What did you learn in school today?

If you’re as terrified as I am by the content and tone of contemporary political debates in the US, then you will either be greatly cheered or terribly ashamed (or both) when you take a look at a very different approach to dealing with “the other” in our lives. So, if you have not yet seen the video of Canadian PM Trudeau welcoming Syrian refugees into Canada, please take a look here. The first time I saw this my stream of consciousness ran something like this: Who is this kid? He’s the leader of a country? How old is this kid? Omigod, I love this kid. Right, Justin Trudeau. His dad was a famous Liberal PM. His mom hung with the Rolling Stones. Look, he’s embracing people that we’re recoilin

ESSA and the Common Core Task Force

This has certainly been a busy week for changes in education policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and today was signed into law by President Obama. This is a long overdue revision of No Child Left Behind, which was seriously flawed from its inception in 2001, and proof that it takes almost 15 years to achieve “bipartisan reform” at the federal level. Lawmakers have been congratulating themselves on a job well done- the art of compromise is not dead in Congress. No, both sides of the aisle now have an agreed upon bill that can be complained about equally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was so pleased, he announced that the President can now wrap

Personalize That

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have pledged 99% of their fortune to making the world a better place. Given the relentless flow of bad news in the world, this is indeed cause for optimism if not wild celebration. Predictably, some folks have quibbled about the means (an LLC rather than a traditional charity) or questioned the sincerity of their altruism. And others are skeptical of their ability to pull this off this given their fiasco in Newark in which $100 million investment in public schools mostly wound up in the hands of consultants. But no one, so far, has questioned what’s at the top of the list of things they want to focus on: personalized learning. Because, let’s face it, who co

Brooklyn LAB Students Help Design Curriculum for Charter's New High Schools

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Learning at two new high schools being planned for Downtown Brooklyn is being overseen by those with the most to gain — the students. Youngsters at public charter school Brooklyn LAB are taking the lead in designing curriculums for the schools. Brooklyn LAB, which opened last year and currently serves sixth and seventh-graders, announced at the White House Summit for Next Generation High Schools earlier this month that it would launch the two schools in 2017. Administrators are now looking to current students to play an active role in planning what and how their new classmates will learn. The students, 60 percent of whom live in public housing and 20 percent of whom are t

Waiting for reform: slow and steady doesn’t always win the race

City Council members and the Mayor’s office had been feeling the heat from religious leaders throughout the city who are pushing to pass a bill that would supply city-funded school safety officers to the city’s private schools. Council member David Greenfield proposed the bill which called for one NYPD school safety agent per each religious or private school in the city with more than 300 students. Originally the DOE and NYPD opposed the bill citing high costs ($51 million) and an over-extension of the school safety officers currently employed by the NYPD. But last week the Mayor’s office agreed to support the bill with a compromise. Rather than use the costly NYPD staff, security officers f

Tear It Up And Start Again

“All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” -Leo Tolstoy If I read the phrase “a national model for school reform” one more time in the context of rapid charter expansion, I may scream. It’s a phrase that’s gotten a lot of use lately. “A national model for school reform” is also being thrown around to describe what has already happened in many places and what is proposed to happen in still more cities. The proliferation of this ideology makes it easier for charter opponents to characterize the sector as the boogieman many suspect us to be. At the crux of the matter we became charter school supporters and advocates because we believed in a system where qual

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