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

Monday, September 23, 2013

ASD Follows Up Again on Charter Corruptionist Story

The ASD remains in response mode to this story and its follow-up, and as long as they are, we will remain responsive to them.  Jeremy seems to remain confused about what a corporate charter school is:
1. if by "corporate" you mean the literal definition of a group of people authorized by law to function as a single entity, then i'll submit to your definition. however, the conspiracy theory that you're suggesting simply isn't true and hinders the effectiveness of your subsequent points. 
The literal sense of "corporate" here, Jeremy, includes the legal sense as well, and the non-profit charter corporations like Rocketship, KIPP, Aspire, Uncommon Schools, as well as the cornered Cornerstone Christian Academy, Green Dot, etc., may collect and bank as much non-profit cash as they can. And they can bank a lot with their 501 (c) (3) tax status, which allows hedge funds and those who call themselves philanthropists to contribute millions to these segregated abuse factories that they call schools, while collecting dollar for dollar tax breaks for shutting down Tennessee public education.  This is why they are referred to as corporate welfare schools.

Back in the early 1990s when AFT President, Albert Shanker, smelled what was coming down the road with corporate-run charters, he withdrew his support of them in 1993.  What might have been conspiratorial thinking then has since become realized prophecy, and the charter privatization scam has replaced the voucher scam as the preferred mode of school privatization among anti-public ideologues, corporatists, and the self-serving bottom feeders who aspire to nothing more than getting rich at the public's expense.   
2. with your second point about charters not being able to raise proficiency, well, perhaps you're right. perhaps this won't work, but to stand around and not do anything when in one feeder pattern in Memphis (Frayser High School) has 11 of 14 schools in the bottom 5% in state. The average ACT score of Frayser High sits around a 15, an astounding 7 points below what many colleges deem the minimum bar. to do nothing is dastardly, needless to say immoral. i dont want to live in a world where this status quo persists and think we need to act urgently to fix it so that our kids have a fighting chance. Add to this, TN performs near the bottom nationally in proficiency. One might make the case that our schools are among the worst in the country. I believe that our students and our families deserve better and I, as working as a school leader each day supporting our teachers and building relationships with our students, think the most bold action is necessary to provide world class schools. 
Jeremy, if you look at this map, you will see some contributing factors to why your fanciful notion of raising test scores in the poorest parts of Memphis to match those in leafy suburbs won't be realized.  In many areas of the country where racism, separation, and opportunities are the worst (as in Memphis), zip code is, indeed, destiny for huge numbers of the poor.  We have known that Frayser is among the lowest scoring schools in the state for as long as we have known it is among the poorest, but it only recently, with the coming of the corporate welfare missionary schools where you work, that the need to "act urgently" got underway.

The urgency arises from the need to get the school conversions to corporate chain gangs done before the public figures out what is going on.  If they could see beyond the smoke and mirrors and ridiculous promises that you, Mr. Michelle Rhee, and Governor 1Percent are making, then you might be forced to get a real job, rather than the one you have as cheerleader, mouthpiece, and local overseer for the corporate school empire in Tennessee.

You are right that disadvantaged students and families deserve better.  Your preferred solution of No Excuses tunnel vision focused on fixing the inside of kids' heads, rather than working to fix the unsafe and unhealthy communities that guarantee future generations of failure, represents a version of social justice in blackface.  As long as you and Governor 1Percent in Nashville can pat each other on the back for your "bold" action, while destroying a public education in Tennessee that has taken over a hundred years to create, then are likely to remain convinced that professional educators are to blame and that all is needed to fix things is some corporate positivity.  You and missionary pals might end up feeling might righteous at the end of the day, but your "urgency" only serves to maintain the status quo of poverty and to exacerbate the neglected human needs of children who are turned into data points.
3. our society is, in fact, rooted in an American tradition balanced to favor the privileged affluent whites who are the architects of a system designed to limit the freedoms and choices of the socioeconomically disadvantaged and of those darker shades of skin. I can't control our history. I can't control the poverty that creates blight and hardship on our students, but I can go to school every day and work my tail off to make sure our students see a full world beyond their neighborhoods and that we challenge them to become better versions of themselves. 

As long as you accept, Jeremy, the irresponsible idea that poverty can't be fixed, mended, or controlled, then all of your "working your tail off" might leave you convinced that you have done all you could, but it remains a sad indicator that you are entirely owned by a corporate mentality that demands your utter exhaustion and the imposition of impossible demand as the price of free conscience.  In the corporate version of "challenging" these poor kids who, in fact, are not likely to ever escape the poverty that you have decided can't be fixed, you and your positivized pals set them up to blame themselves when ridiculous expectations meets the hard reality of race and class.  You exemplify, Jeremy, the corporate classroom missionary who remains steadfast in the delusion that one can purify the air on just one side of a screen door.


  1. Did he offer an explanation why ASD changed their grading scale this year? An 84 is now an "A"

  2. Might be helpful if the kids could see a full world right there in their own neighborhoods and become empowered to make the changes to improve the community that they and their parents consider important. Hands on, project based, student directed learning grounded in the real world. A curriculum integrating subject matter valued by the students does not need remediation over the summer. High stakes testing and common core standards prevent real learning and preparation for the 21st century.