Every Child Deserves a Great Education
Home

The cost of KIPP 0

Posted on April 06, 2014 by dmayer

Bipartisan charter school legislation introduced in the House will allow states to “receive grants to develop and expand high-quality charter schools under a new bipartisan bill recently introduced in the House. The legislation—co-authored by House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and ranking Democrat George Miller (CA)—would allow states to use federal funds to grow and replicate existing high-quality charter schools. Previously, federal charter school funding could only be used to open new schools.”

The fact that this is bipartisan legislation should raise red flags immediately since Republican and Democrats can’t seem to agree on anything of substance. But when little kids, teachers, and families are the target, Congress can get their act together. Big money speaks to both sides of the aisle on the topic of education.

According to ASCD:

Another provision of the bill would allow charter management organizations (such as KIPP and Uncommon Schools) to receive grants to open new schools, even if the organizations are located in states that do not receive federal charter school funding.

Is KIPP a high quality charter network? You be the judge.

Is public school for sale? This is the topic of Bill Moyer’s recent interview with Diane Ravitch. On this week’s Moyers & Company, she explains, ”I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is one of the foundation stones of our democracy. So, an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.”  She has become the nation’s fiercest opponent of charter schools and the movement to privatize our public schools. While Ravitch gives an overall view of the public school crisis, it seems prudent to look at the most revered charter school network, up-close and personal — KIPP.  What is KIPP like? How much has it cost students, parents, teachers, communities, the country and our democracy? Let’s take a look at KIPP.

KIPP celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (2014). KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of 141 charter schools now serving over 50,000 students. For comparison, think of a school district the about the size of Seattle Public Schools spread out across the country.  In the early 2000′s, with virtually no track record for excellence, KIPP gained national attention when it was praised by then Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, Rod Paige. Charter schools were clearly on the agenda, and KIPP was chosen to be the flagship charter management organization. KIPP Foundation was formed to support KIPP schools shortly thereafter. KIPP has been thriving off private charity and public dollars ever since. In addition to the per pupil expenditure provided by the government to all public schools, KIPP schools receive millions more in public support.

Now may be the opportune time to reflect on the darling charter school network of the reform movement. As KIPP leads the charge to the tipping point that will signal victory to the billionaire bullies on a quest to privatize our public schools, shouldn’t we ask hard questions about KIPP? Are we sacrificing the quality of life of poor minority children in order to promote an education regime we wouldn’t want for our own children? Are we pouring millions of dollars into a school network that cheats children out of childhood? If KIPP is the model to which all schools should aspire, will millions more be invested into all other public schools?  What is the moral and financial cost of KIPP?

A Little Background on KIPP

This is a chant students are required to repeat in unison at KIPP. What lesson are they learning?

Knowledge is power
Power is money
And I want it.

 photo Uhaul_zpsd219fe02.jpg

Ready for a field trip kids?  Pile in!

Shamelessly promoting KIPP schools in Work Hard. Be Nice, author Jay Mathews regales us with tales about how co-founders Michael Feinberg and David Levin, originally Teach for America corps members, began their careers by lying about their credentials to get  teaching jobs. Soon, they courted low-income Hispanic parents to enroll children in their two KIPP classrooms by promising “field lessons” to students. When Levin and Feinberg finally did take their students on a field trip at the end of the school year, half of them were transported to an amusement park in a U-Haul type van – that’s right, the kind of truck that has no windows or seats; the kind of truck used to move furniture. The two faux teachers hadn’t raised enough money for transportation so they stuffed students into a moving van and trucked them to the park.

While professional teachers would likely have lost their licenses for such outrageous conduct, Levin and Feinberg suffered no consequences. Their blatant disregard for what is best for students is a tradition that continues at KIPP today, even as it is hailed as a model school and receives millions and millions of foundation and tax dollars to scale-up the program. Is KIPP worth the cost?

 photo 32ee268b-9cc9-40b6-9f42-55777d679199_zps2e425878.jpg

A Bargain for KIPPsters?

Before examining the financial cost of KIPP, spending a moment to assess the toll exacted on its students may be warranted. A day in the life of a KIPP student (KIPPster) has been well documented. For example, in Outliers Malcolm Gladwell tells the story in a chapter called “Marita’s Bargain,” explaining that poor kids need longer school days accompanied by hours of homework, Saturday school, and year-round school in order to succeed. Many rich people agree with Gladwell’s assessment that KIPP is a bargain for kids living in poverty . (I have written about Gladwell’s view on KIPP in an open letter to President Obama.) Privileged people seem to have peculiar and perplexing perspectives on what is best for underprivileged minority children.  From Outliers about a young KIPP student:

She had the hours of a lawyer trying to make partner, or a medical resident. All that was missing were the dark circles under her eyes and a steaming cup of coffee, except that she was too young for either.

Marita’s life is not the life of a typical twelve-year-old. Nor is it what we would necessarily wish for a twelve-year-old. Children, we like to believe, should have time to play and dream and sleep. Marita has responsibilities . . . Her community does not give her what she needs. So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends – all the elements of her old world – and replace them with KIPP. . .

It should be noted that neither Levin or Feinberg, nor co-conspirators Richard Barth (KIPP Foundation) and his wife Wendy Kopp (Teach for America), who supply KIPP with leaders and teachers, send their kids to the neighborhood KIPP school. Perhaps their lottery numbers just never came up. Or, could they prefer that their own children have time to “play and dream and sleep”?

Among other troubling features of KIPP are its preferences for apartheid as demonstrated by segregating poor black and brown children into separate schools, for totalitarian corporate governance, and for implacable treatment of teachers, but these are topics for another discussion.

To say that the KIPP philosophy is amoral would be an understatement. To say that KIPP management has no sense of what is best for children would be euphemistic. To say that most KIPP staffers are not educators would be the truth. KIPP has created 50,000 “Marita’s” this year, many as young as six years old — that’s 50,000 stolen childhoods. Is that too dear a price to charge children for what should be their right to a free and equitable education? If the billionaire bullies, who are perpetuating this farcical charter scheme, had to compensate poor children for the misery they’ve caused them, they’d all be paupers.

KIPP by the Numbers

What about the money? What does Kipp do with all those millions of extra dollars that traditional schools do without? An examination of KIPP 990s submitted to the Internal Revenue Service reveals some puzzling answers while posing some interesting questions.

Assets

  • KIPP Foundation, headed by Richard Barth, became a tax exempt corporation in 2007 and has amassed net assets of more than $31 million.
  • KIPP NYC, David Levin’s enclave of charter schools in New York City has accumulated nearly $18 million in net assets.
  • KIPP, Inc., Michael Feinberg’s charter empire in Houston, Texas has net assets of over $22 million.

Not to mention assets belonging to the hundred or so other KIPP schools. Much of KIPP’s assets come from the generosity of Uncle Sam — that is, you and me. For example, KIPP Foundation was awarded a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. That’s in addition to other government grants and to the millions KIPP gets in per pupil expenditures each year. KIPP also receives millions from private charitable foundations. Except for the fact that it is supported by government funds and some quirky governance rules made specifically for charter schools, KIPP is a private corporation. It is called a public school only because some elite politicians and businessmen say it is. Assets that would normally be owned by the public have fallen prey to private organizations like KIPP that are formed, not with the altruistic ideal of a great education for kids, but with the greedy aspirations of acquiring more wealth for their already wealthy benefactors. If KIPP is indeed a public school, as its originators proclaim, who owns it? How and why have its assets grown so substantially in a relatively short period of time? Why isn’t more of the wealth spent on supporting its students instead of its management? Has Seattle Public Schools (or any other school district) accumulated assets so quickly?

Salaries and Such

 photo FampL_zps10e5d3bf.jpg

 

 photo BampK_zps19a59e28.jpg

Michael Feinberg, David Levin, Wendy Kopp, and Richard Barth are collectively paid nearly $2 million annually for their contributions to KIPP. 

  • Michael Feinberg works 30 hours a week for KIPP Foundation at San Francisco for $196,117; 50 hours at KIPP, Inc. in Houston for $216,865 for a total of 80 hours and  $412,982 annually.
  • David Levin works 30 works hours a week at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco for $175,000; 50 hours at KIPP New York City for $243,189; 5 hours at Uncommon Knowledge and Achievement for $50,000 NYC; and an unspecified amount at Relay Graduate School of Education NYC for a total of  85 hours+ and $468,189+ annually.
  • Wendy Kopp works for Teach for America (also Teach for All, Teach for China, and Broad Center for Management of School Systems) supplying uncertified corps members to serve as teachers at KIPP for which she is compensated $468,452 annually.  KIPP schools would not be sustainable without the overworked, underpaid faux teachers provided by TFA. Wendy’s a busy girl and extremely well-compansated for having zero education credentials.
  • Richard Barth works 60 hours a week at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco (while living in New York) and is compensated $374,868 annually. He, too, has zero education credentials.

All are members of various other education organization boards that promote the reform agenda. One might wonder when they sleep. One might also wonder if the commute from their homes in New York City and Houston to the KIPP Foundation in San Francisco is a regular one for Richard, Mike, and Dave. Or, do they just phone it in? Barth, Levin, and Feinberg aren’t the only ones at KIPP taking home big, fat pay checks. Many KIPP employees make more than $100,000 a year, but sadly, only a piddling are teachers. And, what are all those $25,000 donations to individuals all about? Does Seattle Public Schools pay their staff comparably?

Travel

 photo SampDhotel_zpsab92e285.jpg

 photo RedRock_zps8bbdd227.jpg

Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel (top) and Red Rock Hotel and Casino have served as accommodations for KIPP teachers and leaders during training times.

Over the past six years, since receiving tax-exempt status, KIPP Foundation has spent nearly $16 million on travel.  You are probably thinking, “WOW!  That’s more than $300 per KIPPster!  They can go on several great trips doing field lessons each year.  And, they can travel in real buses, trains, and planes.” Sadly, that is not the case.  Millions of dollars are spent each year accommodating KIPP faux teachers and leaders at exclusive resorts:  Opryland Hotel and the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel in 2012; Rio Suite Hotel and Casino in 2011; Marriott in 2010; Hyatt in 2009; Scottsdale Fairmont, Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Chicago Hilton in 2008; and Marriott, Palmer House, Fairmont, and Red Rock Casino in 2007.

Consulting 

In recent years, KIPP Foundation has hired Mathematica Policy Research for consulting and research purposes.  In the world of education reform, Mathematica provides the best research money can buy. KIPP started out small offering only a half-million-dollar contract in 2009 and then another in 2010. They upped the ante to a million in 2011 and sprung for a whopping $3,000,000 contract in 2012. From the KIPP website:

In 2013, Mathematica released the second report from their multi-year study of KIPP middle schools. This report represents the most rigorous and in-depth research on KIPP to date. The report stated that the magnitude of KIPP’s achievement impacts is substantial.

Surprised?

KIPP also pays out millions in consulting fees which are usually neatly hidden away on their tax returns as “Other” expenses. According to 2007 KIPP Foundation 990s here and here, David Levin was being paid a six-figure salary as co-founder of KIPP Foundation, another six-figure salary for consulting with KIPP Foundation, and yet another six-figure salary for acting as superintendent of KIPP schools in New York City. Nice work if you can get it, especially for the man who grades students on character. In 2008, form 990 was changed to merge the five highest paid professional contractors with other contractors. Since other contracts for construction, technology, and, apparently, travel are usually higher than professional fees, it’s difficult to say whether the practice of consulting for your own organization continues or how widespread it is.

KIPP Foundation does give grants to its schools. After all, its mission is to support KIPP schools. Often times, funding provided to the schools goes to pay consultants as well. It is taxing to figure out how much of the KIPP budget is spent on consulting, but it is safe to say that it is much more than is spent directly on KIPPsters.

Audit Anyone?

As Diane Ravitch points out in the interview, charter schools market themselves as public schools when they depend on tax dollars for support, but claim to be private corporations when an audit looms near, often escaping scrutiny. Nevertheless, not all KIPP schools have escaped as some audits have revealed. David Levin has had an aversion to audits since 2007 when the New York Daily News reported that an audit showed his charter had spent $68,000 on staff retreats.

A Bronx charter school spent nearly $68,000 on “staff development” retreats in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, a scathing new audit shows.

Although officials at the KIPP Academy Charter School insist the trips were educational and paid for by private donations, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli said his office couldn’t verify the claims because of sloppy bookkeeping. DiNapoli questioned why the high-achieving school – part of a national franchise – would splurge on trips to the Caribbean.

“Money intended for education should be spent on education,” DiNapoli said.

KIPP still spends big money on retreats and travel and such, but management takes care to make sure the spendy good times don’t make headlines.

KIPP is only one charter network. There are many, many more, but they all operate in much the same way: declare public schools to be failing; shut them down and replace them with charters; bust teacher’s unions by churning unlicensed teachers in and out every couple of years; teach to the test; test, test, and then test some more; evaluate teachers based on student test scores; collect tons of student data; repeat.

All KIPP schools have not been listed and/or updated on EdWatch – they keep springing up like Starbucks. To glean more information about KIPP through 990s submitted to the IRS, you may first look up the KIPP school you are interested in and then visit  GuideStar or Foundation Center Online to access financial documents.

So, Are Our Public Schools for Sale? 

Now more than ever, our public schools face the ultimate threat that could spell doom. The week following the Moyers-Ravitch interview hailed the United States Supreme Court decision on McCutcheon v. the Federal Elections Commission. Five conservative justices gutted the the already fragile campaign finance law to allow the mighty rich to handsomely bankroll more candidates. In the future schools board elections will likely be fraught with big money allowing the billionaire bullies to fund candidates who will be more than willing to close public schools and replace them with charters. This phenomenon is already happening across the country and gained national attention in 2011 when former President George W. Bush campaigned against Emily Sirota in Denver, Colorado. According to Emily, who entered the race by hosting a pizza picnic and going door-to-door to solicit contributions as she talked to neighbors, she was flabbergasted when money from big oil and big banks flooded into her opponent’s campaign coffer.

So, are our public schools for sale?  At this point, FOR SALE is an euphemistic term. For sale implies that we, the public, have made a decision to sell.  For sale means we own something of value, and we don’t want it anymore so we are willing to sell it; that we will consider all offers and sell to the highest bidder and maybe even make a profit on the deal. Turnarounds and closures resulting in the creation of a charter school do not involve the public in any kind of meaningful discourse. Our public schools are being given away as fast as reformers can shut them down and open a charter in their place. The public collects nothing in return except disillusioned students, displaced teachers, and broken communities. We lose a little bit of democracy each time a transaction is made without public participation. Our public schools are not being sold, the public is being sold out.

Isn’t it time for reformers to recognize that charter schools aren’t working — that the cost is too great. They are harmful to poor, minority children and novice teachers. They are harmful to our democracy. They bleed money away from public schools. Isn’t it time for reformers to take stock and say, “We were wrong. We have no business in education.” Literally.

Below is the dynamic interview with Bill Moyers and Dianne Ravitch plus the web-extra which has even more intriguing information. In closing Bill asks the toughest question, and Diane responds with the bravest answer. Watch the entire interview to know what we’re up against, and then join in Network for Public Education to get involved.

BILL MOYERS: When you were in the Bush administration, Assistant Secretary of Education, you were critical of public schools. You were beginning to say, “We should have choice in education.”

And you were with all those conservative think-tanks for a number of years, thinking through these issues. And then you come out so strongly, having changed your mind. Was there a moment, an experience, an “aha” drama that turned you around?

DIANE RAVITCH: Well, there wasn’t a single moment. And it wasn’t in a flash that it all came to me that it was all wrong. In the early 2000s, after No Child Left Behind was enacted, starting about, well, 2005, 2006, I realized No Child Left Behind’s not working. And, from that point forward all the misgivings I had began to come together. It was a process really of years of saying, “I was wrong.” And in these times, in this society, it is so unusual to have somebody say those three words, “I was wrong.” And, it didn’t happen overnight, but I was wrong, and I’m going to do the best I can for what time remains for me to try to set things right.

Public Schools for Sale? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.


Web Extra: Public Schools for Sale? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

 

NPE asks Congress to hold formal hearings on K-12 testing 0

Posted on March 11, 2014 by dmayer

During the first week of March, 2014, hundreds of educators, parents, and students met for the Network for Public Education Conference in Austin, Texas to address the topic of so-called “education reform” of America’s K-12 public schools. On the last day of the conference, Diane Ravitch, representing all those attending, called on Congress to conduct formal hearings on the misuse of high-stakes testing in our public schools.

From the Network for Public Education website:

The call for Congressional hearings – addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Harkin of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and Representatives John Kline and George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee – states that high-stakes testing in public schools has led to multiple unintended consequences that warrant federal scrutiny. NPE asks Congressional leaders to pursue eleven potential inquiries, including, “Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?” and “Are tests being given to children who are too young?”

 photo 02c80276-bb1f-4537-b8cf-615f6c3c78bd_zps366f961e.png

TEACHERS for America – Photos 0

Posted on February 25, 2014 by dmayer

 photo 9ed86a48-2580-4ea0-bd3f-74b48a6f84fd_zps021f3e01.jpg

If Bill Gates did this one thing, student test scores would soar 0

Posted on February 03, 2014 by dmayer

For decades Bill Gates and his billionaire buddies along with high ranking government officials have been “reforming” our public schools. They have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating charter and virtual schools, de-professionalizing teaching, manipulating standards and curriculum, eliminating libraries and art, music, and P.E. classes, promoting larger class sizes, and legislating policy initiatives that defund schools. Have these interventions produced higher scores on competitive tests and improved the education experience of students?  No.

Here’s a suggestion for Bill and his buddies who want to reform our public schools: FEED THE CHILDREN. Concentrating on this one thing would cause test scores to soar.

 photo foodscale_zps91155b79.jpg
Feeding students good food without unhealthy additives, preservatives, and fats leads to high achievement.

On January 30, 2014, America learned that, “Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents.”

Apparently this is not the first time children at that school have been denied food because as school officials pointed out, “The children were given milk and fruit instead of a full lunch — the meal that the school says it gives any child who isn’t able to pay.”

This isn’t the first time a child has been denied food by school officials. Just a few months earlier, according to KTRK the same Dickensian behavior was witnessed in Dickinson (irony noted), Texas, “A 12-year-old Dickinson student’s breakfast was tossed in the trash, because his account was short by just 30 cents.” He didn’t ask for more; he just asked for some.  Even though children in America aren’t forced to work off their debts in poorhouses as English children were centuries ago, many students come from poor houses where scrounging up as little as 30 cents for a meal is often a struggle. As families are faced with food stamps cuts, they must spend more of their income for food at home.

Both schools defended their actions by hiding behind policy. One might wonder how many school districts have such policies and how many children across the nation go hungry each day because they can’t afford to pay for food at school. In this age of education reform, when a student’s fate rests on how high he or she scores on a standardized test, shouldn’t we insist that all students be fed and fed well? The inhumanity of this intervention is undeniable. Shouldn’t any intervention taken on by the school be one that leads to student success instead of failure? Suppose instead of denying students food, schools provided them with nutritious and delicious meals. Wouldn’t that make a difference in student achievement? Yes.

The ideas of Donella Meadows, known for Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, are overlooked in today’s education reform climate. Education reformers prefer to replace the whole system with one of their own liking, one they can ultimately own. Reformers, who are not educators themselves, are prone to believe that scholarship is irrelevant to the education profession. Their process is to ignore tried and true strategies that work, and instead to propose a hodgepodge of punitive initiatives using students, teachers, and even entire schools as guinea pigs while they determine which ideas are most profitable for them.

If sustained high student achievement is in fact the goal of true education reform, feeding children nutritious meals at school might be considered a small shift that could produce big changes. According to Meadows:

Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

Leverage points and interventions are ignored by reformers who insist, without a shred of credible evidence, that teacher quality as measured by student standardized test scores is the sole valid indicator of learning at school. The agenda and policy set by wealthy non-educators and government officials is so narrowly focused on the teacher/test correlation that it eliminates consideration of all other small interventions that might produce huge positive results, the nutrition – hunger/achievement correlation for example.

Fortunately for us, a study measuring the effects of a nutritious diet on student achievement has already been conducted. Before holding-teachers-accountable-for-every-single-ailment-of-our-education-system became fashionable, school districts experimented (in the true sense of the word) to find data to support the hypothesis that poverty and achievement are related. It’s hard to believe that just 30-some short years ago we cared enough about kids to try a jaw-droppingly innovative experiment like this one. Even though it was conducted some three decades ago, the results are every bit as valid today as they were then.

According to the New York Times, the experiment was initiated as a result of a lawsuit filed in 1978:

A settlement has been been reached in a three-year-old class action suit brought by Consumers Union in an effort to force the City of New York to improve the nutritional quality of its school lunch program. In light of the Reagan Administration’s recent proposals to lower the requirements for the national school lunch program and the improvements already made in the city’s program, however, the settlement may be moot.

The suit, based on a 1978 audit conducted by the General Accounting Office, found that 40 percent of the lunches served did not provide adequate amounts of food or the variety required by law.

Elizabeth Cagan, director of the Board of Education’s Office of School Food Service had already joined together with researcher Dr. Stephen Schoenthaler on The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools to determined the effects of a healthy diet on student achievement.

In the spring of 1979, New York City’s public schools ranked in the 39th percentile on standardized California Achievement Test scores given nationwide. That means that 61 percent of the nation’s public schools scored higher. They had been in the lower half of the country for years. However, for a few years in the 1980s, these same 803 schools ranked in the upper half of the nation’s schools. They went from 11% below the national average to 5% above it. What happened?

The introduction of policy based on the Feingold diet which lowered sucrose, synthetic food color/flavors, and two preservatives (BHA and BHT) over 4 years in 803 public schools was followed by a 15.7% increase in mean academic percentile ranking above the rest of the nation’s schools who used the same standardized tests. Prior to the 15.7% gain, the standard deviation of the annual change in nation percentile rating had been less than 1%.

All schools and all children showed improvement, but not all children made a 16% improvement. Rather, the lowest achievers improved the most. That bears repeating: the lowest achievers improved more than the mean average of 16%. The children who had not been helped by any other intervention improved the most. Incredible, but true! Literally a recipe for success! (Click here for a clearer image of the graph below.)

Feingold Diet and CAT Scores photo FG3_zps570a533a.jpg

So, what happened next? Why did the high test scores last for only four years? The reforms instituted by Cagan were not preserved. Soon the improvements made in the NYC lunch menu were altered to again include foods with unhealthy sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, food dyes, and fats. Children stopped eating or ate the cheap, poor quality food. Test scores dropped. Cagan’s tenure at NCY Food Services is a testament to the difference one person can make in the lives of millions. That her legacy was not preserved is a travesty for the children of New York City.

So, Bill Gates, and you, too Arne Duncan, I challenge you to a noble experiment. Feed the children. No more harmful sugar additives, flavors, food dyes, preservatives, or fats. None of that genetically modified stuff, either. Feed the children well, and they will achieve more, much more. This must be a nationwide systemic intervention, not a competition where some kids get good food and some kids don’t.  This isn’t The Hunger Games, after all, and besides, we can afford it. Feed all the children well. Then, install safeguards to keep  this fine intervention in place for years to come. Your goal of improving education will be a successful and sustainable one!

Don’t know how to get started? The Feingold Association is an all volunteer organization that offers nutrition education about healthy eating. If you watch nothing else, view the slide show, LET’S DO LUNCH! It seems to have been prepared especially with you in mind. Watch the whole thing — it’s long but worth it. Then, view the videos below. I’m sure you can take it from there. Let me know if you need help. I know of about three million others who will be happy to assist. And, after the Feed the Children Well project is up and running, we have some other suggestions for you.

The schools Portland students demand 0

Posted on January 15, 2014 by dmayer

January 12, 2013 — Hundreds of parents, students, and teachers gathered outside the Portland Public School Board meeting to protest the lack of progress toward a contract with Portland teachers.  PPS has decided to not negotiate class size and teacher work load.  After a rally outside, the rally moved inside where the board was meeting.

When the mic was open for public comment, students began a mic check.  The board immediately adjourned and left ignoring students.  Steve Buel, often a dissenting vote on the board, was the only member who stayed to hear the students’ concerns.  Photos tell the story:

 photo d0309b30-3719-401f-a544-c96fdb9714f1_zpsf8d0f7a6.jpg

 photo 45ff50f9-9602-4900-a12c-eed6baad48ce_zps50ba7c37.jpg

 photo 05311339-5c8b-4c01-9930-5e21f09eb941_zps854b5dd8.jpg

 photo 01d91371-48ab-49e6-8649-ce3045f0b55c_zps0c670d6f.jpg

 photo IMG_0139_zps9a345241.jpg

 photo IMG_0137_zps216f542c.jpg

 photo IMG_0142_zpsc8485462.jpg

 
 photo e525a25d-7ccb-4ff2-baab-31d9cda086d0_zps303ab755.jpg

Students mic check the school board. The board with the exception of Steve Buel, promptly adjourns and leaves, ignoring the student action.

 photo 903f923c-5119-460a-b3cc-73f448ca7002_zpsaaaa029c.jpg

 photo 99e1a039-ab58-4166-b7a7-f3f88980b8a4_zpsd063b933.jpg

Tonight at the school board meeting, the Portland Student Union presented “The Schools Portland Students Demand”. This list was compiled by Portland students and outlines what we believe will make our educational experience the most enriching and successful.

1. Class sizes less than 20

2. Proper funding of the arts

3. More time with guidance counselors

4. Student-teacher collaboration in building curriculum

5. Rich, relevant curriculum – not common core

6. Democratic process in the allocation of funds

7. Restorative justice – not suspensions and expulsions

8. Funding for wrap-around programs

9. Support for all teachers

10. No School Closures

 
 photo 8938efd4-c6ee-45f8-8c02-8c4efd8f10ce_zpscebce463.jpg

What does a self-proclaimed, true S.O.B. look like? 0

Posted on October 26, 2013 by dmayer

There is likely someone similar to him driving education policy in your state or school district. Watch as Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Oregon, as he delivers a message to school administrators encouraging them to threaten teachers who dissent from Common Core.

Saxton:  

Do you know what the description of a great education leader is?  

It’s an S.O.B. with a kindly manner . . . I’m an S.O.B. with a kindly manner . . . You gotta be an S.O.B with a kindly manner.

Credit to Patriot Jason/Don’t Tread on Farms for the video.

What does Betsy Hammond, education writer at the Oregonian report about Saxton’s speech?

Some of his speech wasn’t that pretty. Either directly or using initials, he used some off-color words that a teacher would not use with students as he recounted things that have happened to him.

Hammond neglects Saxton’s statement that Oregon will be required to apply for another waiver in January 2014 identifying another round of focus and priority schools. (Starts at 6:15 mark in video below.)

There is no effort that is more important right now or is getting more attention than this one: our focus on priority schools. The Governor often asks, “When are we going to start to see that we’re making a difference in some of these investments? Where is that likely to happen?”

We need to be able to say to the legislature, “This is where we’re moving up — this investment. And the way we’re going about doing this work is changing outcomes for students.”

We have a new waiver that we need to be applying for this winter. . .(hem-hawing) When I look at the waiver that came from No Child Left Behind, I have to chuckle to myself because of what it required of us in the state. What it required of us was to sort of move away from the requirements of No Child Left Behind were to develop the new report card, work on educator evaluation systems that were already required by 290, and support Title I schools through Focus and Priority process.

What’s not to like? Is that just not like some of the greatest requirements you could ever have?

. . .

Now we need to apply for a new waiver. We’re going to try to go in the second part of the program which will be in January. One of the things they’re asking us in the new waiver is, “How would you identify additional focus and priority schools after the this four year cohort is complete?”

The structure of the ranking system insures that no matter how hard students and teachers work, there will always be focus and priority schools.

Sorry kids.

 photo 6f594620-155a-43b8-8790-6465fa06c735_zps3e8ba317.jpg

In the process of delivering this hour long harangue which included two self-indulgent tales having nothing to do with educating our kids, Saxton quotes Theodore Roosevelt saying people often misquote him.  Then he proceeds to misquote him, “It is not the critic who counts,” he says apparently to bolster the resolve of the administrators he has just bullied into bullying their staffs. The quote is much more fitting to describe the work that teachers and parents do than invoking it to deflect criticism of himself, the OEIB, or the administrators he is encouraging to threaten teachers. Here is the actual quote from a speech remembered as The Man in the Arena delivered in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

You can view the entire video here to judge whether the Oregonian staff is keeping the public well informed on education issues. Watching the entire video will bear this out:  This ego-maniacal guy in charge of educating our kids poses a danger to teachers and students who value real education. Any free thinker can see that. He’s not the type of guy you would want in charge of your own child’s education, let alone the education of every single student in the state. 

Full length video of Rob Saxton – I’m an S.O.B. — Oregon Deputy Super Rob Saxton Threatens Teachers Who Dissent on Common Core & P20W a.k.a. Rob Saxton Keynote Oregon’s Continuous Improvement Network Meeting 10 1 13.

Photo Essay: OSOS invites OBA to “The People’s Table” 0

Posted on October 20, 2013 by dmayer

If there was ever any doubt about the cozy ties between the Oregon Business Alliance and Stand for Children, this event should remove any uncertainty. Stand for Children, once considered a real grassroots education advocacy group, has fallen prey to corporate predators that offer big bucks in exchange for legislative support on education policy. On October 17th, while Stand president Sue Levin was being recognized for her work and leadership throughout the session around PERS and revenue reform in a herculean effort to ensure a bright future for Oregon’s children, Oregon Save our Schools was hosting a dinner of its own. The menu at the people’s table included funding for more teachers, lower class sizes, libraries, art, and music. High-stakes tests were not on the menu.

Everyone is welcome at the people’s table.

 photo a3b083c8-5125-4bf4-9072-1ee9b20427d2_zps6a1d083d.jpg

Portland parent Susan Barrett recalls her experience as a member of Stand for Children before realizing she was being used by the organization.
 photo dbd36dc7-3a64-4ccd-8080-c7cbc89faf42_zps5bfd5714.jpg

The People’s Table
 photo IMG_0022_zps98da52b6.jpg

Steve Buel & Duncan Decker address a pro public school crowd at the OBA Statesman Dinner (parody and play)

Ahjamu Umi – Get yourself into a social justice organization

Elijah – Cleveland High School Chapter Member of the Portland Student Union

Emily Crum, teacher and event organizer, invites everyone to join us at the people’s table.

 photo 24197275-47a4-4c7d-bfee-95e1d537e441_zps530416a6.jpg

 photo 908130c1-4344-4d4a-a221-09b192fc7b78_zps15ae4035.jpg

 photo IMG_0015_zps0c49f630.jpg

 photo 4ca832b4-5c9d-4aca-aa3a-0017a5f1ee23_zps47d82198.jpg

 photo c08be568-ecb7-44a4-ba21-fa6ecdea5f6c_zps673ca83a.jpg

 photo 6a2e3662-48ae-40cc-b310-7c0701ca3e98_zps89a9d502.jpg

 photo IMG_0017_zps684f47cf.jpg

 photo IMG_0016_zps1b457341.jpg

 photo IMG_0018_zps840bed0b.jpg

 photo IMG_0020_zps4056eb5b.jpg

 photo IMG_0027_zps87e47abc.jpg

 photo IMG_0021_zps526c79e1.jpg

People’s Table Protest Rally

Academicia – Go Away TFA – The Teacher Shortage 0

Posted on October 05, 2013 by dmayer

Barack Obama meet LBJ 0

Posted on September 25, 2013 by dmayer

 photo 9d20986d-ee01-4b1c-9dec-236c5b0c59e0_zpsaa306418.jpg

Today, for the first time in our history, we have the power to strike away the barriers to full participation in our society. Having the power, we have the duty . . .

We are fully aware that this program will not eliminate all the poverty in America in a few months or a few years. Poverty is deeply rooted and its causes are many. But this program will show the way to new opportunities for millions of our fellow citizens.

No, these aren’t words ripped from today’s headlines. Wishful thinking. President Lyndon said those words in 1964.

Lyndon Johnson’s first job right out of college was that of a teacher. He taught poor Mexican-American children who could barely speak English. He always wanted to do more for his students, saying:

Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

Poverty is the root cause of our nation’s education woes, but poverty is also pervasive throughout our democracy. Poverty is the enemy. Before his presidency was overshadowed by the war in Viet Nam, Lyndon Baines Johnson had started another war: the war on poverty. If Viet Nam hadn’t sucked the funding out of that war, this country might have eliminated poverty once and for all. It’s time to give it another shot. These are some of LBJ’s accomplishment during his short term as President as he encouraged Americans to create a Great Society. From the U.S. History website:

  • A Job Corps was established to provide valuable vocational training.
  • Head Start, a preschool program designed to help disadvantaged students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn was put into place.
  • The VOLUNTEERS IN SERVICE TO AMERICA (VISTA) was set up as a domestic Peace Corps.
  • The Wilderness Protection Act saved 9.1 million acres of forestland from industrial development.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided major funding for American public schools.
  • The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods of denying suffrage to African Americans.
  • Medicare was created to offset the costs of health care for the nation’s elderly.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities used public money to fund artists and galleries.
  • The Immigration Act ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
  • An Omnibus Housing Act provided funds to construct low-income housing.
  • Congress tightened pollution controls with stronger Air and Water Quality Acts.
  • Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.

From his 1965 State of the Union speech to the United States Congress:

Beyond this great chamber, out yonder in 50 states, are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen. We all can guess from our own lives how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness. How many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their futures, but I think they also look to each of us.

Today, for the second time in our history, we have the power to eliminate poverty in America. Let’s do it right this time. Barak Obama, you have some mighty big shoes to fill. We are looking to you and Congress. Add an omnibus jobs bill to the list above, change Wilderness Protection Act to Planet Protection Act, and this is exactly the agenda we should be working to accomplish today. No more wars, just equitable, healthy, sustainable living for all. We can do this.

Go Away and Stay Away TFA! 0

Posted on September 22, 2013 by dmayer

Teach for America, Inc. is the flagship of the education reform movement. The organization replaces professional teachers with unqualified college grads in the classrooms of some of our nation’s most disadvantaged children. This practice harms students and the teaching profession. It must stop!

To read more about what people are saying about Teach for America, check out our EdWatch page.