School Turnarounds in the Age of Trump

When bad education policy and immigration politics collide, the result is uncertainty and anxiety for immigrant students…

Kristen Leathers with some of her students at Boston’s Brighton High School.

By Kristen Leathers
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from the Boston Public Schools informing me that I’m being let go from Brighton High School where I’ve taught for the past 10 years. I wasn’t the only one. Brighton High and two other Boston schools were deemed turnaround schools last fall and every staff member in each of these schools, from the headmaster to the paraprofessionals, was excessed. When faced with questions about the future, I told my students that I am still committed to working at Brighton High and teaching them, but I can offer them no assurances as I have none for myself.

We recently did a project in my intermediate ESL class where students wrote a letter about how the turnaround process was affecting them and what they felt would be needed to fix Brighton High School. We’ve been talking a lot about current events and I felt that it was important for them to find and use their own voices. Many of them talked about how devastating it is to be losing their teachers. They described this place as a refuge and a second home; losing that makes them feel frightened, anxious and confused. Continue reading →

It’s Complicated

In which the JLV and I sit down in front of a couple of microphones—and things quickly get complicated…

Has it really been an entire year since I boarded the A Train in New York City, express to Intermediate School 52, to visit the classroom of Jose Vilson for the very first time? Last year I sought out Mr. Vilson, as he’s known in room 315, in search of hope, after a week of touring what often felt like the wreckage of NYC’s decades-long experiment with education reform. This time I was after something a little different: a chat, to be precise. You see, of late, the education landscape with its intersections of race and class and privilege has begun to feel increasingly complicated to me, and I often find myself looking to Mr. Vilson for the kinds of guidance that he offers up with (disturbing) regularity, such as here and here. And so I turned up at his school, again, armed with plenty of questions, not to mention a couple of microphones.

Thanks Mr. Vilson, for your hospitality. I’ll see you next fall! And a big shout out to producer Aaron French for technical assistance. Note: Aaron and I are hard at work on the first episode of our podcast (which may finally have a name!)

Send tips, questions and expert guidance to tips@haveyouheardblog.com.

The D-List Reformer Does Disruption

*Disruption*: everything that’s wrong with the education reform movement in a single concept

By *The 49er*letter d
Today’s installment of Confessions of a D-List Reformer is brought to you by the letter *D,* as in *disruption.* Attend any kind of education reform event these days and you will hear this word constantly. In fact, if you played a drinking game at a typical reform gathering and took a shot every time the word *disruption* was uttered, there’s a pretty good chance that you’d be dead by the end of the event. But what does *disruption* actually mean? Who is doing the *disrupting*? And what is it exactly that’s being *disrupted*? 

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Times Я Tough

The man to whom EduShyster is *technically* married makes a desperate plea for your help this holiday season

Littlest Bolshevik here: AKA the man to whom EduShyster is *technically* married. While EduShyster is otherwise engaged—in a senseless Twitter battle with a singing ed reformer—I’ve seized the means of communication in order to deliver this urgent appeal. Sadly I have been too busy this holiday season fomenting worker revolt at Walmart and among fast food workers to do much Christmas shopping (yes, we celebrate Christmas). Which is where you come in…

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“I See Bad Teachers…”

“I see bad teachers…. Walking around like excellent teachers….”

Reader: when viewing the latest blockbuster at my local megaplex, I often find myself wondering whether the director of said film has any ideas for reforming our failed and failing public schools. That’s why I was so pleased to learn that M. Night Shyamalan, maker of such hit films as the Sixth Sense, Signs and The Last Airbender, has embarked on a Titanic-sized project: closing the achievement gap Continue reading →