The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2020

Race and the pandemic dominate the discussion


Our annual look back at the year’s most popular Education Next articles is itself a popular article with readers. It’s useful as an indicator of what issues are at the top of the education policy conversation.

This year, as our list indicates, race and the Covid-19 pandemic dominated the discussion.

The top two articles of the year—“‘The 1619 Project’ Enters American Classrooms,” by Naomi Schaefer Riley, and the “The Better of the Two Big Antiracism Bestsellers,” by John McWhorter—both tackled the intersection of race and education issues.

Seven of the others dealt with aspects of the novel coronavirus—“How Will the Coronavirus Crisis Affect Children’s Learning? Unequally,” “A Blueprint for Back to School,” “Reopening Resilient Schools,” “The Rapid Rise of Pandemic Pods,” “How the Coronavirus Crisis May Improve Teacher Quality,” “The Stress of this Moment Might Be Hurting Kids’ Development,” and “A Survival Guide for Distance Teaching.”

Charter schools may be out of favor with the incoming presidential administration, but our readers maintain a lively interest in the topic. “Charter Schools Show Steeper Upward Trend in Student Achievement than District Schools” and “Charter Schools and their Enemies” both made the list.

Because the list operates on a calendar-year basis, articles posted late in the year are less likely to make the cut. One that nearly did, despite a November publication date, was Chester E. Finn, Jr.’s profile of outgoing U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who will be leaving office when Congress adjourns. “No one living today has had more far-reaching influence on American K-12 education,” Finn wrote in “Leadership Makes a Difference: Lamar Alexander and K-12 Education.”

We could not have predicted either the pandemic or the post-George Floyd racial reckoning at this time last year. Who knows what 2021 will bring? We hope for our readers the year ahead is one of good health and of continued learning.

The full Top 20 Education Next articles of 2020 list follows:


1. “The 1619 Project” Enters American Classrooms
Adding new sizzle to education about slavery—but at a significant cost.
By Naomi Schaefer Riley





2. The Better of the Two Big Antiracism Bestsellers
Kendi’s How To Be An Antiracist lacks subtlety, but it beats White Fragility.
By John McWhorter





3. How Will the Coronavirus Crisis Affect Children’s Learning? Unequally.
It’s not a vacation. There’s still half a semester of curriculum to learn.
By Paul T. von Hippel





4. A Blueprint for Back to School
What will it take to get schools ready?
By John Bailey and Frederick Hess





5. Charter Schools Show Steeper Upward Trend in Student Achievement than District Schools
First nationwide study of trends shows large gains for African Americans at charters
By M. Danish Shakeel and Paul E. Peterson





6. The Rise of Dual Credit
More and more students take college classes while still in high school. That is boosting degree attainment but also raising doubts about
By Kelly Field





7. Reopening Resilient Schools
With a hybrid learning model and proper safeguards, schools can successfully open
By John Bailey





8. Teachers Need to Be Taught To Teach Students to Behave
Many educators lack basic training in classroom management.
By Tom Bennett





9. The Rapid Rise of Pandemic Pods
Will the parent response to Covid-19 lead to lasting change?
By Michael B. Horn





10. Miami-Dade County Public Schools Bucks the “Staffing Surge” Trend
Lowered expenses, but not at the expense of student achievement
By Michael Q. McShane





11. The Stubborn Myth of “Learning Styles”
State teacher-license prep materials peddle a debunked theory
By William Furey





12. Nudging and Shoving Students Toward Success
What the research shows about the promise and limitations of behavioral science in education
By Philip Oreopoulos





13. The Grade-Level Expectations Trap
How lockstep math lessons leave students behind
By Joel Rose





14. Charter Schools and Their Enemies
At 90, Thomas Sowell reminds charter schools how to fight. And why.
By Robert Pondiscio





15. Linking Social-Emotional Learning to Long-Term Success
Student survey responses show effects in high school and beyond
By C. Kirabo Jackson, Shanette C. Porter, John Q. Easton, Alyssa Blanchard, and Sebastián Kiguel





16. The Costs of Cutting School Spending
Lessons from the Great Recession
By C. Kirabo Jackson, Cora Wigger, Heyu Xiong





17. How the Coronavirus Crisis May Improve Teacher Quality
Recession hiring boosts teacher quality and student learning
By Martin R. West, Markus Nagler, Marc Piopiunik





18. Better School Counselors, Better Outcomes
Quality varies, and can matter as much as with teachers
By Christine Mulhern





19. The Stress of This Moment Might Be Hurting Kids’ Development
But relationships, routines, and resilience can help
By Pamela Cantor, M.D.





20. A Survival Guide for Distance Teaching
Lessons in “fighting the tide of passivity”
By Kathleen Porter-Magee



Congratulations to all of our authors!

— Education Next

P.S. You can find the Top 20 Education Next articles of 2019 here, 2018 here, 2017 here, 2016 here, 2015 here, 2014 here and 2013 here.

P.P.S. You can find the Top 10 Education Next blog posts of 2020 here.

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