MENU Navigation

School Leaders Debate "What Works in Education?"

 Independent and Charter School Leaders Debate "What Works In Education?" at Oliver Event

"We live in a country that sends the kids who most need a good school with good teachers to the worst schools with the worst teachers," said Whitney Tilson at our event last week, "What Works in Education: Lessons from Independent and Charter Schools." His solution? "Setting high national standards, and, instead of continually lowering the bar, continually raising it." Tilson is on the Board of KIPP NYC and a Nightingale-Bamford parent.

Oliver alumna Blanca Ruiz-Williams, Director of Leadership Development for KIPP, cautioned against taking accountability so far that a school becomes "just a test prep organization." She believes strongly in measuring teachers' and students' performances, but "the real question is are you willing to take the feedback you're getting and do something with it?"  

Three of the four panelists, including Grace Church School Head George Davison, said they would support some system of tuition tax credits to enable low-income students to attend private schools, a policy commonly known as "vouchers."

Challenged to defend the rigidity of KIPP schools, where students are drilled on a daily basis in proper decorum, Tilson replied, "The students who go to schools like KIPP need more structure. Ninety percent of kids at independent schools come from a safe, structured world. The majority of KIPP students need the school to step in and provide that structure."   

Jim Best, associate head of school at Dalton, noted that Dalton specifically looks for students who can take responsibility for their own education and that there is no such thing as a "one size fits all" school.

Thank you to PriceWaterhouseCoopers for hosting the event and to NPEA for co-sponsoring. If you have ideas for future policy events, please don't hesitate to email me at   


David Allyn
Oliver Scholars