What It Looks Like When Test Prep Eats Ur School

report card

It looks like this, as a matter of fact. This is an actual report card from a fifth grade student in Massachusetts whom we will call Ginny, in place of the inevitable Johnny. A note on the notations: the slash marks indicate *not introduced at this time,* meaning that Ginny seems to have gone entirely history/social studies/and map free during the all important spring testing season. The *D* stands for developing, as Ginny likely spent much of her time developing short essays in response to the out-of-context passages she spent most of the rest of her time reading. That is when she wasn’t honing her math skills. Continue reading →

*I Went to the National Charter Conference & All I Got Was This Lousy Responsibility Bracelet*

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard leaves the National Charter Conference with a responsibility bracelet—and some big questions…

By Ashana Bigard

I attended the National Charter Schools Conference from June 21 to June 24 in New Orleans. On Sunday, June 21, as I was checking in, I asked about free spaces for the parents in the community who have children in charter schools. To my surprise and dismay there was no slot open. The conference kicked off with a Mardi Gras style parade. It was a celebration of charter schools and their success in New Orleans, which is a national model for innovation in education—or so they say… Continue reading →

Disrupt This!

What happened when teachers confronted a union-busting charter CEO at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans?

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Charter teachers (and disruptors) Julia McLaughlin, Karla Tobar and Chris Baehrend.

When is *disruption* not just a super cool buzz word but something that’s actually, well, *disruptive*? That would be when teachers attending the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans asked the CEO of an Ohio charter management organization about firing teachers for trying to organizing a union at his schools—and using taxpayer money to pay the fine when he got caught. This went about as well as you might expect. And when security arrived, combing through the crowd for disruptors, that’s when things got really disruptive…  Continue reading →

Black Leaders (and Teachers) Matter

Andre Perry says education reform in New Orleans has failed the most important test…

Scholar, writer and education activist Andre Perry.

Scholar, writer and education activist Andre Perry.

EduShyster: You were involved in the education reform experiment in New Orleans from its inception. But you’ve become increasingly critical of the direction reform has taken. Why?

Andre Perry: The goal of education has to be build the capacity of local residents. It has to be—and I’m talking about from top to bottom. Our goal is not to improve a school in spite of the community. Our goal is to improve a community using schools. And it’s not just to give students the skills to get a job—that’s one small part. It’s to make sure they have sustainable communities to live in. You’re not going to fire your way to improving community. You have to do the hard work of building capacity and training people and becoming a member of the community. That’s how you do it. That wasn’t happening and it’s not happening. In addition, and this is where I am clearly biased, New Orleans is 60% Black. If we don’t have Black leaders in the mix, we’re just reinforcing a power structure that helped cause the situation we were in. Continue reading →

It’s Raining Meatballs

What lessons can we fail to learn from Sweden’s disastrous school choice disaster?

Reader: it seems like only yesteryear that you and I were off to Sweden together to tour the wonders of that country’s experiment with skola privatisering, otherwise known as *the magic of the market.* So what happened since we boarded our return flight aboard Scandanavian Airlines? In a word: katastrofA familiar recipe of vouchers and privately-run, publicly funded schools, spiced up with the profit motive, has had the exact opposite effect of what advocates promised, with international test scores plummeting and gaps between haves and have nots widening, even as for profit school operators have been profiting. So why do I feel like we’ve taken this trip before? Continue reading →