*I Went to the National Charter Conference & All I Got Was This Lousy Responsibility Bracelet*

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard leaves the National Charter Conference with a responsibility bracelet—and some big questions…

By Ashana Bigard

I attended the National Charter Schools Conference from June 21 to June 24 in New Orleans. On Sunday, June 21, as I was checking in, I asked about free spaces for the parents in the community who have children in charter schools. To my surprise and dismay there was no slot open. The conference kicked off with a Mardi Gras style parade. It was a celebration of charter schools and their success in New Orleans, which is a national model for innovation in education—or so they say… Continue reading →

Disrupt This!

What happened when teachers confronted a union-busting charter CEO at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans?

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Charter teachers (and disruptors) Julia McLaughlin, Karla Tobar and Chris Baehrend.

When is *disruption* not just a super cool buzz word but something that’s actually, well, *disruptive*? That would be when teachers attending the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans asked the CEO of an Ohio charter management organization about firing teachers for trying to organizing a union at his schools—and using taxpayer money to pay the fine when he got caught. This went about as well as you might expect. And when security arrived, combing through the crowd for disruptors, that’s when things got really disruptive…  Continue reading →

Black Leaders (and Teachers) Matter

Andre Perry says education reform in New Orleans has failed the most important test…

Scholar, writer and education activist Andre Perry.

Scholar, writer and education activist Andre Perry.

EduShyster: You were involved in the education reform experiment in New Orleans from its inception. But you’ve become increasingly critical of the direction reform has taken. Why?

Andre Perry: The goal of education has to be build the capacity of local residents. It has to be—and I’m talking about from top to bottom. Our goal is not to improve a school in spite of the community. Our goal is to improve a community using schools. And it’s not just to give students the skills to get a job—that’s one small part. It’s to make sure they have sustainable communities to live in. You’re not going to fire your way to improving community. You have to do the hard work of building capacity and training people and becoming a member of the community. That’s how you do it. That wasn’t happening and it’s not happening. In addition, and this is where I am clearly biased, New Orleans is 60% Black. If we don’t have Black leaders in the mix, we’re just reinforcing a power structure that helped cause the situation we were in. Continue reading →

It’s Raining Meatballs

What lessons can we fail to learn from Sweden’s disastrous school choice disaster?

Reader: it seems like only yesteryear that you and I were off to Sweden together to tour the wonders of that country’s experiment with skola privatisering, otherwise known as *the magic of the market.* So what happened since we boarded our return flight aboard Scandanavian Airlines? In a word: katastrofA familiar recipe of vouchers and privately-run, publicly funded schools, spiced up with the profit motive, has had the exact opposite effect of what advocates promised, with international test scores plummeting and gaps between haves and have nots widening, even as for profit school operators have been profiting. So why do I feel like we’ve taken this trip before? Continue reading →

In the Future, All the Seats Will Be High Performing

I talk to Andy Smarick about the urban school system of the future…

future 8EduShyster: Let’s talk about the future. In your vision, urban parents will choose between their choice of high-performing charter schools. But one can’t help but observe that the cities that seem to be hurtling towards the future at the greatest velocity don’t seem to have all that much choice about where they’re headed.

Andy Smarick: I don’t agree with that at all. I believe that the systems that are going in that direction are places where families, communities and organizations have the most say. They’re places that have the longest charter school wait lists, or in some cities they have the longest scholarship or tax credit wait lists. What I do agree with you about is that in these systems where there are more and more autonomous schools, we don’t have a system yet for ensuring that there is democratic control of the entire system. I think these cities are showing us that parents desperately want a different kind of system, they want choices, they want to be able to exercise their options. But now it’s up to us to ensure that there is democratic control as well.  Continue reading →