Can You Spare $91,440?

Because that’s how much seven Boston charter schools are charging to answer a public records request…

Here’s a math question for you, reader. Say one wanted to submit a public records request to a handful of charter schools, inquiring about their recent lobbying activities. How much do you suppose such a request might set one back? If you answered $91,440, you would be on the money.

FOIABut what kind of information could possibly merit fees of that kind? Refresh your beverage, reader, for ours is a long and twisted, not to mention outrageously expensive tale…  Continue reading →

Do the Rights Thing

Congratulations to my fave Boston student activists! Thanks to your support, they won $10,000 from the Nellie Mae Foundation to support their work on student rights and voice.

teenamarieIt’s time for something a little different, reader: a happy good news story! I’m shouting out to my fave Boston student activists, who are doing some of the best work in the country around student rights and voice. And best of all, this story comes with an action component—a *do now,* you might say.  Continue reading →

You Should Hear What I’ve Been Hearing

Which is why I’m launching a podcast series!


That’s my new microphone!

I’ve spent the last two years visiting cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia that are on the front lines of the often bitter battle over the future of public schools in the US. And what I’ve heard along the way is far more interesting, encouraging and honest than the talking points and stale exchanges that dominate the discussions about our schools. That’s why I’m launching a podcast series so that you can listen in and hear what I’ve been hearing.

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Class Act

Why a civil rights law suit to lift the charter cap in Massachusetts could turn out to be the worst idea charter proponents have ever had…

white-bucks-2 (1)Quick reader: when is it perfectly appropriate to wear white after Labor Day? Why, when one is a legal eagle of the *white shoe* variety. This week, three of Boston’s whitest white shoe law firms, WilmerHale, Goodwin Procter LLP and FoleyHoag LLP, filed a class action law suit on behalf of the kids, vs the state’s charter cap—a  day that we secretly feared would never arrive due to the seemingly universally held opinion that the suit is a terrible idea. Continue reading →

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Hubris

I talk to Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, about how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million *gift* to the Newark Public Schools, turned into, well, just read it…

the prizeEduShyster: As someone who spends a fair amount of time poking around in the smoldering wreckage of urban public education, I often get the sense that education reform advocates don’t have a plan for the kids reform leaves behind—the ones who remain in what’s left of the public schools after the traditional system has been *disrupted.* But in Newark, as you document, this was literally the case. There was no plan.

Dale Russakoff: No, there really wasn’t a plan. What I heard the reformers saying was: *well, it will shake out.* The teachers in the schools that were closing would be laid off but the really good ones would be hired by charters so they’d still be in the community, and the kids would find their way back to good teachers. And I just thought, well, there’s so much in between closing the the schools and kids finding their way to good teachers. How is that going to happen? If you view the world as a business model, an idea like that looks like it makes sense but if you’re on the street living the lives of these children and these families it doesn’t happen so smoothly. I do think, by the way, that there’s some soul searching going on in lots of places about the top-down nature of reform—having outsiders with outside money come in and do reform *to* communities instead of *with* communities. The question of what happens to the other kids is one that’s been missing from the agenda and may now be finding its way onto it. Continue reading →