This Dance is Over

A family tells a Newark charter school that their seventh grader is opting out of the PARCC test. That’s when the trouble starts…

9cnv73bnc83fpl23eh75_400x400.jpeg (400×400)By Judie Ferraris
I have a granddaughter who is a seventh grader at North Star Academy in downtown Newark. In fifth grade she transferred from Burch Charter School to Greater Newark Charter School in order to guarantee a place for sixth grade, but they were closed down by the state of New Jersey. We scrambled to get her into another school and got her into Merit Prep, which is in downtown Newark, right across from town hall, which also houses the police department, the courts and the jail. Merit had no security for the children outside the building. People say: *oh, the police station—that’s really safe.* But it’s not. There are all kinds of people hanging around outside the police station and the jail, and those kids are totally unprotected. When we got her into North Star, we thought it was a real coup. We’d heard that it was a good school and we were happy with it. Continue reading →

Have You Heard?

The podcast series that I’ve been talking about forever is finally a real thing…

hyh-beacon-imageReader—or make that, listener: the day that really seemed as though it would never arrive is finally here! You can actually listen to the inaugural episode of our new podcast series, Have You Heard, as soon as you finish reading this page. The concept is simple: the debate over public education has been reduced to a stale screaming match. Our hope is that by introducing the kinds of voices that don’t typically make it into the conversation, we can cause a little, well, disruption. In this first episode, we head to Philly to talk to African American parents who are opting their kids out of standardized tests. And that’s just the start. In the coming months, we’ll be heading to New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Boston and beyond—the hottest of the hot spots in the battle to determine the future of our public schools. Now I know what you’re thinking: *Jennifer—you’re broke as you are constantly telling us. Did you re-marry up while we weren’t paying attention?* Well, not exactly… Continue reading →

You Should Hear What I’ve Been Hearing

Which is why I’m launching a podcast series!

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That’s my new microphone!

I’ve spent the last two years visiting cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia that are on the front lines of the often bitter battle over the future of public schools in the US. And what I’ve heard along the way is far more interesting, encouraging and honest than the talking points and stale exchanges that dominate the discussions about our schools. That’s why I’m launching a podcast series so that you can listen in and hear what I’ve been hearing.

Continue reading →

Hands Up, Don’t Test

Jesse Hagopian says protests against police and high-stakes testing have more in common than you think…

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle's Garfield High led a walkout in

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle’s Garfield High lead a walkout to protest police violence and racism.

EduShyster: You happened to be in Boston recently giving a talk about the new uprising against high-stakes testing on the same night that thousands of people here were protesting police violence and institutional racism. Here’s the people’s mic—explain how the two causes are related. 

Jesse HagopianIf I could have, I would have moved the talk to the protest to connect the issues. I would have said that the purpose of education is to empower young people to help solve problems in their community and their society. The purpose of standardized testing is to learn how to eliminate wrong answer choices rather than how to critically think or organize with people around you or collaborate on issues you care about. These tests are disempowering kids from the skills they really need to solve the big problems that our society and kids themselves are facing—like rampant police brutality and police terror. What’s the point of making our kids college and career ready if they can be shot down in the street and there’s no justice? You look at how testing and the preparation for testing now monopolizes class time—that is the American school system. If our schools emphasized rote memorization and dumbing down, that would be unfortunate. But the problem goes so far beyond that. We face huge problems as a society: mass incarceration, endless wars, income inequality. Our education system has to be about empowering students to solve those problems.  Continue reading →

[Insert Stock Messaging Here]

What kind of stock are New York education officials selling?

By Sue Altman, EduShyster Academy

I’m usually a big typo apologist—except when it comes to scripted agendas issued by the New York State Education Department.  I’ve CC’d the wrong people, attached the wrong drafts, and once, accidentally submitted a group paper in business school entitled, “Marketing Total BS, Group 21.doc.” So I’m willing to forgive mistakes, except when they offer priceless insight into what’s really going on at the New York State Education Department, the epicenter of BS marketing in New York. Continue reading →