James Cersonsky

James Cersonsky is a labor and education reporter and an editor at StudentNation. E-mail him at jcersonsky@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @cersonsky.

Recent Articles

A Break in Teach for America’s Ranks

AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Teach for America is at universities, recruiting high-achieving graduates to teach in the nation’s underserved urban and rural areas. It's at school boards, lobbying districts to renew its contract and import hundreds of its members. It's in corporate boardrooms, asking for tens of millions in funding. With more than 32,000 alumni, its former participants helm the majority of Achievement First charter schools, half of KIPP schools, and the superintendencies of D.C., Louisiana, and Tennessee. They dominate the well-funded, well-connected universe of charter schools and high-stakes testing advocacy. Teach for America is, increasingly, America. Now, it's facing a civil war.

Teach For America's Civil War

This summer, alumni and current teachers are launching the first ever national campaign against the organization.

AP Images/Todd Sumlin

AP Images/Todd Sumlin

Pushing Arne Duncan to Fast-Forward

Activists demand that the Department of Education address discriminatory policies.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

At a March 15, 2011, sit-down at the Children’s Defense Fund, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent an unequivocal message to black community and faith leaders. “What we’re desperately missing in this country is parents who will demand better for their children,” he said. “I wish to God I had parents knocking on my door every single day saying, go faster, you’re not moving fast enough.”

Fighting Education Shock Therapy

With tools from 1964, community activists are pushing the White House to turn federal education policy around.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The watchword of austerity, “there is no alternative,” connotes painful cuts and layoffs adopted by fiscally shot local governments. In practice, though, this is a contradiction in terms: the politics of austerity are also a politics of imaginative restructuring, in which fiscal crisis is a cover for what Clintonites called “reinventing government” or, as partisans of Naomi Klein might prefer, “shock therapy.”

The lie is starkest in the realm of education policy, where the Obama administration prescribes a slate of options for impoverished communities receiving federal School Improvement Grants. These range from “turnarounds,” which replace the principal and at least half of school staff, to charterization or outright closure.

Teach for America’s Deep Bench

The education nonprofit is also training the next generation of politicians, who have very specific ideas on school reform.

(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

“Is this our Egypt moment? Will we seize the moment?”