Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Teacher Health Insurance Cost Doubles to Pay for Students Lost to Charter Schools

If the corporate stooges on the School Board prevail, a teacher with family coverage will pay over $7,000 for health insurance this coming year.  This represents an increase of almost $3,500.  So not only will city teachers lose their 1.5 percent COLA, but now they have a 8-12 percent pay cut to deal with.  When will teachers and parents demand an end to this madness?

Meanwhile, the Memphis Daily News reports that corporate skinhead for the Achievement School District, Chris Barbic, has announced that Green Dot Public Schools, Inc. will, indeed, be coming to Memphis to rake off some of those millions that have been put on the table by the  for the corporate grabfest.

Monday, June 3, 2013

California Charter Chain, Green Dot, Advertising for Memphis High School Principal

The corporate wizards who are calling the shots in the new exploded version of Memphis schools have their eye turned toward an Eli Broad charter creation to take over one of the high schools in Memphis.  Will the target be Carver High, where parents seem willing to do anything to keep the name of the school--even if it means turning the school over for corporate management with a whole new team of missionary beginners who will learn to teach on their children? With a high paid corporate overseer?

Green Dot posted the ad below on June 2 for a school principal, with a minimum salary ($95,000) that is higher than the median salary of $89,600 for Memphis public school principals.  But that's one of the benefits of having a patron named Eli Broad (rhymes with toad), who gave Steve Barr millions to spread the Green Dot charter chain, mostly in California.  So far.  Here is the ad:

Job Summary
Date Posted:
Los Angeles, CA
Salary Range:
$95,000 $113,000
Job Contact Phone:
This Job appears in
Principal - Memphis
Job Description
Green Dot Public Schools (www.greendot.org) is the leading charter school operator in Los Angeles, one of top three largest in the nation, and an important catalyst for education reform in the State of California. We are the only charter school operator in the country to lead the wholesale take-over and turn-around of a 3,000-plus student high school. The U.S. Department of Education featured Green Dot as a national leader in school turnarounds. Green Dot currently employs nearly 1,000 dedicated mission-driven personnel to serve more than 10,000 students.

Green Dot’s mission is to transform public education in Los Angeles so that every student can graduate, prepared for college, leadership, and life.  We achieve this mission by running a network of middle and high schools in low-income communities and influencing the Los Angeles school district to transform its failing secondary schools into clusters of small successful schools.

We are the only charter school operator in the country to lead the wholesale take-over and turn-around of a 3,000-plus student high school. Green Dot’s take-over of Locke High School has received national recognition and has been hailed by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for turnaround schools.

Green Dot recently decided to expand nationally and has applied to the Achievement School District for the opportunity to help transform multiple secondary schools within Memphis over the next ten years.  In order to support these efforts, Green Dot is building a Memphis regional team that will build relationships with community and family stakeholders, coach and support teachers and Principals, as well as manage relationships with the ASD. Memphis schools will also access supports from Green Dot’s home office in California.

We are seeking talented educational leaders, with a desire to foster high levels of academic achievement in urban high schools.  Our Principals are truly empowered and, in conjunction with teachers, have autonomy over all hiring, budgeting and curriculum decisions.  Principals will be held accountable for delivering student results in line with agreed upon goals.

> Hire and develop school staff (certificated and classified)
> Serve as administrator and instructional leader of the school, direct and supervise the curriculum and guidance program of the school
> Responsible for planning the master schedule of classes for students and for assigning members of the certificated staff
> Evaluate the performance of Teachers and other school employees and counsel them on their individual development
> Mold student discipline policies to meet unique student population needs
> Direct financial and human resources at the school site
> Responsible for school budgetary planning and business operations
> Work closely with parents and the community at large
> Initiate and implement community support and advisory groups
> Accountable for students' overall academic performance
> Manage school revenues and expenses to stay within agreed upon budget
> Available for contact with parents, students and staff to discuss student progress and problems after class, at night or on weekends (via cell phone or in person)
> Maintain work hours extending beyond school hours for other professional duties or functions such as staff meetings, etc.
> Maintain professional standards and a school environment that is productive, safe and focused
> Participate in Green Dot and individual professional development
> Participate in other events aimed at promoting or developing Green Dot and its schools (i.e., student recruitment)

> Valid Administrator credentials
> Relevant Masters or equivalent degree
>Substantial teaching experience at the middle or high school level, with a history of improving student achievement
> Experience working in an urban school setting
> Prior administrative experience a large plus
> Demonstrated leadership capabilities
> Proven management and team building skills
> Experience managing budgets, creating and implementing policies
> Excellent interpersonal communication and writing skills
> Experience working in an entrepreneurial environment
> A passion for improving urban high schools and driving education reform

This employer strives for a balanced, productive workforce, which is diverse in terms of age, gender, and cultural identity. We do not base hiring or promotional decisions on factors other than performance and professional growth potential.

The annual salary range for this position is $95,000 - $113,000. We also offer a comprehensive benefits plan as well as the opportunity to impact a growing, mission-driven organization that is committed to student success.

We require all candidates to complete an online application athttp://www.greendot.org/careers.

Only applicants chosen for an interview will be contacted. We are looking to fill this position for an October 2013 start date.


Now that Memphis seems to be the first big out-of-state target for Green Dot, it seems appropriate to ask how things are going at the L.A. high school, Locke High, where Barr did his"wholesale take-over and turn-around."  

Here is a link to the latest from the State on how testing is going since the Green Dot takeover (note the precipitous drop in African American test scores by over 60 growth points). 

Below is the report card for Locke High School provided by the LA Times.  Read it and weep for the public schools and the taxpayers of Memphis, who will send their public monies back to California to fund the ongoing war against public education.  (Note the years of teaching experience by faculty.)

Alain Leroy Locke High

325 East 111th St., Los Angeles, 90061 (Schools in Green Meadows)

Student body

Student body ethnicity ?
  • Enrollment: 651 students
  • Free and reduced-price lunch:84.4% ?
  • English language learners:61.0%
  • Diversity rank: 5/10 ?
Source: 2009, 2010 state data


Faculty ethnic breakdown ?
  • Total teachers: 78
  • Median teacher experience: 2 years
  • Student-teacher ratio: 8:1 ?
Source: 2008, 2009 state data


Academic Performance Index (API) ?
Source: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 state data
California Standards Tests (STAR) ?
Students scoring "proficient" or above:
  • Students in advanced math: 12% ?
  • No Child Left Behind (AYP) ?
    Fail: Missed 10 of 15 federal targets for 2012

    Fail: Missed five of six federal targets for 2011

    Fail: Missed two of six federal targets for 2010

    Fail: Missed 20 of 22 federal targets for 2009

    Fail: Missed 20 of 22 federal targets for 2008

    Fail: Missed 16 of 22 federal targets for 2007
    SAT Reasoning Test ?
    Source: 2009-2010 state data reported for 256 participants
    Math: 359   Reading: 354   Writing: 366

    The Latest Memphis Swindle: School Board Stealing Teacher Cost of Living Raises to Pay for Charter School Donut Hole

    The Tennessee Funding Formula for schools calls for !.5 percent raise this year for all public school teachers.  That seems clear enough that one would think that even the Shelby County School Board could understand it.  Wrong.

    To cover the present and future deficits being generated by the Memphis Schools Fragmentation Plan (alluded to in the previous post), the new School Board has decided that it will take the 1.5 percent raises that would go to city teachers to pay for equalizing the lower salaries of Shelby County teachers.   Ta-da!

    What do I mean by fragmentation plan?  Glad you asked.  Instead of a Memphis/Shelby Co. unified system, the Gates-inspired blueprint will create three charter systems in Memphis (one for the preachers and black politicians, one for the out-of-state corporate charter chains, and one for the Achievement School District, which the State will run).  Then there will be the remaining public dumping ground schools for those children the charters don't want in Memphis. And then there will be the white public schools of Memphis and Shelby County.

    But that's not all.  We will have, too, new systems created by Germantown, Collierville, Barlett, and one or two more suburban boutique governments.  And guess what?  Operating 7-10 school systems is going to be very expensive.

    More expensive than a !.5 percent cost of living raise can pay for.

    And more expensive still when the teachers sue the hell out of the school board, for good reason.

    Video and story from Channel 5 in Memphis.

    Where is the coverage by the Commercial Appeal?  Hmm, Jane Roberts must be on assignment to cover a Stand on for Children meeting.

    Haslam, Huffman, and Corporate Welfare School Handouts

    Memphis is the exploding petri dish of corporate viruses that prey on the most vulnerable of society.  The fragmentation of schools in the name of unification is a prime example of Orwellian Newspeak applied to impress those who never read past the yawn-inspiring corporate report of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

    Here is an earlier post from April of this year:

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Corporate Feeding Frenzy Continues in Fragmented Memphis Schools

    When Bill Gates came to Memphis in 2009 with $90 million in handouts for every corrupt politician in the city and county, Memphis public schools were doomed.  This outcome was further assured by successful campaign to "consolidate" county and city schools.  Laws were changed, plans written by corporate foundation drones and Stand on Children politicos, and outlandish promises were made about turning the lowest scoring schools in TN into top scoring ones in 5 years. Beyond ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that no state money or corporate money is going to do anything about poverty and lack of opportunity in the poor areas of Memphis.  And nothing to challenge apartheid schooling.

    What we have today is not a consolidated system but a fragmentation of systems, so that now we have five suburban communities planning for their own segregated charter or public systems, a Memphis charter system controlled by local corrupt politicos, another Memphis charter system made up of Achievement District Schools run by out-of-state corporations (KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Rocketship, etc.), and what remains of the public school students in East Memphis and the County.  And let's not forget the largest private school concentration in the state.  Utterly atomized, just as Gates Broad, and the Waltons wanted. The only thing missing now are vouchers, which would allow the state to fund religious education in Memphis and elsewhere in the State.

    In a Take Part corporate news piece, Suzi Parker provides this on what is going on Memphis:
    At the heart of the program are charter schools that allow for intense student testing, performance pay for teachers, long school days and no teacher tenure. The district also incorporates recruits from Teach for America.
    The Memphis district’s website states, “Proving the Possible by moving the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee to the top 25% within five years.” Teacher unions have criticized the district, and some parents have complained about the loss of neighborhood schools. 
    Race has also become an issue with critics who point out there are not enough black teachers in the district. And other critics say the schools are simply a small hub for the rich. Last month The Walton Family Foundation gave $1 million to fund training for four school leaders interested in running charters in the Achievement School District. 
    In January, Republican Governor Bill Haslam visited the Memphis district and said the program was changing the archaic methods of teaching as well as the roles of schools
    “A lot of it is about giving more autonomy,” he said at the time. “It’s about letting principals in school buildings and teachers in the classroom make more decisions because they have a better sense of how to do that than we do on Capitol Hill.”
    It's interesting that school freedom and autonomy only become important considerations by Haslam and Huffman when the schools are handed over to corporate school operators.  Otherwise, accountability by testing remains mandatory for everyone else in Tennessee, i. e., public schools.

    Of course, the high stake testing guarantees a continuing supply of "failed schools" (there will always be a bottom five percent) that can be handed over to privatizers and profiteers who plan to open more total compliance segregated corporate testing camps for poor children.

    We called it eugenics a hundred years ago.  We call it neo-eugenics today.

    The latest on the new Superintendent's search:  expect a former TFAer, per Rhee and Huffman.  Personally, my money is on an Eli Broad pick. 

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Why Memphis Schools Matter

    In 2009 Bill Gates came to Memphis with a check for $90 million, and things haven't been right since.  The quiet ruthlessness behind Gates's aging geeky grin has been unrelenting and extremely effective in poisoning the chances for public education in Memphis and Shelby County. Gates's past expensive hunches that small high schools were better and that bonus pay would raise test scores have both been proven wrong, but as long as the cash keeps coming, Memphis political misleaders, corporate media hacks, made churchmen, and academics at the local universities are likely to keep toeing the line for the corporate foundations and Master Bill.

    Gates's hostility to teachers and collective bargaining is well-documented, and he is an avid enthusiast for total compliance KIPP and KIPP wannabe charter schools for the poor that no middle class parent would ever send his child to.  For Gates and other philanthrocapitalists, any poor brown child seeking an option to the largely segregated and neglected public schools of Memphis should have a No Excuses, zero tolerance kind of apartheid schooling that leads to behavioral and psychological sterilization performed without public oversight. Those children who can't cut it are dumped back into the remaining public schools of Memphis, where they will be warehoused until they drop out or are moved to the correctional warehouses for adults.

    Because most of the local media is complicit in the corporate takeover of public schools in Memphis, and because State government is now embarked on a systematic use of government to kill government, the general public is left with representation or voice.  That is the why behind Memphis Schools Matters.  

    I invite local and regional bloggers to contact me if you are interested in posting factual stories or commentaries on the shenanigans behind the biggest corporate giveaway now in progress in the state's history.  I will protect your identity if you want, but I encourage you to use your identity to reclaim your voice.  I am interested in covering the proliferation and inner workings of charter schools, the political stories behind the voucher movement. I am interested in exposing those public officials who wish to use public monies to pay for corporate control and management of schools, thus relinquishing their public duty.  I am interested, too, in the use, effects, and spread of new standardized tests that will be used to further reduce professional teaching to teaching by numbers, while replacing the good teachers who leave with temps and untrained beginners from Teach for America or Teach Plus.

    Here is a sample of the kind of story I am looking for and planning to write.  I am in Germantown on a regular basis, so if there are issues you want to discuss, contact me at ontogenyx@gmail.com.

    From Schools Matter last year:

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Memphis District to Lose $212 Million to Charter Schools by 2016

    The story unfolding in Memphis around the consolidation of Memphis and Shelby County Schools gets more and more interesting.  Today one of the Gates front men, Gary Shorb, published a plea in the Commercial-Appeal for all sides to come together to embrace what is essentially a resegregation merger plan written by the Gates Foundation and their political arm-twisting outfit, Stand On For Children (SFC).  SFC has successfully led the anti-teacher, anti-child, and anti-parent fight for corporate education reform in Colorado, Ilinois, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. It is most interesting and the ultimate irony that the County Commission, which supports the "merger" plan, is now accusing outlying Shelby County towns of racism for planningto bail out on this corporate-sponsored apartheid plan for Memphis. 

    Patrons $250,000+
    Josh and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund at Combined Jewish Philanthropies
    Daniels Fund
    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    Helios Education Foundation
    Jenesis Group
    Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine
    New Profit Inc.
    Rauner Family Foundation
    Walton Family Foundation

    The mechanism for getting the "merger" done to benefit the corporate charter school industry was to get the ALEC controlled State Legislature to write a law, first, to create a Transition Planning Commission (TPC) to be the public face for the plan, as devised by the corporate foundations.  Kenya Bradshaw, Executive Director of SFC, serves as Secretary on the Commission of 18 appointees (does anyone know who appointed them?  the Gov,? Bill Gates?

    Next came the meetings to gather "public input," right?  And next came writing of the plan by the foundation lawyers and economists, with no further public input.

    Well, the Plan was released a few days ago, and it is available on the Web.  The Commercial Appeal has published none of the details, so I spent a bit of the morning poring through the 200 page plan.  

    Basically, it is plan that squeezes public funding to cover the costs of the hemorrhagic loss of revenue from shifting millions from public schools over to corporate charter operators with a free ride and no public oversight.  Secondarily, it is a plan to replace experienced teachers in urban schools with nominally prepared neophytes who will ply their trade in apartheid total compliance corporate welfare charter schools.  Thirdly, it is an attack on the teaching profession and job security.  Fourthly, it is to a plan to privatize as many school services as possible in order and to cut benefits for the remaining public employees..  

    Here below are some choice tidbits with a few of my own comments.  (My bolds within the text)
    Overall Shelby County public school enrollment is projected to decline 3% from FY2012 to FY2016, resulting in approximately 147,400 students enrolled in Shelby County public schools by FY2016. The enrollment mix is expected to shift to non-district operators (including charter schools and the ASD), from 4% of total public school enrollment in FY2012 to 19% in FY2016, resulting in approximately 118,700 students enrolled in district-operated schools by FY2016 (p. 13).

    The Committee developed these priorities and recommendations with the understanding that Shelby County Schools will not be structured like a traditional school district in 2013–14. With the growth of the Achievement School District (ASD), the Innovation Zone, and charter schools, the district will be a mix of school operators and types. The TPC recognizes that the district does not, and should not, have the authority to mandate some of the recommendations below in charter schools and the ASD (p. 31).
    The details on the Achievement School District are not complete, but it will essentially operate without local control or oversight.  It will be run out of Nashville, and it will replace the lowest scoring (poorest) public schools in the state with corporate charters.

    Some details on the cost of the new Gates-Walton-Edelman Plan:

    Cost Management of Enrollment Shifts
    A system with multiple school operators (e.g. District, ASD and charter schools) inherently costs more to operate due to loss of scale with fixed costs being allocated across a smaller volume of students. This multi-operator environment is in place today and is projected to expand irrespective of the merger. To date, the districts have found creative ways to manage the increased costs of the existing multi-operator system (e.g. cutting or shifting 400+ positions out of the General Fund to right-size staff). However, with the projected share of students in non-district operated schools expandingrapidly in the next few years—from approximately 4% in FY2012 to 19% by FY2016 (equivalent to approximately $212M of revenues shifted to charter schools and the ASD in FY2016)—it is critical to implement strategic cost management to ensure each pathway in the Multiple Achievement Paths model is financially equitable to students. The majority of these enrollment shifts are projected to happen irrespective of the merger, and the increased cost of the system is not the “fault” of the district or charter schools. Although merged SCS will continue to be responsible for managing most of these costs, other operators will also contribute as participants who benefit from this overall system (p. 168).

    Here are some specifics from the Plan with details about what they mean.  Note that almost 400 public school teachers will be lost in the first 3 years, and the Stand on Children folks are planning to make sure that these teachers lose the opportunity to transfer to the charter system being planned for urban Memphis.  One of the new priorities for the ALEC owned State Legislature will be  “Repealing TCA § 49-5-511 which requires districts to place tenured teachers on a preferred reemployment list if they lose their jobs due to a reduction in force” (p. 195):

    • From FY2012 to FY2014, the shift of an estimated 9,500 students from district-operated schools to other operators (e.g. charter schools, ASD) will result in a shift of approximately $70M in revenues. Charter school revenue share will continue to be a pass-through to the district and ASD revenue share is expected to be directly provided by the State.

    • If the merged SCS aggressively implements a set of management practices to manage its school and staffing footprint, it can recover an estimated $58M. This assumes 85% of step-variable costs can be recovered with the district pursuing regular staff right-sizing and active management to hold student-teacher ratios constant. For example, with an estimated decline or shift of 9,500 students from FY2012 to Fy2014, the district will have to make the following types of approximate reductions—390 general education teachers, 60 elective and vocational teachers, 50 clerks, and 15 central office positions—keeping in mind that new teaching and other employment opportunities would be created in the ASD and charter schools.

    • Other operators’ paying for benefits received (e.g. utilities and maintenance in shared facilities, shared staff, shared services) can help contribute approximately $3M (see Operations Plan chapter for more details on shared services). [Presently, TN state law requires charter operators to pay nothing for these services provided by local districts]

    • A modest and differentiated contribution from other operators of an estimated 4% (blended average across operator types ranging from 0% to 7% depending on specific choices made by the operators, e.g. full conversion of existing attendance zone in existing facilities contribute 0%, lottery system in existing facilities contribute 5% if choose to share school-level costs) can help recover a further approximately $3M. Enforcing contributions will require a legislative change as current Tennessee law does not allow charter school authorizers to require charter schools to contribute to district overhead. Note that benchmarks of other large urban districts show contributions to range from 2% (Denver) up to 20% (Chicago) (p. 171).

    Even if all the cost savings can be implemented, including privatizing custodial and transportation operations and turning over the keys of 21 public schools to charter school operators, the TPC still projects a $57 million deficit in FY 2016.  Below is the wish list that the TPC has developed to try to close the gap created by the drain of education dollars into the corporate charter schools and ASD charter schools.  Note that there is presently no state law requiring charter operators to pay for any shared services, either utility bills, transportation costs, or shared librarians, for instance.
    City, county, and state action
    There are a number of outstanding issues that require city council, county commission, or state action.
    These include:

    • Securing the $55M in funding from the City of Memphis

    • Waiving the Shelby County residency requirement for all SCS employees, given the number of current MCS employees who do not reside in Shelby County

    • Ensuring that all operators (e.g. district, charter schools, ASD) receive state and local funds in the same timeframe

    • Seeking definitive clarity from the state on to whom the "leveling up" requirement of the Norris Todd Act applies, and securing an agreement on that definition

    • Advocating for the legislature to implement the approved changes to BEP funding, and for the proposed changes made by the BEP Review Committee. There are reforms passed in the State BEP 2.0 formula that are pending funding for full implementation. Some of these reforms, including an increase in the State share for instructional components in the formula from 70%to 75%, could yield as much as $30M in incremental revenue.

    • Advocating for the state to provide funding during the merger transition period, per TCA § 49-2-1207 (5), and/or TCA § 49-2-1262

    • Advocating for the legislature to approve a charter school and ASD holdback, and charter school attendance zones

    • Repealing TCA § 49-5-511 which requires districts to place tenured teachers on a preferred reemployment list if they lose their jobs due to a reduction in force.

    • Exploring options to recover the education portion of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) (p. 195).

    Now if the wish list does not lead to the desired funds, then the TPC has a contingency plan to pay for the ridiculous and needless and expensive turnover of 20 percent of Memphis schools to charter operators.  Here it is:

    Contingency Plan
    If all four recommendations for additional funding have been exhausted and a budget deficit remains, the TPC has identified potential incremental cost reductions worth $48M as a reluctant contingency plan. This contingency plan is not a recommendation of the TPC. The TPC believes that these types of reductions, which would increase class size and reduce school-level staff, undermine the potential of the Plan to create a world-class educational system, and should only be pursued as an absolute last resort.

    The exact initiatives would need to be identified by the district-led working committee; however, some illustrative examples are detailed below. These examples total $48M in annual savings.

    • Shifting to State minimum ratio of librarians which would result in a $5.5 additional annual savings from about 115 fewer librarians

    • Retracting investment in additional Assistant Principals and shifting toward a 'SCS minus one' staffing model which would provide an additional $11.4M in annual savings from eliminating close to 100 AP positions

    • 15% reduction in other school staff positions (e.g., clerks, educational assistants, therapists) for an annual savings of $10.5M

    • Moving to a student-teacher ratio of 'MCS plus one' for an annual savings of $20M resulting from eliminating 280 teachers (p. 177).