I talk to Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, about how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million *gift* to the Newark Public Schools, turned into, well, just read it…
EduShyster: As someone who spends a fair amount of time poking around in the smoldering wreckage of urban public education, I often get the sense that education reform advocates don’t have a plan for the kids reform leaves behind—the ones who remain in what’s left of the public schools after the traditional system has been *disrupted.* But in Newark, as you document, this was literally the case. There was no plan.
Dale Russakoff: No, there really wasn’t a plan. What I heard the reformers saying was: *well, it will shake out.* The teachers in the schools that were closing would be laid off but the really good ones would be hired by charters so they’d still be in the community, and the kids would find their way back to good teachers. And I just thought, well, there’s so much in between closing the the schools and kids finding their way to good teachers. How is that going to happen? If you view the world as a business model, an idea like that looks like it makes sense but if you’re on the street living the lives of these children and these families it doesn’t happen so smoothly. I do think, by the way, that there’s some soul searching going on in lots of places about the top-down nature of reform—having outsiders with outside money come in and do reform *to* communities instead of *with* communities. The question of what happens to the other kids is one that’s been missing from the agenda and may now be finding its way onto it. Continue reading →
A conversation with investigative journalist Owen Davis
EduShyster: You have a fascinating new story out about how real estate concerns are increasingly driving school closures and charter school expansion in Newark, NJ. Can you give us the 15 second version?
Owen Davis: Basically incentives created by the federal government to help all schools have been earmarked for charters in a convoluted way that ends up hobbling district schools. Continue reading →
An Open Letter to TFA: Don’t Back Down in Newark
Dear Teach for America:
As an alum of your program, I like to keep apprised of your goings-on. Though we may have our differences, I always try to appreciate your bolder efforts. So I’m thrilled to see you taking a valiant stand in Newark, where the district is preparing to can over a thousand teachers without regard to seniority and in contravention of state tenure law. Remaining in a district so openly hostile to career educators must require not just millions from the Walton Family Foundation, but the bold resolve of knowing you’re part of the civil rights struggle of our generation. Continue reading →
Broad Foundation emails indicate charter operators reluctant to expand without TFA presence
By Chad Sommer and Jennifer Berkshire
Last weekend, former Newark Star columnist Bob Braun published a bombshell column, arguing that the state-appointed superintendent of Newark, NJ schools, Teach For America (TFA) alum Cami Anderson, wants to waive seniority rules to fire upwards of 700 tenured Newark teachers and replace a percentage of them with TFA recruits. Executive Director of Teach For America New Jersey, Fatimah Burnam Watkins, quickly dismissed Braun’s assertions as *conspiracy theories,* while claiming TFA has a small footprint in Newark. But the heated back-and-forth misses the larger issue: TFA plays an increasingly essential role in staffing the charters that are rapidly expanding, replacing public schools from Newark to Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles. In fact, newly released documents indicate that many charter operators won’t even consider opening new schools without TFA to provide a supply of *teacher talent.*
Continue reading →
Reader: it is rare indeed these days that we encounter the kind of feel-good news story to which we can tip our collective wine boxes. Today’s episode of ‘we lift our wine boxes’ comes to us via New Jersey. I am referring of course to the feel-great story of 27-year-old Education Pioneer and Jersey Boy Wonder Andrew Buher who has just been named chief operating officer for the New York City schools, the nation’s largest school system. But who is this young man whose meteoric rise has been nothing less than meteoric? Are Education Pioneers the new Boy Scouts? On what will he spend his new $200K salary? And is a total lack of experience the new black? Continue reading →