Minneapolis: Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles

The Twin Cities’ Venture Academy is already raising expectations—not to mention a boatload of cash—despite the fact that the school hasn’t opened yet.

‘Tis the season for miracles and today I give you a miraculous one indeed. Imagine a school so excellent, so innovative that it has succeeded in raising expectations and boosting achievement before its doors have even opened. Where is this miracle occurring? Reader: it’s time to squeeze into your ski pants and slip the insulator over your wine box. We’re headed to Minneapolis, or as I like to call it, the Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles.
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Joel Klein’s Edu-Cojones

Today we raise our collective wine boxes to a man who has the biggest, boldest edu-cojones in the business. Reader: meet Joel Klein, former NYC schools Chancellor turned edu-preneur—and most definitely turning a profit. When last we encountered Mr. Klein he’d just finished sounding the alarm bell about the greatest national security threat our country faces: our union-stifled public schools. But there is good news, reader. Joel Klein has now figured out the solution to the national security threat of our time—and it turns out to be the very edu-product that Klein himself is peddling. Continue reading →

Why is Charter Math so Hard???

Charter math is more innovative than traditional, union- contract-stifled public school math. Which is why charter numbers don’t always add up.

One of the many ways that charters are truly innovative–other than in almost every way–is their truly innovative approach to math, or mathematics as some call it. In a traditional public school that is bound by an enormous and innovation-stifling union contract there is a strict requirement that numbers add up. But for innovative charters, well, it’s a little different.

EduShyster was recently schooled in the fine art of charter math thanks to reader @jshoreboston, a public school teacher who, it turns out, can add better than you might think–at least during school hours. Like most public school teachers, Shore is contractually prohibited from adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing on school grounds after 3:00 PM because that is when the school day ends and anything else, even a very simple equation, costs extra. I am not kidding people–it says that on page 542 of the contract. Continue reading →

The Achievement Credibility Gap

Boston pharma giant Vertex is investing $1.4 million to build a state of the art laboratory for urban high schoolers in Boston. Sounds like a lot until you consider that Vertex has received nearly $100 million in tax breaks in the last two years.

This article in the Boston Globe about the unbelievable generosity of local pharma giant Vertex tugged at my heartstrings and brought a tear to my eye. Vertex, which is building a ginormous new headquarters in Boston’s waterfront “innovation district,” manufactures two of my favorite drugs: Incivek and Kalydeco. I would recommend asking your doctor if both are right for you. 

According to the Globe story, Vertex is investing $1.4 million to build a state-of-the-art lab for students in Boston public high schools. The company will also be working with students at two South Boston High Schools to provide supplemental workshops and classes, summer internships at the company, and a four-year college scholarship.

What’s in it for Vertex? Vertex executives said that they’re hoping to help close the achievement gap between urban students and their suburban schools. Now this didn’t surprise me at all because I know that if there’s one thing big pharma is passionate about it’s the achievement gap. Continue reading →