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.