Friday, January 22, 2010


Dear Mr. Klonsky,

I am a high school senior planning to attend Northwestern next fall. I have been considering pursuing studies related to education and it is through this interest that I landed on your blog site. I am trying to understand your differences with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the subject of charter schools and how they differ from the small school approach (other than on the issue of public vs. private). I'll continue looking at your blog. Possibly you can recommend other resources.
Thank you for your time, June
Hi June.

Thanks for reading my blog and for asking such a good and provocative question. Since this is a blog, I'll try and be brief.

The early movement for smaller schools and teacher-led charters, was about empowering teachers to have more autonomy over their teaching. It was about creating pockets of innovation that could spread successful ideas and practices across the system. It was also about creating more choices for communities that had few, and engaging those communities in democratic decision-making about their schools and neighborhoods.

It was never about taking away teachers' rights to collective bargaining. It was never about excluding kids with special needs or English language learners. It was never about breaking small schools away from public systems and turning them over to chains of charter management companies. And it certainly was never about standardized testing and schools that turn teachers back into delivery clerks for a pre-packaged curriculum.

These aberrations began to take hold during the Bush years under No Child Left Behind and here in Chicago under Daley/Duncan's Renaissance 2010 plan. Unfortunately, they continue to be carried over under the current administration's Race To The Top.

Susan Klonsky & I lay it all out in our book, Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Best of luck at Northwestern and hopefully in your teaching career.


  1. June,
    A friend also recommends a very comprehensive, critical, well-evidenced book: Danny Weil's Charter School Movement: History, Politics, Policies, Economics, and Effectiveness, 2nd edition, Grey House Publishing: http://www.greyhous htm

  2. I heartily endorse this event or product (Mike & Susan's book).


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