Ever since Hurricane Katrina, the eyes of education reform proponents and opponents have been on New Orleans, site of one of the most dramatic public school overhauls in American history. Veteran journalist Sarah Carr has been there through the ups and downs, reporting on the reforms for the Times-Picayune. Now she tells the story in her book debut, Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children.
In this installment of the Education Next book club, host Mike Petrilli talks with Sarah about the successes and failures of New Orleans-style reform, and what it means for the rest of the country.
Additional installments of the Ed Next Book Club podcast can be heard here.
Here’s the second half of my compilation of recent publications you might want to read.
- Those of you who read Robin Lake’s awesome BTCIK interview last week know that the Center for Reinventing Public Education is out with a new publication. Since 2005, CRPE has produced an annual Hopes, Fears, and Realities report on charter schools, a collection of similarly themed papers by a number of the field’s leaders. This year’s edition focuses on innovation. All four chapters are absolutely worthwhile; I’m especially partial to Ethan Gray’s piece on charter incubation and Jeffrey Henig’s contemplation of charters expanding to suburban and affluent areas. If you like charters, follow urban education reform, or simply really like CRPE (like me), check it out.
- If you’re interested in the educator-evaluation debate, you ought to take a look at Democrats for Education Reform’s recent report, Culture of Countenance. A number of groups have begun analyzing the consequences of the nation’s rapid overhaul of laws and regulations related to evaluations. DFER’s contribution is giving attention to the most overlooked aspect—observations. An underreported finding of the MET study is that observations may be the wobbliest leg of the new stool. This report builds on that, echoing one of the most important arguments in The Widget Effect—that the culture surrounding evaluations undermines the entire system, observations in particular.
Lyndsey Layton’s wonderful—and wonderfully revealing—front-page Washington Post article is today’s must read (“Duncan’s mission: Sell preschool plan to GOP”). But if you’re like me, it will leave you scratching your head—if not pulling out your hair.
This is the Administration's plan to get an enormous new social entitlement through Congress?
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
This is the Administration’s plan to get an enormous new social entitlement through Congress? Stage events with GOP governors and urge them to pressure Congressional Republicans into passing a tobacco tax? They can’t possibly be that naïve, can they?
In classic Team Obama style, Duncan explains resistance to his boss’s plan as Congressional dysfunction. Yet Republican members of Congress are “functioning” just at they’re supposed to. They promised voters that they would rein in spending, limit the size of government, and keep taxes low. Duncan admits that he wants “a massive influx of resources” in order to “dramatically expand access.” I’m sorry, but that’s not what Republicans were elected to support.
What’s needed isn’t a fancy campaign, complete with a “war room” and “outside-in” strategy, but a real negotiation.* Republicans might support high-quality preschool for poor kids, but not if it means a whopping new tax. What are Democrats willing to give in return?
I see opportunities
I’ve known Mashea Ashton on and off for almost a decade. We’ve done charter school stuff together and crossed paths in various other pursuits. I always liked and respected her a great deal. In my mind she was good people.
But through a fellowship program, I got to know Mashea even better. And for that I’m eternally grateful. Seldom will you come across someone with so much ability and yet so much humility. She is reflective and kind to the core, and she does this work with a quiet passion.
As you’ll see in the questions, Mashea has just about done it all. She’s worked for some of the most influential ed-reform organizations, and she’s currently leading a major effort in one of America’s most prominent ed-reform cities.
But you’ll also see in her answers how she manages to avoid the limelight: by simply being decent and modest and giving others credit.
And that is why I love doing these interviews: to show why our movement is so strong and to draw attention to those who so richly deserve it.
Ladies and gentlemen: the wonderful Mashea Ashton.
What makes you most proud of the Newark Charter School Fund?
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
June 13, 2013
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