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

Confessions of a D-List Reformer

Everything you ever wanted to know about education reform land but were afraid to ask…

By *The 49er*whisper-in-ear
I have a confession—I am an education reformer. So what am I doing here, hooking up with the likes of EduShyster? I got involved in the education reform movement because I honestly believe that all kids in this country deserve a better public education system. I wish that the same could be said of all of my peers in the movement. My insider’s perspective has given me some unique insights into the education reform movement and I’ll be sharing them with you here.

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Other People’s Cities

In Camden, education reform and gentrification go hand in hand

CAMDEN1bBy Keith Benson
In case you missed it, Camden, NJ will soon be home to a brand new practice facility (*we’re talkin’ about practice!*) for the Philadelphia 76ers that will cost taxpayers $82 million. What does Camden get in exchange for this princely sum? Fifty seasonal—read low-paying—sales and marketing jobs. This news comes on the heels of the layoffs of hundreds of teachers and staff from the Camden Public Schools. If you’re wondering about the priorities of a city that can’t afford to pay its teachers but can somehow spring for the *biggest and best* practice facility in the US, you’re not the only one; I’m feeling confused and angry about the direction of my city these days.
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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