Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TeacherTown Cuts Teacher Pay by $10,000 and Ends Annual Increases

CorpEd at Work
Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

With every bad instrument in the corporate education toolbox being thrown into the creation of a new schooling Frankenstein for "educating" Memphis and Shelby County children, the introduction of test scores to determine teacher pay was inevitable. 

  • Gone are annual scheduled salary steps, which have been replaced by annual bonuses based on student test scores.   
  • Maximum salaries have been reduced from $73,000 to $63,000.
  • Teachers will max out after 18 years, with no salary increases after that.
  • Teachers who teach non-tested subjects must rely upon test scores averaged for those in the school who teach tested subjects to determine their pay raises.
Meanwhile, teachers in Shelby County are represented by a teachers' association that is an affiliate of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN).

The TURNcoats work hand in glove with CorpEd to make sure that the Broad, Walton, and Gates agendas are pushed ahead of teachers, children, and parents.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Stop the Corporate Parasites at the University of Memphis

University of Memphis Faculty Senate meeting: December 2, 2:40 PM, Rm. 261 University Center 
Be There to Protest
The University of Memphis Faculty Senate will hear details of CorpEd's teacher miseducation plan tomorrow, which will divide UofM's college of education into two castes: one for teacher candidates trained to serve corporate charter schools that impose the penal "no excuses" teaching model on the children of the poor.

This group of teacher candidates are to be Relay-ed into poor and black schools after they are indoctrinated in techniques for grinding out test scores and imposing a paternalistic, inhumane behavioral and instructional regimen that seeks to culturally sterilize poor kids.  

On the other wing of UofM's College of Ed, teacher preparation will continue for the other caste of teachers, who are going into the leafy suburban schools where curriculum, child development, educational theory, and educational sociology and psychology remain relevant topics.  

What this new program will do, if approved, is to make University of Memphis complicit in the continued segregation and mistreatment of children in school environments that no faculty member would ever allow for their own children.  

UofM's president, David Rudd, was recently appointed to his post by corporate education insiders at the state and corporate foundation levels, and it looks as though he is wasting no time in killing the legitimacy of the College of Education at the University.  

Who is David Rudd?  Here is a bioclip from YouTube, where Dr. Rudd appears in an interview filmed during a stint at the University of Utah in 2010:
Dr. David Rudd is an expert on clinical suicidology. He has served as a consultant to the United States Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense and the Beijing Suicide Prevention and Research Center. In the past year he has twice testified before the U.S. Congress on issues related to veterans’ suicide.

According to the YouTube video, Rudd at the time had a contract to study suicide prevention among veterans.  I find it interesting that Rudd references "resiliency training," which is an outgrowth of Martin Seligman’s work that became the centerpiece of Seligman's big sales jobto the Army for using his ludicrous positive psychology approach to combat PTSD. 

Rudd sat on the committee that eventually gave a thumbs-down to Seligman’s fanciful, though lucrative, use of positive psychology to treat traumatized Army veterans.

Interesting, too, are Seligman’s connections with “performance character” training for KIPP and the other total compliance charter schools.  Even more interesting is the fact that Relay is using performance character resiliency training in its misedcuative teacher prep program that Rudd hopes to bring to U of M.  

Could it be that Rudd has plans for big grant funding at UofM to do what Seligman and his disciple,Angela Duckworth, have done and are experimenting on children at UPenn and in the poorest schools of Philadelphia.  It is a form of character resiliency training that hopes to make children living in poverty into little automatons who are impervious to the effects of poverty.

There are huge grants, both federal and private, for this kind of neurological tampering within the skulls of poor children.  Will Dr. Rudd be given free rein to set up his experiments on Memphis's children of the poor?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

U of Memphis President David Rudd Sells Out Education Students and Faculty to Wall Street Hedge Funders

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

I'm imagining coming in to work tomorrow morning to find out the president of my university has cut a deal with some Wall Street investors to give space in our department to sell a corporate freak show packaged as a teacher education program. 

Oh, you didn't notice because you are out of town for the holidays or a conference?  

That's the way President David Rudd planned it.  From the Commercial Appeal:

Relay Graduate School of Education, a partner in a new undergraduate teacher training residency the University of Memphis plans to offer, has filed an application with the state to offer 11 master’s degree programs starting next summer.

The university offered Relay free classroom and office space, at least initially. Instruction would be provided by a program dean whom Relay intends to hire, plus four or five adjunct professors.

The Commercial Appeal obtained the 448-page Relay application through the Freedom of Information Act.

Relay’s approval is central to the university’s plan to offer an alternative certification program geared to undergraduates entering their junior year. The university and the philanthropists envision attracting bright, dedicated students from other majors on campus and from schools around the nation who would be interested in teaching in the city’s high-need schools.. . .
My advice to U of M education students: Get your signs made and your speeches written: December will be about more than shopping.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Suck It, Green Dot!

posted at Schools Matter

Goes to show what concerted public protest can accomplish.  The task is not over, but just begun.

From the Commercial Appeamoments ago:
Shelby County Schools will keep Raleigh-Egypt High School next year, a major change for the community, which has been protesting since late October the state’s plan to take over the school next fall.

Green Dot Public Schools was the charter assigned to the takeover. . . 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Barbic Boasts, Hopson Shuffles

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

The corporate school takeover model in New Orleans that has failed everyone except for corporate socialists is not going down so well in the attempted replication in Memphis.  The lawyer/superintendent, Dorsey Hopson, who was put in charge of coordinating the giveaway of Memphis schools to the corporate welfare kings and queens of the charter school/real estate industry, is finding his task a bit more complicated than delivering the closing argument that he anticipated would win the day for the corporate reform schools.  

At this point, parents, teachers, and students in Memphis don't know which liar to believe less, as Hopson and ASD superintendent, Chris Barbic, bob and weave and blame one another in order to avoid getting hammered by citizens with hard questions.  Parents want to know why some their schools are being given away, at least the ones with better facilities--the ones that the profiteers want to confiscate for their charter school prison programs.  

Parents and teachers want to know why SCS plans to crowd hundreds of their children into surviving public schools so that a handful of charter school students can occupy entire school buildings, one class at a time. 

They want to know why, if there is an education crisis in Memphis, that KIPP and Yes Prep and the other corporate reform schools are given four years to get a whole school up and running.  

They want to know which politicians are getting paid commissions for every child handed into into the charter chain gangs.  

They want to know why a segregated straight jacket model of school is being imposed only on their children. 

They want to know why they are being manipulated and disrespected by being talked down to by the paid corporate lackeys from the dissemblers from Stand for Children and the Uncle Toms and Aunt Thomasinas from BAEO.  

They want to know why the SCS superintendent is calling their schools "bad" based on junk test scores that reflect the low income of the neighborhoods.  

They want to know why caring, mature teachers are being replaced by white corporate missionaries who learn to teach on their children before moving into new jobs in the Central Office.  

They want to know why SCS has replaced every educator in Central Office with people without leadership or school administrative experience.  

They want to know why investment banker and school board member, Chris Campbell, is so prominent in this giveaway of public resources.

They want to know why the Governor allows the corporate hoodlum, Chris Barbic, to strut around the communities and make such ridiculous and mean-spirited threats:

“I think it’s important to remind everyone that a lot of things we are doing are by choice.  If we wanted to, we could take over all 85 schools next year." 

Meanwhile the confused and deep-into-the-weeds, Dorsey Hopson, seems to think that his best route is make more appearance and tell more lies more prominently in the community.  He has spent the last year and half surrounding himself with more Huffman-like drones from TFA, and now he has this to say in the Commercial Appeal:
"The last six to seven months have been tied up in building an academic team," Hopson said, adding that his focus now will be on community engagement.

"We are going to go out and have discussion about the schools, and about the data and what it means. I am going to ask board members to participate and really make sure the community knows if the data at your school is low, that means you are not attending a good school.
Can a person put in charge of so many children's educational fate really believe that people are as stupid as he pretends they are?  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Which Liar Do You Believe?

In October, Dorsey Hopson told this to the SCS Board about ASD hit list of schools:  “SCS has no say in the matter of takeovers."

A day or so ago, Smalley from ASD said this:  "The main thing here is clearing up confusion around how the extra six performance criteria were created—this wasn’t done unilaterally by the ASD, but collaboratively with Shelby County."

The Inside Story on 80-90-100

Posted yesterday at Schools Matter.

In a Commercial Appeal story about cuts to teacher raises on April 22 of this year, this came at the end of story by Jane Roberts:
If the board agrees to the goals [Goals 2025], the district has made it clear that the community will have to play a larger role in how they are achieved. It has joined forces with StriveTogether, a Cincinnati-based network that aligns nonprofits, college and other education partners with specific district goals. With parental permission, SCS and the Achievement School District have agreed to share student test scores with organizations here working to lift scores, college access, third-grade literacy rates and kindergarten readiness, hoping they can tailor their programs to help meet specific academic need.
The board did agree, and today Shelby County stands on the brink of another corporate foundation plan to “improve” educational outcomes in Shelby County.  The plan is called 80-90-100, and it has been developed by StriveTogether and EdWorks, both non-profit corporations that are subsidiaries and under the direction of KnowledgeWorks, another non-profit corporation that was created in 2002 by a grant from another non-profit corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Gates continues to partner with KnowledgeWorks and to give generously in order to help implement the Gates Foundation vision under the label of the dummy company, KnowledgeWorks.

All of these vastly wealthy non-profit folk want your children’s data to serve as a basis for a coordinated plan to steer education policy from pre-K through college, in every town in America, if they can.

The Gates Foundation, of course, is run by the for-as-much-profit-as-possible former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who you will remember started the demolition of Memphis schools in 2009 with a 90 million dollar money bomb. 

Since Gates started “giving his money away” a few years ago, his wealthy has strangely ballooned by almost $30 billion dollars, so that today Gates is worth $82.4 billion.

But I digress.  Here is a slide below from the plan, Goals 2025, which was developed by many interconnected Gates clones and handed over to their stooge, Supt. Dorsey Hopson.  Memphis has turned into a hive of these TFA alums and Econ majors, now living in Memphis hoping to find the perfect latte and to strike it rich in the growth industry of turning over public schools to the corporate welfare predators lined for a piece of the action. 

KnowledgeWorks, StriveTogether, and the other subsidiaries are to be on hand to give Barbic his marching orders, too, and to make it all look like a state and local government operation.  In a sense, it is, since taxpayers are paying the entire bill.  Just ask the investment banker on the SCS Board of Education.

Oh, did I say that KnowledgeWorks CEO is a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy?  Small world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Taking It to ASD

Neshellda Johnson at a meeting with the corporate clones from ASD last week.  From BadAss Advocates for Kids.

More on Coalition Meeting to Stop ASD

First posted at Schools Matter.

from Chalkbeat Tennessee:
The Shelby County Teachers Coalition meeting will take place at Southside Middle School at 5:30 p.m. [on November 13] and is open to the Memphis community. The coalition bills itself as an effort to inform parents about the process in which the state takes over low-performing schools and hands them over to charter schools or directly runs them.

. . . the coalition accuses the Achievement School District of “hijacking our schools,” “stealing public education funds,” “giving their friends our buildings” for “private” charter schools that “select the students that they want to attend their schools.” They also accuse the charter schools of “firing and replacing our teachers.”
The ASD has pointed out that it, too is a governmental organization using public funds in an effort to improve public schools. Only non-profit charter schools can run charter schools in Tennessee. ASD schools cannot under the law select the students that attend its schools. And while teachers in schools that have been taken over by charters do have to reapply to stay at the schools, several of the charter networks guarantee teachers interviews, though not positions.

Coalition leaders also point out that some of the schools’ test scores have dropped since being taken over by the ASD.
“People need to be aware of that,” said one of the coalition’s leaders who didn’t want her name used out of fear of retaliation.  “They need to do something with the schools they have first.  Then if you’re helping our students, then possibly.  But you’re still gobbling up schools. Do something with what you have.”

The ASD has said that it picked schools to take over based on their recent test scores, their feeder patterns and a slew of other factors agreed upon by the district and the Shelby County Schools officials. They also point to increases in some of their schools’ test scores and acknowledge that their model is not perfect.

Teachers formed the coalition earlier this month after two charter organizations pulled out of the matching process because of capacity concerns. Since the start of the matching process, several politicians and community leaders have spoken out against the ASD’s expansion citing the district’s inability to reach its own stated goal of moving the bottom 5 percent schools to the top 25 percent in five years.

This past weekend, the ASD held a fair for parents and teachers to learn more about the matching process and the charter schools involved but only a few dozen people showed up.

Two of those people were the members of the Shelby County Teachers Coalition who placed the flyers advertising this Thursday’s rally under attendees’ windshield wipers. After entering the fair, they were immediately greeted by ASD superintendent Chris Barbic.

“Chris and I we have a friendly relationship in terms of expressing our view points,” one of the members told Chalkbeat later on. “We’re on opposite ends. but he’s open and available. He didn’t tell me nothing we didn’t know. I respect him but he didn’t change my mind. We know what his agenda is: to take over the schools.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ravitch Backs AFT Corporate Innovation Fund Grants to Keep Common Core Alive

For those who have denied the danger that Diane Ravitch represents to the testing resistance  movement, have a look at this latest attempt to garner support among for Weingarten's latest efforts to keep alive the maggot-infested body of Common Core. 
Despite the efforts of the Gates Foundation and others to treat the Common Core standards as an iron-clad document, as tablets chiseled in stone, which may be added to but never changed, the American Federation of Teachers has awarded grants to its affiliates in New York and Connecticut to review, and where necessary, rewrite the standards. The same thing could happen in every state where teachers have concluded that the CC standards are developmentally inappropriate, misaligned with the needs of children with disabilities, or suffer from other defects. This move on the part of the AFT both bolsters the chances of CC to survive and undercuts  its ability to be considered “national standards,” since teachers in every state will see different ways to revise them. Teachers will determine whether the standards need revision or whether the implementation was problematic. Let the revisions begin!
Gentlemen, start your pencils!  Etc. 

First, Ravitch assumes that everyone agrees with her, Weingarten, and CorpEd in thinking that one set of standards and one curriculum for the nation are good ideas, and all that CC requires is some "reviewing" and maybe some re-writing "where necessary."

Thinking people resent this, just as they resent the whole idea of monoculture that is bred by the insistence on having a unitary approach to knowledge and understanding.  We need diversity of thought in order to respect our differences and to solve our common problems, not everyone on the same page at the same time of day in the same textbook, from Buffalo to Biloxi.

Secondly, Ravitch assumes that because Weingarten has spent a few thousand dollars to lubricate two AFT subsidiaries (both corrupt) with dirty money provided by the oligarchs for "innovation grants," then the rest of the AFT and NEA world will follow suit, and that a thousand different versions of Common Core will come to bloom. 

As long as there is a Common Core, there will be a common set of national standards, and tests to go with them, notwithstanding Ravitch's spin.  Is she really this naive or deluded to believe that teachers will, 1) trust Rhonda Weingarten, 2) be assuaged by some foggy notion of a some-day chance to review and/or revise something not worth revising, and 3) cease and desist in a growing rebellion against standardized testing, standardized curriculum, and standardized corporate thinking?

Thirdly, Ravitch assumes that, without any melting of Hell, teachers voices will suddenly be heard.  Does she have some insider knowledge that would change the entire course of education reform history, since it has never been the case in the past been that corporate-federal policymakers have paid any attention to what teachers think.  Talk about magical realism!

Fourthly, Ravitch assumes that because she says it okay for Weingarten to use Broad pocket change to try to bribe teachers, then it must be okay.  After all, Ravitch said so. 

The level of hubris and delusional arrogance that comes with these pronouncements leads me to think that something is not right.  Badly not right.  We know that Ravitch has been building a containment vessel for the resistance since she and Cody started their "Network," getting almost everyone in the resistance to sign on.  I guess it was inevitable that cards be put on the table at some point.

I think this has gone far enough. 

Southside Middle School November 13 5:30 PM

Be There!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

KIPP Putting Problem Students in Basement During High Profile Visits

The story here.

Jon Alfuth Leading Parade for ASD and Haslam

Posted here

ASD Tries Massages and Cupcakes

Chris Barbic is back in action and was answering questions at an ASD Neighborhood Fair yesterday, where a total of 64 souls showed up for cookies and massages and propaganda messages.

The big news is, however, that the resistance will meet at Glenview Community Center on Wednesday at 5:30 PM.
. . . .Barbic answered questions from The Commercial Appeal during the ASD Neighborhood Schools Fair at the Shelby County Schools Teaching and Learning Academy. Partly a student-recruiting event, the fair made available to parents the representatives of about 10 charter schools which will be running 29 Memphis schools near. That’s up from 22 this year.

The ASD schools fair offered Lenny’s sandwiches and cookies for lunch, free massages and cupcakes for parents and teachers, and activities for children. But only 64 people had signed in two hours into the three-hour event.

“It wasn’t as many as I would have liked to have seen,” said Regenia Dowell, a member of the Achievement Advisory Council. She and other council members play a role in matching charter organizations with schools. They attended Saturday to learn from prospective ASD parents what kind of school they want for their children.
And what does Reginia Dowell know about matching schools?  She is a retired Memphis health worker who has been successfully "massaged" by the ASD into pretending to be an ally of parents.  Don't be fooled.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Raleigh Egypt High Students and Parents Rally for Schools on ASD Hit List

The Great School Awakening continues in Memphis, where parents, students, and teachers of Raleigh-Egypt High School rallied Friday to demand that the corporate predators from Green Dot Schools stay clear of school property and the property of other local schools on the ASD hit list for next year.  A clip:
As 20 students held signs telling the charter school assigned to take over Raleigh-Egypt High to “Go Home!!” and “Go Away,” community leaders staged a press conference to push for an alternative: iZone school status.

iZone schools — short for Innovation Zone — are turnaround schools run by Shelby County Schools and get extra money from a school improvement grant. The program is an alternative way to improve academic performance.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson led the rally just off the school grounds Friday afternoon, saying he and others have had behind-the-scenes conversations with the state Department of Education and the Achievement School District officials. Among those standing with Parkinson were Shelby County Schools board member Stephanie Love, Rev. Elliot Shelton of Promise Land Church and Rev. Sammie Holloway of Breath of Life Christian Center. . . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Retreat from Corporate Welfare Charter Schools in New York

New York City Drops Loser School Strategy

In a clear repudiation of everything that Gates, Broad, and the Waltons stand for, New York City officials have returned to some semblance of sanity after a long reign of educational terrorism.  

May the contagion spread.  From the NYTimes:

SCS Picks Another Non-Educator for Chief Academic Position

With Hopson surrounded by people who are clueless about school culture, children, parent relations, pedagogy, or leadership, Carol Johnson has found the perfect candidate to fill out his cabinet: a person who has never been a teacher or principal but with the necessary experience to know all the players of the corporate foundations.  She also has the added asset of a reputation for top-down management, and she survived two years in Milwaukee schools before they gave her an award to leave.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What Can Memphis and Nashville Learn from RSD in New Orleans?

A clip from Tennessee Education Report, which reports here on a presentation this past weekend in Nashville on the Recovery School District in New Orleans:
Among the statistics presented by Buras:
  • In 2011-12, 100% of the 15 state-run RSD schools assigned a letter grade for student achievement received a D or F
  • 79% of the 42 charter RSD schools assigned a letter grade recieved a D or F
  • RSD schools open less than three years are not assigned a letter grade
  • Studies of student achievement data have shown no impact on overall student achievement and some even show a widening of the achievement gap

Teach for America Teachers Produce Lower Math and Reading Scores

Posted earlier today at Schools Matter:

I talked with a TFA recruit last week in Memphis, and she had 20 days of working with kids last summer as her teacher preparation for working with children this year who need the most experienced and professionally prepared teachers.  If she makes it for two years, she will then go on to a career, while continuing to congratulate herself on what a fine thing she did for the poor children of Memphis.  She will continue, too, to be inundated with propaganda from the TFA home office that will try to recruit her into service at one of the total compliance chain gang schools like KIPP or Uncommon Schools or YES Prep.  If she says yes, she might end up as a high level admin type for Kevin Huffman, who also is a TFA alum.

Meanwhile, more professional teachers of color within the poor communities will be "excessed" and discarded, thus perpetuating the income inequality that is eating Memphis and other urban centers alive.  And children in these poor communities will remember school as comprised of a successive string of temporary young women who were clueless about their lives and communities.

If a more racist and classist system could be contrived, I am not sure what it would be.   And to top it all off, the TFA cult members are not doing as well raising math and reading scores as the "failing" teachers they are replacing.  What's wrong with this picture?

Below is a clip from the Executive Summary of the TN report from this year:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Top 12 Reasons for Charter Schools

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

1) Charter schools allow corporate foundations and billionaires to impose a draconisn kind of paternalism on economically disadvantaged children who are thought to be in need of cultural and moral repair.

2) Charter schools allow for the imposition of schedules, curriculums, and behavioral control techniques that are not subject to public scrutiny.

3) Charter schools are cheaper because they reduce teacher salaries, health benefits, learning materials, and retirement plans.

4) Charter schools make it easier to segregate schools based on race, economics, gender, and ability.

5) Charter schools allow for dumping of problem students, special education students, ELL students, and those whose behaviors or academic abilities are out of compliance.

6) Charter schools reduce teacher professionalism and job security, thus making them cheaper and easier to control.

7) Charter schools put education decision-making and control in the hands of unelected executives.

8) Charter schools require minimal public investment in building and transportation infrastructure.

9) Charter schools make for easier to ignore and hide problems related to poverty by focusing on a small number of schools with high test scores.

10) Charter schools (not for profit types) allow corporations and foundations to reap tax benefits and real estate bonanzas.

11) Charter schools (for profit types) expand business opportunities for profiteers of the education-industrial complex.

12) Charter schools make it possible to move state tax dollars from urban charters and use the savings to enrich suburban public schools.

ASD Run By Liars

With Chris Barbic out of action, the ASD is being run by serial liar, Elliot Smalley.  Smalley is trained by the Broad Foundation to do whatever is necessary to advance the corporate welfare agenda of replacing public schools with segregated corporate reform charter chain gangs.  Smalley was a recipient of a 2013 Bunkum Award from NEPC for his unique mishandling of data to portray a reality of ASD success in Memphis where none existed: 

The 'It’s Just Not Fair to Expect PowerPoints to Be Based on Evidence' Award

The “It’s Just Not Fair to Expect PowerPoints to Be Based on Evidence” Award goes to Elliot Smalley of Tennessee’s Achievement School District and Patrick Dobard of the Louisiana Recovery School District.

For years, Jeb Bush’s “Florida Miracle” has been unmatched as the most bountiful wellspring of misleading education reform information. But Florida and Jeb have now been overtaken by the Louisiana Recovery School District, which serves the nation as the premier incubator of spurious claims about education reform and, in particular, the performance of “recovery school districts,” take-overs, portfolio districts, and charter schools.

Superintendent Patrick Dobard has taken his suitcase of PowerPoints on the road, touting the Recovery School District’s performance.  Nothing has stood in his way. Not the dramatic post-Katrina change in student composition. Not the manipulation of student achievement standards in ways that inflate performance outcomes. Not the unique influx of major funds from foundations, the federal government and billionaires. And not the unaccounted-for effects of a plethora of other relevant factors.

But Dobard is not alone.  Elliot Smalley, the chief of staff for the Achievement School District in Memphis, flexed his PowerPoints to show his school district’s “Level 5 Growth.” This certainly sounds impressive—substantially more impressive, for instance, than, say, Level 3 Growth. But this growth scale is unfortunately not explained in the PowerPoint itself. What we can say is that a particular school picked by Smalley to demonstrate the district’s positive reform effects may not have been a good choice, since the overall reading and math scores at that school went down. Picky researchers might also argue that more than seven schools should be studied for more than two years before shouting “Hosannah!”

As was the case with the Florida Miracle, the Bunkum Award here is not for the policy itself—serious researchers are very interested in understanding the reform processes and outcomes in these places. Rather, the Bunkum is found in the slick sales jobs being perpetrated with only a veneer of evidence and little substance backing the claims made.

In order to have some semblance of public input, CorpEd in Memphis has selected an Achievement Advisory Panel comprised of yes men and women to rubber stamp the corporate foundation school selections for hostile takeover each year.  There is not one educator in the bunch.

Smalley and his team of advisors from Broad and Gates will need all the lies they can conjure in the coming days to beat back the determined and reasoned resistance to the hostile corporate takeover of Memphis schools.  The key will be to continue to remind local, state, and federal politicians and the media that this corporate welfare plan will not go forward.

Parents and teachers and students must continue to say SKIP THE KIPP and NO to YES PREP and to put a big RED LIGHT IN FRONT OF THE GREEN DOT.

Let Mr. Smalley know his outfit, the ASD, is not good enough, smart enough, and nobody likes it!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

As Charter Co-location Ends in Memphis, Public School Students Are to Move!

A headline by Chalkbeat Tennessee would lead us assume that public schools have scored a big victory: Shelby County to pull kids from schools shared with ASD: Co-location to end next Fall.   

The story attached to the headline, however, clearly shows that assumption to be wrong.  

If this new plan goes forward, ASD charters will get the ENTIRE BUILDING where they are now co-located, and the hundreds of public school students will be moved into segregated testing containment camps run by I-Zone.

Teachers and parents must be at the November 18 meeting in large numbers to make sure this giveaway of public space to corporate reform schools does NOT happen.
Shelby County Schools next fall will slam the brakes on its practice of sharing buildings with Achievement School District charter schools, pulling hundreds of students out of up to 10 schools that otherwise would be co-located with charters, Chalkbeat has learned.

District administrators say the move to end colocation is academically motivated. But it could also benefit the school district by slowing the steady exodus of students from SCS schools to the state-controlled ASD charters. It would also uproot several well-established school communities throughout Memphis and leave some school buildings with just a handful of charter school students in them.

Some ASD charter school operators take over low-performing schools a grade at a time. This practice, known as “phasing in,”allows charters to adjust their teaching model to local conditions as needed, and to share innovative strategies with traditional public school educators, according to charter leaders. . . . 
[Comment: Charters have one strategy, and it is not innovative but, rather, criminally abusive to both students and teachers.]
But colocation has led to morale, recruitment and retention problems among principals and teachers who work for traditional public schools, and who know their jobs will be phased out, said Brad Leon, the district’s chief innovation officer. This has hurt test scores in those schools, Leon said.

“We want our staff focused on student achievement,” Leon said. “We want them focused on the task at hand.”

Ending the colocation practice next year means a significant portion of students and teachers at Shannon, Westwood and Spring Hill elementary schools and Cory and Lester middle schools will be moved to other campuses.

If the ASD follows through with taking over Airways, A. Maceo Walker middle schools and Hawkins Mill, Brookmeade and Denver Elementary schools–all schools in which charter operators are considering phasing in at a grade at a time – students and teachers in the upper grades at those schools now will also be moved.

SCS administrators will present a proposal to board members at the next board meeting,  Nov. 18, detailing plans for those students.

ASD officials said they will not back away from its plans to phase-in charter schools, even if there will be no other students in the building.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hopson: From One Bad Idea to Another

Posted earlier today at Schools Matter:
American Way Middle School students protested during Tuesday night's Shelby County School Board business meeting. More than 20 people signed up for public comment with the majority opting to speak against the Achievement School District's takeover process.             
PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN 

Look at what happened in Memphis this week, and then tell me that teachers, students, and parents standing up together doesn't matter.  

Within minutes after parents and teachers lined up to express their disgust with the planned corporate takeover of their schools, Hopson came up with a new scheme, this one hardly better than the first one.

American Way Middle School students protested during Tuesday night's Shelby County School Board business meeting. More than 20 people signed up for public comment with the majority opting to speak against the Achievement School District's takeover process. 

In response to the state’s steady takeover of Memphis schools, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday night that he would propose expanding his own turnaround efforts known as the iZone, and the school board’s chairwoman said she would push for a legislative moratorium on the Achievement School District’s expansion.

The district’s iZone has regularly outperformed the Achievement School District, a state-run district targeted at moving the bottom 5 percent of schools into the top 25 percent.  A full third of the district is eligible to be taken over by the state in the next three years. ASD officials are currently working to determine which seven schools they will hand over to a handful of charter schools next year.

Hopson’s and board Chairwoman Teresa Jones’ comments came shortly after more than 20 parents and teachers accused board members of allowing schools to be taken over by the state and charter schools.

“It’s time for you guys to do your jobs,” said Kenneth Ingram, a parent at American Way Middle School.  “Put a stop to this. Another charter school coming from another state and taking over our school? We’re not going to allow that to happen. Please do your job.”

Neither the board nor the Shelby County Schools administration has legal control over the Achievement School District’s takeovers of low-performing public schools, Hopson and board members repeatedly reminded the public Tuesday. The takeover process has led to contentious protests at several community meetings this week.

Hopson said he will propose to board members in the coming weeks closing several schools and merging them into one school that would join the iZone.  Similar to charter schools, iZone schools are given waivers from state laws, require teachers to reapply for their jobs, and receive extra resources to try innovative strategies to improve test scores.  Unlike charter schools, the iZone schools remain under district control.

“We’ve been kicking around some numbers and without any extra money, we would look at combining two or three schools and bring them in the iZone,” Hopson said. “That would take a few more low-performing schools out of play (for ASD takeover). At the end of the day, though it’s about what is going to be best for the kids.” . . . .

If Hopson and the Shelby County School Board want to match some schools, they should start matching economically disadvantaged schools with those that are not.  Mix the schools so that no more than 40 percent are poor, provide professional development for teachers and principals, infuse new resources, and then give it three years to see if improvements don't materialize. 

Meanwhile, the entire process of labeling schools should be audited to determine whose politcal machinations are involved to make sure that only black schools get set up for closure, when mixed schools like Cordova have weaker test scores.  Cordova, in fact, is on neither the Priority or the Focus list of low-testing state schools.  Who's pulling the strings to make sure the new penal system of pedagogy only comes to black schools?

Shelby County Corruption on School Board

Posted 10-28-14 at Schools Matter:

Citizens came with their signs and their speeches tonight, pleading for their community schools.  Sitting on the School Board was a smug employee of Green Dot Charter Schools, one of the corrupt outfits scheduled to take over at least two Memphis schools.  Her name is Miska Clay Bibbs, and she got her start working for the ethically challenged Harold Ford in the late 1990s.

Not only was Bibbs endorsed in her School Board race by the enemy of public education, Stand on Children, but she is employed by Green Dot Charter Schools as Director of Community Engagement.  Conflict of interest?  Ask Ms. Bibbs.

Two significant items on tonight's agenda were contracts for a company, Cynthia Alexander Mitchell Academics, which is owned by Associate Superintendent, Cynthia Alexander Mitchell.  The contracts are worth $60,900 and $130,000, respectively.  The larger contract is for Mitchell to "train" 13 teachers at the corporate outfit, The Center for Better Schools.  How sweet a deal is that!

Tonight was the first night I spoke at a Shelby County School Board meeting.  The protocol calls for three minutes, but the Board, with so much business, cut the speaker time to 30 minutes.  And this is in the middle of a charter reform school takeover of 10 Memphis schools.  So we got 1.5 minutes.  I used a little more and was escorted from the podium by one of Memphis's finest.   I will post my comments tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

School Prison Expansion Continues

posted earlier at Schools Matter:

Although the all-important state tests show TN's Achievement School District has the lowest and the lowest scores of any schools in Memphis or elsewhere in the state, the corporate swindlers are lined up to receive 9 more schools next fall from skinhead ASD superintendent, Chris Barbic.

But then, we know these school conversions to chain gangs have never been about "achievement" at all but, rather, about the iron-fisted paternalistic control and humiliation of the children of the poor.  It is about the poors' cultural sterilization and behavioral neutering, so that will grow up smiling, self-blaming, and brainwashed to believe anything their white handlers tell them.

No public school would ever be allowed to do to these children what the KIPPs, Aspires, and Rocketships do behind closed doors without public oversight.  And no middle class child would ever be subjected to such treatment as is regularly meted out in the total compliance corporate segregation camps that our state and federal governments have given their stamps of approval.  The shame of the nation continues unabated.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dog the Bounty Hunter Says Choose901

Every day brings a new reason to wonder why anyone would ever move to Memphis to teach.  Salary schedules are a thing of the past, and pay raises are now bonuses that are based on test scores.  Teachers are in constant fear of being surplussed or excessed or some other term to disguise the ugly truth of teacher firing.

Pay for advanced degrees has been eliminated, and the oligarchs are pouring millions into alternative certification programs that now jeopardize the future of legitimate teacher education programs at University of Memphis.  White missionary temps fill the remaining downtown bars and eateries after 9 hour days and exchange horror stories.

Gangs of angry and destitute youth have taken to the streets to beat up innocent pedestrians, and with black schools converted to total compliance chain gangs, increasing numbers are just saying no to being treated like animals in test prep factories.

The Corporate Appeal reported last week that the county school system has lost about 2,500 kids who just didn't show up for school this year.

With the public coffers drained from paying for corporate charter operators, the toadies on the local school board are coming up with novel ideas to recover that 10,000 dollars for every missing child who has said take your school and shove it.
. . . While district counts were significantly off, equally troubling to the board is that it has 2,000 to 2,400 students it can’t find, which prompted newly elected board member Mike Kernell to suggest a $500 finders fee for agencies that could help get the students to school.

“We have better ways to keep track of dogs than we do children,” he said after a budget meeting. “If we spend $500, we have a lot to gain.”

The district gets about $10,000 in state and local taxes for each student. It gets nothing if they are not in school.  . . .
Will the Shelby County School Board hire a real professional to bring these delinquents back to lockdown high?  It would make a great TV series, you know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shelby County Chancery Court to Hear Lawsuit Against Huffman and Barbic

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

Kevin Huffman took just one month after his appointment as Commissioner of Education in April 2011 to choose former CEO of YES Prep Charter Schools as Superintendent of Tennessee's new Achievement School District, the State office that would coordinate the charterizing of Memphis and Nashville schools.

At that time, the betting started on how many months it would take for Yes Prep, where Barbic had been CEO prior to coming to Tennessee, to claim a piece of the action in the lava-hot charter market in Memphis.

It took just over 24 months, and in September 2013, YES Prep announced plans to open six (6) new charter schools in Memphis.

Now it looks as if one of the jilted would-be profiteers who missed a cut of the action is suing Huffman and Barbic in Shelby County's 30th Judicial District of Chancery Court.  Stay tuned.

The following report is from

Rodney O. Ursery, J.D. and Clara D. West, Ph.D. are the Plaintiffs Who Filed the Lawsuit In Pro Se

Memphis, TN (September 8, 2014) – Rodney O. Ursery and Clara D. West, two former applicants for a charter operator’s authorization for the 2014/2015 school year, have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Kevin Huffman, Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Education (“TDOE”); Chris Barbic, Superintendent of the Tennessee Achievement School District (“TASD”); as well as the TDOE and TASD; along with two other defendants: the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (“NACSA”) and YES Preparatory Academy (“YES Prep”).

Among the thirteen causes of action, the complaint alleges unfair business practices, violations of Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, civil conspiracy, and violations of constitutionally protected rights. The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting YES Prep, a charter school enterprise headquartered in Texas, from opening schools that it illegally obtained in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil action, which also requests a jury trial, was filed in the 30th Judicial District Chancery Court, Shelby County, Tennessee.

Ursery states, “For far too long, it has been recognized and stated in the court of public opinion that Huffman and Barbic have utterly abused the power of their positions when it comes to regulating the Tennessee's school system. Now, I’m confident that their reign of terror, which has been plagued with conspiracies among crooks and cronies, will finally be revealed in a court of law, that is, if justice prevails.” West added, “It's as if we have to fight Brown v. Topeka Board of Education again. Our proposal offered equity in education through student-centered learning using individualized learning plans and iPads, just like the countries that consistently outrank the U.S. in education. We were unfairly denied the opportunity to help educate the lowest-performing students, who the system has already left behind and identified as the future prison population. It's all about leveling the playing field.”

According to the complaint, the defendants deliberately designed and implemented discriminatory selection and approval practices, customs and procedures to deny Plaintiffs’ application. The lawsuit further alleges that during the time when TASD solicited Requests for Qualification to apply for a charter operator’s authorization for the 2014/2015 school year, Barbic, TASD and NACSA conspired to approve charter operator’s authorization(s) for the 2015/2016 school year, an opportunity, which was made available only to YES Prep. It is alleged that Barbic, founder and former Chief Executive Officer of YES Prep, illegally authorized YES Prep to seize nearly 6,000 elementary school students in Memphis, TN.

Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that NACSA, who “partnered with” TASD to provide support and management services for the application process, is not a “professional” organization. NACSA does not have any government-approved, professional standards of operations; nor state licensing or certification; and it is not subject to any government agency, review board or code of ethics to govern its acts. Finally, the lawsuit states that Huffman and TDOE enacted a regulation which granted Barbic and TASD carte blanche to deny due process to applicants who are denied charter operator’s authorizations as there is absolutely no redress, grievance or appeal process to review any of the defendants’ actions.

For more information, contact the plaintiffs at: or 901.300.0162.

This lawsuit is brought by two individuals claiming $10 million in damages because they were denied charter operator authorization by the ASD. $10 million dollars!!!  Those damages are a clear-cut case for how profitable a charter operator authorization can be.
Interesting how a potential charter school is suing some big guns in TN over unfair business practices, isn't it?
We've heard for years how there is a severe case of the good ol' boys club, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine," nepotism within the TN DOE between other self-serving high-dollar organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and SCORE.  
It is hard to ignore the evidence of that nepotism when you read how:
  • TN pays more than any other state for Teach for America temporary teachers through a $6+million NO-BID contract signed by Kevin Huffman, who formerly had a cushy job at Teach For America.  
  • Our public schools are strangled, teachers and administrators are cut, and then the students, buildings, and tax dollars are handed over on silver platters along with generous grant dollars and tax incentives to their buddies' charter chains (like YES Prep, where ASD Superintendent Chris Barbic has very close ties and has richly profited from).
  • The ASD schools have worse results than the public schools they killed ever did, but the ASD schools aren't feeling the wrath of the TNDOE's micromanaging and bullying like the public schools.
  • Charter schools are making some people very, very rich
  • Charter schools get preferential treatment within districts and the state:
    • charters are exempt and/or given waivers from TCAP score accountability (especially if they are friends and/or donors to politicians)
    • charters are exempt from giving the expensive and time-consuming benchmark RTI2 assessment tests that public schools are now being forced to do by the TNDOE.

When we allow corporate greed to infect public education, it is to be expected that profiteers will attack each other over business practices. We hope that this lawsuit will shine a light on these shady practices.

Perhaps this isn't "dog eat dog" but more like a pack of dogs attacking public schools.  If the plaintiffs win, where will that $10 million come from?  Public school funding???
Winners = lawyers + charter operators
Losers = students

Interesting legal tidbit:  This suit has been filed in Shelby County in the 30th Judicial District Chancery Court. Jim Kyle, former TN Senator, is a new chancellor in that court.  A new chancellor will be appointed to fill in for Kenny Armstrong, so there is quite a bit of turnover in that court right now. 

More "Excessed" Teachers

On the story today by the Gates-funded Jane Roberts at the Corporate Appeal:

The last part of the Roberts story that the CorpEd Gates people wrote:
All hiring will be by mutual consent, which means that both the teacher and principal have to agree to work together. Several years ago, excessed teachers had first priority on openings, which meant principals had little or no say in who was placed in their schools. National research shows those hires didn't perform as well as teachers hired under mutual consent.
This last sentence regarding research is another of Jane Roberts' many fabrications. There has been no peer-reviewed research on the performance differences, and the only "research" that has been done is by think tanks whose job it is to rationalize the replacement of the teaching profession with missionary-minded and clueless temps who work cheap, quit soon, use the scripts, and ask no questions. 

The three "research" outfits that are producing propaganda to allow principals to choose efficiency over effectiveness are the Center for Reinventing Public Education (Gates), the New Teacher Project (TFA oriented), and National Council for Teacher Quality (funded by corporate foundations). Only Jane Roberts and the Commercial Appeal could believe this is research.

Meanwhile, some of the best and most experienced teachers--the ones children need and deserve--are being replaced by Walton-funded corporate missionaries with no experience or training.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Duncan's Civil Rights in Black Face Tour Comes to Memphis

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:
The major civil rights initiative of the Obama Administration has been to re-segregate poor black and brown children into corporate education reform schools where they can be culturally sterilized and behaviorally neutered by white middle class missionaries with no experience.  

Duncan's Civil Rights Minstrel Tour will continue this coming week:
"The trip will include stops in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee and highlight the commitment that those states are making to encourage reform and innovation. Traveling through places that represent the cradle of America’s civil rights effort, the tour will focus on important work being done to close gaps of opportunity that many young Americans face."
Duncan will wind up Tuesday in Memphis, where Gates and RTTT funds performed more effectively than fragmentation bombs ever could to create 8 school systems where there were once two.  

Duncan will be visiting Cornerstone Prep,  which has been Ground Zero for human rights indignities since corporate schools under the Achievement School District took over the job of total compliance enforcement and character remediation in the poorest neighborhoods of Memphis.

How is the Achievement District doing, now that Duncan's $500 million RTTT and Gates's $90 million have bought what they wanted?  

Looking at the State website, the promise to reach the top 25% of Tennessee schools in less than four years from now seems more a pipe dream than any serious goal (click either part of chart to enlarge):

Thursday, September 4, 2014

69 Hoops and No Appeal: Teacher Observation Memphis Style

Posted earlier at Schools Matter:

Point one that has to be remembered: half of Tennessee teacher evaluations are based on invalid, unreliable, and unfair test scores.  The other half is based on observations. Teachers who worked for months on a new observation process last year were eventually dismissed when they disagreed with the two most outrageous aspects of CorpEd's recipe for disaster: 1) an observation checklist with 69 items that have to done in order to score the highest rating, and 2) no way to disagree and no appeal for an administrator's score.

With teachers ready to riot, the non-educator in charge has called a meeting.  Perhaps CorpEd's latest recruit, Carol Johnson, will there to provide that human touch when the knife goes in.  Perhaps she'll cry and say I'm sorry.

Now is the time for teachers to assert their right and to recruit parents as their natural allies. My suggestion: tell Hopson to go to hell.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Memphis as TeacherTown or CharterTown?

Posted earlier at Schools Matter.
Not only is Shelby County and the State coughing up over $80 million each year for corporate reform schools whose test scores are, for the most part, the same or worse than the schools they replaced, but almost $20 million of that is for enrollment that never materialized.  

In 2013-14, the profiteering charters over-estimated their enrollment to collect millions they use to make more.  When they do not pay it all back, as in the case with KIPP Memphis and Willie Herenton's crumbling charter empire, the County has to go to the State to get its money back

Here is a chart from the Shelby County Schools (click to enlarge). It shows charters overestimating their enrollment by over 2,000 students in the school year just ended:

Meanwhile, the TFA alum and Broad alum, Chris Barbic (now ASD superintendent) has penned a guest column for the Commercial Appeal with the lawyer superintendent of Shelby County Schools, which fantasizes about when Memphis will be TeacherTown, USA.  

Yes, Memphis, where the child poverty rate has gone from 36% to 44% over the past 6 years, where rental rates have soared and you can't give away houses in neighborhoods doomed by lack of hope and segregation.  Memphis, where the airport is shrinking and it costs, on average, almost $300 more to fly to New York or Boston than it does to fly from Nashville.  Memphis, where the real jobs base has long gone, and even the Hostess Cupcake factory had its union crushed before closing and re-opening as non-union.  Memphis, which is now surrounded by five boutique suburban school systems where property prices and no affordable housing guarantees another generation of segregation.  Yes, Memphis, which has the 10th largest jail in America.

Yes, that Memphis, where salary schedules have been traded for bonuses based on test scores and where teachers no longer have can appeal a supervisor's observation conclusions. Memphis, where the Walton Foundation, Gates, and Broad spend millions each year to make sure that white Eastern missionaries from TFA replace real teachers with experience.  

From Barbic and Hopson's fantasy column:

So yes, teachers of the world, put on your best gritty optimism and come to Memphis, where teachers are hired and fired at the whim of a school CEO, where teacher autonomy is traded for straightjacket pacing guides based on constant testing, where teachers are evaluated by using unreliable, invalid, and unfair test scores, where children are herded and hounded like prisoners, where teachers are turned into inhumane robots from a Stanley Milgram experiment, where school libraries, art rooms, music classes, and guidance counselors are rare as hen's teeth, where special education IEPs are routinely ignored, and where teachers and students alike work inside pressure cookers.