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Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare: “White Kids Get to Go to a School With a Montessori Approach

"A Smarter Charter" authored by TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter was referenced in a recent Salon article that profiles a number of schools that are being forced to transition from public school to charter model in hopes of lifting test scores and student performance. Charter school performance varies widely around the country, with results ranging from increased segregation to less teacher voice. "A Smarter Charter" provides a reminder of the original charter school model and advocates for increased diversity and strong teacher voice.

The authors conclude, “The current thrust of the charter school sector … is bad for kids.” They recommend “changes to federal, state, and local policy” and a greater degree of “neighborhood partnerships” among charters, public schools, foundations and universities if these schools are to “be a powerful vision for educational innovation in a new century.”

Check out the Salon article.

More info on the book "A Smarter Charter" can be found here.

Tags: teacher voice, public schools, educational diversity, education reform, charter schools

Socioeconomic Integration Is Critical for Obama’s New Community College Plan

January 14, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: The Century Foundation TOPICS: Education, Ensuring Fairness in College Admissions, Improving Access to Quality Public Schools

Guest blogger Jonathan Hasak explains why critics of President Obama’s community college plan who say the federal government would be mostly reducing the cost for higher-income families are missing the point entirely.


The Genius of Obama’s Two-Year College Proposal

President Obama recently announced his goal to provide universally free education to two-year community colleges in the U.S. Despite the difficulties in hammering out strategies and complications of achieving this ambitious goal, many critics have lauded the fact that if passed, this new provision would promote integration and diversity on otherwise low-income community college campuses.

Today, there is an enormous degree of economic stratification in higher education. According to research by Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl of Georgetown University, wealthy students outnumber poor students at the most selective four-year colleges by 14 to one, while community colleges educate twice as many low-income students as high-income students. Moreover, their research finds that, between 1982 and 2006, the proportion of students from the richest quarter of the population attending community colleges has declined, while those attending from the poorest quarter has increased.

The whole piece featured in The Atlantic can be found here.

Tags: low-income students, higher education, diversity in education, community colleges

Standardized Tests Are Weakening Our Democracy

TCF fellow Richard Kahlenberg reviews and praises Lani Guinier's book The Tyranny of Meritocracy. Guinier delves into the weak ties indicated by SAT scores and success, linking high SAT scores with wealth instead of merit. He writes:

As a result, our testocracy fails to produce what our democracy needs, Guinier argues. Leading colleges claim to serve the public interest, which is why they receive enormous tax breaks. Princeton University’s informal motto, for example, is “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” That commitment is what justifies an estimated $45,000 per-pupil tax subsidy of Princeton students. And yet in a recent year, more than half of Princeton graduating students went into investment banking or consulting, careers “lacking in any element of social service,” Guinier notes.

Read Kahlenberg's full review featured in The Nation here.

Tags: standardized testing, college tuition, college admissions

Restoring Shanker’s Vision for Charter Schools

TCF fellows Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter explain how the original idea of charter schools as imagined by Albert Shanker has mutated over the past decade to reflect a different vision and function. They cite that many charter schools today now prize management control, reduced teacher voice, further segregated students, and have become competitors, rather than allies, of regular public schools.

The relevant question today is no longer whether charter schools are good or bad as a group. Rather we ask, can charter schools be taken in a better direction—one that finds inspiration in the original vision of charters as laboratories for student success that bring together children from different backgrounds and tap into the expertise of highly talented teachers?

Kahlenberg and Potter's full piece can be read here.

Tags: teacher voice, racially integrated public schools, education reform, education inequality, charter schools

Don’t Misunderstand How Charter Schools Succeed

TCF fellows Halley Potter and Richard Kahlenberg clarify the assumptions around what drives charter school success. They explain that the high test scores produced by charter school students are often a result of their peer environments and the encouraging families that make up the charter school community. 

Removing students with behavioral issues from the classroom is the wrong way to achieve education goals, for a host of educational, legal and moral reasons. But research shows that we can provide the positive learning environment that charters work to instate by giving more students a chance to attend economically integrated public schools.

Read Halley and Richard's full piece from The New York Times.

Tags: public school integration, educational diversity, charter schools




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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