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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Broad Donation; "No Excuses" Nonsense

From the PRNewswire:
The Broad Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Expand Achievement First Schools in Northeast U.S.

Achievement First Plans to Open 14 New and 2 Expanded Public Charter Schools, Growing to 35 in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island by 2017

NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Achievement First is receiving $1 million from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to nearly double the number of high-performing public charter schools operated by the charter network to serve an additional 6,500 students in low-income communities throughout New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the charter management organization announced today.

The support comes on the heels of other funding Achievement First has recently received from the Walton Family Foundation, which provides $250,000 for each new Achievement First school opened, and $1.7 million over two years from a U.S. Department of Education grant to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools. Combined with the new Broad Foundation funding, this philanthropic support is allowing Achievement First to expand into a third state, Rhode Island, in partnership with the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies.

"We are incredibly grateful to The Broad Foundation for this generous support, which will be invaluable as we work to provide many more students in coming years with a high-quality education that prepares them for college," said Dacia Toll, co-CEO and president of Achievement First.

[Continued here]
The announcement also proudly proclaims the school has a "strict, yet joyful, school culture," and it seems it's more of the former and less of the latter.  On the same day the foundation announced their million dollar gift, this story about upset parents at another AF school appeared in the Daily News:
On an average day, one in six kids - about 50 - in the 300-student school stays after class, Achievement First officials said.


"I understand that schools need to have rules, but this is like Rikers Island," said Sarah Dickens, who said she will be at the board meeting to protest her fifth-grade son's daily detention for things like dropping a pen and failing to address a teacher as "ma'am."


In February, an Achievement First middle school in Bedford-Stuyvesant made headlines for its strict rules.

About 20% of Achievement First Endeavor Charter School's students served detention on any given day, and in the first half of the school year, one in 12 students transferred out.

The Crown Heights parents say they are also considering taking their youngsters out of the middle school.

"The school's worse than a prison," said Gianna's mother, who said she blames her chest pains on her daughter's troubles at school. "The situation has to change."
Then again, this is the same organization that made Chi Tschang an assistant superintendent.

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