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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

IPS' Ferebee Joins Billionaire Eli Broad Academy

by Doug Martin 

A few months ago, unknown to or unreported by the Indianapolis public media, IPS supt. Lewis Ferebee joined the school reform movement in a major way, landing a fellowship at the Broad Academy founded by California billionaire Eli Broad, a former Obama supporter and close friend of the Clintons who was behind a recent  $490 million plan with other reformers to charterize Los Angeles, hoping to place half of the city’s students in charter schools. 
The Broad Academy is notorious for training CEOs to become school superintendents nationwide to dismantle school districts.  

According to a Broad Academy press release on April 12, 2017, Ferebee was chosen as a Broad Academy Fellow because since he has led the district, “IPS is more agile and more capable of responding quickly to each school’s specific needs,” now offering “innovation and autonomous schools additional flexibilities in organizing school-level resources for maximum benefit to students.”

Even though he has worked to eliminate traditional public education across the country, giving to Teach for America, Teach Plus, and hundreds of other reform groups, Eli Broad is best-known in Indiana for donating $50,000 to Tony Bennett’s campaign for state school superintendent in 2012, as I note in Hoosier School Heist. 

The Broad Foundation, in 2015, also handed the Tony Bennett and Jeb Bush-founded Chiefs for Change $150,000 (page 22).  Lewis Ferebee is now a member of Chiefs for Change. 
In 2014, the Broad Foundation gave $375,000 (page 25) to Mind Trust-spinoff CEE-Trust, as well as $3.5 million to KIPP (page 32) and $1 million to the TFA-spun Leadership for Educational Equality (page 32), a group financed by Michael Bloomberg that gave IPS board candidate Lanier Echols $11, 546 (page 2) in 2014.  

It is not known how much the Broad Foundation has given to the Mind Trust, but the Mind Trust lists it as a donor in its 2012 annual report (page 15).  The Mind Trust was more than happy to tweet its congratulations to Ferebee after the Broad announcement. 

This is more bad news for the parents, students, teachers, and community members in Indianapolis.  Lewis Ferebee is on his way, and if more money from Broad starts sneaking into Indiana, we have serious trouble. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Indiana's Voucher Program Another Loser

Preliminary findings from a real research study, now under peer review:
When comparing these [voucher] students' achievement after the switch to their test scores the previous year, the researchers found:

Voucher students experienced "modest annual achievement losses" in math, especially in the first two years after leaving public school.

In English/language arts (ELA), voucher students showed no benefits.
These results echo what other researchers have found: that voucher students often backslide academically after switching to private school.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ravitch for "eventual absorption" of Charter Schools

Diane Ravitch's Network for Public Education (NPE) recently published a position statement on charter schools that directly challenges her widely-heralded commitment to quality public schools for all children who choose them.

NPE's new statement on charter schools explicitly acknowledges that Ravitch and her corporate union patrons support the continued operation of the nation’s 7,500 segregated charter schools, now draining away billions of public dollars each year for the principal benefit of racist corporate colonizers in urban communities (my bolds): 

. . . we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level. 

Unfortunately for the supporters of quality public schools for all children who choose them, NPE offers no plan for how Diane’s “look forward” to the eventual "absorption" of charter schools might occur or to how public governance of charters might be achieved.  No demands are made, and no strategy is outlined.  

It seems too much to ask, I think, that we should expect the operators of the nation’s 7,500 charter school, which now make up almost 10 percent of K-12 American schools, will tire of the billions of public dollars collected each year for implementing the paternalist dehumanization program that white philanthropists have chosen for the children of the poor. 

When Diane claims that “some charter schools are successful,” we may reasonably assume that she is referring now, as she has in the past, to those KIPP Model schools that are so effective culturally sterilizing and behaviorally neutering black and brown children in urban centers.  Since 2010, Diane has acknowledged the "wonderful results" that KIPP Model schools produce.  At Rice University in 2010, she said:

“What I want to say to KIPP, because I really really admire what you are doing. You have an excellent reputation, you get great results. Thousands of new charters will be created in the wake of your success. But your results are not typical. 

Two years later in 2012, she issued a further challenge to KIPP, Inc.:

I reiterate my challenge of two years ago: KIPP should find an impoverished district that is so desperate that it is willing to put all its students into KIPP’s care. Take them all: the children with disabilities, the children who don’t speak English, the children who are homeless, the children just released from the juvenile justice system,  the children who are angry and apathetic, and everyone else. No dumping. No selection. No cherry picking. 

Take them all?  Really?  Even if KIPP wanted to “take them all,” which they do not for fear of damaging their brand, what could be more distressing than the thought of all disadvantaged urban children in KIPP Model schools?  

Sadly, KIPP Model schools have earned their reputations as zero tolerance segregated testing chain-gangs where cultural scrubbing, character manipulations, and neurological alterations of segregated populations have become the preferred methods for “improving” the oppressed and their communities, thus making them assets rather than liabilities.  

Meanwhile, Diane continues to ignore the racist compliance training that the KIPP Model's "Broken Windows" brand of schooling imposes, which has made KIPP and its many emulators the favored tax-deductible charities of corporate elites from both political parties.

Economic Integration in Dallas

Even as the white supremacists who now occupy Washington try to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow Era, new efforts to integrate schools are underway in Dallas:

Rather than admit students by grades, test scores or auditions, which tends to turn schools into enclaves of affluence, these schools admit them by lottery, with no admissions standards. They are organized around popular themes like single-sex education, science, the arts, bilingual classes and professional internships.
Most strikingly for a district where 90 percent of students are low-income, the district is setting aside seats in several of the new schools for students who do not qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, even if they live in suburbs outside the district. Those coming from other districts do not have to pay tuition, and though Dallas will not receive school property taxes from their families, it will get funding from the state for each traveling student.
By relying on income instead of race, Dallas is following guidelines from the Supreme Court, which in 2007 declared it unconstitutional to consider race as a factor when assigning students to schools.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

PROTEST: Mind Trust’s IPS and the Almighty Dollar

by Doug Martin

Please see the poster above for details on Tuesday’s public demonstration protesting the closing of 3 IPS schools.  

The $200,00 the Silicon Valley based-NewSchools Venture Fund (see my recent article here) gave to Phalen Leadership Academy in October 2015 helped with the takeover of IPS Francis Scott Key 103, now known as PLA@103, a blended learning school.  The Mind Trust and Bellwether Education Partners had worked behind the scenes to plan the takeover, according to documents submitted to the Indiana Department of Education (see page 28) for a transformation grant.  

Bellwether is led by former Mind Trust board member and former Clinton Administration official Andrew Rotherham, who appears in Hoosier School Heist.  Rotherham's past co-partner Andy Smarick, who was an official at the U.S. Department of Education under George W. Bush, left Bellwether in 2016 and now works for the American Enterprise Institute.

Funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and numerous consulting gigs (clients include the Friedman Foundation, among many others), Bellwether is smothered in money, too, from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. 

Besides the gift of $11,075,000 to the Mind Trust and the $1,256,250 to the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc., the Arnold Foundation has recently given the Mind Trust-spinoff Education Cities, Inc. $1,900,000 and has promised Bellwether Education Partners over $1.5 million for sustainable public finance grants from 2013-2018.
In 2015, when the Mind Trust handed Christel House International $250,000 in grant money, Education Cities $500,000, KIPP Indianapolis $300,000, and Phalen Leadership Academy $200,000 (page 20), Mind Trust CEO David Harris pulled in just over $238, 000 in just base compensation (page 31).

Bellwether did very good during this period, too.

From September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015, Andrew Rotherham made almost $264,000 at Bellwether and Andy Smarick close to $216,000 (page 7).

Bellwether lately has been pumping out propaganda on how to spread blended/personalized learning into schools. The consulting group's Policy Playbook for Personalized Learning “is designed to help state and local policymakers identify the policy changes needed to expand access to quality personalized learning in their states and communities, and to give them the tools to make those changes."

And this promotion includes Catholic schools and the Mind Trust.  

In 2015, Smarick co-authored the Philanthropy Roundtable’s Catholic School Renaissance:  A Wise Giver’s Guide to Strengthening a National Asset, which mentions Notre Dame, Seton Education Partners, and the Mind Trust.  The report surely was inspired by his trip to the University of Notre Dame/Seton Education Partners’ conference in 2009, where along with the right-wing operative Scott Jensen (then working for Alliance for School Choice and who was found guilty in 2006 of misusing state resources to run Wisconsin Assembly Republican campaigns) and others, Catholic leaders and right-wing school privatizers mapped out a plan to turn financially failing Catholic schools into publicly-funded charter schools and spread blended learning to reduce the amount of teachers needed.  It is now a national movement, and the Mind Trust played its part by awarding Seton’s co-founder, Stephanie Saroki de García, a fellowship in 2010-2011, after she arrived from working at the Philanthropy Roundtable. 

It appears that the Mind Trust never went out of its way to publicize the fact that Seton’s other co-founder was Scott Hamilton, who also spoke at the 2009 Notre Dame conference.  Hamilton was the past managing director of Pisces Foundation, a creation of Gap, Inc’s Fisher family.  But Hamilton is best known for helping create the KIPP Foundation in 2000.   

The Catholic charter school experiment, as you remember, played out in Indianapolis when two Archdiocese of Indianapolis schools became Padua Academy and Andrew Academy.  Both quickly closed their doors, leaving kids and parents stranded. 

IPS leadership members, by closing 3 public schools, are about to leave parents and kids stranded again.