We Need Fewer Heroes

Eduwonkette is in top form today, first, taking the stuffing out of the hottest, gap-closingest new charter school in New York, one which manages to cherrypick students while still representing itself as “unscreened”:

To apply to be part of the first entering class at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, students were asked to provide their most recent report card and two letters of recommendation, one from an 8th grade teacher and one from a guidance counselor, principal, or assistant principal.

Second, she calls down fire on movies like Freedom Writers and Lean on Me for promoting the idea that a successful teacher must mortgage her entire life, divorcing anything and everything unrelated to her job.

Not Unrelatedly

  1. Classroom Distinctions, which takes Freedom Writers to task in several thousand fewer words than I did back when.
  2. Teaching and Shortcuts, in which Chris Lehmann leaps off dy/av : 008 and wonders what teaching looks like as a sustainable career, particularly for us rookies. Few answers there. Mine would probably involve some salary multiplier but then I probably also need to realign my priorities. Sorry, self-sacrificing teacher buds.
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. There it is. My post. Internal structure, quote, links and all. Shameless. Did you need a kitchen sink? I’d be glad to look into it, you know, as a wedding gift–oh. Never mind– you TOOK IT ALREADY.

  2. @ Dan- Great spot on this post.

    Their definition of “unscreened” will surely yield students from the upper tier. The requirement of writing an application will bring in students w/ parents who care a enough to write an application and get the recs and will not be in the bottom tier of students, who most need the help.

    Seriously, when are you going to produce an episode of DY/AV based on the Wire featuring McNulty’s passion along with this allusion to “juking” the stats that Simon references??

    I look forward to that very much……

  3. when i read that today, i’m pretty sure they plagiarized the “no heroes” part from you wholesale.

    did you get a writing credit?

  4. May I take this opportunity to share this interesting article on Jamie Esclante?


    which points out how the “time line” for what he did was shrunk by a factor of 5+ years, and created completely unrealistic expectations both in and out of education.

    It then explains exactly how he got his program to work, and how it fell apart. Lots of great lessons for policy types.

  5. @Mercer- Interesting article full of a ton of basic policy issues that are full of common sense.

    If you want your kids to pass the highest level AP exams, prepare them early on.

  6. Doug, exactly, but setting up the whole feeder system involved work, and was done by starting at a grass-roots level, not based on an edict from the state.

  7. Having enjoyed both Dan’s and the Classroom Distinctions commentaries I realized that Freedom Writers did inspire and motivate me – to hang up the WonderTeacher cape next to the SuperMom cape that I gave up quite some time ago. I’m sure my colleagues and former principal are most shocked – no more 8pm nights, no more marking at home until 10pm, no more Saturday/Sundays at school.

    The line in the sand hasn’t been drawn, it has been carved. Too bad it took 10 years and a near burn out to clue in. Should have watched the movie sooner. It’s all about balance.

    FOR SALE: one WonderTeacher cape – pink only *blush*