A Message from the Superintendent . . .

A Philadelphia Inquirer article entitled, Coatesville Parents Demand Firings details a series of extremely vulgar, racist and sexist text messages exchanged between a PA school superintendent and his high school athletic director.


Redneck Day?

The U.S. Department of Ed. has said it will open an investigation after a student in Arizona wore a Confederate flag to a school-sponsored "Redneck Day."

Civil rights leaders contacted department officials after a photo emerged of a student wearing a large Confederate Army battle flag as a cape during May school spirit week at Queen Creek High School. "I found it to be offensive," Civil Rights Activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin told KTVK-TV. "I think many in the community did and the department responded."


No Hall Pass

Dozens of former educators from Atlanta public schools -- including the ex-superintendent -- have finally been indicted in one of the nation's largest test cheating scandals.

Former Superintendent Beverly Hall faces charges including racketeering, false statements and theft because prosecutors say some of the bonuses she received were tied to falsified scores. Hall retired just days before a state probe was released in 2011.

Despite mountains of evidence showing wide-spread corruption, Hall has long denied knowing anything about the cheating. If found guilty, she could serve up to 45 years in prison.


E Pluribus . . . Separation

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA has released a report based on data from the U.S. Department of Education. The analysis finds that an overwhelming majority of Latino and black students study in racially isolated classrooms. It details that 80 percent of Latino students and 74 percent of African American students are in schools where the majority of students are not White. More specifically, 43 percent of Latinos and 38 percent of African American learners attend "intensely segregated schools" where White students comprise 10 percent or less of the student body. The report notes that White students tend to go to schools where about 75 percent of their peers are White.



Bargain Rate Schools

This Rocketship School Model video segment could be a featured PBS parody on FunnyOrDie.com -- but they would not be able to use the disclaimer that 'no actual children were harmed in the making of the video.'

PBS' report begins by detailing the singing and dancing of Rocketship's daily "Launch." But mid-way through take-off, the narrator nonchalantly mentions that "75% of the instructors come from Teach for America. About half have less than two years of classroom experience."

One bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Rocketshipper offers that she's confused as to what on earth she would need a union for . . .

Quick-cut to Rocketship's budget shrinking, computer Learning Lab with its staff of "Individualized Learning Specialists" -- hourly wage workers who lack even Teach for America level credentials. Not only are these teachers non-unionized, they're non-licensed! What a bargain.

Rocketshippers also boast of big budget gains by completely eliminating art and music -- which is odd, since that's why they claimed their daily "Launch" was such a valuable part of the mission.

So the school system has saved money by ditching teachers, then doing away with classes. Of course, the final solution from this -- and every charter school -- is to start getting rid of certain students.

Not mentioned in PBS' video valentine . . .

Mr. Danner's amazing test score results are PR and spin. First of all, the chain operates ONLY elementary schools. Secondly, of Rocketship's seven schools -- two have not reported state test results. Standardized test scores for its oldest schools dipped last year. (What a shocking surprise!)

Despite most experienced educator's deep concerns about an over-reliance on standardized testing, Danner has doubled-down on it. Danner's chain focuses exclusively on reading and math tests. His little Rocketeers take eight prep tests during the nine months. Every month or so, his schools close for a day while staff "analyze" test results.

Danner's charter chain enrolls fewer children with learning disabilities than public schools do -- roughly 6 percent of Rocketship students are classified as having learning disabilities, which is about half the rate found in the surrounding traditional schools. Danner was the founding director of (you guessed it) KIPP Academy Nashville. Interestingly, his old TFA pals at KIPP do not endorse the idea of replacing two hours of instruction with two hours of "computer lab."

Rocketship requires parents to pledge to read to their child every night, check homework daily, attend monthly meetings, and volunteer 30 hours each year. Families who do not comply are kicked out. (Try replicating that!) Rocketship parents are then fed into a political action committee. The PAC, nobly called Parents for Great Schools, acts as the "grass roots" that Rocketship's management uses to get their favorite politicians elected.


From a March 18, 2012 DailyKOS article:

As for Teach for America, GiveWell.org does not give them their highest rating as a charity, noting among other things that for the corps members who started teaching in 2009 TFA spent $38,046 for each one (perhaps an inflation, dividing total expenditures by entering corps members).  GiveWell says of TFA "we do not have a concrete sense of how it would use additional donations." Various financial filings to the IRS and to New York State show an operating budget in excess of $170 million a year for a teacher corps of around 10,000. Recent filings have shown financial assets of over $300 million.