‘Burning The Bridge To Save It’–Repentant Reformer Talks Education

Jorge Cabrera
Jorge Cabrera

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.



  1. Jorge is finally revealing names. As we always thought, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools and Achievement First Charter Schools were all in a partnership with Ex$ell Bridgeport.

    All these organizations care about is charter school expansion, not children.

    Jorge, now name the “billionaire” who was the main investor and dictated the agenda. Say it, Jorge. Tell everyone the truth.

    1. For years I avoided being recruited by Excel Bridgeport for many reasons. One reason being as an educational reform advocacy group they were being told what to say and how to say it. Then in return they were pretty much scripting those who worked for them and wanted reform because they wanted to please a higher-up. Charter schools, though diverse and some proven to be good, are not the route needed to be taken to correct all the issues the public school system is facing. Why not try these dynamic ideas in the public school setting? These Charter School advocates are guilty of running on the idea of the “Old Schoolmaster” described by Jacques Ranciere. The idea of this “old schoolmaster” is they only use the kids as a tool to show off their intelligence and they are better holding on to ignorance as a weapon against those who try to get too close to being free and exploring knowledge themselves. They fear what Ranciere calls the “emancipated” mind.


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