A parent advocate says run—don’t walk—from New Orleans-style school choice
New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard.
By Ashana Bigard
When I talk about *choice* in New Orleans I use quotations with both fingers and I wink too. Supposedly we have what’s called a *choice model for excellent education* but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of schools in New Orleans now operate the exact same way. They have rigid disciplinary codes that punish poor kids for being poor and are neither nurturing nor developmentally appropriate.
I’m an advocate for parents in New Orleans, which means that I work with them and represent them when their kids are suspended or expelled from school. Last year we had 54 school districts in New Orleans and all of those different districts make their own rules. For six years after the storm, the schools all set their own expulsion policies. As of last year we have a uniform expulsion policy but individual schools still make their own suspension rules.
Michelle Rhee and company serve up heaping helpings of some familiar fare
By Sarah Lahm
Michelle Rhee and her cavalry of status quo blasters recently braved the frigid Minnesota winter to present a veritable buffet of warmed-over ideas for boosting our sad, slumping schools and closing our many cavern-sized gaps. From *grit* and *rigor* to healthy portions of data consumed throughout the day to helpful tips on avoiding the unpleasant taste of *corporate education reform,* it was familiar fare—and there was plenty of it. Here’s a taste.
In which I sit down with wonder-blogger Mercedes Schneider to talk about her life, her blog and a whole lot more…
On a recent trip to Louisiana I got to spend some time with wonder-blogger Mercedes Schneider, whose blog on education reform turned one year old this week. (If you don’t know it, you should). In my interview with her, Mercedes opens up about her personal story, including the correct pronunciation of her name (hint: it’s not Mercedes like the car…), how she got so smart, and what motivated her to become a powerful (and prolific) voice against the corporate education reform movement. And don’t miss the part where I ask her what she’d really like to say to AFT President Randi Weingarten!
What’s the Fordham Institute doing hooking up with ALEC?
Today’s topic is relationships— specifically the recent hook up between the dirty dogs at the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC and a certain think tank known for straight laces, Educational Excellence™ and some seriously questionable dance moves. So just what institute has been getting busy with ALEC even as a growing roster of corporations dumps the increasingly controversial network? I can keep it to myself no longer, reader: it’s none other than our gadflying friends at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. But what brought this happy couple together? And is theirs a fling thing, or a ring thing? Inquiring minds most definitely want to know. Continue reading
Plumbing the depths of elite disdain
First off, let’s get this straight: Arne Duncan (Harvard ’87) did not say that the majority of American teachers come from the *bottom of the barrel.* What he actually said was that “In the United States, a significant proportion of new teachers come from the bottom third of their college class”—which is completely different. For one thing, there is no mention of barrels in that statement. So why did so many teachers hear Duncan talking down to them—in the bottom of their barrel? Simple, reader—and by *simple* I am referring to you. You see, the barrel’s bottom is an enormous place, and shooting into it an elite sport as beloved as the hunting of the pheasant. Continue reading