Sarah Butrymowicz
Sarah Butrymowicz is a staff writer. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as on and She was the winner of the 2012 New York Press Club’s Nellie Bly Cub Reporter Award. She received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an undergraduate, she worked as a news editor and managing editor for the Tufts Daily, and she interned at both the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin and USA Today.

Q & A with Ember Reichgott Junge: How charters started and where they need to go next

In 1991, Minnesota became the first state in the country to allow charter schools. Since then, 41 other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, and more than 2 million children attend charters. Ember Reichgott Junge, one of the original forces behind Minnesota’s charter law, says she is shocked by the growth over […]

As charter schools come of age, measuring their success is tricky

When the Minnesota New Country School opened two decades ago in Le Sueur, a rural town 60 miles southwest of Minneapolis, co-founder Dee Thomas and her teachers hoped to do education differently. There would be no bells between classes. Teachers would come to decisions democratically. Students would learn through self-directed projects instead of traditional classroom […]

Why did Tony Bennett change Indiana’s school grading system?

In 2010, I visited Christel House Academy, a charter school in Indianapolis that differed starkly from regular Indianapolis public schools. Spanish classes started in kindergarten. In fourth grade, overnight camping trips began and by fifth grade, so did college trips. As part of the school’s focus on project-based learning, a group of middle schoolers were […]

A new round of segregation plays out in charter schools

In keeping with national demographic shifts, the Twin City suburbs have been growing more diverse in recent years, with an increasing African-American and Hispanic population. But that diversity is not always reflected in the area schools. At Seven Hills Classical Academy, a charter school in Bloomington, Minn., for instance, 80 percent of the student body […]

New lawsuit an ‘assault’ on unions

A California lawsuit filed this spring against teachers unions could have widespread national implications for labor laws. Ten non-union teachers and the Christian Educators Association are suing their local, state and national unions, alleging that the organizations are forcing them to pay to support political activities they do not agree with in violation of their […]

Indiana universities rethink student teaching

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — On her last day of student teaching, Kirsten Smock was trying to guide her first-graders at West Terrace Elementary School through a lesson about fractions. She put up a picture of a circle divided in thirds, with one piece shaded green, and prompted students to describe the image. She wanted students to […]

Student growth: Teachers must show proof

Lesa Worthington, a third-grade teacher at Greensburg Elementary School, keeps a green folder on her desk for paperwork from her evaluation. It holds student data, information about the student learning objectives she had to set and painstakingly detailed notes from the five observations by her principal this year. By late April, the folder was stuffed. […]

Indiana’s new education chief is changing the game on teacher evaluation

When former Gov. Mitch Daniels and then State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett pushed a massive overhaul of teacher evaluation through the legislature in 2011, the promise was a bold new system that would reward the best teachers, weed out the worst and for the first time tie pay raises to student test scores. […]

Charter performance improving, but still varied

Since Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a report on charter schools in 2009 that prompted questions about how well these schools were serving students, the sector has continued to grow. In the past four years, national charter school enrollment has increased by 80 percent to 2.3 million students. CREDO’s latest […]

Linking home and classroom, Oakland bets on community schools

Sitting behind his desk at Fremont High School in Oakland, principal Daniel Hurst fiddled with a plastic cigar wrapper he had confiscated from a student. “They take the cigar paper and fill it with weed,” he said. Hurst knows Fremont’s problems well: he joined the school 28 years ago as a teacher. Two years ago, […]

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