*I Went to the National Charter Conference & All I Got Was This Lousy Responsibility Bracelet*

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard leaves the National Charter Conference with a responsibility bracelet—and some big questions…

By Ashana Bigard

I attended the National Charter Schools Conference from June 21 to June 24 in New Orleans. On Sunday, June 21, as I was checking in, I asked about free spaces for the parents in the community who have children in charter schools. To my surprise and dismay there was no slot open. The conference kicked off with a Mardi Gras style parade. It was a celebration of charter schools and their success in New Orleans, which is a national model for innovation in education—or so they say… Continue reading →

The Case of the Disappearing Data

Louisiana’s Nancy Drew gets her hands on those elusive ACT scores…

Nancy_Drew_80_211EduShyster: Let’s get right to the question that’s on all of our minds. Is that John White as handsome as he looks in his pictures?

Mercedes Schneider: Well, it depends on how you define handsome. I personally find honesty to be an attractive trait…

EduShyster: You broke a big story over the weekend. Somehow you managed to get your hands on Louisiana’s 2014 ACT scores, which the state Department of Education didn’t seem to want to release. What do the numbers tell you?

Schneider: They’re terrible. I go over them in more detail here, but what you need to know is that the composite ACT score for the schools in New Orleans’ Recovery School District dropped from the year before, and that for individual high schools the scores are in the 13, 14 and 15 range. For comparison’s sake, to get into Louisiana State one needs an ACT score of 22—a minimum of 19 in math and an 18 in English. But what really stands out to me is that the students in New Orleans who took the ACT in 2014 were in 3rd grade when Katrina hit. Even if you have students who didn’t return to the city for two years, that means they’ve been attending these charter schools since 5th grade. That’s how long they’ve been subject to this experiment. You look at these numbers and it’s clear why John White didn’t want them to be made public. Continue reading →

“Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Excellent!”

Teach for America has raised nearly $1 billion in the last five years to build a pipeline of excellence into the education rephorm movement.

Today’s $1 billion question: how much excellence does $1 billion buy? The answer is muchos, muchos excellence—if you happen to be Teach for America. $1 billion is roughly the amount that TFA has managed to raise in the past five years, earning it a spot on Forbes list of the 200 largest US charities. Even in today’s union-stifled climate of non-innovation, that’s a lot of excellence. A little perspective: $1 billion is enough to pay every one of TFA’s 28,000 alumni a bonus of $35,000, just for being outstanding. It’s even enough to pay each of TFA’s 16 officers six figure salaries—and still have a cool $300 million left over for additional excellence.
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