In the Future, All the Seats Will Be High Performing

I talk to Andy Smarick about the urban school system of the future…

future 8EduShyster: Let’s talk about the future. In your vision, urban parents will choose between their choice of high-performing charter schools. But one can’t help but observe that the cities that seem to be hurtling towards the future at the greatest velocity don’t seem to have all that much choice about where they’re headed.

Andy Smarick: I don’t agree with that at all. I believe that the systems that are going in that direction are places where families, communities and organizations have the most say. They’re places that have the longest charter school wait lists, or in some cities they have the longest scholarship or tax credit wait lists. What I do agree with you about is that in these systems where there are more and more autonomous schools, we don’t have a system yet for ensuring that there is democratic control of the entire system. I think these cities are showing us that parents desperately want a different kind of system, they want choices, they want to be able to exercise their options. But now it’s up to us to ensure that there is democratic control as well.  Continue reading →

The High-Stakes Pipeline

A Boston student explains the connection between high-stakes testing, harsh discipline policies and the school-to-prison pipeline…

By De’Anthony Robinson

De’Anthony Robinson addresses fellow students at the Statehouse. Robinson and his classmates won this year’s Generation Citizen Changemaker award for their research into harsh discipline policies and how they push kids into the school-to-prison pipeline.

I am De’Anthony Robinson and I am a student at Brighton High. I am just weeks away from graduating from high school.  I am incredibly proud of that.  But as I travel back and forth across the city for school every day, I see many of my friends who are not going to make it.  Out of all of my childhood friends, only two will graduate.  Like many young people of color in this city and country, they are struggling to finish school.  They feel alienated from their education because of issues like high stakes tests, unfair discipline policies and schools that just don’t help them feel successful.  My friends are not on a good path in life and there are so many that others like them.  In fact only 59 percent of young black men graduate from high school and only 65 percent of young Latino men graduate. One out of every three black men and one out of every six Latino men will serve time in prison. Continue reading →

*Maybe I’m a Bad Kid*

Strict charter school discipline is especially tough on boys. Here’s one student’s story… 

By Steven Thomas

steven 2When I was in sixth grade I attended the Academy of the Pacific Rim. I went through a lot during this time. My mother and father got a divorce, and it was kind of hard on me. I didn’t know what was going on. This was the first time I’d gone to a school that was really challenging. The hours were from 7:40AM to 4:10PM everyday. I was just coming from elementary school, and the hours just seemed absurd. I wasn’t used to getting up that early or to being in such a strict school, and by the first couple weeks I was in trouble. On top of that, I had an IEP and I didn’t get a lot of help. At a young age I was diagnosed with autism. I didn’t speak until I was three and a half. I was in speech therapy for eight years. Continue reading →

Separate but Innovative: MLK 2.0

If Martin Luther King Jr. returned today, would he be an achievement gaptivist? And which billionaires would fund his important work?

No one could lead a civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. But let’s face it: the movement he led was old school. The civil rights issue of our time is the achievement gap, and closing it often requires doing the opposite of what Dr. King stood for. Which raises some important questions: if Dr. King returned today would he be an achievement gaptivist? Which billionaires would fund his important work? And with poverty and racism now officially regarded as excuses, what would he talk about? Meet Martin Luther King 2.0, now with more excellence.

Continue reading →

Question Authoritarianism

Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…

zhaoEduShyster: I have to start by paraphrasing my hero, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: why can’t we have China’s education system for a day? 

Zhao: Because the Chinese system is not a system that you want to copy. I started thinking about writing this book a decade ago, after No Child Left Behind. I remember thinking *I can’t believe that the US is going to abandon what has made it a good country so far in order to try to copy a system that has been proven ineffective in producing a modern economy.* After a decade, it’s getting worse and worse, not just in education but in the rise in the glorification of authoritarianism in other domains. That’s how you end up with writers like Friedman asking *why can’t we be China for a day?* Every few decades people begin to question democracy because it isn’t as efficient as authoritarianism. On the one hand we condemn authoritarianism but at the same time we admire its actions. Continue reading →