• Among the many costs associated with our approach to COVID-19 has been massive “learning loss” for students. Nicole Asbury at The Washington Post highlights what has happened in the Washington, DC area:

    In the District, researchers found that students in third through eighth grade fell behind during the first year of the pandemic by about five to six months in language arts and mathematics, compared with test results from 2018-2019, before the pandemic began. Montgomery County — Maryland’s largest school district, with about 160,000 students — similarly found learning gaps in a study it released in the fall. Eighty-two percent of its second-graders, for example, were meeting literacy readiness measures during the 2018-2019 school year. But at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, about 47.5 percent were meeting those measures. The numbers also declined for math. In Virginia, 2020-2021 results show that 69 percent of students passed their reading exams, 54 percent passed math and 59 percent passed science. Those passing rates were a drop from the 2018-2019 school year, when 78 percent of students passed reading, 82 percent passed math and 81 percent passed science. (The test was not given for the 2019-2020 school year.)

    The scores were lower among the school districts’ most vulnerable students.

    Youth Leadership Foundation (YLF) was founded in 1997 to build character among the youth of Washington, DC, and has stepped in alongside others to serve children who have been hurt by the learning gaps and disengagement caused by our recent public policy decisions:

    The Youth Leadership Foundation’s summer program teaches core curriculums — such as math, English, science and social studies — and extracurriculars — such as sports and character development — over five weeks. Most of the students’ families learn about the program through word of mouth, because the foundation has partnerships with schools for after-school programs, too. The program also offers one-on-one mentoring.

    “The mentorship is the bread and butter of YLF,” said Janaiha Bennett, the foundation’s executive director. “We realize the importance of the individual — that everyone’s story is different, everyone’s needs are different.”

    For Kingston Kershaw, a rising fourth-grader at Tyler Elementary in the District, he said he’s excited to be back in the classroom in person, because he has always loved learning. He felt trapped while virtually attending school, because he was never able to go anywhere. Plus, as much as he loves his brother, the two would sometimes get tired of each other, he said after his one-on-one mentoring session at one of the campuses for the Youth Leadership Foundation’s summer program.

    The impact of YLF over so many years has been huge. A snapshot of YLF’s impact:

    YLF students outperform their District area peers in educational trajectory and across measures of future leadership. Of the 4,000 YLF alums, 97% have graduated high school (compared to 60% of area peers), and roughly 80% have continued their education beyond high school at university, community college or trade school (compared to 48%).

    A mission worth supporting.

  • Summer glow in the District

    I’m getting back late after another day of our All Team meetings at the office. All of us getting off at Brookland-CUA Metro tonight were treated to radiant sunset skies:

    There’s that saying that sometimes things “hang in the air”. Tonight, some of the richest colors were hanging in the air.

  • Back in Washington, briefly

    I am back in Washington, DC this week for our annual gathering with the Americans United for Life team. We’ll have a few intensive days of All Team meetings and hopefully head out later this week with renewed energy and focus.

    I caught an early morning flight yesterday from Florence with a layover in Brussels and skipped much of the passport control line in order to make my connecting flight to Washington Dulles.

    The fatigue of travel is offset by the sights seen along the way:

    Before we came together in person today, I spent a little while at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and enjoyed the quiet of Catholic University’s summertime campus:

    It’s good (strange, too) to be back in Washington for a few days. I’ll catch a flight back to Florence on Wednesday night.

  • Walking the length of National Mall

    Happy Juneteenth. We spent the holiday weekend in Washington with family who were visiting. On Saturday we took the Metro to Union Station and walked the length of the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, with a few detours here and there.

    It was the perfect day to walk through Washington and to end, where we did, in Old Town Alexandria—the sun wonderfully luminous, the sky playful and vivacious, and the temperature sultry but not sweltering.

  • I’ll be at The Heritage Foundation this morning for a joint Americans United for Life/Ethics & Public Policy Center-hosted symposium on “Life After Roe.”

    We’ve been organizing this for a few weeks as a way for advocates and lawmakers to be as proactive as possible for the post-Roe v. Wade era. We’ll need both national and state protective action to affirm and uphold the human right to life, protect mothers, fathers, and children from abortion violence, and work toward a future of abolition.

    The Life After Roe Symposium event page lays it out:

    What does life after Roe really look like? Leading legal, medical, and policy experts analyze the opportunities—and challenges—facing policymakers and the American people in their work to protect unborn children, empower their mothers, and strengthen families.

    The Supreme Court is poised to correct a grave error and relegate Roe v. Wade to the dustbin of history. The pro-life movement will then enter a new phase of building a culture of life. Join us for a symposium featuring panel discussions on one of the most talked-about topics in America right now: What does life after Roe really look like? Leading legal, medical, and policy experts will provide their analysis of the opportunities—and challenges—facing policymakers and the American people in their work to protect unborn children, empower their mothers, and strengthen families.

    Co-hosted by Americans United for Life and the Ethics and Public Policy Center


    10:00 – 10:35 am: Opening Session 

    Kevin Roberts, Ph.D., President, The Heritage Foundation
    Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., President, The Ethics and Public Policy Center
    Catherine Glenn Foster, M.A., J.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Americans United for Life

    10:35 – 11:20 am: The Legal Landscape of Federal and State Policy

    Ed Whelan, Distinguished Senior Fellow, The Ethics and Public Policy Center
    Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life
    Denise Harle, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
    Roger Severino, Vice President of Domestic Policy, The Heritage Foundation (Moderator) 

    11:20 – 11:30 am: Break 

    11:30 am – 12:15 pm: The Reality of Abortion in 2022

    Dr. Christina Francis, Chairman of the Board, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    Elizabeth Kirk, Director, Center for Law and the Human Person, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
    Jeanneane Maxon, Associate Scholar, Charlotte Lozier Institute 
    Rachel Morrison, Fellow, The Ethics and Public Policy Center (Moderator)

  • I worked from our downtown office today. As happens most days that I spent in any office, cooped up and looking out on summer skies from behind glass, I was happy to take the Metro home to Brookland and to take a walk after work.

    I walked to the Mary’s Garden, adjacent to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception:

    Situated on a three-quarter acre site along the northwest grounds, Mary’s Garden provides an outdoor setting for hospitality, rest, and quiet prayer. The garden is shaped in a circle to symbolize eternity and lined with a walkway that leads to the Magnificat Fountain, whose red granite border is incised with two lines from Luke 1:46–47: “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit finds joy in God my Savior.”

    I didn’t stay there long, but I was there just long enough to appreciate the sight and scent of the fountain’s flowing water and to watch as a bird descended and then drank.

    Have you taken the time to notice the birds yet this summer, and to glory in this world we share?

  • First Nationals game of the season tonight. It’ll probably be one of only a very few for us this season, with travel planned for most of the summer.

    Nats fell to the Braves tonight, but it was a beautiful night and I got to catch up on the latest edition of National Review.

  • Spring walks in the Federal City

    The warmer weather of late spring is finally here and that means, among other things, walks home from the office—or, at least, walks from the office eventually to a Metro station, and then home.

    I can’t help but think that we were better off when this place was simply the Federal City. The growth in Washington, DC, and particularly the wealth, prestige, and the centralization associated with this city do not strike me as good for republican virtue, let alone the effective administration of government.

  • It looks like the Supreme Court is set to finally reverse Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks.

    I speak with Katie Glenn, Government Affairs Counsel at Americans United for Life, in today’s episode of “Life, Liberty, and Law”. We speak about AUL’s appearance at the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week as part of the Democrat-controlled House Committee on the Judiciary’s cynically-named hearing, “Revoking Your Rights: The Ongoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access.”

    Abortion activists seek a future where abortion is normalized and even celebrated and where medicine is warped from its healing and curative nature to include intentional killing and harm.

    Abortion activism involves endless misdirection about the nature of abortion as an act. Abortion activism involves handwaving that the child at the center of abortion is merely potential life rather than actual life. Abortion activism involves the highlighting of vanishingly rare and tragic instances of injustices not for the purpose of restorative justice but for the purpose of perpetuating mass-scale injustice.

    We must choose whether the killing and harm at the center of every abortion is public good or a social ill. We must confront rather than avoid forming a moral judgment about abortion: pro or anti, against or for.

    Roe’s existence has let us set aside so much of our individual agency. Roe has let us throw up our hands over the issue. Roe has let us remain indifferent to the needs of mothers, fathers, and children who are owed the support of their friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. When Roe is reversed, American lawmakers at both the federal and state level must reclaim their agency and affirmatively provide the spectrum of life-affirming choices we’ve owed one another all along the way.

    Katie and I speak about the hearings, what it was like to be on Capitol Hill and in the room, the realities of abortion violence, and what the post-Roe role of lawmakers will be for advancing the human right to life.

  • Capitol dome view

    I had a dinner meeting at Hawk and Dove earlier this week. Afterwards, walking back towards Union Station, right at the intersection by Florida House, I turned to my left and was treated to this view.

    The street was nearly empty, so I stopped for a moment simply to admire the Capitol. Those who came before us knew how to build, and how to build in a way that would call forth our aspirations.