"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 09, 2020

NOLA KIPP High School Using Students to Fill Teacher Gaps

What happens when your charter school brand is so poisonous that you can't find enough teachers to staff up?  Administrators at Booker T. Washington KIPP HS have come up with a self-serving answer: recruit high school students to teach other students.  

KIPP stands to save millions of dollars when the program is fully operational, and KIPP might even be able to grow its own unique brand of prison guards teachers who may be arm-twisted into coming to work at KIPP once they are actually certified to teach.  

Meanwhile, students must depend upon other students for what they are taught.  A clip:
KIPP's new program, called the Alumni Teaching Force, allows students to get in-classroom experience helping younger kids, and then college support after their senior year. If students are interested in becoming educators, assigned counselors help them map out coursework to make sure they're on track to get needed credentials or certifications. 
With the program, officials also hope to build a teacher pipeline back to KIPP New Orleans, which next school year will operate nine campuses throughout the city. If students get an A in the class, they're guaranteed a teaching or staff position at one of those schools after getting their certificate.

"Bug In Ear" Coaching Marketed by Bug in Brain Consultants

If there is a bad idea out there being pitched for the education industry to make some bucks while pushing more social control and surveillance, Education Week is sure to be on the story.  A recent entry is something called "Bug In Ear" coaching, whereby the teacher wears an earpiece while simultaneously teaching and receiving instructions from a coach at a remote location.

How any classroom teacher could think this is a good idea is ridiculous on its face. It was developed by salesmen selling total compliance discipline and marketed first through KIPP (Kids in Prison Program). 
Here is an account of one former KIPP teacher who shared her experience with this intrusive and entirely disrespectful intervention:
One teacher’s low point came as a result of being chosen as the new teacher who would get “special help” from a consultant hired by KIPP to help the school better monitor student behaviors that this teacher had never known were so important until she came to KIPP: 
The consultant had what he advertised as a sure-fire system based on constant narration of good and bad behaviors that all teachers were to apply. This new teacher admitted she was both skeptical and somewhat resistant, which ended in her having to wear an earpiece as the consultant stood in the back of the room whispering instructions into her ear: 
. . . if they had their hands on their desk, or if they were tracking me when I was giving directions, or like, if their backpack was not on the back of their chair, or if they were wearing their sweater instead of their sweater being in their cubby, or on the back of their chair, or if they still were writing when I had said, “pencils down". 
. . . it just really bothered me that I had to do it this specific way, and it got to the point where he had me wearing like an earpiece, and he was standing in the back of the room, watching me lead my class, and I was so uncomfortable, I was sweating, and then, I had to do this sequence of directions the way that they wanted me to, and he would tell me into my earpiece what I was supposed to be saying to the kids. And it was just really weird, because there were like 27 kids; they were really good kids, but they had to be like perfect, and I—I just—I didn’t believe in it, and I didn’t agree with it, and [in] meetings with him I was crying, talking to this consultant, saying like I just don’t believe in this—I don’t get it, and I was just really encouraged, like well, this is how we’re doing it, so this is how we need you to do it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Lawsuit against The Accelerated Schools corporate charter chain

This action against The Accelerated Schools (TAS) corporation, on behalf of Michael Kohlhaas dot org, is my second lawsuit against a charter school. My first was against the Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) corporation as third chair at the amazing education law firm that I clerk part-time at. We won that one back in October on behalf of a student of color that was wrongfully expelled — look for a blogpost on the Law Offices of Hirji & Chau, LLP regarding that major victory soon. I'm so fortunate to have the esteemed Rosa K. Hirji and others at her firm as my mentors.

Back to the TAS suit, which is my first for the Michael Kohlhaas dot org activists. They gave me a choice of several to pick from, but I felt like starting with the corporate charter that wronged Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman was the right thing to do. My motivation to suffer through law school at night while working during the day, and then to pass the bar exam on the first attempt despite having no time off from work and no commercial bar prep class, was the prospect at becoming a threat to these vile, discriminatory charter school corporations that steal from children and our communities. I'm glad that I'm finally able to threaten the one thing charter corporations care about— their revenue streams.

Friday, December 13, 2019

New Court Details on KIPP Founder and Sexual Predator, Mike Feinberg

Recent revelations from a lawsuit brought by Mike Feinberg against KIPP have given a whole new meaning to KIPP's concept, "KIPP through college."  In what has to be the sleaziest example of a quid pro quo, it seems Feinberg offered ongoing financial help to an 18-year-old KIPP graduate for sex in return:
. . . Feinberg offered her financial support in exchange for sex, calling it a “tradition in the North,” according to KIPP lawyers. The proposition occurred in the early 2000s, at a time when the then-18-year-old worked for the charter network before enrolling in college, according to the motion.
Other details uncovered in court filings show Feinberg playing doctor, you might say, with a 12-year-old KIPPSTER whom he fondled repeatedly in his office on the excuse of providing physical examinations.

Other details to emerge: Feinberg used his school computer at least 30 times to access porn sites.

But nothing can stop a dedicated "stallion" educator like Mike Feinberg from fulfilling his moral calling.  Today he is helping run a charter school founded by (irony alert) his original patron and Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Latest Grades on School Funding

Tennessee has been at or near the forefront of education reformers' thirty-year crusade to come up with a cheap and easily-measured scheme to gauge education productivity.  In 1992, Tennessee formalized its chosen "accountability" strategy by writing into state statute Bill Sanders' value-added algorithms, which the wizened tobacco-chewing agricultural statistician had sold to the State as a "good and cheap" way to convince taxpayers that schools, teachers, and students were being held accountable for the millions of pennies that state politicians were demanding for K-12 education.  

The incredible story of value-added modeling (VAM), first researched by Dr. Denise Wilburn, was a core part of The Mismeasure of Education, our historical survey of American educational malpractice in the 20th Century. 

In being focused solely on educational improvements that required the State to do nothing whatsoever about the vast structural inequity and inequalities that influence educational opportunity or lack thereof, Tennessee became the darling of the U.S. Dept. of Education when it came time to try out the latest miseducative reform thought disorder for bribing and extorting better school performance as measured by racist and classist standardized tests.  

As a result, Tennessee has come to depend upon a continuing stream of federal grants to keep the state's school doors open.  It is this diseased kind of symbiosis that led Sen. Marsha Blackburn to step forward and offer a new home for the U. S. Department of Education in Tennessee, if Republicans can finagle a way to dismantle federal departments and move them out of DC.

For the past few years, the Education Law Center in Newark, NJ has published research on state levels of education funding fairness.  Having done next to nothing over the past 30 years to establish state accountability for school finance, Tennessee, which has a student poverty rate of 19 percent, remains near the bottom in school funding.  

Below are two snapshots that illustrate the vast differences among states.  I highly recommend reading MAKING THE GRADE 2019: HOW FAIR IS SCHOOL FUNDING IN YOUR STATE?

See p. 4 for everything between "A" and "F."

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Feinstein and Other "Democrats" Supporting DC Vouchers

Got this email from Pete Farruggio:

Just got this letter from California senator Dianne Feinstein (below) defending her support for vouchers, and revealing that she intends to interfere with the school system in Washington DC by co-sponsoring a voucher bill with a Republican. With her billionaire husband, she represents to me the state of the Democratic Party as the biggest obstacle to real change in the US political/economic system, as long as so many misinformed Americans support it.

Here's a local DC story about charter schools:

A charter school chain is trying to open a middle school Washington, D.C.'s Ward 8 and has enraged nearby residents in the process. 

Dear Dr. Farruggio:

Thank you for writing to me to express your concerns about vouchers.  I  appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I understand that you do not support the reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (Public Law 112-10), which provides funding to the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP).  DC OSP provides scholarships for students to attend private schools and provides funding for D.C. Charter Schools and D.C. Public Schools that serve students from K-12th grade.

Like you, I believe that all students deserve access to high-quality education.  However, I believe that a one-size fits all approach to our children’s education does not always work and that different school models may work better for different students.  Parents should have an informed and meaningful choice in their children’s education.  

On January 24, 2019, I, along with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the “SOAR Reauthorization Act of 2019” (S. 213), which would allow families in the District of Columbia to continue to be able to choose their educational experience through the DC OSP program.  S. 213 would reauthorize funding for DC public schools, public charter schools, and DCOSP schools through Fiscal Year 2024.  The bill would also require an assessment of student growth and progress each year a child participates in the program.  S. 213 is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which I am not a member.

It is worth noting that I do not believe that our educational system should promote school choice at the expense of federal funding for students who attend public K-12 public schools.  You may be interested to know that when considering education reform through the Every Student Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95), I voted against amendments that would have allowed federal funding to be used at private schools.

While we may have to agree to disagree on this issue, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers S. 213.  I will continue to fight to ensure that students have all the resources they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Once again, thank you for writing.  Should you have any other questions or comments, please call my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at feinstein.senate.gov.  You can also follow me online at YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter, and you can sign up for my email newsletter at feinstein.senate.gov/newsletter.

Best regards.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

College Board Is Selling Student Data to Selective Colleges

As a reward for his devotion to corporate power during the creation of Common Core, David Coleman was handed the plum job as CEO for the College Board, where his work to shape college applicants in the image desired by Bill Gates could continue, unimpeded.  

Now Coleman's greed has joined forces with the greed of America's richest universities and colleges to misuse student SAT data to enrich all participating parties. For just 47 cents each (payable to the College Board), colleges and universities can buy SAT records of Ivy League aspirants and invite them to apply, whether or not the students ever had a chance in hell to get in.

More applicants to say no to makes selective colleges look even more selective, thus raising the prominence of their brand, and it gives the College Board a half-buck per head, plus all the extra dough that rolls in from kids retaking the SAT when they find out that, oh, Columbia is interested in me??  

Diabolical? You bet. The Wall Street Journal has the story:
Jori Johnson took the practice SAT test as a high-school student outside Chicago. Brochures later arrived from Vanderbilt, Stanford, Northwestern and the University of Chicago.
The universities’ solicitations piqued her interest, and she eventually applied. A few months later, she was rejected by those and three other schools that had sought her application, she said. The high-school valedictorian’s test scores, while strong by most standards, were well below those of most students admitted to the several schools that had contacted her.
“A lot of the rejections came on the same day,” said Ms. Johnson, a 21-year-old senior film major at New York University, one of three schools that accepted her out of 10 applications. “I just stared at my computer and cried.”
The recruitment pitches didn’t help Ms. Johnson, but they did benefit the universities that sent them. Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. Some applicants, in effect, become unknowing pawns.
Feeding this dynamic is the College Board, the New York nonprofit that owns the SAT, a test designed to level the college-admissions playing field.
The board is using the SAT as the foundation for another business: selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities. . . .