Conversations in Crazytown

What’s the Republican state agenda for *reforming* our public schools? The 49er listens in…

By *The 49er*
crazy-townToday’s high-stakes trivia question: which state has a non-partisan, unicameral legislature? The answer: *Nebraska,* or one of the 69 of the nation’s 99 statehouses now controlled by Republicans. Another high-stakes question: What does this mean for the future of public education in this country? Will the Republicans out reform the Democrats for Education Reform? We’ll get an early glimpse this spring as legislators in many states meet to determine the future direction of education policy and funding.

My job requires me to meet with new legislators after each election cycle. Alas, I can’t tell you who I’ve been talking to without losing that job. But the conversations I’ve been having are too entertaining—and at times, alarming—not to share with the world. What follows is a sample conversation, based on actual exchanges, with a newly elected conservative legislator in my state. My translations appear in italics. Continue reading →

The Democracy Gap

The 49er says that there’s a democracy gap in the education reform movement.

By *The 49er*
democracy gap 2Recently I was told by the organizer of a project I’m involved in to incubate independent charter schools that we are *creating choices for parents who don’t even know they want the option yet.* Huh? Doesn’t that seem backwards? Shouldn’t parents be clamoring for new schools rather than having people from outside their communities provide them with *choices?* Continue reading →

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 →