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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Holding Back to Get Ahead

Researcher Joanne Golann says that no-excuses charters are teaching low-income students to defer to authority and hold back their opinions—the opposite of what they’ll need to succeed in college and life.

walking in lineJennifer Berkshire: You’re one of the first researchers to spend an extended period of time inside a no-excuses charter school. Here’s where I ask you to sum up close to two years of research into a single sentence. OK—you can have a paragraph.

Joanne Golann: I found that in trying to prepare students for college, the school failed to teach students the skills and behaviors to help them succeed in college. In a tightly regulated environment, students learned to monitor themselves, hold back their opinions, and defer to authority. These are very different skills than the ones middle-class kids learn—to take initiative, be assertive, and negotiate with authority. Colleges expect students to take charge of their learning and to advocate for themselves. One of the students I talk about in the article learned to restrain herself to get through, to hold herself back and not speak her mind. She ended up winning the most-improved student award in 8th grade for her changed behavior. Continue reading →