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Other People’s Children | EduShyster
"Why are white people so eager to advocate for the sort of schools to which they would never send their own children?

Reader: more and more white people agree that strict, “no excuses” style charter schools provide an ideal learning environment for poor minority kids. As proof of this surging enthusiasm I give you exhibit A: a glowing report about Harlem’s Democracy Prep charter school featured in the current issue of the New Yorker, one of America’s whitest magazines. (Full disclosure: I am white and also a New Yorker subscriber). Which brings us to today’s fiercely urgent question: why are white people so eager to advocate for the sort of schools to which they would never send their own children?

Through the Gauntlet

The New Yorker piece, by writer Ian Frazier, is subtitled ‘Up Life’s Ladder’—but ’gauntlet’ might be a more accurate metaphor. Frazier is dazzled by the spectacle of the 44 members of Democracy Prep’s first graduating class, on stage at the Apollo Theater in their school-bus-yellow robes, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on hand to fete them. But more than three quarters of Democracy Prep’s students—23% each year—never made it onto the stage. If Frazier is aware of the school’s attrition rate, among the highest in New York City, he doesn’t mention it. Nor does Frazier have anything to say about the school’s strict “no excuses” disciplinary policy. Instead, he seems excited by the fact that students at the school are required to take Korean, the only foreign language offered. Best of all, Frazier likes the fact that 100% of the remaining graduates are headed to a four-year college.

Whatever it Takes

I’m guessing that it’s not the fault of the New Yorker’s legendarily “no excuses” fact-checking department that these less inspiring (not to mention less democratic) details about Democracy Prep didn’t make it into the magazine. Instead, the writer is merely reflecting a growing consensus among elites that a certain kind of schooling is necessary to propel poor minority students along the steep uphill climb to college. This formula for success, the “special sauce,” is long and hard and requires the sort of militaristic discipline that I doubt any writer for the New Yorker would tolerate for his or her children for a day, let alone the four years, eight years, even 12-year-long slog that is supposed to end in a mythical place called “college.”

• Doing time

The school day at Democracy Prep starts at 7:45AM and lasts until 4:15PM, but students routinely stay until six for tutoring. A nine, ten or 11 hour school day would no doubt strike middle class parents as excessive (what about Skyler’s soccer practice, or Emma’s beekeeping camp?) but even within this endless school day there is no time to lose. Democracy Prep, like many urban “no excuses” schools, uses a countdown during transitions from one class or activity to the next so that students don’t waste a second of learning time.

• Living the DREAM

Democracy Prep relies upon a monetary-based system of rewards that is common in the “no excuses” world. Students earn and lose DREAM Dollars (the acronym stands for the school’s values: Discipline, Respect, Enthusiasm, Accountability and Maturity) based on behavior and academic performance. In addition to providing an important regulator of behavior, the DREAM dollars also prep the students for their ultimate destination beyond even college: work.

• Broken windows

A “no excuses” school embodies a philosophy that might best be understood as the educational equivalent of the broken windows theory. Small disruptions are seen as leading to the kind of unruliness and disorder that stands in between poor minority kids and college-bound success. Hence the straight, silent lines in which students transition from one class to another might be seen as leading straight to college.

• SLANT

Suburban parents are likely unfamiliar with SLANT, the KIPP-informed mantra that shapes “no excuses” teaching. The behavior management technique instructs students to sit up, listen, ask questions, nod and track the teacher. Younger students, who tend to be naturally disruptive, may also be instructed to fold their hands or “make a bubble,” pursing their lips and filling their cheeks with air so as to keep them from talking.

• Time and Punishment

The elaborate architecture of rewards and punishments that undergirds the “no excuses” approach must have consequences, of course. Suspensions at these schools tend to be extremely high, even though suspending students has long been linked to worsening academic outcomes and higher drop out rates. The recent revelations about the high number of kindergartners suspended by the charter school chain “Achievement First” in Connecticut may have caused some initial discomfort among suburban advocates of these schools (little Haley, suspended???). But amid the rising certitude that we must do “whatever it takes” to propel poor minority students to college, that discomfort was soon forgotten."
race  class  education  kipp  democracyprep  ianfrazier  jenniferberkshire  noexcuses  rewards  punishments  consequences  schools  policy  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  edeform  charterschools 
may 2014 by robertogreco
On Smarm
"It is also no accident that David Eggers is full of shit."

"Smarm should be understood as a type of bullshit, then. It is a kind of moral and ethical misdirection."

"The old systems of prestige are rickety and insecure. Everyone has a publishing platform and no one has a career."

"What carries contemporary American political campaigns along is a thick flow of opaque smarm."

"Romney clambered up to a new higher ground, deploring the divisiveness of dwelling on his divisiveness."

"Through smarm, the "centrists" have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute. In smarm is power."

"A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all."

"Joe Lieberman! If you would know smarm, look to Joe Lieberman."

"The plutocrats are haunted, as all smarmers are haunted, by a lack of respect. On Twitter, the only answer to "Do you know who I am?" is "One more person with 140 characters to use.""

"To actually say a plain and direct word like "corrupt" is more outlandish, in smarm's outlook, than even swearing."

"Anger is upsetting to smarm. But so is humor and confidence."

"Immense fortunes have bloomed in Silicon Valley on the most ephemeral and stupid windborne seeds of concepts. What's wrong with you, that you didn't get a piece of it?"
criticism  culture  smarm  snark  daveeggers  malcolmgladwell  2013  tomscocca  buzzfeed  heidijulavits  isaacfitzgerald  daviddenby  bambi  arifleischer  lannydavis  leesiegel  cynicism  negativity  tone  politics  writing  critique  mittromney  barackobama  michaelbloomberg  ianfrazier  centrists  power  redistribution  rebeccablank  civilization  dialog  conversation  purpose  jedediahpurdy  irony  joelieberman  marshallsella  billclinton  mainstream  georgewbush  maureendowd  rudeness  meanness  plutocrats  wealth  publishing  media  respect  niallferguson  alexpareene  mariabartiromo  gawker  choiresicha  anger  confidence  humor  spikelee  upworthy  adammordecai  juliachild  success  successfulness  niceness  tompeters  bullshit  morality  ethics  misdirection  insecurity  prestige  audience  dialogue  jedediahbritton-purdy 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» Blog Archive » Children in the gulag
"Eugenia Ginzberg, who served eighteen years in the camps of Kolyma, wrote that when a camp of child prisoners was given two guard-dog puppies to raise the children at first could not think of anything to name them. The poverty of their surroundings had stripped their imaginations bare. Finally they chose names from common objects they saw every day. They named one puppy Ladle and the other Pail." —On the Prison Highway, Ian Frazier (New Yorker, August 30, 2010)
ianfrazier  gulag  children  imagination  experience  vocabulary  exposure  names  naming  pets  animals  dogs 
august 2010 by robertogreco

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