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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

YES Prep Says NO to Teacher Town

The Commercial Appeal has a story today on the decision by the high-flying YES Prep charter chain, which has decided to back out of a contract with the doomed Achievement School District of Tennessee.
Yes Prep, a nationally recognized charter school operator, is leaving Memphis before opening its first school, saying the shifting political climate here makes it difficult to offer the high-quality education on which it has built its reputation.
My comments posted at the Commercial Appeal:

Yes Prep follows in the footsteps of another big brand name, KIPP, which backed out of South Side Middle last year. The community opposition to these corporate welfare chain gang schools is growing, and parents and teachers, alike, are no longer accepting of white philanthropists choosing how poor black children are to be "educated."

As I said yesterday in response to a question about cultural sterilization of black children:

In the “no excuses” charter testing camps, experienced African-American teachers have been largely replaced by untrained immature beginners, the majority of whom are white middle class women who follow the lead of white corporate CEO male principals with no leadership skills or experience. So real teachers and principals with empathic understanding of the challenges that black families face are replaced by ignorant young temps and authoritarian know-nothings with no understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy or methods. The code of enforced silence does not allow these young white women to get to know their pupils or to understand their lives. Dehumanization is the result. 

Nine to 10 hour school days and 2-3 hours of homework, plus Saturday school in some instances, prevent children from being a part of anything other than a school that routinely ignores community values, parental concerns, family needs, and ethnic identities, and cultural histories. Every aspect of living is secondary to higher test scores. 

Children are routinely screamed at, labeled as miscreants, isolated, humiliated, and called names for the most minor infractions of the rules. In any middle class school, these occurrences would result in charges of misconduct or child abuse. In the chain gang charters, these treatments and interventions are rationalized and encouraged as fitting for the children of the poor. 

Children in no excuses charters are expected to abandon their family and community ties and to become a ghettoized version of the white middle class children. They are expected at an early age to accept the remote goals assigned by white philanthropist funders, and they are taught that failure to reach those goals represents a personal moral failure and a lack of will. They are taught that personal gratification must be delayed until some distant future emerges before them, and they are taught to deny their most basic social needs and cultural connections. They are taught that any shortcoming represents a personal weakness, and they told that they should be grateful and joyful in their imprisoned states. They are turned in automatons who learn how to cut corners and to cheat in order to meet expectations of corporate missionaries who will be replaced after a couple of years.


  1. Anonymous8:39 PM

    I am a teacher at YES Prep. I agree with almost everything you said. Most teachers are inexperienced, white idealists who burn out after one or two years. The day is incredibly demanding, and the number one focus is test scores. The result is a system which teaches students to pass specific exams, but does little to actually prepare students for college. Teachers are ignorant of the local culture and attempt to shape black and Hispanic children into model white citizens.

    I must strongly disagree on one count. The teachers I have met care greatly about the individual students. While the system YES has created may turn students into meaningless numbers, I have worked very hard to build strong relationships with students and the majority of my coworkers have done the same. We fail, however, in our service to the lowest performing students. Too often, they feel helpless and inferior.

  2. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Yes prep is a very hard school 8 classes everyday and we get out of school at 4:30 this school puts lots of pressure on student I leave school at 5pm and that's 1 hour play time before it gets dark at 6pm totaling 40 classes 5 days 8×5=40 and this is lots of pressure we even get bullied teachers do not see it the bullies calls people they don't like "gay" and things like that and then we work all day and then get bullied I am a 6th grade student at one of the Yes prep schools and I have experienced this and even worse not going to say this school is great but needs much improvement one student told me "He was going to smash my head into the lockers" and also we get followed to class by students in the hallway and this is why I leave at 5pm when everybody has almost left the halls and sometimes I might put a pencil in my pocket and the pencil is gone and this happened multiple times this is why I am deciding to go to school online where I mostly feel safe kids at the Yes prep campus I go to do not treat each other as family they belittle the kids they can in huge groups the school is not in one they are in groups and stick with those groups and the ones that are not in groups thety pick on school is supposed to be safe not an environment that require you to protect yourself.

  3. Anonymous8:59 AM

    I have a serious question and I don't know where to go or who to talk to ,my daughter is been pressure to fight in yes prep school I have talked to the principal about this situation but it seems like she doesn't do nothing About it, my daughter don't want to go to school anymore this is getting out of hand, my question is where should I go to take care of this matter ? Because if I talk to the principal again she is just going to say that she's going to keep eye on my daughter but doesn't do nothing !!! I need help !!

    1. I would suggest you make one more effort to express your concerns with as much detail as you can get, including names and dates if possible. Let her know the situation is unacceptable and that your daughter is being affected by this kind of bullying. If she does not respond then, let her know you will going to the authorities to seek help.