Students Say the Darndest Things

From the impact of school closures to the perils of an all-charter system, Boston students seem to know a lot more than the adult interests…  

WestieIt’s sad when adult interests decide to close schools :( Which is why I took it upon myself to be the bearer of great news to the students protesting at last week’s School Committee meeting. So your old schools are going out of business. Lots of shiny high-performing seats are headed your way! And even greater, those high-performing seats turn out to be even higher performing than we thought. But there was a rub. These students turned out to be, well, educated on the topics at hand. From the impact of school closures to the perils of an all-charter school system, the students seemed to know a whole lot more than, say, this guy. What do you say we listen to them?
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‘Diplomas Aren’t Bulletproof’

St. Louis TFA’s Brittany Packnett on Ferguson, the *belief gap* and the need for disruptive change that’s actually, well, disruptive…

image1EduShyster: I first heard about you last summer when I read something you wrote called Education Didn’t Save Mike Brown. I can’t help but wonder how that piece would have come across if someone else had written it – say me.

Brittany Packnett: There is always an importance to the messenger, and maybe you’re right that I was able to get away with saying that as an African-American and a native St. Louisan. I wrote that piece because I had a realization that this thing that I have dedicated my life to, and that so many people before me made their life’s work, was not enough to save Mike. That his diploma was not bulletproof. He was doing so many of the things we asked him to do—he persisted through high school and graduated, he was headed to a vocational program and making sure that he was doing something with his life to be a productive member of society. He wasn’t saved by those things. When I realized that, that was the moment when I understood that the role of those of us in the work of educational equity has to be greater than just what happens to kids in the classroom.  Continue reading →

P is for PARCC, Pearson and Pushback (and Peeps)

Before the first day of PARCC testing, the results are in. Push back against indefensible state policies and the state will crack.

peepsThe special time you’ve been waiting for has at last arrived, boys and girls. It’s PARCC testing week! Think Easter but with a few key differences. Like instead of hunting for eggs, you’re after *college and career readiness.* Also, those Peeps in your basket aren’t for realz but are being *piloted* to help determine what should go in your basket next year. Which is to say that it’s never a good idea to put all of the kids’ eggs in one basket, even if the state’s chief educational standards bunny happens to serve as the chair of an egg distributor.  Continue reading →

Let Them Eat Charters

Will Massachusetts reduce its public school system to crumbs?

cake crumbsThe rich are different from you and me, reader. For one thing, they are rich, which means that when passion strikes they can forget, for a moment, their billable hours and labor for free. It’s called pro bono, and it is Roman for *charter schools are great.* I am alluding, of course, to the new news that three of Boston’s whitest white shoe law firms, WilmerHale, Goodwin Procter LLP and FoleyHoag LLP, are joining forces for the kids, for free. What makes this new news even newsier is that the three firms have long been fierce rivals in the battle to ensure that no litigation is left unlitigated. Why it’s like that time that crew-sters from Harvard, Yale AND Princeton all climbed into a single shell and rowed down the Charles together! Continue reading →

Will You Accept This High-Performing Seat?

Philly KIPP principal Ben Speicher and I chat about The Bachelor, the charter school backfilling debate and the evolution of KIPP…

EduShyster: You and I happen to have in common two passions: our shared love of the TV show, The Bachelor, and a strong belief that charter schools should play by the same rules that govern most public schools. A few weeks ago I happened to be watching the show whilst also reading this piece by confirmed non-bachelor Mike Petrilli, arguing that as students leave, charters shouldn’t have to accept new students. I shared my view that the backfilling debate and the controversies that have beset this season of The Bachelor are not unrelated. To which you had this to say:

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Ben Speicher: I’m a proud fan of The Bachelor and have even been known to use clips of the show during staff training sessions. As much as like watching the show to see who gets the final rose – and who gets sent home – I work hard to keep attrition low at my school so we never have to say goodbye to our kids. Continue reading →