Not a Second To Waste

Fast-growing UP Education Network has an innovative approach to educating low-income students that starts with not wasting a second of valuable learning time…

Editor’s note: UP Education Network operates five schools in Massachusetts, including two in Lawrence, where the author of this piece taught. While the school she describes is operated like a charter school, it is a neighborhood 6-8 middle school that students are zoned to attend. UP recently received $4.3 million fMultifunctional Timer PS50 Stopwatch Professional Chronograph Handheld Digital LCD Sports Counter Timer with Straprom the US Department of Education in order to replicate and expand its high-performing model. 

I was hired to teach at UP Academy in Lawrence, MA starting in August of 2014. Everyone on staff had a duty and mine was to stand in the girl’s bathroom and make sure that the students were leaving quickly and that they only used two pumps of soap and took two paper towels. If they used more I was supposed to give them a demerit. Everything is timed and teachers walk around with timers. Kids are timed when they go to the bathroom and when they have their snack so that they aren’t wasting valuable learning time. At orientation, which lasted a month before the start of schools, we spent an entire day on how to pass papers and how to get the students to compete against each other as they did this.  

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Have We Hit Peak TFA?

While fundraising continues to gush, the supply of recruits is rapidly dwindling…

TFABy *The 49er* 
A couple weeks ago, I was having dinner with a current Teach for America corps member who described a bizarre moment to me.  She’d recently attended a regional gathering and the executive director wouldn’t let corps members leave the room until they submitted the contact information for two potential recruits for the next year. My friend declined, writing instead: *I came here to be a teacher, not a TFA recruiter.* Continue reading →

Conversations in Crazytown

What’s the Republican state agenda for *reforming* our public schools? The 49er listens in…

By *The 49er*
crazy-townToday’s high-stakes trivia question: which state has a non-partisan, unicameral legislature? The answer: *Nebraska,* or one of the 69 of the nation’s 99 statehouses now controlled by Republicans. Another high-stakes question: What does this mean for the future of public education in this country? Will the Republicans out reform the Democrats for Education Reform? We’ll get an early glimpse this spring as legislators in many states meet to determine the future direction of education policy and funding.

My job requires me to meet with new legislators after each election cycle. Alas, I can’t tell you who I’ve been talking to without losing that job. But the conversations I’ve been having are too entertaining—and at times, alarming—not to share with the world. What follows is a sample conversation, based on actual exchanges, with a newly elected conservative legislator in my state. My translations appear in italics. Continue reading →

The High Cost of No Excuses

Professor Joan Goodman, the director of the Teach for America program at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about the philosophy behind *no excuses* charter schools, and the price paid by students who attend them.

walking in lineEduShyster: You’re the author of an article called Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? that’s the single best overview of *no excuses* charter schools that I’ve seen. Talk a little about the research you’ve been doing.

Joan Goodman: I began to focus on charter schools when the first Mastery Charter School was started in Philadelphia. These were supposed to be experimental schools which would have a variety of new approaches and they’d get rid of bureaucracy and we’d see all kinds of novel approaches to children. But particularly in terms of the charter management organizations they haven’t provided much variety—they’re all strikingly similar to one another. These schools have a very clear philosophy about what they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to do it, what they think is necessary, who they read, who their leaders are. And they’re explicit in describing it. The combination of the uniformity across these different schools and their explicitness about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it makes it easier to get hold of this movement than it is with say, public schools in a city or a school district where there’s so much variety and there isn’t a single philosophy. Continue reading →

Flip That School: In Newark, Reform and Real Estate Go Hand in Hand

A conversation with investigative journalist Owen Davis

business handshakeEduShyster: 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 →