October 1, 2010 |
Superman and Green Lantern have nothing on Geoffrey Canada, educator and bright light of Waiting for "Superman," Davis Guggenheim's devastating portrait of American public schools. Guggenheim, Oscar-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth , tells the stories of five students waiting to hear whether they've won the charter-school lottery, and offers his diagnosis. In interviews with Canada and other reformers, he prescribes a course of action. Survivor of the "failure factories" that are American high schools, Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, knows what it takes to get students from cradle to college diploma.
April 10, 2013 |
Last week, 35 former Atlanta educators were forced to take a perp walk, reporting to law enforcement authorities for arrest in connection with the nation's biggest academic scandal. Once among the pillars of metro Atlanta's middle class, they've been reduced to pleading that they don't belong in jail. And that may be true. The charges of a widespread conspiracy to cheat may represent the ambitions of a local prosecutor rather than any top-down plot carried out by a confederacy of criminals.
November 7, 2011 |
THE CONTROVERSIAL reforms that Michelle Rhee pushed during her tumultuous tenure as public-schools leader in Washington, D.C., were hardly the last marks she'd make on U.S. public education. Since resigning last year, Rhee has pushed hard for school vouchers and merit pay for teachers, and has founded StudentsFirst, which pours money into lawmakers' coffers. Perhaps it shouldn't have come as a surprise then, that, after receiving a $905,000 buyout, Philadelphia's former schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman became a voucher proponent herself.
December 6, 2011
ARLENE Ackerman will not go away. In Act Two of her Marie Antoinette act, Ackerman was not satisfied with the nearly $1 million golden-parachute buyout that she extracted from the Philadelphia School District. As a final insult, she has attempted to shake down the taxpayers for pin money: $573 in weekly unemployment compensation. This shameless, chintzy move does not surprise me, nor does the fact that the School Reform Commission won't oppose it, or even that defenders of the great educator, like Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, will try to stifle debate on this.
April 4, 2000 |
The Philadelphia School District will pay a nonprofit consulting firm nearly $200,000 to help recruit, train and support up to 75 teachers for its hard-to-staff middle schools. The New Teacher Project Inc., based in New York City, will target Ivy League colleges, as well as other high-caliber schools, and reach out to midcareer professionals with a plea to consider teaching in the city. The project, formed in 1997, is a spin-off of Teach for America, the program that puts recent college graduates in tough urban and rural schools to teach.
October 18, 2011
IN INTERVIEWING protesters of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Philadelphia and, yes, Occupy Doylestown, I've been struck not only by the inability of the protesters to state what they want done, but also by the conspiracy theories that they lapse into to explain their problems in a tough economy. While Woodstock united young people who were rallying against America's involvement in the Vietnam War, the Occupy demonstrators seem to be against everything. Their complaints about the Wall Street bailouts are shared by a lot of my listeners, but the younger people have gone from protesting Wall Street to an assault on capitalism and corporations.
October 4, 2011
WE ARE living in an era of cutbacks. When economic times get tough, businesses sometimes have to make tough choices about whom or what to cut. You'd think that for a job as important as teaching kids, teacher quality would be the deciding important factor, but it's not even close in the Philadelphia public schools. A recent visit to Gratz High by Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools and now head of Students First, brought a sobering example of this to light.
September 21, 2010 |
ARE WE on the cusp of a major awakening that could push public schools to the reform they so badly need? Is there a film that could crystallize all the angst over public schools and smash through the status quo? The answers are "yes" and "maybe. " John Heilemann, writing in New York magazine, says, "A confluence of factors - a grassroots outcry for better schools, a cadre of determined reformers, a newly demanding and parlous economy, and a president willing to challenge his party's hoariest shibboleths and most potent allies has created what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls 'a perfect storm.
August 21, 2011
Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools By Steven Brill Simon & Schuster. 496 pp. $28 Reviewed by Jingwen Hu A fire door in a brick school building separates two worlds. On one side is P.S. 149, a New York public school where educating a student costs $19,358 per year, 29 percent of the students were proficient in English in 2009-10, and 34 percent were proficient in math. On the other side is Harlem Success Academy 1, a charter school where 86 percent of the students were proficient in English that year and 94 percent were proficient in math.
October 11, 2011 |
IN AN urban Head Start classroom, a 3-year-old has just been dropped off by her father and sits on the lap of a volunteer from the "Granny Brigade. " As he leaves, she begins to wail, "Daddy! Dadeeeeee!" Her "granny" holds her gently until she calms down and is ready to join other young children in their morning activities. They go through this ritual for several days until the little girl gradually adjusts to the new experience known as preschool. All children depend on the adults in their lives to establish the basic trust that they will be safe.