Gary Rubinstein writes a terrific blog. He is a math teacher and an early alum of TFA.
Whenever he writes, he has important insights.
Last week, I got a note from a friend praising Deborah Kenny and quoting her recent book, where she claims that the secret of her miracle school, Harlem Village Academy, is that she seeks great teachers and treats them with respect. But I recalled reading Gary’s post about that school, and he pointed out that it has a teacher turnover rate every year of 50-60%. Teachers don’t exit so fast from schools where they are treated with respect. I sent that to my friend and urged him to remember what Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.”
My way of verifying claims of miracle schools is to check with Gary Rubinstein. He has no ax to grind. He is a straight-shooter.
Whenever some public official or self-promoter claims that he has found a miracle school, Gary checks the facts. He goes to the state education website and what he usually finds is a school with a high attrition rate or high teacher turnover, or some other trick that has created a faux miracle.
Gary is a regular thorn in the side of TFA, because he was one of its early graduates and he wants TFA to be what it originally promised to be–a program to recruit young teachers for hard-to-staff jobs–not a helpmate to the corporate reformers.
His review of Steven Brill’s Class Warfare is a powerful critique of the most common reformer myths and well worth reading.