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 →

*Hope Always Wins the Day*

City-councilor-to-be Helen Gym talks about the movement behind her win—and a clear defeat for the education reform vision…

Helen 1EduShyster: That sound you just heard was me uncorking a box of champagne. But you still have to win the general election in November. Did I start celebrating too soon?

Helen Gym: No—you didn’t celebrate too early. I’m not worried about the race but I definitely want to make sure that in the final tally in November that I move up in votes and send a clear message about voters prioritizing public education and communities. And just to put things in perspective, Democrats outnumber Republicans in Philly by more than 7 to 1. Continue reading →

Win, Helen, Win!

Parent activist Helen Gym’s race for Philly City Council is a model of how to put schools and community voice at the heart of a campaign…

Parent activist Helen Gym

Parent activist Helen Gym

When I got word that parent activist Helen Gym wasn’t just running for an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council but was teaching the world a thing or two in the process, I knew I had to see this force of nature for myself. And so I was off, to Philly, to spend a day with Helen, knocking on doors, shaking hands, talking to complete strangers about school funding and how you can’t have strong neighborhoods without strong schools. Or rather Helen did those things. I just stood back and marveled, thinking again and again that every one of our cities needs a Helen—and that it might just be you, or me. Well, probably not me… Continue reading →

Philadelphia: City of Choice

The City of Brotherly Love will soon be the City of Choice—unless your choice is a neighborhood school…

choice11By Susan DeJarnatt
Thanks to the Pennsylvania state legislature, Philadelphia now has no choice but to accept applications for new charter schools. The forty proposed schools envision more than 40,000 new seats—*high performing seats* naturally; is there any other kind? Should all 40 schools be approved—rejects get a chance to appeal to a state board—the cost to the School District of Philadelphia would be $280 million, a death blow to a district that suffered budget cuts in 2013 and 2014 that the superintendent himself called catastrophic. The City of Brotherly Love will soon be the City of Choice. Unless your choice is to attend your neighborhood school, then you don’t have much choice at all.
Continue reading →

Top 10 Reasons to Join Teach For America

Did you miss the last application deadline for Teach for America? Fret not, young reader—you still have three more weeks before the next and final deadline to join the 2014 corps.

By Jay Saper, TFA reject

TFA reject Jay Saper with AFT president Randi Weingarten.

1. Teach for America saves taxpayers a fortune. Let’s face it: ending poverty in this country would cost a fortune. That’s why instead of focusing on what we don’t have—say, a place to sleep for all of our children—TFA aims its laser of excellence on what we have plenty of: lazy teachers who confess to only working half-time and should be displaced. Think about it. The federal government would have to spend untold billions to deal seriously with poverty and its ills. Instead, taxpayers are only on the hook for the hundreds of millions that TFA gets to remind us that poverty is merely an excuse. Continue reading →