Archives for category: Tennessee

T.C. Weber, blogger known as Dad Gone Wild, says it is time to end the Achievement School District experiment in Tennessee.

Then-State Commissioner Kevin Huffman persuaded his friend Chris Barbic to launch the ASD as an all-charter district made up of the state’s lowest performing schools. Barbic had created the YES prep charter chain in Houston. He promised that the ASD schools would all be in the Starr’s top 25% in five years.

The ASD has been embroiled in community protests and financial mismanagement from the start, writes Weber. It is nowhere near its goal.

He writes:

“I will show you more of what we’ve come to expect from the Tennessee’s ASD, which is more sloppy work and inattention to detail. Since inception, its been nothing but one issue after another for the ASD. In the past they’ve failed to report their per pupil spending, even though all other districts were able to. Back in September, reporter Ezra Howard analyzed the state data and showed that local efforts in Memphis were performing better than the ASD. October came and Bluff City, an education blog out of Memphis, reported the city in near revolt against the ASD. To close out the year, they engineered a hostile takeover of a Nashville school. Perhaps a few more Happy Hours are needed.

“When looking at this audit it becomes clear once again that the Achievement School District’s forte is not in the details. Details like, failure to have contracts overseen and ensuring that they are in compliance with regulations, allowing Charter Management Operators to get paid before they paid their vendors, and billing salaries to the wrong programs. The amounts of money are albeit small and therefore for many not that concerning, but I would argue that, when coupled with the entire body of evidence, it shows a pattern of behavior. A pattern that is not beneficial to the students or the tax payers of the state of Tennessee.”

Weber concludes:

“Governor Haslam has made a welcome change at the top of the Department of Education, but like with any illness, the body can only heal when all of the infection is removed. Chris Barbic and the Achievement School District were brought here by Kevin Huffman through their shared experience as Teach For America members. Time proved that Kevin Huffman was not a good fit for Tennessee. Time has also shown that TFA is not a great fit for Tennessee. They are a part of the past and Tennessee needs to look forward. It’s time to add the Achievement School District to that list of failed experiments and embrace policies that will take us into the future, before the damage is irreversible.”

The following post was written by a parent in Tennessee. The state’s Achievement School District was created by former Commissioner Krvin Huffman with the intent of taking control of the state’s lowest-performing public schools and handing them over to charter operators. The goal, promised ASD leader Chris Barbic was that the lowest 5% would be in the top 25% within five years. The clock is ticking.

The parent writes:

Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD) Superintendent Chris Barbic, like other reformers, often talks about creating opportunities for students “trapped in failing schools.” But this week Barbic is pushing legislation that would allow Barbic to recruit students from high-performing schools INTO schools the state has identified as “failing.” Barbic told Tennessee legislators on Wednesday that parents are beating down his door to get into ASD charter schools that are some of the worst performing schools in the state, according to the state’s highly touted accountability measures.

However, Barbic failed to mention that parents have submitted a petition with 78 pages of signatures to the Memphis school board asking them to remove their school from Barbic’s expanding charter school empire. Parents aren’t “voting with their feet” to attend charter schools after all.

Parents are smart to avoid ASD-operated charter schools. ASD schools are underperforming district-run schools in Memphis (http://www.bluffcityed.com/2014/09/just-facts-asd-vs-izone-performance/). Even the ASD’s most touted school in Nashville, Brick Church Middle, is underperforming its district-run counterpart, and it’s clear from an independent report that the ASD takeover of Brick Church created a terrible environment for the students and staff alike. (http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/22/asd-riles-parents-community-school-takeover/20648199/) Furthermore, a recent audit shows that the ASD has been mismanaging public funds, including federal money. (https://norinrad10.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/time-to-end-the-asd-fiasco/) But the ASD continues to expand over parent protest, most recently by cherry-picking the highest performing priority school in Nashville to help boost its own miserable test scores.

The ASD was supposed to be a boon for national charter school operators like Rocketship. Barbic and Kevin Huffman recruited Rocketship and others to Tennessee with the promise of dozens of schools that they would take over. Tennessee has rigged its accountability system to place over 80 schools on a “priority school” list that charters can target for takeover. So far they’ve taken over 22 schools in Memphis. But students zoned for those schools taken over by Barbic’s charter school cronies have stayed away in droves, most opting to stay with schools run by the local school board. This has upset private operators who were promised full schools if they came to Memphis.

In order to fill up the empty seats, Barbic wants to take kids out of schools that are performing well and put them in the state’s worst performing schools, all to protect the bottom lines of charter school operators. Students abandoning ASD schools are also impacting Barbic’s own bottom line. He can’t afford to hire enough teachers to comply with the state class size requirement, but he has found a way to solve this problem by increasing class sizes at ASD schools. He was recently was granted a class size waiver by the newly appointed Commissioner of Education, Candice McQueen. This week, he testified at the legislature that the ASD class sizes are 14-15 students, but the waiver allows him to expand his class sizes far beyond this number.

In Tennessee schools must be held accountable to some of the highest standards in the country – unless there is a profit motive involved – and then the powers-that-be not only look the other way, they actually work to create more opportunities for students to attend schools that the state has labeled “failing”!

If Barbic is working to place students enrolled in high achieving schools into “failing” ASD schools, he is obviously not concerned about the best interests of Tennessee’s students. He is concerned about the best interests of his charter operator buddies and his own bottom line.”

Toni Jackson, a teacher in Memphis, wrote a powerful article about what “reform” is doing to her city, and especially what it is doing to black and brown children.

 

She writes:

 

There is a stench in the air in Memphis and it’s a smell that is permeating throughout black school districts. One can get a whiff of it in Newark, N.J., Philadelphia, New Orleans and most urban areas that received Race To The Top federal dollars for education. This awful stench derived from education reform and it’s been perpetrated on minorities with lower incomes and those who live under a lower socio economic status.

 

This stench has led corporations and politicians to the belief that they can control the education of African American and minority children (black and brown students) simply because they were granted millions of dollars by the government. They want to buy our children and they believe the federal government has given them the power to do so with the money allotted to improve student achievement.

 

So these Nashville politicians have neatly packaged the Shelby County School District, which is 85 percent African American, in a box where students are behind, teachers are ineffective, teaching jobs are tied to test scores, and student scores are tied to whether a school is slated for takeover or is closed altogether.

 

These politicians have aligned themselves with rich corporate types and they have passed laws that will give themselves total and complete power over urban schools, urban teachers, urban children, and young black and brown minds from K-12 grades in Memphis, which will lead to generational control. We have seen this before, Memphis. We have fought this fight before and now 50 years later, we are facing the same thing our grandparents faced when they went against a power structure designed to have access and control over the minds of our children. It was called the civil rights era and the legal case was Brown vs. Board of Education. That is where the state would like to take us, but we’re not going back there.

A Nashville blogger who calls himself “Dad Gone Wild” went to a school board meeting, not knowing it would be a charter school pep rally. That means the meeting was packed with students and parents, no doubt wearing matching T-shirts, primed to cheer on cue. I have seen the same phenomenon at meetings of City Council hearings and State Legislature hearings. Even if it is school time, 9 am, 10 am, no matter. The buses are outside, the kids and parents have their scripts. What do they want? More charters! More closings of public schools! I always wonder, “If they are already enrolled in a charter, why do they want more? How many charters can one student attend? Whose agenda is this?”

 

Dad Gone Wild writes (open the link for his links):

 

“Sitting at that meeting, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in the middle of yet another charter school publicity stunt. I’ve written previously about what happens when charters get angry and I guess they were angry again because they had astro-turfed yet another meeting.

 

“The thing that really opened my eyes with this incident though, was the number of leadership people present. The folks present were equivalent to the top leadership at MNPS. I can only imagine what would happen if I called up Jay Steele, chief academic officer for MNPS, and asked him to get his office to show up and leap to applaud a letter that I’d written to disavow charter schools. He’d stop taking my calls. Not neccesarily out of disagreement or agreement, but because he’s kinda busy educating kids.

 

“That line, between educating and marketing, doesn’t seem to exist with charter operators. It all begins and ends in the marketing department. How is what they are doing perceived and if there is the slightest provocation, then they pull out the full public relations machine to attack. Things getting a little heated right before testing time? Time for a brand new shiny brochure. When a legislative session opens on the Hill, its time to get some kids up there. You’ve been to Public School Day rally’s with kids on the hill right? Didn’t think so, because they don’t exist. You see a group ushering kids through the capital building hallways during session and, dollars to donuts, its a charter school. If people are still questioning the purpose of charters schools, then it’s time for a straw man building op-ed. This is a very organized movement that does not allow dissent. It’s also a zero sum game.

 

“I’ve heard more than one charter operator argue that they are just part of the solution and that nobody plans on privatizing the whole district. Yet, they continue to grow at an alarming rate. Metro has 19 applications pending this year. Ever ask a charter operator when enough is enough? You’ll never get an answer because the true end game is to eradicate public education like it’s been done in New Orleans and being proposed in Atlanta and York. But they can’t really tell you that, can they? They’ll tell you its all about demand.

 

“In fact, this week I actually heard the argument put forth that just because all existing charters aren’t full, it doesn’t mean there is a lack of demand. If you had charters in every neighborhood, the demand would go up. Of course they won’t mention that if there was a charter in every neighborhood, since Public Schools don’t have the private monetary support that charters enjoy, it would starve the local public school. This demand argument probably has something to do with that goofy disruption theory that’s been circulating and I’ve been trying to make heads or tail of over the last 6 months.

 

“In the reform world, New Orleans has been nothing short of a booming success. Unfortunately, a closer look at the numbers tells a different story. Mercedes Schneider points to ACT scores to show the disconnect between the myth and the reality. A charter supporter might ask, but what about that 2013 CREDO study on charter schools? Well, let’s look at one of the reform movements champs Neerav Kingsland’s very own words to see how that was pulled off – by closing schools. The CREDO study shows massive improvement over the last couple of years by charter schools. But, the way this was accomplished was by constantly closing low performing schools and further destabilizing schools in the neighborhoods were children are starved for stability….

 

“The thing that most baffles me about this conversation is the complete and utter lack of evidence-based dialog that takes place. There are countless, and I could literally sit here and write a whole blog of hyper-links, that show that charters don’t educate the same students as public schools, that charters perform no better than public schools, that charters rob a district of precious resources, and that charters have a higher attrition rate. Yet, when confronted with the evidence, the conversation becomes about whether or not we believe all children can learn. A fact that I don’t think anybody has ever disputed, yet somehow has gotten twisted into a t-shirt slogan that plays on past prejudice.

 

These past prejudices give fuel to the desire to stifle dissent by labeling the choice movement as the civil rights issue of our generation. News flash, civil rights are the civil rights issue of our generation. We still have a long march ahead of us before we achieve actual civil rights for all. Claiming otherwise is just a distraction that deflects and prevents the evidence from being considered. Any evidence based argument is written off as biased or anecdotal. You know, like the story about how Johnny’s mother was a drug addict and his father used to beat him. Public schools were failing him and his 8 brothers and sisters that he had to tend to, but he thrived once he got into KIPP. Yea, that’s not anecdotal. Just more rules that apply to thee but not for me….

 

“It takes me back to childhood and there would always be that one kid who would create a game that only he knew the rules to and if you started to win the game he’d change the rules. Object to the rule changes and you were considered a bad playmate and he’d take his game and go home. This discussion on charter schools and education policy is the most bizarre conversation that I’ve ever been involved in. There seem to be no tenets or touchstones and it seems to be a small minority that constantly drives the conversation. In Metro Nashville we expect kids in charter schools to make up only 10% of student body in 2016-2017 yet charter schools are discussed at virtually every school board meeting. They are a constant looming specter over the system preventing focus on real issues.

 

The charter conversation is also the most serious conversation I’ve ever been involved in, because, not only will increased growth financially hurt the overall system, but because, despite the fact that charter supporters refuse to acknowledge that the delivery system matters, what our schools look like is what our society will look like. Create a stratified school system and you create a stratified society….

 

“It’s imperative that we demand a system that will educate ALL children. We have to demand a system that doesn’t attempt to determine winners and losers. A system that supports ALL children’s needs so that they can truly learn at their full capacity, because its not enough to just say, “all children can learn.” True civil rights can only exist when all children are given an equitable opportunity to shape their future. We need to confront the opposition with the truth about their proposed system and the impact it will have on children and their communities.

 

“Charter schools have grown exponentially out of the fears that have been instilled in parents and fanned by the reform movement. This leads me to think about some advice my father once gave me. His words were to, “Always make sure you are running towards something and not away from something.” That idiom has served me well over life and is applicable here. Charter operators want you to flee the current system. I choose to run towards a stronger more responsive public system that reflects our democratic ideals. I urge you to join me and make this a evidence-based story and not an added chapter to Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense.”

Teach for America is reducing its corps members in Memphis, according to Chalkbeat.

“The organization is projecting placements of 110 new recruits in Memphis-area schools during the 2015-16 school year, down from 185 last year….

“TFA’s presence has not been without controversy. While school administrators in Memphis have struggled to find and keep qualified math and science teachers to work in some of its lowest-performing middle and high schools, local hiring of young, mostly white TFA members coincided with layoffs of many older black teachers amid significant budget cuts.

“Local teachers’ union officials have maintained that TFA recruits aren’t qualified and equipped to teach students in low-income environments.

“The district is required to pay TFA a $5,000 annual fee per recruit, most of which comes from a $90 million grant awarded to the district in 2009 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That money – designated for programs that improve teacher effectiveness in Memphis schools – soon will run out.”

I sent this to each Senate Committee member:

 

 

Dear Sen. xxxx

 
I am a TN educator and I’d like to ask that you consider some facts about public education reform in TN generally and the proliferation of charter schools in particular.

 

The testing & accountability measures in TN were written by ALEC and by for-profit entities that have an interest in privatizing public education.

 

The value-added model (TN version is TVASS), marketed as an indicator of teacher quality, is junk science according to the American Statistical Association and by a majority of independent researchers: The lit review is here:

 

http://vamboozled.com/recommended-reading/value-added-models/

 

How can an education system improve if Congress allows junk science to dictate the direction of our education system? Test scores are designed to sort & rank. Testing is not learning- it’s a tool that teachers know when & how to use. Congress doesn’t dictate to any other profession how to use the tools of their profession. Why should teaching be any different?

 

All around the country VAM & standardized test scores are being misused to close schools, disperse, destabilize poor communities, sort out high needs (e.g. expensive children in SPED or at-risk) and privatize. The Dept of Education is now promoting VAM junk-science for colleges of Education.

 

Accountability has been in short supply for TN’s charter authorizer Achievement School District (ASD) and for outside consultants sucking up our tax dollars for invalid teacher evaluations and useless standardized tests(e.g., TEAM/TAP was developed by convicted felon Michael Milken & his brother and has no valid research line to support it’s claims)

 

Here are some persistent problems with charter schools & education privatizaion that deserve greater accountability and compliance.

 

1. Increased Segregation

 

• The vast majority of high-poverty charters fail due to racial & socio-economic segregation. The high-poverty model has not met with success at a national level.

 

• The most comprehensive study of charter schools completed to date found that only 17% of charter schools outperformed comparable traditional pubic schools.83% of public schools are better than charters. New Orleans Charter Schools have the lowest ACT scores in the country.

 

• Many families now believe- as do virtually all leading colleges & universities- that racial, ethnic, & income diversity enriches classrooms.

 

• The main problem with American schools in not their teachers or their unions, but poverty & economic segregation.

 

Reference:

 

Kahlenberg (2013). From all walks of life: New hopes for school integration. American Educator. Winter 2012-2013, pp. 2 – 40.

 

2. Sanctioned Discrimination or Whose Choice?

 

• The first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school; it is unclear how this bill supports that choice. In fact, we have seen how the rapid expansion of the charter sector has undermined neighborhood schools, drawing resources from them and at the same time expecting them to serve our most at-risk students. –

 

• Charters take public money yet have the legal status of private schools.

 

• Charter organizations have gone to court to protect themselves from educating & retaining ALL children.

 

• Charters discriminate against children with disabilities, children who do not test well, or who do not fit into inflexible discipline policies. Such children may be admitted to bolster enrollment but are expelled or counseled out after BEP funds are distributed, Public schools lose $6,000/child and face class overloads near testing time.

 

• Charters advertise ‘choice’ but overwhelmingly exclude parent voice.

 

• Parents have no legal recourse to challenge harmful charter school practices. Charters may legally ignore the key aspect of parent involvement: school level decision- making.

 

• Parents and the public are consistently misled about the community desires for a charter school. Charter waitlists cannot be confirmed and many records are slipshod.

 

• In New Orleans where all public schools have disappeared, the most difficult to teach children have been abandoned.

 

References:

Green, P. C., III, Baker, B. D., & Oluwole, J. O. (2013) Having it both ways: How charter schools try to obtain funding of public schools and the autonomy of private schools. Emory Law Journal, Vol. 63.303.

 

Parents Across America (PAA) http://parentsacrossamerica.org/parents-america-hr2218-%e2%80%9cempowering-parents-quality-charter-schools-act%e2%80%9d/#sthash.Ch0TKntq.dpuf

 

Welner, K. G. & Miron, G., (2014). Wait,wait. Don’t mislead me! Nine reasons to be skeptical about charter waitlist numbers. National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/charter-waitlists

 

Gabor, A. (2013) The great charter tryout. The Investigative Fund. http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/1848/

 

What we support:

 

More community schools just like the highly successful Pond Gap in Knoxviile, TN.

 

To improve the schools we have, rather than shutting down or turning around traditional schools to make way for more charter schools.

 

All charter schools to have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school. Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.

 

Charter schools should be held accountable for their enrollment, discipline, transfer, and other practices.

 

Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable to the public.

 

Finally, TN has a shameful 45% child poverty rate. My state has one of the highest rates of low wage & minimum wage jobs in the country. Our public schools in TN need resources- not privatization- to compensate for failed political & economic policies.

 

Thank-you for your work & consideration,

 

 

Joan Grim

Remember all the stories about long waiting lists for charter schools? Well, it is not the case at Tennessee’s all-charter Achievement School District. The ASD has taken over low-performing public schools, turned them over to privately managed charter schools, and promises that the schools would be high-performing within five years. Unfortunately, the parents in Memphis and Nashville are not happy about losing their neighborhood public school.

 

Chalkbeat reports that Republican legislators in Tennessee are proposing to allow the ASD to enroll children from outside their zoned residential district, in order to find more students. It turns out that the schools do not have waiting lists and have low enrollments. One charter operator–Rocketship–won’t open unless the bill passes.

 

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge warned that the bill would siphon off students and funding from public schools:

 

“The need for such a bill indicates that the ASD is unable to meet its goal of turning around low-performing schools without a change in student population, and it also indicates that parents are not ‘voting with their feet’ to attend these charter schools,” said Amy Frogge, a board member for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and a vocal critic of charter schools and the ASD.
Frogge voiced concern that schools in the ASD will recruit the highest-achieving students from nearby neighborhoods, which could “burden traditional schools with larger populations of more challenging and costly-to-educate students,” she responded in an email to Chalkbeat.

Jeff Bryant reports here about the rapid expansion of charters in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, which seem to be ground zero for the “reform” movement, with a sympathetic conservative governor and conservative legislature.

 

Having been one of the first states to win a “Race to the Top” grant, Tennessee committed to hand low-performing schools over to private management.

 

Tennessee is also home to the “Achievement School District,” run by charter founder Chris Barbic, who has promised to turn the schools in the bottom 5% into high-performing schools in the top 25%. So far, the ASD has not met any of its goals, yet it is often cited as a national model, like New Orleans, despite Nola’s lack of success.

 

Bryant says: ““White kids get to go to a school with a Montessori approach while children of color get eye control.”

 

The far-right is in control of charter expansion, he writes:

 

For sure, charter schools have become a darling of conservative politicians, think tanks and advocates.

One of those powerful advocates, nationally and in Tennessee, is the influential Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing issue group started and funded by the billionaire Charles and David Koch brothers.

AFP state chapters have a history of advocating for charter schools, conducting petition campaigns and buying radio ads targeting state lawmakers to enact legislation that would increase the number of charter schools. In an AFP-sponsored policy paper from 2013, “A Nation Still at Risk: The Continuing Crisis of American Education and Its State Solution,” author Casey Given states: “The charter school movement has undoubtedly been the most successful education reform since the publication of A Nation at Risk.,” the Reagan-era document commonly cited as originating a “reform” argument that has dominated education policy discussion for over 30 years.

The Koch brothers themselves have been especially interested in public policy affairs in Tennessee generally and Nashville in particular. “Tennessee is a political test tube for the Koch brothers, ” the editors of The Tennessean news outlet write in a recent editorial. The editors cite as evidence the influence AFP had recently in convincing the Tennessee legislature to block a bus rapid transit system project in Nashville.

In July of last year, the Charles Koch Institute held an event in Nashville, “Education Opportunities: A Path Forward for Students in Tennessee,” to provide an “in-depth policy discussion” about public education and other issues.

As The Tennessean reported, the forum was advertised as “a panel talk with representatives of charter schools and conservative think tanks,” including outspoken and controversial charter school promoter Dr. Steve Perry.

Although the emphasis apparently was mostly on school vouchers, according to a different report in The Tennessean, the stage was thick with charter school advocates from Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute and Nashville’s Beacon Center of Tennessee.

The reporter quotes Nashville parent T.C. Weber, “who questioned the ‘end game’ of diverting funding from public schools” and said, “‘Are you looking to destroy the public system that we already have and build a new one based on your ideas?’”

Weber writes about the event on his personal blogsite: ”One of the questions asked of the panelists was what do [you] feel is the biggest obstacle … to the accepting of your vision. The reply was, ‘educating parents.’”

The presence of influential conservatives from outside the city “educating” Nashville parents about what kind of schools their children need has created resentment and suspicion in many Nashville citizens’ minds. Many fear the drive to expand charters is powered more by powerful interests outside the city than by the desires of Nashville parents and citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Bymaster, a community activist in San Jose, California, here describes the chain’s current plans to increase the number of its charter schools. Rocketship withdrew its applications for 8 schools each in Dallas and San Antonio. But it is moving forward in Nashville and D.C.

Bymaster writes:

Recently released board material from Rocketship Education indicates that the charter school corporation intends to grow significantly, tripling in size over the next 5 years. Rocketship is known for its high stakes test prep K-5 schools that minimize arts and extracurriculars, packing 650 kids on a 1.25 acre campus, running 41:1 student to teacher ratios, and elementary aged children receiving > 90 minutes of computer time in massive labs staffed by uncredentialed aids. Local and national pushback earlier this year led to Rocketship delaying school openings and committing to less aggressive growth. But board documents released last month indicate that Rocketship is ramping up growth plans again, hoping to triple in size nationwide by 2019. In the next 5 years, Rocketship hopes to double San Francisco Bay Area schools, opening 5,000 new seats, while opening 4,000 new seats in Tennessee, and around 3,500 new seats in Washington DC.

Rocketship recently announced plans for school takeovers in Tennesse through the statewide Achievement School District, with takeovers slated for August 2015. Rocketship’s executives worried that the Nashville and Memphis “community may be resistant and potentially obstructive” to school takeovers, and then stated that they intended to “aggressively build relationships and identify parent ambassadors” to mitigate the obstructive community in Tennessee. Labeling the low income minority communities that Rocketship targets as “obstructive” seems worrisome, even more so when one considers that Rockteship intends to take over the community’s local public school and replace it with a high stakes corporate charter school that is run from distant offices in Silicon Valley’s ultra-wealthy Redwood City. Rocketship’s aggressive stance in minority communities in San Jose has led, sadly, to division and rancor in communities that should be working together.

Rocketship’s newest school in Washington D.C. provides a good example of what to expect. Rocketship let Andre Agassi’s for-profit hedge fund corporation pick the site of the proposed D.C. school in the Anacostia community. Agassi chose a site adjacent to a halfway house. Rocketship’s V.P. of growth, Katy Venskus (who was convicted for felony embezzlement in 2002 working for a different non-profit) said that Rocketship did not participate in the process of selecting a school site, abdicating their responsibility to Agassi’s for-profit hedge fund. Rocketship attempted to hire a local D.C. outreach coordinator, who quit shortly after taking the job. Rocketship was unable to replace him and seems to have lost track of the project. Rocketship’s CEO Preston Smith recently told the Washington D.C. school board, “We’re really proud of our community outreach and partnership that we’ve done in other communities and it’s very clear that in D.C. we’ve still got some work to do” and then told Rocketship’s board that “during the process of approving this charter however, it became more apparent that we could do a stronger job in engaging the Washington D.C. community, especially the Anacostia neighborhood.” Agassi also just acquired another site for Rocketship in Tennessee. I have to ask the question, is Rocketship leading Agassi, or are the for-profit hedge fund managers really in charge?

The Progressive Magazine just did a special issue on Rocketsihp, with a satire video called “Profitship Learning” by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore

http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/12/187929/profitship-learning

http://www.progressive.org/content/dec-jan-2014-issue-table-contents

For more information on Rocketship’s growth plans, see:

http://www.stoprocketship.com/2014/12/15/rocketships-aggressive-new-growth-plans-triple-5-years/

http://www.stoprocketship.com/2014/12/07/rocketship-considers-forced-takeover-conversions-in-nashville/

People across America are speaking truth to power, right now on Twitter, where they are tweeting in opposition to charter takeovers in Tennessee.

The BATs’ twitter storm using the hashtags #WeBelieve2015 and #beliefgap calling out Tennessee Achievement School District superintendent Chris Barbic and his privatization agenda has gotten the attention of The Tennessean Newspaper. They’ve posted an active link to the twitter discussion on their website.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/columnists/david-plazas/2014/12/29/charter-schools-predatory-tactics-belief-gap/21004037/

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