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 →

Welcome to Boston, Families for Excellent Schools!

A few Excellent tips (and one Excellent idea)  to help you stand out in a crowded field…

welcome wagon

Setting up shop in a brand new city can be tough—especially when the ground you’ll be trodding upon is already quite well trodden upon. Which is why I’ve assembled this handy *welcome wagon* full of Excellent tips to help you get started. Among my helpful suggestions: always be sure to proofread your press releases, as the Boston Globe will be reprinting them verbatim. And hiring detail cops for the big march over the Zakim will set you back a bundle—better get to work on your grassroots fundraising drive now! 

Continue reading →

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 →