Why did that “Critical Race Theory” panic bust out so fast and so weird? It’s part of a century-long pattern, as Gillian Frank and I argued at Slate. (June 2021).
As the world stumbled out of the covid pandemic, it wasn’t clear what schools would look like. But one thing was pretty obvious: desperate school administrators would be tempted to make the oldest mistake in schooling. I worked with Prof. Cain again to explore the sad long story of schools that tried to replace expensive teachers with cheaper technology, at Washington Post. (March 2021).
The covid pandemic is leading to an unprecedented crisis in education…right? Well, there IS a ton of precedent. I teamed up with the brilliant historian Victoria Cain to look at the history of over-hyped tech panaceas in times of crisis, at Kappan. (February 2021).
Dr. Miguel Cardona is just about as different from Queen Betsy as anyone can be. But in one thing, he is making the same kinds of statements. Can he get over the centuries-old curse of politics in ed policy? My view from the archives at Washington Post. (February 2021).
Worried about America’s phobia about science? Here’s the good news: in real life, America keeps getting better and better and teaching evolution. It might not seem like it, but I lay out the real history at Kappan. (January 2021).
No one mentioned rats or stinking ships, but Betsy DeVos leaped out of the Trumpster fire at the last minute. Her tenure leaves us with questions. Mainly, how could someone who was so bad at her job keep it for so long? In Salon, I give the historical perspective. Spoiler: hard-line conservatives have always used the politics of fear when it comes to public schools. DeVos was only the latest. (January, 2021).
What happens when leaders are publicly humiliated? In the aftermath of the 2020 election, we’re seeing some truly strange behavior in the White House. But there’s a precedent for this, sort of. Back in 1925, William Jennings Bryan was embarrassed in front of the whole world at the Scopes Trial. The aftermath back then might give us a clue about our precarious future. In the Washington Post. (December, 2020).
He was way more polite than his boss, but Vice President Pence still said some pretty out-there things in his debate with Senator Harris. In this commentary in the Washington Post, I teamed up with historian Marybeth Gasman to look at the ways both campaigns have used colleges to signal their culture-war loyalties. (October, 2020).
It’s one of the hardest things for people to understand about creationism. At Patheos, I make the case that America’s creationism culture wars aren’t really about evolution. They couldn’t be, for a couple of reasons. (October, 2020).
The Democratic candidates didn’t seem shy to call Mayor Bloomberg a flat-out racist. But they DID give him a pass on his charter-school waffle. Why? History gives us a better way to talk about charters. At Washington Post.
I don’t agree with radical creationists on much, but I didn’t think they would tell kids to cheat at school. I was wrong, but in a weird way, this bad creationist advice gives me some hope that we can finally solve our creation/evolution dilemma. At Righting America(September 2019).
Why are there creationists? People like me like to think it’s all about ignorance. But that assumption itself is an ignorant one, as I explore on UConn’s Humility & Conviction in Public Life blog. (February 2019).
The relationship between Liberty University and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities has always been awkward. The CCCU might not like to admit it, but Liberty these days is fulfilling the CCCU’s oldest, fondest dreams. I tell the story at History News Network. (June, 2018).
What is a conservative to do? Campus protests have stifled conservative speakers. Some lawmakers are fighting back, by passing “campus free speech” laws. Will they work? Not a chance, as I argue at History News Network. (September, 2017).
Have you heard the latest from Cedarville University? This year, they passed a new “purity” rule for their classrooms. At Righting America at the Creation Museum, I offer some historical perspective for this sort of purification campaign. (May, 2017).
President Trump asked Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos to fulfill the dreams of twentieth-century educational conservatives. Sort of. In a piece that Newsweek picked up, I make the case for a more complicated conservative yearning for “local control” of schools. (May, 2017).
Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos…some of the comings and goings in the new White House seem a lot like the comings and goings in the pages of I Love You but You’re Going to Hell. Even in these days of flabbergasting presidential proclamations, President Trump’s appointment of Jerry Falwell Jr. to head a new higher-education task force stands out. With an evangelical college president leading the way, it seems just possible that evangelicals might have finally come in from the higher-education cold. Does this mark a major shake-up in the history of American higher education? See my comments on History News Network. (February, 2017).
“Slacktivist” Fred Clark also offered some insights. He suggested that Fea and I were describing different parts of the same elephant. I love Clark’s notion of a “faculty lounge” evangelicalism. (December, 2016).
What are public schools supposed to teach kids about evolution? In an April 2016 commentary in Education Week, my co-author Harvey Siegel and I argue that evolution education needs to focus on helping students know and understand evolutionary theory. Creationist students have every right not to believe it.
Where do too many evolution educators go wrong? In this 2013 essay in the Reports of the National Center for Science Education, I argue that too many of us suffer from “The Missionary Supposition.”
My article about Professor Larycia Hawkins’s ouster from Wheaton College was picked up by outlets such as the Chicago Sun-Times, early 2016.