s “Virginia Went to War Over History. And Students Actually Came Out on Top.”
Previous volumes of WonkyFolk can be accessed here.
WonkyFolk is a discussion series between Andy Rotherham and Jed Wallace intended to provide an informative and engaging forum where education reformers can grapple with tough issues related to our shared quest to improve public education in our country.
If you have ideas for WonkyFolk discussion topics, please email me!