Hands Up, Don’t Test

Jesse Hagopian says protests against police and high-stakes testing have more in common than you think…

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle's Garfield High led a walkout in

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle’s Garfield High lead a walkout to protest police violence and racism.

EduShyster: You happened to be in Boston recently giving a talk about the new uprising against high-stakes testing on the same night that thousands of people here were protesting police violence and institutional racism. Here’s the people’s mic—explain how the two causes are related. 

Jesse HagopianIf I could have, I would have moved the talk to the protest to connect the issues. I would have said that the purpose of education is to empower young people to help solve problems in their community and their society. The purpose of standardized testing is to learn how to eliminate wrong answer choices rather than how to critically think or organize with people around you or collaborate on issues you care about. These tests are disempowering kids from the skills they really need to solve the big problems that our society and kids themselves are facing—like rampant police brutality and police terror. What’s the point of making our kids college and career ready if they can be shot down in the street and there’s no justice? You look at how testing and the preparation for testing now monopolizes class time—that is the American school system. If our schools emphasized rote memorization and dumbing down, that would be unfortunate. But the problem goes so far beyond that. We face huge problems as a society: mass incarceration, endless wars, income inequality. Our education system has to be about empowering students to solve those problems.  Continue reading →

The ASD Shows Nashville Some Love

But which middle school will receive the final rose?

final roseIt’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we first encountered Tennessee’s Achievement School District, the New Orleans-style *recovery* district tasked with wrapping its arms around the bottom 5% of schools in the state and squeezing till they move to the top 25%. And like any new relationship based on somewhat, ahem, unrealistic expectations, this one has had its rough patches. Still, true love, much like the ASD itself, knows no bounds. In today’s edition, we’re headed to Nashville where the ASD will soon be handing out—wait for it, wait for it—the final rose, whether Nashville wants it or not. Continue reading →

Will the Gopher State Go Tenure Free?

Will Minnesota be the snow-covered setting for Vergara 2.0?

By Sarah Lahm, EduShyster Academy 
gopher stateNerves are on edge here in the Gopher State, as a question deep as the looming snow fall hangs in our reform-scented air: Will we, or won’t we? As in, will Minnesota, or won’t Minnesota be chosen as the next battleground in the fight to rout out *grossly ineffective* teachers, a la California’s Vergara decision? Intrigue, already piqued, piqued up further recently when Marcellus McRae, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Vergara case and a member of the White Collar Defense club at the LA law offices of Gibson Dunn, made a special pilgrimage to the Twin Cities. Continue reading →

The Bleak Friday Interview

In which I sit down with political economist Gordon Lafer to enjoy a slice of *grim pumpkin* pie…

tiny pumpkin pieEduShyster: Now I know Black Friday is usually thought of as a day for bargain hunters to mob Walmart stores and their minimum-wage-ish associates, but can I just point out that by swelling the Walton family coffers, these shoppers are actually helping to create more opportunities for low-income youth? Wait—why are you laughing?

Gordon Lafer: Because it’s preposterous—you can’t be an adult and say that with a straight face. First of all, the thing that correlates most clearly with educational performance in every study is poverty. So when you look at the agenda of the biggest and richest corporate lobbies in the country, it’s impossible to conclude that they want to see the full flowering of the potential of each little kid in poor cities. To say *I want to cut the minimum wage, I want to prevent cities from passing laws raising wages or requiring sick time, I want to cut food stamps, I want to cut the earned income tax credit, I want to cut home heating assistance. Oh but, by the way, I’m really concerned about the quality of education that poor kids are getting*—it’s just not credible. You’re creating the problem that you now claim to want to solve.  Continue reading →

Now Under New Management

Why don’t poor minority students get to have public schools?

banners-under-new-managementIt’s time for yet another edition of our long-running reality series, As the School Turns. In today’s episode, we’re heading to Roxbury, Massachusetts, home of the Dearborn STEM Academy, for a fresh take on a now familiar saga. Let’s call it As the School Turns: $70 Million Dollar Listing. That’s right, viewer, we’re in spin-off territory, as in the Dearborn is literally being spun off to a private contractor. It’s been a long season, full of surprising twists and turns, sudden rule changes, last minute hurdles and some extremely questionable assertions.  Now at last we’re down to the final two finalists. So which of our private operators will reign supreme after the votes are not cast? Let’s tune in and see.

Continue reading →