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Los Angeles “iPad Fiasco” Former Supt. John Deasy Once Again in Charge of a CA School District…

John Deasy is the former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). After three-and-a-half years, in October 2014, Deasy resigned in the wake of a $1.3B iPad debacle coupled with a “robust travel schedule” that had Deasy out of town at times when LAUSD difficulties required a superintendent’s attention. From the September 2015 Los Angeles Times:

The beginning of the end came a year ago [in 2014], just before the school year started. Deasy was in New York to discuss challenges threatening education reform.

Back at home, the city’s public schools were in disarray. By the time Deasy returned for the first day of classes, a malfunctioning scheduling system had forced students into gyms and auditoriums to await assignments. Some of them ended up in the wrong courses, putting their path to graduation in jeopardy.

Two months later, in October, a Superior Court judge ordered state education officials to meet with Deasy to fix the scheduling problems that he said deprived students of their right to an education. But Deasy flew to South Korea the next morning to visit schools and meet government officials. A week later, he resigned, under pressure, as head of the nation’s second-largest school system. …

Deasy, who was paid $350,000 a year as superintendent, took more than 100 trips, spent generously on meals as he lobbied state and national lawmakers and wooed unions, foundations and educational leaders, according to credit card receipts, calendars and emails obtained under the California Public Records Act.

In October 2013, I wrote about Deasy and his usage of construction funds to support his purchase of botched iPads and the connections among Deasy, Gates, Pearson, and Apple. (Feel free to read it for some quick background.)

But back to the September 2015 Los Angeles Times article on Deasy:

Deasy spent about $167,000 on airfare, hotels, meals and entertainment during his tenure; half paid by philanthropists and foundations, and the other half by the district. Private foundations often make contributions to school districts, and the LAUSD’s position is that those funds can be used for the superintendent’s expenses.

Among the philanthropists who subsidized his expenses, according to district records, were entertainment executive Casey Wasserman and Eli Broad, both of whom support education causes through their foundations.

Eli Broad was there to rescue Deasy after he exited LAUSD; as this September 2016 EdSurge article notes, the Broad Center scooped up fallen Deasy as a Broad Center superintendent-in-residence. However, one would not know as much from reading the Broad Center’s August 01, 2018, profile on John Deasy. In fact, a reading of Deasy’s Broad Center bio offers no mention of anything but the marvels of John Deasy (no mention of any billion-dollar iPad fiasco or Deasy’s penchant for heading out of town when LAUSD business needed a superintendent’s presence)– just a seamless transition for Deasy, Wonder of LAUSD to Deasy, New Wonder of California’s Stockton Unified School District (SUSD).

That’s right: Deasy is again employed as a California superintendent. In May 2018, the SUSD board voted unanimously to confirm Deasy as its next superintendent and offer him a three-year contract, despite publicly voiced concerns about Deasy’s past, as the May 08, 2018, Record reports:

News reports from his tenure in both Maryland and Los Angeles have cast numerous clouds and concerns over [Deasy’s] selection [as SUSD superintendent], including whether or not Deasy legitimately received his doctorate from the University of Louisville in Kentucky to a failed technology program at LAUSD.

It took a seven-month investigation by the University of Louisville to determine the degree he received from the university was legitimate. Later, a bid to place iPads in the hands of every student, teacher and administration resulted in an FBI raid of LAUSD offices. No charges were filed.

“It does not take a rocket scientist to do a Google search,” Stagg High School teacher Rosslyn Halekakis said during public comments Tuesday night. “I did my own search and I find it hard to believe that any of you would vote in favor of this decision so quickly. God only knows what will be in store for our students and parents of Stockton Unified.”

Bobby Bivens, president of the Stockton branch of the NAACP, also spoke and said he plans to contact colleagues in Southern California and Maryland, and questioned Deasy’s business abilities.

“The fact that he bought $1.3 billion of Apple iPads without going through the due diligence … I’m surprised he’s even allowed to do business in California,” Bivens said.

Interestingly, I discovered Deasy’s SUSD hire while reading up on former Mew Mexico superintendent, Hanna Skandera.

It seems that as of June 2018, Skandera is the editor-in-chief of a publication, the Line, produced by the Frontline Research and Learning Institute. Skandera was hired to replace Deasy, who co-founded the Line in 2016 and served as its first editor-in-chief.

Like post-LAUSD-pre-SUSD Deasy, Skandera is also getting a “between jobs” boost from Uncle Eli; as of this writing, she is listed as one of Broad’s superintendents-in-residence. Apparently former Broadies remain on Broad’s superintendents-in-residence page until they become superintendents once again (some are retired and might remain as “mentors”); the current page includes the following ed reformers who are not currently superintending a district or state:

For now, Deasy is off of the list.

We’ll see how long it takes for him to return.

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John Deasy

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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.

 

“Portfolio Model” of Charter Schools: Expanding Opportunities for Kids to Fall Thru the Cracks.

“Portfolio model” is a term used to describe the conversion of a once-centralized, local-board-operated system of community public schools into a number of decentralized charter schools that escape centralization (and having public input in the form of elected boards) even if some semblance of an elected board approves and periodically reviews charter renewal.

Prior to post-Katrina charter school proliferation in New Orleans, the public schools were directly run by the locally-elected Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). In 2005, the state took over most New Orleans public schools and converted all state-run schools into charter schools. In 2017-18, the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) started “returning” those charter schools “to” OPSB; however, the charters are not directly run by OPSB, with OPSB chiefly limited to reviewing charters for renewal every several years. Thus, this “return” of schools is not really a return because these “returned” charters still chiefly operate as their own education islands. There is no unity among the schools in this “system,” which means that once a student exits one charter, what becomes of that student is no longer that school’s concern, period.

OPSB cannot force another charter school to accept a student who leaves one school (for whatever reason). Even though public education is compulsory in Louisiana for children ages 6 to 17 years, a portfolio model means that when it comes to guaranteeing that every New Orleans student has a school to attend, each and every one of those portfolio-model charter school can take the stance, “That’s not my problem.”

A portfolio model means no centralization, and no centralization creates many non-networked cracks through which students might fall.

And fall they do, as reported by New York journalist, Andrea Gabor, in this 2015 post:

I had the opportunity to ask several experts at the ERA (Education Research Alliance of New Orleans) conference questions about governance/oversight problems in New Orleans and about the kids who “slip between the cracks.” …

Some highlights:

Deirdre Burel, executive director of the Orleans Public Education Network and the panel moderator: “There’s common agreement, we know for a fact that kids have slipped through the cracks because of the (school) closures.”

When an audience member asks: “The RSD doesn’t know who’s in the system?”

And again later: “Who’s responsible for the whole?”

Burel answers: “There is no whole. That’s a governance conversation. There is no single entity responsible for all children.” …

I asked a similar question during a panel on “Test-Based Accountability Effects of School Closure” on school closings, their impacts on high school students, and received the response below from Dana Peterson….

…“We’re more worried at the high school level than the elementary level. Its true some kids do leave and fall out of the system.” That’s why, he said, the RSD started hiring counselors specifically for high school kids two years ago to try to make sure they didn’t disappear from the system.

When I asked whether he knew how many kids fall between the cracks, Peterson acknowledged: “I don’t know the total number. I don’t.”

So, even though the term, “portfolio model,” sounds chic, when I hear the term, my first thought is of students falling through those decentralized cracks.

On July 31, 2018, former New Orleans charter school promoter, Neerav Kingsland, announced the formation of  yet another pro-market-ed-reform nonprofit, the City Fund, a national organization aimed at promoting and proliferating the portfolio model of charter schools in cities across the nation.

No website yet, but “the team is hired,” so Kingsland “wanted to share the news.”

Chalkbeat reports that the City Fund has at least $200M in its coffers, from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation and the Hastings Fund, with other fiscal support not known.

As Kingsland writes, the goal is to “scale up” the portfolio model, which it seems is assumed to yield “better schools,” “great public schools,” and “world class public schools.”

One irony here is that in order to acheive what must take root locally, Kingsland and Co. are forming a national group “to provide better support to local leaders.”

A second, better irony is that ed reformers from different pro-charter situations are consolidating in order to promote a decentralized charter model.

Otherwise, net charter school growth might just, um, fall through the cracks.

cracks

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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.

For-Profit “Teachers for Tomorrow” Drops LA and UT, Adds NC, and Puts FL in Bargain Bin

On July 12, 2018, I wrote a post about a for-profit, online education business, Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT, heh) that purportedly credentials individuals with four-year college degrees to serve in the classrooms of states that allow online teacher cert absent any requirement that such teachers appear in person in a classroom in front of actual students prior to being hired as first-year teachers– at which time TOT hits those first-year teachers for several thousand dollars in fees for TOT’s virtual teacher prep.

TOT is clever to get its thousands in fees that first year (which TOT slyly terms an “internship”) since the clash between virtual training and K12 classroom reality might be too much for many of these TOTs.

At the time of my initial post, both Louisiana and Utah were among 11 states listed on the TOT website. However, Louisiana and Utah have since been removed from the list, with North Carolina added.

Unlike other state links, the link for North Carolina includes no pricing information; however, it does include a fill-in-the-blank section for prospective NC TOTs to “share your contact information” so that TOT can “keep you updated on this new state-approved licensure option.” (Note that the Virginia also lacks prices, which I remember seeing when writing my previous TOT post.)

Since my July 12, 2018, post, TOT has adjusted its pricing for Florida, which has apparently gone on sale (only $2700 taken from those first-year paychecks and not the usual $4K -$5K). According to the July 27, 2018, Orlando Sentinel, test-centrism and thin paychecks are the problem:

Educators say finding teachers has become tougher because relatively low pay and Florida’s controversial teacher evaluation system, tied to standardized tests, has discouraged some young adults from pursuing teaching careers. Those problems have also pushed some teachers to leave long before retirement.

…The pool of teaching candidates is shallower than it has been, and principals are sometimes re-advertising positions, a sign they aren’t happy with the quality of would-be teachers sent their way, said Boyd Karns, executive director of human resources for Seminole schools. …

The Orange school district, Central Florida’s largest, had about 140 open teaching positions listed on its website this week.

Note that the same Orlando Sentinel article includes the statement, “new teachers, no matter how well steeped in their subjects, tend to flounder and even leave, if they jump in with no classroom preparation.”

At least Florida can count on TOT teachers being obligated to at least the first year when they have to pay off the $2700 TOT fee.

Then, the turnover likely continues.

The fact that for-profit education businesses like TOT even have a niche bespeaks the lie that test-centric ed reform is any shade of a K12 solution.

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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.

 

New Orleans Officials Pass the Buck on Student Asbestos Exposure at Lafayette Academy Charter School

Lafayette Academy Charter School is housed in an old building in New Orleans, and like many old buildings in New Orleans, Lafayette School (as it was once called pre-charter) has an asbestos problem.

However, the presence of asbestos is not the only problem; the greater issue is that Lafayette Academy Charter School parents were assured by both the charter operator, Choice Foundation, and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) (which, it seems, was misinformed by the Recovery School District, or RSD, which was in charge of the school facility at the time) that the asbestos cleanup was not conducted while children were present at school.

As it turns out, the “no kids present” narrative was false information, with the Choice Foundation laying blame on the “least expensive” contractor.

This responsibility-shuffling is one of the byproducts of New Orleans school choice. In this case, the bottom line is that the state took over the school and it is the state that should have made sure the contractors– contractors that it hired– were actually doing their jobs. Apparently as of a parent meeting held Thursday, July 19, 2018, RSD was still trying to promote the lie of no children being present. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report indicates that “children were walking in halls between the two contaminated areas.”

Another byproduct of school choice in New Orleans is that parents must deal with the shock of ensuing disruption (including, in this case, health-threatening asbestos exposure) brought about shifting sands of OPSB-RSD-charter-operator “accountability.” As it stands, Lafayette Academy Charter School students will be housed in two other school buildings as the 2018-19 school year begins.

Splitting the school between two campuses is one issue; testing the children for health issues is yet another. “School officials” are supposed to conduct “a separate meeting next week (the week of July 30, 2018) to address health concerns.”

Meanwhile, I have submitted to the state a public records request concerning asbestos testing in other New Orleans schools under the charge of the state post-Katrina.

Stay tuned.

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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.

Gary Rubinstein: TFA CEO Has Three Big Ideas For New Corps Members — And Two Of Them Bash Teachers

Gary Rubinstein is a Teach for America (TFA) alum who chose to remain in the classroom as a math teacher in New York.

I appreciate his insights into TFA. Below is an excerpt from a piece he posted on July 25, 2018, entitled, “TFA CEO Has Three Big Ideas For New Corps Members — And Two Of Them Bash Teachers”:

Teach For America and the Teacher Bashing Movement are inextricably linked.  Of course the most influential teacher basher of all, Michelle Rhee, is a TFA alum and former staff member.  At the alumni anniversary summits, panels are packed with notable teacher basher friends of TFA like former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan and former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein.

I was a 1991 TFA corps member and back then I was pretty naive about the skill of experienced teachers.  I was pretty sure that I’d be better than veteran teachers because I was a math major so I knew much more math than the average teacher.  Also as a graduate of Tufts University I felt that I had something a little extra to bring to the table when I became a teacher.  Back then, Teach For America was only in its second year and it was a naive organization too.  They didn’t do much to make me think I was wrong about veteran teachers.

Of course nobody goes into teaching their first year thinking “I hope I can be just like that burned out veteran who has been teaching for 30 years and has used the same lesson plans for the past 10 years.”  The fuel for young teachers is enthusiasm and the desire to be a superstar who drastically alters the course of his student’s lives.

One of the tricky balancing acts in training impressionable new teachers is to try to ground them in reality while not draining them of their enthusiasm.  An enthusiastic teacher who doesn’t have a clue about how schools work or how kids learn is going to make a lot of mistakes in the beginning of the first year.  As you only get once chance to make a first impression, by the time the new teacher figures out what he or she did wrong, it is often too late.  The year is sometimes unsalvageable.

If a new teacher believes that veteran teachers are lazy, he will ignore some of the valuable suggestions the veteran offers.  Teacher bashing actually sets rookie teachers (and the students of those rookie teachers) up for failure.

Elisa Villanueva-Beard has been the sole CEO of TFA since 2015.  Throughout the years I have written about her various speeches and op-eds.  A theme that appears in all of her speeches and writings is that there is a dangerous ‘status quo’ in education where experienced educators deprive students of equitable education because they have low expectations for their students.  This is also the fundamental idea that fuels most of the reform movement.  Basically, experienced teachers are lazy (most reformers make the leap to blame this on the job protections of unionized teachers, though EVB does not generally mention teacher’s unions).  When politicians believe that experienced teachers are lazy, it makes them want to make policies that expand budgets for things like Teach For America.  Teacher bashing has been a very marketable thing for TFA.

Be sure to read the remainder of Rubinstein’s post, including his observation that Villanueva-Beard’s husband runs a Texas charter school chain, YES Prep, staffed with (as Rubinstein notes) “a large number” of TFAers and rated as failing.

In 2014, I wrote about YES Prep and its requirement that seniors be accepted into college as a condition of graduation, a blackmail-styled gimmick to enable YES Prep to advertise “100 percent college acceptance” of its graduates. (Scroll near the end of this post.)

Appearance versus reality.

My thanks to Rubinstein for scoring one in favor of the latter.

no miracles

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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.

Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy High School Faculty: 70% Gone in a Single Year

New York charter-school serrated force, Eva Moskowitz, knows how to drive a faculty out of her Success Academy (SA) high school, as the July 24, 2018, Wall Street Journal reports:

Success Academy’s first high school has seen a wave of teachers leave in recent months, with some describing a punitive culture overly focused on testing and rigid discipline.

Of the 67 teachers and administrators at the Manhattan high school last fall, 20 will be back when classes start in August, its officials said. They said 25 quit, nine were dismissed and 13 took jobs elsewhere in the network.

Faculty said that the rate of departures is high even in an organization known for turnover. Six teachers who left Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts-Manhattan had a range of complaints, such as harsh policies that require students to repeat a grade and a lack of respect among network chiefs for staff viewpoints.

“What really makes me sad is the number of first-year teachers who quit and decided never to teach again,” said Natasha Venner, an experienced history teacher who left for a district school. …

Several teachers said they were upset that some bright, capable students were sent to a prior grade midyear….

One teacher who left, Lynn Strong, is an adjunct assistant professor of writing at Columbia University. … She said the juniors’ new classroom “became my worst fears of a test-prep factory”….

In June 2018, Moskowitz’s high school graduated 16 students, or 22% of the original 73 first graders from 2007.

Maybe some of the remaining 2007 first graders were moved back a grade midyear (can you imagine??), so maybe, like some of those exiting SA high school teachers, they are technically still tethered to Eva’s World.

Bright spot, though: At least the percentage of returning SA high school teachers is higher than the percentage of students who made it all the way through from first grade to high school graduation in 2018.

Bright spot… like the unforgiving, invasive bulb hanging from the celing of an interrogation cell.

eva moskowitz

Eva Moskowitz

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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.

Challenging Doug Harris to a Follow-Up Study Isolating OPSB and RSD Outcomes for New Orleans Schools

In a July 15, 2018, study on market-ed reform in New Orleans, researchers Doug Harris and Matthew Larsen combined data on two sets of New Orleans schools: those not taken over by the state and remaining with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), and those taken over by the state to form the Recovery School District (RSD).

OPSB schools, most of which are charter schools, include selective admission charter schools and also have notably more white students. Not considered “failing,” OPSB schools have had higher school performance scores and ACT scores. OPSB schools are fewer in number, but examination of the number of students attending OPSB high schools from 2007 – 2014 indicates that OPSB schools have served more New Orleans students than have RSD high schools for all years but one.

RSD schools are not the schools that white students choose to attend. The number of RSD schools has fluctuated over the years, with the ratio of RSD schools to OPSB schools being 4:1. However, as previously noted, the number of students attending OPSB high schools rivals and exceeds the number of RSD high school students from 2007 – 2014 (the years included in Harris and Larsen’s study.

New Orleans has two school systems, if you will: one for the “haves” (OPSB), and one for the “have nots” (RSD).

It is misleading to analyze all New Orleans students together as one “choice” district.

I believe that OPSB success can conceal RSD deficit, especially in analyses of high school and college success.

I believe Harris and Larsen have done the public a disservice by ignoring where a student has attended school (OPSB or RSD) in their study.

It is not enough to even offer analyses by race or low-income divisions alone since many black students attend OPSB schools.

I challenge Harris and Larsen to redo their study and compare OPSB outcomes with RSD outcomes. To do so offers distinct insight into the outcomes associated with state takeover and subsequent charter conversion (RSD) versus non-state-takeover that includes selective admission charters (OPSB).

When the state took control of most of New Orleans’ public schools, it was with a boast of turning those schools around. Provide the public with measurable outcomes on this boast.

The public deserves to know the degree to which such turn-around was achieved.

Produce the study. And if you cannot produce the study, produce a brief explaining why you cannot produce it.

ERA

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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.