Miss Information

I talk to Tracy Novick about what Question 2 actually says, and what’s behind the Massachusetts school committee rebellion…

EduShyster: I thought we could start out with a little TV viewing. Here’s one of the latest spots for the campaign to lift the charter school cap in Massachusetts, and it features none other than our own governor, Charlie Baker.

The spot is just 30 seconds long, but my sense of confusion persisted long after that. The Governor doesn’t seem to be talking about the same ballot question that I’m helpfully linking to here.

Tracy Novick: It is not accurate to say that Question Two is only about nine cities. Right now, when the state considers new charter schools, priority goes to school districts in the lowest 10% of performance. But under the ballot question, the district performance doesn’t even have to be considered unless the state gets more than 12 applications in a year. The largest number of schools the state has actually chartered in a year date back to the mid 90’s, when they chose six or seven in a year. Having more than 12 applications isn’t likely. That means the charters really could go anywhere. Question Two actually replaces a system where some of those nine cities are first in line with one where most of the time they won’t be.  Continue reading →

Black and White

I talk to Yawu Miller of Boston’s Bay State Banner about the red-hot debate over charter school expansion in Massachusetts—and what *thought leaders* are getting wrong…

map-of-massachusettsEduShyster: In a few weeks, Massachusetts voters will give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to raising the *cap* on charter schools. The issue has attracted a frenzy of *reporting* from outside of the state, much of it, shall we say, somewhat muddled. Since Boston is at the very center of the scrum, I thought I’d bring in someone who knows a thing or two about the place. Yawu: what are people missing about this story? Besides the fact that Boston is not a state, that is.

Yawu MillerWhat I’ve noticed in the debate in Boston is that people are not against charter schools. They think that there is a place for them. They think that charter schools work well for some people, maybe for their own children. But they don’t want to see the kind of expansion that’s being proposed now. They think there’s a threat to the district school system if that happens. You hear a lot of people saying *I’m not anti-charter. I’m against this ballot question.* I think the funding issue has caused a lot of people who pay attention to the schools to come out strongly against this. Continue reading →

As Long As We’re Silent, Nothing Will Change

Boston students walk out and speak up…

bpswalkout6What’s that, reader? I’m afraid you’ll have to speak up. I’m surrounded by 2,000+ Boston students who are screaming *student power* and *no cuts* at the top of their young lungs. Pissed off over proposed cuts to their schools, the students walked out of their classrooms and into the streets yesterday for the biggest student protest in recent memory. My goal was to talk to as many of them as possible in order to get a sense of how they see the city’s increasingly bitter school wars. I came armed with my tape recorder and lots of questions: like why did so may of their signs seem to disparage Mayor Marty Walsh by name? And since so many grown ups agree that charter schools rule, shouldn’t we just have more of those? And, come on, who’s really behind this??? Fortunately the students I talked to—from 15 different Boston high schools—were eager to share their thoughts. Shall we hear from some of them now?  Continue reading →

Shrinking Possible

How did the vision of what’s possible get so small?

Klein

While this Tweet from former school chancellor Joel Klein refers to NYC, he could mean any number of cities where pitched battles over charter schools have raised a complicated question:  Who exactly is a progressive when it comes to education? Continue reading →

Kick the Cap

Behind the scenes (and out in the hallway) at the Statehouse charter school hearing…


statehouseAnd that’s a wrap, folks! After nine hours, and thousands of pages of testimony concerning 35 different pieces of legislation—35!—this week’s marathon hearing on the state and future of charter schools in the Bay State had finally reached its end. But still, the question lingered: had anyone actually learned anything? It might surprise you to learn that my answer is an unabashed *Yes.* In fact, I learned quite a lot.
Continue reading →