Jun 24 2013

Randi Weingarten and I discuss miracle unionized charter school on Twitter

Yesterday I noticed what I considered an unusual pair of re-Tweets by Randi Weingarten, president of the UFT.

Weingarten is one of the few people on ‘my side’ of the ed reform debate who I have never met, personally.  She was portrayed as the ‘villain’ to Michelle Rhee’s ‘hero’ in ‘Waiting For Superman’ and also a main character in Steven Brill’s book ‘Class Warfare.’

Though Randi Weingarten is so often accused of not putting students first, she often frustrates teachers by compromising too much or by acting like she’s buddies with various reformers.  After Brill all but called her a liar in ‘Class Warfare,’ she appeared at a book signing event with him.  She also was, if I can remember correctly, on Arne Duncan’s bus tour for a little bit.

When I saw this pair of re-Tweets, I felt I had to respond.  She responded back to me a few minutes later.

This sparked a lengthy exchange which included Katie Osgood, nemesis to Chicago reformers and to all false aspects of the corporate reform movement.  Weingarten didn’t understand why we were resisting the celebration of a unionized charter school that supposedly had a 100% graduation rate and 100% acceptance to college.  Shouldn’t we be celebrating this?

It is tricky to explain, particularly in a Twitter debate so I’ll try as a blog post.

First of all, the originator of the Tweets was Steve Barr, the guy from Blackboard Wars who I felt was very disrespectful to the community members and who also didn’t seem to have any real knowledge of how to improve a school.  I don’t want a guy like that as my ally.

The miraculous claim of 100% graduation rate, 100% college acceptance rate troubles me.  I’ve seen this one so many times, and I get suspicious anytime I see it.  The 100% graduation rate always means that 100% of the students who made it to senior year then graduated and not that 100% of those that started in 9th grade graduated.  I checked the statistics and saw that the class had shrunk from 105 to 92 between 9th and 11th grade.  I’m not sure how many were in the graduating class, but at least 15% seems to have left the school, which isn’t terrible for a charter school.

As far as the 100% getting accepted to college, this stat doesn’t mean much if the students are not ready for college.  One indicator of this is that the students at this Green Dot High School only scored about 390 on each of their SAT sections.

Finally, I did an easy investigation of whether or not this school really had the ‘same kids’ as the nearby failing school.  What I learned is that the incoming 9th graders had scores at the end of 8th grade that put them in the top 1/3 of  all high schools.  So these were higher performing kids.  I then made one of my famous scatter plots (it’s been a while, I know) where for each of the 400 or so high school in New York City I put on the horizontal axis the incoming 9th graders’ 8th grade scores scores and on the vertical axis I put the SAT scores.  A true miracle school would be floating above the pretty strong trend line showing the strong correlation.  Instead we see that the Green Dot High School represented by — what else?  — a green dot, is actually on the low end of the trend line.

Weingarten said we should celebrate this success.  I can understand why she would say this.  Green Dot is a unionized charter school, and having a miracle school like that, even if the miracle is a fake, means that unions can’t be THE problem.

But I don’t want to celebrate a fake miracle.  The belief that harder working teachers with higher expectations can perform miracles is a dangerous one.  When politicians believe this, they use these miracle schools to justify the mass firing of teachers and mass closings of schools.

This doesn’t mean that Green Dot High is a bad school either.  It is average, I think, in terms of standardized test score ‘growth,’ I think is evident from the scatter plot.  If they have small class size and a good school culture, as Weingarten says they do, then that is something I support too.  But to give ‘reformers’ more ammo in their teacher bashing arsenals just to say that unionized charters can perform false miracles too feels like dangerous territory to me.

35 Responses

  1. Educator

    I agree with a lot of what Randi writes and says, and I don’t envy the position she is in — trying to navigate union politics with the education reformers (I actually think she’s doing the right approach by trying to engage with some of the reformers)…

    But it is very dangerous to communicate 100% graduation 100% college without the rest of the details. Otherwise, the attention shifts to a blame game –> “Why doesn’t that local traditional neighborhood school succeed when this charter…even a unionized charter…does! It must be the lazy traditional school teachers.”

    I’m OK with the idea of charters, as long as they play by the same rules. Example: same # of SPED, ELL, and compare that to the attrition rate, expulsion rate, etc.. of the traditional…but as long as there’s a lottery to get in, I think it’s meaningless to compare a charter to a traditional. So essentially, I think it’s almost always useless to compare charters to traditionals, at least from what I’ve read so far. It’s just not a fair comparison, so policy makers shouldn’t either….unless they have some other agenda….which makes me think…they have some other agenda

  2. Jack

    On the subject of Green Dot, I can’t speak for the NYC Green Dot affiliate school in question.

    However, there was some recent news related to the oft-told story of the Green Dot’s “miracle” at Locke High School in South L.A.—credited in large part to Ben Austin, (who’s now running the astroturf org PARENT REVOLUTION)—and celebrated in a book by Alexander Russo (the title escapes me at the moment.)

    From Ben Austin’s Bio on the Parent Revolution website:

    http://www.parentrevolution.org/our-staff#ben-austin

    - – – – – – – – – – – –

    BEN AUSTIN, Executive Director

    “… Prior to joining the Parents Union and launching the Parent Revolution campaign, he directed the successful campaign to transform Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a college preparatory model of reform. ”

    - – - – - – - –

    Well, Green Dot Locke recently had a defector / whistle-blower teacher—kind of what Jeffrey Wigand was to the tobacco industry, specifically Brown & Williamson (Russel Crowe’s title character in THE INSIDER, for those who saw the movie)—named Brett Wyatt who went public with the truth that all was not well at Ben Austin’s “college prepatory model of reform.”

    Go to this post at Ravitch’s blog:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/05/the-inside-story-of-the-green-dot-charter-schools/

    Wyatt’s “insider” account of the current reality of Locke is a stunner: (I’m again too lazy to excerpt it, so here’s the whole thing)
    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Green Dot Public Schools, Teacher Retention, and the Failure of Past Models

    By Brett Wyatt

    This is a story of a charter school in the Green Dot Public School system which, after four years of operation, is coming to an inglorious end. It is not an end to the system, or even to school itself, but an end in name and in so many exhausted careers used by Green Dot to experiment with failed policies in Watts, California.

    The original Locke High School, like so many schools centered in poverty and neglect, had many systemic problems. Green Dot, a charter school system headed by Marco Petruzzi, requested to administer the school in 2008. The school was divided into 4 cluster schools, those being Animo Locke I, Animo Locke II, Locke ACE Academy (Architecture, Construction, Engineering), Animo Locke Tech, Animo Locke III and Animo Watts . According to founding teacher Ryan Ballard, “Our first school year was 2009-10. We were a CTE, career-technical education school with a philosophy of preparing kids for college along with providing for them the notion that they will have a marketable skill/trade that, if college was not their choice, they could make a good living working in a field that would be needed well into the future.

    In 2011, Locke Ace was closed and re-organized into Locke II.” No reason was given for the closure. As a new hire to Locke II, I was told that the merger was part of the long-term plan to make all Green Dot schools college preparatory. According to Ballard, the principal of Locke Ace was let go. Of the 16 teachers assigned to Locke Ace, 9 teachers moved into Locke II, one teacher was a long term substitute, and the rest left for personal reason.

    Only two years later, Locke II is being closed and re-opened as Locke B Academy, part of Animo Locke A, the only one of the Locke cluster schools to pass (conditionally) WASC ( Western Association of Schools and College) s accreditation. In fact, Animo Locke II, Animo Locke III, and Animo Locke Tech all failed the 2012 WASC accreditation. forcing Green Dot to merge all of the campuses, operationally, into the one school to receive accreditation. Animo Watts will continue to operate independent of the schools located at the main Locke campus.

    My concern in this report is the fate of the teachers and administrators who chose to work for Green Dot Public Schools with the allure of excelling in an entirely new, authentically based program of teaching based on the College Ready Promise and the chance of receiving high salaries based on excellent performance. I began to question the effectiveness of the Green Dot model after the first year, when over 30% of the teachers resigned. By my second year of teaching for Green Dot, both of the administrators whom hired me had to resign, as had the dean of the school. At the end of the first semester of my second year, another 30% of the teachers had left.

    Now, at the end of my second year, the school is being re-organized, only a small fraction of the remaining staff will transfer with it, and I have been re-assigned to a different and currently re-organized academy.

    First, I want to explore the numbers. Only two of the sixteen teachers from the original Locke Ace, who transferred to Locke II, will be moving on to Locke B academy. The new cluster re-organization will disaggregate the ninth grade into a separate academy to be housed in the main Locke HS building with the two of the grade10-12 academies. Locke A academy will move to the bungalow area in the back of the school. The list below does not include the names of the teachers for legal reasons. Instead, I have given their department and employment status.

    ANIMO LOCKE II ADMINISTRATION

    NOTICE OF TRANSFER Locke Cluster Coordinator Chad Soleo – Moved to a national outreach position of VP of Advancement due to his excellent service as Locke Cluster Coordinator.

    FORCED RESIGNATION (2008-2012) Principal – Discrepancies in practice, test scores did not improve

    FORCED RESIGNED (2008 -2012) Assistant Principal – There was a discrepancy during state testing, he left three days later.

    RESIGNED (2008 – 2012) DEAN – Multiple incidences of being beaten by students

    TRANSFER (2012-2013) Assistant Principal– Transferred from Locke Tech where he was reportedly attacked by students to Locke II, and now transferred to be the principal at an Animo middle school.

    (2012 – Present) INTERIM PRINCIPAL – Position to be made permanent 2013-2014

    (2012 – Present) DEAN , being promoted to Administrator in Residence.

    COUNSELORS

    (2011-Present) Three full time counselors have been at the school since 2011, no reports on their placements for 2013-2014

    FULL TIME TEACHERS

    Note: Teach for America (TFA)

    Full Time Educator (FTE)

    Provisional – Teacher does without a clear credential

    SPECIAL EDUCATION

    RESIGNED (2008-2013) TFA – Moving out of state

    RESIGNED (2009-2013) FTE – Hired into another district

    RESIGNED (2011-2012) TFA – Left mid-year for personal reasons

    RESIGNED (2010-2012) Provisional – Left mid-year for personal reasons

    (2010 – Present) FTE

    (2010 – Present) Provisional

    MATH

    RESIGNED (2011-2013) TFA – Leaving for personal reason, possibly leaving profession

    TRANSFER (2010-Present) FTE – Transfer to Animo Pat Brown

    TRANSFER (2010-Present) TFA – Transfer to 9th Grade Academy

    TRANSFER (2010-Present) TFA – Transfer to 9th Grade Academy

    (2012-Present) TFA

    (2012-Present) TFA

    (2011-Present) TFA

    SCIENCE

    RESIGNED (2002 – 2012) FTE – Moved out of state

    RESIGNED (2009-2012) TFA – Left teaching profession

    RESIGNED (2011-2012) Provisional – Left teaching profession

    MEDICAL LEAVE (2010 – 2013) FTE – Return is uncertain

    (2011-Present) FTE

    (2011-Present) TFA

    (2012-Present) TFA and Provisional

    HISTORY

    RESIGNED (2011-2013) TFA – Hired into another district as administrator

    (2008 – Present) FTE

    (2010 – Present) TFA

    (2010 – Present) TFA

    (2011 – Present) FTE

    ENGLISH

    RESIGNED (2008 – 2012) TFA – Left teaching profession

    RESIGNED (2009-2012) TFA –Hired into another district

    RESIGNED (2010-2012) FTE – Left teaching profession, resigned mid-year

    RESIGNED (2011-2012) TFA and Provisional – Left teaching profession

    RESIGNED (2012) TFA – Injured by student, Left mid-year for personal reasons

    RESIGNED (2012) TFA – Left mid-year for personal reasons

    RESIGNED (2012) TFA – Left mid-year for personal reasons

    (2010-Present) TFA

    RESIGNED (2011-Present) TFA – Hired into another district.

    TRANSFER (2011 – Present) TFA – Transfer to 9th grade academy

    RESIGNED (2011) FTE – Left without a new assignment,

    (2011-Present) TFA

    (2012-Present) TFA

    (2013 – Present) TFA

    SPANISH

    TRANSFER (2010 – 2013) TFA – Taking new position at Animo Pat Brown

    (2011-Present) TFA

    (2012-Present) TFA

    (2012 – Present) TFA

    PHYSICS

    MEDICAL LEAVE (2011-2013) FTE – Injured after battery by student, left in January 2013

    PE

    (2006-Present) FTE

    (2011 – Present) TFA

    TECHNOLOGY

    RESIGNED (2011-2012) FTE – Left mid-year for personal reasons

    (After a series of long term subs, a new full time teacher has been hirde in April)

    DRAMA

    RESIGNED (2009-2013) FTE – Moving out of state

    ART

    (2011 – Present) FTE

    ENGINEERING

    RESIGNED (2011- 2012) TFA – Left for personal reasons

    LONG TERM SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS – Used to fill in for resignations and account for about 15% of the teachers at Locke II.

    LONG TERM SUB (2011-2012) CLEAR CREDENTIAL- Left to be full time PE teacher and athletic director in another district.

    LONG TERM SUB (2011-2012) PROVISIONAL– Hired into Locke Tech

    LONG TERM SUB (2012 – 2013) PROVISIONAL – Birth of child

    LONG TERM SUB (2011-Present) PROVISIONAL

    LONG TERM SUB (2013 – Present) PROVISIONAL

    LONG TERM SUB (2013 – Present) PROVISIONAL

    LONG TERM SUB (2013 – Present) CLEAR CREDENTIAL

    I have had the chance to interview many of these teachers and their stories point to two main reasons for leaving: unsafe working conditions and limited future advancement. I know the issue of school safety first-hand.

    In 2011 I was struck by a student so had that I left to be treated in an emergency room. The student received a one day suspension and was to return to my class. I filed a police report and the student was arrested and later released. As the only teacher of my subject at the school. I had to get a restraining order to keep the student from being re-assigned back to my classroom. That same year two teachers were struck from behind with bottles. Other teachers have been spat on, had coins thrown into their faces, and verbally threatened. There was an inconsistency of disciplinary actions by site administration such that students expressing violence or extreme acts of obscenity toward teachers received detentions or minimum suspensions while students who were tardy or out of uniform also received suspensions or one or multiple days.

    The suspension policy was challenged by parents who won a court decision ordering Green Dot to lower the suspension rate at Locke II, which averaged over 2 suspensions per student. The first semester of 2012 felt out-of-control once students learned of the reduced suspension policy. One science teacher was attacked and thrown to the floor.

    An English teacher had a party-popper exploded in her face. An English teacher had a student use profane language at her and then spat at her feet. A science teacher had a student punch the wall next to her face. All four of these teachers confided in me that the administration investigated their claims and then put the burden back on the teacher by asking, “What did you do to cause the student to act so violently? All four of these teachers have left the school

    Student profanity towards teachers was ignored. All teachers became subjected to constant profanity. This situation escalated to the point where I called on the union for intervention. The union pointed out to the administration that the contract stipulates that a teacher- administrator or counselor-student mediation must be set up before a student can re-enter the classroom after acts of extreme profanity.

    Teachers were also advised by the union that they may assign an in-school suspension. According to my local union representative, the district tis responding to the situation by requesting that teachers be allowed to vote on removing Green Dot from the California Education Code.

    A poll by the union has shown strong support for the Green Dot’s request by teachers at the Founding Five schools and by new teachers, as the district claims that the education code severely limits its ability to meet the needs of students.

    Another problem faced by Locke Cluster schools is the political voice of the “Founding Five” schools in Green Dot’s charter, these being:

    Animo Leadership Charter High School

    Animo Inglewood Charter High School

    Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School

    Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School

    Animo Venice Charter High School

    These are not neighborhood schools, but are schools were students must apply and be accepted through a set of criteria. This is not the case for the Locke Cluster schools. Teachers at these schools are rated much more highly in the Green Dot evaluation system and as a result have higher job security and will mostly receive salary increases when the school district begins basing salary increases only on job performance.

    Incentives, such as salary increases based on job performance, have been another reason for teachers to leave Animo Locke II. The incentive program rates a teacher on a set of evaluations formerly known as The College Ready Promise (TCRP) and now known as Teacher Effectiveness (TE). (Understanding Green Dot’s constantly changing acronyms is essential to keeping track of Green Dot’s every changing policies.) Teachers are evaluated on an extensive list of criteria, being scored from a level 1, a teacher with absolutely no idea what is happening in the classroom, to a 2, a teacher who understands what is needed but is ineffective in its implementation, to a 3, a teacher who satisfactorily implements the Green Dot objectives, to a 4, a teacher who, WITH THE ASSISTANCE of the students in creating a collegiate academic environment, is exemplary. The evaluations, conducted by the principal, are subjective to the interpretation of the principal and highly dependent on the skill and cooperation of the students.

    To this evaluation are also added the overall performance of the students on their tests, or, in the case of non-tested teacher like myself, to the scores of the entire school, the scores given by students to their teachers, peer scores, and community ratings. The result of this scoring system places the average teacher at Locke II at about 2.6, translating as ineffective but mostly improving.

    Even more than the violence, it is the constant assailment of the administration upon teachers of being less than adequate, in need of improvement, or being placed on development plans, a system whereby a low performing teacher scrutinized each week until proven capable or terminated., which has caused so many of the teachers to leave the school. There is little to no encouragement, nothing done to help a teacher’s self-esteem, only the constant chorus of “you can improve.” Sadly, so may new teachers leave the profession because they believe this system is the norm in public education. Their years of education, both in their specific field and in teacher training, usually through the University of California, Los Angeles, is all left behind them.

    It’s both troubling and distressing to see so many aspiring, young teachers cast away their hopes of making a difference by being evaluated as ineffective, or even as clueless, and then led on the path of termination. To me, this is the most significant failure of the Green Dot model, its inability to retain and train teachers to become effective in the classroom.

    This is not to say that green dot did not try. In 2012 Green Dot received a second award from the Teacher Incentive program of $11.7 Million. From this fund, teachers were offered salary bonuses ranging from $500, $1000, and $1500 if, after two years, the teacher was rated as effective, highly effective, or very highly effective. These incentives were not taken seriously by teachers at Locke II. First of all, the average teacher rating is not even close to receiving an award.

    Second, many teacher do not last for two years. In fact, it only added to the despair because teachers at the school do not understand how they can take students performing so far below the national average, with reading, writing, and mathematical skills far below grade level, and transform them into students who can perform at the national average at a school beleaguered by violence, profanity at school, as well as disparaging conditions at home.

    As one teacher expressed it to a district vice-president, “You are worried about why my student’s head is down in class while I am worried about what happened to the student to cause the student to be inattentive. Do you know the lives of the students at home? DO you know what it takes for a student to come to school without being jumped? The alcoholism or drug use in the community? Is the student pregnant or did the student get beaten or verbally abused by the parent? There is so much more going on in that student’s life than my assignment and I cannot deliver the curriculum until that student can feel like the world cares.”

    However, the incentives of the Teacher Incentive Program were very good news to Green Dot teachers at non-neighborhood schools. Nothing is known by teachers about the dispersal of funds not used in the teacher incentive program.

    Next year, the remains of two former Locke Cluster schools will re-open with a new name and almost entirely new staffs. The past will be forgotten and the future will be made to look bright and hopeful. What becomes of this next experiment on the part of Green Dot with the careers and lives of many new hopeful teachers, and the students who will hope for a safe and successful school environment, will largely depend on the Green Dot’s administration to reflect on the mistakes of the past and move forward into developing a school with a strong foundation and a long-term commitment to the community it serves.

    Since the Green Dot Board itself is not subject to the same scrutiny of its principals and teachers, it will be up to outside agency to oversee their decisions and track their success and failures with our children, their teachers, and the public funds used for their education.

    One final thought, on May 30th I was notified that another Locke High School Cluster principal, Blain Watson of Animo Locke Tech, had resigned to move on to a new high school outside of Green Dot. Mr. Watson was the last of the African American principals working at the Locke Cluster. Many teachers have been concerned about the fact that there is no longer any African-American administrators assigned to Locke Cluster High Schools for 2013-2014; and though I would be loath to suggest any malfeasance on the part of Green Dot,

    My conversations with activist Hispanic and African American teachers include words describing the new Hispanic principals as “privileged persons disconnected with the local community” and “This represents hubris on the part of Green Dot”, the latter statement coming from social science teachers familiar with Herodotus and his admonitions on those exercising power in excess.
    Brett Wyatt, PhD

    Animo Locke II College Preparatory Academy

    Green Dot Schools
    325 E 111th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061

  3. Jack

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There’s another Ravitch post about the current state at Green Dot Locke, and how the students’ bathrooms have gone almost the entire school year with no privacy stalls. That’s right. You have to “use it” like one does in a prison, where anyone can see you.

    A 30-second Google search yielded a site where they cost a mere $ 90 each:

    http://www.allpartitions.com/panels.html

    Since Green Dot CEO and Green Dot get $15 million / year of extra private funding, you would think that they can afford it?

    Here’s the link to the Ravitch article:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/13/the-bathroom-crisis-at-locke-high-school-in-l-a/
    - – - – - –
    The Bathroom Crisis at Locke High School in L.A.
    by Diane Ravitch
    May 13, 2013

    The Green Dot charter chain took over Locke High School in 2008.

    It received $15 million of mostly private funding to overhaul the school and completely change its culture.

    But the one challenge that Green Dot has been unable to overcome is to provide a safe, clean place for boys to go to the bathroom.

    After the stalls were vandalized, the school ripped them out, leaving no privacy.

    When you read the article, you will note that teachers were afraid to express their concerns. Wonder why?

    Many boys go home to use the toilet.

    Test scores are up, though still disappointingly low.

    On state subject matter tests, more than half the Locke students tested “below basic.”

    But the students don’t have the most basic of amenities, even with a grant of $15 million.

    Still waiting for that Green Dot magic.

  4. Pogue

    There are 3 sure things in life: Death, Taxes, and Charter Schools creaming.

    In regards to Weingarten, she stopped representing teachers a long time ago. Many of us in the classroom cannot understand a leader who invites a union-busting Bill Gates to be a keynote speaker at the AFT convention, nor a leader who endorses a pro-privatization neo-liberal president long before it needed to be, sans any policy discussions.

    I’d rather see Karen Lewis’ reactions to charter school boasts than Weingarten’s. I think the teachers of Newark, Baltimore, and any other city where reform contracts were AFT assisted, would agree.

  5. Another reason why we need to make sure we’re using the same metrics across the board.

  6. Jack

    About the Gates’ appearance at the AFT convention a couple years back… a group of teachers started booing when Randi started to introduce Gates, whereupon Randi egged on other people in the crowd to shout down those booing, and shoo them from the hall. The video shows that those acting on Randi’s orders and backing Gates were all middle-aged and older.

    Flash forward to three days later. Gates gives another speech at a different venue, where he denounced those AFT teachers recently retired and soon to retire as greedy, getting way too much in pentions, and thus, he thundered that their pensions should be gutted to the bone.

    Not very appreciative of the Gates-meister to thos older teacher who had his back three days earlier.

  7. Leo Casey

    1. The use of SATs as a measure of what a high school has provided in terms of college preparation is quite misleading. The SATs are very well studied, and it is crystal clear from the literature that the highest correlation with SAT scores is the socio-economic status of the student. A fair measure would be how long and how far a student persists in post-secondary education. The Performance Assessment Consortium has done that research for its students, and it is what really needs to be done. http://performanceassessment.org/consequences/collegeperformancestudy.pdf To judge a high school by its students’ SATs scores is the misleading ‘quick and dirty’ sort of measure that we have come to expect from Tweed, and will necessarily be unfair to schools serving high poverty populations, as this school in the South Bronx does.

    2. This school has not been affiliated with Green Dot for a couple of years, and is in the process of changing its name to reflect that fact. (For a whole lot of reasons we don’t need to discuss here, changing a school’s name — especially a charter school– is not as easy as one might think.) I don’t know whether or not the claims made here about the rate of teacher retention for Green Dot in LA are correct or not, but they are not relevant to this school, which in any case has an extraordinarily high rate of teacher retention.

    3, Given the school’s location in the South Bronx and the rate of student transience in high poverty schools, a 88% student retention rate, from 9th grade entering class to 12 grade graduation is really quite good: it means they worked hard at keeping and graduating every student they took in.

    I don’t think anyone — and certainly not Randi — called this a miracle school. However, if we are in the business of attacking every school that does a good job, especially in high poverty neighborhoods, we are doing public education no service.

    • Gary Rubinstein

      Hi Leo,
      Thanks for commenting. Steven Barr implied it was a miracle school and Randi Re-Tweeted.
      I think you are missing the big picture. I am not in the business of attacking every school that does a good job. But the 100/100 stat is one that has been overused by schools that can only claim that, but nothing else. Maybe this school is great for other reasons, well, I’d prefer to celebrate those reasons. If all they got is the 100/100 stat, I’m not impressed.
      At my school, Stuyvesant High, one could easily congratulate the senior class for having 20% of them get into an Ivy league school. This is fine because there is no politician in the country who is going to use this statistic as a reason to shut down a school that is not achieving this, so the context is what matters.
      Schools are getting shut down because they are failing to live up to the 100/100 stat.
      One irony is that most dropouts occur before students even make it to 12th grade so that I’ll be that most schools have at least 90% of their seniors graduating. In that sense, the first 100% isn’t really so impressive (remember it means of seniors, not the original cohort). The other 100% with college acceptance, well, there are plenty of schools that are willing to take the money of anyone who has a high school diploma. Again, it is really meaningless.
      When we allow these meaningless stats to become measures for celebrating (and giving lots of money to) ‘miracle’ schools and also use these measures as a way to justify shutting down ‘failing’ schools, we do a disservice to all the hard working students and teachers at schools that don’t know how to inflate their own statistics.
      Gary

      • Educator

        I’m not sure why this is such a controversial subject. What it seems Gary is asking of the education community is to look more closely at what is communicated to the public when it comes to what does and does not happen at schools. The 100% / 100% is misleading, but this stat is heavily used by many charters in describing their school, at the expense of the local neighborhood school. The fix would be…just be careful in what stats you read about schools, context is key, and call out schools/CMOs/mayors/etc…who do this.

        To further Gary’s point – it would be like Stuyvesant saying “We have 20% Ivy League attendance rate, unlike those local traditional public high schools…” but hiding the fact that you need to take a placement test to get into Stuyvesant.

        I think the most anger from traditional school folks is that they know and see how many charters are able to 1) have a lottery for entry 2) have less SPED/ELL 3) have the ability to counsel out / threaten to counsel out / expel students…I’m sure I’m missing more but you get the point. Yet these schools get the glory and praise, and some of it is because they continue to skew the truth with such claims as 100% / 100%, which, to many people, seems very appealing and makes sense “All the kids went to college and graduated!”

        I think many charters do great work, and their teachers and administrators do an excellent job. Really, I’m not just saying that. But…please don’t disparage the rest of the local traditional schools that take in all students and serve the entire community, not just a self selected group. And don’t close local traditional schools like in Chicago while opening up these charters based on the premise that they do better when no one really knows since they don’t serve the same students.

        Charters ought to serve the same populations as traditional schools. Then we can talk real policy discussions and compare. I’m just not sure how you do that if there are lotteries. Maybe a charter can take over an entire district and serve every student?

        Or….just be honest and have charters say “we actually don’t serve the same students” so that policy makers don’t get tricked.

  8. Educator

    Jack,

    Although it sounds terrible what you describe, what were those schools like before Green Dot took over? I have heard that it was far worse before Green Dot stepped in. So, even though there’s obviously a lot more work to be done, was there any kind of progress from pre Green Dot days?

    • Jack

      Educator,

      That’s kind of a strange response—to divert the discussion from Green Dot’s failures today to focus instead on those of LAUSD’s six years ago, but I’ll bite.

      Frankly, I don’t know for sure… perhaps someone with first-hand knowledge can share.

      Did Locke, in its pre-Green Dot incarnation as a traditional public school, remove the bathroom stall partitions for months at a time… forcing kids to leave the campus, and risk their safety in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country in order to relieve themselves?

      Perhaps, but I doubt it. The teachers would have complained to LAUSD’s main office at Beaudry. So why DIDN’Tt the Green Dot Locke teachers complain? To answer that, look at these two quotes from the L.A. Times bathroom article at:

      http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-locke-restrooms-20130513,0,2501944.story

      (CAPITALS are mine, Jack)
      “A student’s basic needs must be met before they can reach their full academic potential,” said one teacher, who LIKE OTHERS SPOKE ON THE CONDITION OF ANONYMITY FOR FEAR OF REPROCUSSIONS.”

      “They also said teachers have been AFRAID TO CAUSE A FUSS TO AVOID BEING PERCEIVED AS ADVERSARIAL TO THE ADMINISTRATION.”

      So with their toothless company union (AMU) unable to protect them if Green Dot Lock teachers raise even the slightest objection to the bathroom situation, what got Green Dot moving?

      The Times says, “The school began improving the bathrooms after an inquiry by a Times reporter.” In a truly unionized environment, it doesn’t’ take a newspaper reporter to correct something so basic.

      Did the pre-Green Dot Locke have so few fully credentialed teachers—through such a high volume of attrition—that they fell short of the threshold for being accredited?

      I highly doubt that. Wyatt states, “In fact, Animo Locke II, Animo Locke III, and Animo Locke Tech all failed the 2012 WASC accreditation, forcing Green Dot to merge all of the campuses, operationally, into the one school to receive accreditation.”

      In general, did they the kind of violence suffered by teachers, and the staggeringly incompetent administrative response to it—“What did you do to cause the student to act so violently?”—in the pre-Green Dot Locke?

      I don’t know, but again, I doubt it.

      Did they have what looks like over 90% attrition of its teachers over three years (see Wyatt’s list)?

      I doubt it.

      The toxic fear-based atmosphere and administrative style? The unsupportive, and hypercritical, if not downright abusive treatment of the staff?

      Again, I doubt it.

      I could go on, but you at least must concede that description in Ben Austin’s bio, giving him credit for creating “a college prepatory model of reform” is not consistent with either Wyatt’s article or the L.A. Times bathroom article?

      I mean, come on!!! They get $15 million dollars of extra private funding—on top of the annual LAUSD budgent amount–and they can’t shell out $90.00 for bathroom stall partitions?

      Where the-hell did all that money go?

      • Educator

        Good points. Thanks for responding.

        • Manuel

          Educator, I once looked into their “miracle” but was not convinced, much less impressed. I could go dig it up from emails, but it is best that dig into the primary sources. You will have to dive into the California’s web sites for the STAR program (for results in the state’s test, http://star.cde.ca.gov/) and DataQuest (for all the other demographics, http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/dataquest.asp). If you are interested in the financials, then go to EdData (http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/). But if you really want to read on how they reconstituted their classrooms, take a look at two CRESST studies (http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R799.pdf , http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R815.pdf ) paid for the Gates Foundation to “prove” that Green Dot’s management had turned Locke around. Pay special attention to the tables describing the makeup of the classes in the first report. Interestingly, they were not included in the second. Happy trails!

    • CarolineSF

      Locke was a mess before Green Dot took it over. Now it’s a mess with a gazillion extra dollars, a massive PR machine operating full-speed to promote it, and a compliant press eating out of its hand.

      • Jack

        A mess, indeed.

        I just re-read Brett Wyatt’s article and reasons behind all the teachers and administrators leaving, and again saw (Names REDACTED)…

        - – - – - – - – - – - –

        —”RESIGNED (2008 – 2012) DEAN – Multiple incidences of being beaten by students

        —”TRANSFER (2012-2013) Assistant Principal– Transferred from Locke Tech where he was reportedly attacked by students to Locke II… ”

        ” … I have had the chance to interview many of these teachers and their stories point to two main reasons for leaving: unsafe working conditions and limited future advancement. I know the issue of school safety first-hand.

        “In 2011 I was struck by a student so had that I left to be treated in an emergency room. The student received a one day suspension and was to return to my class. I filed a police report and the student was arrested and later released. As the only teacher of my subject at the school. I had to get a restraining order to keep the student from being re-assigned back to my classroom.

        “That same year two teachers were struck from behind with bottles. Other teachers have been spat on, had coins thrown into their faces, and verbally threatened. There was an inconsistency of disciplinary actions by site administration such that students expressing violence or extreme acts of obscenity toward teachers received detentions or minimum suspensions while students who were tardy or out of uniform also received suspensions or one or multiple days.”

        and on and on…
        - – - – - – - – - –

        Enough already!!!

        WTF?

        I’m gonna ask it again.

        WTF?

        Are the students at Green Dot Locke just beating the sh– out of the school’s adults whenever they feel the urge? Who on God’s Green Earth would ever want to work at this place, or for Green Dot in general, or have someone in their family work there?

        Even if your own Green Dot school doesn’t have this same student-on-teacher violence as Locke, the fact that this would be allowed / not dealt with at a school other than mine would make me run for dear life—I’d figure that my school and I would soon be next… just a matter of time.

        Do you think Ben Austin would one day let his own daughters—currently in primary grades—attend his “college preparatory model reform” that their Dad brags thusly about in his Bio on the PARENT REVOLUTION website? Again, see here:

        http://www.parentrevolution.org/our-staff#ben-austin

        - – – – – – – – – – – –

        BEN AUSTIN, Executive Director

        “… Prior to joining the Parents Union and launching the Parent Revolution campaign, he directed the successful campaign to transform Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a college preparatory model of reform. ”

        - – - – - – - – - –

        For that matter, would Ben himself want to work in this place as a teacher or an administrator?

        Yet this guy—along with his PARENT REVOLUTION organizers—is promoting himself to parents and Parent-Trigger-targeted schools as the solution to all their problems, that he will transform your school into an educational paradise (like that final ludicrous scene in “WON’T BACK DOWN” with the school singing-as-one in the auditorium).

        Sweet Jesus!!!

        • Manuel

          Jack,

          it is like domestic abuse. People don’t want to admit it happens so they ignore it and hope it will go away. It won’t.

          And, no, Ben will never send his children to Locke. The commute alone would be terrible.

          • Jack

            Yeah, but it took Wyatt to blow the whistle here and debunk the myth of the “Locke miracle” that’s been reported over and over by a media that’s been so fawning in their coverage of Green Dot’s work at Locke during the last few years… including Alexander Russo’s book.

            (though to be fair, props should go out to the L.A. Times for the no-partitions-in-the-Green-Dot-bathrooms article.)

            Arne Duncan even complimented Marco Petruzzi, telling him that at Locke, Green Dot has “cracked the code” on how to educate students from distressed, low-income neighborhoods.

            As to the commute being a barrier or excuse for Ben not to send his kids to Locke, rich folks brave similar commutes to get to exclusive private schools every ding-dong day. I know. I used to teach at one.

            But her, let’s just for the sake of argument, if Ben lived across the street from Locke, he STILL would never let his own kids set foot in what again, he describes as “college prepatory model of reform.”

  9. mg

    Gary,

    I also would appreciate clarity with regards to graduation percentages. Our school administration claimed that over 85% graduated, which is much higher than the city average. But I know that many students left the school in the past by either transferring to other schools, or dropping out.

    This year especially there was a push to transfer 11th grade students who have little hope of graduating as seniors to “transfer schools” which can help them get the credits that they need. Frankly, I do think that this is in the best interest of the students and the school.

    So, do you think that students who transfer to another school should be counted in the school’s graduation rate?
    Or should it only be students who start in 9th grade, and stay all four years?
    What about students who transfer into the school after 9th grade?

    • Educator

      I’ll jump in with my thoughts. =) Whatever the metric is, it should be uniform across all schools, whether traditional or charter.

      I agree with you that the “transfer schools” are helpful to some students. Traditional districts also have these alternative schools, which typically have much smaller classes, and a non-traditional method of instruction (like 1 on 1 or 1 on 6) Anyway…

      I think the solution to your question above is to advertise all of the stats you mention: cohort graduation rate, as defined by those who started in 9th then ended in 12th. And keep separate those who transfer into the school and advertise that. And show how many transferred to the alternative school, and how many dropped out altogether.
      Some of these stats are difficult to keep track of, like the dropping out altogether. Sometimes students just stop showing up and never tell the school why — they just stop coming. They may have moved to another state and continued with school there, or maybe they dropped out.

      • mg

        Thanks for your thoughts.
        I shouldn’t have addressed that original comment only to Gary.

        Your suggestions are a good idea. Frankly I’d be a little worried finding out the those stats for my own school.

        • Manuel

          Perhaps you shouldn’t worry. If you want to find out how you are truly doing, that is.

          But if you don’t, then worry.

          The fact is that the way high school is structured, a student can drop out at 16 and be done with it. But in the age of 100/100, it is now believed that this holy grail is within reach of everyone.

          It is not.

          It would be best if we all recognize this problem and start to use, for example, Educator’s suggestions to keep track of what is going on at our schools. Wouldn’t we want to know the truth so we can implement programs to increase educational opportunities?

    • CarolineSF

      mg, the issue here involves conflating *attrition* with *mobility,* which is a standard, ongoing piece of charter-sector dishonesty that keeps the press flummoxed. This pattern is most easily seen in middle schools — such as most KIPP schools, on the charter side — because students in high school can legally drop out at 16, and that happens at both charters and public schools.

      Low-income students tend to have unstable lives and move often. So high turnover is a given in high-poverty schools — students move out and are replaced by students moving in to replace them. (Turnover=mobility.) In public (non-charter) middle schools, the norm is to see the same number finish grade 8 as the number who started in the entry grade (usually 6, sometimes 5). In charter middle schools, by contrast, students who leave are mostly not replaced, so the number of students drops — often plummets. Those charters end up with a streamlined class — far smaller than the entry grade — and generally the most successful students.

      This effect isn’t AS clear in comparing public vs. charter high schools, because both types of schools experience dropouts after the students turn 16. Still, the appropriate way to gauge would indeed be the number who graduate vs. the number who started in grade 9. In general the numbers for the class cohort are used, rather than any tracking of individual students.

      I vigorously agree with the challenge to the college enrollment rate. A charter school that has the means (as so many do, with vastly more resources at their disposal than public schools have) can maneuver to get all its students admitted to one type of college or another, whether it’s the local CSU, a private college of one type or another, or a for-profit that admits anyone who can get a loan, like the Kaplan/Phoenix ilk. Whether the students have the academic ability, economic resources or motivation to complete college is always a question (with all students, not just charter students).

      • Jack

        Any school—public or charter—that goes around bragging about its college acceptance can mislead people into thinking that school is of higher quality than it actually is… that’s why I take that particular boast with a giant, Costco-sized barrel of salt.

        The “gold standard” question, is, “How many of your school’s graduates who were accepted to university actually went on to finish getting a Bachelor’s Degree within 4 years (or perhaps 5 or 6 years, to be generous) after matriculating?”

        KIPP recently stated that only 30% of their students who graduate from KIPP who are accepted to and begin university end up finishing all the way thru to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree.

        What the-hell happened?

        So a student gives up his childhood / adolescence while subscribing to KIPP’s demanding, time-consuming regime for the main goal of getting a college degree… and then, after surviving KIPP, then getting in and starting college, he/she has far greater—70%—chance of chance of NOT finishing and obtaining that degree?

        Something may be wrong with KIPP’s authoritarian pedagogy, in that it stunts the development of the very things the other non-KIPP college students obtained during their non-KIPP schooling—like critical thinking, creativity, arguing persuasively in an essay, challenging and examining basic assumptions about the world, etc.—skills and abilities that are necessary to excel both in college and in life.

        These are concepts that were/are encouraged and carefully nurtured by their non-KIPP teachers and administrators… even when that encouragement and nurturing led those same students to rebel against school authority a bit, or engage in activism, or make demands that put school authorities in a tough spot.

        Unlike the KIPP folks who want docile, uncritical drone students, the administrators and teacher outside KIPP believe that developments like these are ultimately healthy and positive, and clear proof that they were actually doing their jobs and fulfilling their responsibility to providing a full, well-rounded education.

      • Educator

        Nice explanation CarolineSF.

        Also, don’t all community colleges accept anyone (I think you just have to be 18?). Does that count as being accepted to college?

        Jack, I do agree that focus now needs to shift a little to see what happens once students graduate K-12, for both traditional and charter.

        But wait a minute. Why are these students not graduating college in 4-5 years? What are these colleges doing? They need to be held accountable. The professors should be evaluated based on the standardized test scores of their students. (if there were standardized tests in college)

        OK, I’m being sarcastic. I guess one might argue that for college students have a choice to go while in K-12 it’s mandated. Still, I know these colleges say that they get students who aren’t prepared for college. And Kindergarten teachers say that they get kids who aren’t prepared for Kindergarten….but then these teachers are viewed as making excuses.

        • CarolineSF

          Yes, community colleges accept all applicants, though often the “miracle” charter claims specify that their graduates have been accepted to *four-year* colleges. There’s a whole pantheon that accepts anyone who’s breathing and commits to paying somehow, so that can conceivably be pretty meaningless.

          The right/bashers ARE moving into blasting colleges for students who don’t graduate in four years. They’ve already done quite a bit of that. Colleges that offer evening classes to students who work during the day take a particular beating. It’s basically about beating people up for not being rich and beating up institutions that serve people who aren’t rich.

          • Jack

            Another long post coming… sorry…

            There are numerous reasons to be skeptical of the “miracle” claims of college acceptance rates at schools:

            1) Grade inflation—very often the instructors, who belong to no union or a powerless union, are under intense pressure to give students higher grades than they deserve… i.e. an “A” at Green Dot might equal a “C” at a traditional public school nearby, or perhaps a “D” at a traditional public high school in an upscale neighborhood;

            If the teacher at a union-free charter gives low grades or fails students, administrators by fiat can just change the grades themselves, while also making the teachers’ lives miserable, or even fire them… this gets around to the teachers and permeates the school culture.

            There are even charter schools who only assign the grades “A-C”, with a “C” could mean 0 % on a test, as it’s the lowest grade;

            And let’s not forget “credit recovery” for students who ditch a significant part of the school year, thereby learning nothing or next-to-nothing, but are then allowed to participate in a two-week make-up program where they produce a “credit recovery” project which earns them a “C” or even a “B”.

            Thus, the GPA’s (Grade Point Averages) of certain students mislead college admissions folks, as these GPA’s may not reflect the students’ actual academic achievement or academic ability and dedication in the least. The teachers at Green Dot belong to a yellow, company union. As a result, they have little hope or power to resist caving into pressure to inflate grades, and assign higher grades to students than they actually deserve.

            2) Letters of recommendation—Green Dot has connections within the business community, and can obtain letters for students that are included in their college application… the teachers themselves can write glowing letters as well… even if the letters themselves do not accurately portray the student’s readiness for college.

            3) teaching to the test and test prep—I’ve come to the conclusion that teaching to the test and test prep are the educational equivalent of “steroids” in the world of professional athletics; they can artificially increase a student’s score, but to continue the analogy, are harmful in the long run as the student “appears” more accomplished intellectually than he / she is.

            Ed Burns, the cop-turned-teacher-turned-co-writer/co-producer of THE WIRE talked about this during the commentary on one of the latter episodes in SEASON FOUR, which focused on education in low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore. Much of that season focuses on education, and is based on the years he taught in Baltimore’s urban schools.

            There is one scene where test prep is given, and if you switch to the audio commentary, Burns calls this whole thing “a scam”. There’s another scene where the principal says they must do this and improve scores, or else…

            In response, the teacher character—a former cop-turned-teacher who is a autobiographical stand-in for Burns—says in disgust, “Juking the stats”. This phrase is a call-back to an earlier season where crime stats are similarly manipulated and falsified by politicians and police officials under pressure, so as to give a false picture that is rosier than it is.

            Anyway, where was I? Well, all of this on a student’s college application can offset say… a lousy SAT score or whatever… and gain someone admission to a 4-year college.

            However, this house of cards comes tumbling down rather quickly when these students, prior to commencing school, are given actual tests by the colleges to ascertain their true mastery of English and Math. If they fail to show proficiency, those students—in order to continue—must then take “remediation” courses separate from the university curriculum… costing more time and money than their better-educated classmates whose admissions packets more accurately portray their college readiness.

            Robert Skeels actually obtained data from the state about how well Green Dot grads—including grads from their selective “Big Five” schools, where the student population was creamed.

            In terms of English, a wopping 98% of their students required remediation:

            http://www.asd.calstate.edu/scripts/HSAPR1011/HSP1011e.idc?campus=193515

            In terms of Math, a wopping 88% of their grads required remediation:

            http://www.asd.calstate.edu/scripts/HSAPR1011/HSP1011d.idc?campus=193515

            So Green Dot can get unqualified students accepted into university, but then after that, it’s like putting a bunch if quadriplegics in a swimming class… the students “sink” like a rock. Faced with the extra expense and time required for remediation, they just quit and walk away.

            But you never hear any of that when the media reports on the Green Dot miracle at Locke. Robert Skeels puts it well at:

            SKEELS: “Moreover Locke, like every other Green Dot school, sports some of the worst remediation rates in LAUSD. Green Dot’s teaching to the test to boost their APIs and graduating students not proficient is exposed, in full, when we look at how Locke’s students do on the proficiency exams entering college.

            “For Fall 2010 Locke Senior High Admissions into the California State University system: 88% were NOT proficient in mathematics and an astonishing 98% were NOT proficient in English. So much for Green Dot Public [sic] Schools’ Locke miracle: they get millions in extra funding, weed out most of their students with disabilities and students with disciplinary problems, but still only manage to get two percent of their students ready for college level English.

            “What do they have to offer again? I suppose it’s making Marco Petruzzi rich to the tune of nearly a quarter million dollars a year, [1] and that’s the point of privatized charter schools to begin with, right?”

            Skeels also wonders about what a traditional public school might be able to accomplish with the extra $15 million”

            http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/06/millionaires-mendaciousness-and.html

            SKEELS: “Back to the exaggerated reports of the supposed Locke ‘turnaround.’ Astute readers will remember how Green Dot Corporation has used an additional $15 million from plutocrat donors to ‘turn the school around.’ This is documented in the New York Times’ ‘School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause.’

            “If public schools had access to those kind of additional funds and resources, who knows what progress could be made. At the very least, there wouldn’t have been ‘counseling out’ of the most vulnerable students.”

            Okay, I see some cynics asking, “Well, how does that compare to graduates of LAUSD?” Well, Robert did his homework there as well. He compared the strudents at the flagship of Green Dot—Animo Venice, the highest achieving—with the LAUSD system much maligned by Green Dot leaders like Marco Petruzzi.

            Remediation rate for English:

            Animo Venice— 67% not proficient; 33% proficient
            LAUSD ——– 49% not proficient; 51% proficient

            SOURCE:
            http://www.asd.calstate.edu/scripts/hsrem08/hsrem08.idc?campus=199683

            Here’s the article by Skeels from whence this came:

            http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2010/05/open-letter-to-uopxs-dr-wilen-daugenti.html

            SKEELS: “Finally, you might want to investigate the now legendary remediation rates resulting from Green Dot’s lauded college placement. A modicum of research on the CSU databases will turn up some of the most abysmal proficiency rates around. Rates so bad — they make LAUSD look positively stellar in comparison.

            “While all Green Dot’s campuses exhibit this ‘phenomenon,’ let’s look at Animo Venice Charter High School. Of the Green Dot students admitted to the CSU system in 2008 67% WERE NOT PROFICIENT IN MATHEMATICS. This is compared to just 49% of the much maligned LAUSD students. Moreover, only 33% of the children graduating Green Dot were proficient, while children attending public schools comprised a much more respectable 51%.

            “Social justice activists have done some research and found that for the CSU, all a student has to do is average a C in high school for admittance. This is how Green Dot is able to boast about amazing college placement rates, while posting miserable SAT and proficiency. This is what LAUSD Vice President Yolie Flores terms a ‘high performing charter.’

            “Of course this is the same type of smoke and mirrors that the celebrated Diane Ravitch exposes in her her watershed new book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.”

            “All in all, Green Dot’s obsession for teaching to the test over a rounded curriculum also speaks volumes to their real ‘tenets’ which comprise sacrificing good pedagogy in the name of increasing market share.

            “A much more balanced assessment of Mr. Barr and his organization appears here in Susan Ohanian’s work: The Instigator: New Yorker Profile of Charter School Chief Steve Barr is Propaganda, not Reporting.”

          • Manuel

            Jack, thanks for those links to CSU’s analytic studies web page contained in Skeels’ blog. Most informative specially when the Green Dot numbers are compared to Granada Hills and Birmingham, two very contrasting charters.

            Also, I was being sarcastic about the commute being too long for Ben’s kids…

            BTW, the grapevine says Ben wants to pull the trigger in the middle school his kids would be attending in the future: Emerson Middle. He apparently wants to have a school of his own, but people with kids in the school have already told him to get lost. He might not give up so easily, so it will be an interesting show in the years ahead.

        • Jack

          Gary,

          A couple months ago, you critiqued Barr’s performance in that god-awful, Oprah-produced high school reality show, commenting that Barr, in your opinion, badly mistreated the community members critical of his school in one scene.

          Well, apparently Barr’s contempt and mistreatment is not limited to them.

          When you wrote that, you might not have been aware of Steve’s attitude towards teachers like yourself—long-timers, unionized, teaching at traditional public schools… and who, as a reward for a demanding career and all your hard work as a teacher, will have something to look forward to—retirement, old age health benefits—once your long haul of a teaching career is over.

          Well Gary, I just dug up this little nugget BELOW. (The Internet rocks!)

          If one has any doubt about his contempt for unionized teachers at traditional public schools, and the work that those teachers do, check what Steve say about them here.

          Envisioning a world where public education is extinct, and privatization rules, Barr opines…

          (again, CAPS mine)
          - – - – - – - – - – - – - –
          “Says Barr, in his classic no-nonsense style: ‘Where are these SHITTY TEACHERS going to go? Where are these LIFETIME BENEFITS going to go? What will happen to all of these GROUPS PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS AND JOBS (read: “GROUPS” = “teacher’s unions”… Jack) and their construction contracts? The political puzzle of this is really fascinating. But I have no doubt that within five years, you’re going to see our impact. And it’s going to be huge.’ ”
          - – - – - – - – - –

          This 2006 piece is from the L.A. Weekly, which is ever-worshipful of all things privatization, so this gushing article might be hard to take (or amusing, as I found it):

          http://www.laweekly.com/2006-12-07/news/the-secret-of-his-success/2/

          That’s the page with the quote. Here’s a link to the first page:

          http://www.laweekly.com/2006-12-07/news/the-secret-of-his-success/

          Barr says, let’s see how things are “in five years.” Well, it’s been seven since the article (2006), and five since Green Dot took over Locke….

          … well for one thing, Brett Wyatt, Green Dot’s equivalent of “THE INSIDER” has part of that answer here:

          http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/05/the-inside-story-of-the-green-dot-charter-schools/

          and the L.A. Times bathroom article has another part of that answer here:

          http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-locke-restrooms-20130513,0,2501944.story

          Check out the photo. Does this look like a bathroom at a school with an extra $15,000,000 of private funding?

          Again, a 30-second Google search yielded a site where they cost a mere $ 90 each:

          http://www.allpartitions.com/panels.html

          As to Barr’s disgust for lifetime health and retirement benefits, that’s been taken care of to his satisfaction, at least at Green Dot… since how much retirement or post-career health benefits can you collect if your teaching career is 3 years or less? (based on Wyatt’s list ABOVE).

  10. Carol Burris

    Gary, thank you for your honesty. You are truly refreshing.

  11. Chris

    My question is what kind of colleges were these students accepted into and where did they apply? In this day and age of for-profit businesses calling themselves “colleges” while saddling students with enormous student loan debt and subpar education I don’t know that bragging about 100% college acceptance is appropriate — perhaps a more appropriate response would be great caution and deep scrutiny.

    Who is looking out for the long term good of these children? How were they counseled and guided in the college selection process? What happens once they have graduated? I favor a lifelong commitment to all children. I certainly hope that they have not been used to produce the sacred data and then set adrift.

    I salute these students, however, for their accomplishments because they are to be congratulated and held blameless in regards to school management.

  12. Steve M

    Randi Weingarten was (justifiably) excoriated by one of your readers a couple months ago. I urge everyone to look back at that post and read the fellow’s link. Although the blog link is arguably a diatribe, it shows Weingarten’s true character.

    To my fellow LAUSD employees: keep up your good work!

    • Educator

      Any way you can post the link or be more specific?

      • Steve M

        I put this up earlier today, but it didn’t come up:

        After looking back at Gary’s old posts, it was found in a response to his entry on February 28th, entitled “Unions and Charters Are Strange Bedfellows.”

        philaken supplied the link:
        http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4016&section=Article

        The article is longwinded, and sounds like a diatribe, but it points out a lot of things about Randi Weingarten and raises a number of intriguing questions.

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