It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

L.A. students Re-taking "turnaround" school from charter hands to public hands

From Madfloridian's Journal at, with MadFlo tipping a hat to Michael Klonsky; indents are MadFlo's blockquotes, containing of other articles.

{Take note of how Los Angeles students took the initiative in the effort to retake the public school. All of following text is written by madfloridian.}

Taking back a failing "turnaround" school from a charter group without hurting their fundraising?

Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion Tue Oct 11th 2011, 01:02 PM That's really sneaky. It's hard to do that quietly. But that is what is going on in Los Angeles.

The charter group, L.A.'s Promise [note who's on board of directors], is having a fundraising time. So the school officials (including the state superintendent) are being careful not to harm their raising of money, although a school they took over, a "turnaround", is not working.

Hat tip to blogger Mike Klonsky.

Turning around the 'turn-arounds': L.A.'s Promise turns out to be a big lie

Out in L.A., they're "turning-around" Manual Arts High School again. School district officials announced that they will retake control over Manual from L.A.'s Promise, a corporate-style reform group they had appointed to turn the school around. The huge campus (3,500 Latino and African-American students) has been beset by overcrowding and endured a disorderly start to the school year that saw initial shortages of desks and textbooks and left some students without class schedules. In March, hundreds of Manual students walked-out to protest teacher lay-offs and transfers forced by the management group.

Ten teachers have no classrooms of their own; instead they share rooms and switch locations from period to period. A new school is expected to open nearby next year to relieve overcrowding. "The primary problem is that the classes have ballooned," said history and government teacher Daniel Beebe, one of the instructors without a classroom.

Writes Howard Blume in L.A. Times:

"Top district officials faced a dilemma in dealing with L.A.'s Promise. They wanted to address the situation at Manual Arts without alienating the backers of the nonprofit group. Officials did not want to derail a recently launched, major fundraising initiative led jointly by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and education philanthropist Megan Chernin, longtime head of the L.A.'s Promise Board of Directors."

Protecting a charter group that apparently did not do a good job. Hmmm. I doubt they would offer the same courtesy in any way to traditional public schools. Here is more from the Los Angeles Times:

L.A. Unified to retake considerable control of Manual Arts High

Los Angeles school district officials will retake substantial control over Manual Arts High, which has been part of a high-profile reform effort led by an independent nonprofit, officials announced Thursday. The campus has been beset by overcrowding and endured a disorderly start to the school year that saw initial shortages of desks and textbooks and left some students without class schedules.
But wait...looks like they will "throw more money" at the situation. The district will simply monitor the group more closely.

L.A.'s Promise endorsed a compromise under which the district "will take the lead in the daily organizational, managerial, and educational operations," according to a district statement. The district will also provide additional resources to the group's efforts at the school.

Wonder what would happen if they threw more money at public education?

The nonprofit's once-solid relations with the teachers union reached a new low in recent months, when the group forced many teachers at Manual Arts and Muir Middle School — which L.A.'s Promise just took over — to seek jobs on other campuses. Administrators also put more pressure last year on Manual Arts teachers with stepped-up classroom observations and critiques.

..."Senior Andrea Leyva complained of 50 students in an art class with no supplies and of using a 10th-grade textbook in a 12th-grade Advanced Placement English class.

That's pretty advanced placement class using a 10th grade textbook. The Schools Matter blog [post of October 9] covers the issue of who is running L.A.'s Promise: "So-called LA's Promise isn't all that promising."

ho's Running LA's Promise?

Typical of unelected boards charged with running neoliberal quasi-private schools like charters in Los Angeles, LA's Promise's twelve member board doesn't have a single educator. Instead their board is dominated by entertainment industry types (here in Los Angeles simply known as "industry") with some investment capitalists, bankers, CEOs, and a couple of corporate lawyers thrown in for good measure. Their Board of Advisors has the same dearth of educators or even people remotely connected to education. Most frightening among their decision makers is former Gates Foundation charlatan, the technobabbling Tom Vander Ark. Everything we need to about how Vander Ark operates is summed up in this New York Times quote:

But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.

Talk about take the money and run.

From September, in the Los Angeles Times, the words of a teacher who left there and did not go back.

At Manual Arts High, a caring teacher is at the end of his rope: Jeremy Davidson, an art teacher at Manual Arts High, walks off the job because of unruly students. Many share his sense of frustration.

Art teacher Jeremy Davidson skipped the annual back-to-school-night at Manual Arts High this week. He'd walked off the job the day before — after 10 years at the mid-city campus — done in by a group of unruly ninth-graders who'd hijacked his sixth-period drawing class.

Davidson shared his story with me a few hours after he left campus. Two days earlier, he had emailed The Times, complaining about "the awful conditions" at Manual Arts.

"The overcrowded, dirty classrooms, and lack of support from administrators, is demoralizing and crushing the teachers — and not fair to students," he wrote.

Still, I had to wonder, what kind of teacher abandons those students when the semester has barely begun? A teacher at the end of his rope, Davidson told me; one who has had his fill of broken promises and dashed hopes.

"You keep raising your expectations, but nothing changes," he said. "After all these years, I look around and see that things are just getting worse."

10 years on the job. That's an accomplishment.
So it looks like the L.A.'s Promise charter group will keep getting public resources, but they will simply be monitored more. That is public money going to a private company with mostly entertainment folks on their board.
I guess the message is that it's okay not to do a good job unless you are a traditional public school. Discuss (3 comments) | Recommend (+10 votes)

No comments:

Post a Comment