LEV Event at MOHAI Monday Evening

I hadn't posted about this before because,well, it fell off my radar at one point. But I'm going and while I'm pretty sure what I'll hear - a love fest for charters - I want to go and listen.

Here's the info:

On Monday, October 25 at 6 p.m., LEV will be hosting a panel discussion at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

There are three speakers on the panel: Richard Barth, CEO of KIPP Foundation, Timothy Daly, President of The New Teacher Project, and Steve Barr, Founder of Green Dot Public Schools. The discussion will be moderated by Adam Porsch of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Who are these guys?

Richard Barth runs KIPP (a charter system, Knowledge is Power Program. He is married to Wendy Kopp who runs and started Teach for America. There are 99 schools in 20 states. KIPP is considered one of the better charter school systems although it is a more difficult model in that the schools start early and run late and have a longer school year. KIPP teachers are expected to help all students succeed, and they typically work a nine-hour work day during the week, half days on selected Saturdays, and three weeks in the summer. They also are available via cell phone for homework help in the evening (they receive a slightly higher salary than the average teacher). KIPP starts new schools (not transforming existing schools) but are open to that direction in the future. Oddly, they don't mention that KIPP is a charter school system on their home page.

KIPP supporters include the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Steve Barr started Green Dot Public Schools in LA . There are now 15 charter schools operating in low-income areas in LA. As well, it is the only large charter system with unionized teachers and collective bargaining. They seem to have a well-balance core of partnerships. From their webpage:

A key constituent in Green Dot’s organization is the teachers union. Green Dot is the only non-district public school operator in California that has unionized teachers. Green Dot’s teachers have organized as the Asociacion de Maestros Unidos (AMU), a CTA/NEA affiliate. Key reforms embodied in the AMU contract include: teachers have explicit say in school policy and curriculum; no tenure or seniority preference; a professional work day rather than defined minutes; and flexibility to adjust the contract in critical areas over time. Green Dot was able to achieve these reforms by establishing a relationship of mutual trust with the teachers union and committing to pay its teachers above the average of comparable schools’ pay scales. In doing so, Green Dot and AMU share a unique relationship in the world of labor relations, one that is characterized by collaboration and a mutual interest in improving public education.

Green Dot supporters include the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Timothy Daly runs The New Teacher Project which is something akin to Teach for America but with a lot more muscle and revenue. Their "fellows" like TFA's teachers receive about 5-6 weeks of training. From their website:

Today, The New Teacher Project is working to advance a new human capital model for urban school systems. TNTP intends to realize a fundamental shift in the way quality teachers are generated, matched to schools, and trained.

We bring expertise in the recruitment, selection, cultivation, preparation and placement of alternate route and traditionally certified teachers.

We bring expertise in the pre-service preparation, professional development and certification of new teachers for states and school districts. We specialize in developing alternate route teachers by leveraging their existing content expertise and life experiences while grounding them in rigorous, standards-based instructional practices.

They describe their business model this way:

The New Teacher Project is a revenue-generating nonprofit organization that utilizes a blended revenue model to sustain and advance its work nationwide. The majority of our revenue comes from our work with clients on a fee-for-service basis, often under performance-based contracts.

A revenue-generating nonprofit organization? So why not a self-sustaining nonprofit? I'm guessing the key word here is revenue.

Should be an interesting evening.


suep. said…
Interesting how the word "charter" is hidden or not mentioned in some of the promo material for this gathering.

Why don't these pro-privatizing ed reformers just come out and say what their agenda is?

Again, the reformers have this strange stealthy manner that implies dishonesty.

I'm not sure how Green Dot gets away with calling itself "G.D. public schools" as if it is its own district when in fact, it is just another privately run charter franchise.

Also of note -- all of these operations are funded by Gates, and the moderator is from the Gates Foundation. In other words, this is a Gates event. (See: Ed corporatists, charter franchise heads & the “teacher quality” Inquisition are coming to town! (PLUS, Special Guest — Michelle Rhee’s fiance!)

But most importantly, KIPP and Green Dot both have very mixed records. They are not the shining solution to whatever the ed reformers think they are solving.

Google Caroline Grannan, a longtime journalist in California who has researched the performance and record of charters and KIPP and Green Dot in particular, and you'll find some pretty troubling statistics.

High attrition rates for KIPP.

Low test scores for Green Dot.

Misrepresented college graduation rates for the kids from KIPP.

The wealthy backers of these enterprises -- Gates and Broad et al -- have made a concerted effort to spin positive press on their businesses (KIPP and Green Dot). That's why you'll often read phrases like "the highly regarded KIPP" etc. But more objective analysis shows that these operations are not so brilliant after all.

And though LEV and pals are touting these charter franchises as "innovative," there is nothing innovative about the private sector wanting to take control of yet another part of the public sector.

Also charters are not new. They've been around for years. Long enough, in fact, to have a track record, and it's only so-so.

Which leads us to the question: Why do LEV and Gates want to bring charters to Seattle?

Why not instead invest in and replicate the existing innovations in our system?

Like: the stellar (Singapore) math program at Schmitz Park Elementary.

The popular Montessori programs (and bring back the one the district booted from Ballard High School).

The alternative schools with waitlists.

The award-winning band and orchestra programs that some schools have.

Every inspired teacher's approach and program that can be found in schools throughout the district.

They do exist.

We do not need to hand over our schools to private enterprise middlemen.

Honestly, if Seattle does eventually allow charter operators to come in, I will see it as a huge admission of failure by SPS. In effect our district leadership will be saying, "We failed. We don't know how to create good schools and inspired learning environments for all the kids in the district, so we give up. We're handing over our job and our responsibilities to these charter franchises."

--sue p.
suep. said…
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seattle said…
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suep. said…
Here's some info about charters from Caroline Grannan:


COMMENT: Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Article comment by: Caroline Grannan

I've been following KIPP for some years, including researching the sky-high attrition at KIPP schools in my area. Your view is absolutely on the money.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, an impartial study by the respected research organization SRI International found that KIPP schools lose 60% of their students between 5th and 8th grades -- and that the students who leave are consistently the lower-performing students.

Debunking yet another false claim about KIPP alumni and college
• October 7th, 2009 6:29 am PT

A letter in today's San Francisco Chronicle claims that "thousands" of alumni of the KIPP charter school chain have become the first in their families to graduate from college.

This is a brand-new false claim for KIPP. The usual false claim for KIPP is that thousands of its students have started college, which isn't true either.

Actually, KIPP runs almost all middle schools and has only been running a few long enough to have their graduates finish high school and go to college. I pinned them down on the number after Newsweek wrote in July 2008 that 12,800 KIPP graduates had gone on to college.

The actual number of KIPP alumni who had started college, KIPP spokesman Steve Mancini said at that time, was 447. Again, that's the number of KIPP graduates who had started college by 2008. (KIPP claims to track them carefully even though of course they're long gone from KIPP by that time.)

Needless to say, it's wildly untrue that thousands have graduated from college. It may become true in the future, and for those students' sake I hope it does -- but of course if possible future news could be printed as fact, the morning paper would get really interesting.

After ranting at my husband for a while over the breakfast table about how the charter folks just make up any old **** and the press prints it unquestioned (he says isn't it nice that all the neighbors now know exactly how I feel about KIPP), I decided to just calmly correct the misinformation.

Of course, the reason KIPP and their supporters put out this stuff is so people like Don Fisher, may he rest in peace, will donate even more millions to them. It would be nice if our actual public schools had a little of that money to buy, say, enough desks for Berkeley High (today's Chronicle also reports on that crisis; read down to the second item in the column).

--sue p.
seattle said…
Charter schools are public schools too.
Charter schools ARE absolutely public schools but they are not the same so for KIPP to not say that on their home page seems odd.
suep. said…
edvocate -- that's misleading. They are privately run schools that operate within a public school district and get some of their funding from taxpayers, so I guess we can both parse the definition either way we wish.

But unlike most public schools, charters do not have to answer to school district policies, oversight or the school board, but are operated by an outside business. They also do not have to accept and keep every child in the district who wants to attend their school; they can and do cherry-pick their students, which is one of the strongest criticisms of charters, and recognized by Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan himself. Even Geoffrey Canada notoriously kicked out an entire grade of kids from his Harlem Children's Zone School because their test scores weren't up to somebody's measure.

So to imply that charters are "public schools" like traditional public schools that do have to answer to such oversight and are the responsibility of the school district, and which must accept all kids, is inaccurate.

At the very least, the charter companies should use the phrase "private-public partnership" to describe what they are.

But they seem to shy away from the "privately run," "business," "franchise" and "profit" aspects of their operations when they describe themselves (except perhaps in their annual financial reports to their hedge fund investors).

--sue p.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
Charters may have different governance, and some private funding (as do some of our Seattle public Schools) but charters are still public schools. They are open to the public, without tuition.
SolvayGirl said…
edvocate—so big deal; they're free. But they're not, as many of the above posters have noted, very akin to traditional public schools in they, like a tuition-based private school, can refuse and/or expel students who do not meet their criteria (whatever that may be).
So you can't compare their pass/test rates to a public school that has to take all comers. Instead, they should be compared to private schools with similar philosophies. Then let's see how they stack up.
The information provided by Green Dot on their yellow union -- Asociación de Maestros Unidos (AMU) is disingenuous at best, and at worst a group of outright lies! Green Dot Public [sic] Schools' yellow, or company union, AMU is nothing to praise despite CTA affiliation. AMU doesn't even have its own office or website, all of its activities stem from Green Dot's corporate headquarters. This explains a dearth of activism from AMU's members in the midst of the worst budget cuts imaginable. This company unionism also explains why Green Dot teachers' average experience, while marginally higher than the CMO average of 2 years [1], is still less than 3 years. This in turn probably explains Green Dot's dismal performance [2], despite all the advantages it holds in extra funding, motivated parents, and exclusion of ELL and special education children.

Nothing was more clear to demonstrate how powerless AMU was than when Marco Petruzzi made the fiat declaration that Green Dot was closing down Ánimo Justice HS. Teacher Judy Riemenschneider mentioned AMU's thin contract when she said "The ultimatum is at odds with Green Dot's principles, which call for teacher input into critical decisions." [3] Like any private institution, Green Dot felt no obligation to honor it's contractual obligations to its teachers or union. Like any private institution, Green Dot didn't care about the students, parents, or community when it shuttered Ánimo Justice. Like all charter schools, Green Dot was only concerned about their bottom line. Like Scott Folsom said at the time "The Animo Social Justice (?) Charter is closing for no other reason than Green Dot cannot show a return on their financial investment." [4]
[1] See http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2009/04/are_teachers_jumping_the_chart.html and http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/index.php?item=2637&cat=23
[2] as discussed by journalist Caroline Grannan http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2010/01/14-of-15-green-dot-schools-are-failing.html
[3] http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-greendot23-2010mar23,0,1323354.story
[4] http://4lakidsnews.blogspot.com/2010/04/fremont-high-animo-green-dot-social.html
[5] http://blogs.uscannenberg.org/neontommy/2010/03/two-south-la-high-schools-unit.html
[6] http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2010/04/advocating-public-education-roundup.html
Are Charters Really Public Schools?

Despite the corporate charter-vouchers industry's expensive public relations campaign to convince us otherwise, the reality isn't what they portray at all. Only in the most contrived, and frankly, disingenuous fashion, could the definition of the word "public" be used to describe charter-voucher schools.

Take public funds
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters YES

Allow children to attend for free
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters YES

Have a publicly democratically elected boards
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Have open and public board meetings
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Obligated to take all children including Special Needs, Students with Disabilities, Special Education, English Language Learners, etc.
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Obligated to educate every child
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Are subject to all state and federal mandates like NCLB, and all provisions therein
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Allow community participation at board meetings
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Subject to public scrutiny under Public Records Act
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Subject to public scrutiny under The Brown Act
Public School YES
CMO-EMO Charters NO

Accept donations and direction from nefarious outside entities like billionaires with ideological axes to grind
Public School NO
CMO-EMO Charters YES

Have boards composed of CEOs, hedge fund managers, investment bankers, and other ideologically biased professions
Public School NO
CMO-EMO Charters YES
DemocracyMom said…
Looking into my crystal ball, here is my prediction to make: if charter schools get in, our schools will become more segregated, both racially and economically. Why? Because that's what has happened in Chicago. Check out this article:

Anonymous said…
Oh yeah, and if you want the other side of the coin in terms of charter schools, see the video of the forum with Diane Ravitch that was held at Seattle University on October 5th.

For that, go to:

Anonymous said…
On charter schools and special ed students:



Anonymous said…
On charter schools and the re-segregation of our schools:



Anonymous said…
Charter schools and the military:



"But unlike most public schools, charters do not have to answer to school district policies, oversight or the school board, but are operated by an outside business. They also do not have to accept and keep every child in the district who wants to attend their school;"

Okay, wait a second. Charter law is different from state to state so in some states, charters may answer to an education board or school board or school district (at least in a functional way). Also they DO have to accept every child but they also CAN write their charter so they don't serve all kids.

I find it interesting that not only does KIPP NOT say they are a system of charter schools, they say they are free. Clearly, they are worried about being perceived as private or somehow not public.
Anonymous said…
Charter schools and teacher turnover:


The (typical) Broad bailout of charter schools:


And the Harlem School Zone gets it's grades (ouch!).

Anonymous said…
And nearly all the complaints about charters are also true of alternatives.

Do alternative schools set themselves up as places hospitable (and accessible) to students with special needs? No. Some may have programs, but generally they are after thoughts in alternative schools. Read what people write about them here in this blog. Program XYZ is housed in our alternative school. Meaning, the students in special education aren't really part of the missions, or real members of the school. And when the "alternative mission" doesn't work with special needs, they too can say "Oh well, you don't have to go to this school. It's an alternative, it's an option. We don't have to serve you. Remember, you CHOSE us? So, go away, YOU don't match our mission." This happens with shocking regularity. Where are the charter school bashers then? Why aren't they equally bashing "alternatives"? Our alternative schools are every bit as discriminatory as charters.

Alternative schools, at least in the K-8 range, have a mostly pretty abysmal test score too. Where is the outcry? Let's examine some of them... AS1, Orca, AAA(formerly), Pathfinder... their test scores all, well, they suck. Why complain and whine about Green Dot, and not these "alternatives"? I mean, only 14% of Orca 8th graders can pass math. Orca is actually WORSE than Aki by the time students get to 8th grade! Shouldn't we demand our money's worth? Shouldn't we insist that ORCA students just go to Aki where the building is available and the scores are equivalent? Why should WE, the citizens, pay for such poor alternative performance?

The fact is, people who choose alternatives, charter or public alternative/options, have personal measures of success that align with their own values. Maybe they don't care about standardized results. That's cool by me. Just don't complain about it for one group, but not the other. Because then, you're just another whiner without a cause.

The fact is, some people want charters. They want a standardized alternative. They want to sign up for something with volume that isn't just whatever the latest thing brought in by a 1 year principal or BLT. Some people like eating at McDonalds or Red Robin. So what? And why not?

sped parent.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…

Charter schools are public schools,thus they are accountable
with a state’s Title I accountability requirements. Therefore, charter schools must participate as any other public

Charter schools unable to make AYP goals at the end of the second full school year in INOI are placed under corrective action.The appropriate entity
under state law (state board, authorizer, etc.) has the responsibility to reorganize
a charter school’s management.
Anonymous said…
Oh yeah. And what's the teacher turnover at Hawthorne? W. Seattle Elementary? I heard they got a whole new bumper crop of teachers. Tears anybody? Where's the hue and cry? There's loads of research showing that these low performing schools (mostly minority) have very inexperienced teachers aka, high turnover. The reform-bashers never say a peep about that, do they? It's all really great for them, who cares about those other schools. Never hear an reform-basher offering any suggestion that might place experienced teachers in challenging schools. Oh no. That would be just way too unfair to those experienced teachers. I mean, experienced teachers shouldn't have to teach in a challenging school right? They paid their dues. They have a right to an easy job don't they? Leave the heavy lifting to somebody else.

sped parent.
seattle citizen said…
wow, sped parent, you're very angry and making some pretty serious assertions. Do you really think most experiened teachers don't want to teach in schools such as Hawthorne? What about the teacher who posted here, a master teacher, who had applied to Cleveland but wasn't wanted? If the culture of the school becomes one of pure test prep, do you think that school wants to hire a teacher who is not a fan of a test-prep instituion?

And do you think charter schools have better teacher retention?

There are plenty of teachers worried about schools that have struggling students in them. Give 'em a break.
Dorothy Neville said…
Actually, we've discussed two articles from the NYT about schools that were transformed by GROUPS of teachers. One was a school where the teachers united to change things and the other, teachers recruited to work in a "failing" school but as a collective, with extra autonomy and power. THAT's a model I can get behind. That's a model that shows promise, treats the teachers as professionals and seems more effective than recruiting individual teachers to a school.
Anonymous said…
Wow SC,I haven't made any assertions really. Why are simple facts so intimidating to you?

I'm just noting the often stated statistics about experience level of teachers in high poverty schools. What's the big deal? Data shows that the most experienced teachers, in fact, do not teach in high poverty schools. The fact that there might be one highly experienced teacher somewhere, teaching in a high poverty school, doesn't really change anything. The fact that a highly experienced teacher was rejected from somewhere also says nothing, especially since we really don't know any of the facts. And it certainly doesn't change the trajectory.

Did anybody say anything about test-prep factories? Not me. Seattle=Ed2010 got her undies in a bunch over test scores. So the reform-bashers seem to wish for more test-prep factories sometimes... but wish for them NOT at some other times. Hard to tell with them. But alternative schools typically have poor test scores. So, why aren't they getting bashed? Let's hear some bashing please!

I do like the team approach though. You could get that lots of ways though.

sped parent.
seattle citizen said…
Well, sped parent, maybe I reacted abit defensively, but you are making statements (assertions) that seem generalized and not necessarily true:
"And when the "alternative mission" doesn't work with special needs, they too can say "Oh well, you don't have to go to this school. It's an alternative, it's an option. We don't have to serve you. Remember, you CHOSE us? So, go away, YOU don't match our mission." This happens with shocking regularity."

How do you know that alt programs, with "shocking regularity," tell special education students to "go away"? Do you have some data to share that backs up this portrayal of alt programs as mean sped-student pusher-outers?

As to high turnover in schools with more struggling students, you seem to be indicating that teachers are just callous, self-interested, and move out of them. There are many more factors at play.

And teachers are teachers anywhere they teach - they have to teach, in my opinion, whatever population walks in the door. My point is that teachers might find themselves in a school with "fewer struggling students" (however one wants to interpret that) but hey, those children are due an education, too. Should teachers all be scrambling to teach in schools with more struggling students?
seattle citizen said…
Lastly, sped parent, you make the comment that schools with struggling students have higher turnover. You write that,"There's loads of research showing that these low performing schools (mostly minority) have very inexperienced teachers aka, high turnover. The reform-bashers never say a peep about that, do they?"

Well, charter schools (reforms) have high turnover, too. Why should those who dislike the current reform movement towards privatization then say a peep about turnover in some schools? What's the point?
seattle said…
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seattle said…
Anonymous has a point. We hail our alt schools while at the same time we bash charters, though the two types of schools are similar in many ways.

Alts serve a much lower rate of minority children and ELL children than traditional publics.

Like charters Alts seek autonomy, separate report cards, flexibility in start/end times, choice of texts, and class offerings.

Like many charters, Alts have specific pedagogies.

Like charters Alts want a say in the hiring of their teachers and principals.

Like charters, most Alts want all city draw and expanded transportation.

Like charters, Alts performance is not uniform. Some excel and do very well while others produce some of the lowest test scores in the district.

Alts, like charters, can't turn away any child but they can certainly make their pedagogy such that only a certain "type" of family is drawn to them. And since they are "option" schools only families that choose them will are enrolled.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. if we are going to rail on charter schools for not performing consistently better than publics, then we need to rail on alts too. If we are going to rail on charters for not serving enough minorities, or ELL students, then lets rail on alts too. If we are going to rail on charters for wanting to select their own teachers, then lets rail on alts too. If we are going to rail on charters for taking some private funding, then lets rail on New School with the same fury.

But we need not worry about alts to much. The reality is that the alt schools are a thing of the past. A relic. They have been standardized to death. Maybe charters are a viable option to regain some of that autonomy and yes, I'll say it....innovation.
seattle citizen said…
so edvocate, Alts are like charters...but a thing of the past because they have become too standardized, and thus are dying? And thus we should give charters a try?

Umm, begs the question: Who standardized Alts, and who can un-standardize them? District. Who (if the voters hadn't voted them down three times) could authorize charters to be unstandard? District.

So the obvious question is why have charters at all if alts (or any option school: remember, only a few of the option schools are alts, per se) can and have done the same things as charters?

What is argument for charters instead of option schools?
seattle said…
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Anonymous said…
SC, I'm no supporter of charters. But, I don't think the alts are any better. And, I can understand why people want charters.

The place for charters is in that some people want a standardized alternative. (as I mentioned before) They want the Red-Robin alternative. They want to know what they're getting before they sign up. If you sign up for KIPP, you pretty much know how it's going to be . With an alt school, they get whatever "alt-de-jour" is brewing for 1 year. It might change at the drop of a hat. It might be cancelled. Maybe a new principal will show up and change everything.

I'm not really in love with either. I like to look at schools individually. But, I respect that people want to have those choices, unlike the common theme in this thread.

sped parent.
seattle said…
Argument, SC, ONE.MORE.TIME, is that alts are no longer alt. They've been standardized to death by the district. Charters are not subject to district standardization or administration. They have the freedom to do what our alts used to do. They may the only hope left for alternative education in Seattle.

We voted down charters before standardization, when we still had viable alts. I have my doubts that a charter school initiative would fail again if it were on the ballot today, given the current environment.
wseadawg said…
Folks: KIPP Charters are heralded as the model. But they spend 30k per student. Anyone who thinks that model is sustainable, where should I deliver your Brooklyn Bridge?

Charters are not funded like public schools. Stop saying it. Stop deluding yourselves. It isn't true.

There is no point to any discussion where we can't debate true facts.

How has ceding control over public institutions to private interests (non-profits, my ass!) worked out for us over the past 30 years? How was ENRON for California's power needs? How were private student lenders vs. the Dept of Ed? How did deregulation of the financial sector work out?

Some public things are best left to the public, despite the warts.

I don't know any reasonable person who would champion charter schools as a model, when only 17% do better than conventional public schools, and only do better by skimming the strongest students and purging the low-performers, sending them back to the neighborhood schools.

KIPP's attrition rates are 50% between 6th and 8th grades. (Guess where the drop-outs wind up?) And KIPP spending of nearly 30k per student on average, is unsustainable.

Again, what sober, unemotional individual believes such a model is sustainable or desireable?

I'm not saying Charters are evil or cannot work. I'm saying that they are, at this time, an Edsel being marketed as a Ferrari. Please fellow citizens, be careful and considerate in what you wish for.
Anonymous said…
SC says Should teachers all be scrambling to teach in schools with more struggling students?

There should be high level incentives and policies in place that provide experienced teachers to high poverty students. We don't have that now. We essentially have incentives to move experienced teachers to low challenge schools, high performing schools. Of course there are still challenges in high performing schools. Equitable arrangements are what we need. That is, teaching staff assigned equitably. This is all very well documented.

Those policies could take many different forms, and the SERVE contract was just one way to accomplish that. A few other ideas to get there: 1) Stricter per student teacher funding. Therefore, schools with lots of young teachers would be able to hire more teachers than other schools because young teachers cost less. 2) Per building experience ratios. I'm sure there are many, many other ways to do it too. This would mean that more experienced teachers wouldn't be able to migrate away from challenging schools.

sped parent.
"They want the Red-Robin alternative. They want to know what they're getting before they sign up. If you sign up for KIPP, you pretty much know how it's going to be . With an alt school, they get whatever "alt-de-jour" is brewing for 1 year. It might change at the drop of a hat. It might be cancelled. Maybe a new principal will show up and change everything."

No, the Red Robin is a traditional school. Because all of the above could happen at any charter school. A charter could change its focus. Get a new principal. A charter is no more stable than an alt.
Anonymous said…
Sped Parent,

Goodness. Experienced teachers wouldn't be able to migrate away from challenging schools? That doesn't seem very fair to me. Teachers should be able to choose where they want to teach. I seriously doubt policies that trap teachers in buildings they don't want to teach in would result in better educational outcomes for kids.

The key to attracting and retaining excellent teachers has been written about here multiple times. It's not money. It's creating a work environment and school culture that supports them. This means strong leadership, autonomy, respect, resources, and a spirit of collaboration.

I taught in an extremely challenging school for three years, and I don't want to again. The students were not the issue. They were the only good thing about my day. The issue was the principal, the negative environment, the lack of support, and the top down mandates that denied teachers any voice whatsoever.

I would describe my current assignment as moderately challenging, but I have a positive work environment. Our administration is wonderful. I have the utmost respect for my colleagues. I am treated as a professional and can make decisions about curriculum and instruction to benefit my students.

These are things good teachers want, and I don't think they can be quantified and translated into incentives.

Furthermore, I get so upset when I hear about these coercive plans to get the best teachers in the worst schools. When exactly did we become pawns?

Dismayed Teacher
seattle said…
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seattle said…
I agree with anonymous in that we can't force "good" teachers to teach in challenging schools. That would not be a positive experience for the students or the teachers.

A teacher with seniority can pretty much choose which school he/she wants to teach at. And many senior teachers choose to teach in less challenging schools. But lets not play games. While a teacher with seniority may have experience, that does not in and of itself mean that teacher is a "good" teacher. I know plenty of senior teachers that I would prefer my kid never be in class with. And I know a couple of senior teachers that were fired this year.

We can certainly incentively teachers to teach in challenging schools, but it would be unproductive, in my opinion, to create a policy that would require "good" teachers to teach at our most "challenging" schools.

And in the end, besides seniority, what measure would be used to differentiate a "good" teacher from a "bad" teacher? Their annual reviews? The test scores of their students?

Food for thought.
Dorothy Neville said…
"We can certainly incentively teachers to teach in challenging schools, but it would be unproductive, in my opinion, to create a policy that would require "good" teachers to teach at our most "challenging" schools."

I have an idea. Why not ask teachers? Wasn't this the fault of the SE Initiative? That no one asked the families what they wanted in a school?

While I think we all know some senior teachers who are duds, we all also know some veteran and awesome teachers. If only we could pick their brains in some organized fashion. What would it take for you to want to work at --X-- challenging school?
seattle said…
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seattle said…
"I have an idea. Why not ask teachers?"

Teachers have already answered us haven't they? Senior teachers overwhelmingly choose to teach in the least challenging schools.

Sure, we can ask teachers what would incentify them to move to more challenging schools, but really, what do we have to offer them?

We can't offer smaller class sizes. We can't offer much more pay. Or funding. We can't offer them more autonomy or less standardization.

What we can offer them is kids with lower test scores (that may in turn come back to bite them in the behind with the move to tie teacher evaluations to test scores). We can offer them a greater amount of students with challenging classroom behaviors. We can offer them students who have far less family support. And a majority of students working far below grade level without access to tutoring. We can offer them higher drop out rates, and higher suspension rates too.

I fear that we can't offer any incentive that would result in the positives outweighing the negatives. But sure, I agree, lets ask.

I believe the only thing that could truly motivate a senior teacher to move to a challenging school would be their own drive and commitment to working in those communities.

But like I said, I agree, lets ask them.
Anonymous said…
Teachers should be able to choose where they want to teach.

Why would that be? Now we hear it again. Another teacher entitlement. We're supposed to believe that teachers have some special entitlement to the easy (choice) job by simply existing? Sheesh. Pathetic. Employers should be able to assign employees (teachers) where they are needed, just like everywhere else on the planet.. Pretty darn basic in my book.

I agree with anonymous teacher though. Same principle holds for leadership. Strong principals also need to cycled equitably. As far as I know, junior principals aren't systematically placed in high poverty schools like teachers are.

Sure teachers have the right to apply for available jobs. BUT, the district (and we taxpayers) have the obligation to set up correct incentives. And those incentives shouldn't result in some schools with all senior teachers(because they've got seniority), and other schools with none. Teachers don't want to be measured by test scores (or anything else). But frankly, seniority is a darn good yardstick that is hard to argue with. Loads of research shows that schools overwhelmingly select senior teachers when given the choice. Furthmore, teachers with seniority are paid more, so we should expect more. We shouldn't pay more... so that they can coast, leaving the tough jobs for the newbies.

Ask the teachers? Why not ask the automobile manufacturers what it would take to build an electric car? or have good emissions standards? or put in seatbelts? Sometimes you just need to have the obvious policy because nothing besides that would make them put in seatbelts, for example.

And besides, another way to do it would be to simply have a fixed per student teacher allotment. Teachers could migrate to easy schools, but then their classes might be larger. Schools with challenges would have more teachers. That seems fair, and evens out the burden.

seattle citizen said…
edvocate, you'll have to come up with data that shows that "senior teachers overwhelmingly choose to teach in the least challenging schools. I did a quick check of a few schools last night, and the reports (2009, I think they were, OSPI) show that there isn't a lot of correlation to your statement. Look at the reports for SE schools, typically assumed to have more "challenging" students, and you find that the Rainier Beach and Ballard both have about an average of 10 years for teacher experience. I also compared Aki and some north MS and found Aki had more average experience than the north school.

So: You make the claim, you back it up. I don't have time to do your research. There are about 90 schools; see what you find. If you're right, you're right, but if not....well, there goes your claim.

At any rate, teachers leave schools more often, I'd bet, because of the challenges coming at them from above, rather than the students. Heck the students are why teachers teach in the first place.
seattle citizen said…
Edvocate and Taxpayer - here, I did some work for you:

Soooo...what's all this about experienced teachers leaving "challenging" students and going for those cushy jobs?

Average years of experience:

District average 11.6

HIghland Park 12.3
Greenlake 15.5
Hawthorne 6.4
Loyal Heights 11.3
Maple 12.0
Montlake 11.8

Aki 11.8
Hamilton 11.4
Mercer 11.4
Whitman 12.7
Madison 8.4
Eckstein 10.5

RBHS 12.8
Ballard 10.8
Franklin 11.3
Roosevelt 13.6
Cleveland 11.3
Ingraham 12.1
seattle said…
Thank you for posting this link Sahila.

Melissa will you be doing a thread on this meeting?

I just watched it and I thought the panel speakers were very candid and took an honest look at, and addressed, both their their achievements and their failures.

I learned a lot, and I actually think that some of the things that the speakers said made a lot of sense.

I was also impressed that Green dot got 800 teacher applicants for 80 positions. It certainly seems like they could recruit the cream of the crop.
Maureen said…
edvocate, have you, by any chance, read Relentless
Pursuit: a year in the trenches with Teach for America by Donna Foote?

I happened to read it last week and then went to the panel at MOHAI. It put the presentation in perspective.

I was actually more impressed by the speakers than I expected to be (they clearly knew what their weak points were and came prepared to deal with them.) The most memorable line for me was Steve Barr's (GreenDot) response to the moderator's (Gates' Adam Porsch) question re what it would take for GreenDot to come to Seattle: he said "LOTS OF MONEY MAN!"

A laugh line, but still....
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
Thanks for the tip Maureen. I'll check out Relentless Pursuit.

I'm not for TFA though.

Of the 800 candidates for 80 positions at Green Dot, Steve Barr pointed out that many were experienced teachers, from local public schools, that were looking for a school that better fit their vision and allowed them some freedom. He thought the strong applicant pool was due to Green Dot having a teachers contract (and I believe but I could be mistaken, that he said they had a union).
gavroche said…
Blogger Maureen said...

(...) The most memorable line for me was Steve Barr's (GreenDot) response to the moderator's (Gates' Adam Porsch) question re what it would take for GreenDot to come to Seattle: he said "LOTS OF MONEY MAN!"

A laugh line, but still....

There's also that little matter of Washington state law that currently doesn't allow charters.

But money can probably take care of that too. I'm sure there's some wining and dining (or arm-twisting) to this end going on in Olympia right now.

What did Barr mean by that, Maureen? Did he elaborate?

As we all know by now, money is no object in Seattle when it comes to pushing school privatization and corporate-style ed reform -- Mr. Gates will find some way to foot the bill, whether we parents want this agenda or not.

So I guess the joke's on us. Ha ha.

Ah, the curse of wealth -- so much power, so little accountability! And so much damned money to get rid of!
Maureen said…
What did Barr mean by that, Maureen? Did he elaborate?

Oh it was basically said as a joke-aimed at Porsch as the Gates representative-I think it was a reference to GreenDot getting money from Gates for their LA operation and implying they would want more if they were going to expand. I don't remember the law ever coming up, but I may have missed it.

It was interesting how often Barr mentioned real estate. (Maybe that is his professional background?)

GreenDot teachers do have a union and Barr says he was a Teamster in earlier life and appreciated the benefits it gave him over what his single waitress mom ever had. It sounds like part of the teachers contract is that they are paid as professionals and aren't subject to hourly limits.
suep. said…
Maureen said... It was interesting how often Barr mentioned real estate. (Maybe that is his professional background?)

Here's why: real estate is the one bugaboo of the charter business.

Paul Vallas mentioned this in NBC's "Education Nation" panel discussion about New Orleans post-Katrina (originally and callously titled: "The Lessons of New Orleans: Does Education Need a Katrina?" -- until a number of people protested).

Charter franchises need buildings. Buildings are expensive or in some inner cities, not widely available. So how can they set up shop?

Here's how:

Take over closed public school buildings.

Take over or share operating school buildings. (Back east there are a number of charter operations that have taken over part of an operating school building, in some cases squeezing out the other kids. In one disturbing example, the charter business took over the public school's library for its own offices, I believe it was.)

Push a levy to build new buildings that they can house their charters in -- at taxpayer expense. Sweet deal. (See below)

Is it a coincidence that quite a number of privatizing ed reformers have present or past ties to the real estate industry? Eli Broad made his initial fortune in the home building industry. Mort Zuckerman publisher of the charter-cheerleading US News & World Report and now on the Broad Foundation's board, is a real estate industry billionare. There are a number of others on various ed reform org boards.

Check this out:
Georgia lawmakers last year passed a bill requiring school districts to share their unused space with charters for free. California provides money to charter schools to help defray facilities costs. And in New York City, the mayor and school chancellor have handed over vacant buildings and classrooms to charters, making for some uncomfortable bedfellows when traditional and charter schools with different programs and resources share space.


The Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish School Board, the two major overseers of charters in New Orleans, have historically provided their charters rent-free building space.

But, in certain cases, it's been unclear whether the district or the charter school bears responsibility for maintenance or repairs on the buildings. Such issues have typically been resolved on a case-by-case basis, said Green. "It almost becomes this weird sort of negotiation when a charter asks the RSD to handle something on its building," he said.

from: http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2009/12/recovery_school_district_looks.html

That's why, when Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson targeted centrally located school buildings like T.T. Minor and maybe even the Horace Mann bldg. (Nova), for closure, some wondered whether she was laying the groundwork to have "vacant" buildings available for charters to move in.

As we know, it made no sense for MGJ and the board to close the five buildings they did, demographically and financially. It resulted in overcrowding and did not save money.

suep. said…

So the business plan for these charter operators is:

Tap per-pupil public funding.

Use a public building preferably for free, and also get the school district to pay for any maintenance.

Tap even more private funding from foundations and hedge-fund managers who get to claim the New Markets Tax Credit and feel good about allegedly "helping needy inner city kids."

Pay their administrators six-figure salaries.

Hire non-union teachers whom they can overwork (KIPP teachers have to work from about 7 am to 5 p.m plus Saturdays and be available by phone for their students most of the week) and underpay. Better yet, hire malleable Teach for America, Inc. recruits.

Kick out kids who aren't performing as they want them to -- but keep their per-pupil state funding.

See how it adds up?

So yes, real estate is a big part of the equation. So to re-coin a phrase, in order to understand some of the real motivations behind the current corporate ed reform, as well as following the money, follow the real estate.

Here's more info that spells this out pretty clearly (from a post I did back in January on our original Seattle Ed 2010 site)http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/2010/01/free-public-school-buildings-for.html:

Free Public School Buildings for Private Charters

A chain of private charter schools in New York and Connecticut called Achievement First has figured out a way to get taxpayers to buy its buildings for it.

Here’s an excerpt from their annual report revealing how they acquire their buildings:

"Our Facilities

Achievement First is incredibly grateful for the support of our host districts in helping us bridge the facilities challenges that accompany our growth. Thanks to the leadership of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, all New York Achievement First schools have been provided with public school buildings at virtually no cost.

"We are also thankful for partnerships with Bridgeport Public Schools and Hartford Public Schools and their provision of free facilities and support for our expansion to new communities.

"As we continue to grow, Achievement First is in the midst of building a comprehensive K-8 facility for Amistad Academy in New Haven--funded through a combination of private philanthropy and a $24MM state facility bond--and one for Achievement First Endeavor in Brooklyn. (...)"

(p.33 of 2008 Annual Report, bold emphasis mine)

In other words, this private charter franchise is being given public assets -- school buildings -- for free.

No wonder private enterprises are so eager to have a piece of the public education pie: we the taxpayers are subsidizing their businesses.

seattle said…
"Pay their administrators six-figure salaries."

Don't we pay our administrators (principals, many SPS staff members at JSIS, and MGJ) a 6 figure income too?

"In other words, this private charter franchise is being given public assets -- school buildings -- for free."

Taxpayers pay for these buildings for public education. Since charters are public schools, open to all students, without tuition, why shouldn't they be able to use closed public school buildings?

"Hire non-union teachers "

Some charters have unions, like Green Dot.

"overwork (KIPP teachers have to work from about 7 am to 5 p.m plus Saturdays and be available by phone for their students most of the week)"

Do you know any public school teachers? Most of them work at least 7A-5P. They meet with kids and parents before and after school hours, grade papers and homework from home, coach their school sports teams, lead high school clubs, attend evening school meetings, serve on BLT's, Site Councils, committees. And MANY give their home phone numbers to families (at least in my kids schools).

"Tap even more private funding from foundations and hedge-fund managers "

Isn't this what we did with the New School? Aren't we trying to do this with STEM? Isn't there an entire SPS committee (or is it a school board committee??) that is dedicated to public/private partnerships

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