Spring Cleaning

A social justice movement is bringing sweeping change to teachers unions

spring cleaning

When we last paid a call upon those nemeses of all things excellent, the teachers unions, we found them in a sad and sorry state. Exuding an odeur of mildew and mothballs, even their ability to stifle innovation and lower expectations seemed in doubt. But it turns out that whilst we were reading (every day and everywhere) about the unions’ demise, something rather unexpected, not to mention frankly exciting, has been happening within their ranks. In short: a social justice movement is bringing sweeping change to teacher unions. Will yours be next?  Continue reading →

PARCC Place

A cozy, clubby place where everyone is, well, connected and conflicts of interest don’t apply…

monopolymanWelcome to PARCC Place, reader! It’s a cozy, clubby place where everyone is, well, connected, united in a shared urgency over the fiercely urgent cause of our time: college and career readiness. In fact, so urgent is the cause of our time that the old rules about, say conflicts of interest, no longer apply. So relax, pour yourself a scotch (three fingers since no one’s watching) and prepare to stick around. For it turns out that PARCC Place is a whole lot easier to get into than it is to exit. Continue reading →

Tip of the Cap, Wag of the Finger

HatTipCartoonIt’s the height of charter cap-lifting season here in Massachusetts, which means that talk of excellence and achievement abounds—along with plenty of wagging fingers (read threats) aimed at those who would dare to stand in the way of excellence and achievement. And things officially took a turn for the crazy this week when the fervent anti-cap-sters at the Pioneer Institute charged the state’s Secretary of Education with *anti-charter bigotry,* a disorder that will soon have its own entry in the DSMContinue reading →

A Whale of a Tale

Are Massachusetts Officials Out to Harpoon New Bedford High School?

Ahoy, matey! That great looming specter in the distance is not a mighty white whale but New Bedford High School being turned upside down and shaken till 50% of its teachers fall out. School turnaround time has come to this scenic, hard-scrabble seaport and our trusty state education captains have launched a full sail operation to convince New Bedford residents that throwing half of the high school’s teachers overboard is the only way to reach the distant shores of Excellence. But are the captains on a fool’s errand that could end up capsizing the ship of public education in the Whaling City? Continue reading →

What’s a Little Edu-Fraud Between Friends?

What a murky transaction between Massachusetts charter operators says about a little problem called ‘edu-fraud.’

When leaders of a troubled charter school in Gloucester, MA needed emergency funds, they went to prominent charter advocate Diana Lam, who was happy to oblige—for a hefty fee.

We already know that charter schools are outstanding at achievement gap narrowing, test score soaring and expectations raising. But there’s a little something else that charters turn out to be exceptionally good at: taxpayer fleecing. You see, it turns out that when all of those innovation-stifling regulations are lifted, charter operators behave just like their colleagues in other scrutiny free zones—they lie, cheat and steal. A reporter in Arizona recently turned up staggering levels of charter school corruption in that state, including $70 million worth of contracts awarded by charter operators to friends and family members. And that was just in the nonprofit charter schools—records of for-profit schools aren’t publicly available. Continue reading →