Ten Minutes from Chaos

Baltimore girl Adell Cothorne says that to understand what’s been happening in her city, you have to follow the money…

BmoreWhen people danced in the streets after the announcement that all six officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident will face charges, I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. I suspect that the announcement by Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby had more to do with politics and money than justice. I want to believe that Mosby’s intentions were pure. But I also know that one of Baltimore’s biggest tourist events, the Preakness Stakes, is just ten days away. The race generates millions of dollars in revenue. And a city on fire wouldn’t exactly be a welcoming draw for all of those ladies in flowery hats and men in seersucker suits… Continue reading →

A Better Conversation?

I talk to Education Post creator Peter Cunningham about what *better* means, the art of the swarm and what Arne Duncan might have done differently…

EdPost1EduShysterEducation Post is now nine months old. How much better has the conversation gotten?

Peter Cunningham: I see elements here and there. I see other people calling for it. Even Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times where he says, look, there’s been a lot of blood spilled in this debate. Why can’t we unite around early learning? I think that’s a good illustration. Vitriol isn’t getting us anywhere. I’ve published people who disagree with me and I’d like to do more of that. I don’t want to just create a platform where people can spout off; I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. I want to give people a chance to honestly present other arguments.

EduShyster: Do you have a metric for measuring *better-ness*?

EdPost2Cunningham:  I think that an awful lot of people on the reform side of the fence are thrilled by what we’re doing. They really feel like *thank God somebody is standing up for us when we get attacked* and *thank God somebody is willing to call out people when they say things that are obviously false or that we think are false.* When I was asked to create this organization—it wasn’t my idea; I was initially approached by Broad—it was specifically because a lot of reform leaders felt like they were being piled on and that no one would come to their defense. They said somebody just needs to help right the ship here. There was a broad feeling that the anti-reform community was very effective at piling on and that no one was organizing that on our side. There was unequivocally a call to create a community of voices that would rise to the defense of people pushing reform who felt like they were isolated and alone.  Continue reading →

Holy State Takeover!

Nine state takeover takeaways (because I ran out of time before I could come up with #10)

HolyokeWell that certainly didn’t take long. The official state takeover time piece barely registered two hours and the Holyoke Public Schools had officially entered a new state: taken over. If you are keeping count at home, that’s about half as long as the public hearing that preceded the vote, during which some 1,000 + Holyokesters, including some who stood for four hours, packed a hall to register their objections to the state’s takeover plans. In other words, nothing to see or hear here folks, especially, it seems, if you were one of the ten members of the state’s 12 member Board of Education who didn’t actually visit a single Holyoke school prior to casting your vote…

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¡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 →