Valerie Strauss has raised a key problem with the education reform movement in the U.S.: The central experts in the education system, teachers, are essentially ignored.
I have a long history now of rejecting the charter school movement and the “no excuses” ideology that is driving many charter schools. Because of my position, I have been criticized for not visiting KIPP schools and I have detailed why that falls short against my central point about the racism and classism inherent in “no excuses” ideology.
So I want to offer a connection between my position on charters and “no excuses” with listening to a teacher.
I received an unsolicited email from a teacher who has recently taught in a “no excuses” charter school; this is the teacher’s central point:
Their system does not work. Their philosophy is to teach the kids over extended hours at school. We taught from 8:00-4:00 every day. The teachers have added responsibilities on top of those hours. Then most children went to after school care where they continued teaching and received dinner . Guess what our report card score is? It’s an F.
The children were worn out all the time. The parents expected us to take care of the children no matter what. One day I had a parent not pick up their child and I was expected to stay at school until their parents came for their child. After calling every number I had, no one arrived to pick him up until 7:15 at night.
I have never seen such chaos in all my years of teaching.
Disillusioned, this teacher has moved to a different school, but I find the story and impressions hit on exactly what is wrong with “no excuses” ideologies: the unnecessarily harsh school environments for students and teachers, the remaining disconnect among all the stakeholders, and the inevitable negative consequences of relying on accountability metrics to determine if a school is successful or not.
If you still feel compelled not to listen to me, then at least listen to this teacher.
 Please consider this in the context of the teacher’s experience: A Few More Points About Charter Schools And Extended Time