An open letter to my students at a “no excuses” charter school in Boston
By Barrett Smith
Last month I resigned from my position as a tutor and teaching assistant at a “No-Excuses” Charter School in Boston. What follows is an open letter to my students.
First, I need to get something off my chest. I came to your middle school for some selfish reasons. I wanted to tutor you not only to help you but also to help myself. I came to Boston temporarily and as an outsider, looking for a year of training in skills that I could take with me to my future home, and to benefit my future students. Continue reading
Tutors at a no-excuses charter school learn some hard lessons
By Barrett Smith
Last December, I drove down to Boston from Middlebury College in Vermont where I was finishing my senior year. On a crisp Monday morning, I parallel parked, straightened my tie and walked into an interview to become a tutor at a “no excuses” charter school. A week later I had an offer sitting in my inbox, inviting me to become a member of the “Corps,” so called because the program used to be part of AmeriCorps. I was the first of my roommates to receive a job offer and joining the Corps sounded pretty damn good. Continue reading
Can a new generation of young, Navy SEAL-like teachers finally club the achievement gap out of existence?
Hedge funder Whitney Tilson argues that a new generation of young Navy SEAL-like teachers can club the achievement gap out of existence.
Can a new generation of young, Navy SEAL-like teachers finally club the achievement gap out of existence? That is today’s fiercely urgent question, reader, and believe it or not, I do not ask it in jest. The call to send in the SEALs comes from hedge fund manager and edu-visionary extraordinaire Whitney Tilson. When Tilson read this recent New York Times story about high turnover among young charter school teachers, he went ballistic, to use a military metaphor. After all, turnover among Navy SEALs is also very high, notes Tilson, and no one complains about that. Continue reading
“I see bad teachers…. Walking around like excellent teachers….”
Reader: when viewing the latest blockbuster at my local megaplex, I often find myself wondering whether the director of said film has any ideas for reforming our failed and failing public schools. That’s why I was so pleased to learn that M. Night Shyamalan, maker of such hit films as the Sixth Sense, Signs and The Last Airbender, has embarked on a Titanic-sized project: closing the achievement gap. Continue reading
This fall, Boston’s largest public elementary school, with an all-minority student body, will reopen as a no-excuses charter.
Dear [insert name here]:
Another school year is about to start and I’ve got some exciting changes to share with you. Your old school, John J. Marshall, with its low expectations and old teachers is no more. Instead, you will be attending UP Academy, an exciting new school with fresh new teachers, fresh new administrators and none of the excuses that were the rule at your old school. So what can you expect? Let’s take a look… Continue reading