Is Education Reform Punk Rock?

Do real punk rockers prefer school choice? Not when it’s the major label or the big rock manager offering *choice.*

By Hugo Burnham
gang of fourEducation is the new punk rock. So says the t-shirt sold by my friend, an old punk rock drummer named Martin Atkins who has found, forced and finagled his way into higher education in the USA. As have I. *Higher* for us these days means education beyond K–12.

Martin played with PIL (that’s his Mickey Mouse watch sound on Metal Box’s immense *Four Enclosed Walls*), Ministry, Killing Joke, Pigface, and others. He wasn’t in NIN, but he was in a NIN video. (Just as I wasn’t in PIL…but I was on the Top of the Pops TV show with them.) And he runs a record label that has released a shitload of records. And he owns a studio. And he’s written two books. He is now teaching at the SAE Institute in Chicago. I’m exhausted just writing this—he’s a bloody machine. Oh, and just got his Bachelor’s Degree. At 55, yet! I got my Bachelor’s Degree at the *right* time, you know, when I was young. Martin is onto his Master’s next (ha ha…got mine already!). And we are both fathers. Alright then, so who’s the real punk here?! Continue reading →

White Suburban Dads—Even Worse than Moms?

If you could ask Arne Duncan just one question, what would it be?

lawnmowerBy Patrick Hayes
If you could ask Arne Duncan just one question, what would it be? That’s the dilemma I faced when I heard that my district would be hosting a live Q & A with Big Dunk.There was the obvious choice:

*Whaddya’ get Bill Gates for Boss’s Day?  The man has everything.*

Instead, I settled on this: Continue reading →

Everyone’s a Winner! The Kids vs. Bad Teachers Lawsuit Hits the Road

WinnersWell that certainly didn’t take long. Just two weeks after California’s kids celebrated their victory vs. bad teachers, the kids vs. tenure lawsuit is hittin’ the road. And that’s great news, reader. Because just as the California case produced lots of winners that weren’t exactly, ahem, pint-sized, round two of the civil rights cause of our time seems certain to be a win/win/win for everyone involved. From Campbell Brown who’ll be enjoying more screen time since, well any time in recent memory, to the Obama administration alums who won’t have to lobby for for-profit colleges after all, everyone’s a winner! Well, make that almost everyone… Continue reading →

Knowledge Ventriloquism

Ken Zeichner takes us inside the teacher prep war echo chamber

dummy 1EduShyster: You introduced me to one of my favorite new concepts—*knowledge ventriloquism.* The release of the National Council on Teacher Quality *review* of the nation’s teacher prep programs seems like an appropriate time to share this concept with the world. So what is *knowledge ventriloquism*? Break it down for us.

Ken Zeichner: It’s a particularly useful concept these days. Basically what you have is an echo chamber effect where think tanks and other advocacy groups just keep repeating each other’s claims until they are thought to be true. There’s a research component too, except that the research isn’t independent. In fact, you can usually predict what the findings are going to be be based on who is doing the research. Cherry picking is another essential component of *knowledge ventriloquism.* Advocates of a particular position or program will selectively choose certain findings and ignore others. The problem is that by the time any of this reaches the mainstream media and the headlines, any nuance or complexity is lost. Continue reading →

Back to the Lab Again

In which I visit Arne Duncan’s alma mater on the hunt for *secret sauce*

The University of Chicago Lab Schools

The University of Chicago Lab Schools which Arne Duncan attended from K-12.

Reader: you are almost certainly aware that our Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan, has many excellent ideas regarding how to enhance the excellence of our failed and failing public schools. But did you ever pause to ask yourself *from whence did those ideas come?* It’s field trip time and our destination is none other than the very school that nurtured young Arne’s spirit: the University of Chicago Lab Schools, the bastion of progressive education founded by none other than John Dewey himself in 1896. And since I know that you are, at this very moment, administering a high-stakes test, I recently took it upon myself to drop in on the school on your behalf. Continue reading →