¡Si Se Puede Take the Test!

Test takers who are still learning English get a special treat this time of year...

good luckPssst: did you know that there is a connection between how well one speaks English and how well one performs on a test conducted in English? If your answer was *no,* *I don’t understand the question,* or *charter schools,* an exciting leadership opportunity awaits. It’s time for another round of Let’s Take Over a District. This season’s lucky winner: scenic Holyoke, Massachusetts. We’re headed west, young reader, and there’s not a moment to spare. Continue reading →

Burning the Village to Save It

*Repentant reformer* Jorge Cabrera talks to me about what’s wrong with the education reform movement…

burningEduShyster: You recount hearing a leader of the education reform movement state that sometimes *you have to burn the village to save it.* This strikes me as the kind of remark one might not want to make when there are villagers present… Did he get any pushback?

Jorge Cabrera: That remark was made by someone who is a rainmaker for the education reform movement. If you want money, you go and see this guy. When I heard that, I really felt like I was getting a peek into the mindset of this movement. As for the reaction, I think you have to understand the role that social pressure functions in these situations and how it works to stifle critical dialogue and debate. You’re surrounded by a critical mass of people who, when someone says something, are all nodding along and saying *uh huh.* It sends a powerful signal to the one or two people in the room who want to ask questions or challenge the assumptions.  Continue reading →

Everybody Loves Lawrence

But do they love her for the right reasons?

lawrenceOh Lawrence, you city by the Spicket, you. It seems like only yesteryear that everyone who was anyone was writing the damndest things about your poorest-burg-in-Massachusetts self. And here you are – not just grown up, but blown up. The edupreneurial set suddenly can’t get enough of you. Your story is even bandied about across the pond. And who’s that I see checking you out from a few states over, Lawrence? Why if that isn’t New York looking you up and down… Continue reading →

Gopher State of Confusion

Minnesota’s charter experiment comes up short, while elsewhere in the Gopher state a Loon rises…

By Sarah Lahm, EduShyster Academy 
confusedGopher state hearts and minds are in a state of confusion these days, thanks to the simultaneous appearance of two head-spinning headlines. First came this stunning jolt to the system (the charter system, that is): It turns out that charter schools, even the ones in Minnesota (our license plates say *First in Charter Schools!*), may not be the magical, miraculous, free market answer to our public school problems we’ve been led to believe. Continue reading →

The Case of the Disappearing Data

Louisiana’s Nancy Drew gets her hands on those elusive ACT scores…

Nancy_Drew_80_211EduShyster: Let’s get right to the question that’s on all of our minds. Is that John White as handsome as he looks in his pictures?

Mercedes Schneider: Well, it depends on how you define handsome. I personally find honesty to be an attractive trait…

EduShyster: You broke a big story over the weekend. Somehow you managed to get your hands on Louisiana’s 2014 ACT scores, which the state Department of Education didn’t seem to want to release. What do the numbers tell you?

Schneider: They’re terrible. I go over them in more detail here, but what you need to know is that the composite ACT score for the schools in New Orleans’ Recovery School District dropped from the year before, and that for individual high schools the scores are in the 13, 14 and 15 range. For comparison’s sake, to get into Louisiana State one needs an ACT score of 22—a minimum of 19 in math and an 18 in English. But what really stands out to me is that the students in New Orleans who took the ACT in 2014 were in 3rd grade when Katrina hit. Even if you have students who didn’t return to the city for two years, that means they’ve been attending these charter schools since 5th grade. That’s how long they’ve been subject to this experiment. You look at these numbers and it’s clear why John White didn’t want them to be made public. Continue reading →