To Market, To Market

A new study finds that with the education marketplace comes a whole lot of education marketing…

dressforsuccessEduShyster: I thought I’d set the stage for our conversation by describing a great, by which I mean appalling, example of education marketing in action. Donald Trump visits a Cleveland charter school that advertises itself as *top-rated* despite getting an *F* rating from the state. And the school is operated by a deep-pocketed for-profit chain that is *on a journey towards excellence.* Thoughts?

Catherine DiMartino: It makes me think about health care advertising. With health care you have the FDA putting certain limitations and providing some kind of oversight. Education is a public good and this is children’s learning and their future, but there’s no kind of regulation.

EduShyster: One of the points you make is that parents, and even teachers, are increasingly on the receiving end of what I’ll helpfully call *ed-vertising* without even being aware that what they’re looking at has been *marketized.* Explain.

Sarah Butler Jessen: They might not be aware that when they go to these websites, for example, that what they’re looking at isn’t necessarily imagery of the actual school they’re considering. They’re looking at websites with stock photos of kids that have been OK’d by charter management organizations that encourage schools to pick the photos. They’re not even always using pictures of the school’s own students. Continue reading →

Holding Back to Get Ahead

Researcher Joanne Golann says that no-excuses charters are teaching low-income students to defer to authority and hold back their opinions—the opposite of what they’ll need to succeed in college and life.

walking in lineEduShyster: You’re one of the first researchers to spend an extended period of time inside a no-excuses charter school. Here’s where I ask you to sum up close to two years of research into a single sentence. OK—you can have a paragraph.

Joanne Golann: I found that in trying to prepare students for college, the school failed to teach students the skills and behaviors to help them succeed in college. In a tightly regulated environment, students learned to monitor themselves, hold back their opinions, and defer to authority. These are very different skills than the ones middle-class kids learn—to take initiative, be assertive, and negotiate with authority. Colleges expect students to take charge of their learning and to advocate for themselves. One of the students I talk about in the article learned to restrain herself to get through, to hold herself back and not speak her mind. She ended up winning the most-improved student award in 8th grade for her changed behavior. Continue reading →

Bad Apples

Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker shines a light on some extremely shady charter industry practices—and causes my hair to literally catch on fire…

BadAppleEduShyster: Your new study, about the policies that charter school operators use for financial benefit, is harshly critical of a few bad apples. But why focus on them as opposed to, say, the high-performing many?

Bruce Baker: The important context for this report is to understand just who are the dominant charter managers in the landscape. You’ve got Imagine, you’ve got National Heritage, you’ve got White Hat and you’ve got Charter Schools USA. A lot of academics and charter advocates are going to think well *those aren’t the big ones like KIPP and Uncommon.* But KIPP and Uncommon aren’t the big ones. The big ones are Imagine, National Heritage, White Hat and Charter Schools USA. If we were to decide that here and now is the time to clean all this stuff up and just shut down a bunch of these operators, we’d be taking out a sizable share of charter schools in Florida and Ohio. Continue reading →

Most Likely 2 Succeed

Venture capitalist-turned-documentary-producer Ted Dintersmith is a fierce critic of test and measure, and no excuses charter schools. And he offers a compelling vision of what schools could look like….

Ted-Dintersmith-964x670-482x335EduShyster: Your new film, Most Likely to Succeed, makes a convincing case that the obsession with standardized testing is leading us over a cliff—and not into a sea of innovation. Why? And keep in mind that there is only one correct answer and that I’m timing you.

Ted Dintersmith: Well, it all depends on how you see the goal of education. If the goal is to teach kids year after year to shut down their creative thinking and stop asking questions, we’re doing a great job. Is school about learning vocabulary and math through repetition and drilling under time pressure? Or is it about doing complicated challenging things that you care about and learning to persevere and be creative and resourceful? Continue reading →

*I Am Not Tom Brady*

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!* Continue reading →