An Open Letter to Teachers and Staff at No Excuses Charter Schools

The former dean of students at a New Orleans charter school urges teachers and staff at No Excuses schools to ask some hard questions about the model’s social and emotional costs…

By Ramon Griffin

Dear You:

no excuses chalkboardYou were selected to teach at your school because of your intelligence, spunk, tenacity, vigor and, most of all, your passion for public education. You are a risk-taker. You have a can-do attitude with swag to match. You believe that every child has the capacity to achieve academically and are committing your life to ensuring that you affect change in every student you encounter. Your dedication to ensuring that traditionally marginalized students receive a first class education is commendable. But do you know how much power you hold? Do you truly understand the *No Excuses* school culture that you are part of? Do you know the psychological and emotional costs that the No Excuses model has on students of color? Furthermore, do you care to know? Continue reading →

Is the Tennessee School Takeover Machine Running Out of Gas?

Writer Andy Spears says that continued fallout from the Achievement School District’s takeover of a Nashville middle school could prompt legislators to put the brakes on the ASD.

By Andy Spears
Last year, I reported on the latest education reform gameThunderdomebeing played in Nashville. In this version of school disruptionorganized by the state’s Achievement School District (ASD)two schools compete for the privilege of being taken over by a charter operator. Yes, that’s right, two schools enter and everyone loses. Everyone, that is, except the charter operators.

thunderdome 2As reported, Neely’s Bend Middle School (grades 5-8) was the *winner* of last year’s Thunderdome fight for survival and is now in the process of being converted to a LEAD Public Schools charter grade-by-grade.

I bet you’re wondering what fun is in store now that Neely’s Bend has been declared the winner and is in the process of claiming its prize. Continue reading →

Tennessee Thunderdome

When schools are forced to compete for survival, everybody loses…

By Andy Spears
thunderdomeEducation 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 →

The ASD Shows Nashville Some Love

But which middle school will receive the final rose?

final roseIt’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we first encountered Tennessee’s Achievement School District, the New Orleans-style *recovery* district tasked with wrapping its arms around the bottom 5% of schools in the state and squeezing till they move to the top 25%. And like any new relationship based on somewhat, ahem, unrealistic expectations, this one has had its rough patches. Still, true love, much like the ASD itself, knows no bounds. In today’s edition, we’re headed to Nashville where the ASD will soon be handing out—wait for it, wait for it—the final rose, whether Nashville wants it or not. Continue reading →