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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Teachers Rally Against For-Profit Ed Company

Teachers at New York's Merrick Academy charter school are ticked off. The charter school, operated by the for-profit Victory Schools, Inc, is sending over a million per year to the profiteers at Victory, which obviously cuts into their salaries and robs children of educational opportunities (in this case, that means heating systems, a gym, and certainly other necessities). Sure - Victory uses some of this million-dollar slush fund to pay the bills, etc, but they also keep a hefty chunk for themselves. Here are a few quotes from an article from the Queens Chronicle:
1) But according to James Stovall, chief administrative officer for Victory, the teachers have received their full salaries plus an annual 3 to 5 percent raise for the last seven years. It was only when they decided to join the United Federation of Teachers that their pay became stagnant, which he said the law allows while union members are in the process of negotiating a contract. Once the negotiations are completed, raises can resume and may even be retroactive.

2) “If you look at the results of Merrick students, you will see why they hired us and why they retain us,” Stovall said. “They have the highest test scores in the state.”

3) The teachers also claim that they consistently receive threats to their days off, job security and paychecks and that the children must go without essential services and supplies —classrooms do not have heat, there is no gymnasium and teachers are forced to Xerox existing textbooks, rather than order additional copies.

4) The management firm provides instructional support services that include: helping teachers understand and convey state curriculum requirements through their lesson plans, providing professional development and classroom management, ensuring that the student test assessments are aligned with state standards and helping teachers interpret the results of the exams and alter their curriculum accordingly.
As Stovall makes quite clear, all Victory cares about is test scores (and profits, of course). It's the outcome that matters - not the process (and, unfortunately, I see some parallels between Stovall's statement and the philosophy of Duncan and pals). The Victory teachers, at least in Stovall's world, can either have union representation or higher salaries - but, even with their union representation, teachers are threatened while kids get screwed over.

As for what Victory provides, it all revolves around test scores. Does this help teachers grow as professionals? Does it contribute to genuine learning? Of course not - Victory is all about test scores. De-professionalization of the teaching force is the result.

According to their most recent 990 form, Victory took in $1,744,897 for their "management." The school's total expenses were roughly $5.7 million. The public - including teachers - must learn that for-profit schemes are bound to fail in public education. It doesn't improve the teaching profession, doesn't provide children with a quality education - but it certainly lines the pockets of Victory.


  1. You gotta know Winston Smith would empathize: Victory Cigarettes, Victory Gin, and Victory Schools, Inc. Delicious.

  2. Anonymous6:07 PM

    but no Victory Gardens!