charter schools Archives - The Jose Vilson

charter schools

bin Laden Shake

bin Laden Shake


A few notes:

  • Zac Chase interviews me on math, wrong answers, and MisEducation of the Negro. Gangsta. [Autodizactic]
  • Umair Haque spit some serious critique about the TED talk genre. Yes, I’ve done a TED talk. This is worth a read, still. [Storify]
  • Daniel Pink does a cool interview with Copyblogger on how he writes. Not every writer has the “writer” posture. [Copyblogger]
  • Kenzo Shibata delves more deeply into the charter school movement and its links to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. We thought it; he wrote it. [Salon]

Quote of the Week:

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A few notes:

  • Michael Doyle: “If you want to teach children, you have to know them. If this is a problem, get the f**k out of the classroom.” [Science teacher]
  • Elianne Ramos (of LATISM fame) is nominated for Yahoo!’s “Women Who Shine.” Go vote. [Yahoo!]
  • Big Daddy Kane joins Jay-Z at the Barclays Center. As I said, “Amazeballs.” [Rap Radar]
  • Kids in a NYC public school were stuck watching Shrek instead of, say, learning in a classroom. Ben Chapman investigates. [NY Daily News]
  • Josmar Trujillo (full disclosure: classmate at Xavier High School in NYC) believes every parent is fighting for the same thing. Good read. Check the comments, too. [SchoolBook]
  • Obama makes finding money for charters easy. Not so much for public schools. [US Department of Education]


“Convincing people to vote takes more than saying “people died for you to vote.” The masses are smart enough to see the cracks in the hull.”

- Talib Kweli


Education Nation Teacher Town Hall 2012

She said she doesn’t like when teachers differentiate themselves between charter and public. I nodded cautiously.

At the Education Nation Teacher Town Hall, while NBC anchor Brian Williams feigned nervousness in front of the hundreds of educators in front of us, teachers from all different groups convened at the Public Library, some from groups like National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the American Federation of Teachers (full disclosure: I went under the AFT) and other groups like Educators for Excellence (another full disclosure: -snickers hard-). One of the final people who got on the microphone said what she said about public school teachers versus charter school teachers to a good applause.

The whole crowd generally leaned towards things we believe: fractions are the hardest stumbling blocks for kids to learn in math, teachers shouldn’t be evaluated on test scores, the Chicago teachers strike needed to happen, and unions matter lots. We took surveys, had insightful discussion, and generally felt the lack of morale that most teachers in this country felt. We also felt energized by the idea that, despite how many different entities we represented, we actually care about the students we serve.


Now, there’s this often touchy subject about the difference between charter school teachers versus public school teachers (we’ll leave private / magnet / independent / parochial teachers out of this for now). The stereotype is as follows: public school teachers are old, bitter, lazy, and worn-out people just counting the days until they get to retire. They love to be protected by their union because they’re scared they’ll lose their jobs, and perpetuate the stagnation of a public school system bereft of new ideas. Except in small schools where new (often white, young, Ivy League) teachers come in.

The charter school stereotype, conversely, leans on new, inexperienced teachers who either got fed up by the public school system, came through TFA or some other elitist program, or don’t want to get all the qualifications a public school teacher has to get in order to become a real teacher (or a mix of all these pieces). The charter school teacher will most likely leave after three years because they’ll be so burnt out from all the hours they work on extra nights, weekends, and summers, and they’ll leave to law school or some job in education reform. But they’ll leave by saying how much they love the kids.

While these stereotypes might hold weight with a handful of people, I don’t care to hear it for three reasons:

  1. Strong pedagogy is strong pedagogy, no matter where it takes place.
  2. I know enough charter teachers who supported public school teachers during the Chicago Teachers strike.
  3. If we take issue with the proliferation of charter schools (as I do), hate the system, not the teachers who teach in it.

What often gets lost in the discussion between public school advocates and charter school advocates is that, at the end of the day, the average teachers on both sides want very similar things: a professional environment, a system that helps them do the best job for students, and a salary that assures that they’re fairly compensated for the job they do.

I’m not one of those “I disagree on some points that my ‘side’ makes” people who do it to serve some masters’ wishes. Instead, I proffer a better vision for this argument. We have teachers who don’t work for children on both sides of this. We have problems with salaries on both sides of this, too (though I would argue that they’re trying to get rid of public school teachers for ridiculous cost-cutting measures).

But I would never come at a charter school teacher if I knew they were as restless about getting back into class the next morning like I am. I prefer to keep the discussion on this about teachers who care about students (which is the majority of us).

So when the person who went up to the mike said that on Sunday, I nodded. I didn’t care which group she represented (alas, she didn’t have an E$E button on). I just knew she had a passion for her job, and probably wouldn’t want to leave her students. That puts us in very similar straits.

Jose, who prefers nuance over purity …


What If The NAACP Is Actually Right?

June 7, 2011 Jose

Someone recently tagged me to this piece from What About Our Daughters. I’ll let you read the rest of it on your own, but this is why misinformation is so dangerous: As I understand it, and readers I invite you to correct me if I’m wrong, charter schools ARE public schools. So the battle isn’t […]

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Distrust Agents [Pull Out The Highlighter For This One]

May 18, 2010 Jose
Firing Teachers

Believe it or not, 2009 is the first year I started using a highlighter for reading a book. Maybe it’s a sign of aging, or my acclimation to getting information fed to me rapidly and succinctly, but my difficulty with concentrating on anything larger than a paragraph has led me to the magic neon-saffron marker. […]

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Dear John: Where I Disagree With Legend

March 3, 2010 Jose
John Legend

Dear John Legend, Last night at the Avery Hall in Lincoln Center (NYC), you and Common headlined an awesome town hall between some of the brightest and influential Black / Latino men in education. The line-up read like a starting roster for a hypothetical NYC Black educator panel: David Banks of the Eagle Academy as […]

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