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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lies and Deception by Jesse Register

 Update from East Nashville United:
In light of the recent news that MNPS administrators had already cut a back room deal to convert Inglewood Elementary School to a charter school operated by KIPP-Nashville, we have been reviewing what we've been told along the way by MNPS leaders, like Alan Coverstone, Office of Innovation. On September 13, 2014, in Inglewood, Mr. Coverstone was gracious enough to travel to East Nashville to address parents who assembled after learning for the 1st time on September, 9, 2014 that Dr. Jesse Register intended to turn all East Nashville schools into "all choice" schools, aka the "third way."

Here is what Mr. Coverstone said near the outset of the meeting:

"I can say for a fact Dr. Register doesn't believe and I sure as *heck* don't believe that anybody at Bransford Avenue can draw up a plan, give it to you, so it's gonna create this kind of school. So, we're not gonna do that. That's not what we've done."

This is a contradiction of what the story linked above reveals, and that is on August 26, 2014, the deal to convert Inglewood Elementary to KIPP-Nashville wascemented. As the stories below further illustrate, converting Inglewood Elementary to KIPP-Nashville was the deal long before anyone knew there was going to be a deal.

We sent a public records request to MNPS back on September 22, 2014. A copy of the requests we made can be found here: http://eastnashvilleunited.org/?page_id=110. As of this moment, MNPS has not turned over any documents. There was a story out yesterday explaining the delay, as submitted by MNPS http://bit.ly/1pVxuKA. Here is what the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has to say about the speed the government should have in returning public records to the public http://tcog.info/law-says-promptly-comes-public-records-requests/ 

For background information, please see links to stories below:

East Nashville United Blasts Register's Inglewood Deception

KIPP Charter school decision expected by December

If you would like to volunteer your time, please send us an email to EastNashvilleUnited@gmail.com. If you haven’t signed our petition, please do so: http://bit.ly/EastNashUnited

On behalf of East Nashville United, thank you!

P.S. We are just volunteers with kids, jobs, and families trying to get the word out to parents, families, and community members. So, it is vital that you "like," "comment," "SHARE" or tweet any information about this issue across the social media platforms you use daily. We want to HEAR from YOU. We try to keep the website up-to-date with fresh information, so please check it out http://eastnashvilleunited.org/

Hopson's Next Bad Idea

American Way Middle School students protested during Tuesday night's Shelby County School Board business meeting. More than 20 people signed up for public comment with the majority opting to speak against the Achievement School District's takeover process.
PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN 

Look at what happened in Memphis this week, and then tell me that teachers, students, and parents standing up together doesn't matter.  

Within minutes after parents and teachers lined up to express their disgust with the planned corporate takeover of their schools, Hopson came up with a new scheme, this one hardly better than the first one.

American Way Middle School students protested during Tuesday night's Shelby County School Board business meeting. More than 20 people signed up for public comment with the majority opting to speak against the Achievement School District's takeover process. 

In response to the state’s steady takeover of Memphis schools, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday night that he would propose expanding his own turnaround efforts known as the iZone, and the school board’s chairwoman said she would push for a legislative moratorium on the Achievement School District’s expansion.

The district’s iZone has regularly outperformed the Achievement School District, a state-run district targeted at moving the bottom 5 percent of schools into the top 25 percent.  A full third of the district is eligible to be taken over by the state in the next three years. ASD officials are currently working to determine which seven schools they will hand over to a handful of charter schools next year.

Hopson’s and board Chairwoman Teresa Jones’ comments came shortly after more than 20 parents and teachers accused board members of allowing schools to be taken over by the state and charter schools.

“It’s time for you guys to do your jobs,” said Kenneth Ingram, a parent at American Way Middle School.  “Put a stop to this. Another charter school coming from another state and taking over our school? We’re not going to allow that to happen. Please do your job.”

Neither the board nor the Shelby County Schools administration has legal control over the Achievement School District’s takeovers of low-performing public schools, Hopson and board members repeatedly reminded the public Tuesday. The takeover process has led to contentious protests at several community meetings this week.

Hopson said he will propose to board members in the coming weeks closing several schools and merging them into one school that would join the iZone.  Similar to charter schools, iZone schools are given waivers from state laws, require teachers to reapply for their jobs, and receive extra resources to try innovative strategies to improve test scores.  Unlike charter schools, the iZone schools remain under district control.

“We’ve been kicking around some numbers and without any extra money, we would look at combining two or three schools and bring them in the iZone,” Hopson said. “That would take a few more low-performing schools out of play (for ASD takeover). At the end of the day, though it’s about what is going to be best for the kids.” . . . .

If Hopson and the Shelby County School Board want to match some schools, they should start matching economically disadvantaged schools with those that are not.  Mix the schools so that no more than 40 percent are poor, provide professional development for teachers and principals, infuse new resources, and then give it three years to see if improvements don't materialize. 

Meanwhile, the entire process of labeling schools should be audited to determine whose politcal machinations are involved to make sure that only black schools get set up for closure, when mixed schools like Cordova have weaker test scores.  Cordova, in fact, is on neither the Priority or the Focus list of low-testing state schools.  Who's pulling the strings to make sure the new penal system of pedagogy only comes to black schools?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Did Cordova Middle School Avoid the ASD Hit List?

Is Cordova Middle too white to be handed over to a corporate reform charter chain gang operator?  With just 51 percent African-American, is ASD avoiding the more politically perilous territory of putting a more white poor school on the hit list?  Look at South Side scores, American Way, or Wooddale.  Do any of these black schools have lower scores than Cordova Middle??

Can you get any lower than all 1s, with only a single exception??

TFA Memo Details Positivized Propaganda Strategy

The Nation has acquired a lengthy memo (see below) detailing how TFA's Tier 1 temps are prepared to deal with the growing resistance to their fascist agenda.  The article is a must read.

Comments on ASD Takeover Plans in Memphis

I had planned to read sections of this piece last evening at the SCS School Board meeting, but with 90 seconds to present, nothing really got said.  So . . .
Since 2009 when Bill Gates bought his way into Memphis with $90 million, the business plan for Memphis schools has been based on public school closures and corporate charter start-ups and takeovers to replace them. A dozen schools are on the hit list for the coming year, and the charter operators are lined up waiting for the buildings to become empty. Parents and teachers, however, are not nearly as uninformed as county officials who are doing the Gates dirty work believe.
In fact, they know how the charter school takeover cycle works. They know that first you need public schools isolated by years of neglect, segregation, and poverty--schools that everyone outside the affected communities would rather forget about. Memphis has an ample supply of these schools in the poorest neighborhoods, and politicians are eager to make them someone else’s responsibility.
These neighborhood schools make easy targets for profiteers and politicians convinced (or pretending to believe) that these public schools have low test scores because of lazy teachers, public bureaucracy, unconcerned parents, unions, or other reasons having nothing do with the reality of poverty, racism, or a sordid history of inequality.
Since 2002, NCLB’s impossible demand for schools to reach 100 percent proficiency manufactured a state of crisis for public education, beginning with the poorest schools where students’ scores were the lowest.
Parents who could afford to moved or sent their children to schools not in the dreaded “Needs Improvement” zones, thus leaving the poorest schools with smaller and academically weaker student populations and with even less capacity to make test score targets.  Further deprived, then, these schools are eventually labeled “underperforming” and “priority,” thus clearing the way for school closure.
Waiting in the wings are the corporate operators and their manager, the ASD, ready to open total compliance charter schools staffed with temporary corporate missionaries from Teach for America, or one of the other organizations that emulate the TFA practice of placing white privileged young women with 20 days of classroom practice and no teacher prep into schools that require the most professional and mature teachers.
With empty buildings from the lowest scoring public schools scheduled to sit idle, the charter operators step up to claim them by offering a token payment to the County.
Further weakening of the surviving schools comes from further austerity measures by the County to pay the $7,500 for every student lost to a charter school. If another 2,000 students are lost to new charters next year in Memphis, that amounts to $15,000,000 leaving the public schools and going to corporate welfare charter operators getting rich on public money. Meanwhile, the SCS deficit is used to justify more cuts and further weakening of the surviving public school’s capacity to meet testing expectations.
None of this planned austerity is a surprise. In 2012, the Transition Planning Commission Report predicted a $212 million hole in Shelby County's school budget from charter expansion in 2016.  That $212 million will be headed into the pockets of out-of-state corporate charter operators:
However, with the projected share of students in non-district operated schools [will be] expanding rapidly in the next few years—from approximately 4% in FY2012 to 19% by FY2016 (equivalent to approximately $212M of revenues shifted to charter schools and the ASD in FY2016). . .
With a State and federal commitment to close the bottom five percent of schools each year based on invalid, unreliable, and unfair test scores, it is easy to see that there will be a continuing supply of bottom five percent-ers until all public schools labeled for corporate reform takeover are “turned around,” or turned over.
I am reading this now because some of you are new to the Board, and some of you continue to pretend to be ignorant about what is going on, and some of you are supporters of it all, even though I doubt that you have any inkling of the social fallout from turning public schools into corporate run penal-style testing camps that you would never consider offering to middle class parents for their children.
Parents and teachers at South Side, American Way, Raleigh-Egypt, and Wooddale deserve better.  I am glad they are among those who have been awakened to the threat to their neighborhood schools by corporate takeover, as they have decided to SKIP the KIPP and offer a loud NO to YES Prep and put a big red light in front of the Green Dot. 
Frederick Douglass knew that power concedes nothing without a demand.  It is time for Shelby County to concede what these teachers and parents demand, and that is nothing more or less than quality public schools for all children.

Have ASD Know Nothings Explain How They Chose American Way Middle for Hit List

Here is another grand example of another school, American Way Middle, that cannot be in the bottom five percent of schools in Tennessee.  Note the overall score of "5" on the Composite 3 year average!

Are these schools chosen to make it easier for the corporate reform schools to look better in their new building when the takeover is complete. Can't happen here!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Corruption Out in the Open on Shelby County Board of Education

Citizens came with their signs and their speeches tonight, pleading for their community schools.  Sitting on the School Board was a smug employee of Green Dot Charter Schools, one of the corrupt outfits scheduled to take over at least two Memphis schools.  Her name is Miska Clay Bibbs, and she got her start working for the ethically challenged Harold Ford in the late 1990s.

Not only was Bibbs endorsed in her School Board race by the enemy of public education, Stand on Children, but she is employed by Green Dot Charter Schools as Director of Community Engagement.  Conflict of interest?  Ask Ms. Bibbs.

Two significant items on tonight's agenda were contracts for a company, Cynthia Alexander Mitchell Academics, which is owned by Associate Superintendent, Cynthia Alexander Mitchell.  The contracts are worth $60,900 and $130,000, respectively.  The larger contract is for Mitchell to "train" 13 teachers at the corporate outfit, The Center for Better Schools.  How sweet a deal is that!

Tonight was the first night I spoke at a Shelby County School Board meeting.  The protocol calls for three minutes, but the Board, with so much business, cut the speaker time to 30 minutes.  And this is in the middle of a charter reform school takeover of 10 Memphis schools.  So we got 1.5 minutes.  I used a little more and was escorted from the podium by one of Memphis's finest.   I will post my comments tomorrow.

Keep Wooddale Middle School Out of the Hands of Corporate Profiteers

How can this school be in the bottom five percent in the state of Tennessee??

Below is the schedule for ASD takeover meetings this week.  Come out to your community school meeting and send the profiteers a message they won't forget.


KIPP Collegiate Among Lowest Performers on Tennessee Priority List

Yesterday the KIPP Memphis operation backed out of a plan to take over South Side Middle School:
Teachers at South Side Middle School protested the takeover process last week, sending a letter to government officials and the media arguing that their scores had improved in the past year.
KIPP said the protest didn’t play into its decision to pull out of the process.
“We view the matching process as just that, a matching process,” said Jamal McCall, the executive director of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools. “With me doing our reflection, I was looking at where we are as a network, and my focus right now is on the quality of our current schools and ensuring that we continue to commit to those we currently serve and serve as we expand grade levels.”
Really, Jamal?  You doing the reflection? 

Meanwhile, KIPP Collegiate Middle remains on the state priority list of ASD's lowest performers as it continues to look for teachers who are willing to martyr themselves for a lost cause.

Achievement School District  Corning Achievement Elementary**
Achievement School District  Westside Achievement Middle School**
Achievement School District  Frayser Achievement Elementary**
Achievement School District  Whitney Achievement Elementary School**
Achievement School District  Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary Schoo**
Achievement School District  Cornerstone Prep - Lester Campus**
Achievement School District  KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle**
Achievement School District Aspire Hanley #1**

Parents, Teachers, and Students Say NO to Charter Takeovers in Memphis

Momentum is building to demolish a plan by H3 (Haslam, Huffman, Hopson) to turn Memphis into another corporate reform school feedlot like New Orleans.  

After yesterday's angry meetings at Raleigh-Egypt High School and at American Way Middle, the ASD's profiteers are reeling.  

Yes Prep had to pack up and go home after parents would hear none of the corporate plan to turn American Way Middle over to inexperienced and unprepared non-teachers and their CEO school "leaders." 

At Raleigh-Egypt High, where the Green Dot profiteers (backed by Eli Broad) are lined up to feed, parents and students gave warning that they will not send their children to Green Dot's corporate chain gang if the H3 plan moves forward.

from WREG:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Families in Raleigh fear they’re losing control of their schools. They’re calling it a hostile take-over. Parents tell WREG they’ll transfer their kids to another school before they let them stay here under charter control.
An out-of-state program known as Green Dot is coming in to take over Raleigh Egypt High School, but the community isn’t rolling out the red carpet for them.
Chasity Balfour has two kids in this high school.
“If they change I will not keep my kids in this school. Period,” she said.
Balfour isn’t ready to accept that they don’t have a choice in this. She says great things are happening under the new Raleigh Egypt Principal James Griffin, and she wants to see it continue with local control.
“I feel that if they just give them a year or two to boost the grades up it will make a big difference,” she said. . . .
. . . . The Achievement School District invited these families to the table to talk, but the pizza was far from an olive branch. Parents didn’t have questions — they had demands and threats.
Students from Fairley High School already under Green Dot control were on hand to talk about the transition process. They told WREG it’s not an overnight fix, and it involves a lot of change.
Jameka Elam is a senior at Fairley Student.
She said, “Maybe, probably ten teachers that I recognize from last year.”
Families in this school district aren’t ready to say the same thing. They say the fight is far from over.

Monday, October 27, 2014

ASD Backs Off Southside Middle

I was getting ready to go to a meeting at South Side Middle School this afternoon to advocate against Shelby County's school board decision to hand over SSMS to the KIPP cultists when I got an email that South Side had been removed from the ASD hit list for next year.  Congratulations to the hard-working teachers and parents at South Side!

If there is reason to doubt the sanity of closing South Side Middle for a worse KIPP school, then there is every reason to take Wooddale Middle off the list as well.  Presently Wooddale is scheduled to be turned over to the Green Dot charter profiteers from California. 

Below are the numbers from the State website that clearly indicate that Wooddale cannot be in the bottom five percent of schools in Tennessee.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

the "that-which-shall-not-be-named" standards and testing program

Dolores Umbridge, chair of  a newly formed but unnamed  committee with representatives of the US Department of Education, The Gates Foundation, PARCC, and the Pearson organization today  announced  spectacular progress in creating new labels for the "that-which-shall-not-be-named" standards and testing program now adopted by most of the United States. 

At a press conference Umbridge assured reporters that regardless of which of the many new terms are adopted by individual states, all versions will remain true to Susan Ohanian's characterization: “a radical untried curriculum overhaul” combined with “nonstop national testing."

Hat-tip: Peggy Robertson

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 26 I'll be discussing Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck on Dr. James Miller's The War Report on Public Education radio

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 14:00 PST (2:00PM)
The War Report on Public Education
Call in number: (888) 627-6008

Host: Dr. James Miller
Co-Host: Lucianna Sanson

Guest: Jonathan Pelto (2:00PM) Democrats vs. Democrats vs. Teachers

Guest: Robert D. Skeels (3:00PM) Experienced educator Torlakson vs. business banker Tuck, the SPI race in California

I'll be discussing how Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck is supported by anti-public school billionaires and charter industry moguls. Moreover, I'll be discussing the various violations exposed by the MALDEF and Public Counsel cause of action filed against Tuck in the context of his vicious war on students and their families.

The War Report on Public Education!

Smoking Gun! Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck violated student and parent's civil rights!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The concrete facts about school performance

Sent to Time Magazine, Oct. 23, 2014.
Re: Taking on Teacher Tenure, Time, November 3, 2014

   "Unassuming" tycoon David Welch is also unformed. He claims he prefers a world of "concrete facts" but still maintains that the American education system is "failing" because of bad teachers who can't be fired. 
   The concrete facts are these: When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American students score near the top of the world on international tests. Our unspectacular (but not horrible) performance on tests is because of our high child poverty rate, about 23%, second highest among 34 economically advanced countries, according to UNICEF. High-scoring countries such as Finland have a child poverty rate of about 5%.
   Poverty means, among other things,  poor nutrition, lack of health care, and little access to books. All of these have powerful negative effects on school performance. The best teaching in the world has little effect when students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read.
   Our main problem is not teaching quality, unions, or the rules for due process. The main problem is poverty.

Stephen Krashen


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. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).

Child 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.

Resistance to CorpEd Takeover of Memphis Schools Alive and Energized

I met with a group of parents and teachers in South Memphis last evening to discuss ideas and actions to resist the corporate takeover of Memphis's poorest schools.  The group represented teachers/parents from four of the 12 schools on the ASD hit list for 2015: South Side Middle, Wooddale Middle, Raleigh-Egypt High, and Florida-Kansas Elementary. 

Expressing her determination to turn back the assault on the local schools by the Shelby County School Board and the corporate foundations, Toni Jackson said during the meeting, "we've got to stand up--we are fighting for our lives." 

All affected parents and teachers are urged to join this group of teachers and parents on Monday at South Side Middle School, where KIPP, Inc. and Shelby County school board officials are sure to face tough questions and determined resistance.  Parents and teachers do not want their school turned into a corporate reform school chain gang.

MTA Responds to Corporate Teacher Licensure Plan by DESE

MTA Position Statement on DESE’s Performance-based Licensure Plan

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is floating a series of dangerous proposals that would link your license to your evaluation and/or student performance measures. The MTA is strongly opposed to all of the options outlined by DESE – and to any proposal that would tie an educator’s license with the state to his or her school- and district-based evaluations or student performance measures. 

On October 20, DESE released “Design Principles and Policy Options” for a “reimagined license system.” DESE has contracted with TNTP1 and the Keystone Center2 to hold “town halls,” ostensibly to get stakeholder feedback on these options. Members who attended the first session reported that the conversations were controlled and participants were not given the option of challenging the faulty premises being promoted by DESE. Meanwhile, DESE plans to issue proposed policy changes in the spring of 2015 and to have built a “performance-based licensure system” that includes “a link between licenses and district work assignments” by October 2015.

The policy options include a number of ideas about how to change the licensure system for those entering the profession as well as for those who are already licensed and experienced teachers. Based on a preliminary analysis, the most alarming proposals are the three options for “License Renewal and Advancement for Teachers” that are the subject of this position statement.

All three options, called Models A, B and C, would link license renewal and advancement to performance as determined by different means. We urge MTA members to demand “none of the above” as an option. Here are some highlights.

Model A: One provision: “License A automatically renewed for all educators with summative performance ratings of at least Proficient each year and at least moderate student impact rating each year.” 
In other words, the Student Impact Rating – based on MCAS growth and DDM scores – could be used to deprive you of a license to teach and drive you out of public school employment forever if that rating was less than “moderate.” What happened to the state’s promise that these questionable, yet-to-be-implemented ratings would only be used to help determine the length of an educator’s growth plan? Such a provision would make the high stakes attached to mandated tests even higher. Why would DESE even consider this option at a time when educators and parents across the state are saying that there is already far too much emphasis on standardized tests? How does this benefit students?
Model B: One provision: “If educator fails to demonstrate to the state [emphasis added] progress towards growth identified in the Educator Plan, the license may be conditionally extended for one additional year if LEA [school district] or its designee(s) provides additional coaching.” 
In other words, DESE – which claims it doesn’t have enough staff to regularly answer routine licensing phone calls – could be given the job of analyzing the plans of some 80,000 educators for the purpose of determining whether they have made progress toward meeting their goals. How many millions of dollars would this cost and, cumulatively, how many thousands of hours would teachers have to spend complying with such a requirement rather than teaching students? Why should the state have any role whatsoever in reviewing or analyzing an educator’s locally developed growth plan? How does this benefit students?
Model C: One provision: “Educators may renew a license by completing (or demonstrating) any two of the following:
• Recommendation from the employing LEA for license renewal
• Satisfactory results based on Student Feedback through a survey or other means
• Successful and Effective Parent Engagement….”

There are eight bullets altogether, but the first three give an idea of the direction. Under this model, the yet-to-be-implemented student feedback systems could play a role in determining whether you keep your license. This is a perversion of the stated purpose of obtaining student feedback. Why would DESE want to further undermine the validity and usefulness of an evaluation system that is already subject to deep and sustained criticism by educators? How would students benefit?
We strongly oppose all three models under consideration by DESE. 
• Linking licensure to evaluation is wrong. No other profession links job performance with licensure. Of course, the license of any professional can be pulled for grievous offenses, but not for employment-related performance reviews. Evaluations relate to educators’ employment status, not to their licenses. Linking performance measures to licensure puts vocal and activist teachers – indeed all teachers – on notice: Be careful or you will not only lose your job, but the ability to teach in Massachusetts.

• The state’s role is to determine if an educator is qualified. The appropriate role for the state is to determine whether an aspiring educator has met the education, training and experience requirements for obtaining a license and whether a practicing educator has met the professional development requirements for renewing a license. To link licensure to job performance would further extend the state’s reach into the choices educators make in the classroom.

 Too many mandates on top of too many mandates. It is outrageous that these proposals are being made at a time when even top state education officials have acknowledged that the state and federal governments have imposed too many mandates and new initiatives on educators. State Education Secretary Matt Malone has described the current mandate madness as akin to educators “trying to drink water from a fire hose.” And yet now the state is proposing a controversial new mandate that is strongly opposed by the field – with no clear explanation of why it is so urgent to impose these burdens at this time or how students will benefit. Stop the mandates! Let us teach!

October 22, 2014

1TNTP was found by Michelle Rhee in 1997 as The New Teacher Project.

2The Keystone Center has been mostly an environmental and energy consulting firm, with Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Dupont, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric (the utility company in the movie Erin Brockovich), Coca-Cola and General Mills as clients. Keystone is becoming a player in education issues. Will it have equivalent corporate sponsors?