Greetings from Choice-o-Rado

The ‘C’ is for ‘Choice’

Is there such a thing as too much choice? Reader: this is what is known as a rhetorical question—and the rhetorical answer is “no.” But don’t allow me to make up your rhetorical mind for you. I insist that you accompany me on an extra-special field trip, to the choiciest burg in our 50 states: Douglas County, Choice-o-Rado. Regular readers will recall DougCo from our inaugural visit and a recent return. What brings us back again? In a word: choice. Continue reading →

A Second is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, recently visited a charter school that immerses students in engagement, much like fries are immersed in hot oil.

Reader: as we rush to train minority students for the McJobs of the future, there’s not a second to spare. That’s why I was so glad to see CNN send Morgan Spurlock, the host of The Inside Man, to an outstanding academy of excellence that has figured out how to keep students engaged, interested and stimulated—every minute of every day. And there’s more good news. Spurlock just happens to be an expert on the nation’s fast food industry—in his documentary, Super Size Me, he ate nothing but McDonald’s meals for a month and almost died. Which means that he’s uniquely equipped to judge how well a school is preparing its students for the fast-paced world of tomorrow’s workplace. Continue reading →

Excellence Goggles: Seeing the World Like a New York Times Writer

Excellence goggles like these are de riguer among New York Times writers.

The New York Times has long been known as “the grey lady” referring to its historical tendency to present a higher-than-usual proportion of copy to graphics (thank you, Wikipedia!). But might that moniker also refer to the thick cloud of ganja smoke fog of excellence through which the Times’ many excellent writers view the world? What else but a serious case of the “excellence goggles” could possibly account for the current state of education “reporting” at the nation’s most excellent newspaper? So reader, if you’re playing along at home, now is the time to strap on your own goggles and gaze in astonished rapture at the edu-landscape the way that it appears to a New York Times writer. Note: If you are wondering why everyone suddenly appears so small, it is because you are looking down on them from the  acme of Mt. Merit, home to the select tribe known as homo excellentus as well as a few friends in high places. Here’s a peek at the world as seen through excellence goggles… Continue reading →

The Case of the Missing College Graduates

Grab your magnifying glass, reader, and a heaping helping of fingerprint powder too—we’re going sleuthing. College graduates are the object of today’s inquiry, specifically students who, after attending urban academies of excellence and innovation, go on to attend college at STAGGERING numbers, yet disappear completely when it is time for that beloved tradition: the data round up. While it is an indisputable true fact that students who attend charter schools graduate from college and find outstanding 21st century jobs at rates that shame and embarrass their peers at Low Expectations High, you might be surprised to learn that there is exactly no research documenting that true fact. Well, there is one study. A 2011 report by KIPP Academy found that a mere 30 % of students graduating from KIPP schools actually graduate from college. Continue reading →

Is Education Reform Like Crack for Columnists?

Columnist Nicholas Kristof on the phone with a representative of EdReform, Inc.

Much of the the reporting on the Chicago teachers strike has been of a surprisingly non-idiotic quality—especially by journalists who took the unusual step of going to Chicago and interviewing people who teach, send their children to public schools or attend such schools themselves.

But what to do if one is a prominent national columnist who is unable to leave one’s desk due to the extremely large number of followers to whom he must tweet throughout the day? Such was the fate of one Nicholas Kristof, who, apparently unable to make time even to Google “Chicago education reform, history of,” (try this experiment yourself at home, bold reader) managed to produce a column at once staggeringly misinformed, condescending and inane. Continue reading →