National Charter Schools Conference

Eduwonk is in Miami for the National Charter Schools Conference that the Department of Education is putting on. A couple of quick thoughts:

(a) The political folks at the Department of Education seem to have planned the conference to ensure that in the big sessions nothing interesting is said at all. The plenary sessions were predictable. Considering all the big issues charter schools are facing some actual discussion (or God forbid debate) might have been useful. What about the breakout sessions, you say? Most were too short to allow the discussion to get interesting.

(b) Miami Beach seems an odd choice of locales for a national conference about expanding educational opportunity for disadvantaged students. Reformers with results or reformers with resorts? More Versace than KIPP… Besides, since the theme of the conference was getting to 50, as in getting all 50 states to pass charter legislation, why not go to a state that is trying to get to 50 or one that is on the ropes like Washington State? Or anywhere that is not in the 90’s every day and humid…

(c) In the bad old days these trips also used to include visits to schools. Sure, an hour or two visit is not enough time to really get a sense of a school, but the visits were still a chance to learn something new. And yes, sure, this is in conflict with (b), but at least do one or the other…

(d) The Florida Marlins are an embarrassment to baseball. They can’t even fill the lower level of Pro Player Stadium, while Washington still can’t get a team [but they have won two more World Series in the past decade than the Red Sox have in the past eight decades—ed.] Right, you had to bring that up…

Update! Howard Fuller breaks the taboo and says something very interesting by noting at a breakout session that too many charter proponents are starting to resemble the very problems they set out to tackle when they complain about accountability in light of dysfunctional families, poverty, etc…Fuller says, “hell, you knew about all these things when you got into this…”

Also, Eduwonk shouldn’t be too hard on the Department of Ed, they did give all attendees very nice black handbags, sort of man purses. Eduwonk suspects it’s some sort of below the radar Bush Administration outreach attempt to meterosexual swing voters…

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