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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Greenbacks and Green Dot Coming to DC?

With Congress and the American people eager to put the NCLB educational genocide behind them, the privatizing mayors are moving fast to get rid themselves of the burden of poor children in neglected schools where no one in power gives a damn about solving the problems of poverty that remain the source of the achievement gap. Unless a concerned public intervenes, these schools, teachers, and children will be auctioned off to the most corrupt bidders.

DC Schools under Fenty and Michelle Rhee are the latest to use the guaranteed failure provided by NCLB to dump the poorest into the laps of education industry. Where have we heard that name, Green Dot Public Schools, Inc. before? To be sure, the race is on in DC, LA, NYC, Chicago, and St. Louis to assign as many of these disposable children as possible to corporate control before the public actually notices what is going on. Would the public give a damn if they did? Where are the voices of support for public education? Does the relinquishing of public institutions and public dollars to corporate control matter? Where is the outrage?

From WaPo:

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is considering bringing in national nonprofit charter school operators to manage at least two dozen of the city's lowest-performing schools, one of the first indications of how she might proceed in reforming the 49,600-student school system.

The charter operators were one of several options for improving failing schools that Rhee outlined Monday to school leaders at Roosevelt and Cardozo high schools, according to Rhee spokeswoman Mafara Hobson. The Northwest schools are among those in the system that have not reached benchmarks in reading and math test scores in the past five years.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools that fail to reach benchmarks for five straight years enter into "restructuring" mode. In that phase, the school system must devise a plan that changes the schools' governance structure, replaces most of their staff, contracts with an education management organization to operate the schools or turns the schools over to the state. In the meeting with school leaders, Rhee outlined how those options could work in the District.

. . . .

Hobson said there are 25 traditional public schools in the restructuring phase, while state education officials put the number at 27. Four charter schools have also failed to meet testing benchmarks.

The charter schools and the D.C. system must turn in their restructuring plans to Gist by the end of the month.

"This is the planning year, but there is no more room for talk," Gist said. "I expect to see action."

According to Hobson, Rhee told the parents and teachers she met with Monday that three nonprofits potentially could run some D.C. schools: St. Hope, a charter operator in Sacramento; Green Dot, which operates 12 charter schools in the Los Angeles area; and Philadelphia-based Mastery Charter Schools.

Rhee has a personal connection with St. Hope. She recruited teachers for St. Hope in her former position as chief executive and president of the nonprofit New Teacher Project. She also was a board member of St. Hope for about a year until she was appointed chancellor, according to a St. Hope official.

At her confirmation hearing before the D.C. Council in June, former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who serves as president and chief executive of St. Hope, flew from California to testify on her behalf. . . .

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:05 PM

    St. Hope is fighting to get its charter renewed here in Sacramento. The organization took over the 150 yr old Sacramento High School when the board voted to close the school and reopen it under a Kevin Johnson reign. There is a major battle going on over this right now, although since the bar was set so low by the previous board for charter renewal it could very well be reauthorized.

    Johnson is quite a controversial figure. Besides his take over of Sac High (after a very contentious public battle, which saw a large portion of Sacramento lose their neighborhood public school to a charter organization with no experience and no track record...subsequent school board elections turned on this issue with the most important Johnson supporter soundly defeated), Johnson has been engaged for the past decade in real estate acquisitions in the Oak Park neighborhood where Sac High is located. He has benefited from millions of dollars of subsidies in the form of loans and grants from the local redevelopment agency. In turn, he promised to redevelop huge swaths of Oak Park to bring economic development opportunities to one of the most neglected areas of the city. Unfortunately, many residents of Oak Park have been complaining for years that his properties are sitting undeveloped and have deteriorated to such a point that they have become public nuisances. The Sacramento Bee, has frustrated folks for some time with their unwillingness to look at these allegations...until recently. Please see the following:http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/431260.html for a report on Johnson's serious neglect of these properties.

    The story has also caused a renewed zeal to explore whether the Johnson hype around Sac Charter High is just that hype. Many are questioning Johnson's continued insistence that his graduates have an 70-80% college acceptance rate, when large percentages of his students still score below basic or far below basic on their California standards test and when 06-07 AYP figures show that Sac Charter failed to make adequate progress due to its very low graduation rates. It should also be noted that the school currently has 1000 fewer students enrolled than it did in the year just before Johnson took over (800-900 now, 1800-1900 then), that teacher/staff turnover has been well over 90% over the past four years and Sac Charter dumping kids who are not sufficiently committed to its program. It would be a travesty for DC to turn over any one of their schools to the St. Hope organization and a man who is currently operating as little more than a local slumlord.