Archives for category: Detroit

Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan, here recounts the series of disasters associated with Governor Rick Snyder’s Education Achievement Authority.

 

The EAA enrolled children from the state’s lowest performing schools, all located in Detroit. It experimented with an unproven software program called BUZZ that was rife with glitches. Inexperienced teachers came and went. The governor boasted of the EAA’s successes, but enrollment dropped from 10,000 to about 7,000.

 

Why were these children used in an experiment?

Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder persuaded the Legislature to create the so-called Education Achievement Authority, a cluster of very low-performing schools in Detroit. The first superintendent of the EAA, some 15 schools, was John Covington, who resigned his job as superintendent in Kansas City (which soon afterwards lost its accreditation) to take over the EAA. Covington’s time in office was blighted by controversy over conditions in the schools, the over-use and misuse of technology, as well as issues concerning the use of EAA credit card for travel and other expenses. Snyder has wanted to make the EAA statewide, but thus far it has not been successful and has lost enrollment.

 

The board of the EAA hired Veronica Conforme, who has been the interim, leader, as superintendent at a salary of $325,000, the same as Covington’s. She pledged to give $25,000 of her salary to local charities. Most recently, Conforme was working at the College Board where she was involved in the “Access to Rigor” campaign; before that, she was chief operating officer for the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg administration. She began work in the headquarters of the NYC Department of Education in 2003, after serving as director of human resources at Columbia University’s Medical Center. She has degrees from Syracuse and Columbia. She has a strong administrative background, but apparently no experience as a teacher or principal.

Jack Martin, the emergency manager for Detroitpublic schools, has canceled his proposal to cut teachers’ salaries by 10% and to increase class sizes to as many as 43. This is great news for the children and teachers of Detroit!

“In place of the pay cuts, Jack Martin will ask state education officials to extend the district’s five-year deficit elimination plan to seven years, consider layoffs for non-school employees and look to revenue increases from future property sales and possible student enrollment increases.

“Facing a fierce backlash from teachers, parents and even the state school superintendent, Martin announced the reversal of the planned cuts as part of the district’s plan to eliminate its $127 million deficit.

“The district’s deficit elimination plan, submitted to the Michigan Department of Education and approved last week, was intended to make up for the loss of a projected $18.5 million in revenue from a countywide school tax that voters rejected Aug. 5.

“Detroit Public Schools’ sole focus is and must remain providing the highest quality education possible to the children of Detroit,” Martin said during a news conference.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140826/SCHOOLS/308260087#ixzz3BWxXkqaf

Governor Rick Snyder long ago made it clear that the state of Michigan has no intention of saving public education in Detroit or anywhere else. The city’s emergency manager announced a 10% pay cut for teachers, larger class size, and the closing of 24 schools. The schools have a deficit of $127 million. The wage concessions by teachers will save $13.3 million.

“Parents, educators and community stakeholders met Wednesday morning in front of Ludington Middle School to denounce the cuts, as well as the district’s previously announced plans to increase class sizes.

“Brian Kindle has two children beginning Head Start in the fall, and a 15-year-old at Cody High School. He said he’s worried about how pay cuts will impact his kids.

“I say hands off first responders, kids and teachers,” he said. “I’m here to support parents and their children, and to ask Gov. Snyder not to vote for the proposal.”

“Kindle said he fears additional cuts will result in further neglect of students in the classroom.

“We should have classrooms on every corner, instead of liquor stores,” he said. “That would be great, but we don’t have a society that encourages it. But I will remain on the forefront supporting our children.”

Dr. Thomas Pedroni of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project contends that the cuts to classroom instruction are NOT necessary. He shows in this analysis that the emergency manager has allowed other categories of spending to grow, while cutting the single service that matters most: classroom instruction.

Allie Gross arrived to teach in Detroit as a Teach for America recruit. Her three years in a charter school opened her eyes. She saw classrooms without supplies, children promoted who were not ready and did not get the intervention they needed, she saw feckless leadership promoted to larger roles. And she saw the growth of an industry. In this article, she describes what she learned about “the charter school profiteers.”

Here is a sample of a fascinating and disturbing portrait of what is happening in Detroit:

“In charter-heavy Detroit, permissive regulations have created an environment ripe for mismanagement.

“According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Detroit ranks number two nationally for charter enrollment. The city is right behind New Orleans, with over half of its school-aged students attending a charter school in the 2012-2013 school year. That number will no doubt rise now that Michigan has lifted its cap on charter schools. Even more pernicious, the majority of them are run by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs). According to a report by the National Education Policy Center, Michigan has the highest proportion of for-profit EMOS running their charter schools — 79 percent of the total.

“Privatization and limited oversight have conspired to produce a new figure: the education entrepreneur. In the chaos of the Detroit school system, education entrepreneurs see an opportunity for experimentation, innovation, and venture capital. And the decentralized nature of charter schools works to their advantage. With little coherence across schools, the issue of serial education entrepreneurs emerges. Those with limited track records of success are able to wedge their ways into school after school, with nobody checking up on past performance.”

When Governor Rick Snyder created the Educational Achievement Authority for the state’s lowest-performing schools, he promised bold new thinking. One of his bold plans is a kindergarten called the Brenda Scott Academy, which has a kindergarten of 100 students. It is a stretch to call it “new,” because classes of this size sometimes existed a century ago.

The lead teacher, a veteran, is 30. Her helpers are in their firstvand second years of teaching.

“The hub’s large size concerns some experts. Officials with the EAA say teachers using this system are better able to tailor their lessons to the needs of individual children.

“Research has shown smaller sizes work, but this model has pretty much in a sense, early on, has kind of proved that wrong,” said Marques Stewart, Brenda Scott’s principal…..”

“The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends kindergartners be educated in a defined group no larger than 20 to 24 students. Within that, it says, the teacher-student ratio range should be 1:10 to 1:12.

“Particularly for younger children, you need small groups for their ability to focus and their ability to form strong relationships with the teacher and to have an effective learning experience,” said Barbara Willer, the organization’s deputy executive director.

“One of the things that’s important in terms of early childhood education is you’re focusing on all areas of children’s development. Not only academic development, but also their social development.”

“Those early relationships are especially important for at-risk children, Firestone said. At Brenda Scott, 73% of students qualify for a free lunch — a barometer of poverty — though the school gives free meals to everyone. The school is in an area with a highly transient population, school officials said.

“Firestone, Willer and Keith Myers, executive director of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, all said they know of no other kindergarten set up the same way. They learned about the hub through the Free Press and have never been there.

“Denise Smith, vice president for early learning at Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition of foundations and community leaders, was curious when she heard about the hub and observed it for 40 minutes in mid-May.

“What I think is unique and successful in this environment is that they are really using the opportunity to co-plan and co-teach, so they’re able to expand in and out of their classes, to hone in on the needs of individual children,” she said. “I think they’re making it work.”

Just remember: It’s all about the kids.

Just remember: The children are our future.

In Detroit, where they enroll thousands of children who need a great education, the state-appointed emergency manager has decided to save money by increasing class size to 43. Students will not get individual attention. Students will not get the support they need. Teachers will spend time on crowd control instead of instruction.

Governor Snyder cut corporate taxes.

It’s all about the children.

The Detroit Free Press is running a week-long series about Michigan’s charter sector. The first story was about a $1 billion industry with no accountability and poor results. Most charters in the state operate for profit.

The industry’s response? National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter chain, bought up the advertising space around the story to tout their wares. See the screen shot.

According to Eclectablog, John Covington will leave Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial Educational Achievement Authority for another job. The story was reported by the Detroit News.

Covington, a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, previously led the Kansas City district, which lost accreditation after his abrupt departure.

Legislators called for an investigation of the Educational Achievement Authority after the Detroit News revealed that Governor Rick Snyder’s favorite “reform” had piled up $240,000 on credit card debt.

“Among the findings: $178,000 was spent on hotel and airfare to 36 cities from April 2012 to February, while another $10,000 was spent on gas for Covington’s chauffeured car, $25,000 for IKEA furniture and $8,000 combined at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Meijer, Home Depot and Lowe’s.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140512/SCHOOLS/305120108#ixzz31bK9Zdsz

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