Increasingly, I’m hearing a question that drives me crazy: “Are you for or against charter schools?”
There can only be one legitimate answer to that question: It depends.
Are you speaking of the situation in Michigan, in which four out of five charter school operators are for-profit entities? Or the overall tendency for charters to be even more segregated than their public school neighbors? Or the reluctance by some charter leaders to hold themselves to the same standards of transparency and openness as traditional public schools?
If so, thumbs down.
But if you’re talking about places like Baltimore, where all charter school teachers are unionized (and the charters themselves are almost all locally conceived and teacher-led), or if you’re pointing to the growing movement among some charters to intentionally enroll and serve integrated student bodies – by way of the National Coalition of Diverse Charter Schools – the picture takes a very different shape.
And then there’s what’s happening with Summit Basecamp – a new sort of partnership between charters and traditional public schools that may very well offer the best evidence so far of what Al Shanker first called for back in 1988, when he imagined a new kind of school in which teachers could experiment with different ways of reaching students, and then inject that wisdom back throughout the public school system.
Anyone who has spent time during the last decade or so working for the betterment of American public education will tell you the same thing:
It’s ugly out there, and you’re going to need to pick a side.
In conjunction with the PBS film 180 Days: Hartsville, Black Public Media is sharing an interactive game in which players can become either a teacher, a parent or a principal, and assume responsibility for a class full of 5th graders (or their own child), via ten different scenarios that unfold over the course of a year.
Whenever I want to get a feel for the national mood, I look to Hollywood – and the films it thinks we’ll pay to see. In the post-911 malaise, there was the dystopian world of The Dark Knight. In the era of extended male adolescence, there’s just about anything from Judd Apatow. And now, in the shadow of the Technological Singularity, there are a slew of movies about humankind’s desire to transcend the biological limits of body and brain.
Six years ago, a funny Englishman gave a stirring speech about how schools were stifling the creativity of their students. Today, Sir Ken Robinson is a worldwide celebrity, and his TED talk has been seen by as many as 100 million people.
How did that happen, exactly? And what is the state of the learning revolution Robinson urged us to launch?
Tags: 21st Century Skills, education reform, Expeditionary Learning, Habits of Mind & Work, IDEA, josh starr, Learning, Montgomery County, sir ken robinson, TED
This weekend, I was on CNN to speak about President Obama’s and Representative Ryan’s dueling budget proposals, and asked to comment on which of the two lighted the surer path to true education reform. See for yourself:
In the halls of Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, a debate is raging over which set of economic proposals to pursue in order to rebuild the national economy. At the same time, K-12 education reformers are engaged in their own frantic search for the right recipe(s) that can unlock the full power of teaching and learning. But rarely do we acknowledge that one individual stands, improbably, at the center of both debates – John Maynard Keynes.
, Organizational Change
Tags: charter schools, DC, DCPS, driving demand, economics, education reform, freedom, Great Schools, John Maynard Keynes, K-12, Learning, parents, school choice