Worksheets instead of Teaching, in D.C.

Flickr: rkeohane

A worksheet.

Now reading: “The McEducation of the Negro: Franchising is an outstanding model for selling Big Macs. But it can be toxic to classrooms” by Natalie Hopkinson:

That’s how it went: rewards and punishments, then worksheets. No instruction, just worksheets. At the end of the class, Bridgers, who works as an exterminator, pulled aside the teacher, a young white male and recent graduate.

“I wanted to know when he was going to do some, you know, teaching,” Bridgers explained to me recently. “You know, like, how we used to have in school? She would stand in front of the class … “…

Of course, today the “reformers” say that that way of teaching is old school. It was fine before the days of social media and the “information revolution” and the global economy. But now, as the argument goes in films like Waiting for Superman, no self-respecting parent would ever send his or her child to a “failing” public school like the one that generations of Bridgers’ family attended in their neighborhood in Northeast Washington.

For Bridgers’ son and a disproportionate number of black students around the country, charter schools have become the preferred choice.

The idea is that charters can find a model that produces results — measured in test scores — then apply it to different campuses. They can raise and spend money independently. They can have management consultants, and they can compete — just like a business. As the charter school movement picks up steam nationwide, the District of Columbia may provide a glimpse of the future of “choice”: Roughly 40 percent of children enrolled in District of Columbia public schools attend charters.

The rest is here.

  • nandalal rasiah

    the prime benefit of charters is that it is possible to tell them to pound sand if they do not do what they say they will. The focus on performance metrics as the achilles heel of charters is unfortunate–either you don’t measure anything and don’t know what’s going on or you create a system which contains clear incentives to game it. This is a dilemma which has never been solved to all parties’ satisfaction. I would think that parents would simply be happy to know that the bums can actually be kicked out rather than destroy several generations.

    The biggest difference between the scary rural public HS I avoided (63% graduation rate) and the suburban one which I eventually attended (87% and tons of AP classes) was that the tax base for the latter was much larger.

    So, if both charters and public schools produce students who do not succeed at similar rates, who or what then do we blame? I don’t think Rhee is responsible and the empowerment of parents in Compton has more to do with the sacred nature of trust placed in tax-funded public officials to educate their children. Schools are prisons for far more students than we would care to admit. Let ‘em out.