The New Yorker's Take on Charter Schooling (Urban Schools)

One quick Monday morning note to recommend last week's New Yorker article about Pacific Rim charter school in Boston, which someone kindly scanned and Jimmy Kilpatrick helpfully found.

The piece is not just the typical human interest-oriented school profile of an apparently successful and innovative charter school, though it's interesting to hear about a school inspired by a Chinese-American dentist that requires mandatory Tai Chi and Mandarin Chinese classes and where students -- most of them poor black kids -- clean the lunchroom every day. We've all read this type of story before.

At times, the piece gives a pretty good look at some of the main issues that charter schools and charter schooling have to deal with these days: the intensive, kid-by-kid nature of the enterprise, the fragile nature of charter schools both at their start and even as they grow, the fact that many charter schools don't end up serving the kids they thought they were going to get, and the political pressures created by the charter schools backlash in MA and elsewhere.

To be sure, most of the writer's skill goes towards describing the school and its characters, rather than the tough policy issues facing charter schools right now (how to maintain quality while they grow, and how to have a stronger impact on the rest of public education). Still, it's not that often that a magazine like the New Yorker focuses on education. Take a look. The Factory, by Kate Boo.


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