What It Looks Like When Test Prep Eats Ur School

report card

It looks like this, as a matter of fact. This is an actual report card from a fifth grade student in Massachusetts whom we will call Ginny, in place of the inevitable Johnny. A note on the notations: the slash marks indicate *not introduced at this time,* meaning that Ginny seems to have gone entirely history/social studies/and map free during the all important spring testing season. The *D* stands for developing, as Ginny likely spent much of her time developing short essays in response to the out-of-context passages she spent most of the rest of her time reading. That is when she wasn’t honing her math skills. Continue reading →

In the Future, All the Seats Will Be High Performing

I talk to Andy Smarick about the urban school system of the future…

future 8EduShyster: Let’s talk about the future. In your vision, urban parents will choose between their choice of high-performing charter schools. But one can’t help but observe that the cities that seem to be hurtling towards the future at the greatest velocity don’t seem to have all that much choice about where they’re headed.

Andy Smarick: I don’t agree with that at all. I believe that the systems that are going in that direction are places where families, communities and organizations have the most say. They’re places that have the longest charter school wait lists, or in some cities they have the longest scholarship or tax credit wait lists. What I do agree with you about is that in these systems where there are more and more autonomous schools, we don’t have a system yet for ensuring that there is democratic control of the entire system. I think these cities are showing us that parents desperately want a different kind of system, they want choices, they want to be able to exercise their options. But now it’s up to us to ensure that there is democratic control as well.  Continue reading →

Charlie Baker’s Army

The Bay State’s new governor has a bold plan to bring fresh New Schools to Massachusetts…

charlie-baker-via-charliebaker2014-media-site-630x411It’s a new day in Massachusetts, reader. And the Bay State’s new captain, Charlie Baker, has a bold new plan to at last un-stifle our long-suffering schools: fresh New Schools. But there’s a hitch, or rather a cap. You see, Massachusetts has a cap on fresh New Schools that Governor Baker must figure out how to uncap in order to give the people New Schools, whether they want them or not. Now he could move to boldly seize another entire school district, a la Lawrence, as the state is said to be days from doing in Holyoke, and impose New Schools. Or Baker could go the legislative route and use the bully pulpit to push lawmakers to uncap the cap. But democracy is soooooo old school, especially when it comes to a cause as fiercely urgent as replacing our old schools with fresh New Schools. Continue reading →