Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Great Pieces Today

Andrea Gabor:

But even for students who don’t fall through the cracks or get expelled, it bears asking: have the pressures and incentive systems surrounding charter schools taken public education in the direction we want it to go? Anthony Recasner, a partner in founding New Orleans Charter Middle School and FirstLine, is visibly torn between his hopes for the New Orleans charter experiment and his disappointment in the distance that remains between today’s no-excuses charter-school culture and the movement’s progressive roots. “Education should be a higher-order exploration,” says Recasner, a child psychologist who left FirstLine in 2011 to become CEO of Agenda for Children, a children’s advocacy organization. The typical charter school in New Orleans “is not sustainable for the adults, not fun for kids,” says Recasner, who is one of the few African-American charter leaders in New Orleans; his own experience as a poor child raised by a single parent mirrors that of most students in the charter schools. “Is that really,” he asks, “what we want for the nation’s poor children?”

Heather Vogell:

Quality-control breakdowns have become near commonplace on the state tests taken in public schools across the country, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. Faulty tests undermine reforms seeking to rescue American schools and risk harming them instead. The exams have grown so critical that test companies’ errors can — and have — cost children something as valuable as a diploma.

In a year-long national investigation, the newspaper examined thousands of pages of test-related documents from government agencies — including statistical analyses of questions, correspondence with contractors, internal reports and audits.

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