Big Easy, Little Choice

A parent advocate says run—don’t walk—from New Orleans-style school choice

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard.

By Ashana Bigard
When I talk about *choice* in New Orleans I use quotations with both fingers and I wink too. Supposedly we have what’s called a *choice model for excellent education* but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of schools in New Orleans now operate the exact same way. They have rigid disciplinary codes that punish poor kids for being poor and are neither nurturing nor developmentally appropriate.

I’m an advocate for parents in New Orleans, which means that I work with them and represent them when their kids are suspended or expelled from school. Last year we had 54 school districts in New Orleans and all of those different districts make their own rules. For six years after the storm, the schools all set their own expulsion policies. As of last year we have a uniform expulsion policy but individual schools still make their own suspension rules.

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STEM Cells

What if there was an easy peasy way to solve the skills gap, the STEM gap, the achievement gap, the expectations gap and the next, yet-to-be-named gap? Great news, reader! According to the New York Times a solution to our STEMtacular crisis lies within imminent reach. You see, reader, our failed and failing public schools rely on conventional methods to teach math and science, resulting in the many gaps listed above. But thanks to the unconventional methods utilized by the Knowledge is Power Program or KIPP, lower-income minority students are no longer being held back. Just what are these unconventional methods? Safety goggles on—we’re headed into the excellence lab… Continue reading

Nice Work If U Can Get It

What’s behind those sky high charter salaries?

Harlem Village Academies chief Deborah Kenny earns $500,000 to run her burgeoning empire of excellence.

The eye-popping salaries commanded by some New York City charter execs are raising eyebrows, not to mention the hackles of haters. As a state-of-the-art technology known as Google quickly reveals, though, it’s not just in the Big Apple where charter chiefs are pulling down mad cheddar. But talking about money is so gauche, reader, which is why so many of these excellent execs insist on keeping compensation information to themselves.  Continue reading

Deep in the Heart of Excellence

Salsa secreta comes to San Antonio, Texas

By Didymath

Amigos: I am crestfallen to report that a scourge of bad schools has befallen my fair burg of San Antonio, Texas. You’d think that without those pesky unions to hold them back Texas schools would be free to excel. Alas, we Tejanos seem to be missing some salsa secreta. Fortunately a team of local visionaries has been working round the clock to solve this problema. The solution? Replace San Antonio’s existing public schools with charters that are más excelente.

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Kentucky Fried Future

The jobs of tomorrow are here today—and they suck…

Reader: as a white person, I am required by law to listen to at least 12 hours of National Public Radio per week. (Note: 12 hour minimum does not include on-air fund drives). Which is how I happened to find myself tuned into a recent episode of On Point on the fast food economy and the wave of strikes by fast food workers. The show, hosted by the mellifluosly chiding (chilliflous?) Tom Ashbrook, featured 34-year old Terrence Wise, a fast food striker in Kansas City, MO with three children, two jobs and no home, who believes strongly that his profitable employers should “share the wealth.” Continue reading