The Selling of New Orleans

New Orleans-style education reform is being touted as a model for other cities. But should it be?

As the 10th anniversary of Katrina approaches, we’ll be awash in claims that the replacement of New Orleans’ public schools with a market-based, all charter school system is a model for other cities. I aim to challenge this narrative with my own grass-roots style journalism. But I can’t do it without you!

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*Maybe I’m a Bad Kid*

Strict charter school discipline is especially tough on boys. Here’s one student’s story… 

By Steven Thomas

steven 2When I was in sixth grade I attended the Academy of the Pacific Rim. I went through a lot during this time. My mother and father got a divorce, and it was kind of hard on me. I didn’t know what was going on. This was the first time I’d gone to a school that was really challenging. The hours were from 7:40AM to 4:10PM everyday. I was just coming from elementary school, and the hours just seemed absurd. I wasn’t used to getting up that early or to being in such a strict school, and by the first couple weeks I was in trouble. On top of that, I had an IEP and I didn’t get a lot of help. At a young age I was diagnosed with autism. I didn’t speak until I was three and a half. I was in speech therapy for eight years. Continue reading →

Win, Helen, Win!

Parent activist Helen Gym’s race for Philly City Council is a model of how to put schools and community voice at the heart of a campaign…

Parent activist Helen Gym

Parent activist Helen Gym

When I got word that parent activist Helen Gym wasn’t just running for an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council but was teaching the world a thing or two in the process, I knew I had to see this force of nature for myself. And so I was off, to Philly, to spend a day with Helen, knocking on doors, shaking hands, talking to complete strangers about school funding and how you can’t have strong neighborhoods without strong schools. Or rather Helen did those things. I just stood back and marveled, thinking again and again that every one of our cities needs a Helen—and that it might just be you, or me. Well, probably not me… Continue reading →

Why My Charter School Needs a Union

Urban Prep teacher Dave Woo says unionization can shine a light *into the dark unknown crevices of charter school management*…

By Dave Woo
Urban_Prep_EnglewoodWhy does my charter school need a union? In a word: accountability. After having worked at Chicago’s Urban Prep Charter Academy for six years, I have serious concerns about how resources are allocated by my own charter network. And my research into whether charter schools are truly public or private entities under the law has convinced me that these problems aren’t confined to schools like Urban Prep or Chicago’s UNO network. There are serious questions that need to be asked about the lack of accountability for charter school operators. Having a union at charters schools will force operators to think twice before doing anything that isn’t in the best interest of students. Continue reading →

Ten Minutes from Chaos

Baltimore girl Adell Cothorne says that to understand what’s been happening in her city, you have to follow the money…

BmoreWhen people danced in the streets after the announcement that all six officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident will face charges, I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. I suspect that the announcement by Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby had more to do with politics and money than justice. I want to believe that Mosby’s intentions were pure. But I also know that one of Baltimore’s biggest tourist events, the Preakness Stakes, is just ten days away. The race generates millions of dollars in revenue. And a city on fire wouldn’t exactly be a welcoming draw for all of those ladies in flowery hats and men in seersucker suits… Continue reading →