There Goes the Neighborhood School

I brought some big questions with me to the Windy City—and I need your help in order to answer them…

DYETTWhen I visited Chicago last spring I learned something that really surprised me. And I’m not just talking about the fact that Chicagoans have more than 5,000 different ways of insulting Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (He’s a what????) Virtually everyone I talked to—parents, teachers, community leaders—told me that the closure of 50 neighborhood schools was about more than just the future of public education in Chicago, but the question of who gets to live in a city that’s rapidly becoming richer and whiter. I couldn’t wait to return to find out more. But I need some assistance in order to delve more deeply into how big money education reform and what Mayor Emanuel is fond of calling *the New Chicago* connect—and that’s where you come in. Continue reading →

The Democracy Gap

The 49er says that there’s a democracy gap in the education reform movement.

By *The 49er*
democracy gap 2Recently I was told by the organizer of a project I’m involved in to incubate independent charter schools that we are *creating choices for parents who don’t even know they want the option yet.* Huh? Doesn’t that seem backwards? Shouldn’t parents be clamoring for new schools rather than having people from outside their communities provide them with *choices?* Continue reading →

Won’t Give Up

The Philly Student Union has a message for the adult interests charged with running the city’s public schools…

won't back downWhen the Philadelphia School District decided to hold a *parent engagement* night featuring a showing of the charter happy, parent trigger flick Won’t Back Down,  members of the Philly Student Union showed up, sat down and Wouldn’t Get Up. I spoke with new member Ruby Anderson about the students’ vision for public education in Philadelphia and what she would say to reform advocates if given the chance.
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Open Doors, Open Hearts

The exponential rewards of being unafraid…

mrvrulerWhen I walked through the door of José Vilson’s New York City classroom recently, I was in search of something very particular: hope. You see, after a week in New York touring what so often turned out to be the wreckage of the city’s now decades-long experiment in education reform, not to mention catching a disturbing look at what is likely the future of education there, I was in serious need of a pick-me-up. So I boarded the A train and took it all the way up to Dyckman and Broadway, the penultimate stop. I showed up in José’s eighth grade classroom—excuse me, make that Mr. Vilson’s classroom—in time for a lesson on exponents. But what I took away, aside from a new understanding of a topic that eluded me in 8th grade, was something exponentially bigger.  Continue reading →

Question Authoritarianism

Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…

zhaoEduShyster: I have to start by paraphrasing my hero, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: why can’t we have China’s education system for a day? 

Zhao: Because the Chinese system is not a system that you want to copy. I started thinking about writing this book a decade ago, after No Child Left Behind. I remember thinking *I can’t believe that the US is going to abandon what has made it a good country so far in order to try to copy a system that has been proven ineffective in producing a modern economy.* After a decade, it’s getting worse and worse, not just in education but in the rise in the glorification of authoritarianism in other domains. That’s how you end up with writers like Friedman asking *why can’t we be China for a day?* Every few decades people begin to question democracy because it isn’t as efficient as authoritarianism. On the one hand we condemn authoritarianism but at the same time we admire its actions. Continue reading →