Fatuous Pablum

David Kirp says that teaching isn’t a business—and that makes a lot of people really mad…

kirp-improbablescholars1EduShyster: Let me try to break this to you gently. Your recent New York Times piece, Teaching Is Not a Business, didn’t win you a lot of friends on Twitter. In fact, one of your detractors referred to your entire oeuvre as *fatuous pablum.*

David Kirp: Wow—I seem to have provoked, not just outrage, but a mixed metaphor. Pablum, which is actually spelled pabulum, is something you eat.

EduShyster: Perhaps the point was that if one consumes too much pablum, one grows fatuous. I’m curious though, did you hear from any of your critics directly? Continue reading

Flip That School: In Newark, Reform and Real Estate Go Hand in Hand

A conversation with investigative journalist Owen Davis

business handshakeEduShyster: You have a fascinating new story out about how real estate concerns are increasingly driving school closures and charter school expansion in Newark, NJ. Can you give us the 15 second version?

Owen Davis: Basically incentives created by the federal government to help all schools have been earmarked for charters in a convoluted way that ends up hobbling district schools. Continue reading

Terrible Twos

EduShyster turns two years old—and confronts some fiercely urgent questions…

toddler pics 4So what are some of the big lessons you learned this year?
That when you establish yourself as an obnoxious online presence, you go over surprisingly well when people meet you in real life. And that when you use a combination of facts and whimsy, and basically say the same things over and over again, every once in a while people actually pay attention. Also, that there appear to be quite a few people doing extraordinarily well by *doing good*… Continue reading

The Great Big Lovin’ Walheart

The Walton family hearts America’s poor kids. Their parents? Not so much.

walheartWhen we last paid a call on our good friends the Waltons, we found them in a fine, beneficent fettle indeed. Armed with Walmart profits equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 42% of American families combined, the Waltons felt moved to wrap their arms around the nation’s burgeoning population of low-income children and hug them into college readiness and 21st century success. And I’ve got great, heartwarming news, reader. As this New York Times feature reveals, the Waltons’ great big lovin’ Walheart beats stronger than ever—and there is nary an education reform group nor a charter school that is not ententacled in the family’s tender embrace. Continue reading

Greetings from Scamden, NJ

In Camden, NJ an effort to privatize the local schools finds little resistance among local elites

Camden, NJ teacher Keith Benson.

By Keith Benson
A recent *community meeting* at Camden’s Catto Elementary School exemplified the vast chasm that divides my city these days, between well-connected elites and the marginalized residents they profess to serve. The state-appointed superintendent of the Camden schools was expected to unveil the specifics of a plan concerning the district’s future. Skeptical local residents filled the bleachers, while Camden’s elites sat at tables applauding a *plan* that was as deliberately vague as it was short on specifics, including the names of the public schools that are slated to be taken over by charter operators. Refusing to name the schools prevents vigorous activism against closure. Instead, the crowd was urged to rally behind a pro-charter policy, *for the kids.* Continue reading