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Charter Schools

If Mr. Perry wants journalistic integrity, he’ll start with the man in the mirror

Andre Perry has spent several years writing indignant missives about education reformers. He should write those hot pieces for black papers, and he should do it for free.

Some jokes just write themselves. In this case, Mr. Andre Perry is back again with another (but the same) grievance piece against his former reform bosses in New Orleans. I don’t know what they did to hurt him, but the pain is real.

This time he’s bothered by funded media (or at least media funded by foundations he opposes):

I…would like to see a resurgence of local news, and in particular, ethnic media, which serves audiences that are mainly comprised of African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. As syndicated news and articles with big city datelines crowd out local ethnic media, voices already ignored by local mainstream media go to the wind. If there’s truth to power to be spoken, marginalized people of color must have more news outlets.

Perry writes this for Hechinger.

Here is their staff:

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 8.42.30 PM

I’m sure these are fine people, but the picture does live up to the point Mr. Perry is making. Were his concern actionable, he might consider the best ways to support “ethnic” media and black organizations is to write and work for them. I support his call to revitalize the once prominent position local black press had in black communities. Having worked with local black news papers and their association over the past few years, I can tell you the one thing they need is content. This piece Mr. Perry wrote could have gone to any number of black papers who would have eagerly printed it.

My message here: don’t talk us to death. Support your people for real.

Also, looking at Hechinger’s long list of “partners,” I see one that visibly black entity (Ebony). Not the local black papers Mr. Perry and I want to support. (In full disclosure, I’ve written for several of Hechinger’s partners).

He continues….

Into the breach stepped big pocketed national foundations, who on the issue of education reform poured hundreds of millions into communication firms, national journalism associations like the National Association of Black Journalists and online news outlets in an attempt to uplift pro-reform stories, drowning out local dissent. In the absence of a daily paper that counters the pro-charter narrative, the Walton, Gates and Broad Foundations found it relatively easy to make New Orleans a positive case study for the rest of the country.

My first thought here is “do I need to remind you again how much money is in anti-reform“? I’m damn happy there is a counterbalance on our side to the education establishment’s sole mission to trap kids in education deserts so they can be cash cows for public employees.

Second, has he no sense of irony?

He wrote his anti-rich-people-funding-journalism piece for Hechinger Report.

Here are their funders…

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But, unfortunately, he continues, and this is where it becomes black-on-black slime:

I’ve always said that it’s too easy to put a black face on a white agenda. Education is rife with paid bloggers, publishers and outlets who are paid to endorse a particular sector. Facebook exec [Campbell] Brown created one such organization in The74.

Again, I think Mr. Perry opens himself to the same criticism he’s dishing out.

While I disagree that it is a “white agenda” to focus on expanding educational options, opening new schools, training new educators, and developing infrastructure for counterinstitutions to educate children when state schools fail to do so, but I’ll entertain that and Mr. Perry’s other swipe at the existence of “paid bloggers.”

April 11, 2011, this is the smiling face of New Orleans reform, and its Mr. Perry’s face:


He looks happy with his role as a paid New Orleans education reformer.

And, when he was happy when he asked Education Post for $150,000 of Broad and Walton money.

Here is what he said he would produce:

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 9.21.41 PM

In the end, we paid him to be a blogger. It was expensive and not worth it. If Mr. Perry now believes people are less upright because they have contracts or jobs to do work they believe in, he’s going to need a mighty big mirror, and a few days of contemplation.

As for us “black faces” pushing new schools, we know the strategy for anti-reform communications contractors is to invalidate us by attacking our funding sources. It’s an old, tired tradition, especially coming from people who have sought the same funding from the same sources.

Shame on Hechinger for publishing this hypocritical nonsense and throwing shade on their colleagues in other publications. I would hope this is beneath them, but hope is apparently misplaced.

Mr. Perry, these revenge pieces are so played out, and a true waste of your talent. You are an educator with a Ph.D and experience running (charter) schools. I would think you might spend some time thinking about how we get eight million black students into schools (or other learning environments) that put them on track to be equally as payable as you.

*Note: I have a message in to Liz Willen who leads Hechinger Report asking if any portion of Mr. Perry’s column for Hechinger Report is funded by a third-party. I will let you know when I receive an answer.

Charter Schools

I don’t care if KIPP changes their slogan if they still get results


Good People, some of y’all keep asking me about the internal work the KIPP charter school network is doing to interrogate itself for racial justice concerns, which begins with them changing their well-known slogan”Work Hard, Be Nice.”

I’ve resisted commenting because I think it’s a phony problem.

But, since questions continue to come my way, here a few thoughts:

1. KIPP can change their slogan to whatever they think helps them meet their organizational objective. You don’t have to like it. Stay in you lane.

2. People from the Right love any facile news peg that allows them to belabor the case that “woke” is going too far. I’m sympathetic to their complaint, but notice they have ZERO to say about it when white supremacy goes too far…..ever. It’s way too convenient and I’m tired of that. To them I say: woke isn’t doing nearly the damage to our country and out culture that your president, your party, and you are doing. Clean your own toilet before inspecting others’.

3. So-called “Ed Reform” is full of self-important individuals with axes to grind for one reason or other. Sometimes it’s just straight up competition, sometimes it’s malignant jealousy, sometimes its egotism because they didn’t get a grant or one of their AMAZING criticisms wasn’t heard, or whatever. To them I say, focus on your own house people and shut up about what others are doing.

4. On the liberal side, there are school/reform leaders who blow with the wind and will swing to something like racial justice theology as a shrewd value-signaling move to save their position within the field. Their perfection of woke-speak is a shield meant to position them as “allies” against white supremacy even as they enjoy every privilege and benefit of it.

5. I don’t give a damn if KIPP changes their slogan from “Work Hard, Be Nice” to “Eat Healthy, Drink Water,” or “Say Nice Things To People,” or “Don’t Take Crap From People On The Internet” – just as long as they keep teaching kids to beat the odds in the classroom. As of this point I haven’t heard a single them from them that tells me they aren’t going to keep focusing intently on teaching, learning, and outcomes.

6. And, finally, no – telling kids to “Work Hard, Be Nice” is not telling them to be complicit or be a slave or be compliant to white masters. That is almost as stupid as saying changing the slogan it teaching kids that merit doesn’t matter. Both claims are so damn stupid I can’t imagine educated people aren’t embarrassed to make them.

In the end, I hope everyone can focus on education, focus on results, and focus on the opponents of our field.

Please people: pop open a can of Mind Your Damn Business and drink heavily.

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Charter Schools

Sydney Johnson: California charter schools support their families during a tough time

If you listen to critics you’ll believe charter schools are the enemy of public education. If you look at how many of them are serving their students and families during the coronavirus pandemic, you might see a different story.

Private schools and some charters have found the transition to “distance learning” relatively easy, but public school districts have struggled to ensure students have functioning technology, internet access, and teachers trained to teach online.

Even worse, less than half of school districts have written plans to address pandemics even as experts have been warning of one coming for years. (Isn’t it delicious for public school cultists that Bill Gates is one of those who sounded the alarm about a coming pandemic, and he’s now putting his considerable resources toward expediting the search for a COVID-19 vaccine?).

Sydney Johnson tells the story of how *some* charter schools in California have acted quickly to meet the needs of families (even beyond their educational needs):

For schools like Fuerza, shifting to online classrooms was a relatively quick endeavor because the TK-5 charter school already had technology in place. At home, ensuring a supportive learning environment for students is more of a challenge. Fuerza and a handful of other charter schools across the state are responding by connecting families to resources they need so students can participate in class at home, from internet discounts to legal support.

In the switch to distance learning, many California schools have struggled to purchase devices for students, get teachers up to speed with online teaching and contact parents of students who aren’t participating in distance learning. But at Rocketship and some other charter schools, students were already completing digital assignments daily and teachers were routinely reaching out to parents through texts and home visits.

During the first week of distance learning, Anguiano’s oldest son Abraham, who is in fourth grade, was unable to turn on the laptop provided by his school, and the family didn’t have an extra working computer to give him. The next day, Anguiano had a new charger for her son’s laptop and was ready to go after replying to the morning text message, notifying staff that the device wasn’t working.

Most days, Anguiano said her kids have what they need. But the transition to distance learning has been difficult for the whole family. On top of managing two kids and her own office work, which is now mostly remote, her husband, along with thousands of other workers throughout California, was recently laid off from his construction job.

To help families with similar struggles, Rocketship, a charter management organization with 13 schools in California, initiated a new program at each campus called the Care Corps, a team of staff who reach out to every family every day during the shelter-in-place order to ask if they need support.

“Some say, ‘I’m an essential worker and I’m concerned that I will bring something home to my family,” said Christina Vasquez, the business operations manager at Rocketship Fuerza. “Sometimes they just need someone outside of the home to talk to.”

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Charter Schools

Why aren’t teachers freaking out about Biden and Bernie’s education task force?

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, put together an advisory council to help his state “reimagine” public education. Fearing Cuomo and his partner, the Gates Foundation, will produce a plan that creates accountability and expectations in their public school pension farm, the NYC teacher types pounced.

“There’s no current classroom teacher on this list of advisors” they whined.

For the record, here is Cuomo’s list of advisors:

  • Kaweeda Adams, Superintendent, Albany City School District
  • Jaime Alicea, Superintendent, Syracuse City School District
  • Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Founder, Dance Educator Laboratory (DEL) 92Y
  • Melodie Baker, Director of Education, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director, New York State PTA
  • Meg Benke, Provost, SUNY Empire State College
  • Jackie Burbridge, Parent, Suffolk County
  • Katie Campos, Partner, Strategic Collective
  • Anthony Collins, President, Clarkson University
  • Stephanie Conklin, Master Teacher, South Colonie Central School District
  • George Dermody, CEO, The Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference
  • Karol Mason, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Austin Ostro, President, SUNY Student Assembly
  • Martin Palermo, Master Teacher, William Floyd School District
  • Roger Ramsammy, President, Hudson Valley Community College
  • Seema Rivera, President, Guilderland Central School District School Board
  • Shannon Tahoe, Interim Commissioner, New York State Education Department
  • Dennis Walcott, Former Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

As you can see, teachers, parents, students, higher education, nonprofits, superintendents, and other education officials are represented.

Now, contrast that with the farcical “unity” education task force assembled by current and failed presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Per Vox Media, here’s their list:

Sanders’s picks:

Biden’s picks:

  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), task force co-chair and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
  • Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association
  • Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers
  • Maggie Thompson, executive director of Generation Progress
  • Christie Vilsack, literacy advocate

Hmmm. This feels a little paltry.

Let’s start with the fact that Sanders seems to continue his trend of giving zero effs about honest Black representation or truly addressing K-12 education’s pedagogical and social issues beyond what political neosocialist agenda setters tell him works best.

Looking at his picks tells me his post-racial disaster socialism once again proves him an unserious candidate for any post responsible for educational progress.

Now, Mr. Biden, what gives?

Two national teachers’ union bosses, a political consultant, and the former first lady of Iowa?

Together, these picks reveal why the Democrats’ education agenda is useless to America’s most marginalized students:

Their list includes:

  • No school leaders who are successfully educating children deemed “hard-to-teach” by an out-of-touch education establishment;
  • No classroom teachers with a track record of success;
  • No parents of color desperate for improved educational options;
  • No one with direct pedagogical insights into what will improve education for those who are poorly served in today’s public schools;

In short, both Biden and Bernie, when given the chance to show how genuine their interest is in educational improvement, fail the test by stacking the deck with political advisors in place of accomplished educators.

The funny thing is, none of the Badass Miseducators so abundant in social media grievance groups have come for Biden and Bernie, even as they have indignant seizures about the fact that Cuomo dare work with Bill Gates for his “reimagine” counsel in New York.

I guess that’s the surest sigh it’s all politics folks.

If you care about fixing education so it works equally well for everyone, there’s nothing to see here.

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