Burning the Village to Save It

*Repentant reformer* Jorge Cabrera talks to me about what’s wrong with the education reform movement…

burningEduShyster: You recount hearing a leader of the education reform movement state that sometimes *you have to burn the village to save it.* This strikes me as the kind of remark one might not want to make when there are villagers present… Did he get any pushback?

Jorge Cabrera: That remark was made by someone who is a rainmaker for the education reform movement. If you want money, you go and see this guy. When I heard that, I really felt like I was getting a peek into the mindset of this movement. As for the reaction, I think you have to understand the role that social pressure functions in these situations and how it works to stifle critical dialogue and debate. You’re surrounded by a critical mass of people who, when someone says something, are all nodding along and saying *uh huh.* It sends a powerful signal to the one or two people in the room who want to ask questions or challenge the assumptions.  Continue reading →

Nice Work If U Can Get It

What’s behind those sky high charter salaries?

Harlem Village Academies chief Deborah Kenny earns $500,000 to run her burgeoning empire of excellence.

The eye-popping salaries commanded by some New York City charter execs are raising eyebrows, not to mention the hackles of haters. As a state-of-the-art technology known as Google quickly reveals, though, it’s not just in the Big Apple where charter chiefs are pulling down mad cheddar. But talking about money is so gauche, reader, which is why so many of these excellent execs insist on keeping compensation information to themselves.  Continue reading →

Other People’s Children

Why are white people so eager to advocate for the sort of schools to which they would never send their own children?

Reader: more and more white people agree that strict, “no excuses” style charter schools provide an ideal learning environment for poor minority kids. As proof of this surging enthusiasm I give you exhibit A: a glowing report about Harlem’s Democracy Prep charter school featured in the current issue of the New Yorker, one of America’s whitest magazines. (Full disclosure: I am white and also a New Yorker subscriber). Which brings us to today’s fiercely urgent question: why are white people so eager to advocate for the sort of schools to which they would never send their own children? Continue reading →