Dropout Nation?

What exactly are college prep academies preparing students for?

A young test-taker at Boston’s City on a Hill Charter School, which is seeking to open two more college prep academies.

And now it’s time for today’s high-stakes test question: which of the following is better at preparing students to attend and complete college? A. Our union-stifled (and indisputably failing) public schools or B. The college prep academies that are popping up like payday loan services in cities everywhere. The correct answer, as you are no doubt aware, should be B—except that we don’t have so much as a SHRED of evidence to back up this proposition. What data we do have paint the sort of picture that you probably won’t find hanging in the offices of the state charter lobby. What gives? It turns out that the martial-arts style test drilling that increasingly reigns supreme at urban charters may not be the ideal way to prepare kids for college. Continue reading →

Excellence Happens in Vegas

It’s time once again to climb aboard the rephorm express. Today we’re headed west, to Vegas, baby: home to the legendary Strip, the Hoover Dam, and these days, plenty of excellence, Teach for America style. Alas, what happens in Vegas likely won’t be staying there for long… Continue reading →

The Case of the Missing College Graduates

Grab your magnifying glass, reader, and a heaping helping of fingerprint powder too—we’re going sleuthing. College graduates are the object of today’s inquiry, specifically students who, after attending urban academies of excellence and innovation, go on to attend college at STAGGERING numbers, yet disappear completely when it is time for that beloved tradition: the data round up. While it is an indisputable true fact that students who attend charter schools graduate from college and find outstanding 21st century jobs at rates that shame and embarrass their peers at Low Expectations High, you might be surprised to learn that there is exactly no research documenting that true fact. Well, there is one study. A 2011 report by KIPP Academy found that a mere 30 % of students graduating from KIPP schools actually graduate from college. Continue reading →

So You Wanna Buy a School Board Seat…

It is a true fact that elected school boards are often the biggest obstacles to closing the achievement gap forever and ushering in a bright future of excellence and innovation for our most motivated scholars. But purchasing an entire school board and taking it private can be an expensive proposition. And with so many un-excellent and non-innovative voters out there, even a massive ed-vestment can’t guarantee an excellent outcome.

Don’t despair, savvy edupreneur. Individual school board seats can be purchased for as little as $37,000, leaving you with plenty of big donors left to tap when it’s time to scale up your transformational venture come election time. Want to see how it’s done? Climb aboard the EduShyster express and join me on an all-expenses-paid trip to what must be the reformy-est place in America: Minneapolis, USA. Continue reading →

Equity, Schmequity

Elitism and the education reform movement

Like many of your fine states, Massachusetts is now home to a veritable alphabet-soup of education reform groups, albeit a can in which the letters FER seem to be somewhat overrepresented. Just yesterday, for example, a reader sent me a notice from a new chapter of a student reform group at Tufts University, headed up by a young equestrienne whose own secondary education came courtesy of a $33,000 private school. She is helping to mobilize the next generation of education reform leaders by reaching out to fellow students who “[h]ad a bad public school experience” and are interested in help[ing] out in charter school events around in the Boston area.Continue reading →