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October 26th, 2009 7:45 pm
Better Living Through Education Cuts
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One of the loneliest titles in American life is “education reformer”. You spend your entire career trying to disrupt entrenched interests, upset a stubborn status quo, and come to grips with an issue that everyone proclaims to care about but no one really acts on.

In recent years, a handful of reformers have started proving themselves at the local level — From Michelle Rhee in Washington D.C. to Joel Klein in New York City and — prior to becoming Secretary of Education (easily the best pick in the Obama Cabinet) — Arne Duncan in Chicago.

Any serious accounting of these figures should also include Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the principal of a series of minority-heavy charter schools in Oakland, California. With a regimen of discipline, back-to-basics academics, and political incorrectness (how many other public schools could get away with extolling the virtues of the free market in their charter?), Dr. Chavis turned one of the lowest performing middle schools in California into one of the top schools in the state in less than a decade.

I’ll be profiling Chavis and other education reformers in a column later this week, but for a taste of his principled irreverence, take a look at this video, where he argues that cutting education budgets is the best thing that could happen to public schools:

Dr. Ben Chavis on Education Budgets

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