Over $1B and counting for TFA, Inc., de facto discrimination in charter schools, the failed Microsoft model hoisted onto our educational system and Maryland superintendent says “Stop the insanity”

The Weekly Update for the news and views you might have missed.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”

Frederick Douglass

I keep wondering when folks in this country are going to say enough is enough. Until then the Wendy Kopp’s, Michelle Rhee’s, the Waltons and the Gates will continue to plow on and plow  us under.

Today, we’ll begin with:

‘De facto’ discrimination in Connecticut: Where is the outrage?

What if it became clear that a public school in Connecticut wouldn’t accept many African American children or children from single parent households or children who come from households with same sex parents?

There would be outrage, demonstrations would be held and politicians would act to put an end to the “de facto” discrimination that was taking place in our state.

“De facto” discrimination is where the discriminatory practice isn’t built into the law, but into the practices of government, an organization or society.  While the law doesn’t require the discrimination, the discrimination exists nonetheless.

The Jim Crow laws were an example of legal (de jure) discrimination.  The segregation and discrimination that continued after those laws were repealed by the 1964 Civil Rights act were proof that de facto discrimination continued long after those discriminatory laws were eliminated.

Here in Connecticut, local public schools MUST provide services to any child who is a resident of that community.  They cannot discriminate.  (Town borders may create de facto discrimination, but within the town, discrimination is not allowed)

But Connecticut’s charter schools, despite the fact that they also use taxpayer funds, end up with a very select student body.

Connecticut’s charter schools are a very real example that de facto discrimination is taking place right here in our state.  Yet, most of our public officials remain silent about this vital issue.

Take at a look at the data

To see the data, go to Wait, What?

Next up, drill and kill.

From Edu Shyster:

The Silent Treatment: A Day in the Life of a Student in ‘No Excuses’ Land


Little Carolina is college bound, but to realize her dreams she must spend the next seven years at a college prep charter—in near complete silence.

Meet Carolina. This college-bound fifth grader is fortunate enough to attend a charter school where expectations are high and innovation and excellence abound. There’s just one wee catch. In order to realize her goal of opportunity and the promise of independence, Carolina must spend the next SEVEN YEARS in near silence. Sweet Carolina is not a novice in a convent or an inmate in a children’s prison but a resident of a horrifying place called “no excuses” land that, while often lauded by education rephormers, is rarely seen from within.

You see, Carolina is a would-be student at a proposed new school, Argosy Collegiate Charter School, in Fall River, Massachusetts. As part of its application to the state Board of Education, Argosy included a detailed hour-by-hour look at what Carolina’s typical school day is like (note: Day in the Life begins on page 144 of the application). The following is an excerpt from Carolina’s day.

7:10 am – Carolina, an Argosy Collegiate fifth grader is ready to board the school bus on the corner of South Main Street and Mt. Hope Avenue.  Just like every morning, Carolina’s mother, Mrs. Medeiros, an Argosy Collegiate Volunteer, supervises her daughter and the other four students who board the bus at this stop.  Mrs. Medeiros asks each student if they are ready to learn today. Students respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes, I’m ready to learn today. I can’t wait to learn something new!” “Excellent,” responds Mrs. Medeiros. Once the school bus arrives, Carolina and her peers board the bus one at a time and in silence, other than a greeting for Ms. Oliveira, the bus driver, who responds with, “Good morning, Carolina. Are you Determined to learn today?” Carolina responds, “Yes, Ms. Oliveira, I am Determined to learn today!”

7:27 am – Carolina arrives to Argosy Collegiate on time, and waits for the bus to come to a complete stop before gathering her belongings. She and the other students on the bus look for Mr. Silvia, one of her math teachers, who boards the South Main St./Mt. Hope Avenue bus every day as part of his morning duties. Mr. Silvia makes eye contact with Carolina and Dante, and signals them non-verbally to stand and walk off the bus. Mr. Silvia continues this procedure, row by row, and  the students maintain their silence except for a quick “Thank you, Ms. Oliveira” from Carolina and each of the scholars until all 28 scholars have vacated the bus.

7:30 am – The Executive Director, Ms. Pavao, opens the school doors, and warmly and individually greets every student by name.  When it’s Carolina’s turn to enter the building, Ms. Pavao welcomes her eagerly. “Good Morning, Carolina! Why are you here today?” “I am here to learn,” Carolina replies.  “What will it take?” asks Ms. Pavao.  “Determination, Responsibility, Excellence, Ambition, and Maturity,” replies Carolina.  “Absolutely,” says Ms. Pavao. “Let’s check your uniform quickly, belt, socks, and shirt tucked. Great…”

Carolina walks to her left to silently join the line of students walking around the perimeter of the room toward the breakfast pick-up table.  With breakfast in hand, Carolina continues to walk along the perimeter, just as she had been taught in student Summer Orientation,  until she reaches her advisory’s table, clearly identified with a laminated sign that reads “Boston University 5” next to a colorful picture of Rhett, the Boston Terrier, Boston University’s mascot. After 10 minutes, Ms. Pavao, the ED, walks to the center of the room to lead a clapped chant, letting everyone know that it is time for a cheer and some Shout Outs. 

“Good morning, Class of 2026!”  “We are Argosy Collegiate Scholars. We have the knowledge to go to college.  We share our knowledge with others because explaining what we know and justifying our thinking prepares us to transform ourselves, our communities, and the 21st century.”  Carolina and the rest of the students and staff repeat the chant in unison.  Scholars chant a short burst of encouragement about Responsibility, and scholars immediately return to silence. With a non-verbal cue, a hand gesture, Ms. Pavao directs the students and staff that it is time for silent cleanup. This is the cue for students who have cafeteria clean up jobs this week to wheel large waste cans to the end of each table.   Students silently carry their food trays in two single file lines to the end of the table, where there is a separate waste container for solids and liquids.  Students wait for additional directions and then gather their belongings to transition to advisory in silent, orderly lines, led by their homeroom/advisory leader.

To read the rest of Carolina’s daily routine of killing all of those creative brain cells, go to Edu Shyster.

From Diane Ravitch’s blog:


Hats off to TFA

Teach for America is an amazing organization. It has a board of directors with some of the most powerful corporate leaders in the nation. In its twenty two years, it has sent about 33,000 young college graduates to teach for a while in the nation’s neediest schools. This year, about 10,000 corps members started teaching.

Wendy Kopp often says that the TFA mission is not to replace the nation’s teachers, which is clearly impossible at the rate of 10,000 per year or even double or triple that number, but to produce leaders. It is interesting to note that the three most notable graduates of the program are Michelle Rhee, John White, and Kevin Huffman–all of whom advocate for charters and vouchers. Rhee is raising millions to fund politicians who want to eliminate collective bargaining rights and due process rights for teachers. Huffman and White are state commissioners who are implementing legislation to accomplish these ends, as they advance privatization.

With more leaders like these three, you have to wonder about whether public education has a future or whether it will be just a lot of chain stores with hourly employees.

TFA may be the most effective fund-raising operation in the education sector. Between 2006 and 2010, TFA raised $907 million dollars in gifts from foundations, corporations, and other sources.

And a little TFA kerfuffle. Wendy Kopp claimed in a recent interview that TFA members stay in teaching for eight years. Anthony Cody doesn’t believe it.

Neither does Jersey Jazzman. They want to see some proof.

Additionally, Jersey Jazzman called out Wendy Kopp for retelling the discredited story of Michelle Rhee’s brief and miraculous stint as a teacher in a Baltimore school twenty years ago.

Never a dull moment in the world of education reform.

After reading this next article I thought, why can’t Bill Gates learn from his own company?

Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant

Paul Allen on Steve Ballmer: "He looked like a Stalinist police officer".

Analyzing one of American corporate history’s greatest mysteries—the lost decade of Microsoft—two-time George Polk Award winner (and V.F.’s newest contributing editor) Kurt Eichenwald traces the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at the company that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.” Relying on dozens of interviews and internal corporate records—including e-mails between executives at the company’s highest ranks—Eichenwald offers an unprecedented view of life inside Microsoft during the reign of its current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, in the August issue. Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined.

Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

Stack ranking as in ranking students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and now even states. How far will we allow Gates to go before we say enough is enough?

To read this article in full, go to Vanity Fair.

And now for a moment of sanity.

Moco schools chief calls for three-year moratorium on standardized testing

“Health care reform is the best education reform we’ve had in this country,”


Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr said Monday that the country needs a three-year moratorium on standardized testing and needs to “stop the insanity” of  evaluating teachers according to student test scores because it is based on “bad science.” He also said that the best education reform the country has had is actually health-care reform.

Starr, who heads the  largest school system in Maryland and the 17th largest in the country, solidified his role as a prominent and thoughtful critic of federal education policy as he challenged major initiatives launched by the administration and the reform community. Speaking on a panel at a Washington Post Live education event, Starr said that the country’s education establishment is trying to do many things at once, specifically:

* Implement Race to the Top reforms that states promised to put in place in exchange for federal education dollars that the Obama administration gave out through a contest. Those reforms include expanding charter schools and evaluating teachers by using students standardized test scores to determine a teacher’s “value.”

* Implement waivers that the Obama administration gave to those states that agreed to implement Education Department-supported reforms in exchange for an exemption from onerous No Child Left Behind mandates.

* Implement Common Core State Standards and create new standardized assessments that align with them.

Starr said that states and school systems can’t do all of these things at once, and concluded, “We need a three-year moratorium on all standardized tests.” 

He also said it was wrong to evaluate teachers based on the scores their students get on standardized tests because the method that is based on “bad science.” He noted that he had previously worked in the New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school system, where was director of school performance and accountability. It became clear, he said, that the formulas used to assess a teacher’s value with the use of test scores had huge margins of error, as much as 55 points. While he said he is sure that President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have the best of intentions, they are wrong to embrace this assessment method. In Montgomery County, standardized test scores have no percentage weight in teacher evaluations.

In fact, he said that a good way to create assessments for Common Core-aligned curriculum would be to crowd-source the development and let teachers design them rather than have corporations do it. He criticized policies that help make public education “a private commodity.”

Asked what he would do if he had the power to make one change to improve teaching, he said he would find more time for teachers to collaborate with each other. And he said that all of the emphasis on innovation in the classroom is well and good, but it doesn’t address the fact that 22 percent of the country’s children live in poverty and that the effects of that affect student achievement.

“Health care reform is the best education reform we’ve had in this country,” he said.

This week, I will leave you once again with Chris Hedges on You Tube.

Something is coming

Any time hedge fund managers…when they walk into the inner city areas and start talking about poor children’s education, it’s not because they want kids to read and write, it’s because they know that the federal government spends $600B on education and they want it and they’re going to get it.

Have a good one.

Dora Taylor

Posted on by Dora Taylor Posted in Weekly Update

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