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.