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Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare: “White Kids Get to Go to a School With a Montessori Approach

"A Smarter Charter" authored by TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter was referenced in a recent Salon article that profiles a number of schools that are being forced to transition from public school to charter model in hopes of lifting test scores and student performance. Charter school performance varies widely around the country, with results ranging from increased segregation to less teacher voice. "A Smarter Charter" provides a reminder of the original charter school model and advocates for increased diversity and strong teacher voice.

The authors conclude, “The current thrust of the charter school sector … is bad for kids.” They recommend “changes to federal, state, and local policy” and a greater degree of “neighborhood partnerships” among charters, public schools, foundations and universities if these schools are to “be a powerful vision for educational innovation in a new century.”

Check out the Salon article.

More info on the book "A Smarter Charter" can be found here.

Tags: teacher voice, public schools, educational diversity, education reform, charter schools

Do Charter Schools Need Teachers Unions?

TCF fellow Halley Potter weighs in on the importance of incorporating the voices of young teachers in labor union and charter school debates. Potter says new organizations such as America Achieves go beyond the typical labor union conversation of teacher tenure and expands to include teacher voice in policy debates.

Unions remain “necessary in charters because charters by design are eroding the rights of teachers as workers,” said Rowan Shafer, a third grade teacher at Morris Jeff and co-president of the school’s fledgling union. “Charters hire young people who will work ridiculous hours and burn out rather than provide a sustainable work environment.”

Check out the full report from Hechinger Report.

Tags: teacher voice, labor unions, education, charter schools

The Genius of Obama’s Two-Year College Proposal

President Obama recently announced his goal to provide universally free education to two-year community colleges in the U.S. Despite the difficulties in hammering out strategies and complications of achieving this ambitious goal, many critics have lauded the fact that if passed, this new provision would promote integration and diversity on otherwise low-income community college campuses.

Today, there is an enormous degree of economic stratification in higher education. According to research by Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl of Georgetown University, wealthy students outnumber poor students at the most selective four-year colleges by 14 to one, while community colleges educate twice as many low-income students as high-income students. Moreover, their research finds that, between 1982 and 2006, the proportion of students from the richest quarter of the population attending community colleges has declined, while those attending from the poorest quarter has increased.

The whole piece featured in The Atlantic can be found here.

Tags: low-income students, higher education, diversity in education, community colleges

Teaching with Autonomy

What is it like to work at a school at which teachers and and administrators run the school as equal partners? Guest author Demetria R. Giles of Teaching Firms of America—Professional Prep Charter School says the results at her school speak for themselves.

Tags: teacher voice, smarter charter series, charter schools

Ensuring Equity in Charter Schools

If we could have the best school we can imagine, what would it be?

In a new post at Education Week, TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg and fellow Halley Potter explore how City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore is answering that question.

Chartering gave City Neighbors' founders the flexibility to do things that are fairly unusual among charter schools. The charter school model has allowed them to pioneer a collaborative governance structure that includes teacher representation on the governing board and provides large blocks of shared planning time—while remaining part of the city school district's collective bargaining agreement.

Read the full article at Education Week.

Tags: smarter charter series, city neighbors charter school, charter schools, baltimore

Karen Lewis Won’t Be Chicago’s Mayor—and That’s America’s Loss

Democratic mayors have embraced the pro-corporate education reform movement—perhaps none so eagerly as Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. Karen Lewis was set to change that pattern, writes TCF fellow Amy Dean.

By running for mayor in Chicago, Karen Lewis, the city’s teachers’ union president, was poised to show voters an alternative to this two-faced Democratic strategy. She took the mantle of past labor leaders who infused the Democratic Party with an egalitarian ethos, figures such as Walter Reuther, Sidney Hillman and John L. Lewis.

Unfortunately, serious health problems have stopped Karen Lewis from entering the race against incumbent Rahm Emanuel. Her exit is a loss for everyone.

Read the full article.

Tags: teachers unions, rahm emanuel, karen lewis, chicago, al jazeera america, 2014 elections




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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