Is Education Reform Punk Rock?

Do real punk rockers prefer school choice? Not when it’s the major label or the big rock manager offering *choice.*

By Hugo Burnham
gang of fourEducation is the new punk rock. So says the t-shirt sold by my friend, an old punk rock drummer named Martin Atkins who has found, forced and finagled his way into higher education in the USA. As have I. *Higher* for us these days means education beyond K–12.

Martin played with PIL (that’s his Mickey Mouse watch sound on Metal Box’s immense *Four Enclosed Walls*), Ministry, Killing Joke, Pigface, and others. He wasn’t in NIN, but he was in a NIN video. (Just as I wasn’t in PIL…but I was on the Top of the Pops TV show with them.) And he runs a record label that has released a shitload of records. And he owns a studio. And he’s written two books. He is now teaching at the SAE Institute in Chicago. I’m exhausted just writing this—he’s a bloody machine. Oh, and just got his Bachelor’s Degree. At 55, yet! I got my Bachelor’s Degree at the *right* time, you know, when I was young. Martin is onto his Master’s next (ha ha…got mine already!). And we are both fathers. Alright then, so who’s the real punk here?! Continue reading →

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 →