Archive for the ‘KIPP’ Tag

Let me set the record straight…   5 comments

As I was checking the profiles of my new followers yesterday, I noticed that several of the people are affiliated with either KIPP or Teach for America. I figured that they found me due to my incessant use of #hastags. In previous posts I mentioned Michelle Rhee and the other above-referenced companies. I have never minced words about my feelings on Rhee’s leadership style, or lack thereof, because frankly, that’s my prerogative. Once I noticed who was following me, I tweeted the following random message:

A lot of #TFA people have started following me..hope they don’t get their hopes up b/c I ain’t drinkin the Kool-Aid!

It is not uncommon for me to use sarcasm in my blogs..that’s just part of my personality, especially when everyone with an Ivy League degree claims to be an expert on fixing public education (see, there it goes again). I used the Kool-Aid reference (Jim Jones) to remind people how easily swayed we become when begin worshipping false gods (now that there is from the bible). While I do not discount any progress made by KIPP, TFA, or the teachers and students in D.C.’s public schools, I take issue with the perpetuation of this myth that minorities are not qualified enough to educate minority children. NOTE: I did not say that White teachers could not make a difference. Please read what I wrote. Do not walk away with a different interpretation. Bottom line: I am not a cheerleader for any organization that can set-up shop in some of the poorest minority communities and set the glass ceiling at the principal’s door. Sure they recruit teachers, support staff, and some principals from minority groups, but how many of their upper-level management positions are filled by ethnic and racial minorities? Better yet, look at the boards of KIPP, TFA, and some of the major charter school organizations and count the names that appear more than once. Get back to me on that one. If these companies were genuinely concerned about closing the achievement gap for all ‘disadvantaged’ students, their services would reach beyond the four walls of the school. Perhaps they could ‘color’ their respective boards to reflect the communities in which they serve, and simultaneously make millions each year, per school? Nah..that’s too much like right. Instead, these Ivy League colleagues continue to groom their friends to develop spin-off companies, in turn perpetuating the cycle. Basically, Education-for-profit is akin to the ‘old boys’ network’ still prevalent here in the South. We look out for our own. Unfortunately, when African Americans adopt this same type of attitude, we get branded as separatists or segregationists. Some yahoos even start yelling about reverse discrimination! How in the hell can you have reverse discrimination when African Americans are usually the only ones who acknowledge its existence? Even then, there are ‘those’ (AA) who will deny it, slavery, and anything else to appease the ‘right’ people in power, but that’s another blog entirely. For those who are students and studiers (is that a word) of History, you know exactly what I mean.

As I said earlier, I am not a cheerleader for any person, organization, institution, etc. that perpetuates the obvious system of haves and have-nots, whether it be through employment, education, politics, etc. I will not temper my words to make anyone comfortable because no one is addressing the systemic racism and tracking that is rampant in public education to make sure my kids get a fair chance to make their own opportunities.

I did not intend to write this blog at 2 in the morning, but someone wanted me to explain my comments/feelings about KIPP. More importantly, I know that I would not have slept peacefully with these thoughts in my head. If I had more time, I would have easily added a historical component but alas, the best I can do is direct you to a wonderfully written blog interview with Ira David Socol. If he wasn’t a White guy, I would swear we were related because we think so much alike it’s dangerous…..for someone!

Peace! I’m going to sleep!

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Have Charter Management Organizations run amok?   3 comments

More than a decade after the first charter school was created to foster an environment of teacher autonomy and school choice, ‘charter school’ has become a household phrase. Even television sitcoms such as ‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’ have given shout-outs to charter schools. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools have more flexibility with regard to educational model, school calendar, uniforms, and requiring parental involvement through mandatory volunteer hours. The Obama Administration’s push to improve public education by supporting charter schools through replication and conversion of failing public schools has catapulted the free school choice option to the forefront of the Race to the Top competition.

Some entrepreneurs have discovered that providing free school choice is a lucrative business. Charter Management Organizations (CMO) such as Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and Imagine have demonstrated that students from low-income backgrounds, typically minority, can succeed if given the proper learning environment. While I do not discount the accomplishments of such organizations, I do question the method used to select where the charter schools will be located. For example, some companies only open schools in districts where 70% or more of the students qualify for Free and Reduced Meal Programs. Does that mean students in districts where only 50-60% of the students qualify for those meals are less worthy of a research-based school choice option?

Upon reviewing the list of charter petitions awaiting approval by Georgia’s Charter Commission, many red flags went up. Charter Schools Administration Services (CSAS) has two petitions under review: one for Academy of Fulton County and another for Academy of Lithonia. CSAS presented budgets for both schools with management fees of $609,000 per year, per school. An additional $300K and $400K were added for the leasing of the facilities, respectively. Each school would also pay $56,000 in interest on funds loaned through CSAS. These figures are especially troubling when one considers the fact that only 500 students are or will be enrolled; the average per pupil revenues in the metro-Atlanta area are roughly $8,000. Regardless of additional, unforeseen expenses, the charter schools would have to pay CSAS first. It has been reported that CSAS and other CMO’s are currently under investigation by the IRS, as they operate as non-profit organizations; however, their profit margins say otherwise.

If school districts are genuinely concerned about ‘losing’ students to charter schools (Read: Losing the money), common sense should prevail: Create charters and convert some of the existing schools to charters, thereby providing parents, regardless of income or zip code, equal access to school choice options. Instead, some districts make it impossible for grassroots groups to create charter schools by denying all applications and challenging the state’s ability to authorize additional schools.