Different Strokes for Different Folks?

No excuses-style charter schools, known for rigid discipline and a college prep focus have seen explosive growth in urban areas over the past decade. And supporters of the model point to parent demand as the fuel. According to Eva Moskowitz, CEO and founder of New York City’s Success Academy, parents—overwhelmingly Black and Latinx—enroll their kids in no excuses schools because they “believe in strict discipline.” But has anyone ever asked these parents if that’s really the case? In the latest episode of Have You Heard, we talk to researchers Mira Debs and Joanne Golann who focus on two very different school models: public Montessori and urban no excuses schools. They talked to parents at both kinds of schools and found remarkably similar views. “Parents from all backgrounds want strong academics AND respect for their children.”

Full transcript available here.

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One Comment

  1. No Excuses schools will die out, mostly because they take such a toll on those working there (it’s not easy for a small crew of adults to lift up the behavior of a mass of adolescents to a high level) and partly because of self-righteous crusaders like Jennifer Berkshire. But then what? Will Ms. Berkshire, at that point, start to realize that there really is a huge problem with student behavior in most non-rich (and even in many rich) schools? I don’t think she believes this. Will she realize that the trendy alternatives to discipline, like restorative justice, really don’t do the trick –that they’re the pedagogical equivalent of homeopathy? I think she’s drunk the Kool Aid. Will she gauge the scope of the vast mass of kids who never do homework, never study and almost never pay attention in class? I don’t think she has a clue. Will she ever investigate the myriad teachers who go home to cry every night because of the odious mob behavior of their students? These teachers are invisible to her. Will she start asking really good questions of the the teens themselves, such as “How would you rate the behavior of kids at your school?” or, “Would you say you behave well and work hard at school?” Most kids will be honest with her and say, “Hell, no.” Then ask this follow up question, “What do you think the school needs to do to improve behavior at your school so that kids can learn more?” I bet most of them will say, “Give out more punishments. Don’t let them (or us) get away with that crap.”

    It’s interesting to me to hear, from this piece, that public Montessoris actually do a lot of behavioral conditioning of kids from a young age. Kids are drilled in how to form straight lines, for example. I approve. But how is this not “colonialism”? And what are public middle and high schools to do when they receive kids who have not been trained thus? Isn’t it too late to develop these kinds of habits? Is a KIPP-type of environment the only way to neutralize counterproductive behaviors at this point? It seems to me that, sans early training, the 6-12 level has to choose between energy-intensive KIPP-type vigilance or accepting a warmer, looser, vastly less efficient learning environment –typical of many schools I’ve been in –where most kids squander much of their time socializing and lazing about.

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