Rabble Rouser

Lily Eskelsen Garcia is the new president of the NEA and she’s got something to say…

lily

EduShyster: You recently met with President Obama. I’ll ask this first question on behalf of all of my readers: did you set him straight?

Eskelsen Garcia: I can tell you that I had an amazing opportunity to have a very short conversation with the President. I got to ride in the Presidential limo on the way to a labor rally in Milwaukee and I was able to tell him a little about the back-to-school tour I’ve been on and what I’m hearing from teachers. I told him that the constant testing is the number one issue and that teachers tell me again and again: *I’m so excited for school to start and I love my job. Now if I could just get these idiot tests out of the way so that I can actually teach.* I had a chance to express what I think are very honest, passionate and heartfelt responses of educators all over the country. I could see that the President’s wheels were turning. Continue reading →

No Choice

If choice is the only choice is it still choice?

C-300Today we turn to one of the most baffling conundrums of these fiercely urgent days. If school choice is indeed the civil rights issue of our time, why do its chosen beneficiaries so rarely get to exercise any choice about choosing it? Alas reader, we are left with no choice. To the choice mobile, and make it snappy! We’re headed to Camden, New Jersey, where school choice is on its way, whether people there choose to choose it or not. Continue reading →

Is Education Reform Punk Rock?

Do real punk rockers prefer school choice? Not when it’s the major label or the big rock manager offering *choice.*

By Hugo Burnham
gang of fourEducation is the new punk rock. So says the t-shirt sold by my friend, an old punk rock drummer named Martin Atkins who has found, forced and finagled his way into higher education in the USA. As have I. *Higher* for us these days means education beyond K–12.

Martin played with PIL (that’s his Mickey Mouse watch sound on Metal Box’s immense *Four Enclosed Walls*), Ministry, Killing Joke, Pigface, and others. He wasn’t in NIN, but he was in a NIN video. (Just as I wasn’t in PIL…but I was on the Top of the Pops TV show with them.) And he runs a record label that has released a shitload of records. And he owns a studio. And he’s written two books. He is now teaching at the SAE Institute in Chicago. I’m exhausted just writing this—he’s a bloody machine. Oh, and just got his Bachelor’s Degree. At 55, yet! I got my Bachelor’s Degree at the *right* time, you know, when I was young. Martin is onto his Master’s next (ha ha…got mine already!). And we are both fathers. Alright then, so who’s the real punk here?! Continue reading →

The White Fit

Recruiting more minority teachers is essential—after we drive out all of those who are already teaching…

FILM_FreedomWritersToday’s high-stakes question involves the demographics of our nation’s teaching force. When and where is it appropriate to discuss the urgent need to diversify the nation’s teaching force whilst failing to acknowledge what’s happening to the ranks of minority teachers who are already teaching? The answer: in whatever city Arne Duncan’s *bigger rigor* bus tour happens to have landed. You see, even as a much-needed conversation about the vital importance of having teachers of color in front of an increasingly diverse student body is taking place, a bouquet of reform policies is effectively pushing out existing teachers of color. Bundle up reader, because we’re headed to Boston where the nip of fall is in the air and minority teachers are being *reformed* right out of the city’s public schools. Continue reading →

The High Cost of No Excuses

Professor Joan Goodman, the director of the Teach for America program at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about the philosophy behind *no excuses* charter schools, and the price paid by students who attend them.

walking in lineEduShyster: You’re the author of an article called Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? that’s the single best overview of *no excuses* charter schools that I’ve seen. Talk a little about the research you’ve been doing.

Joan Goodman: I began to focus on charter schools when the first Mastery Charter School was started in Philadelphia. These were supposed to be experimental schools which would have a variety of new approaches and they’d get rid of bureaucracy and we’d see all kinds of novel approaches to children. But particularly in terms of the charter management organizations they haven’t provided much variety—they’re all strikingly similar to one another. These schools have a very clear philosophy about what they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to do it, what they think is necessary, who they read, who their leaders are. And they’re explicit in describing it. The combination of the uniformity across these different schools and their explicitness about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it makes it easier to get hold of this movement than it is with say, public schools in a city or a school district where there’s so much variety and there isn’t a single philosophy. Continue reading →