Control Experiment

What is it that urban charter schools actually do?

Reader: if you happened to read this recent New York Times piece on urban Graph-going-upcharter success, you know that the upshot is that Boston charters are *crushing* the achievement gap and sending loads of kids to college. Close reader that I am, though, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. Like any description at all of what makes schools like Match Charter Public School, which gets a special NYT shout out, so different from, say, schools in the suburbs where, based on the contents of my mail bag, the NYT article and the research it cites has been greeted with great enthusiasm. Which gave me a wild idea: why not interview a student who attends Match and ask her to describe what her school is like? Continue reading →

Charter Cap ‘n Gown II: The College Years

A new report finds that Boston’s charter high schools are sending kids on a path through college, one at a time…

kindergarten_cap_gowns‘Tis time for another stroll down the path to college, reader. Alas, you will need to *suck in your gut* for this one as this path turns out to be even narrower than when last we stepped upon it. The occasion for our ramble down readiness way is a new report on college completion by graduates of Boston’s public high schools. Alas, alas, the report, which was supposed to confirm Boston charter excellence once and for all, fell a tad short, finding that grads of BPS high schools were more likely to complete college than their charter peers. But a deep dive into the data reveals that there’s even more — or rather, less — to this story than meets the eye. Continue reading →

Charter Cap ‘n Gown

That path to college turns out to be exceptionally narrow…

hats‘Tis the season to celebrate our boy and girl graduates, reader. And in Massachusetts, aka *the Achievement State,* what better way to do just that than by raising the cap on excellence itself with a bold vote to hoist the cap on charter schools? Presto! Like that, the path to college and career readiness just got wider, and with nary a union laborer or detail cop in sight. But like a graduation party gone bad, this story too comes with an unwelcome guest: facts. It turns out that the number of students—particularly boys—who actually graduate from Boston’s charter high schools is minuscule. In fact, students at Boston’s six charter high schools are no more likely to graduate than their public school peers.  Continue reading →

The Education You Deserve

An open letter to my students at a “no excuses” charter school in Boston

By Barrett Smith
Last month I resigned from my position as a tutor and teaching assistant at a “No-Excuses” Charter School in Boston. What follows is an open letter to my students.

First, I need to get something off my chest. I came to your middle school for some selfish reasons. I wanted to tutor you not only to help you but also to help myself. I came to Boston temporarily and as an outsider, looking for a year of training in skills that I could take with me to my future home, and to benefit my future students. Continue reading →