Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Feedback on Winerip article

My last email about the NYT's Michael Winerip's hatchet job generated quite a few responses.  My favorite:


I abhor personal ed politics like this, but I hate hypocrisy more...


I read Winerip's bio ( and notice that he lives with his wife and four children in Lido Beach, which is part of a special school district that is public but separate -- it has special flexibility and autonomy (sounds like a charter school!).


Oh, and he didn't seem to have a problem accepting his admission to Harvard (that's private right? :-)

Speaking of hypocrisy, one of my readers pointed out that while the teachers unions fight tooth and nail to block poor parents from having any type of school choice, their members disproportionately send their own children to private schools.


My friend Allison Rouse writes:


I am getting really tired of people who are not from low-income neighborhoods like mine (the Bronx, where KIPP Academy is located) making it seem like most public schools in these neighborhoods are providing excellent educational opportunities for kids.  While at Stanford's Education Symposium last week I sat with teacher from Palo Alto High School who said that "Waiting for Superman" was an assault on teaching.  After regaining myself, I suggested that "Waiting for Superman" was not focused on schools like Palo Alto High School.  However, if one looks down the road to East Palo Alto, one would see the reality that most kids (and their families) face: poorly managed schools that are failing kids.  The "ones being left behind" are mostly African American and Latino kids or those, regardless of ethnic background, that are socio-economically disadvantage.


Agh!  It was just so frustrating to read that piece.


Lisa writes:


I'm relatively new to the school reform movement, and so don't know exactly who's who and what's what. But as a journalist, when I read the Winerip piece, I was stunned. I checked the article to see if it was labeled "news analysis" or "commentary" somewhere. But no, it was presented as a straight-up news story. From a journalistic perspective, it was quite jaw dropping. So now that I see there is a lot of history here, it makes more sense (that is to say, no sense at all, but at least now I understand ...). I reported on real estate for the Times for several years, and I am astonished that editors would allow this to be published. Nice job dismantling the piece; however, as you well know, many fewer people will see your dissection and rebuttal than will have read Winerip's piece.

I'm starting a charter school in Red Hook, Brooklyn and now of course I have become a target for attack ... so I feel ya!

Pete Denton, NJ ed warrior and founder of E3, writes:


I went to "good" public schools in South Jersey, and my kids went to "good" public schools in South Jersey.

Those experiences are what motivated me to spend over 10 years of my life and lots of my, and others', money to fix public education.

The horrible reality is that my concerns with what was supposed to be "good" public education in the suburbs, were insignificant when I discovered the life threatening reality of urban public education for a huge portion of our black and brown children in this country.

I started my career as a consultant dealing with military procurement, but I was never in the military.  One of my partners said "you don't need to be a horse to judge a horse race".  You don't have to be an educator to judge the results of our public education system for disadvantaged children.  You just have to be intellectually honest and look at what schools work here and around the world, and what schools don't work.  And if that is not good enough, trust poor parents to make reasonable, or good, education decision for their children.  Then see where they send their children if they have choices, the right to make a choice, and the money to fund the choice.  People can vote with a ballot, and they can vote with their feet.  Not allowing poor parents to vote with their feet is just as undemocratic as denying them access to the ballot box.

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