Wrapping up the charter naming contest…

Mayor Bloomberg, disregarding advice to upgrade his entry, elected to stick with, “The right idea for the time,” Sorry Mayor, you should stick to windmills.

The author of the offending subtitle, David Whitman, who wrote Sweating the Small Stuff and contends that “new paternalism” is perfectly acceptable for describing the KIPPs and Uncommon Schools, makes his case here in Flypaper. Um, negative on that.

Meanwhile, Eduwonk readers, once again revealing themselves to be the sharpest knives in the education drawer, continue to beaver away at this challenge. The latest:

College Now Schools
Laureate Schools
Global Focus Schools
Focus/Success Schools
LEAD Schools: Leadership, Expectations, Accountability, Data-Driven Decisions
BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) Schools
NoNoNo Schools: No Nonsense, No Excuses, No Shortcuts
College Cult Schools
Prescriptive Schools
Push Up Schools
Driving Schools
C.O.D.s (Charters Of Distinction)
Catapult Charters
Crusade Charters

I don’t know. There’s a jewel or two in one of those lists. I need more time to digest these. Just about anything beats “new paternalism,” even my “elite charters.” I’m not sure I can choose just one, but I do feel moved to bless Elizabeth Green of the New York Sun with a special award for her contribution:

Winner Elizabeth Green“This naming contest is a terrific idea. My problem with the submissions sofar is that most of them describe goals, not methods. What I like about “paternalism” is it describes the method, or at least seeks to do that.

I think the difficulty of the contest is a symptom of a bigger problem. Aren’t these schools a part of a movement without a name? My editor banned me from ever letting the word “reform” follow the word “education” and I am glad for the lesson in precision, but I have never found a good substitute. The Wendy Kopp movement. The Teach For America alumni club. The people-likely-to-say-“relentless”-twice-in-one-sentence movement. HBS Grads for Change. Education warriors. Joel Klein, Paul Vallas et al.

The best description I’ve read was David Brooks’, “the thoroughly modern do-gooders”.

Anyway, my submission is the cop-out that maybe we first must solve that naming dilemma, and then get to the schools. As far as an actual name right now the best I can come up with is “reform schools,” and my editor would never allow that so it must not be good enough.”

Submitting a thoughtful analysis, of course, is no reason to receive an award. The real reason is her concluding sentence, “… I have now spent 30 minutes trying to think up names rather than write a story. Damn.”

For creatively squandering corporate time, Elizabeth Green is hereby declared to be the “winner.”

–Guest blogger Richard Whitmire

One Reply to “Wrapping up the charter naming contest…”

  1. Then why not call them “Method” schools? Like Method acting, the term alludes to a strict training regimen requiring absolute commitment from the participant.

    A few years ago, Brooks proposed calling the “thoroughly modern do-gooder” feeder system the “Achievatron.” I love that term because it sounds a little radical, even unnatural–and that, I think, was his point about an attitude he associates with social entrepreneurs.

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