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 →

The Selling of New Orleans

New Orleans-style education reform is being touted as a model for other cities. But should it be?

As the 10th anniversary of Katrina approaches, we’ll be awash in claims that the replacement of New Orleans’ public schools with a market-based, all charter school system is a model for other cities. I aim to challenge this narrative with my own grass-roots style journalism. But I can’t do it without you!

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Win, Helen, Win!

Parent activist Helen Gym’s race for Philly City Council is a model of how to put schools and community voice at the heart of a campaign…

Parent activist Helen Gym

Parent activist Helen Gym

When I got word that parent activist Helen Gym wasn’t just running for an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council but was teaching the world a thing or two in the process, I knew I had to see this force of nature for myself. And so I was off, to Philly, to spend a day with Helen, knocking on doors, shaking hands, talking to complete strangers about school funding and how you can’t have strong neighborhoods without strong schools. Or rather Helen did those things. I just stood back and marveled, thinking again and again that every one of our cities needs a Helen—and that it might just be you, or me. Well, probably not me… Continue reading →

¡Si Se Puede Take the Test!

Test takers who are still learning English get a special treat this time of year...

good luckPssst: did you know that there is a connection between how well one speaks English and how well one performs on a test conducted in English? If your answer was *no,* *I don’t understand the question,* or *charter schools,* an exciting leadership opportunity awaits. It’s time for another round of Let’s Take Over a District. This season’s lucky winner: scenic Holyoke, Massachusetts. We’re headed west, young reader, and there’s not a moment to spare. Continue reading →

Will You Accept This High-Performing Seat?

Philly KIPP principal Ben Speicher and I chat about The Bachelor, the charter school backfilling debate and the evolution of KIPP…

EduShyster: You and I happen to have in common two passions: our shared love of the TV show, The Bachelor, and a strong belief that charter schools should play by the same rules that govern most public schools. A few weeks ago I happened to be watching the show whilst also reading this piece by confirmed non-bachelor Mike Petrilli, arguing that as students leave, charters shouldn’t have to accept new students. I shared my view that the backfilling debate and the controversies that have beset this season of The Bachelor are not unrelated. To which you had this to say:

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Ben Speicher: I’m a proud fan of The Bachelor and have even been known to use clips of the show during staff training sessions. As much as like watching the show to see who gets the final rose – and who gets sent home – I work hard to keep attrition low at my school so we never have to say goodbye to our kids. Continue reading →