Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Memphis Commercial Appeal Awful Again

A few days ago the Corporate Appeal has a story by Jane Roberts on the front page above the fold that typifies their coverage of the charter school issue.  A clip:
. . . .Nearly a year after former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton launched his charter school business, he draws a salary of $200,000 a year as chief executive officer although enrollment is a fraction of projections, and he has raised no outside money.
As of March 10, W.E.B. Du Bois Charter Consortium had 655 students, down from the 1,800 Herenton projected a year ago. His nine-school consortium has dwindled to five schools. There are no new schools in the hopper for next year, although his five-year budget is based on enrollment reaching 4,000 in 2014.. . . .
My comment posted at the Corporate Appeal website:

Front page, above the fold, for this story?
Herenton has served as a convenient target any time criticism arises about the charter industry that is draining the public coffers in Memphis. The Roberts story allows all the suburbanites to vent their outrage over morning coffee at someone who has no connection to the Gates Foundation, other than the fact that he was given his little charter fiefdom by Gates and Hyde to buy his support for the demolition of Memphis Public Schools four years ago.
Now he stands in the way of the corporate bottom feeders and profiteers who want to carve up Herenton's old territory for more chain gang schools like KIPP or the remote control test factories like Rocketship, where children are tethered to a computer screen for hours each day doing digital worksheets.

As Nashville_Native points out in an earlier comment, the Commercial Appeal dares not look inside the corporate charter black box that remains out of sight of the state taxpayers who are pouring into it over $80 million each year for the 10,000 segregated charter students in Memphis to be culturally sterilized.

Haslam and Huffman Named in Teacher Lawsuits Over Nitwit Evaluation Scheme

Full story from the Tennessean:

Tennessee’s largest teachers’ union is suing Gov. Bill Haslam and his commissioner of education over an evaluation tool they say penalizes good educators unfairly.
It’s the second suit filed recently against the Knox County Board of Education on behalf of a teacher, but this one expands legal action to name top state officials as defendants. The plaintiff is Mark Taylor, a science teacher held up by the union as an example of why they believe a tool that scores teachers based on student learning gains doesn’t work.
Taylor teaches high-school-level physical science to Farragut Middle School’s brightest eighth-graders. But those students take the regular eighth-grade Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program science test, with questions unrelated to the advanced curriculum Taylor teaches. They still do well on the TCAP because they’re smart, but their gains drop slightly from those earned in seventh grade.
As a result, Taylor misses out on a performance-based bonus.
His suit, filed Wednesday, includes an email exchange between his parents and former University of Tennessee professor William Sanders, who invented the learning gains measurement in the early 1980s. They used to be Sunday school classmates. In the exchange, Sanders says his tool wouldn’t work Taylor’s case, and the students should be given an end-of-course exam to measure Taylor’s effectiveness, not the TCAP.
“Everyone admits it’s completely unfair, but everyone admits they’re not willing to do anything to fix it,” Taylor told The Tennessean in February.
In the first suit, filed earlier this month, the Tennessee Education Association and alternative education teacher Lisa Trout said Knox County Schools unconstitutionally used Tennessee Value Added Assessment System data in bonus decisions — and Trout missed out after the district miscalculated her score.
Student learning gains make up 35 percent of evaluation scores. After supporting that system in 2010 when Tennessee applied for federal Race to the Top fundsTEA has flipped its support of tying learning gains to it.
Haslam’s spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on pending legislation. In the past, Huffman has criticized TEA for reversing itself on supporting the measure.
Expect more lawsuits on behalf of more teachers, the TEA warns.
Joey Garrison contributed to this report. 

Reach Heidi Hall at 615-726-5977 or on Twitter @HeidiHallTN

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Charter Bill Mounts to $78 Million for Next Year as School Budget Deficit Soars

This year, alone, Shelby County plans to close ten schools and turn them over for charter conversion.  It is now becoming increasingly clear that, without a huge infusion of Federal funds, turning Memphis into a New Orleans type charter chain gang system is going to an expensive ordeal for the pampered citizens of the leafy suburbs.  I guess that is what NOLA school board president, Phyllis Landrieu, meant when she said that she thanked Katrina all the time, back in 2006, when politicos of the Big Easy were rolling around in $1.8 billion of FEMA cash.

The privileged suburbanites of Shelby County's may be in for a big surprise when property taxes have to be raised to pay for out-of-state corporations to bring in their TFA missionaries to culturally neuter and behaviorally sterilize the black children of Memphis in the segregated charters.  This year's budget deficit for schools of $103 million could almost be eliminated if the County were not handing over $78 million for charters.  Losing students to charters ends up starving the remaining public schools.  From an earlier story at the Commercial Appeal:

“Just because we lose some employees doesn’t mean we won’t be running the same kind of services,” he said, adding that the district still must have HR and back office support for the charter schools. “With the charters, the ASD, school closures, a lot of funds will not be coming into the district.”

About 8,830 students are enrolled charter schools this year in the school district. By next year, enrollment is projected to be 13,688, plus 2,500 more students in ASD charters. For every student the district loses, it must subtract $8,000 in state and local funding.

Now it does not take a mathematician to understand that 13,688 x $8,000 per student = $109,504,000 lost to charters by next year.  

But even with such draconian cuts on the table this year, Superintendent Hopson plans to satisfy the Gates Foundation with almost $16,000,000 planned for a merit pay plan, even though repeated research studies have demonstrated that these schemes to not improve achievement or close the gaps.  

Also, the Superintendent plans to offer children from closed public schools the opportunity for "blended learning" in their new charter schools, which means that they will be tethered to computer screens for large chunks of the day doing digital handouts.