Helping Children Succeed (Will Require Doing Pretty Much the Opposite of Just About Everything We’re Doing Now)

I talk to Paul Tough about his new book, which you should really read even if the whole *grit* thing drives you bonkers….

9780544935280_lres.gif (600×906)EduShyster
: Your new book is subtitled *What Works and Why.* But if I may, I’d like to suggest a different subtitle: *Just About Everything We’re Doing to Low-Income Kids in School is Wrong and Here’s the Neuro-Biological Research to Explain Why.* Was it just me or does the research you write about upend some pretty fundamental assumptions?

Paul Tough: I was struck by that too. Some of the basic principles we have, in terms of discipline, in terms of pedagogy and how we run our schools are not advantageous to kids who are growing up in adversity. This research on just how boring school is really resonated with me, especially the research about how when you’re growing up in a low-income community, school is more likely to be repetitive, boring and unmotivating. I hadn’t really picked up on that as being a significant problem before doing this reporting, but this research was really persuasive to me, not only that it’s true for a lot of kids but that it really matters in terms of their motivation. I think I was also more attuned to what happens in American schools and in classrooms because my older son is now in school. Continue reading →

The Cornhusker Challenge

I talk to Education Cities’ Ethan Gray about the new Education Equality Index, and challenge him to accompany me to the #1 gap-closing city in the USA: Omaha, Nebraska. (Spoiler alert: he accepts!)

CornGuyEduShyster: Let’s not waste any time here. We’re headed straight to the top spot of your new Education Equality Index: Omaha, Nebraska—which is, according to your measure, closing the achievement gap faster than other city in the nation. Anything unusual happening in the schools there that you can put your finger on? 

Ethan Gray: You’re going to the question of why the results are the way they are. At this point we’re focused on trying to highlight the schools in those cities that have closed or are closing the achievement gap, and we think it’s really important for local education leaders, policy makers and researchers to spend some time in those schools and get to know them better and understand what educators in those schools are doing and what they would ascribe their success to. I haven’t spent time in those schools and so I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

EduShysterFull disclosure—that was actually a trick question. Omaha is unusual in that it has no charter schools. Nebraska, which is also home to your #6 gap-closing city, Lincoln, is one of just seven states that doesn’t allow charters. 

Gray: [Dry chuckle…] We don’t really think it’s about the type of school. We think it’s about spending time in those schools and learning more about what the school leaders, educators and parents are doing there. What we’ve noticed looking at the data is that there are schools of all types that are showing up on our list of gap-closing schools: district schools, charter schools, magnet schools, low-tech schools. We’re really encouraged that in almost every city we looked at, there is at least one, if not multiple gap-closing schools. Continue reading →

We Don’t Have to Suspend So Many Kids—But Alternatives Cost $$$$

Alternatives to *no excuses* discipline exist, but they don’t come cheap….

Corey 2 By Corey Gaber
The typical *woke* person’s evaluation of the behavior management landscape is that we suspend and expel too many kids. We suspend more than 3 million students a year, twice the level of suspensions in the 1970s. And we suspend kids for less and less severe actions, most famously in no-excuses charter chains, for doing things like singing Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror in the Cafeteria. As has been well documented, we teachers and administrators issue consequences in a racially-biased manner. 

But removing a student from school rarely benefits the student. In fact it often hurts their long term academic prospects. They miss valuable class time and teacher support, which puts them in a tough position to catch up whenever they do return. They often harbor feelings of resentment, embarrassment, and/or confusion about the suspension, combined with their academic falling behind can lead to further acting out. Finally, suspension is unlikely to address the root problem that led to the behavior in the first place. Continue reading →

Ostensibly Vociferous

School choice superfan Derrell Bradford and I chew over the politics of education reform, Success Academy and what’s behind Teach for America’s new rapid response unit.

DBEduShyster: I better begin by revealing to the world that you and I attended the education reform equivalent of prom together: the EdReformies! We bonded over vocabulary. I told you that one of my all-time favorite words is *dissemble,* meaning *to conceal one’s true motives, feelings or beliefs.* Do you recall what your fave word was? 

Derrell Bradford: My most-used word back then was *ostensible.* I had to use it all the time to master using it. Right now my undercover word is *vociferous.* Somebody asked me the other day: *How do you respond to people who say that you’re doing ‘this, this, this and this?’* And I was just like *vociferously.*  Continue reading →

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

Continue reading →