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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fuck Your Thoughts and Fuck Your Prayers

Yes, again, a mass murderer too young to buy a beer but not too young to buy an AR-15 has killed another group of innocent humans (17 of them), whose only offense was going to school.   Yesterday morning Lamar Alexander, another of those U. S. Senators whose decency has been exchanged for undying fealty to a gangster buffoon president and his fascist funders, tweeted his "thoughts and prayers" to the school shooting victims and their families.

Like every other politician who hides behind the Second Amendment to sustain the gun lobby's insistence on marketing war weapons to adolescents, crazy people, and Nazis, Lamar Alexander has blood on his hands, and they get bloodier each time these predictable and avoidable tragedies unfold.  The U. S. is the only country on Earth where this kind of legalized and ongoing mayhem occurs, and it's way past time for it to stop.

A change has to happen, and a change will happen this time, I feel.  Law enforcement, parents, students, clergy, hunters, target shooters, and even a couple of politicians are going to make this change.  It will not be stopped by all the money that the NRA can hand out, and it will happen despite the cowardly scumbags hiding out in their Washington offices tweeting out their thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Philadelphia's Proposed New Charter School Reports: February 22, 2018


by Lisa Haver
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
February 14, 2018

On February 22, the  lame-duck School Reform Commission (SRC) will vote to accept or reject applications from seven charter companies: APM Community Charter School, Franklin Towne Charter Middle School, Mastery Charter Elementary, MaST Community Charter School,  Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School, Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School and Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School.  (Pennsylvania Institute Charter School withdrew its application at the hearing; Qor Charter withdrew its application subsequent to the hearing.)

APPS members have read and analyzed the applications, attended the hearings, researched the charter company and its officers, and examined the records of any existing schools the company operates in the district.

Those who scratch the surface of this process begin to realize the depth and breadth of the questions surrounding the funneling of tax dollars into institutions that are not “public” in the sense of serving the common good.  Dig further to discover highly paid top administration officials, cozy and complicated financial dealings, far from transparent or open organizational practices, and academics that are rarely superior to public schools.

In defense of a truly public education system that serves the common good as a cornerstone of democracy, APPS continues to delve into the facts and history of charters. Our tax dollars should be spent to improve the quality of education for all of our students and should not be spent on a wasteful, corrupt, two-tiered system made possible by those who benefit from the provisions in what PA Auditor General Anthony De Pasquale has called “the worst charter school law in the country”.

Following are the reports by APPS members along with written testimony submitted to the SRC.

APM Community Charter School

Aspira Inc: Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School

Aspira Inc: Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School

Franklin Towne Middle Charter School

Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School

Mastery Charter Elementary School

MaST III Charter School

Also see:
Philadelphia charter operators rally to demand deregulation and removal of oversight of charter schools. Read the comments. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Commentary: Philadelphia’s children deserve human teachers, not algorithms and data-mining

Commentary: Philadelphia’s children deserve human teachers, not algorithms and data-mining: On Thursday, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission will vote on two resolutions. One (B-12) allocates $10 million for virtual classes and adaptive learning systems, while the other (A-7) awards...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Is Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School a dropout factory?

Here is John Harris Loflin’s latest research.  Please read John’s piece and visit his website.  Doug Martin

Dear reader,

Although this report is about the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, it serves as a call for transparency regarding graduation rate figures for all Indiana public schools. It is the hope the analysis will spark diligence on the part of the public to hold school boards and charter boards accountable.

We must especially find ways to make clear what goes on in schools especially before/after “count day” when each public school in the state totals up all of the students attending their schools. The number of students tallied adds up to direct funding for the school. The issue is after count day, certain schools “council out” certain students, suggesting other schools as a better option/”fit.” This helps the numbers/reputation of these certain schools though at the expense of these certain students/families.

Please get back to me with your ideas about what we can do about making our public schools more honest.

John Harris Loflin

Is Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School a dropout factory?
A preliminary report and commentary on the graduation rates and promoting power of Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School

by John Harris Loflin

It is tragic to have to say that there is no need to prove urban public education in America is in trouble. We only have to look at local television to see the negative outcomes associated with urban school failure. We also know that when urban students are graduated on time and ready for careers, college and citizenship, chances of being involved in crime or violence are reduced.

The Pushout Crisis   
The Schott Foundation (2012) report “The Urgency of Now” introduces a new factor to the discussion: “The pushout crisis.” Evidently, nearly 17% of African American students and 7% of Latinx students were suspended at least once in 2009-10, compared to 5% for White students. The section of the report concludes that disproportionate use of out-of-school suspension for Black and Latinx child-ren at all levels is the first step toward pushing them out.

This Schott report defines a “pushout” as a student who leaves their school before graduation through the encouragement of the school itself.

The challenge now is a new one: trying to persuade the “Unconvinced Generation” (Evans, 2006) to stay in school while trying to keep school officials from pushing them out (Loflin & Evans, 2015).

The “pushout crisis” reflects situations where many schools try to get rid of (dump or ”shed back”/“counsel out”) students who may tarnish the school’s statistics (Lewin & Medina, 2003) when they score low on state standardized tests, or fail to graduate on time.

During recent national hearings, an NAACP task force found, “…many participants testified about students with special needs, those perceived as poor test takers, or those who pose a behavioral challenge are either not accepted, or once enrolled, disciplined or counseled out of many charter schools” (NAACP, 2017).

This trend of manipulating students’ educational lives like pawns or stick pins on a map by “hiding” students in “alternative learning experiences” (Spring, 2016) to keep the “bottom line” of academic outcomes and grad rates with other “quick fixes” is widespread (Turner, 2015). It reflects the shady underbelly of a market ideology’s system of competition and choice applied to, of all things, the lives of children (Winerip, 2011; Miller, 2015; Taylor, 2015; Wolfe, 2015; Brown, 2017).

As well, whole districts are not above throwing some students under the bus to get/maintain high grad rates (Spring, 2016; Koran, 2017).

Pushing students out is especially tempting for urban charter schools which are under intense scrutiny and pressure to perform. Taking into account the past economics of educational politics (i.e., school choice) in Indianapolis, this is especially the case for Mayor Hogsett’s bevy of charters.  

Particularly relevant to issues regarding “pushing out” students is the December 19, 2015 Indiana Business Journal (IBJ) story on events at the Charles Tindley Accelerated School (CTAS): “Charter star Tindley in cash crunch as CEO’s expenses questioned” (Columbo, 2015). Though the story raises concerns, IBJ joins other local media in validating the “star” status of the Tindley brand (www.tindley.org). Note, both Indy’s local establishment (Pulliam, 2013) and Black community (Perry, 2013) hold CTAS up to everyone and praise the school as a model for other urban charters.* In fact, CTAS is recognized nationally as one of the “highest-scoring schools” by US News and World Report (2015).

A scrutiny of this blend of concern and praise suggests a public discussion.  A deeper review of factors behind the school’s graduation rates, which are in the lower 90% for the classes 2013 and 2014, will promote dialogue and clarity.

Introducing “Promoting Power”
In order to open a conversation about the “success” of CTAS, fostering a clear view of the school’s graduation rates (or those of any Indiana public school) is needed. The concept of Promoting Power (holding power) is being used because it can provide a quick way to determine how a school is doing. Promoting Power also circumvents certain graduation rate formulas which can hide the inability of schools to keep students in school and graduating.

Promoting Power takes the number of 9th graders and divides that by the number of these students who make it to 12th grade. It does not determine graduation rates--those 9th graders (cohort) who actually graduate. A Promoting Power of <60% is weak Promoting Power.  High schools with weak Promoting Power are called “dropout factories.” The term was used in the Indy Star’s 2005 “Left Behind” series: http://rishawnbiddle.org/RRB/Starfiles/leftbehind/Dropout_factories.pdf
To understand more about Promoting Power and the dropout factory term see:

Comparing graduation rates and promoting power: Is CTAS a dropout factory?
Linking both the Promoting Power concept and “pushout crisis” factors will bring another possible explanation of the “success” of CTAS. Contrasting Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) graduation rates for CTAS with the school’s Promoting Power percentages reveals CTAS as a dropout factory in all but 1 of the graduating classes for the 2007-2008 to 2017-2018 school years. See Table II.

To illustrate, the graduation rate for CTAS for 2012-2013 was 90%. A closer look at the data shows only 27 of the 2009-2010 9th grade cohort of 61 graduated. The 90% rate was determined by dividing the number of seniors (30) into the number who actually graduated (27). In other words, the class of 2012-2013 had 30 seniors of which 27 graduated. Even though the cohort lost over half of its members after 3 years, it still had a graduation rate of 90%.  See Table II.
The Promoting Power formula measures the ability of CTAS to hold on to its 9th graders. Comparing the 61 freshmen who started the 2009-2010 school year with the 30 who made it to their senior year, CTAS has a Promoting Power of (30/61) 49%--making it, for that class, a dropout factory. See Table II.

An Indiana public school both traditional or charter can lose over half its freshman class after 3 years and still have a graduation rate of 90% 
How does this happen? According to IDOE guidelines, a school’s graduation rate will not be affected by students who leave a high school and are enrolled elsewhere. With regard to determining graduation rates, the “home school” does not have to count these students among those in that year’s cohort.  For example, a particular public high school could have 20 9th graders and 4 years later have 5 (seniors) left in that cohort due to 15 students leaving and enrolling in another high school. If all 5 graduate, and even though the school lost 75% of its freshmen class after 3 years, the school’s grad rate for that year will be 100%.

This raises the question and thus the rub: what if the student/family is counseled out or persuaded to “self-select”--pushed away from their school before they are graduated, through the encouragement of the school itself?

Also, what about a school coaching a student/family to choose homeschooling as an alternative to expulsion? In this way, these negative marks do not appear on the student’s or school’s record, and does not count against the school’s gradua-tion rate. However, are there drawbacks to the home schooling option for the student/family? See Appendix B

On the surface “self-opting” makes sense and appears fair to all parties: schools, and students and their families. Yet, the issues brought to the surface by the Schott report on the national “pushout crisis” raises questions as to whether these students left “on their own” or were they “pushed” out.

As stated above, “The ‘pushout crisis’ reflects situations where many schools are trying to get rid of (dump/’shed back’ or ‘counsel out’) students who may tarnish a school’s statistics (Lewin & Medina, 2003) such as by scoring low on state standard tests, or failing to graduate on time.”

Commentary: Why is weeding-out students disguised and excused by the status quo
All of this is worrisome.  A closer look at the January 2013 commentary about Tindley by Russ Pulliam (2013) is needed. Here Pulliam quotes Brian Payne, the president of the Central Indiana Community Foundation who said, “I think it’s human nature that people generally rise to the level of expectations.” Payne went on, “When you create a culture of high expectations, people generally will self-select out of that culture if they are not committed. They have this culture at Tindley that you will work hard. If you aren’t ready to work, you may not want to be there.” 

Respecting the school in light of graduation rate vs. Promoting Power percents, CTAS and its supporters attempt to “spin” the pushout phenomenon as one where the student and their family leave on their own accord.  So, the school is left free of responsibility: We didn’t push the student out, she/he “self-opted” out.

Again, the “self-select out” concoction is endorsed by Indy Star’s distinguished political pundit Mr. Pulliam who is plainly pushing the idea that this rationale makes sense. Perhaps local media and the CTAS board want the public to believe that such a covert “self-select out” masquerade is justified in order to keep up the school’s reputation.

Even in some cases regarding disciplinary action/s, a student/family may be offered “a deal you can’t refuse.” In this situation, a school intends to suspend or expel a student, but proposes not to if he/she leaves (supposedly) by their own choice and then enrolls in another school. Perhaps for certain students, such “counseling” is used to help them realize they “…may not want to be there.”

Due to this “trade-off,” neither the school nor the student will have a suspension or expulsion on their record and the school unapologetically gets rid of a student they can label as one who just wasn’t a good “fit.”  

And, most likely those students/families that pick a Tindley-type charter will go to another school, thus removing that student from the cohort. Now, she/he will not be counted toward determining the graduating rate of that group/class.

Another obvious concern involves schools with high test scores—and the efforts of these schools to maintain such status. How is it fair and equitable when schools, can under the cover of the “self-selection” alibi, actually “weed out” poor test takers?

Our “pushout crisis” and the Promotion Power idea call for transparency
Indeed, the above report/commentary is presumptuous and even accusatory. Still, with over 20 years of pressure on certain high schools (notably urban charters), and in this case the very contentious, over 10-year local and state-wide debate over school choice, this level of suspicion simply cannot be avoided.

To the extent that Mayor Hogsett is the only mayor in the United State of America who can charter a school, to that same extent tremendous political-economic pressure is put on the mayor’s charters to perform. Thus, he cannot afford to have any of his schools fall below the norm--let alone be suspect of any deceptions exposed by the pushout emergency and a Promoting Power analysis.

As Indianapolis, Indiana, and the country praise the Charles Tindley Accelerated School for having high expectations for its students, families and staff, the Tindley board must maintain credibility by virtue of transparency and public accountability, practicing the same level of expectancy it holds for the school.
*This was especially the case when Mayor Ballard closed The Project School (TPS) charter over financial issues. TPS also had low test scores—which was why the Mind Trust’s David Harris said the school must be closed (Peg with Pen, 2012). Yet, many believe the closure happened because 28 students opted-out of ISTEP. In the wake of the closing, CTAS was presented to the public as the blueprint to follow—the opposite of TPS (RTV Channel 6, 2012).

Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School
(IDOE school #6208)
Enrollment numbers per 9th grade 4-year cohort for 2004-2015

      04-05  05-06  06-07  07-08  08-09  09-10  10-11  11-12   12-13   13-14   14-15 15-16 16-17
  9   66     59     29     40     46     61     69     62      68     93     135   94    89
10            44     34     26     30     28     52     52      48     54      79    87    80
11                     15    22     23      23    22     43       32     41     42    44    64
12                             14     19     22     13     18      30     30      32    35    40  

Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School
Enrollment numbers, graduation numbers and rates,
and Promoting Power percentages for 9th grade cohorts

School                                                          IDOE *                Class       IDOE *      Promoting     Weak/  Dropout
Year       9th  10th          11th          12th       # grads                  of          Grad %    Power <60%    Strong   Factory
04/05   66   44 (-22)   15 (-29)   14 (-1)      12      12/19   2007-08   63.2%     14/66=21.2%      W          Yes          

05/06   59   34 (-25)   22 (-12)   19 (-3)      15      15/25   2008-09   60.0%     19/59=34.5%      W          Yes

06/07   29   26 (-3)     23 (-3)     22 (-1)      15      15/19   2009-10   78.9%     22/29=75.8%       S            No                                                                                    

07/08   40   30 (-10)   23 (-7)     13 (-10)    12      12/16   2010-11   75.0%     13/40=32.5%      W          Yes

08/09   46   28 (-18)   22 (-6)     18 (-4)      15      15/19   2011-12   78.9%     18/46=39.1%      W          Yes     

09/10   61   52 (-9)     43 (-9)     30 (-13)    27      27/30   2012-13   90.0%     30/61=49.1%      W          Yes    

10/11   69   52 (-17)   32 (-20)   30 (-2)      29      29/32   2013-14   90.6%     30/69=43.4%      W          Yes

11/12   62   48 (-14)   41 (-7)     32 (-9)      24      24/28   2014-15   85.7%     32/62=51.6%      W          Yes

12/13   68   54 (-14)   42 (-12)   35 (-7)      32      32/36   2015-16   88.9%     35/68=51.5%      W          Yes
13/14   93   79 (-14)   44 (-35)   40 (-4)      35      35/38   2016-17   92.1%     40/93=43.0%      W          Yes

14/15 135  87 (-48)   64  (-23)   61 (-3)                              2017-18                   61/135=45%       W          Yes        

15/16   94   80 (-14)   72 (-8)

16/17   89   77 (-12)

17/18   91

Breakdown of Graduation Rate Calculations
Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School

Class of 07-08 
IDOE # in 12th grade =14     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    63.2%       12
GED  5.3%       1
SiS   10.5%      2
DO   21.1%      4
Class of 12-13 
IDOE # in 12th grade =30     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    90.0%         27
DO   10.0%        3
                       30: 27/30=90.0%
Class of 08-09 
IDOE # in 12th grade =19     
    Grad rate  # of grads
     60.0%        15
SiS   40.%        10
                       25: 15/25=60.0%
Class of 13-14 
IDOE # in 12th grade=30     
  Grad rate  # of grads
   90.6%          29
SiS    6.3%         2
DO   3.1%          1
                       32: 29/32=90.6%
Class of 09-10 
IDOE # in 12th grade =22     
  Grad rate  # of grads
     78.9%       15
SiS   10.5%       2
DO   10.5%       2
      Class of 14-15 
IDOE # in 12th grade=32     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    85.7%         24
SiS   10.7%        3
DO     3.6%        2
                       28: 24/28=85.7%
Class of 10-11 
IDOE # in 12th grade =13     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    75.0%          12
SiS   18.8%         3
DO     6.3%         1
      Class of 15-16 
IDOE # in 12th grade=35     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    88.9%         32
SiS   11.1%        4
DO     0.0%        0
                       36: 32/36=88.9%
Class of 11-12 
IDOE # in 12th grade=18     
  Grad rate  # of grads
   78.9%         15
SiS   10.5%       2
DO   10.5%       2
                      19: 15/19=78.9%

      Class of 16-17 
IDOE # in 12th grade=40     
  Grad rate  # of grads
    92.1%         35
SiS     2.6%        1
DO     5.3%        2
                        38: 35/38=92.1%
SiS=Still in School students are expelled students, yet are still “enrolled” & expected to return. Until that happens or not, this is counted against a school’s graduation rate.

Appendix B
The limitations of homeschooling as an alternative to expulsion:
Why high schools benefit, but students, families, and society may not

The language of “counsel out,” “self-select out,” “shed-back” (Lewin & Medina, 2003) and now “de-selection” and “Got to Go” lists (Miller, 2015), even “thrive or transfer” bullying (Winerip, 2011) become alarming as analysis shows public school administrators have the option to offer parents and students the use of home-schooling as a “transfer” over expulsion.

·         Is this a good choice for low-income, marginalized families living in poor neighborhoods, characterized by crime and violence? 

This is noted because Indiana home schooling guidelines are non-in-forcible by the state. Indiana has no accountability for record keeping for students and/or families who select this expulsion option. This worries some important local and national community vitality and public policy groups (Fiddian-Green & Bridgeland, 2017).

·         What happens to those students being “homeschooled” without adequate or little or no parent involvement, or formal supervision?
o    What about situations where the parent/s works during the day and the student, who is normally in school, is left unsupervised? 
o    What if parent/s do not have the level of education needed to home school adequately?

This led to speculation that there is a possible correlation between the Indiana home schooling guidelines and the school to prison pipeline.

·         Are high schools inadvertently placing students in jeopardy by counseling families to choose this alternative?

The homeschooling choice is popular because it can benefit both parties: neither the student nor the school has the expulsion mark on their official school records.

Does count against a school’s grad rate
Does not count against grad rate
A student leaves a high school and drops out completely and does not enroll at another school

A student is expelled though counted as “Still in School”

The student/family “self-selects” out or is “counseled” out, or is just “pushed” out. The student leaves and then enrolls in another school.  

A student/family chooses homeschooling over expulsion

Grasp the analysis of Appendix B via the discussion about the homeschool option which resulted from an analysis by the National Council on Educating Black Children, the Black & Latino Policy Institute, and Indiana University’s School of Social Work. It was presented 02.17.16 to the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Other information

Office of Education Innovation 2013-2014/2014-2015 reports on CTAS

Chalkbeat 10.21.16 CTAS as one of the better local high schools regarding ISTEP

CTAS 2017 2nd Best Charter HS Out of 19 in Indy Metro Area

·         Overall Niche Grade is a B
·         288 Students
·         99% Free or Reduced Lunch
·         55% Female
·         45% Male

·         93.45%  African American
·         92% Proficient--Reading
·         95% Proficient--Math
·         85% Average Graduation Rate
·         1080 Average SAT composite score out of 1600

2017 Indianapolis Star Of the Indiana high schools reporting data since 2014, CTAS was 1 of only 16 enrolling at least 90% of their students in some sort of post-secondary education in Indiana or elsewhere as well as attaining a 90% readiness rate at Indiana public colleges. Of the 16 schools, 12 are private. (Herron, 2017). http://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2017/07/30/how-well-indiana-high-schools-preparing-students-college/453616001/
Links to IDOE* Compass website data on CTAS

 Is Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School a dropout factory? A preliminary report and commentary on the graduation rates and promoting power is a compilation of data and analysis byjohnharrisloflin@yahoo.com of www.vorcreatex.com ©2018 John Harris Loflin  

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Colombo, H. (2015, December 19). Charter star Tindley in cash crunch as CEO’s   
     expenses questioned. Indianapolis Business Journal.
 Evans, J. (2006, October 25). The Unconvinced generation. NUVO. Indianapolis, IN.  http://www.nuvo.net/news/news/the-unconvinced-generation/article_c17d716a-a04f-5f61-90db-cc5c00f46f5c.html
Fiddian-Green, C. & Bridgeland, J. (2017, November 14). State still has work to do   
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Herron, A. (2017, July 30). How well are Indiana high schools preparing students   
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