Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ASD Councils Call ASD Process a "Scam"

Last week Shelby County Schools called for a halt to Achievement School District takeovers in and around Memphis.

This week it seems the ASD hostile school takeover scheme has hit another snag, when a group set up by ASD to rubber stamp its plans called the process a "sham."  From the Commercial Appeal:
The group of people the state-run Achievement School District picked to add transparency to the school takeover process turned against the ASD on Monday, claiming the matching process was "a scam" meant to give the illusion of community input.

The group held a news conference in front of the Shelby County Schools administration building, although a statement from SCS said the district was not directly involved in the event. No one from the SCS administration was present, but board member Stephanie Love attended and spoke.

She, along with members of the neighborhood advisory councils that evaluated charter operators, called for families in the four schools slated for ASD takeover not to attend those schools next year.

"I am asking every parent whose school was taken over: Do not send your children to that school," Love said. "You begin to call the board and you tell us that you want us to put your children in a Shelby County school." . . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ASD's Continuing Failure Confirmed by Vandy

Posted at Schools Matter earlier today.
 "The effects in the ASD schools were mainly statistically insignificant . . ."
--> Vanderbilt Peabody has just released a research paper that examines the awful performance of ASD schools in Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Tennessee's Achievement School District was modeled after the Recovery School District of New Orleans, which was part of the disaster capitalist response to Katrina.
The ASD's stated goal from 2010 was "to move the academic performance of schools taken over from the bottom five percent of schools to the top quartile of schools in Tennessee within five years." 

The ASD started taking over "priority" schools in 2011, and given the results of the Vandy analysis, it is reasonable to ask if ASD could ever come close to meeting its ridiculous goal.    

Below are some of the data from the Report.  Note from the last chart below, the worst of the worst ASD schools are those run by the charter management organizations (CMOs).

The largest effects of these hostile takeovers are not measured in these meager test results, however.  The real significance is the accumulated weight borne in the disrupted lives of parents, children, and teachers, all of whom have suffered and continue to suffer for the benefit of corporate know-nothing paternalists, whose primary aim to build a business model based on the cultural sterilization of poor children. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Four of Memphis's Worst Charters with the Best Political Connections Will Remain Open

Since Gates and the oligarchs put Supt. Dorsey Hopson in charge of the charterization of public schools in Memphis, Shelby County Schools has been in a lather to close as many "low-performing" schools as possible.

Early in 2014, Hopson was adamant that it all comes down to poor student achievement and that the children have suffered long enough.  The emergency had been declared, and no one could wait another year or another month for low-scoring schools to improve.

Early in 2013, eleven public schools were targeted for conversion, and in in 2014, thirteen more were put on the list for closure.

Memphis now has over 40 corporate reform charter schools that are bleeding the public schools' budget dry each year.  More terminations, more cutting of services, more shrinkage of teacher benefits and retirement plans.

Increasing austerity is required in order to benefit the politically connected corporate welfare kings who run the charter chain gangs. As a result, the remaining public schools are further weakened, demoralized, and made ready for charter conversion.

Now suddenly we find that the achievement emergency has been put on hold, at least for the worst charter schools in Memphis that are owned by Senator Cory Booker's brother and his crony pals.  Without warning, the Shelby County School Board has decided not to close the four charters at the bottom of the achievement barrel in Memphis, and to give them at least three more years to miseducate children.

In order to keep the revenue stream flowing into the pockets of the the politically connected crooks who run these segregated fake schools, the children of unwitting parents must continue in these hellholes, where they are psychologically abused and educationally cheated.

In case you are wondering, this moratorium on closing low scoring schools does not apply to the public schools on the priority list, even if those schools are improving.  From Chalkbeat Indiana:
The same month they were slated to close their doors forever due to low academic performance, three Memphis charter operators received notice from Shelby County Schools that their schools will remain open for the upcoming school year.

City University School Boys Preparatory, Southern Avenue Middle School, and Omni Prep Academy Lower and Middle Schools are on the priority list of the state’s 5 percent of worst performing schools, making their closure mandatory this summer under a 2014 state law. However, a new law passed this year by the legislature gave districts discretion in deciding whether the schools should remain open for now.

“In light of the recent change in legislation that amended [the 2014 law], this letter is to notify you that district will not be pursuing the closure of your schools this year,” said Bradley Leon, the district’s chief of strategy and innovation, in a May 7 letter to school administrators. 
The news was cause for jubilation for the Memphis schools, which lost students and faculty following the district’s confirmation in December that it would comply with the 2014 law.

“Regardless of the prior [loss] of faculty, staff and scholars due to the district’s announcement of closure earlier this year, I am excited that we will be afforded an opportunity to continue to move the academic needle amongst our scholars at City University School Boys Preparatory,” said founder and Chancellor R. Lemoyne Robinson.

Under the new law, district-authorized charter schools now have until 2017 to get off the state’s priority list before state-ordered shutdown. However, local school boards still have authority to close a charter for poor performance before 2017.

Omni founder Cary Booker, who lobbied for the revised legislation, said the policy change should be seen as a necessary clarification, not a second chance for the beleaguered schools. “I see it as the law is now aligned with its original legislative intent,” Booker told Chalkbeat.

The reversal does not please everyone, however.

“Our perspective is that schools that are not performing don’t need to continue operating, but this decision is ultimately the decision of the authorizer.” said Emily Lilley, director of policy at the Tennessee Charter School Center, an advocacy group based in Nashville.

On TCAP tests in 2013-14, less than 15 percent of students earned proficient reading language scores at City University; under 27 percent at Omni Middle; 11 percent at Omni Lower; and about 23 percent at Southern Avenue Middle.

The schools now have opportunity to improve their performance before the state releases its next priority list in 2017. . . .

Friday, May 29, 2015

Media Awakens to South Side Lawsuit

a clip from Chalkbeat:
Citing the historic U.S. Supreme Court case that led to integration of America’s public schools, a handful of Memphis parents and teachers are suing Shelby County Schools over a recent school closing, claiming that its students will receive an “inferior and unequal” education at the school to which they are being reassigned. 
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, three teachers, family members of two students, and a community activist argue that test scores at South Side Middle School, which is in the process of being shuttered, outpaced those at Riverview Middle School last year. They say Riverview is a dilapidated building in a gang-ridden neighborhood that would place students’ safety at risk. They also cite absence of computer and Spanish classes at Riverview, which were offered at South Side. . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

South Side Parents and Teachers File Federal Lawsuit to Stop Closure

Having been unsuccessful in getting Shelby County Schools to listen to reasoned argument, South Side parents, teachers, and concerned citizens have filed suit against SCS in U. S. District Court to halt the planned closure of South Side Middle School in Memphis.  

Plaintiffs in the case allege violations under Tennessee statutes, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, and  violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  

Below are the factual allegations:

1. Defendant SChas voted througits Board and its Superintendent to closSouth Side Middle School grades six througeight and to move those children who previously attended South Side Middle School to a facility presently known as Riverview MiddlSchoofor the upcoming 2015-201school year.
2. Your Plaintiffs aver that thmovement of students from the South Side Community to the Riverview Middle School is detrimental to the welfare and  proper education of thosstudents and parents  in the South Side community.
3. Your Plaintiffs aver and will show to the court that better alternatives exist and the movement as planned by the SCS violates the equal protectiorights of the South Side students under the UniteStateConstitution and ArticlXI, Section 8 of the TennesseConstitution as well as
42 USC TitlVI .

4.The movement of students as planned by SCS fails to provide substantially equal educational opportunity for the SoutSide students because SCstudents are being removed from theicommunity and placed in the midst of a crime-ridden Injunction Zone from the RiversidRolling Nineties Crips. (See Exhibit E Attachehereto) The Shelby County District Attorney General, Amy Weirich and the Environmental court have declared this area an injunction zone fogang activity. The area five blocks from Patton street which encompasses the Rivervie MiddlSchool has been determined a nuisance by the Shelby County District Attorney , the Memphis Mayor and the Shelby County Environmental court. This is no place to send our children.
5.The movement of students as planned by SCdoes not provide a rational basis for vastly unequal school quality. By the analysis of SCS in their owassessment documents, fothe 20114-2015 academic year (See Exhibit A attached hereto) Riverview Middlhas poor academic performance with fewer than 15 percent proficient in Math and Reading LanguagArts. South Side performance and proficiency figures are based on a larger sample of students because when yoconsider the schools grades six
through eight. South Side has twice as many students. (See attached Exhibit B) With 166 Students, Riverview Middlis under-enrolled and does not enjosome full-time course offerings such as computer and foreiglanguage (Spanish). South Side offers both computer and Spanish. Riverview has steadily declining enrollment since its ten-year peak in 2004-2005 at 62students, RivervieMiddle is underutilized at 23%. There is a declining overall birth trend over the last ten years and an enrollment projected to continue to declinover the nexfive years. . South Side has a School Level EvaluatioComposite of 3 although the chart, (see Exhibit attached heretosomehow reaches an unexplainablaverage of 2 although three’s are present across the board. This is thsame inexplicable reasoning thais moving South Side to Riverview when it clearly appears the move should be the other waaround.

6The movement of students as planned by SCcreates inferior education and inferior treatment for the South Side students rather than the equal treatment contemplated by the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution and equal protectioprovisions of the Tennessee constitution. The Riverview Middle Structure is in a dilapidated and hazardous condition. Pursuant to the 2013 physical needs assessment (See Exhibit D attached), Floor urinals are antiquated and do nomeet ADstandards. Stairwell treads have lost their integrity. The window system is old and needs replacing. The interiolighting needs replacing. The roof was thirteen years old and ipoocondition. The parking lot was in disrepair. The locker rooms were ineed of renovation. The ceiling in the kitchen needed repair. The cooling tower, chillers and air handler were needed replacement at a cost of $650,000/ The South Side facility and structure is in excellent condition.
7. Moving children , if nocarefully done cabe detrimental and cause the children to slide backwards. In this instance othmove from South Side to Riverview, it has not been well done.
 Below is some background, previously published here, on how the lawsuit emerged.  Please give to the Legal Defensed Fund:
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to get to know and to work with a core group of dedicated teachers and parents in South Memphis who are smart, savvy, committed, unrelenting, and fearless in doing what is necessary to beat back the privatizers and profiteers who now think they call the shots for Memphis schools.  

These new friends and colleagues have attended school board meetings, where they heated up the microphones, and they have gone on TV and radio to get the message out on the ASD corporate charter handout organization and its homegrown equivalent, the IZone.  They are determined to keep their community schools open.

This group, OurStudents MatterNow, has plans save South Side Middle School from being shut down and turned over the charter industry, which is waiting to swoop in to score another big real estate deal and to devastate another community that loves its school.  

They need your help. OurStudents MatterNow has started a legal defense fund to take their case into the courts, and they are planning for public demonstrations and organizing events this Spring.  

If you want to put your money at Ground Zero of the effort to save community schools and make them better, please help these dedicated citizens.  Their GoFundMe site is here:  http://www.gofundme.com/ourstudentsmatter 

Their other contact information is
ourstudentsmatternow@gmail.com or memphis.teachers@mail.com