Principled Opposition

Chicago Principal Troy LaRaviere is speaking out against the direction of education reform—and he hopes more school leaders will do the same…

LaRaviere at City HallEduShyster: I meet a lot of principals these days who express strong objections to policies and mandates that they think are harmful to kids—but few seem to feel comfortable expressing their opinions publicly. Why do you think that is?

Troy LaRaviere: I was at an event recently and someone asked *why are principals afraid to speak out?* One of my colleagues responded that *It’s not that we’re afraid; we’re just being strategic about how we move forward.* I’d never really thought about it this way before, and it hit me that the difference between being fearful and being *strategic* is meaningless because, if you’re scared, you avoid telling the truth because you’re afraid of the consequences. But if you’re being strategic, you fail to tell the truth because you’re trying to avoid the consequences. However you define it, fear or strategy, you’re not speaking your truth because you know there will be consequences from the governmental bureaucracy in charge of the public schools. There is no place for such a fear of government in a constitutional democracy.  That is part of why I tell my truth; the primary reason is to stand up for students, but a secondary reason is to test our democracy—to be an example of an ordinary citizen that believes that the First Amendment is both powerful and real.  It is a meaningful expression of my own patriotism. Continue reading →

No Strings Attached

I talk with Minnvestigative reporter Sarah Lahm about why some of the nation’s richest men are suddenly so interested in a Minneapolis school board election…

string_figureEduShyster: In my experience, billionaires typically got that way via selflessness—so I wasn’t at all surprised by your latest investigative piece that found that a handful of extraordinarily wealthy men have been pouring money into the Minneapolis School Board race and expect nothing in return. 

Sarah Lahm: That’s right. In a sudden burst of altruism, billionaires like Michael Bloomberg have donated lots o’ cash to the school board race, via the Minneapolis *Progressive* Education Fund. Now it does seem a little odd for little old Minneapolis to be getting so much attention from very wealthy and, as I’ve been assured, good-hearted people far from Minnesota.  They’re not after any particular outcome, by the way, just *strong leaders.*  Continue reading →

The Art of Being Rahm

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says it’s time for kids to Be Creative—or else…

rahm-emanuelTo properly convey the depths of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s passion for art in the schools, I would have to reach deep into my own slender store of expletives. But as this is a family publication, I will fall back on the next best metric: star wattage. So how much does Emanuel love the thought of kids doing arty things with paints and paste pots? Combine wonder cellist Yo Yo Ma, super soprano Renee Fleming and you still have room for—wait for it, wait for it—Lil Buck, backed by an artful assemblage of $38 million big bucks, and you’re starting to get the picture. Reader: it’s time to Be Creative, and *this time is different…* Continue reading →

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 →