Friday, July 25, 2014

Lily Gives Arne a Big Hug

From MicroSoftNBC:
Despite the education secretary’s outwardly nonchalant reaction to the NEA vote [calling for his resignation], García says he seemed “hurt” and “surprisingly confused.” In her estimation, he didn’t realize the level of anger he had conjured up.

“Arne Duncan is not a bad man,” she said. “I think he sincerely believes this stuff.”
Despite their differences, says García, they ended the meeting with a hug.
By Lily's measure, Hitler and Stalin were not bad men, either.  After all, they believed the "stuff" they were doing.

Behning's Corporate School Money Still Flowing


by Doug Martin
(See the important note at the end of this article.

Patrick Lockhart is running against Behning, and needs your support.  Here is his facebook page.  Spread it wide.  It is time to take this to a truly grassroots level.  Pass this article on to your neighbors, your community members and leaders and to the people in Lockhart’s district, many of them in Indianapolis.  It is time to stop preaching to the choir and to get the word out.  Doug Martin)

No sooner than I posted my article on Bob Behning’s corporate school money at the end of April, more handouts from the extremely wealthy fell into the Republican’s campaign lap.  Here is the latest rundown:
Along with his Red Apple Development real estate charter school group (which gave $2,000 on April 30th), Jeb Bush’s buddy Jon Hage at Charter Schools USA handed Behning  $2,000 that same day, sometime after my blog entry was written.   To Behning, the Indiana Chamber Business Advisory Committee handed over $2,500 , and Mike Pence’s campaign threw $5,000 to the career ALEC politician. 

On May 1st, corporate school princess Michelle Rhee’s Students First slid Behning’ s campaign $1,000.  In November of last year, Students First handed Behning $1,000 (page 9).

Tony Bennett and Indiana state board of ed. member Dan Elsener’s former boss Christel DeHaan funded Behning $10,000 more on April 30 when I wasn't looking, after giving him $10,000 on April 19th.

All of this has taken place since my last piece on April 30, tracking Behning corporate school money.
In my first post, I noted the following:

The Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC, founded by an Amway/Besty Devos/Walmart/Overstock.com/hedge fund front group,  gave Behning $45,000.  Hoosiers for Economic Growth slid him $25,000 at the beginning of this April, too (page 4).  Back in 2013, the super PAC handed Behning $2,000 (page 5). This PAC is where Walmart and DeVos' American Federation for Children unloads its money.
Bush family friend Al Hubbard has thrown $5,000 (page to 2) to Behning’s reelection campaign. Hubbard also gave the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC* $75,000 recently.

Theresa  Rooney, whose father was the father of the Indiana voucher movement, has also tossed Behning $5,000 (page 2). 
David Shane, whose wife Anne was a Lilly and Mind Trust water-carrier, gifted Behning $500 (page 3).  Eli Lilly (known for funding the Mind Trust’s temporary teacher workforce) gave money to Republican Behning in 2013, as well (page 7).

Hedge fund and Bill Gates’ supported Stand for Children (highlighted in Hoosier School Heist) dished out $1,000 to Behning recently (page 4).
Bob Behning likes to call himself a family man, but he is a corporate man, undoubtedly. The "traditional values" he shares are the values the billionaires have shared since the beginning of time, and they do not include YOUR family.

NOTE:

Behning's endorser the Hoosiers for Economic Growth has changed its name to throw people like me off-track.  It is now called the Hoosiers for Quality Education (HQE) PAC.
 
("Like" Hoosier School Heist on facebook, and follow Doug Martin on Twitter)

 

 

Haslam's Secret Meeting at Ground Zero of Secret Classroom Camera Project

Last year we were able to uncover details of a Gates-funded student and teacher surveillance plan that gathered classroom video data and dumped it into a corporate Cloud for sharing among, who knows?

Now it seems Governor Haslam is meeting undercover with a group of "educators" in Washington County to find out "what works and what's not."  Wonder if the Gov plans to keep it all to himself once he finds out.  Apparently, the real educators of Washington County want to know when the Governor learns it:

What organizers are calling an outdoor gathering Friday in the parking lot of the Washington County School District’s central office is intended to shed light on a closed-door meeting taking place inside between the governor and selected school officials.

The meeting is one of 12 planned throughout the state, said Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesman, Dave Smith, each closed to the public and news media to allow candid discussion between the governor and invited teachers and principals.

“The governor wants to hear from those in the room about what’s working and what’s not,” Smith said. “Common Core usually comes up, so do assessments and whatever else is on their minds.”

But the group of teachers and parents planning the counter meeting, which they emphasized is not a protest but a way for all of the stakeholders involved in the education process to encourage openness and transparency, said they’re worried they may not be accurately represented in the private meeting.
“We’re just concerned that there won’t be an open dialogue,” Washington County teacher Jenee 
Peters said. “The people going into this meeting to represent us are not our true representation.”

Susan Kiernan, the county district’s communications director, who said she would be setting up the meeting room, but was not invited to the discussion herself, said she believed the governor’s office made out the guest list.

Smith, of Haslam’s office, said the list of personnel for the meeting was recommended to the 12 districts by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

“They’ve taken the lead in inviting staff, because we want to keep it to a manageable-sized group,” Smith said.

According to Smith, Haslam has already attended eight such meetings in the state.

Earlier this week, one of those meetings in Bradley County drew criticism from elected school board members, who were shut out of the event by administrators, then informed after the fact by an email that the governor required that neither the school board nor the media be advised of the meeting.
Planning to be present at the outdoor meeting are several Washington County Board of Education members, who said they were likewise left off the guest list.

“We certainly should have been invited,” board member Phillip McLain said. “It’s a meeting about education in the state and we’re the Board of Education.”

McLain said he may not be able to attend the event, but school board member Jack Leonard confirmed his attendance and Peters said David Hammond had also given a verbal commitment to be present.

State Reps. Matthew Hill and Micah Van Huss, both in the midst of campaigning for re-election, are also planning to attend the open event.

“I think we all agree that we’re happy the governor is visiting Washington County,” Hill said from the Jonesborough street corner opposite the old courthouse, where he’d spent most of the day encouraging early voters to mark his name on their ballots. “What we’re doing isn’t adversarial. Both myself and Rep. Van Huss have been getting calls and emails from people worried about this meeting who think they should be included, and we don’t feel their requests are unreasonable.”

Peters said the attendees at the gathering aren’t planning to confront Haslam, but will give speeches outlining their concerns with the way the state Education Department has put in place reforms in recent years.

Teachers from Washington and Greene counties are expected there, as are their counterparts from Johnson City.

The outdoor gathering is scheduled for 3 p.m., about 25 minutes before the governor’s expected arrival for the closed meeting.

Getting to Know KnowledgeWorks, Part 1

Soon after Ted Strickland (D) was elected Governor of Ohio in 2006, he announced that he would rely on the expertise of the KnowledgeWorks foundation to "help shape his administration's education agenda."  Really not surprising, since the CEO for KnowledgeWorks, Chad Wick, served as transition team leader following Strickland's election.  What does Wick, an investment banker, know about education?  Nothing, but his patron, Bill Gates has a whole stable of Princeton and Yale grads who pretend to know everything.
Dr. Chad P. Wick is a General Partner at MAYWIC Select Investments. Dr. Wick is a commercial banking executive and leader of an educational organization in the U.S. He has also built New Tech Network. Dr. Wick co-founded RISE Learning Solutions. He was the Founding President and Chief Executive Officer at KnowledgeWorks Foundation since 1998. Previously, Dr. Wick has served as the President, Chief Executive Officer, and Board member of institutions including Ameritrust, Southern Ohio Bank, and Shawnee Life Insurance Co. Previously, he served as the President at Mayerson Company. Dr. Wick serves as a Director of ACT, Inc. He serves as Trustee at KnowledgeWorks Foundation. Prior to this, Dr. Wick served as a Director of InQBate, Corp from September 3, 2002 to September 2, 2003. He also served as a Director of ChoiceCare Corp. Dr. Wick has served as a Board member on various boards including Student Loan Funding Corp. and Mount Vernon. He served as Chair of Education Transition for Ohio Governor Mr. Ted Strickland and through his role as KnowledgeWorks Chief Executive Officer, impacted Ohio’s education policy. Dr. Wick has been a Chief Executive Officer of commercial banks, large non-profit organizations, and a national foundation for the past 35 years. He has also had significant experience structuring both the buy and sell sides of large commercial transactions. Dr. Wick organized the private acquisition of Southern Ohio Bank and ultimate sale to PNC Bank. He played a key role as Director in the sale of an HMO in the Midwest to Humana and organized and managed the sale of the third largest student loan organization in the country to Sallie Mae. Dr. Wick is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force and has participated in the Army War College’s Strategic Leadership Forum at Columbia University. He has been accorded many awards for education achievement in Ohio and nationally. Dr. Wick has received Honorary Doctorates from both the University of Cincinnati and Youngstown State University. He received an MBA with high honors from Thunderbird Graduate School and a BS degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Started in 1998, KnowledgeWorks was really "made" with $20 million from the Gates Foundation in 2002, and that handout would be the one of the first of many multi-million dollar infusions into Ohio to mold K-12 education as Bill Gates believed it should.  KnowledgeWorks functions to advise on implementing Gates-endorsed ed schemes, including curriculum, management, and technology.  Oh, don't forget student lending (more on that later).

 From looking at the 990s, Chad is doing pretty well in his new enterprise. Below are 2009 to 2011:





rely on their expertise to help shape his administration’s education agenda. - See more at: http://www.knowledgeworks.org/strickland-seeks-input-education-agenda#sthash.c6c6t5o8.dpuf
rely on their expertise to help shape his administration’s education agenda. - See more at: http://www.knowledgeworks.org/strickland-seeks-input-education-agenda#sthash.c6c6t5o8.dpuf
rely on their expertise to help shape his administration’s education agenda. - See more at: http://www.knowledgeworks.org/strickland-seeks-input-education-agenda#sthash.c6c6t5o8.dpuf

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our overall scores are unspectacular because of our high rate of child poverty. (WSJ)


Test Scores, Students and Learning
Our overall scores are unspectacular because of our high rate of child poverty.
Published in the Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2014.
When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American scores on international tests are at the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular because of our high rate of child poverty. The U.S. has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries. In some big city public school districts, the poverty rate is over 80%. Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these profoundly impact school performance.
This is compelling evidence that the problem is poverty, not teachers, teacher unions or schools of education. This is also compelling evidence that we should be protecting students from the effects of poverty, not investing in the Common Core.
Stephen Krashen
Posted at: http://tinyurl.com/pn594dr

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Rhonda's and Lili's Resignations Are More Important Than Arne's

As Weingarten was about to be re-appointed by Saddam proportions (97%) at the recent coronation exercises in Los Angeles, the biggest diversion of the week grew from whether Rhonda would call for Arne's resignation.  Ooh! What sad theatre!

Sadly, if Duncan were to leave tomorrow to play Golden Oldie basketball full time, another fascist water carrier would be put in his place to implement the ed policies set forth by the the the thin lipped drones from McKinsey & Co. for the Waltons, Bill Gates, and Broad.

What could be much more significant are the potential resignations of the top brass in both AFT and NEA, so that advocates for teachers and children and parents could be put in place in leadership positions to carry the battle against the mad dog privatizers, hedge funders, and profiteers.

The same sad diversionary theatre was just staged in Britain, with Duncan's equivalent, Gove, being shoved toward the door.  As the following excerpt from an email I got this morning from a British blogger shows, the questions remain about how this diversion could do anything for children and teachers and parents:

The recent National Union of Teachers strike involved lots of people holding up placards saying 'Gove Out'. Now he's gone do these people really think that the continuing sell-off of our public education system is going to stop? The naivete and ignorance amongst those who really ought to know better is shocking.


Doug Martin's Podcast on War Report on Public Education Now Up

by Doug Martin

My talk from a few days ago with BATS member Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. on his show the War Report on Public Education is now up as a podcast.  Some of the topics covered include:

My book Hoosier School Heist which focuses on the corporate-theocratic school movement in Indiana and across the country. 

FBI.

How the Indiana Democratic Party needs to do more than lip-service to support public education.

Speaking with local Republicans about corporate-theocratic school reform.

How US Indiana Republican Larry Bucshon needs to gets over the fake skills gap and create jobs by passing a law to build a new wing on the federal prison in Terre Haute to put all the corrupt billionaires in jail.

Neuroscience and the evolution of language.

Poetry.

America's spiritual void. 

Listen here: http://www.bbsradio.com/content/talk-show-episode-war-report-public-education-july-20-2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why the push to make students "Career Ready"?

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Why the push to make students "Career Ready"?  Because companies are doing much less training.

We often hear that public schools are failing because they do not prepare students for jobs.  Employers complain, we are told, that recent graduates are unprepared for the real world of work.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains what is really going on: "Companies complain that they can't find skilled hires, but they aren't doing much to impact these skills , economics and workforce experts say. U.S. companies have been cutting money for training programs for decades, expecting schools and workers to pick up the slack" (p. B1).

" ... one rough measure, the percentage of staffers at U.S. manufactures dedicated to training and development, has falled by about half from 2006 to 2013, according to research group Bersin by Doloitte" (p. B1).

The WSJ quotes MIT labor economist Paul Osterman's study showing that "manufacturers' spending on training has been essentially flat for the last five years. 'Firms have gotten lazy [about training]. They're looking for somebody else,' such as community colleges, for-profit schools and online courses to that for them." (p. B5)

The WSJ also points out that the number of formal apprenticeship programs "fell about 40% between 2003 and 2013, according to the Labor Department."  (p. B5)



Lauren Weber, "Whose job is it to train teachers?  Wall Street Journal July 17, 2014, pages B1, B5.

Opt Out: Stop the Education Genocide

by Ira Shor
Opt-Out: The REAL Parent Revolution

We parents can stop the destruction of our public schools. We can stop the looting of school budgets by private charters and testing vendors. We can stop the abuse of our children by the relentless hours of testing. We can stop the closings, the co-locations, the mass firings, the replacement of veteran teachers with short-term Teach for America newbies, the shameful indignity of public schools told they have 24 hours to clear out so a charter can seize their classrooms. To do this, we have to opt-out our kids from the new testing regimes—refuse to let the schools test our kids with PARCC or Smarter Balanced, boycott the pointless and punitive tests which make the best years of our kids’ lives into a digital hell.

I opted-out my 10-year-old son from all state tests this year and will continue to do so when the useless and costly PARCC tests arrive next year. I will encourage other parents to join me in boycotting such standardized tests, which Diane Ravitch has rightly called “junk science” because they cannot accurately report a student’s achievement, learning process, or academic needs, or a teacher’s competence. For commercial and political reasons, it pleases Duncan, Gates and Co. to spread such tools from coast to coast, but they offer no evidence that such tools can do the job they claim, despite the constant promotion financed by Gates’s millions to the two teacher unions, to the national PTA, to “Education Week” magazine, and other key players working on his side.

Neither CCSS nor PARCC can make our kids “college and career ready.” This is impossible from the rigidly-defined, narrow Common Core State Standards(CCSS) skill-sets or from the hours of standardized testing, which over-produce metrics that don’t amount to teaching or learning. First, of course, I ask, Who can predict what the job market will be like when my 10-year-old enters it? Also, school curricula which narrowly focus on skills under-develop the critical habits of mind and communication which children need to make sense of the world as they find it. Employers, in fact, report that narrow subject matter is not what they look for in candidates, preferring instead future employees who have learned how to learn, how to ask questions and to make sense of situations, how to ask for help, how to work in groups, how to learn from others by example, and how to communicate. Hours of standardized testing cannot lead to these outcomes.

The national CCSS-machine also ignores the most important factor in a child’s test scores: family income(widely-discussed since 1966 and the famous Coleman Report, reiterated again and again by social research.) SAT/ACT/high-school and college graduation rates have always correlated closely with family income. Because our society has the highest rate of child poverty of any developed nation(about 35% of Black and Hispanic kids, about 11% of white kids), our national averages on standardized tests are pulled down. The strongest policy, then for raising average scores would be an anti-poverty program, what Christopher Jencks 40 years ago called “an incomes policy,” that is, equalizing family incomes. When he proposed equal izing incomes, policy in the U.S. tilted towards the bottom 80%, especially the bottom 20% of families, as research by Saez and Piketty and by Robert Reich have shown; in that era, Black kids closed about 20% of the “achievement gap” with their white peers(see Jencks’s “The Black-White Achievement Gap.”) CCSS and its PARCC testing will fail just like NCLB and RTTT failed before them, fail to close the achievement gap, fail to produce deep learning for the vast majority of children, fail to close the huge income gap.

Because our children are in this together, so are we. Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!” Tell that to Bill Gates, to Arne Duncan, to Eli Broad, to David Coleman, to Michelle Rhee, to Wendy Kopp, to Eva Moskowitz, to Govs. Cuomo and Christie, to the hedge-funders in Democrats for Education Reform, who send their own kids to test-exempt private schools with small classes, well-paid veteran teachers, handsome campuses, and field trips so that their kids “feel at home in the world,” as the elite prep of certain kids is sometimes called.

If we parents opt-out, we remove our kids from the commercial machine invading and destroying public schools. We refuse to let our kids become mass subjects tested to distraction. We insist that inspired teaching and complex learning and rich arts should be at the center of every school.

Authorities count on our quiet compliance to cement their plans into place. We need defiance instead, for the sake of the kids and for the sake of the public sector without which democracy cannot survive. When we opt-out we rescue our kids, our public schools, and our society at the same time. Our opposition will force authorities to retreat, if we stick together, get tough on behalf of our kids, and insist that public schools belong to us for the public good, not to the private sector or to the commercial parasites stealing our children’s futures.

Go to United Opt Out and learn more about how to join the cause.

Uninformed

To the editor:

Antonio Villaraigosa asks"Why are teachers unions so opposed to change?"(July 21). I would like to know why Mr. Villaraigosa is so opposed to learning the facts about American schools and the Common Core.

Villaraigosa claims that American students do poorly compared to students in other countries on international tests and that the Common Core will help us do better.  Is he aware that when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American scores on international tests are at the top of the world?

Is he aware that our overall scores are unspectacular because of our high rate of child poverty: The US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 23%, compared to high-scoring Finland’s 5.4%). In some big city public school districts, the poverty rate is over 80%. Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these profoundly impact school performance.

Does Mr. Villaraigosa know that the Common Core does nothing to address these problems, and that there is no evidence that the standards and the astonishing amount of testing required will help children? The billions we are ready to spend on the Common Core would be much better spent protecting children from the effects of poverty.

Stephen Krashen

Sources:

Levels of poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2012, ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Over 80%:
http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2011/02/17/more-illinois-children-living-in-poverty-risk-school-failure; http://home.lausd.net/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=344072&id=0


Control for poverty:
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance.

Impact of poverty: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential;   Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.





Monday, July 21, 2014

At KIPP, "they wouldn't have desks at first" and then they are "chained to a desk 10 hours a day"


ob Andres bandres@ajc.com
Detria Mills and Justin Campbell work on the floor with their fellow eighth-graders at a KIPP academy in metro Atlanta. Students get classrooms and desks when they demonstrate they have earned them by meeting their student goals.--AJC
Last week Atlanta Public Schools picked former KIPPster, David Jernigan, as its new deputy superintendent.  This decision should be concern for any parent in Atlanta Public Schools who aims to protect the health and human rights of children in Atlanta public schools.  

Jernigan was overseer of the Atlanta KIPP network of seven schools before his selection as Deputy Supt., and it was during his tenure as Executive Director of KIPP Atlanta that children learned to earn their desks after sitting of the floor for a week or so of school.  I wrote about this phenomenon of floor sitting earlier this year, but the account or interview excerpt below was not included as part of that story.  The account below is based on experiences of a former KIPP teacher who taught at one of Atlanta KIPP schools during Jernigan's tenure.  Like most teachers with more concern for children than they are a paycheck for teaching in hell, he did not last long at KIPP.

Allen:  At first it started off exciting because it was all new to me.  I was putting together my classroom and then the children came in and it was basically us introducing ourselves and introducing what KIPP does.  I didn’t really get a formal--they didn’t really take me through any kind of learning experience on how KIPP was set up, so all I had was the reading that I did with “Work hard.  Be Nice.” . . . . They didn’t take me through a formal training.  It was really the principal and the administration; they were the main ones that were really focused on teaching the children about KIPP.  

Basically they would come in and they [the children] wouldn’t have desks at first, so they would sit on the floor and that’s how they would have class at first and then they were teaching how to SLANT, how to track the teacher and making sure that they keep their eyes on the teacher.  It was conditioning I would say, so that was the main thing that they basically did--and setting them up for their homework, so how to have homework so that they would get homework for every subject and the teacher would have to come in with a checklist for every child and just mark off that they did the homework and they would have to have specific periods and capitalized letters.  There isn’t really room for error, so it took away the fun, just really making mistakes and learning from your mistakes.  It was more like trying to teach them to be perfectionists at the beginning. 

INT:  Why didn’t they have seats?  Why were they sitting on the floor?

Allen:  Because they had to earn their desks and they had to earn that chair.  They had to earn their t-shirts.  They had to earn different things.  . . . .

INT:  Even from the desk that they sat in, they had to earn?

Allen:  Yes.

INT:  How long did this KIPPnotizing go on?

Allen:  It went on for basically I would say it went on for the two weeks, two and a half weeks that they were there for the summer and then it continued on afterwards, after they came back from their summer break.

INT:  And how long had this school been in operation when you came there?

Allen:  I think…I can find out, but I’m thinking it was…I know that they had been in operation for a long time so it was probably ten years.

INT:  So it wasn’t a new school?

Allen:  No sir.  Between five to ten years.

INT:  Your expectation coming in had been based on what you had read and what you had found in the Mathews book and on the web.  Did the reality match your expectation?

Allen:  No it didn’t, not at all.  As I went it was basically saying that you shouldn’t smile at the children; that you should be strict and you shouldn’t give them any kind of leeway at all, so it was different from the way that I am as an individual, because I love smiling; I love really communicating with the children and allowing them to use their free minds.  At the same time, the way it was set up, the way the discipline is set up, it didn’t leave room for me to discipline the child so they were already staying in [and missing free time].  They would stay in for the whole day because they would lose their recess.  They would stay in the whole day because they didn’t have their homework and they would go into a room.  It was somewhat of seclusion and basically trying to make them perform to the KIPP method, but at the same time, that took away from the teacher trying to discipline the child on their own because I am used to coming from a school system where they have you stay after school if you don’t do the right thing, but having them stay after school is more taxing on the teacher than the student because it was ten hour days with the students that you were teaching. 

INT:  Let me ask you this, if I were a friend of yours interested in applying to teach at a KIPP school and we were hanging out and I asked you well what was it like there, what would you tell me?

Allen:  I love the people there, but I don’t love the system itself because it’s turning into a system instead of what I would think is leeway; a way for you to change the way a school system is set up.  I would think it is something totally different from a formal school system and that’s what I was trying to escape, a formal school system.  But what it is doing is it is creating another system, which I don’t really feel is the best way.  But what I would tell them is that it is hard.  Ten-hour days with students is definitely taxing on the teacher.  You have no life.  KIPP is your life.  Even when you are down with the children at 5:00, at the same time, you might have one of them after school or at the same time you are definitely developing lesson plans for--because the way they have it set up, we didn’t really get time to plan our formal lessons; we just say now we are hired in June and I started in June.  I didn’t really get the time to really plan any kind of lessons at all and then we had a week’s worth of planning but that first week before school started we went to a KIPP Summit.  You really don’t have a life at all; that is what I would definitely tell them. . . .

. . . .

INT:  What kind of person is likely to do well at KIPP and in terms of teachers, what kind of teacher is likely to do well at KIPP and what kind of teacher is likely to have difficulties?

Allen:  We had one teacher who basically, she knew KIPP because she had worked for KIPP for such a long time and she saw how other teachers what I would call it was such as a drill sergeant, so first it was drill, drill, drill the information as far as how you want them to act in your class and then you would want them silent constantly.  The problem was I had never had thirty children in a classroom so what seemed to me having thirty children in the classroom was more like cattle driving.  You couldn’t really mold the line, allow them to…as a teacher you are supposed to pull information out of them that they already have within them, but more so you were pouring information in them, which was focused on discipline first and then testing next.  That was the focus of it.  If you are about the money I would say it will be better.  If you are more about discipline and just learning to control them it was a better experience for you and just mean.  You have to be mean in an area like that. 

INT:  Did you have difficulty?

Allen:  Yes sir.  Definitely.  That is why I only stayed a short tenure, which was only _____ months sadly to say, but it was the way the children were grouped, you had all of them all together and then you had the lows, the highs and you had the people in the middle.  With it like that and thirty children in a classroom and that means thirty different personalities that you have to deal with and you have to find some kind of way to get the information to all of them so that you are meeting them where they are, which is the hardest thing in a classroom.  Really it can’t be done I don’t think.  But we were trying to do that.  Yeah.  It was definitely hard.

INT:  How do you think that KIPP achieves its purpose and it’s aim?

Allen:  You said how do they achieve them?  By testing them, constantly testing them.  We were constantly testing the children.  Once you give children problems, which are found on the state test eventually it becomes normal for them to test so it is more like initiating and not allowing them to think.  . . .

INT:  It’s more like conditioning than anything else?

Allen:  Yes sir.  Definitely conditioning because eventually after they had been tested and 8th grade is where they perform the most and me personally, I am not a person on data because it can always be fudged.  Unless you can show me a child and allow me to really test them and test their knowledge through questioning and their answer, which are more or less the Socratic method more so than the testing method.  So questioning and then having them answer the questions; we go back and forth just like that because with the debate, I think that’s the best way a child and an individual period learns. 

. . . .

INT:  If I were to follow you through a typical day at KIPP, what would I see you doing?  What experiences would I observe you having and how would I see you interacting with the students?

Allen:  A typical day during that time period, it was my first year teaching and having thirty children was painful.  You would come into my classroom and you would have some disruptive students because I didn’t know how –

INT:  Take me from the beginning.  What time did you get to school and walk me through your day?

Allen:  From the beginning I would get there probably around 6:00 and I would prepare for the day.  I would start making my board, because our classes were set up that children stayed in class and the teachers wrote things.  So I would have to carry all my books that I had for the children.  I would carry those in basically a buggy and then I would have to carry my work with the books and all the worksheets that I had for them and I would also have to carry the board that I had laid out.  That’s the way that we set it up and so I would do that until the children came in so I was prepared and I would put the morning work on the board and the children would eventually come in after breakfast and they would come in and sit down and start doing the morning work and put the homework in the homework basket. 

From there I would have a person come in, because if you think about it, you have thirty children in the classroom and you are checking four subjects so there are four piles so you are checking over a hundred and twenty pages a day with the homework and sometimes more.  They would have their homework packet and you would have to go through and try to check and see if they had correct grammar as far as punctuation and stuff, correct punctuation and see if they showed their work with their math work. 

You would go through checking off and you would give them the amount of money that they earned throughout the day because you would have to calculate it.  On Monday morning, so I will do the beginning of the week on the Monday morning.  After the announcement they would go and have the Monday morning meeting and basically they would try to prepare them for the week and they would either have it as a full school or just 5th grade itself.  From that point on you would start switching.  The children would go back to the class after the Monday morning meeting. 

They didn’t teach me classroom management.  I didn’t learn as far as setting routines and procedures so at the beginning of the year I was basically thrown into the deep end and I was trying to swim, but I was constantly drowning.  I would come to the administration and constantly tell them that I was drowning because I wasn’t able to hold the children up; I couldn’t teach because of all the chaos that I was having in the classroom.  . . . .

INT:  Did you have children with IEPs?

Allen: Yes sir.  As a matter of fact, almost half of them had IEPs.

INT:  Were those needs being –

Allen:  I think if I am not mistaken, more than half of them had IEPs.

INT:  Were those needs being met?

Allen:  Definitely not. No sir.  Not as far as math was concerned because when I left, which was in __________ the principal took over because she eventually tried to take ove--not take over, but she tried to help me because she saw that I was struggling and I constantly came to her.  I was quitting in August because I saw that I wasn’t moving the children and it is not about money; it’s about educating for me.  That’s the only reason that I went into the field.  When I came to them basically they said we will help you form out the lessons and then after that they [saved] me and they saw some of the problems that I was having and eventually she came in and tried to teach the classroom and show me how it should be done.  But she was the principal so it is a totally different feel for the children than having a regular teacher that they see everyday in class, because she can suspend them.  . . .

INT:  How would you describe the children's way of being together?  Were they hostile?  Were they happy?  Were they excited?  How would you describe -?

Allen::  I would describe it like this.  If you never saw outside until 5:00 pm, I think anybody would be hostile and we saw constantly those four walls and those children what I call…it was prison for them; the desks were their prison.  They would sit at those desks all day at that same desk all day, so they were definitely hostile.

INT:  They were at the desks all day.  How about lunch?

Allen:  Some of them, they had lunch in the classroom so some of them would sit at their own desks but at the same time, they would go to the cafeteria.  To start off most of the time they couldn’t talk so they were silent at the lunch tables.

INT:  They were silent from the time that they arrived at school until the time they left at the end of the day a lot of the time?

Allen:  That was the means. That’s what they wanted to do.

INT:  You described it as their desk was their prison.

Allen:  Yes sir.

INT:  This affected the way that they acted toward one another and they acted toward the teachers too?
Allen:  Yes sir.  How can you keep a person inside for ten hours out of the day?  . . . .

INT:  Can you tell me about your low point and your high point while you were at KIPP?

Allen:  As far as what?

INT:  As far as your own experience as a teacher?

Allen:  What I liked about it and what I didn’t like or my low point as a teacher as far as what I was good at?

INT:  Yes.  When you think of the worst thing that comes to mind when you think about KIPP what was your low point and then at the same time, on the flip side when you think about KIPP at it’s best, what comes to mind?

Allen: The low point it was we didn’t teach them morals and I feel that’s been taken out of a lot of the classrooms, even the public school setting because everything is taught to the test.  At KIPP it was more to the test because ten hours they were basically focused on that test so the low point was just basically we weren’t able to teach them how to interact with one another so a lot of our students would go off to high school, a private high school and they wouldn’t make it because they weren’t able to interact in an effective way, because they were either too mean or they weren’t able to adapt to the surrounding that they were in. 

That was the low point and the low point was that I felt that I wasn’t able to really build relationships with the children because there were so many of them in the classroom and I saw ninety children a day.  Not at all was I able to build a relationship with them and at the same time, I was tired.  You talk about burning out on some of your articles.  I was that teacher that was definitely burning out because my whole life; I was there on Friday nights; I was coming in on Saturdays because we also have Saturday classes.  Those were the low points of my life with KIPP, and eventually I was on the verge of what I would say going crazy, because I wasn’t pulling the students like I wanted to and if I taught any subject it would either be social studies or reading because I am not a great at _____ person because in school they didn’t really teach us how to teach math. 

The high points were teaching them about college, so teaching the 5th graders about college was one of the things that I think a public school should pick up.  It shouldn’t just be in 5th grade and I know that it isn’t.  We are just now getting an elementary school so this will be my first time really observing the elementary schools and the relationship that I have built with the teachers there.  We had wonderful teachers, wonderful teachers.  We saw each other all the time so basically I would call that my home and I still talk to the teachers still today.  Even though I don’t like the KIPP model, I do love the teachers that we had there. 

INT:  When you say that you felt like you were going crazy, what was that like?  How did you know that and what brought about your leaving in November?

Allen:  It was a lot of stuff. . . . I had one child that basically had one of those little skateboards, finger skateboard; I took that away from him and he took my clipboard and that’s when I say that I snapped because I have never been disrespected by a child like that.  And then another girl, she just threw her notebook on the ground and for me to try to control, because I am thinking I have to be mean to the children and so I took the desk and I looked into the corner of where I was going to throw the desk.  I was aiming for the ceiling.  So I didn’t do it but I did move the desk and that scared her and for me doing that, I thought that I was losing myself in the process; I wasn’t doing what I felt like I was sent there to do, which was educate children and have them love learning.  Those children did not love learning at all and will they ever?  I hope so, but from the way it was looking, they are testing constantly so they will learn how to test.  That is what they will learn. 

INT:  You felt like you were losing it so that’s when you decided that this was when you were going to leave?

Allen:  Yes sir and the children they weren’t learning from me, but to find out only I think thirty to forty percent of them I think were able to pass the test, so the _______portion of the test.  A lot of them went to summer school so I am thinking sixty percent of them went to summer school.

INT:  How did that make you feel when you left?

Allen:  Free. [Laughter] At the same time, I still came in because when I build a relationship with a child I know that when a person leaves it leaves a lasting impression on them.  It’s like divorce; the teacher is divorcing the child.  I didn’t want to leave but in order for them to be educated, I had to leave because I don’t want to be the reason why they weren’t educated, because I was ineffective, definitely ineffective in a means like that. 

INT:  You felt free, but what was that like, feeling free again?

Allen: I was able to basically go back and find my passion again, because being in that predicament, I still loved children but I didn’t love teaching.  I was able to get back into more of the books as far as reading about more educators and I found I was able to find myself again.

. . . .

INT:  If you were going to change anything about KIPP, what would you change?

Allen:  If I was going to change anything about KIPP?  The long hours.  I don’t feel children should be stuck in a building ten hours; I don’t feel like that’s true to learning.  I would have more hands-on.  I would do more field trips just to get them outside of the classroom and what our children in the inner city don’t have is exposure so I would expose them to more.  . . . I would have more parent involvement.
. . . .


INT:  Is there anything that you would like to talk about in terms of your KIPP experience that I didn’t ask you about or I haven’t asked you about?

Allen:  I would say that they are a temporary fix, and what I mean by that is that right now they are one of the best I would say and who I feel is the charter also.  Who I feel is the best right now from what I have read; I don’t know, I haven’t seen Jeffrey Canada, his program Harlem Children’s Zone, but after Harlem Children’s Zone you have KIPP so those were the main ones that were focused on “Waiting for Superman”. 

They are a temporary fix and it is not a solution, not at all.  It is only going to be partial because they are good for right now, but when you look at the long-term, those children are not thinkers, not at all because they are conditioned to take a test; they are not conditioned to love learning and to learn on their own, but to take a test.  

It is good for now because they are providing opportunities that urban children wouldn’t have and they give them the opportunity to go off to school, but when they go onto those schools they are alone because they don’t know how to interact with other races.  That’s a bad thing for the public schools itself because they have supposedly integrgated the schools but at the same time, they are still separated, definitely separated.  They are integrated but they are still segregated.

INT:  Still separate.

Allen:  Yes sir.