Schools and Neighborhoods: It’s Complicated

What’s the connection between schools and neighborhoods? If this seems like a straightforward question, try asking it to someone. Better yet, put it to a *stakeholder* in the heated debate over the future of public schools. For example, as neighborhood schools in urban areas are replaced by a portfolio of *choice options,* does that mean that the goal of education reform is to help students *overcome* their struggling neighborhoods? Can *choice options* fundamentally transform a *failing neighborhood*? What happens to a neighborhood when an institution as central and essential as the school is no longer part of it? And how do schools fit into the process of gentrification that’s reshaping so many cities?

Education policy wonk Seth Rau and I decided to pose the school/neighborhood question to a handful of people who we know, and whom we knew would have different opinions on what the connection between schools and neighborhoods should be and could be. Now we want to hear from you. Send your thoughts (under 500 words worth of thoughts please!) to Jennifer@haveyouheardblog.com and we’ll share in a future post.

—Jennifer Berkshire, editor, EduShyster and Seth Rau, Legislative Coordinator at the San Antonio Independent School District 
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We Don’t Have to Suspend So Many Kids—But Alternatives Cost $$$$

Alternatives to *no excuses* discipline exist, but they don’t come cheap….

Corey 2 By Corey Gaber
The typical *woke* person’s evaluation of the behavior management landscape is that we suspend and expel too many kids. We suspend more than 3 million students a year, twice the level of suspensions in the 1970s. And we suspend kids for less and less severe actions, most famously in no-excuses charter chains, for doing things like singing Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror in the Cafeteria. As has been well documented, we teachers and administrators issue consequences in a racially-biased manner. 

But removing a student from school rarely benefits the student. In fact it often hurts their long term academic prospects. They miss valuable class time and teacher support, which puts them in a tough position to catch up whenever they do return. They often harbor feelings of resentment, embarrassment, and/or confusion about the suspension, combined with their academic falling behind can lead to further acting out. Finally, suspension is unlikely to address the root problem that led to the behavior in the first place. Continue reading →

Ten Minutes from Chaos

Baltimore girl Adell Cothorne says that to understand what’s been happening in her city, you have to follow the money…

BmoreWhen people danced in the streets after the announcement that all six officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident will face charges, I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. I suspect that the announcement by Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby had more to do with politics and money than justice. I want to believe that Mosby’s intentions were pure. But I also know that one of Baltimore’s biggest tourist events, the Preakness Stakes, is just ten days away. The race generates millions of dollars in revenue. And a city on fire wouldn’t exactly be a welcoming draw for all of those ladies in flowery hats and men in seersucker suits… Continue reading →