- a $43K K-5 school in NYC
- how the income inequality gap hurts kids on both ends
- public disclosure in NYC
- lunchroom hidden camera - what's in that food, anyway?
- in NYC, there's a new "for-profit" school and boy, it's a doozy. It's a K-5 and grab your seat - it's $43k per year. This article from the NY Times is actually funny reading.
How do you build humility at a school that costs $43,000 a year? Where students are tended to by a 10-person success team and are expected to find a passion — any passion — around which expertise, confidence and college admission may come?
Avenues, which was founded by the media and education entrepreneur H. Christopher Whittle; Alan Greenberg, a former publisher of Esquire magazine; and the former Yale president Benno C. Schmidt Jr., was designed to be “a new school of thought,” unencumbered by legacy. It hired seasoned teachers and brought in consultants on everything from responsive classroom training to stairwell design. Mandarin or Spanish immersion begins in nursery school; each kindergartner gets an iPad in class.
And while Avenues offers its students every imaginable educational benefit — a 9-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, a Harvard-designed “World Course” — it has also tapped into an even deeper, more complicated parental anxiety: the anxiety of wanting their kids to have every advantage, but ensuring that all those advantages don’t turn them into privileged jerks.
These are likely many of the same people who read what Bill Gates says about money not really being the issue in education or class size doesn't matter. It does when it's THEIR children.
- on the heels of that story is a NY Times op-ed about the gap in money in public education, Money Cuts Both Ways in Education.
This power spending on the children of the economic elite is usually — and rightly — cited as further evidence of the dangers of rising income inequality. Whatever your views about income inequality among the parents, inherited privilege is inimical to the promise of equal opportunity, which is central to the social compact in Western democracies.
But it may be that the less lavishly educated children lower down the income distribution aren’t the only losers. Being groomed for the winner-take-all economy starting in nursery school turns out to exact a toll on the children at the top, too.
- also from the NY Times and also funny, is the release (finally) of e-mails about Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to install Cathie Black as schools chancellor. She was chancellor for 95 days and it took 30 MONTHS to get the e-mails.
Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst, had no experience in public education, and like her predecessor, Joel I. Klein, lacked the credentials legally required to serve in the position.
They showed a mad scramble by Ms. Black, who was still the chairwoman at Hearst, and people in City Hall to line up powerful women to support her for chancellor. It was part of a campaign to win her a waiver she needed. No one would mistake it for a grass-roots effort: an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey was brokered, and backing was sought from public figures like Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Evelyn Lauder and Whoopi Goldberg.
All this for someone who had zero experience in education but they just had to have a business-type running their schools.
The young journalist who went through the effort to get these e-mails is Sergio Hernandez (who calls himself "a harsh-mannered reporter and professional troublemaker" - I love that). Reading his story, I saw this useful looking piece of information: the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.
I do want to give a shout-out to Colleen Carlson who handles the public disclosure requests for SPS. She tries to be quick and does it with grace and humor.
- Lastly, a 4th grader being called the "Michael Moore" of his generation. He brought a hidden camera into his lunchroom. Uh oh.
His hidden-camera documentary was almost derailed last year when he was caught filming without permission by a fearsome enforcer – the lunchroom monitor in his school cafeteria.
“She sent me to my teacher, and my teacher told me to delete everything,” said Zachary, who is now 11.
Zachary pretended to delete the day’s shots. After that lapse in production security, he said, “I fired my lookouts.”
Indeed, among the 75 lunches that Zachary recorded – chosen randomly, he swears – he found the menus to be “substantially” accurate, with two or more of the advertised menu items served, only 51 percent of the time. The menus were “totally” accurate, with all of the advertised items served, only 16 percent of the time. And by Zachary’s count, 28 percent of the lunches he recorded were built around either pizza or cheese sticks.