A reader has done research on the new Undersecretary of Education. The “no-excuses” charters are known for their emphasis on strict discipline, conformity, and obedience to all rules. They typically have high rates of suspension and attrition.


Public school parents should know who Arne Duncan and President Obama chose to run the nation’s public school system.

This is an interview with Ted Mitchell. Like all ed reformers, he makes no mention of the actual, existing public schools 90% of your kids attend. Instead, he tells of us his dream to turn all public schools into no excuses charter chains:

FORBES: What is your best idea for K-12 education reform?

“Ted Mitchell: Well, we think of education reform in two parts. There’s education reform—that is who has maximized the current production function of education–who is doing schooling as well as it can be done given the constraints we have today. And then there’s what schools should look like in the not too distant future. What are we really aiming at? We call those education 1.0 and education 2.0.

Let’s start with education 1.0 then. Which teachers or schools would you say are doing the best job of reforming the current system? I would highlight not all charter schools but the high performing, no excuses charter schools like KIPP and Aspire. Then there are a
few that are doing the very hardest work of all, which is turning around existing schools. Those are Mastery in Philadelphia and Unlocking Potential in Boston.

They have very high expectations for everyone in the building, kids and adults. They have a culture that supports achievement and they understand that traditionally under-served kids come to school with a set of issues that aren’t their fault—they come to school hungry, they come from broken homes—and these schools take them in whatever circumstances and characteristics they arrive and say: ‘Those are things we can deal with, but they’re not excuses for underachieving.’ The results are that these schools have pretty much eliminated the drop out rate, doubled the graduation rate and doubled the college-going rate of traditionally under-served kids.”

There’s no mention of existing public schools in the entire piece. Mr. Mitchell can’t find a single US public school that merits praise or meets his requirements.

These are not the words of an “agnostic”.