Big Easy, Hot Mess

Why New Orleanians are turning against the city’s education reform experiment…

Blue_House,_N._Robertson_St._4500_Blk,_New_Orleans_LAHere is all you need to know about the New Orleans schools before Hurricane Katrina hit, ten years ago this summer: they were awful. The schools were awful, the school board was awful, the central office was awful—all of them were awful. At a recent conference held to tout the progress made by the schools here since Katrina, Scott Cowen, an early proponent of the all-charter-school model that exists here now, described New Orleans’ pre-storm schools as mired in *unprecedented dysfunction.* In other words, they were awful. 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 →

TFA’s Diversity Dilemma

EduShyster’s D-list reformer gives TFA props for diversifying—but says the organization still treats corps members like they come from privilege  

By *The 49er*
tfa diverseI have a confession to make: I was a Teach for America (TFA) teacher (or corps member as TFA calls its teachers, since just plain teacher is considerably less sexy). While that gives me major points among the reform crowd, it taints my image among many non-TFA educators. While there are many criticisms of TFA that I happen to agree with, I give TFA credit for working to improve as an organization. This week TFA announced that it has made significant strides in increasing the diversity of its corps. I salute them for addressing the lack of teachers who come from communities of color—but the fat lady hasn’t quite sung on this play yet. Continue reading →

Welcome to Boston, Families for Excellent Schools!

A few Excellent tips (and one Excellent idea)  to help you stand out in a crowded field…

welcome wagon

Setting up shop in a brand new city can be tough—especially when the ground you’ll be trodding upon is already quite well trodden upon. Which is why I’ve assembled this handy *welcome wagon* full of Excellent tips to help you get started. Among my helpful suggestions: always be sure to proofread your press releases, as the Boston Globe will be reprinting them verbatim. And hiring detail cops for the big march over the Zakim will set you back a bundle—better get to work on your grassroots fundraising drive now! 

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A Happy, Good News Story

In which we visit one of my all-time favorite programs and learn the surprising reason for its success

A student in the Andover Bread Loaf writing program in Lawrence shares her work.

It’s field trip time, reader, and I’ve got a special treat in store for you today: an actual good news story. So turn that frown upside down and climb aboard—we’re headed to Lawrence, Massachusetts, a city not exactly known for good news.Today’s destination has nothing to do with the grand experiment in education reform that’s currently underway on both sides of the Spicket River (remember this is a good news story). Instead we’re here to drop by one of my all-time favorite programs: Andover Bread Loaf—a writing workshop led by and for students in the Lawrence Public Schools.
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