The High-Stakes Pipeline

A Boston student explains the connection between high-stakes testing, harsh discipline policies and the school-to-prison pipeline…

By De’Anthony Robinson

De’Anthony Robinson addresses fellow students at the Statehouse. Robinson and his classmates won this year’s Generation Citizen Changemaker award for their research into harsh discipline policies and how they push kids into the school-to-prison pipeline.

I am De’Anthony Robinson and I am a student at Brighton High. I am just weeks away from graduating from high school.  I am incredibly proud of that.  But as I travel back and forth across the city for school every day, I see many of my friends who are not going to make it.  Out of all of my childhood friends, only two will graduate.  Like many young people of color in this city and country, they are struggling to finish school.  They feel alienated from their education because of issues like high stakes tests, unfair discipline policies and schools that just don’t help them feel successful.  My friends are not on a good path in life and there are so many that others like them.  In fact only 59 percent of young black men graduate from high school and only 65 percent of young Latino men graduate. One out of every three black men and one out of every six Latino men will serve time in prison. Continue reading →

The Education of EduShyster (a Comedy)

Can you believe I’ve been at this for three years???

three candlesNote: to mark the third anniversary of my blog, I’m sharing a chapter that I wrote for a book called Resisting Reform: Reclaiming Public Education Through Grassroots Activism. I recount my unlikely journey into the world of edu-blogging and reveal at long last what (or rather who) prompted me to come out as my self…

I can tell you exactly when Edushyster.com came into being. It was the summer of 2012 and I was deep in conversation with my husband. Well, maybe conversation isn’t quite the right word as it implies some sort of a back-and-forth. This was more of a one-way affair—a diatribe to be precise, and I was the one doing the dia-tribing. As he liked to point out, I’d been doing a lot of this lately. Our early morning newspaper reading sessions had become a launching pad for my many strong opinions. Continue reading →

*Hope Always Wins the Day*

City-councilor-to-be Helen Gym talks about the movement behind her win—and a clear defeat for the education reform vision…

Helen 1EduShyster: That sound you just heard was me uncorking a box of champagne. But you still have to win the general election in November. Did I start celebrating too soon?

Helen Gym: No—you didn’t celebrate too early. I’m not worried about the race but I definitely want to make sure that in the final tally in November that I move up in votes and send a clear message about voters prioritizing public education and communities. And just to put things in perspective, Democrats outnumber Republicans in Philly by more than 7 to 1. Continue reading →

*If Any Charter School Needs a Union, It’s Urban Prep*

A former teacher weighs in on teaching and learning conditions at a Chicago charter school…

Urban_Prep_EnglewoodEditor’s note: A few weeks ago, I ran a post by Urban Prep teacher Dave Woo about why he and his colleagues at a Chicago charter school are organizing a union. Teachers at the school will vote on June 3rd on whether they want to be part of the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff. In the meantime, Urban Prep administrators are making the case that having a union is antithetical to the charter’s mission—which, according to one former teacher, appears to be *promoting the Urban Prep brand with an eye towards national expansion.* The teacher, whose testimony I’m sharing here, urges all of us to stand with his former Urban Prep colleagues.  Continue reading →

*Maybe I’m a Bad Kid*

Strict charter school discipline is especially tough on boys. Here’s one student’s story… 

By Steven Thomas

steven 2When I was in sixth grade I attended the Academy of the Pacific Rim. I went through a lot during this time. My mother and father got a divorce, and it was kind of hard on me. I didn’t know what was going on. This was the first time I’d gone to a school that was really challenging. The hours were from 7:40AM to 4:10PM everyday. I was just coming from elementary school, and the hours just seemed absurd. I wasn’t used to getting up that early or to being in such a strict school, and by the first couple weeks I was in trouble. On top of that, I had an IEP and I didn’t get a lot of help. At a young age I was diagnosed with autism. I didn’t speak until I was three and a half. I was in speech therapy for eight years. Continue reading →