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Bay-Area Rocketship Charter, Where Vomit Stays on the Carpet.

December 17, 2017

In June 2016, I wrote a post about Rocketship charter schools, entitled, “Rocketship Education and Urinary Tract Infection.” 

The post focuses on an NPR report that includes mention of Rocketship’s inhumane treatment of penalizing students for going to the restroom, in the name of “using time most wisely.” From the NPR report, as cited in my 2016 post:

Some teachers handed out behavior penalties for going to the restroom….

As a result, “even third-graders were having bathroom accidents,” says Borja. “They were getting urinary tract infections and they put it on the families — that they don’t teach the kids to wipe properly.”

The current Rocketship teacher recalls parents raising concerns about a week with four separate accidents. And the former teacher who still works in the district said, “I’ve never had second-graders pee their pants except for at Rocketship.”

On December 14, 2017, I received notification of a new comment to my 2016 Rocketship post, from a commenter who identifies as “rkshp employee”:

hey, i work at rocketship and know all about that s**t. i let my kids go to the bathroom as many times as they want, regardless of what my admin says. read about my experience here:
https://charterschoolnightmares.tumblr.com/

I teach at a public high school, and one of the issues involves students using going to the restroom as an excuse to roam the halls. As one might expect, our administrators ask teachers to assist them with minimizing hallway traffic during class time. However, never have I experienced any authoritarian, micromanagement pressure to prevent students from using the restroom. Our school fosters a culture of human dignity.

Not so at Rocketship, apparently.

I had read about the launch of the “charter school nightmares” blog, which is apparently written by a single charter school teacher from California’s bay area. The blogger does not specifically name Rocketship on his/her blog site, but based upon the above comment and information on the “charter school nightmares” blog, it seems that the blogger is likely a teacher at one of the following Rocketship schools:

In the opening post, “rkshp employee” references none other than New York’s poster woman for killing childhood joy In The Name of Excellence, Eva Moskowitz, with an excerpt from her book, Mission Possible:

Something that school reformers will never get over is that elementary schools were/are/always will be happy, finger-painting spaces where kids can play, sing, make friends. They hate it so much.

image

Why do they hate it so much? Is it because children do not fit neatly into capitalism? Is it because university education is highly market-based but the markets still don’t play a role in kindergarten?

This was a snippet from this strange book.

It seems that Rocketship’s operators believe in Moskowitz-styled micro-control based upon the following staff handbook excerpt that “rkshp employee” features in another post:

Rocketship classroom memo

“Warm feeling” required in the bathrooms (??) but not cultivated among the human beings, who are being groomed for neurosis.

This next post also travels the neurotic path, right to Charles Dickens’ doorstep:

Rocketship $250k memo

Need money for your school? No problem. Just cut out “food.”

Note that there is no explanation for why this school will be $250,000 short, much less any spreadsheet detailing school spending.

In a description of the “charter school nightmares” blog, “rkshp employee” notes the following:

More about my school. We have:

  • no cafeteria
  • no school nurse
  • no on-site custodian
  • no school library
  • school is 7:45 – 4 PM (8.25+ hours) daily
  • recess is 15 minutes
  • lunch is 15 minutes and kids are not allowed to talk during lunch
  • every student (from pre-K to 5th grade) has mandatory computer class for 90 minutes a day

In another post, “rkshp employee” notes, “Our 3 principals are all TFA (Teach for America) alum.”

The following is from the TFA website. Keep it in mind as you think of warm feelings in bathrooms while students eat less because of unexplained budget shortfalls:

OUR ROLE IN DRIVING ENDURING CHANGE

In every community where meaningful progress is being made in educational outcomes, TFA alumni and corps members are playing an essential role. Together with our students and all who support them, we strive for justice and opportunity for all.

In closing, here is that TFA “essential role” in action: A post by “rkshp employee,” entitled, “Bay Area Charter Has No Janitors”:

Today at school we had some kind of ham sandwich at lunch. Two kids threw up on the carpet after that.

At my *~bAy aReA cHaRteR~* there are no janitors. So the through-up just sat on the carpet the entire day. Two whole puddles. On the carpet. In the middle of my room.

The entire time, kids were freaking out and we were supposed to “learn” for the rest of the day.

In my admin’s defense, each classroom IS equipped with this sawdust-like lemon-scented powder that the teacher is supposed to sprinkle on top of the through-up…

The company-wide “walk-though” was earlier that day but damn I wished they could have seen the two puddles in the middle of the room and still have the nerve to spew bullshit about nothing but the best for these kids!!

Rocketship and TFA: Nothing But the Best.

vomit

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → Charters, TFA

6 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    This is nitty gritty too rarely exposed. The printed documents reproduced here and the commentary deserve wide circulation. I do wonder why the rkshp employee stays.I’d guess there are not many options.

  2. Great post!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Jack Covey permalink

    Everybody needs to bookmark that page, then check it regularly:

    https://charterschoolnightmares.tumblr.com/

    • Jack Covey permalink

      OMG. These stories are mind-blowing, such as this one about the make-up of Rocketship’s faculty:

      Blogger’s description of a certain Rocketship franchise (Redwood City, I think .. with a student body heavy with Spanish speakers / Spanish as the home language):

      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
      “Started the year off with 17 teachers.

      “In October, 2 quit. When the first quit, her class split in half and the class size turned into 30+ for that grade. When the second quit, the assistant principal at my *~bAy aReA cHaRteR~* became a full-time teacher on top of being the principal.

      “Of the 17 teachers …

      “5 are certified teachers.

      “4 are TFA or TFA alum.

      “4 do not have any teaching experience prior to this August. The three weeks of time-wasting, completely irrelevant ‘professional development’ that we had right before the school year was all they had.

      “6 teachers’ only experience is within the charter network.

      “9 are teachers of color.

      “3 can actually speak Spanish.

      “Our 3 principals are all TFA alum.”
      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

      If this stuff is true, Rocketship’s Redwood City franchise is in blatant violation of the California Ed. Code regarding the requirements of charter school faculty.

      Then again, Rocketship’s honchos know that, even if this violation is reported to its authorizer or even publicized in the media, the school’s authorizer — bet it local BOE, county BOE, or the CA State BOE — will just issue a toothless “Notice to Cure” which Rocketship can and will promptly ignore.

      So much for charters being held accountable to the California Ed. Code.

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: Bay-Area Rocketship Charter, Where Vomit Stays on the Carpet | Diane Ravitch's blog

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