Philadelphia: City of Choice

The City of Brotherly Love will soon be the City of Choice—unless your choice is a neighborhood school…

choice11By Susan DeJarnatt
Thanks to the Pennsylvania state legislature, Philadelphia now has no choice but to accept applications for new charter schools. The forty proposed schools envision more than 40,000 new seats—*high performing seats* naturally; is there any other kind? Should all 40 schools be approved—rejects get a chance to appeal to a state board—the cost to the School District of Philadelphia would be $280 million, a death blow to a district that suffered budget cuts in 2013 and 2014 that the superintendent himself called catastrophic. The City of Brotherly Love will soon be the City of Choice. Unless your choice is to attend your neighborhood school, then you don’t have much choice at all.
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The Chicago Charter Blues

The Windy City’s experiment with charter choice falls flat…

bluechicago2Chicago’s grand experiment with education reform dates all the way back to the 80’s—as in the 1880’s. In recent years, Windy City-style reform has meant charter schools, lots and lots of charter schools. So what has the Chicago’s choice-i-fi-cation meant for students? According to a new study, the charter experiment has wrought the unthinkable, producing worse schools that are even more highly segregated than Chicago’s already highly-segregated schools. The study made headlines and raised plenty of eyebrows, not to mention hackles. But can mounting evidence of an experiment-gone-awry shift the city’s reform winds? I recently chatted with Myron Orfield, the author of the new study, to find out.   Continue reading →

Fatuous Pablum

David Kirp says that teaching isn’t a business—and that makes a lot of people really mad…

kirp-improbablescholars1EduShyster: Let me try to break this to you gently. Your recent New York Times piece, Teaching Is Not a Business, didn’t win you a lot of friends on Twitter. In fact, one of your detractors referred to your entire oeuvre as *fatuous pablum.*

David Kirp: Wow—I seem to have provoked, not just outrage, but a mixed metaphor. Pablum, which is actually spelled pabulum, is something you eat.

EduShyster: Perhaps the point was that if one consumes too much pablum, one grows fatuous. I’m curious though, did you hear from any of your critics directly? Continue reading →

And Now Another Word from Our Sponsor, K12

Operators are standing by…

K12investorThe soul-searching phase of the summer has arrived, reader—when one has no choice but to confront a fiercely urgent question: what to watch now that the Bachelorette’s journey has at last reached its end??? There is Big Brother, of course, but one is already watching that, not to mention #Richkids of Beverly Hills, which one should probably not confess to watching. Which is how it is that I came to find myself on a recent weeknight viewing Welcome to Sweden, an odd-ish comedy staring Amy Poehler’s brother Greg because, well, meritocracy. But the real star of the show wasn’t the Swedish subtitles but the endless ads for K12, *online public schools that provide powerful choices for parents across the U.S.* And thanks to the wonders of DVR technology, I had no choice but to watch the ads again and again. Continue reading →

Big Easy, Little Choice

A parent advocate says run—don’t walk—from New Orleans-style school choice

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard.

By Ashana Bigard
When I talk about *choice* in New Orleans I use quotations with both fingers and I wink too. Supposedly we have what’s called a *choice model for excellent education* but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of schools in New Orleans now operate the exact same way. They have rigid disciplinary codes that punish poor kids for being poor and are neither nurturing nor developmentally appropriate.

I’m an advocate for parents in New Orleans, which means that I work with them and represent them when their kids are suspended or expelled from school. Last year we had 54 school districts in New Orleans and all of those different districts make their own rules. For six years after the storm, the schools all set their own expulsion policies. As of last year we have a uniform expulsion policy but individual schools still make their own suspension rules.

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