A charter-school frenemy in the Bronx
Jonathan Mahler recounts a powerful, yet tortured, tale of MS 223 in the South Bronx in the most recent New York Times Magazine. Focusing on the school’s dynamic leader, Ramón González, Mahler articulates well the tribulations of Gotham’s tenth-best middle school. Throughout the piece González—and Mahler it seems—struggles with the disjoint between charter and district policy, between the status quo and education reform. Despite the principal’s outspoken disdain for charters, their fingerprints are all over his school: González unofficially requires students to wear uniforms, and peppers his hallways with college pennants (tactics used by KIPP to create a college-bound culture). And while González purports to cringe at some of the Klein edu-reforms in NYC (the school leader “worries that the reform movement’s infatuation with competition will undermine the broader goal of improving public education”), he has taken full advantage of Klein initiatives to better MS 223. Thanks to Klein, González has has been able to create his own curricula, micromanage his students’ days, and spend his school’s annual budget as he wishes. The story of MS 223 offers smart lessons for principals and district administrators nationwide: Principals, like González, should grab the best practices wherever they find them—from charters or traditional public schools alike. And district leaders should create policies that afford principals that opportunity. The children will thank you.
“The Fragile Success of School Reform in the Bronx,” by Jonathan Mahler, New York Times Magazine, April 6, 2011.
blog comments powered by Disqus