This article about the remarkable success of New Orleans charters helps support the case I made in The Urban School System of the Future: Smart chartering is the right systemic approach for drastically improving student achievement over time. This article is particularly exciting because it uses ACT scores as the measure of achievement (a rigorous indicator of readiness for post-secondary work) and because high school improvement continues to be one of the most stubborn challenges in urban K–12 reform.
I’m no reflexive advocate for ed tech generally or blended learning specifically, but the NJEA, New Jersey’s largest teacher union, is doing itself a disservice by suing to stop charters from making use of online learning. The early results elsewhere suggest that blended learning has promise, and the state is moving into this field slowly, which is prudent. Moreover, given that the charter at the heart of this controversy is in low-performing Newark, where new approaches are desperately needed, the NJEA (which, to its credit, supported the state’s tenure reform legislation) is handing its opponents talking-point fodder.
Sunday’s major article on D.C. charter expulsions is worth the read. It raises too many important issues for me to do them all justice in a quick blurb, but, in no particular order, here’s my list of takeaways and responses:
Zuckerberg will give away $500 million to Newark schools.
Photo by deneyterrio via photopin cc.
After a massive donation to district schools of Newark, NJ, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is planning to give away $500 million to education and health, with details TBD. I’d love to see Mr. Zuckerberg invest in the urban school system of the future instead of jamming more money into broken urban districts. My intellectual doppelganger, Neerav Kingsland, feels the same way.
The ladies of Politics K-12 always know what to write about. This piece about RTTT-D scoring by Michele McNeil is a great example. It has all of the pertinent information that a casual RTTT-D follower could want and valuable insights for those closer to the competition. It’s a must-read for people interested in federal education policymaking and implementation—and for anyone trying to learn how to blog.
Add Indianapolis to the list of cities doing chartering right: Stanford’s CREDO found that not only are its charters improving student performance at a faster clip, they are serving a similar student demographic. Indy joins the ranks of NYC, New Orleans, and Newark as cities showing how a charter sector can significantly outperform the failed
America has nearly 12,000 school superintendents, of whom the overwhelming majority are career educators who have taught in the classroom and risen through the administrative ranks of public education. Most are middle-aged-to-older white males—and almost half say they will retire within five years.
Joshua Starr has emerged as a fully fledged anti-reformer.
Photo from WAMU 88.5.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be ardent change-agents. They’ve lived and worked within this system and will benefit from its pensions in retirement. Why make waves?
To be fair, some are earnest, tireless, and imaginative reformers, bent on altering public education so that it better serves the country’s girls and boys. Among the most nationally visible of these have been Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Kaya Henderson, Tom Boasberg, John Deasy, Jean-Claude Brizard, and Andres Alonso. (Several of these, of course, followed non-traditional paths to the corner office.) Others, just as committed to major overhauls, are well known only in their communities, such as Cleveland’s Eric Gordon, Cincinnati’s Mary Ronan, and Dayton’s Lori Ward (if only she had a supportive board). These people strike sparks and light fires.
But thousands of superintendents are more set in their ways, sometimes firefighters but rarely kindlers. They preside (often ably) over “the system as we know it”: holding staff
Mike has written a terrific book, and his ideas are always worth pondering. But this one ain’t so great. If I were moving my family into Park Slope or Northwest D.C., it would be in no small part because I could carefully select a house or apartment within the “zone” of a public school that I want my kids to attend. (This is, of course, hypothetical. My own kids have kids—and live in other places!) In the school-choice world, that’s known as “real estate choice”—and millions and millions of American families engage in it. Here’s how the National Center for Education Statistics puts it:
Another form of parental choice is to move to a neighborhood so one's child can attend a particular school. In 2007, the parents of 27 percent of public school students reported that they had moved to their current neighborhood so that their child could attend his or her current school. A greater percentage of Whites (29 percent) than Blacks (18 percent) and Hispanics (25 percent), and suburban students (33 percent) than students living in other locales (20-23 percent) moved to their current neighborhood so their child could attend the school.
I’d be apoplectic if a change in district policy suddenly informed me that I could no longer count on my kids attending P.S. 321 or Alice Deal or whatever. I’d do everything in my power to reverse the decision—or throw the bums
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.
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