How Michigan charter schools became prime feasting ground for edu-vultures.
By Tim Fournier
I started teaching in the Detroit Public Schools in 1993, the very year that Michigan approved its first charter schools. Last week The Detroit Free Press published the results of a year-long investigation into the state’s now 20-year old experiment with charters. The series confirms what many of us predicted back then: that freeing these schools from oversight has left them uniquely vulnerable to profiteers, hucksters and charlatans. *Vultures* was the word I used in this letter to the editor I wrote back in 1996. Continue reading →
Michigan officials have launched a bold and secret project known as Skunk Works to create “value schools.”
Someday, in our bold choice-tacular future, once-stifled students will be able to choose the educational option of their choice. Choice chosen, they will then swipe their EduCards to pay for 21st century skills building served up steaming and blended. And should they have any Edu Bucks left after choosing their choice, they can spring for extras like AP courses, athletics or super cool cyber courses. What’s that, you say? Such a choice-tacular future is already in the werks in none other than Michigan, USA? Why we must go there directly to smell the odeur de choix for ourselves… Continue reading →
Does heroism hold value in Michelle Rhee’s measure of a teacher’s worth?
In the annals of tin-eared condolence statements, the one released by Michelle Rhee in the wake of the Newtown school shooting stands out. Her very word choices felt stilted and wrong, evoking a strange world in which children are “assets,” stunned and reeling teachers are “colleagues,” and family are the members of Rhee’s own “team.” But if the statement began on an off note, worse was still to come. The lesson of the hours-old tragedy, Rhee seemed to conclude, was that she’d been right along. “Improve schools for children,” (read, eliminate tenure and other workplace protections for teachers) and thereby “improve entire communities” (read, prevent senseless slaughter). As for her parting, there was nothing left for Rhee to do but double down, announcing that she and the entire StudentsFirst organization—”including the members of our team in Connecticut“—were recommitting to their mission today. Not two days from now, when the first of the unending series of memorials would begin, not a week from now when the funerals would at last be over, but today.
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Reader: an idea for how to rescue our union-stifled public schools is generated roughly every 3.5 seconds. Most of these are almost nonsensically bad. Still, there is a category of edu-idea so catastrophically ill-informed, so stuffed with rephorminess and drenched with what the French call sauce privatisation that it deserves our special attention today. I give you rephorm turducken. Continue reading →