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GOP Operatives Roll Out New Campaign to Lift Cap on Massachusetts Charter Schools

Advocates for expanding charter schools in Massachusetts kicked off an $18 million advertising campaign during the Olympics, but good luck figuring out just which of your favorite billionaires is paying for the ads. As UMass Boston political science professor Maurice Cunningham explains, the "dark money" groups behind the campaign are like Russian nesting dolls, with one 501(c)(4) snuggled inside another. What you won't find is much grassroots support, according to Cunningham, who says the push to lift the charter cap is the work of a handful of wealthy Republican families and some well-known GOP operatives.

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Charter School Expansion is Having Devastating Impact on Public School Finances

What does charter school expansion mean for urban school districts? The words "smoking ruin" best describe the findings of a new study by school finance expert David Arsen of Michigan State University. In an interview with Edushyster.com's Jennifer Berkshire, Arsen explains what happened when Michigan opened the door for rapid charter growth, and why other state's would do well to heed Michigan's cautionary tale. Drawing on twenty years of data, the study, which will appear in the fall issue of the Journal of School Finance, presents the most definitive account to date that unfettered school choice is pushing cities and their schools to the financial brink.

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The Crippling Effect of 'No Excuses' Charters on Long-term Student Success

Does the "no excuses" model of education work? Not according to Joanne W. Golann, a Ph.D. student in Sociology at Princeton University, who will soon take up residence at Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education. Golann is the first researcher to spend an extended period of time inside a no excuses school – 5 hours a day for 15 months – and the conclusions she draws based on those experiences are both devastating and disturbing.

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In Our Efforts to Keep Our Kids Safe, Are We Instead Silencing Their Voices?

There is a sentiment among some folks in the black community that teaching our children respect for authority through strict discipline will save them from falling victim to violence, jail or being killed at the hands of the police.

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Teach For America's Very Real Diversity Problem

What happens to teachers of color when Teach For America comes to town? According to TFA alum and scholar Terrenda White, who is now an assistant professor of educational foundations, policy and practice at the University of Colorado, a complicated cocktail ensues. According to White, the diversity gains TFA trumpets within its corps have come at the expense of longtime teachers of color, whose numbers have declined drastically in the very cities where the organization has expanded.

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How Parents May Be Signing Their Children's Rights Away by Enrolling Them in Charter Schools

Here's a question for you: If you dramatically scale up schools in which students have fewer rights than students who attend traditional public schools, with what do you end up? If you answered "more students with fewer rights," congratulations -- you have won the opportunity to learn more on this important, yet little discussed topic.

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Why Thousands of Boston Students Walked Out of School This Week

What’s that, reader? I’m afraid you’ll have to speak up. I’m surrounded by 2,000+ Boston students who are screaming "student power" and "no cuts" at the top of their young lungs. Pissed off over proposed cuts to their schools, the students walked out of their classrooms and into the streets [Monday] for the biggest student protest in recent memory. My goal was to talk to as many of them as possible in order to get a sense of how they see the city’s increasingly bitter school wars. I came armed with my tape recorder and lots of questions: like why did so may of their signs seem to disparage Mayor Marty Walsh by name? And since so many grown ups agree that charter schools rule, shouldn’t we just have more of those? And, come on, who’s really behind this??? Fortunately the students I talked to—from 15 different Boston high schools—were eager to share their thoughts. Shall we hear from some of them now? 

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Hair-Raising New Study: Charter Schools May Be Economic 'Bubble' That Bursts in Urban Communities

Are charter schools the new subprime mortgages? That's what UConn scholar Preston Green argues in a provocative new paper. Green and his co-authors argue that the rapid expansion of charter schools, with government encouragement but little oversight, is leading to what they warn is a charter school "bubble" in urban communities. Of particular concern: the growing practice of allowing so-called "multiple authorizers" to approve charter schools, but without any responsibility for educating students when the schools struggle or fail.

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Debunking the New Orleans 'Miracle'

This summer will be the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the City of New Orleans. But it also marks the start of an ambitious – many would say audacious – effort to break up New Orleans’ long-beleaguered public school system and replace it with a *market-based* system in which charter schools compete for customers, in this case students and parents, and for top test scores. Neighborhood schools are no more. In fact, some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the hurricane have few schools at all. Instead, students spend hours crisscrossing the city on school buses to attend charter schools that virtually all embrace the same approach: long days, strict discipline and a heavy focus on test prep. In the following interview, the kickoff to my series, New Orleans: Miracle or Mirage?, I talk to education scholar Kristen Buras about what education reform has meant for the city where she grew up.

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What Happened to Rahm?

How on earth could something as silly as neighborhood public schools bedevil Rahm Emanuel right out of his incumbent throne as mayor of Chicago? The New York Times recently asked that question, and I’m happy to provide some answers.  My home is on Chicago’s South Side, on a street full of cops and firefighters, and people still call themselves "new to the neighborhood" if they’ve been here less than 25 years. With only 9 years under my belt, I’m a relative newcomer. But traveling often for work, and seeing the gap between national coverage and reality on the ground, I’d like to try to answer a question that’s been asked a lot recently: What happened to Rahm?

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