All in the Family

Has Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser been lobbying himself?

Update: Families for Excellent Schools shared via Twitter that Peyser is no longer on their board. No word on why the Secretary of State still lists him as a director of their 501 (c) (3) and (c) (4). And no word on why I got no response when I put the question to FES directly via email on 12/4… 

Reader: having now corresponded from the wilds of education reform land for some three years now (!), I’ve grown more or less inured to the conflicts of interest that seem to bloom like algae wherever homo reformus sets up shop. But when a tipster contacted me, asking if I was aware that Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser sits on the board of a charter school advocacy group, and directs its lobbying arm, even I was agog. So I followed the trail of breadcrumbs that the tipster helpfully provided to the Secretary of State’s corporations division where I typed in Peyser’s name, and voila, there Peyser was, or rather is…

PeyserFES

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Door Number Three

Stacking up winners and losers in the Great Massessment Debate…

threeDoors-copy*I’ll take door number three, Monty.* Wait—there’s a door number three¿¿¿ I speak, of course, of the remarkable journey that has been the Great Massessment Debate. PARCC vs. MCAS. MCAS vs. PARCC. This week the path to college and career readiness suddenly reached a fork in the road, by which I mean a trident. But as any young Massessee who has fallen on the wrong side of the cut score can attest, there must be winners and losers in this particular contest. To the doors, reader!  Continue reading →

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Hubris

I talk to Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, about how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million *gift* to the Newark Public Schools, turned into, well, just read it…

the prizeEduShyster: As someone who spends a fair amount of time poking around in the smoldering wreckage of urban public education, I often get the sense that education reform advocates don’t have a plan for the kids reform leaves behind—the ones who remain in what’s left of the public schools after the traditional system has been *disrupted.* But in Newark, as you document, this was literally the case. There was no plan.

Dale Russakoff: No, there really wasn’t a plan. What I heard the reformers saying was: *well, it will shake out.* The teachers in the schools that were closing would be laid off but the really good ones would be hired by charters so they’d still be in the community, and the kids would find their way back to good teachers. And I just thought, well, there’s so much in between closing the the schools and kids finding their way to good teachers. How is that going to happen? If you view the world as a business model, an idea like that looks like it makes sense but if you’re on the street living the lives of these children and these families it doesn’t happen so smoothly. I do think, by the way, that there’s some soul searching going on in lots of places about the top-down nature of reform—having outsiders with outside money come in and do reform *to* communities instead of *with* communities. The question of what happens to the other kids is one that’s been missing from the agenda and may now be finding its way onto it. Continue reading →

No Education Summit for You!

How is The 74’s Education Summit 2015 like a school of choice? 

Teacher Penny Culliton with her ticket to the 74's Education Summit.

Teacher Penny Culliton with her ticket to the 74’s Education Summit.

Greetings from sunny New Hampshire where I’m spending 9 hours with Campbell Brown, six GOP presidential candidates and a great many young staffers from education reform groups. Did I just type that? I meant to say *public.* Except that not all of the public is welcome at the 74’s Education Summit apparently. Teacher Penny Culliton, who teaches English (shout out!) at Mascenic Regional High School, was turned away at 8:15 AM despite having a ticket and a registration confirmation. The official reason: like a school of choice, The 74 makes its own rules and can accept or reject anyone it chooses. Fortunately an alert bystander captured the exchange. Now it’s back to work for me. Next up: Joel Klein!

*I Am Not Tom Brady*

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!* Continue reading →