Archives for category: Memphis

This is great news! Parents in Tennessee stopped the voucher bill again, as one of its key sponsors announced that he would not introduce the bill in the coming session due to parent opposition.

“Sen. Brian Kelsey said Monday that he won’t ask a Senate committee to take up his bill — which would pilot a program in Memphis — when the legislature reconvenes its two-year session in January.

““I listen to my community. Right now, there’s not enough parental support,” the Germantown Republican lawmaker told Chalkbeat after sharing the news with Shelby County’s legislative delegation…

“Kelsey’s retreat calls into question the future of the voucher legislation in Tennessee, home to a perennial tug-of-war over whether to allow parents to use public money to pay for private school tuition. It also comes as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has focused national attention on the policy…

“This week’s development signals that the momentum for vouchers may be shifting for now.

“Nationally, recent studies show that achievement dropped, at least initially, for students using vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio and Washington, D.C. And in Tennessee, one group that has lobbied annually for vouchers is taking a step back from the issue, according to its executive director.

“I can tell you that Campaign for School Equity will not be pursuing or supporting any voucher legislation this year. It’s a shift in focus for us …,” Mendell Grinter said, adding that the Memphis-based black advocacy group is switching emphasis to student discipline and other issues of more concern to its supporters.

“Even so, DeVos urged Tennessee lawmakers to pass vouchers during her first visit to the state last month. “Too many students today … are stuck in schools that are not working for them,” she told reporters. (The U.S. Department of Education cannot mandate voucher programs, but could offer incentives to states to pass them.)

“Vouchers have passed three times in Tennessee’s Senate, only to stall each time in the House. Proponents had thought that limiting vouchers to Memphis would garner the legislative support needed this year, but the Kelsey-Brooks bill didn’t sit well in the city that would be most impacted. Opposition swelled among county commissioners, local legislators, and numerous school boards across Greater Memphis…

“During discussions Monday with Shelby County lawmakers, Bartlett Superintendent David Stephens said vouchers would be a blow to districts already unsteady from years of reform efforts.

“Any time we take dollars out of public schools, we’re hurting public schools,” Stephens told Chalkbeat later. “We don’t need to do anything to hurt or cut funding there. When we talk in Shelby County about school choice, we have the municipal districts, charter schools, the county school system. That’s choice.”

Thank you, Tennessee Mama Bears and everyone else in Tennessee, for protecting your public schools.

Most of the charter schools in the failing “Achievement School District” are in Memphis. The bloom is definitely off the rose for charters in Memphis.

The State is compelling districts to turn student data over to charter schools. The Metro Nashville School Board said no. So did the school board in Memphis.

Memphis parents were asked if they would share their data with charters, and thousands of parents said no.

The state is suing the Metro Nashville School Board because it refuses to give its student data to charter recruiters. It will probably sue Memphis too. The state is more concerned about the tiny proportion of students enrolled in charters than about the 90+% enrolled in public schools. This is madness.

The charters say they need the data for their marketing.

What happened to those mythical waiting lists for charters?

If the charters want to compete and take students and resources from the public schools, why should the public schools help them?

PS: Sorry for the typo in the original title; I wrote it on my cell phone last night as I was walking the dog and could not see full title.

Gary Rubinstein has been tracking the progress—and the hubris—of the Tennessee Achievement School District. The ASD was created with millions drawn from Tennessee’s $500 Million Race to the Top Grant, the first in the nation. The basic idea was that the ASD would create a special district for the state’s lowest performing schools, turn them over to charter operators, and within precisely five years, these schools would be “catapulted”into the top 25% of the schools in the state.

The first cohort of six schools were in the bottom 5% of schools in the state.

“Two years into the five-year mission, the superintendent at the time, TFA alum Chris Barbic, declared in an interview that of the original six schools, two were on target to get to the top 25% in five years while one of the six schools, Brick Church Elementary, was on a trajectory to reach the goal after just four years.

“Three years into the five-year mission, the improvements that he had based these projections on did not continue and Barbic was saying that they underestimated how difficult this would be, even admitting that the ‘immigrant poverty’ he worked with as a charter school founder in Houston is very different than the ‘generational poverty’ he works with in Tennessee.

“Four years into the five-year mission, Barbic resigned from the ASD, citing among other things, his health as he had recently had a heart attack. He soon got hired by the John Arnold foundation to work on education issues for them.”

In the fifth year, the state testing system was messed up by technical glitches, so there were no scores. So the ASD got six years to work its magic.

Now the scores are out, Gary analyzed the results, and one thing is clear: the ASD was an abysmal failure.

Of the original 6 ASD schools, one is in the bottom 7%, the rest are still in the bottom 5% with two of them in the bottom 1%.

This is what is called a total and complete failure. It was not “for the kids.” It was for the ego-gratification of arrogant deformers.

Gary writes:

“There are actually other states considering starting their own ASDs, I just read that Mississippi is working on it. Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada already have them in the works. There was one in Michigan which folded and there is still the original one in New Orleans which continues to post awful test results.”

Most of the ASD schools were in Memphis. Jeannie Kaplan reported earlier today that author David Osborne was in Denver touting Memphis as a reform Success. Six out of six of the state’s lowest performing schools are still the state’s lowest performing schools. If this is success, what does failure look like?

The definition of a reformer today: Never look at evidence, never admit failure, never learn anything new, just keep pushing privatization, lower standards for teachers, and high-stakes testing. Fail, fail, fail, and do it again.

Gary Rubinstein has become a master at unmasking “miracle” claims, you know, the schools where 100% of the students in a poor neighborhood (formerly served by a public school) graduate or 100% go to college or some equally implausible miracle. None of these claims ever turn out to be true. Gary explains again and again that the “miracle” is made possible by attrition of the kids who were not on track to graduate.

He recently discovered a charter school in Indianapolis whose motto is “College or Die.”

The principal of this school just was put in charge of charter schools in Memphis.

Watch Gary analyze the data from the school in Indianapolis. How many went to college? How many “died”?

Nancy E. Bailey, who teaches in Tennessee, posted a blog about the legislature’s habit of using poor Memphis as its experimental district, where disruption is the rule and failure is persistent. Jim Gifford, a high school English teacher in Murfreesboro wrote the post on Nancy’s blog.

Tennessee had the bad fortune to win a bundle of Race to the Top cash, so some district had to be the donkey where everyone pinned the tail. It was Memphis. Every bad reformer idea lands on the students, teachers, and schools of Memphis (Shelby County).

Bill Gates dumped a barrel of money into Memphis to try out his pet ideas about teacher evaluation. Oops!

Then came the so-called Achievement School District. A total disaster!

Now legislators have decided to experiment with vouchers. Where? Memphis, of course.

The people who live in Memphis don’t like the idea of vouchers. But nobody cares what they think.

Two charter schools in Memphis are breaking their ten-year contracts, leaving Memphis because of under enrollment.

Some residents don’t understand how a charter school can break a ten-year contract.

Apparently the contracts were written on the assumption that the charters would be flooded with applications. They are not.

“Contracts signed by both Gestalt Community Schools and KIPP contain no penalties for exiting the Achievement School District before agreements run out, according to documents obtained by Chalkbeat.

“And by design, that’s not unusual in the charter sector. For better or worse, operators are given that autonomy, according to Dirk Tillotson, a lawyer and founder of a charter incubation organization in California.

“There hasn’t been much attention paid to closures in the law,” Tillotson said of charter laws nationwide. “The laws are more forward-looking than backward-looking when things might blow up.”

“That lack of clarity has suddenly started to matter a lot in Memphis, where charter schools are struggling to attract enough students to stay viable. Both KIPP and Gestalt blame their impending pullouts on under-enrollment — a challenge faced by more than half of the 31 Memphis schools operated by the ASD.”

No miracles.

The bloom is off the rose.