Jorge Cabrera whose recent buyer’s remorse essay excoriated the charter school reform movement shared some additional thoughts with public education advocate Jennifer Berkshire who hosts the EduShyster website. He addresses the partnership of several organizations in the cause of expanding charter schools that receive public funds but run independently of traditional school districts.
EduShyster: You’ve just put your finger on what seems like a key contradiction at the heart of the education reform movement. How is it that you can have a movement led by the *best and the brightest,* but for whom debate seems to be anathema?
Cabrera: The reform movement is shot through with this bizarre culture that doesn’t look positively upon critical thought. I don’t want to sound offensive but that’s just the reality. I saw this again and again, that when alternate viewpoints were put out there, or even the idea of debate, they’d be shot down really quickly. The message is sent very strongly: you’re off the reservation and you need to come back in. Education reform is a strange alliance. You have people who are highly conservative married to liberal democrats who want to do good and help children. I worked for Excel Bridgeport but we were part of a coalition with other organizations, such as ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools and Achievement First. And what you’d see happen is that when it was time to have a conversation about direction and how best to proceed, the leadership or the funders would steer the discussion in a particular way, to where they wanted it to go. Inevitably the conversation would end up circling back to charter schools as the panacea, teacher accountability, getting rid of tenure.
Full interview here.