TFA’s Diversity Dilemma

EduShyster’s D-list reformer gives TFA props for diversifying—but says the organization still treats corps members like they come from privilege  

By *The 49er*
tfa diverseI have a confession to make: I was a Teach for America (TFA) teacher (or corps member as TFA calls its teachers, since just plain teacher is considerably less sexy). While that gives me major points among the reform crowd, it taints my image among many non-TFA educators. While there are many criticisms of TFA that I happen to agree with, I give TFA credit for working to improve as an organization. This week TFA announced that it has made significant strides in increasing the diversity of its corps. I salute them for addressing the lack of teachers who come from communities of color—but the fat lady hasn’t quite sung on this play yet. Continue reading →

Teacher Under Construction

Stephanie Rivera talks teacher prep, the importance of a diverse teaching force and why, if you want her to stop teaching, you’ll have to carry her out of her classroom…

Stephanie 1Edushyster: You’re about to begin your student teaching through the teacher prep program at Rutgers. Since we know for a fact that teacher prep is useless, why did you choose this particular path?

Stephanie Rivera: I don’t think that teacher prep programs are useless. In fact I’d argue that they do a much better job preparing us to be in the classroom than some of the alternatives that are out there. I’ll be spending the fall student teaching, then in the spring I’ll be working on a community project with a school in New Brunswick. I’ll be helping students do research and acquire the skills to bring about change in their community. Continue reading →

The D-List Reformer Does Disruption

*Disruption*: everything that’s wrong with the education reform movement in a single concept

By *The 49er*letter d
Today’s installment of Confessions of a D-List Reformer is brought to you by the letter *D,* as in *disruption.* Attend any kind of education reform event these days and you will hear this word constantly. In fact, if you played a drinking game at a typical reform gathering and took a shot every time the word *disruption* was uttered, there’s a pretty good chance that you’d be dead by the end of the event. But what does *disruption* actually mean? Who is doing the *disrupting*? And what is it exactly that’s being *disrupted*? 

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On the Rocketship

Richard Whitmire’s new book chronicles a bumpy ride for Rocketship charter schools…

9781118607640.pdfEduShyster: Your book is meant to chronicle the take-off of a high-performing charter school but to me it read more like a cautionary tale. You made the strongest case I’ve seen for why Silicon Valley-style disruption and education are a mismatch. I’m thinking of Rocketship’s decision to blow up its instructional model, making classrooms much larger, in order to generate more revenue for expansion.

Richard Whitmire: There were actually two reasons for that model change. California’s per-pupil spending is $7,500, one of the lowest in the country.The state was cutting back further at that time and delaying payment to charters. Rocketship also felt that it had hit kind of a wall. They’d been able to take these low-income minority kids to the mid 800’s [on the California Academic Performance Index (API)], but they weren’t getting up to the level of the suburban schools. This seemed to solve both of those problems at once. They could save some money and they could do some more personalized learning in this larger classroom.  Continue reading →

Other People’s Cities

In Camden, education reform and gentrification go hand in hand

CAMDEN1bBy Keith Benson
In case you missed it, Camden, NJ will soon be home to a brand new practice facility (*we’re talkin’ about practice!*) for the Philadelphia 76ers that will cost taxpayers $82 million. What does Camden get in exchange for this princely sum? Fifty seasonal—read low-paying—sales and marketing jobs. This news comes on the heels of the layoffs of hundreds of teachers and staff from the Camden Public Schools. If you’re wondering about the priorities of a city that can’t afford to pay its teachers but can somehow spring for the *biggest and best* practice facility in the US, you’re not the only one; I’m feeling confused and angry about the direction of my city these days.
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