Don Graham reviews “On the Rocketship”

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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book in years on charter schools., June 7, 2014
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This review is from: On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope (Kindle Edition)
I learned an enormous amount from reading Richard Whitmire’s On The Rocketship. If you are at all interested in the debate on public education in the United States, you’ll like it.

On the Rocketship is two books in one. It’s a history of Rocketship Charter Schools, which started in San Jose and are notable so far mostly for their founder’s crazed ambition to expand faster than any other charter group. The group hasn’t been a complete success so far–there’s been a lot of success, then some predictable political setbacks, then a bad year of test scores, followed by a recovery. Rocketship is controversial even among charter school advocates and you’ll see why.

But side-by-side with the Rocketship story is some excellent reporting by Whitmire on charter school progress all over the United States–not just among the KIPP’s, Aspires, and Uncommon Schools (though these are covered too) but among schools I never heard of in cities I never heard of (Spring Branch, TX?).

Whitmire’s conclusion is that superintendents in unexpected places are impressed enough with charters and charter operators that they are doing the obvious and bringing charter people and charter techniques into traditional public schools (viewed in this light, Bill de Blasio is an outlier). It sounds as if the “war” may be over in a lot of places.

I think this is the best education book since Jay Mathews’ Work Hard, Be Nice. And I attach what Mathews himself has to say about On the Rocketship.