But Shalvey has since moved on to a new job-- deputy director of K-12 education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So if you have any doubts about where the Gates stands on charters, here's some more evidence that the foundation is just chock full of charter adoration.
Shalvey took to the pages of the NonProfit Quarterly to talk about that very subject. "What Drives My Education Work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation" illuminates some of the flaws in the Gates charter argument.
Once he's rehearsed his CV, Shalvey throws out the old, "Despite our arguments, we're all in it for the education of the kids and not because charters are a great way to invest money and make a bundle while getting the little people to shut up and just do what we know is good for them." Okay, I added on that last part. Next up-- Gaping Hole #1.
This is one idea that we all can agree on: A high-quality education is a bridge to opportunity in the United States.
Well, no. We can't agree on that. Particularly if we're going to allow our opinion to be shaped actual facts. I take no pleasure in poking holes in this, because I really want to believe in the power of education. I've devoted my entire adult life, my entire life's work, to promoting and providing the power of education to my students. But what we know is that the bridge to opportunity has a foundation of money and power and socio-economic status of families of origin. Mind you, I still absolutely believe in the importance of education and the possibilities for many, varied, awesome futures for all of my students. But to pretend that All You Need Is Education, particularly when you come from a low-SES family, is just mean, like telling a girl who wants to be Miss America that all she needs is just a nice hairdo. It's not the whole truth.
And here comes Gaping Hole #2.
And one of the best examples of this belief in action is at Summit Public Schools, a charter management organization with schools in California and Washington. Summit is one of the national leaders in personalized learning.
Shalvey is about to launch into a sales pitch for Summit and Personalized [sic] Learning. But before we go there, let me point out that this does not provide a "best example" or even a "fair example" of how high-quality education is a bridge to success. A "best example" would involve two parts-- a part where we had proof of the quality of education provided, and then a part where we looked at data showing just how awesomely successful the students became in their lives. Spoiler alert: our discussion of Summit is not going to provide either of those things.
Shalvey is going instead to tout the awesomeness of computer-based learning, something that has been failing to get traction in the education world for decades now. Remember how Rocketship Academies were going to revolutionize education by hooking every student up to computerized instruction. And then they didn't?
Shalvey wants us to know about Summit's success rate. So do some other folks, like the student who complains that computerized "go at your own pace" learning with unseasoned teachers is not very educational. Or the researcher who determined that Summit's attrition rate is nothing to brag about. That includes their retention of teachers, and a look at the Glassdoor reviews hints why. Though many reviews are positive, there are also some like these:
The educational model is seriously flawed and failing students
The culture is unprofessional and emotionally unsafe
Summit (the organization) abuses teachers. As an at-will employee you have no rights.
The management style is top-down, with examples like a single evaluation rubric that allegedly all teachers must use for all students. And Summit is tied to the usual web of reformsters, plus ties to Dell Computers who could be expected to be big fans of a model that requires every student to work at a computer.
And what would a reformster program be without "research." Shalvey directs us to "research" showing that computer-based personalized learning is super-duper. And look! It's a report sponsored and published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-- so researched sponsored by Gates to prove that the Gates-sponsored programs are doing great.
Shalvey's final plug is for the
At any rate, it looks as if at the very least, Summit Charters will be a good launching pad for a bunch of competency-based education personalized learning software. Oh, the so many ways to make money while dismantling public education and electing yourself Overlord of US Education.