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Dan Brown

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60 Minutes, Urban Education, and Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted: 06/10/10 04:34 PM ET

60 Minutes recently profiled my school, The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C. The crew had been visiting the school for just over a year, and the final product is the 13-minute clip below. (Catch me around the 4:40 mark.)

Great stuff is happening at my school. Just a couple tidbits from my teaching world: Enrollment in my AP Literature class nearly doubled for next term, and my future students headed home for summer break today with copies of Crime and Punishment in hand. After distributing the books this morning, I spotted a few students around campus already tearing into Dostoyevsky's text. Byron Pitts's brain would have likely melted.

There are names to drop (In the fall, George Stephanopoulos visited one of my ten-student classes, then invited us to his final taping of This Week) and achievements to celebrate (all seniors performed scenes of Shakespeare's Henry V to a packed house at the downtown Lansburgh Theater). Almost all of the graduating seniors are heading off to college, many with scholarships lined up. The urban-public-boarding-nonselective-college prep model is exciting and should be replicated in urban centers across the country.

However, I'm a little concerned that any discussion on education reform has been overtaken by emphasizing charter schools and merit pay. Charter schools-- privately operated, publicly funded schools -- do not automatically confer superiority over traditional public schools. By definition, charters are like islands, and many are chaotic and horrible. Mine is a great one that does great things for about 320 students per year. I don't want the overwhelming majority of students in America-- traditional public school students-- to be shortchanged because everyone is dazzled by a few innovative success stories. There is dire need to improve traditional public schools; we can't ignore that.

What do you think of today's mainstream political/media discourse on education?

 
 
 

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