Episode 76

What School Is For, Nation’s Report Card, Free Range Parenting

On today’s special “Back To School” episode, Ravi and Rikki tackle some big questions around education, starting with a new series from The New York Times asking a simple yet expansive question: What Is School For? The hosts debate some of the answers they got back. Then they’ll turn to the “Nation’s Report Card,” a bleak look at the extent and severity of COVID learning losses. FIRE is out with its annual college free speech rankings – so we’ll see whose alma mater came out on top there. And finally, they’ll check back in on a mom in Arizona who’s become a cause celebre for free range parenting advocates. 


Ravi and Rikki offer their insights on a new series from The New York Times asking a simple yet expansive question: What Is School For? They then discuss the issues they see with the state of education before offering solutions and how they would answer the same question.

The hosts react to the bleak new data from the NAEP – the nation’s report card – on the extent of elementary schoolers’ learning losses over the pandemic, before turning to the recent proposal from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to address it.

Ravi and Rikki discuss FIRE’s annual college free speech rankings, how they reached their data, and what it tells us about higher education.

Finally, the hosts get into the resurgence of free-range parenting as they update us on a mom accused of child neglect in Arizona. Ravi and Rikki talk at length about the rise of helicopter parents and whether a correction may be underway. 

What Is School For? [02:02]

The Trouble With Harvard (The New Republic, 09/04/2014)
School Is for Wasting Time and Money (The New York Times Guest Essay, 09/01)
School Is For Merit (The New York Times Guest Essay, 09/01)
School Is for Making Citizens (The New York Times Guest Essay, 09/01)
‘A Breach of Trust’: Three Parents on Why They Became School Activists (The New York Times Opinion Podcast, 09/01)
Schools should try to teach kids the basics (Slow Boring, 09/06)
Asra Nomani Rips Critical Race Theory, Calls It The ‘New Racism’ In America (YouTube, 03/05)

Nation’s Report Card [19:00]

American students’ test scores plunge to levels unseen for decades (The Washington Post, 09/01)
‘Nation’s Report Card’: Two Decades of Growth Wiped Out by Two Years of Pandemic (The 74, 09/01)
NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment Results: Reading and Mathematics (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2022)
Facing Pandemic Learning Crisis, Districts Spend Relief Funds at a Snail’s Pace (The 74, 09/07)
Youngkin addresses learning loss in Virginia with ‘Bridging the Gap’ pilot program (YouTube, 09/02)
The Lost Debate Ep. 71 | Neumann Comeback, Productivity Scores, Liz Cheney, Student Progress (Lost Debate, 38:05, 08/18)
A Half Century of Student Progress Nationwide (Education Next, 08/09)
The Regressives Ep. 1 l The Worst School Board in America? (Lost Debate, 12/2021)

FIRE Free Speech Rankings [28:19]

The 2022-2023 College Free Speech Rankings (FIRE, 09/07)
Columbia University is worst college in nation for free speech: report (New York Post, 09/07)
The Indoctrination Myth (The New York Times, 03/03/2012)
Are Students Liberal? Yes – But Not Everywhere (Real Clear Education, 11/25/2020)

Free Range Kids (AZ Case) [36:04]

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone (The Sun, 04/01/2008)
The Free-Range Kids & Parents Bill of Rights (Free-Range Kids, 02/10/2015)
Catching up with ‘Coddling’ part eight: Some big wins for free play and childhood independence (FIRE, 02/02/2021)
NBC Today Show New York Adventure (YouTube, 10/20/2019)
The Lost Debate | Ep 13 | Julian Assange, Stop WOKE Act, Religion Declining, Libertarian Liz (Lost Debate, 17:14, 12/16/2021)
Mom Who Let Her 7-Year-Old Play at the Park Will Not Be Added to Arizona’s Unfit Parent Registry (FIRE, 08/30)
A Mom Let Her 7-Year-Old Play in the Park. Arizona Arrested Her and Banned Her From Working With Kids. (FIRE, 08/17)
When Adults Step Back, Kids Step Up (Let Grow)