David Kirp: “Teaching Is Not a Business”

This blog will take a three-week, late summer break after today.  Look for a new post on Monday, September 8.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Well, I’m going to cheat briefly on my self-imposed vacation.  If you haven’t seen David Kirp’s excellent piece, Teaching is Not a Business, on the NY Times Op Ed page, please read it.

Kirp is the author of last year’s book, Improbable Scholars, about the transformation of the public schools in Union City, New Jersey and a professor at the University of California at Berkley.

Retired Youngstown Professor Launches Website to Expose Horrors of Ohio School “Reform”

This blog will take a three-week, late summer break after today.  Look for a new post on Monday, September 8.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Randy Hoover is a recently retired professor of education at Youngstown State University, right here in rust-belt Ohio, where he has learned from experience about the challenges facing teachers in an economically distressed urban area. Diane Ravitch recently posted Hoover’s introduction to a new website he is launching to expose the misconceptions, fallacies, and lies of today’s school “reform” movement.

Hoover’s description of the experiences of his former students—now teachers—perfectly depicts what teachers here in Cleveland tell me:  “With every new semester, my students expressed greater concern and more confusion about what was happening to them.  They wanted to know why their professional worlds were being so drastically altered for the worse, why they were being singled out as a profession for demonization and ridicule by the media, the public, and both major political parties.  Indeed, some of my students were even beginning to believe the rhetoric of reform.  Sadly, the only explanations they had were the fragmented, shallow propaganda slogans the reformists were peddling in the media…. There was simply no reflective critique, no voices challenging No Child Left Behind and the cascading, anti-teacher, anti-public school mandates gushing from the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Department of Education that were inundating them.”

Hoover captures both the irony and tragedy of how standardized testing and the rating of school districts is playing out in metropolitan areas across the United States these days: “For my students working in high-poverty schools, the isolation and alienation was palpable, with very good, dedicated teachers feeling demoralized and abandoned amid the very public, state-mandated accountability reports showing them to be professionally incompetent.  Equally disturbing were those in the wealthier schools who were starting to become a bit smug because these same accountability reports portrayed them to be professionally excellent.  Neither group understood that teachers in low-performing schools were no more the cause of low performance than those in high-performing schools were of performance success.”

Hoover’s says his new website—teacher-advocate.com—will help school teachers, and others who want to become informed, connect the dots.  He believes neither the teachers unions nor the colleges of education have adequately framed public policy to help teachers grasp how public policy is affecting their professional lives.  “The resources available in the project enable the reader to deconstruct the language, slogans, and especially the contrived metrics to show how the accountability systems violate both established scientific principles of psychometrics and nationally-accepted ethical standards for educational assessment and evaluation.”  “The site is unique in that it is a one-stop source for acquiring most, if not all, the concepts and ideas needed to expose the pseudo accountability of the system and to expose the special interests that pseudo acountability serves.”

I have subscribed for updates from teacher-advocate.com and added it to my on-line  “favorites.” Hoover’s style and his insight is refreshing.  Here is how he introduces a section on Basic Problems with the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System:

“The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System… represents another waypoint in Ohio’s march toward mesmerizing us into believing that school reform is going to create effective schools and effective educators to the benefit of all Ohioans. No matter that the entire accountability system has been carefully contrived to build political careers by funneling billions from public funds built by Ohio taxpayers into for-profit corporations through vouchers, charter schools, curriculum packages, standardized tests, and test materials. Everywhere, school reform is bully politics but nowhere more than in Ohio, as hardworking and dedicated teachers now stand defenseless in front of the firing squad of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.”

Why Checks and Balances Need to Include the Courts

Just last week the Education Law Center, whose attorneys have litigated the landmark New Jersey school funding case in Abbott v. Burke, announced that the Education Law Center has “joined the legal teams in Maisto v. State of New York and Bacon v. NJ Department of Education, lawsuits on behalf of students in 8 Small City New York school districts and 16 poor, rural, New Jersey districts, respectively.  These cases challenge deep resource deficits and unconstitutionally low funding by each State, in violation of their state constitutions.”

It would be so nice to think that when school districts are short of money, citizens would raise their taxes to pay for what’s needed for the children. What does it say about our society that funding our schools has become deeply contentious?

According to the Education Law Center, the towns bringing the lawsuit in New York are Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie, and Utica. Together they serve 55,000 students.  All have poverty rates over 50 percent; in at least one community the poverty rate is 94 percent. “All have low property wealth and income and have experienced substantial shortfalls and state cuts in school funding in recent years.”

In New Jersey, attorneys say that a remedial order from the New Jersey Department of Education in 2009 ordered that students in 16 rural districts be fully funded under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.  The state has not complied.  David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center commented: “Governor Chris Christie’s stubborn resistance to investing in our children leaves no alternative but to take appropriate legal action.”  In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to promise tax cuts as part of his platform for reelection this coming November.

Being free from such court oversight to enforce the mandates of a state constitution appeals to Chad Readler, a Columbus, Ohio attorney who chairs Ohio’s Constitutional Modernization Commission.  Readler is also, according to Karen Kesler of StateImpact Ohio, the chairman of the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools.  Kesler updates earlier reports that Readler’s goal is to have the Constitutional Modernization Commission remove protection for school funding from Ohio’s constitution by deleting this clause: “The General Assembly shall provide and fund a thorough and efficient system of common school throughout the state.” Kesler quotes Readler:  “That language has been used as a vehicle to take those disputes to court and have judges set our education policy rather than boards of education and legislatures.  And in my mind that’s a concern.  I think that boards of education and legislatures are better equipped to address education policy issues.”  (This blog most recently posted on the Ohio controversy here.)

Kesler interviews members of the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House serving on the Constitutional Modernization Commission who agree with Readler and want to remove the language that makes school funding justiciable in Ohio.  They say they want the Ohio Constitution to protect school choice instead.  Kesler also quotes Charlie Wilson, a professor at the college of law at the Ohio State University, who “fears if that language is removed, there would be no right to public education in Ohio, because the U.S. Supreme court has already held that education is not a federal fundamental right and has left it to the states.” Wilson comments, “If there’s not some kind of enforcement mechanism, then it’s very easy for the General Assembly to ignore the Constitution, and then you get to the question of why even bother having a Constitution.”

Swarthmore Profs Say Philly Schools Lack Needed Money: PA Funding Process Flawed

“Each year, as predictably as classes end in June, the School District of Philadelphia faces a budget crisis for the coming school year,” write John Caskey and Mark Kuperberg, economists at Swarthmore College. “In 2014, the School Reform Commission, the school district’s state-imposed governing body, for the first time and in violation of the city charter, refused to pass a budget, arguing that there were insufficient funds to run the schools responsibly…  In the summer of 2013…. the budgets of many individual schools allowed for no counselors, no secretaries to assist principals or answer telephones, and no arts or sports programs.  With a last-minute financial-aid pledge from the city, some laid-off personnel were recalled, and schools opened on time.  But the district was still in such dire straits that Philadelphia’s newspapers launched a drive to obtain pencils, paper, and other basic supplies.  This is no way to run a school system, much less the eighth largest in the United States.  We investigate why these school crises keep recurring… We conclude that the unwieldy process for financing the district means that such crises are bound to recur unless that process is changed.”

It can be hard to sort out the truth in discussions of public finance, because, of course, politicians select the numbers that deflect blame from themselves and their policies.  In Philadelphia the politics around the funding of Pennsylvania’s largest school district are filled with rancor.  Philadelphia is a poor city in a very rural state, a city where many of the children are black and Hispanic, while Pennsylvania’s small towns are largely white.  It is helpful to be able to read an objective academic report that lays out the facts and realities of the Philadelphia school crisis, especially in these next few days when Superintendent William Hite will be forced to decide whether he can safely open school on September 8, 2014, at a time when the state legislature won’t even meet again until mid-September to consider enabling the School District of Philadelphia to levy a $2-per-pack cigarette tax that school administrators are counting on to raise $81 million to make up part of this year’s school budget. (This blog most recently covered the Philadelphia school crisis here.)

Here, according to Caskey and Kuperberg, is the way funding is set up for the school district, which—unlike many cities in other states—has no independent taxing authority.  “Of the district’s $2.7 billion in revenues for 2013, 50 percent came from the state and 14 percent from the federal government; city and local contributions made up the remainder.” “From the perspective of the district, multiple sources of funding create three significant planning problems. First, the state legislature can alter the governor’s proposed budget.  Second the city council may not grant the district’s request for funds…. When the allocations from the state and city deviate from what the district expects, it must adjust its budget.  Third, there is a ‘who goes first?’ problem.  In years when the district appeals to the state and city for additional funding, each is reluctant to pledge new funds without knowing how much the other will commit.”

One problem Caskey and Kuperberg don’t address is that Pennsylvania lacks a school funding distribution formula that sufficiently equalizes state aid to the school districts with problems like concentrated poverty and limited ways to raise local funds.  Many states have formulas that equalize school funding more effectively than Pennsylvania can according to its current system.  Earlier in the summer, David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, declared, “The state, through the school district and the Department of Education in Harrisburg, has utterly failed these children.”

After the recession in 2008, Pennsylvania made its state education budget overly dependent on federal stimulus dollars that ended during the 2010-2011 school year, at the same time the new Governor Tom Corbett pledged not to raise taxes.  Corbett immediately cut $1 billion from the state’s education allocation, a full 10 percent of the school budget, though some investments were added later to bring the cuts to 7 percent of the overall state school budget.  “Reductions in state funding fell disproportionately on Philadelphia. The district, which educates about 10 percent of the state’s children, shouldered about 30 percent of the state cuts.”

Caskey and Kuperberg remind readers that school districts cannot easily manipulate their budgets, as many costs are fixed and others have been negotiated in contracts.  Fixed costs include: federal mandates for special education, state laws that determine class size based on enrollment, fund transfers to charter schools, heating and maintenance for buildings, and required debt payments.  The authors report that between 66 and 80 percent of costs are “predetermined from one year to the next, and many of these costs, such as negotiated wage contracts increase automatically.”  Because school districts, by their very nature, bring the services of professional adults to serve children, the primary place any school district can cut is by reducing staff, which is what happened a year ago and what Superintendent Hite worries about as school opens in 2014.  Hite believes a climate of safety where children can learn can be established only with an adequate number of teachers and other staff.

The authors conclude: “Philadelphia is a much poorer city than many people realize.  With one-quarter of its residents living below the poverty level, Philadelphia is the ninth-poorest U.S. city with a population over 250,000.  Relative to Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia suburbs, the school district is significantly underfunded by the state and its city government, especially when one adjusts for the comparatively large percentages of special education, English language learners and low-income students.  In short, the district faces huge challenges with limited resources.”

The report documents an alarmingly serious set of structural problems. What it cannot tell us is whether there is a way to break through this logjam and amass the political will to educate the over 131,000 children and adolescents who reside in Philadelphia.  This is really not a school finance question.  It is a moral question.

Broken Promises in New Orleans

There has been a lot of hype about the transformation to charter schools of almost all of the public schools in New Orleans.  The transformation began with the destruction of the city by Hurricane Katrina just as the school year had begun in 2005.  Powerful forces in Louisiana assisted by Margaret Spellings, then U.S. Secretary of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made enormous grants; the state seized almost all of New Orleans’ public schools into a state-managed Recovery School District that permanently laid off all of New Orleans’ teachers; and a mass of charter operators came to the city to bid for building sites where they would participate in what was seen by many as a grand experiment.

As school opens this fall—nine years later, all of the remaining traditional public schools in what has become the Recovery School District are opening as charter schools, authorized and operated by different appointed boards.  The promoters of all this have made the numbers look as though the mass charterization has raised achievement, though this blog recently covered evidence that statistics can be made to show what those who present the data want the numbers to show.

What is clear is that many parents and others in the community have felt left out of a process which, although it features parental market choice, has sidestepped democracy and too often responded authentically neither to particular parents nor to the broader community.  A new series by Danielle Dreilinger in the New Orleans Times-Picayune here and here (and also reprinted at the Hechinger Report here and here) traces just how administrators in the New Orleans Recovery School District forgot about their promise to save Paul L. Dunbar Elementary School by opening Layfayette Academy, operated by the local Choice Foundation and chosen after a thoughtful process involving many community organizations in the tiny but very engaged Hollygrove neighborhood.

One school building among 82 New Orleans sites to be assigned a charter operator—an agreement signed in 2010 between the Choice Foundation and then Superintendent Paul Vallas—a change of staff in the Recovery School District—the signed agreement misplaced during a nine year “siting”process—and a Knowledge Is Power (KIPP) charter operator instead granted control of the new building soon to be completed and opened in Hollygrove.

Dreilinger explains: “After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleanians had to rebuild.  There were neighborhoods to reknit. There were schools to reinvent…. In Hollygrove, the two efforts aligned.  Here in a small and depressed quadrant bound by highways, fences, and overflowing drainage canals, neighbors worked with the state Recovery School District for four years to restore the Paul L. Dunbar Elementary campus, and to install the charter school, Lafayette Academy, that Hollygrove wanted.  The superintendent even signed off on the agreement, demonstrating that Recovery system officials could listen to a community and make a promise.  Four years later, neighbors say, they took it back.  They decided to install a KIPP school in the Dunbar campus, and Hollygrove is aghast.”

“But at the Recovery school system offices, Dunbar had melted into the background  It was a small campus in a small neighborhood, and school system officials had bigger arguments to settle, over buildings on St. Claude Avenue, on Esplanade Avenue and in Algiers.  The Recovery system had seized control of more than 100 schools from the Orleans Parish system after Hurricane Katrina, of which 70-plus were open, and its superintendency had changed hands twice in less than a year, from Vallas to White to Patrick Dobard.”

“We were promised that Choice Foundation would run the school and were excited because of our enduring relationship with them,” commented local minister, Rev. Kevin Brown, “a school that was responsive to the needs of the community and a community willing to serve the school.”

If you are wondering why the assignment of a  charter operator matters so much, you may want to take a look at a new piece posted at Jacobin, “No Excuses” in New Orleans.  One of the reporters, Beth Sondel  visited two of New Orleans’ so called “no excuses” charter schools, where she describes, “specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit—practices referred to at one school as SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and Answer Questions, Nod, and Track the Speaker) [the expected regimen at all KIPP schools] and at the other as SPARK (Sit up straight, Pay attention, Ask and answer questions, React to show I’m following along, Keep tracking the speaker).  Students were kept silent or what teachers called ‘level zero,’ through most of the day.  Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways.  At the sound of each bell… students were expected to line up at ‘level zero’ with their faces forward and hands behind their backs, and when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape.  There they waited for the command of the administrator….”

Dreilinger in the Times-Picayune describes a very different culture described by Mickey Landry, director of the Choice Foundation, the operator of the now displaced Lafayette Academy.  Landry is quoted: “‘They make such a big deal out of community input, and then they ignore it,’ he said.  ‘We have been serving the families of Hollygrove since 2006.  They have chosen us to run that building, in partnership, as a neighborhood school, where the community can be involved… As far as we’re concerned we have a promise.'”


The Vermont “No Child Left Behind” Letter that Tells the Truth

The federal testing law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), requires that states inform parents when—by the standardized tests required by NCLB—their child’s school has been identified as a “failing” school.  The problem is that, because NCLB required states to raise the “cut score” for student proficiency higher every year at the same time NCLB mandated that all schools make all their students be proficient by 2014, virtually all schools across America are now failing schools—by the ill-conceived mechanism of NCLB.

All but a hand-full of states have applied for and received NCLB waivers that the U.S. Department of Education has made available to states to release them from the ridiculous requirement that all schools be labeled failures and other penalties embedded in NCLB that have proven ill-advised or unworkable. To qualify for a NCLB waiver, however, states must meet the conditions Arne Duncan’s Department has established.  The primary requirement is that states agree to evaluate and rate teachers based on the statewide standardized test the state created to test all students as required by NCLB.  Washington state wanted to let school districts choose what test to use to evaluate and rate teachers, and Washington state was punished in April 2014, when the U.S. Department of Education rescinded its NCLB waiver.

A few states, however, do not have NCLB waivers. Last week Vermont’s Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe explained why her state has never sought a waiver.  Holcombe sent out a letter to all the parents of Vermont, as required by NCLB—to tell them that their children are attending a “failing” school.  Holcombe then explains very clearly why the failure label is meaningless.  She also explains how the whole test-and-punish regime of NCLB has been a fiasco.  John Kuhn, the prophetic  superintendent of the tiny Perrin-Whitt School District in Texas tweeted, “I want to move to Vermont now.”

Of course, in a lot of ways small, homogeneous Vermont is not like Texas or Illinois or New York or Michigan or Pennsylvania or New Jersey. For one thing, all of these states applied for and got waivers, and in many of these cases, state legislators and governors are marching to the tune of the test-and-punish school “reform” being prescribed right now by our federal.

Even if we can’t all move to Vermont now, however, we should read Rebecca Holcombe’s letter because it sorts out the NCLB education policies that baffle too many of us.  Maybe, like Vermont, more states could simply refuse to play this crazy game, explain how the rules are all messed up, and get on with educating children and supporting teachers.  Holcombe makes it sound that easy.

“Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), as of 2014, if only one child in your school does not score as ‘proficient’ on state tests, then your school must be ‘identified’ as ‘low performing’ under federal law.  This year, every school whose students took the NECAP tests last year is now considered a ‘low performing’ school by the US Department of Education… The Vermont Agency of Education does not agree with this federal policy, nor do we agree that all of our schools are low performing.” (emphasis Holcombe’s)

Holcombe describes positive accomplishments in the public schools across the state of Vermont, but then reminds parents why she is sending this strange letter telling them their school is a failure: “Nevertheless, if we fail to announce that each Vermont school is ‘low performing,” we jeopardize federal funding for elementary and secondary education… This policy does not serve the interest of Vermont schools, nor does it advance our economic or social well-being.  Further, it takes our focus away from other measures that give us more meaningful and useful data on school effectiveness.”

Holcombe explains why Vermont has chosen never to apply for a waiver: “Most other states have received a waiver to get out from under the broken NCLB policy.  They did this by agreeing to evaluate their teachers and principals based on the standardized test scores of their students… We chose not to agree to a waiver for a lot of reasons, including that the research we have read on evaluating teachers based on test scores suggests these methods are unreliable in classes with 15 or fewer students, and this represents about 40-50% of our classes.  It would be unfair to our students to automatically fire their educators based on technically inadequate tools.  Also, there is evidence suggesting that over-relying on test-based evaluation might fail to credit educators for doing things we actually want them to do, such as teach a rich curriculum across all important subject areas, and not just math and English language arts.”

Holcombe ends with a set of nine questions, a guide parents can use to evaluate their child’s school and their child’s progress.  From her point of view, evaluating what’s happening at school is well within the abilities of most parents.  It is important and at the same time very basic—including questions like: “Is your child happy to go to school and engaged in learning?” and “Can your child explain what he is learning and why?”  I urge you to read Holcombe’s letter and to consider her excellent guide for parents.  She concludes: “Be engaged with your school, look at evidence of your own child’s learning, and work with your local educators to ensure that every child is challenged and supported, learning, and thriving.”

A Handbook for Creative Disruption of the Public Sector — Yikes!

Here is a handbook, Public Sector, Disrupted: How Disruptive Innovation Can Help Government Achieve More for Less, for transformation of the public sector—including public schools—via creative disruption.  While it says it is published by Deloitte University Press, it is really just a report from Deloitte Development LLC, the business consultant.

Authored by William Eggers and published in 2013, it examines five cases in which Eggers believes creative disruption will break “seemingly immutable trade-offs” in the public sector where “costs and prices generally rise over time”:

  • criminal justice via electronic monitoring;
  • defense via unmanned aerial vehicles (drones);
  • K-12 education via the “personalized learning experience” of on-line classes;
  • higher education again via on-line learning; and
  • the collection and analysis of intelligence via open source data analytics.

According to Eggers,”Disruptive innovation is about finding new business models that allow you to break traditional trade-offs.” In education, “The trade-off schools have faced is between the kind of standardized teaching that occurs in most public-school classrooms and the more personalized instruction a student might receive from a tutor or at an elite prep school… The trade-off, however, is that such reforms typically are quite expensive.  Online learning, or a blended learning environment of digital learning and traditional instruction, may be capable of breaking this trade-off.  How?  By personalizing the learning experience according to individual student learning styles and pace, and doing so without increasing the number of teachers.”  Not quite the same definition of personalization as the elite prep school?  Which classroom behaviors is Eggers collectively dismissing as “the kind of standardized teaching that occurs in most public-school classrooms”?  No matter.  Stay focused on how to disrupt.

Models of disruption, according to Eggers, “typically combine a disruptive idea with a technology that can propel the innovation forward, into ever-greater capabilities.”  Here are some instructions and some caveats that will help with the process.  The first requirement is “conceiving of the public sector as a series of markets.” After all, if we limit our thinking (in K-12 public education) to how it’s done in traditional public schools, “innovations in the broader commercial sector… will often be overlooked.”  And remember that “the disruptive approach will likely start off worse than the current dominant model (but then improve over time).”  Presumably this caveat ought to help deflect criticism in the early years when things are not going very well for the children who are being experimented on.  Society must wait for a few years, sacrifice the education of some children while the experiment is being launched, and watch for improvement.

Eggers quotes Luke Williams, author of Disrupt, who urges the disruptive innovator to explore “the dominant cliches in the area in question and then invert or deny them… To see how this might work, let’s return to the education example.  It is typically assumed that public schooling requires: in-person teachers, classrooms, textbooks, school facilities, cafeterias, transportation.  A disruptive hypothesis might ask: ‘What would happen if we tried to educate children without any of these elements?’  What might a different model look like?  The answer is that it might look pretty similar to the virtual charter schools now operating in 30 states and educating nearly 250,000 students across the United States.”  Ah… a recipe for K12 Inc., the for-profit with the notoriously high dropout rate—the personalized experience of having your child sit at a computer in your basement.

If one intends to disrupt the public sector, privatization is extremely helpful, because according to Eggers, “The disruptor cannot focus on disrupting the core mission area initially because at the beginning a disruptive solution usually cannot compete with the incumbent solution”—in the case of education the public school system. Getting a whole charter sector up and running might be considered a good first step.  “Shaping a successful disruptive innovation also typically requires the disruptor to have autonomy from the parent organization, the mainstream market it will disrupt, and the incumbents who dominate the market.  Disruptions threaten existing practices… This means that disruptive innovations impacting the public sector will typically originate outside of large government organizations.”  After all, the “job of government officials” is to kill innovation “through regulation or similar means.”

However, once the disruption has been launched, “Government has an array of tools and channels that can be used to foster the growth of the disruptive technologies.” These include “legislation, budget maneuvers, and other special funding tools,” that can be used to “propel a disruptive innovation upwards.  By removing subsidies, contracts, and other advantages that allow incumbents to dominate a market space, governments can level the playing field to allow disruptive innovation to gain ground.”  This is the role, of course, of pro-business groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that develop model laws (to be introduced in a range of state legislatures) that protect various market reforms and various forms of privatization.

Eggers concludes his report by situating the need for creative disruption in our “new normal” season of budget austerity in federal and state governments.  “To get more for less requires doing things differently.  This entails new business models, new entrants, new technologies, and the willingness to reduce or phase out existing practices…. what is needed are innovations that break traditional trade-offs, particularly that between price and performance.”  Eggers neither challenges today’s diminishing public sector budgets—the result of rampant tax cutting—nor imagines disrupting them with tax increases.

Eggers pictures learning as information being poured into the heads of children and imagines a teacher—or computer as teacher substitute—projecting finite learning bites at the children sitting in a classroom or before a computer screen.  It is a one-way education model that removes the human connection between children and teachers and children and their peers. Nor does Eggers’ learning model consider the philosophical debate about the role of culture or social location as part of knowledge.  Neither does he consider learning theory that posits knowledge as something constructed and influenced by the human interaction between teacher and student.

What is described here is a technology-driven dystopia. In Eggers’ theory of learning there is neither joy, nor imagination, nor creativity (despite the term ‘creative disruption’).   Rocketship, a charter school company that has been trying out such a model, is currently in retrenchment because its blended learning model appears not to be working well.  Of course perhaps its owners ought to take Eggers’ advice which protects against such appearance of failure: “the disruptive approach will likely start off worse than the current dominant model (but then improve over time).”