Monday, January 11, 2010

An absolutely spot-on comment from a friend who founded a very successful charter school:

 On the topic of Meier your criticism is 100% right, the old guard has hurt and slowed the cause dramatically, but I think your friend was right too, that we need to win someone like Meier over-- not beat her. I think that's possible largely because Ted Sizer is her intellectual mentor and is also primarily responsible for me and many other charter leaders working in education. Ted was even the principal of a charter!  I think he'd love my school (even more than KIPP I think) if he were still with us.


Unfortunately, many of his devotees wouldn't be caught dead saying anything positive about any school where kids wore uniforms and walked in lines no matter the academic results or engaged citizens the school helped foster... Most dyed-in-the-wool-liberals can't get passed certain dogma about market forces, unions, structure, tests, spending, poverty, etc. and thus can't support the simplest of common-sense parent-focused reforms that benefit poor kids, charters chief among them. I probably was one of those same liberals 10 years ago before I actually started working in urban schools. It's why I believe so strongly that conversion is possible with continued exposure to great schools.

Interestingly, I think Ted and could intellectually get passed those superficial things even though some of his devotees can't. Now that Meier is the leading "progressive" voice it means her criticism is that much more hurtful now that Ted has passed away and it's that much more important to win her over for the charter movement and the low-income kids who benefit from them.

Ravitch is in a whole different category... She just cracked with time under the weight of her own contradictions.

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