Thursday, December 16, 2010

Colonizing Cumberland

Boosting Performance & Containing Costs through Mayoral Academies: A Nationally Unique Model for Public Education, Prepared by Public Impact for Mayor Daniel McKee, Cumberland, Rhode Island:


In 2007, Mayor Daniel McKee of Cumberland, Rhode Island approached Public Impact with a challenge. From his perspective as mayor of a diverse town on the edge of Rhode Island’s urban concentration...

This is already bullshit by the second sentence of the report. Cumberland isn't diverse. In 2000, it was 97% white with 3.1% of those under 18 living below the poverty line. What's interesting about this mayoral academy experiment is seeing what happens when some suburban mayors get it in their head that they want to apply the "no excuses" model of schooling to kids from their own towns. The mayoral academies are required to draw student from both urban and suburban districts.

This is going to play out differently in sites driven by subruban mayors compared to the usual purely inner city settings. Already, it took less than two years for the first mayoral academy to say, "Screw it, we can do this ourselves," and kick out their charter operator. It seems to me that part of this is just the difference between urban politics and thrifty New England town politics, where every year the town cranks drag out discussion of every line item in the school budget.

Also, while "Trust me, I went to Brown," may not be the best approach to impress people in the 'hood, it is probably worse in the suburbs.

I'd be that in the long run (if there is one) the mayoral academies will settle on looser school models better suited for heterogeneous populations, like the Core Knowledge curriculum or High Tech High.

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