Third Way or the Highway


The future of education reform in Massachusetts requires mis-remembering its past…

Since 1635, Massachusetts has been known for its district public schools—the *first way.* Since 1993, Massachusetts’ charter schools have led the nation in pioneering a *second way.* It is time to recognize a Third Way – an emerging set of strategies that combine school-level autonomies and energetic innovation with a commitment to universal service and local voice…

Quick: what’s absent from this rather, um, selective account of the past 381 years of Bay State history? If you answered *that bit about 1993 seems to be a bit fact challenged,* you would be correct. As providence would have it, I happened to be acquainting myself with the history of Massachusetts’ bold experiment with school reform, circa 1993, at the very moment that the Third Way, brought to you by these guys, blazed into the Hub to blaze an optimistic path ahead in K-12 education. Which is how I happen to be in possession of such facts as that charter schools were a virtual afterthought in Massachusetts’ actual second way success story. And that the Third Way, which is already well underway, appears to veer off markedly from the course set by its bold predecessor all those 23 years ago. Strap yourself in, reader: it’s time machine time.

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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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Brain Scams

In Douglas County Colorado, science gets the edupreneurial treatment…

brain kidsDear EduShyster: my child’s school has been spending a lot of time on something called Emergenetics personality profiling. Students take online tests to determine what color matches their style of thinking and behaving. I question whether this has anything to do with science and/or the brain and wondered what you thought. Signed: Worried in the West. ps: I won’t reveal the name of the school district, although you can probably guess…

Dear Worried: Color me cynical but I’d say that it’s never a good sign when the brain *science* on offer comes complete with a toll free number: the zombie-esque 1-888-8brains! Now let me attempt to harness my own brain power and see if I can deduce from whence you are writing. Fortunately, I don’t have to delve too deeply as Emergenetics® has helpfully provided a list of its education clients. Any guesses as to where we’re headed, reader? Continue reading →

So You Wanna Buy a School Board Seat…

It is a true fact that elected school boards are often the biggest obstacles to closing the achievement gap forever and ushering in a bright future of excellence and innovation for our most motivated scholars. But purchasing an entire school board and taking it private can be an expensive proposition. And with so many un-excellent and non-innovative voters out there, even a massive ed-vestment can’t guarantee an excellent outcome.

Don’t despair, savvy edupreneur. Individual school board seats can be purchased for as little as $37,000, leaving you with plenty of big donors left to tap when it’s time to scale up your transformational venture come election time. Want to see how it’s done? Climb aboard the EduShyster express and join me on an all-expenses-paid trip to what must be the reformy-est place in America: Minneapolis, USA. Continue reading →