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Oct 25 2013

The Latest New Orleans Miracle

Anytime there is a press release from the Louisiana Department of Education, I know I have some work to do. Two years ago it was how the RSD had the highest percent growth even though that statistic is exaggerated for districts with low baseline scores.  One year ago it was the ‘growth’ of their ACT…

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The hardest thing about trying to have an intellectual debate with ‘reformers’ is every time they start to lose, they try to change the rules. First they say “poverty doesn’t matter” and when it becomes clear that it does, they start saying “Well, it matters, but we still need to make schools as good as…

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Aug 01 2013

Fat (Lie) Tuesday

Yesterday, there was some exciting news out of New Orleans.  I learned about it from a tweet by TFA co-CEO Elisa Villanueva-Beard. Now I’ve written before about The New Orleans ‘Miracle.’  They generally have a way of twisting whatever numbers they get into something that they can celebrate.  In this case, I read the article…

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A ‘miracle school’ is one that purports to get extraordinary results with the ‘same kids’ as the nearby ‘failing’ school.  Sometimes the miracle is high test scores, sometimes it is a high graduation rate, sometimes it is a high college acceptance rate.  In general the school usually gets one or two of those things at…

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I visited KIPP High School in New York City a few months ago and wrote about it.  My post was pretty generous — perhaps too generous — so I’m going to write more about what I saw there in a few small posts. In my last post I put a picture I took of the…

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Feb 19 2013

The $400 senior dues bargain at KIPP High School

A few months ago I visited the New York City KIPP High School and wrote a post about it.  That post was called ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ by a lot of people on Twitter, which I’m happy about because it took a lot of restraint to write it that way.  As they were very gracious over…

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Feb 03 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

On October 15th, 2012 Bill and Melinda Gates visited Eagle Valley High School in the Eagle County school district in Colorado. Eagle County, in which ski mecca Vail is located, is a demographically unusual place with almost exactly 50% white students and 50% Hispanic students. Many of the Hispanic students have parents who work in…

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Jun 12 2012

It takes a village

Probably the worst part about being an opponent of bad education reform is when I have to ‘debunk’ a potential ‘miracle school.’  A ‘miracle’ school is one that gets extremely high test scores despite having the same types of students as the nearby failing school.  The miracle school, if it exists, would prove that poverty…

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Jan 11 2012

The Answer To The $125,000 Question

Two years ago I first heard about a new Charter School in New York City called The Equity Project, founded by a TFA alum named Zeke Vanderhoek.  There was an article in The New York Times about how they were going to pay their teachers $125,000 in return for more work and accountability.  Teachers could…

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Jan 06 2012

Turnaround Is Unfair Play

Superman has arrived and he takes Visa. As districts get more and more desperate trying to reach 100% proficiency by 2014, they begin to turn to a new breed of ‘experts.’ These experts claim that they hold the secrets to turning around failing schools. Proving that ‘poverty is not destiny’ with case studies of successful…

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Dec 01 2011

Miracle Schools: Where Are They Now?

The current education reform battle is a bit like a boxing match. The corporate reformers had a lot of momentum until April 2010, when Diane Ravitch came out with ‘The Death And Life Of The Great American School System.’ This was like a giant upper cut to Bloomberg, Klein, Rhee, and Gates. Six months later,…

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Oct 12 2011

New Orleans RSD — the ‘miracle’ district

The Louisiana Department Of Education just released the 2011 School Performance Data. As New Orleans has been hailed as a ‘miracle’ district, I was eager to see the results. As you might know, after Katrina the lowest performing schools were assembled into a district known as ‘The Recovery District’ (RSD) which has become a grand…

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Somewhere, Woodward and Bernstein are weeping. I entered the fight against the ‘reformers’ back in February after hearing Duncan claim that a school in Chicago got dramatic results by shutting down and replacing with a charter school in the same building with the same kids, but with different adults. It was important for Duncan to…

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Aug 09 2011

Reformers Join The Mile High Club

Debunking a miracle school can be tedious work.  Debunking an entire district is, generally, even worse. But when I heard about the recent ‘miracle’ in Denver, I was pleasantly surprised when I got the opportunity to explore Colorado’s excellent data system called SchoolView. Within a few minutes, I was able to produce awesome pictures like…

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Aug 08 2011

Rhee-ality Check

First watch the two minutes from 20:30 to 22:50 (up until the moderator asks Rhee if she is a ‘Tiger Mom’) of this excerpt from an interview Michelle Rhee did recently. Now, the video really speaks for itself, so I’ll let readers make comments, but first let me write a bit myself. This is such…

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Jun 16 2011

Same Kids, Same Building, Same Lies — Redux

A few months ago after attending the 20th anniversary summit, I wrote a post about my progress in investigating a school that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan singled out in his keynote speech. Urban Prep is a small charter school that is located in what was once Englewood High School in Chicago, which was closed…

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Jun 03 2011

Turnaround every now and then I get …

I’ve recently written three posts about so-called ‘turnaround’ schools in Chicago, Memphis, and again in Chicago. Since none of these schools have achieved the test scores that are so emphasized by the rheeformers, I’ve been thinking about how these examples could help us to redefine what’s meant by a turnaround school.  In doing so, we…

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May 30 2011

A new miracle school in Chicago

I’m not an education reporter.  I’m just a guy with a computer and a healthy amount of skepticism and internet access.  I also am someone whose been in education for twenty years and am fearful about the direction it has been taking. So when I learn about a new miracle school I get worried since…

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May 14 2011

Obama at the ‘Miracle In Memphis’

On Monday May 16th, President Obama will be the commencement speaker at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, TN. They had won a competition called ‘The Race To The Top High School Commencement Challenge’ based mainly on the claim that the all-black school in a very poor neighborhood had managed to increase their graduation…

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Apr 01 2011

KIPP’s Atrocious Attrition

I’ve been getting concerned lately about how TFA and TFA related organizations have been misleading the public about their successes. I know that every company tries to put the most positive spin on their results so that they can continue to stay in business, so that’s natural. But when it comes to TFA, Michelle Rhee,…

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Mar 06 2011

Same Kids, Same Building, Same Lies

One of the highlights of the TFA 20th anniversary summit was certainly when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a rousing speech at the closing ceremony. The most impressive part of his speech was when he described the transformation of Englewood High School in Chicago while he was heading that school district. He said that…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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