Why I’m Saying Farewell to EduShyster

It’s time for me to wave goodbye to the man with the outstretched hand…

Since I started this blog back in 2012, I’ve gotten occasional complaints that the name EduShyster is anti-semitic. When one of these arrived last week, I started to compose what has become my standard response: that whole books have been written on this topic, and that historians have traced the etymology of the word back to its very first appearance in 1843, in a New York newspaper crusading against political and legal corruption. And then I stopped. As any English teacher worth her salt can explain, meaning and context go hand in hand. Our current context is that anti-semitism has roared back with a vengeance and has taken up residence in the highest office in the land. Even the slightest possibility that I might be lumped in with that kind of hate is too much. Now is the time to speak up against all kinds of intolerance, and so I’m taking this opportunity to wish EduShyster farewell.

If you’ve followed the evolution of my blog, you know that I started out as an anonymous commentator, taking aim at all things education *rephorm.* Snark was my weapon, along with wine by the boxful—a sort of metaphor for the volume of intoxicants necessitated by the edupreneurial schemes and scams that I spent my days untangling. Along the way, the blog morphed into something more serious. There was so much I didn’t understand, and so I sought out people who knew things and used my blog as a way to make complex ideas more accessible. I also discovered that my curious nature—OK, nosy—translated into a reporting skill I didn’t know I had. I’ve now raised money from readers and traveled to Chicago, New Orleans and Michigan, talking to anyone who will talk to me, and producing actual journalism. Who knew??? Last year I launched a story-driven podcast series called Have You Heard that sought to *disrupt* the debate over the future of public education by passing the mic to parents and students whose voices are too often missing from the conversation.

Now it’s time for another change. As of 2/08/2017, the blog formerly known as EduShyster is the Have You Heard blog. Rolls off the tongue, right? While the man with the hand will still be making occasional appearances, this next iteration of my writing and podcasting will be unmistakably mine. I’ll be doing more long reported pieces, like this one, this one, this one, and this one. At the top of my list is a skeptical look at the latest edu-frenzy to sweep across Massachusetts: the empowerment zone. And believe it or not, after devoting some 10,000 words to our new Secretary of Education, I still have more to add—like what was really behind the shade that Eli Broad threw at Betsy DeVos. Season 2.0 of the Have You Heard podcast will sound different too. I’ve joined forces with Jack Schneider, who you may know on Twitter as @edu_historian. Our biweekly talk show on education in the time of Trump starts this week. (Note: you can subscribe on iTunes—just search for Have You Heard under news and politics).

Before I go there is one thing I could really use your help with. Now that I’m officially consigning @EduShyster to the dustbin of history, I need a new Twitter handle. If you have a suggestion send it to jenniferberkshire@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some work to do…

Jennifer

 

Not a Second To Waste

Fast-growing UP Education Network has an innovative approach to educating low-income students that starts with not wasting a second of valuable learning time…

Editor’s note: UP Education Network operates five schools in Massachusetts, including two in Lawrence, where the author of this piece taught. While the school she describes is operated like a charter school, it is a neighborhood 6-8 middle school that students are zoned to attend. UP recently received $4.3 million fMultifunctional Timer PS50 Stopwatch Professional Chronograph Handheld Digital LCD Sports Counter Timer with Straprom the US Department of Education in order to replicate and expand its high-performing model. 

I was hired to teach at UP Academy in Lawrence, MA starting in August of 2014. Everyone on staff had a duty and mine was to stand in the girl’s bathroom and make sure that the students were leaving quickly and that they only used two pumps of soap and took two paper towels. If they used more I was supposed to give them a demerit. Everything is timed and teachers walk around with timers. Kids are timed when they go to the bathroom and when they have their snack so that they aren’t wasting valuable learning time. At orientation, which lasted a month before the start of schools, we spent an entire day on how to pass papers and how to get the students to compete against each other as they did this.  

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Support Your Friendly Neighborhood Edu Blogger

The man to whom I’m *technically* married, AKA the Littlest Bolshevik.

Blame the omnipresent holiday nog, but this is typically the time of year in which some of my boldest, most disruptive ideas flutter into being. Take, for example, last year’s stroke of brilliance, in which I decided to outsource my yuletide request for funds to the man to whom I’m *technically* married. While this resulted in few actual donations, it did produce a wealth of questions—like how does he manage to do all of the cooking if his fist is always clenched in solidarity? So this year I’m going with a more straightforward approach. I’m going to describe exactly what I’ve got planned for 2015, and ask for your help in making it happen. Happy holidays, reader, and let’s hoist some nog to what looks to be a very exciting year…  Continue reading →

Brain Scams

In Douglas County Colorado, science gets the edupreneurial treatment…

brain kidsDear EduShyster: my child’s school has been spending a lot of time on something called Emergenetics personality profiling. Students take online tests to determine what color matches their style of thinking and behaving. I question whether this has anything to do with science and/or the brain and wondered what you thought. Signed: Worried in the West. ps: I won’t reveal the name of the school district, although you can probably guess…

Dear Worried: Color me cynical but I’d say that it’s never a good sign when the brain *science* on offer comes complete with a toll free number: the zombie-esque 1-888-8brains! Now let me attempt to harness my own brain power and see if I can deduce from whence you are writing. Fortunately, I don’t have to delve too deeply as Emergenetics® has helpfully provided a list of its education clients. Any guesses as to where we’re headed, reader? Continue reading →

2013: All Hail The EduPreneur

Ah, New Year’s—a magical time in which we renounce bad habits (excuse making, achievement gap widening) and promise to embrace more lucrative ones (excellence, innovation, MacGyvering). And while 2013 may be barely upon us, it is already shaping up to be the Year of the EduPreneur. But before we raise our collective wine boxes in a toast, let us first meet this homo innovatus.

Pronounced ej-oo/ˈ prəˈno͝or/, this 21st century being understands the vital need of investing in our childrens’ futures—as long as he earns a return of 7% or more. The edupreneur, a close cousin to the edvestor and the edushyster, is consumed by a single burning question:  How can I crush the achievement gap? How can I make some money off of the little bastards? Quite effectively, it turns out. No matter how far short the edupreneur falls of his stated, altruistic goals, he always seems to end up with a wheelbarrow full of edu-bucks.
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