3 Brief Codas and a Prompt – Sometimes It’s Stunning How Much Things That Really Matter Just Don’t Matter

Good day, CharterFolk.

I’ll make today’s post a brief one so I can attend to regular work while making time for a longer one over the weekend.

In the past couple days I have found it striking to see three new articles appear which could all be thought of as nearly perfect codas to recent posts.

The idea that the West is becoming a driver of leadership in the national charter school movement was certainly underscored by these articles at the Denver Post …

… and Colorado Public Radio.

Taken from a multi-decade point of view, the progress that charter schools catalyzed all public schools to make in Denver is one of our most compelling stories.

Meanwhile, building on the portrait of attack strategies directed against a proposed new charter school in New Bedford this year, we find this article …

… showing how the Massachusetts Teacher Association is now running the exact same play in Worchester.

Finally, in Houston we see a complement to the column about HISD’s decision to make even more selective admission magnet schools.

Believe it or not, HISD is actually going to make those magnets even more exclusionary than they were before.

It’s these kinds of stories that make me recognize my own inconsistencies.

On the one hand I report myself as not being surprised by all this. We always saw this coming. We always knew that it didn’t really matter how well charter schools would do with students, how absurdly shrill and blatantly self-interested our adversaries would become, and how transparent and matter-of-fact the traditional system would be in its pivot to allocating better educational opportunity even more to those with advantages and even less to those without.

Ultimately, we alway knew that what really matters just wasn’t going to matter, and things would grow even more difficult as we succeeded.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I retain a streak of naïveté as pronounced as anyone, a stubborn belief that what really matters would really end up mattering in the end, and that policy makers and the general public would become properly focused on the unprecedented successes that charter schools are generating and would be doing everything they can to make our path forward easier, not harder.

Sometime the rawness of it all, the in-your-face-ness of it all, I still find simply stunning.

This week I came across an interview with Timothy Snyder, the professor at Yale whose online course about the history of Ukraine has become an internet sensation.

A college lecture having nearly a million views, no less!

In the interview …

… Snyder was asked what his political motivation was for having written a piece in the New York Times about the war.

This was his response:

You should remember that I’m more of an intellectual than I am an advocacy person.  And so when you ask me what was the purpose of it, my main purpose is that I just think it’s descriptively correct.  And I think that in politics it’s important to have the concepts laid out correctly and then to think about the political decisions.

At times when I feel most acutely that what really matters simply doesn’t matter, I find myself gravitating to things that are, as Snyder says, “descriptively correct.”

I do so for my own sake so I can feel like I have the concepts laid out correctly and can think clearly about future political decisions.

But I also seek descriptive correctness for its own sake, whatever the advocacy implications might be.

This week we saw this article come out of the LA Times.

I consider it a prompt.

It offers further proof that a recent book written on the subject of Los Angeles education reform, as I have written previously, is simply not “descriptively correct.”

The schools of Los Angeles Unified do not work.

They certainly don’t work for the students and families who need them most to work.

They work instead, sadly, for the forces that defend the system as it has always been, as the LA Times article this week so clearly demonstrates.

And now those forces are ascendant again within the school district.

It’s within my reach to complete a rendering of Los Angeles education reform history that is descriptively correct.

Or is at least a lot more correct than what has been presented in this book.

Perhaps it’s actually very important. Perhaps it’s just a continuation of my hopeless naïveté.

But something pulls me to the idea that CharterFolk having something descriptively correct for Los Angeles, for Denver, for Massachusetts, for Houston, and indeed for as many places as we can cover here …

… can in some way help you all with the vexing decisions that await.

So I set my sights on this weekend’s column with the same end in mind I have for all my columns:

A world where what really matters really matters.

And a world where CharterFolk have the more open path you need to make even greater contribution in the years ahead.