No Choice

If choice is the only choice is it still choice?

C-300Today we turn to one of the most baffling conundrums of these fiercely urgent days. If school choice is indeed the civil rights issue of our time, why do its chosen beneficiaries so rarely get to exercise any choice about choosing it? Alas reader, we are left with no choice. To the choice mobile, and make it snappy! We’re headed to Camden, New Jersey, where school choice is on its way, whether people there choose to choose it or not. 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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Broken Windows Schooling

Suspending huge numbers of minority students is bad—unless it’s done in the name of *college prep*

Suspending huge numbers of minority students is bad, bad, bad, as we learned this week from Obama administration officials. Which brings us to today’s high-stakes question: when is it fine, fine, fine for schools to have sky-high suspension rates? Answer: when said schools are academies of excellence and innovation that are *preparing students for college.* Ready the carabiner, reader—we’re about to scale the walls of Double Standards gulch. Continue reading →

A Second is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, recently visited a charter school that immerses students in engagement, much like fries are immersed in hot oil.

Reader: as we rush to train minority students for the McJobs of the future, there’s not a second to spare. That’s why I was so glad to see CNN send Morgan Spurlock, the host of The Inside Man, to an outstanding academy of excellence that has figured out how to keep students engaged, interested and stimulated—every minute of every day. And there’s more good news. Spurlock just happens to be an expert on the nation’s fast food industry—in his documentary, Super Size Me, he ate nothing but McDonald’s meals for a month and almost died. Which means that he’s uniquely equipped to judge how well a school is preparing its students for the fast-paced world of tomorrow’s workplace. Continue reading →