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No Excuses: Race and Reckoning at a Chicago Charter School

Illustration by Rachel Sender for APM Reports

Producer DJ Cashmere, who is white, spent 7 years teaching Black and brown students at a Noble Street charter high school in Chicago. Noble followed a popular education reform model called “no excuses,” which promised low-income students better test scores and increased access to college in exchange for hyper-strict discipline. After DJ left the classroom to become a journalist, Noble disavowed “no excuses,” calling it “assimilationist, patriarchal, white supremacist, and anti-Black.”  In this program, DJ revisits his old school as it tries to remake itself. And he searches out his former students to ask them how they feel about the time they spent in his classroom, whether they believe they received a racist education, and whether, if given the chance, they’d opt for “no excuses” all over again.