On Charter Schools, Say This, Not That

A new guide to charter messaging urges advocates to steer clear of corporate speak

say this not that-1Once every four minutes, a passionate charter advocate accidentally lapses into the kind of clinical corporate speak that can leave listeners cold—not to mention kids out of the equation. Would that there were a way to remedy this problem once and for all… Great news, reader. Problem solved! A handy new guide to charter school messaging ensures that never again will you mistakenly blurt out *market share* when you mean *student share,* or *businesses* when what you really meant to mean all along was *schools.* Continue reading

Who Got Capped?

What really went down in Massachusetts last week…

dunceIt seems like only yesteryear that an extraordinary amount of money and influence was lining up behind the long-suffering public school students of the Bay State. But last week state senators overwhelmingly declined to doff the *cap of excellence.* Wha happened??? And are there important lessons for us to ignore from what happened? (Like that making thin-skinned white guys the irritable face of a movement that’s supposed to be about low-income kids might not have been the smartest move…) Strap yourself in, reader, because it’s time for the official EduShyster cap the cap recap.   Continue reading

On the Rocketship

Richard Whitmire’s new book chronicles a bumpy ride for Rocketship charter schools…

9781118607640.pdfEduShyster: Your book is meant to chronicle the take-off of a high-performing charter school but to me it read more like a cautionary tale. You made the strongest case I’ve seen for why Silicon Valley-style disruption and education are a mismatch. I’m thinking of Rocketship’s decision to blow up its instructional model, making classrooms much larger, in order to generate more revenue for expansion.

Richard Whitmire: There were actually two reasons for that model change. California’s per-pupil spending is $7,500, one of the lowest in the country.The state was cutting back further at that time and delaying payment to charters. Rocketship also felt that it had hit kind of a wall. They’d been able to take these low-income minority kids to the mid 800’s [on the California Academic Performance Index (API)], but they weren’t getting up to the level of the suburban schools. This seemed to solve both of those problems at once. They could save some money and they could do some more personalized learning in this larger classroom.  Continue reading

At National Charter Conference, the Numbers Add Up

Except for the ones that don’t…

numbers*The numbers add up.* That was the theme of this year’s National Alliance for Public Charter Schools conference in Las Vegas, an event that drew me like a moth to a high-performing flame. The numbers that add up, of course, are the growing number of charter schools, their students, and their scores (their scores!), not to mention the swelling ranks of advocates, politicians, actors, TV news personalities, pollsters and [insert unlikely charter supporter here] that have leaped aboard the charter express, now headed direct to achievementville. But what of the lesser numbers—the ones that are, well, less than prime—and hence, don’t quite add up?  Was there anyone who would speak for them? 

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License to Loot

How Michigan charter schools became prime feasting ground for edu-vultures.

turkey vultureBy Tim Fournier
I started teaching in the Detroit Public Schools in 1993, the very year that Michigan approved its first charter schools. Last week The Detroit Free Press published the results of a year-long investigation into the state’s now 20-year old experiment with charters. The series confirms what many of us predicted back then: that freeing these schools from oversight has left them uniquely vulnerable to profiteers, hucksters and charlatans. *Vultures* was the word I used in this letter to the editor I wrote back in 1996. Continue reading