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Charter School CEO Experimenting With Ending ‘No Excuses’ Philosophy

Charter School CEO Experimenting with Ending ‘No Excuses’ Philosophy

The “no excuses” philosophy that’s popular in America’s charter schools assumes that given higher standards and quality educators, there should be no achievement gap between privileged and disadvantaged children.

Under this philosophy, students are held to high standards and expected to adhere to rigid rules of conduct.

“The strategies typically include strict discipline, extra time in school, drilling in math and English, and accountability for teachers and principals, usually based on testing. Administrators adopt a rigid set of rules and punishments. A top-down lecturing style is followed in the classroom,” says the Hechinger Report.

Scott Gordon, chief executive officer of Mastery Charter Schools is looking to focus less on this “no excuses” methodology-and if his efforts are successful could pave the way for charter schools and reformers across the country.

Mastery charter schools are a network of 21 schools in Philadelphia that used to be failing public schools but have since been taken over and turned around. Although the turnarounds have been largely a successful efforts, they have come with a fair share of criticism- especially for “siphoning” away money from the city’s in-need public school system.

Regardless of the criticism, Gordon is determined to ensure that his charter school network provides equity and opportunity to the neediest students. In order to continue with his vision of helping disadvantaged, minority children, Gordon is implementing what he is calling “Mastery 3.0,” which recognizes that many of the network’s students have trauma they must overcome.

This recognition meant totally redoing the charter school’s model.

"Mastery administrators introduced a new curriculum, new teaching methods, and a new disciplinary system. They hired more social workers and brought in more assistance from community organizations that help kids deal with trauma. They made training in racism and 'cultural context' mandatory for all of Mastery’s teachers and administrators, across every school in the city,” said the Hechinger Report.

Reformers are watching Gordon’s efforts closely, the article says, and his aggressive efforts to provide quality education to all children through ending a “no excuses” teaching philosophy could have national implications.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

3/28/2016

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