Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker shines a light on some extremely shady charter industry practices—and causes my hair to literally catch on fire…
EduShyster: Your new study, about the policies that charter school operators use for financial benefit, is harshly critical of a few bad apples. But why focus on them as opposed to, say, the high-performing many?
Bruce Baker: The important context for this report is to understand just who are the dominant charter managers in the landscape. You’ve got Imagine, you’ve got National Heritage, you’ve got White Hat and you’ve got Charter Schools USA. A lot of academics and charter advocates are going to think well *those aren’t the big ones like KIPP and Uncommon.* But KIPP and Uncommon aren’t the big ones. The big ones are Imagine, National Heritage, White Hat and Charter Schools USA. If we were to decide that here and now is the time to clean all this stuff up and just shut down a bunch of these operators, we’d be taking out a sizable share of charter schools in Florida and Ohio. Continue reading →
Venture capitalist-turned-documentary-producer Ted Dintersmith is a fierce critic of test and measure, and no excuses charter schools. And he offers a compelling vision of what schools could look like….
EduShyster: Your new film, Most Likely to Succeed, makes a convincing case that the obsession with standardized testing is leading us over a cliff—and not into a sea of innovation. Why? And keep in mind that there is only one correct answer and that I’m timing you.
Ted Dintersmith: Well, it all depends on how you see the goal of education. If the goal is to teach kids year after year to shut down their creative thinking and stop asking questions, we’re doing a great job. Is school about learning vocabulary and math through repetition and drilling under time pressure? Or is it about doing complicated challenging things that you care about and learning to persevere and be creative and resourceful? Continue reading →
Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?
By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did as instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!* Continue reading →
Philly KIPP principal Ben Speicher and I chat about The Bachelor, the charter school backfilling debate and the evolution of KIPP…
EduShyster: You and I happen to have in common two passions: our shared love of the TV show, The Bachelor, and a strong belief that charter schools should play by the same rules that govern most public schools. A few weeks ago I happened to be watching the show whilst also reading this piece by confirmed non-bachelor Mike Petrilli, arguing that as students leave, charters shouldn’t have to accept new students. I shared my view that the backfilling debate and the controversies that have beset this season of The Bachelor are not unrelated. To which you had this to say:
Ben Speicher: I’m a proud fan of The Bachelor and have even been known to use clips of the show during staff training sessions. As much as like watching the show to see who gets the final rose – and who gets sent home – I work hard to keep attrition low at my school so we never have to say goodbye to our kids. Continue reading →
When schools are forced to compete for survival, everybody loses…
By Andy Spears
Education reformers everywhere are looking to Tennessee for the newest way to blow up the system and disrupt the status quo. The new approach comes via Nashville, where both the local school system and the state’s Achievement School District are busy handing over *priority schools* to charter operators. The new twist is that two schools compete to determine which will be converted to a charter. Think the education reform equivalent of Thunderdome: two schools enter, only one leaves. Continue reading →