School choice activists are excited about all the new homeschooling parents during COVID

And what Kim Gardner's Circuit Attorney primary means


Before COVID, an estimated 4 percent of families with school-aged children homeschooled their kids. Now with the pandemic, after having dealt with the stress of remote learning throughout the spring, and fears about sending kids into buildings with other children and teachers in the fall, an unprecedented number of parents are considering or planning to homeschool. School choice advocates are trying to capitalize on this shift — they see their best opportunity frankly ever to push for federal funding for homeschoolers in the next stimulus package. (Right now homeschool families receive no federal $$.) You can read my story on the politics and implications of all this in Bloomberg Businessweek.

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Beginning in 2016, a new wave of prosecutors campaigning on platforms of criminal justice reform started to run and win elections. Elected prosecutors— who have job titles like District Attorney, Circuit Attorney, and State Attorney—wield immense discretionary power, and the vast majority tend to be very “tough-on-crime.” Some so-called progressive prosecutors who have taken office over the last four years include Kim Foxx in Chicago, Rachael Rollins in Suffolk, County Massachusetts, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, and Kim Gardner in St. Louis. Most recently José Garza won his race in Travis County, Texas by a huge landslide.

So far, Kim Foxx is the only one of these prosecutors to win re-election, but Kim Gardner is facing her next primary on August 4. (The same day Missouri will also vote on Medicaid expansion.) Gardner, St. Louis’s first black Circuit Attorney, is facing off against Mary Pat Carl, someone she ran against in 2016, who then had the endorsement of the outgoing prosecutor as well as the police union. But the political landscape has shifted a lot in St. Louis and across the country in four years, and Mary Pat Carl’s language has changed a lot between then and now. She’s now going after Gardner for things like not ending cash bail, and is saying it’s she who is the progressive prosector. I spoke with activists in St. Louis about what they think Gardner’s last four years, and what they make of Carl’s new bid for office. You can read that story in The Appeal.

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