A Close Reading of Moneyball for Government & Why You Should Be Worried

Moneyball for Government

But the idea of using “data” to ration resources struck a cord with both Democrats and Republicans. Politicians couldn’t resist the opportunity to use a real David vs. Goliath baseball story to sell the American public on lowering their expectations of what government could deliver. And it sounds scientific too!

Much has been made of the Oakland A’s 2002 season, where the out-resourced baseball franchise fielded a scrappy team which temporarily silenced its critics with a then record breaking 20 game winning streak.

General Manager Billy Beane is credited with this baseball miracle. How? By breaking with tradition and putting together his team using the power of “data” to acquire undervalued players –an approach which became know as moneyball.

Did the moneyball innovation take the A’s all the way to the World Series? Nope. The winning streak did enabled the A’s to clinch their division title and land a spot in the playoffs, where they were defeated in the first round by the Minnesota Twins.

But the idea of using “data” to ration resources struck a cord with both Democrats and Republicans. Politicians couldn’t resist the opportunity to use a real David vs. Goliath baseball story to sell the American public on lowering their expectations of what government could deliver. And it sounds scientific too!

It’s a compelling story, especially in the hands of a writer like Michael Lewis, who coined the term and penned the 2003 bestselling book of that name. At its heart, Moneyball is about crunching numbers and relying on hard evidence-not emotion or tradition-to drive decisions about how to allocate scarce resources. It’s also about determining what data matter and what don’t (in the case of baseball, concluding that on-base percentage matters a lot more than total home runs). When it comes down to it, it’s a way to get more with less.

Which raises important questions: Can data, evidence, and evaluations similarly revolutionize America’s government? Can we provide better services to millions more Americans while actually saving billions of dollars? Can we make this country a better place for children and families by investing in what works, by testing it and retesting it, and by holding ourselves to a higher standard? In short, can government play Moneyball?     Moneyball for Government, pages 3-4

In my opinion, using moneyball to allocate government resources is very similar to managing a fantasy sports team. It’s an imaginary world divorced from the complex, precarious reality most Americans live in. It’s a perfect playground for the managerial elites to work their devious magic, without dirtying their hands with actual face-to-face interactions with the downtrodden citizens they profess to care so much about.

Here’s a critical detail to remember: Professional sports has always been a cut-throat business. Players are treated as things to be inspected, judged, cut, or traded — all based on their numbers. This isn’t an arena where fairness –not to mention social justice — is valued. Just take a look at what happened to Michael Bennett after he decided to take a knee during the national anthem.

I read Moneyball for Government, so you don’t have to. Here’s my list of reasons why allowing politicians to run our government like a fantasy sports team is a very bad idea.

Moneyball is about rationing resources and not providing services to everyone who needs them.

The goal of moneyball is to create a compelling narrative that justifies and even celebrates austerity. Moneyball’s fundamental assumption is discretionary spending must continue to be cut and streamlined in the name of “funding what works”. This trick immediately removes from debate any discussion about cuts to non-discretionary spending –like the 50% of the federal budget that goes to defense.

The authors admit that denying services to everyone who needs them is unfortunate, but there’s always a silver lining: rationing services is a cheap way to create a randomized trial!

Resources are limited, though, and we can’t afford to give the most promising interventions to everyone who wants them. This is unfortunate, but it regularly creates a perfect research opportunity. If there are five hundred slots available in a new program, then instead of enrolling the first five hundred eligible people to sign up, we can let a thousand eligible people sign up, and hold a lottery to determine who among them participates. Just like that, we’ve created a randomized trial….         Moneyball for Government, page 18

Moneyball is about funding low-cost interventions with high rates of returns.

Ever wonder why reducing class size isn’t an intervention embraced by philanthro-capitalists like Bill Gates — even though there’s solid research supporting it?

Simple, lowering class size is expensive and takes a lot of real teachers to make it happen. This isn’t the moneyball way, which is low cost interventions with a high rate of return.

This also explains why Moneyball for Government celebrates the work of organizations like KIPP, City Year – Americorps, and TFA. Organizations that provide low-cost teachers and no-cost volunteers, and by doing so, offer interventions which don’t cut into the bottomline.

Moneyball is pseudo-scientific and far from the rigorous kind of research it claims to create.

Low cost interventions require low cost measurements of success. Remember how rationing access to services provided an opportunity to create a lottery –sorry– a randomized trial? Well, there’s plenty of pseudo-scientific short cuts used to cook up moneyball’s version of “rigorous evidence”.

Another frequently noted problem for the most rigorous kinds of research is cost….     Moneyball for Government, page 19

 

Still, the truth is that randomized trials aren’t always feasible….                                         Moneyball for Government, page 19

 

There are some great recent examples of research that have used low-cost methods to study low-cost interventions that have turned out to make a real difference in people’s lives….                                                                                                                        Moneyball for Government, page 20

Strong scientific research requires well designed studies which attempt to reduce all possible causes to the one variable being studied. How studies are conducted are just as important as the numbers plugged into them. That’s why studies are published so other scientists –who have no vested interest in the outcome– can critique the study’s design and publicly discuss how unintended bias could have been introduced into the results.

None of this happens with moneyball, if you can attach a number to something, it automatically becomes valid.

Moneyball creates a surveillance state and privacy nightmare. Citizens shouldn’t be experimented on by their government, without their knowledge or consent.

Again, for moneyball’s low cost interventions to be financially profitable, these programs require low-cost research, which would ideally run on no-cost data.  Preferably, this data would be collected and shared by federal, state, and local governments.

Have you noticed a lot of talk about interoperability and student data? Ever wonder what it’s all about? Here’s the definition of interoperability: The ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information.

Here’s Recommendation 6 on how to get the bipartisan moneyball agenda rolling: Build cosscutting data systems that also protect privacy. (page 126) More detail can be found under Pillar 1: Relentlessly use data and evaluation to learn from experience. (page 116)

What does it all mean? I’ll let the authors explain:

Without a way of identifying what works and what doesn’t, progress in social policy is impossible. Until recently, the most sophisticated evaluations required a lot of time and money. Sometimes that’s still true, but not always. With modern data systems, we can do quick, sophisticated tests of different program designs. Think about a store chain testing different product placements in different stores –or a social-services agency testing different intake routines in different offices. To figure out cheaply what works, we can often use data that governments already collect. Think about a new textbook, rather than setting up a whole new approach to collecting data, we can just assign the book to half the classes (selected at random) in a district and compare the scores of kids who used the new text with the scores of those who didn’t, on tests the kids already take. And once we learn the best interventions, we can subject them to financial analysis to compare benefits and costs -and thus give policy makers an important tool to help make tough choices about different ways to spend limited resources.  Moneyball for Government, pages 116-117

Does this sound like the way to go about designing a rigorous scientific study? Hardly.

Did you get a hint of any concern about the protection of privacy? Absolutely not.

To me, this approach is more like the Silicon Valley startup mentality of code and release. A very profitable approach which usually runs on free data and lets the end users discover any flaws or bugs in the program – and suffer all of the consequences. Of course, the business may or may-not choose to clean up any of these bugs in a future release, if they feel spending time on the fix won’t negatively impact the bottomline.

It’s also important to point out that conducting a scientific experiment using a computer model to decide who does or who doesn’t get access to resources –without the subject’s knowledge or consent — is unethical.

It’s also alarming that the adherents of moneyball want the government to collect, store, and share vast amounts of digital information on its citizens. In short, create the infrastructure for a surveillance state. The Stasi Records Agency was able to wreck many lives with much less.

Moneyball is ripe for abuse and fraud.

Because the numbers used to justify interventions aren’t produced by actual controlled scientific studies, where this data come from creates a hidden opportunity for fraud and abuse.

For instance, numbers can be cherry-picked, others ignored. Unethical service providers could reverse engineer studies to create numbers that justify their intervention –and secure a contract for the services they provide.

Even the authors are worried:

One possible way to prevent the misuse of Moneyball -either through the politicalization of evidence or the use of less-than-rigorous studies as a justification for cuts in services -is to identify an impartial referee to evaluate studies and data that come through the door, wheter that be a nonpartisan office like CBO or a newly created one. Moneyball for Government, page 56

Forgive my cynicism, but I can think of one recent example where an “impartial referee” set up to prevent fraud in a world of data and financial speculation failed spectacularly, ruining the lives of millions of Americans.

Do you remember when all the credit rating agencies gave AAA ratings to a certain complex financial instrument which turned out to be junk? Do you also remember how this triggered the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the recession that followed?

I do.

When it comes to money, greed will find a way to bend, and other times break, the rules. It’s the one thing you can count on.

Now What?

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that moneyball isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but here’s a few education specific reasons to oppose the moneyball narrative:

If you want well resourced schools for every child, you can’t support moneyball.

If you want to end standardized testing, you can’t support moneyball.

If you want human teachers for kids instead of devices, you can’t support moneyball.

If you object to kids being used as guinea pigs for education reform, you certainly can’t support moneyball.

In the end, moneyball is just more too-good-to-be-true snake oil packaged in a shiny new Pay for Success bottle.

Don’t fall for it.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Relay Graduate School Indoctrination

Reposted with permission from Peg with Pen.

rejectrelayfinal-1

Ultimately, these practices are racist, classist and serve one purpose – protecting the privilege of a few while cashing in on our neediest children. These practices strip children of their culture, their ability to think, and they fuel the school to prison pipeline.  Schools like North Star, which Relay uses as an exemplar, have only 50% of their children from the fifth grade class still attending in the 12th grade.   They also serve far fewer children of poverty and/or those with disabilities.  Check out their attrition rates here and that will tell you everything you need to know.

This blog, and many future blogs, are going to be focused on the Relay Graduate School indoctrination occurring in my school and many schools across the country this year, due to the Relay principal academy which occurred this past summer. Colorado folks should also know that Relay intends to set up a permanent campus here in Denver.  Relay Graduate School was created to support the needs of charter schools, specifically KIPP, Uncommon and Achievement First.  Many of the individuals who work with  Relay also publish books that detail scripted ways of teaching, disciplining and leading. If you start researching the leaders of Relay Graduate School you will see that they are ripe with all sorts of training and experience that ultimately does not equate to true experience within the field of education. And one cannot equate charter school experience (like KIPP for example) as teaching experience.  I’d call it school to prison pipeline training.

Carol Burris, in an article for The Answer Sheet states:

At the Relay Graduate School of Education (RGSE), teacher education that balances research, theory and practice has been replaced by ‘filling the pail’ training. Designed to serve the needs of three charter school chains — KIPP, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools— RGSE has no university affiliation, yet awards masters degrees in New York State.

In order to enroll in their program, one must teach, uncertified, in an affiliated school. Traditional public school teachers need not apply. Degrees are earned by online video and reading modules, attending discussion groups and by the uncertified teacher’s students’ test scores. If the test scores are not up to snuff, the teacher does not earn her degree. There are no classes in educational theory or history, nor any indication that the candidate must complete a masters thesis requiring research and reflection. It is cookie-cutter training grounded in one vision of instruction — the charter school vision. Each candidate’s pail is filled with the same techniques.

Doug Lemov, a Relay “teacher”,  and the author of Teach Like a Champion, has a doctorate in business from Harvard and two degrees in English. As far as I can tell from digging through articles and bios on Mr. Lemov, he has four years teaching experience. Three of those years were in a private school in New Jersey where he taught English grades 9 -12, in addition to being a counselor of admissions. He taught one year of intro. to composition at Indiana University. He’s ultimately never taught in a public school, but he has plenty of experience leading and shaping charter schools.

If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I spend a great proportion of my time discussing opt out and various facets of how to tear down corporate education reform.  Tearing down these faux graduate schools will be a new venture for me and one that I must pursue simply for selfish reasons – it is inside of my school, infesting our democratic inquiry-based school with all sorts of propaganda – and sadly, we are just beginning. We are in year one of a three year grant.

You probably are wondering – how did this happen? My school is in “turnaround” status. We have a very diverse population of students within a high poverty community. At last count we had approximately 40 languages represented in our school and approximately 75% of our students on free and reduced lunch.  Our state passed legislation to create a school “turnaround” leaders program.  My school is one of the unlucky recipients of this program.  Our Colorado Department of Education then picked so-called graduate school programs to assist in “training” school leaders/principals, within this program. Relay was picked as one of the providers. As you keep digging and researching you’ll discover all sorts of ugliness to be found in terms of money wasted on Relay in lieu of more resources and small class size for our urban diverse districts.  There’s been several articles written on Relay in terms of the training – see here and here .  I also recommend checking out this blog titled School Finance 101.  JerseyJazzman has a great takedown of North Star, a charter school that Relay uses as a “model” for all schools to follow.

The following was my first attempt to explain what I’m experiencing at our beautiful elementary school where we have worked incredibly hard for the last few years to represent the culture and beliefs of an inquiry-based democratic school and community.

I wrote on FB:

Okay – so now that I’m getting indoctrinated with charter school rhetoric (even though I’m not IN a charter school) I am utterly in awe of how absolutely mind-numbing and surface level thinking absolutely everything is – from the discipline to instruction to data collecting to greeting students. Seriously. These folks lack any understandings of child development, instruction or an understanding of how to relate to children and build relationships, not only with children, but adults. They prefer barking orders and demanding compliance to scripts. Everybody gets a script – whether you are the coach, the teacher, the principal or the student. Orders barked and children parrot back all sorts of stupid crap. No thinking. Stupid posters everywhere that demand compliance about something. And stupid phrases folks are suppose to say to demand compliance – and they seriously request that the less words you say (as you bark orders) the better. Pretty much it’s all about raising test scores and learning nothing about anything. All about a “controlled” environment. And “aggressive” monitoring. No learning. For anybody. And definitely no learning about one’s self as a learner and future literate problem-solving citizen. It’s a combination of prison environment and some bizarro robotic world with a definite connection to the Native American boarding schools. It’s clear who will maintain the privilege here as they cash in on urban diverse schools such as mine. There’s definitely nothing about being human and caring about humans within a lovely community. That’s out the window. Kinda hard to stomach in a school that is striving to be a democratic inquiry-based school. I’d say it’s really like a serious punch in the gut. The more I read from the Relay Graduate School script the more I can’t fathom that there is any educator out there that would tolerate this bullshit. The fact that there is – and the fact that school districts and CO dept of ed HIRE these non-educators to “support” (I mean beat down until you comply) their schools – signals to me a clear step towards the end of the teaching profession as I know it and knew it. How anyone could believe that there is anything in this scripted process that is actually about meeting the needs of children I’ll never know. How to get it out and shut it down? That is the question.

So, I’ve spent this three day weekend researching Relay – researching their beliefs, their dog training, and the folks who are behind this – not only at Relay but here in Colorado – where certain legislators passed this bill and our Colorado Dept. of Ed. brought in Relay to provide these services.

My head has been spinning since the launch of our staff development where we received a quick outline of the fun headed our way via Relay.  It’s hard to talk about what goes on in your school without revealing personal details – and I wish no harm to come to anyone in my school, but I do feel a responsibility to share what’s happening, as everyone across the country should do, in an effort to protect children, save our profession, and our public schools. The silence is what is killing us.

Which is why I wrote this on FB: As education activists, it is our job to expose the evils of corporate education – but specifically we must expose the nuanced ways in which non-educators and testing are destroying our public schools and ultimately the lives of children. These fascist methods for forcing us into compliance to scripts which demand obedience to the test are becoming increasingly present in our urban diverse schools. The strangle hold is becoming greater by the day as schools in turnaround face the looming devastation which will occur as PARCC, or whatever test you must take, reaches its ultimate goal of shutting down public schools and creating great profit for corporations. In the final stages of this process it appears that many across the country are turning to those who embody everything we oppose – in a desperate attempt to keep a school from being shut down due to test scores. It’s a rather sickening process to watch. A bit of the Stockholm Syndrome twisted up with some strange process in which educators either fight back, or become one of them. It’s so important that educators do their research as these folks infiltrate their schools. Be prepared and know what’s coming. I’m devouring everything I can find on Relay Graduate School and their buddies at KIPP, etc. What scares me is that there is not a lot out there exposing Relay for what it is – which means, some are joining and becoming one of them. I will expose this nightmare every step of the way this year. We must take them down.

I want to dig a bit further into this idea of nuanced ways in which non-educators and their propaganda can infiltrate a public school. And please remember, one doesn’t have to be in a chain charter school to be the recipient of these militant practices – it could happen to anyone. I can assure you, never in a million years did I think they would make their way into my school, and now – here I am.

I am in a public school built on the ideas of community, inquiry, democracy, and love and respect for children. Yet, when I walked into school this year the language had changed.  Language shapes a reality. And when the language no longer matches what you see with your eyes, it is unsettling and creates fear and instability. Our reality shifts as the language shifts. I’m thinking democracy yet I’m hearing achievement and college career ready. I’m thinking community yet I’m hearing 100% compliance. And then, you begin to see it visually – the signage, the weekly staff bulletins, the “professional development” books. You begin to see it emotionally in the faces of those around you – the denial, the sadness, the anger and the appearance of “acting” because it’s not really who we are. Every time one of those words – corporate words – militant words – fills the air – it’s like a stab in the heart of our school.

Please understand that those at my school are not caving to this nightmare…..but regardless, its presence takes its toll.

Words/phrases like: infraction, acronyms for rules (H.A.L.L., S.H.I.N.E., F.L.U.S.H.), bite-size targets, controlled atmosphere, unpacking standards, accelerate achievement, proficiency – these words –  begin to become common place. We are encouraged to use economy of language – the less words the better when asking children to follow directions ( this is directly from one of the many Relay scripts).

Relay has scripts for everything. They have videos to show you second by second how to maneuver within these regimented practices. Within this system, the key to high test scores is compliance. When teachers are dealing with children who are traumatized, children who lack food and healthcare, children who are attempting to learn a second language, children who have no books in the home – when we are attempting to do all of this in a class size of, let’s say, 28 – the only way to keep a focus on the mind-numbing test skills (which is Relay’s goal) is to demand compliance while ignoring the realities in our classrooms.  Google “Uncommon Schools:” on YouTube to see the very regimented practices that they demand of their teachers and their students. Here is an example:

These (practices in video above) are not in my school – but it does show you how far the compliance will go if folks buy into this militant training. One person who watched the video on Facebook said….Hitler Youth???

What scares me about Relay Graduate School and their propaganda is that folks are willing to sift through all of it to find the good. I’ve been watching this happen for several years now. A perfect example is the book by Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion.  As stated earlier, Lemov is not an experienced teacher. He’s really a charter school king who is raking in the money by preying on urban diverse children. Yet, folks will look at Lemov’s book and find something good in it that they can use.  I’ve literally heard folks say, “But there’s a few good things in that book!”  Folks will also go to Relay training, or sift through Uncommon School videos and find something good. This is how the conditioning to comply begins. This is how little things – like a poster that says H.A.L.L. begins to create an atmosphere void of democracy and thinking human beings.  It may seem perfectly innocent at first – but it’s not.  Folks might say, structure is good! Remember this – structure and compliance are two very different things. I can create a safe structure/environment with my students that allows us time to think, talk, move, share, and work quietly as well as loudly!!! I can have a conversation with children before we walk into the hallway to help remind all of us (including myself) to talk quietly so we do not disturb the other classes.  There is nothing democratic about compliance, which is what Relay Graduate School scripts demand. Finding a few good things in something that folks compare to Hitler’s Youth or Native American boarding schools – in terms of the big picture – is honestly, terrifying.

Ultimately, these practices are racist, classist and serve one purpose – protecting the privilege of a few while cashing in on our neediest children. These practices strip children of their culture, their ability to think, and they fuel the school to prison pipeline.  Schools like North Star, which Relay uses as an exemplar, have only 50% of their children from the fifth grade class still attending in the 12th grade.   They also serve far fewer children of poverty and/or those with disabilities.  Check out their attrition rates here and that will tell you everything you need to know.

Another thought to consider – as Opt Out moves forward this year, schools like Relay will fall by the wayside if Opt Out indeed wins.  Without a focus on test scores Relay has nothing – there would be no reason to demand such severe compliance of principals, teachers, and children, if indeed there was no need to bow down to high stakes testing. Schools in turnaround, such as mine,  could return their focus to community building, student and teacher inquiry, democratic thinking, all in an effort to make the world a better place – a place where children walk down the school hallway talking and smiling. A place where children can share their thinking without being required to sit in their chair with hands folded – do you sit with your hands folded when in a meeting?  A place where names like “Relay” for a “school” wouldn’t even exist – because in a relay there are winners and losers. We know how this is going to end if we keep playing this game – we will lose – we must stop playing. Stop giving the corporations, the faux educators and the pretend graduate schools what they want  – we must quit giving them our children. Our children deserve it all – yet, we continue to sacrifice them to the corporations and those who dictate the corporate agenda. As educators, we cannot be silent as they experiment on our neediest children – we cannot be silent as they inflict practices on children which are meant to beat them down until they comply. To be silent – well, it’s simply a crime against humanity.

-Peggy Robertson

An Interview with Kenneth Zeichner: Relay Graduate School of Education

rejectrelayfinal-1

 

The reason that I use Lisa Delpit’s term “other people’s children” here is to underline the point that few if any Relay staff and advocates for the program in the policy community would accept a Relay teacher for their own children.

Ken Zeichner is the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

A former elementary teacher and longtime teacher educator in NY, Wisconsin, and Seattle, his work has focused on creating and implementing more democratic models of teacher preparation that engage the expertise of local communities, K-12 educators and university academics in preparing high quality professional teachers for everyone’s children.

He has also challenged the privatization of K-12 schools and teacher education by exposing the ways in which venture philanthropy has sought to steer public policy in education, and the ways in which research has been misused to support the privatization process. His new book “The Struggle for the Soul of Teacher Education” will be published later this year by Routledge.

This interview took place via email between January and February of 2017. It’s presented in full, with only very slight editing for style.

Editor’s Note: On March 8th, the Senate  voted to roll back the Obama Administration teacher education regulations. Ken contacted me to say this regulatory change will NOT affect what he said in this interview about Relay and the teacher preparation academy provisions in ESSA.  -Carolyn Leith

As an introduction, could you explain for our readers: What is the Relay Graduate School of Education and why we should be concerned.

Relay Graduate School of Education is an independent institution not affiliated with a legitimate college or university that prepares new teachers and principals and provides professional development services for teachers and principals to school districts and charter networks. It was founded in 2007 by three charter school networks (Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First) within Hunter College’s Education School and became independent in 2012 changing its name to Relay Graduate School of Education.

Until recently, its teacher preparation programs were all “fast tracks” preparing uncertified teachers who were fully responsible for classrooms after only a few weeks of preparation. Among those who they prepared were many TFA (Teach for America) teachers in NYC. Recently, they have begin offering a “residency” option in certain locations where during the first year of the two year program their teachers are not fully responsible for classrooms and are mentored by a licensed teacher. In both the fast track and residency versions of the program teachers receive a very narrow preparation to engage in a very controlling and insensitive form of teaching that is focused almost entirely on raising student test scores. Relay teachers work exclusively with ‘other people’s children’ and provide the kind of education that Relay staff would never accept for their own children. The reason that I use Lisa Delpit’s term “other people’s children” here is to underline the point that few if any Relay staff and advocates for the program in the policy community would accept a Relay teacher for their own children. Most parents want more than a focus on standardized test scores for their children and this measure becomes the only definition of success in schools attended by students living in poverty.

The evidence is clear that the kind of controlling teaching advocated and taught by Relay has often resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum (1), and in some cases in “no excuses” charters, in damage to the psychological health of children as evidenced in research of Joan Goodman at Penn in Philadelphia.(2)

We should be worried about Relay because it prepares teachers who offer a second class education to students living in poverty, and in my opinion based on examining the evidence, it contributes to exacerbating existing educational inequities in both student opportunities to learn and in the equitable distribution of fully prepared professional teachers.(3)

According to their website, it appears Relay was founded by three charter
school networks: Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First. Can you explain for our readers what student populations these charters serve and their approach to student instruction?

These charters exclusively serve students living in poverty, most of whom are of color. Relay teachers also work in other charters however, and in some cases they may also teach in public schools.

Relay originally received NY State approval when they were still part of Hunter College.They have used this approval and their accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation to gain approval to operate in other states. One could legitimately raise the question- how can a program gain approval from states and accrediting agencies that prides itself in having no theory, where few if any of its instructors have advanced degrees in education, and where much of what most people believe teachers need to know and learn how to do is missing from their curriculum, The answer is that Relay is very good at packaging and selling itself to others as offering successful teacher education programs despite the lack of any credible evidence supporting their claims. Their mumbo jumbo and smoke and mirrors game did not work however, in either CA or PA where the states ruled that Relay’s programs did not meet their state standards for teacher education programs.

One of the more shocking parts of the Relay story is the use of Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like A Champion (TLC) as an instructional bible for the Relay program. Can you explain who Doug Lemov is and why TLC is such a toxic approach to student instruction.

Doug LeMov is currently a “faculty member” at Relay and the managing director at Uncommon Schools, one of the charter networks that formed Relay. Lemov’s “Teaching like a Champion” is the basis for the Relay teacher education curriculum. These generic management strategies are highly controlling and are dangerous when they are the main part of what teachers receive in their preparation. Relay has argued that the choice is between theory or practice and that they focus on practice. This is a false choice, and while I agree that teacher education needs to focus on practice, and that some of these strategies are useful if they are used in the proper context, it matters what practices you focus on. Additionally, teacher preparation also has to provide teachers with theoretical background in learning, development, assessment, language, and so on. There is no attention to context, culture, or even subject matter content in LeMov’s strategies. There is also no credible research that supports their use with students.

Relay’s list of philanthropic investors reads like a who’s who of education reform. The Gates Foundation is on the list, along with the Walton Foundation, and The Learning Accelerator – which is all about blended learning and the development of human capital. What do you think these groups hope to gain by supporting Relay?

Yes, Relay has been heavily supported by philanthropists like the Gates and Schusterman Foundations and by venture philanthropists such as the New Schools Venture Fund as well as by individual hedge fund managers.(4) The funding of non-college and university programs that are linked to charter school networks helps these individuals and organizations further their goals of deregulating and privatizing public schools. As the charter networks continue to expand across the country and replace real public schools, there is more of a need for teachers who want to work in these schools that are often tightly regimented.  Many graduates of professional teacher preparation programs in colleges and university do not want to work in these charter schools. Foundations that want to expand the proportion of charter schools throughout the country must help create a parallel set of charter- teacher education programs to prepare teachers for charter schools.

The failing school narrative is one of the media’s go to frameworks when covering public schools. In contrast, reporters give Relay the hands-off approach. Hard questions about Relay’s questionable credentialing, focus on test scores, and the use of Teach Like A Champion don’t get asked.

I agree. The hard questions do not get asked about Relay. This is because Relay has done a very effective job of branding and marketing its programs and in getting the Education Department in the Obama administration to do the same. They have flooded the media with “puff pieces” that tout the alleged success of their programs in preparing high quality teachers. The fact is however, that there is a total lack of credible evidence that supports their claims. My recent policy brief published by the National Education Policy Center in September details the inadequacies of Relay’s claims.(5)

Can you explain Relay’s credentialing process and instructional focus? Also, why do you think reporters let Relay off the hook?

I think that the media has let Relay off the hook because they have been taken in by the slick “puff pieces” that keep rolling out about how great the program supposedly is. Most media outlets do not have the capacity to do a more in depth look at the program. Relay also has been very good in linking to currently popular issues such as teacher residency programs, diversifying the teaching force, and addressing teacher shortages. As I argue in my testimony to the CT State Board of Education, it makes no sense to accept Relay’s claims about being able to help districts and states address teacher shortages and diversify their teaching staff without examining retention data on Relay program graduates.(6)

Another media favorite is the “bad teacher” narrative. For instance, under NCLB Title 1 schools had to provide parents the opportunity to review the credentials of their kid’s teachers. The unspoken message being “bad teachers” have traditionally hidden out in Title 1 schools.

Under NCLB the U.S. Education Department violated an order of the 9th Circuit Court in CA that ruled against the Department’s waiver in administrative rule of the requirement that  “highly qualified teachers” have completed their certification programs.(7) They implemented this rule after being urged to do so by TFA and other fast-track programs that send underprepared teachers into public schools as teachers of record. The court had ruled that the certification status of teachers had to be made transparent to families and that only certified teachers could be called “highly qualified.” The court ruling would not have prevented TFA teachers from teaching in public schools, but it would only have required schools to be transparent with families about the certification status of teachers. After the court ruling, the Department inserted waivers to the court ruling three times (for one year at a time) as one of hundreds of amendments in general spending bills that were designed to keep the government operating. The real goal of the Department of Ed and programs like TFA and Relay was to get rid of the label highly qualified and focus on teachers’ effectiveness that was defined as teachers’ abilities to raise student test scores. In the new elementary and secondary education act, ESSA, the term highly qualified teacher has been eliminated.

Here’s the ironic twist, at least in Colorado. Relay – with all its questionable credentialing practices – is allowed by Colorado’s Department of Education to provide intervention services for public schools that fall under the turnaround school designation. How can this be?

This is the case because they were approved by the Colorado state education department to provide these services. Yes, their practices are very questionable, but because of their very strong branding and marketing they have managed to convince states (with the exception of PA and CA) to let them operate. Relay also has very influential supporters in CT including the governor, the state superintendent, and the director of Achievement First, one of its three founding charter school networks. In CO, they went through the approval process under the radar and the colleges and universities that operate teacher education programs did not find out about it until it was too late.

Relay operates schools in Baton Rouge, Chicago, Denver,Houston, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Philly/Camden, San Antonio and the state of Delaware.

Yes, Relay has programs operating in these places, but the schools in which they teach are not necessarily those in the original three charter networks. For example, in Chicago Relay partners with the Noble charter network. Also, because Relay was denied approval in PA their Camden/ Philly site can only operate in NJ. They were also recently approved to operate in CT and will be opening a program soon there. In addition to having their application to operate programs rejected in PA, their application was also rejected in CA. Last year they doubled the number of program sites and they plan to continue to expand.

Finally, can you speak to the recent controversial approval of Relay by the Connecticut Board of Education? Also, do you know of any plans to introduce the Relay Graduate Program in Washington State?

Relay’s application to operate a program in CT was strongly opposed by K-12 educators and teacher educators throughout the state because of the program’s performance elsewhere. I was asked to submit written testimony in opposition to their application and did so. (8)

Despite the lack of any evidence about the claims that that Relay makes about the performance of its teachers, and their failure to release any retention data on program graduates, their application was approved.  One of the arguments that they made to support their application was that they will bring more teachers of color into the state. Given the increased attention and funding available in the nation to teacher residency programs and recruiting and preparing more teachers of color. Relay has very influential supporters in CT including the governor, the state superintendent, and the director of Achievement First, one of its three founding charter school networks. I think that these connections made the difference between the outcome in CA and PA and the outcome in CT.

I do not believe that Relay would gain approval to operate a teacher education program in Washington. Our state standards for teacher education are too high and the standards board unlike states like TX and FL does not allow lower standards for alternative programs. All programs, including the TFA program at UW have to meet the same PESB standards to gain and maintain approval. A few years ago when they were only operating fast track teacher education programs, I learned that they were considering coming to Washington. It was my impression that the tremendous opposition to TFA in Seattle discouraged them from coming. 

Notes

1. https://globalconversationsinliteracy.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/berliner-d_2011_rational-responses-to-high-stakes-testing.pdf

2. http://edushyster.com/the-high-cost-of-no-excuses/

3. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/tcr_kv_2016.pdf

4. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/2015-zeichner_pena-sandoval-venture_.pdf

5. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teacher-education

6. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/zeichner_-_revised_statement_for_ct.pdf

7. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/how_the_public_is_deceived_about_%E2%80%98highly_qualified_teachers%E2%80%99_-_the_washington_post.pdf

8. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/how_the_public_is_deceived_about_%E2%80%98highly_qualified_teachers%E2%80%99_-_the_washington_post.pdf

 

The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE

KIPP6

KIPP is a taxpayer-subsidized school franchise that pays no taxes on its revenue and provides a tax-deductible vehicle for uber-wealthy families to promote the school “choice” agenda.

KIPP charter schools have been touted in Washington State as the savior of all black children.

Among those people is the now State Representative (Charter School) Chad Magendanz who, while active in the Washington State PTA back in the day, sang their praises when attempting to put a plank in the PTA platform on charter schools. (Also see: The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There.)

Others chimed in although year after year KIPP charter schools proved to be far less than perfect.

See:

KIPP charter schools and the behavior modification of…teachers

How KIPP charter school handles Special Ed/IEP students

For KIPP charter schools, more computer time, less class time

Michael Feinberg’s selling of KIPP in New Zealand: FAIL

A look at KIPP, Michael Feinberg, NCTQ and Bill Gates

A former KIPP teacher comments on her experience

KIPP charter chain and torture adviser Marty Seligman: A match made in hell?

Of course, that didn’t stop the Washington State Charter School Commission, in their rush to get charter schools established in our state, from approving KIPP’s application to set up their green tent next to the highway.

Recently the following article was published by PR Watch and is well worth a read.

Exposed by CMD: KIPP’s Efforts to Keep the Public in the Dark while Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies 

charter school oversight

By Lisa Graves and Dustin Beilke

Charter schools are big business, even when they are run by “non-profits” that pay no taxes on the revenue they receive from public taxes or other sources.

Take KIPP, which describes itself as a “national network of public schools.”

KIPP (an acronym for the phrase “knowledge is power program”) operates like a franchise with the KIPP Foundation as the franchisor and the individual charters as franchisees that are all separate non-profits that describe themselves as “public schools.”

But how public are KIPP public schools?

Not as public as real or traditional public schools.

New documents discovered on the U.S. Department of Education’s website reveal that KIPP has claimed that information about its revenues and other significant matters is “proprietary” and should be redacted from materials it provides to that agency to justify the expenditure of federal tax dollars, before its application is made publicly available.

So what does a so-called public school like KIPP want to keep the public from knowing?

1. Graduation and College Matriculation Rates

KIPP touts itself as particularly successful at preparing students to succeed in school and college.

Yet, it insisted that the U.S. Department of Education keep secret from the public the statistics about the percentage of its eighth graders who completed high school, entered college, and/or who completed a two-year or four-year degree.

A few years ago, professor Gary Miron and his colleagues Jessica Urschel and Nicholas Saxton, found that “KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from but 40 percent of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8,” as reported by Mary Ann Zehr in Ed Week.

Zehr noted: “‘The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking,’ said Gary J. Miron, a professor of evaluation, measurement, and research” at Western Michigan University, who conducted the national study.

Miron’s analysis was attacked by KIPP and its allies, who said KIPP’s success was not due to the attrition of lower performing students who leave the school or move to other districts. One of its defenders was Mathematica Policy Research, whose subsequent study was used to try to rebut Miron’s analysis. (That name will be important momentarily.)

The Department of Education has been provided with the data about what percentage of KIPP students graduate from high school and go on to college, but it is helping KIPP keep that secret—despite the public tax dollars going to these schools and despite KIPP’s claim to be operating what are public schools.

Real public schools would never be allowed to claim that high school graduation rates or college matriculation rates are “proprietary” or “privileged” or “confidential.”

Why does the Education Department’s Charter School Program “Office of Innovation and Improvement” defer to KIPP’s demand to keep that information secret from the public?

Meanwhile, the KIPP Foundation regularly spends nearly a half million dollars a year ($467,594 at last count) on advertising to convince the public how great its public charters are using figures it selects to promote. Almost no public school district in the nation has that kind of money to drop on ads promoting its successes.

2. Projected Uses of Federal Taxpayer Dollars (and Disney World?)

Even as KIPP was seeking more than $22 million from the federal government to expand its charter school network, it insisted that the U.S. Department of Education redact from its application a chart about how much money would be spent on personnel, facilities, transportation, and “other uses” under the proposed grant. KIPP also sought to redact the amount of private funding it was projecting.

The agency’s compliant Office of Innovation and Improvement obliged KIPP.

However, after the grant was approved, KIPP did have to comply with IRS regulations to file a report on its revenues and expenditures, as all entities given the privilege of having their revenue tax-exempt or tax-deductible do. (Those filings usually are made available a year after the revenue and expenditures accrue.)

That is, the federal government’s Office of Innovation and Improvement redacted information about KIPP’s revenue and expenditures on the basis of an unsupportable assertion that such information was exempt under the Freedom of Information Act as proprietary, confidential, or privileged even though it is not.

Here are some of the key details from KIPP’s 2013 tax filings (uploaded below):

  • KIPP received more than $18 million in grants from American tax dollars and more than $43 million from other sources, primarily other foundations;
  • KIPP spent nearly $14 million on compensation, including more than $1.2 million on nine executives who received six-figure salaries, and nearly $2 million more on retirement and other benefits;
  • KIPP also spent over $416,000 on advertising and a whopping $4.8 million on travel; it paid more than $1.2 to the Walt Disney World Swan and Resort;
  • It also paid $1.2 million to Mathematica for its data analysis; that’s the firm that was used to try to rebut concerns about KIPP’s performance and attrition rates.

KIPP’s revenue and spending in 2014 were similar, but there are some additional interesting details (uploaded below):

  • KIPP received more than $21 million in grants from American tax dollars and more than $38 million from other sources, primarily other foundations;
  • KIPP spent nearly $18 million on compensation and nearly $2 million more on retirement and other benefits;
  • KIPP paid its co-founder, David Levin, more than $450,000 in total compensation, and its CEO, Richard Barth, more than $425,000 in total compensation, in addition to six-figure salaries for eight other executives;
  • KIPP also spent over $467,000 on advertising and more than $5 million on travel;
  • It also paid nearly $1 million to Mathematica for its data analysis.

In that tax year, which covers the 2013-2014 school year, as traditional public schools faced budget cuts across the country, KIPP spent more than $3.5 million on “lodging and hospitality,” including more than $1.8 million alone at the posh Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Since its revenue from taxpayers is commingled with its revenues from wealthy charter school advocates and the foundations they control, there is no way to sort out how much of taxpayer money has directly gone into luxurious trips for KIPP employees versus how much having revenue from taxes helps subsidize such largesse.

But, there is no public school district in the country that would be allowed such travel and promotional expenditures for its executives or teachers if the voters knew about it or had a say in it.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that KIPP would want the grant-makers at the U.S. Department of Education to redact the amount of its expenditures for personnel, facilities, transportation, and “other uses”—especially with extravagant expenditures like its transportation and lodging at fabulous resorts, as opposed to transportation for kids to school—but why would the federal agency charged with oversight go along with redacting information about how much KIPP was projecting to spend in those categories?

KIPP did request that budget information about how much it or its affiliates paid the executive directors for individual charters, principals, accountants, grant managers, community coordinators, and IT teams be kept from the public, under a claim that such information is proprietary.

But the Office of Innovation and Improvement did not accommodate that request.

Notably, KIPP’s grant application sets forth “regional leadership” expenses that total nearly $5 million of the projected budget for the grant. There is no indication how much taxpayers are directly or indirectly subsidizing the six-figure salaries of its executive suite including the nearly half-million in total compensation for each of KIPP’s two highest paid employees. (This grant application only pertains to one source of federal and state grants that annually provide revenue to KIPP.)

3. Full Disclosure of Attrition and Performance Results

Not only did KIPP seek to keep the public in the dark about how it spends tax-exempt funding and how many KIPP students make it to high school graduation or college, it also sought to redact information “KIPP Student Attrition” by region and “by subgroup” and “KIPP Student Performance” on state exams on “Math and Reading.”

The Office of Innovation and Improvement did as KIPP requested.

But why would KIPP, which advertises its claimed superiority, and the Department of Education, which uses KIPP as an example of the success of charters, keep information about attrition and performance secret, especially when that subject is one of great public interest as noted by the Economic Policy Institute?

Page after page after page in KIPP’s application that shows the percentage of school students who leave KIPP is blacked out along with information about student test results by school for the three years prior to the grant application.

How can the Department of Education acquiesce in a request by a charter it cheerleads for to keep data about that charter’s retention or dropout rate secret?

If both sets of redacted figures were truly excellent, why wouldn’t both KIPP and the Department of Education release those results? After all, KIPP included glossy PR documents on some of its schools in its application materials touting select data about test results.

Why should unelected bureaucrats at the federal agency get to see the data about attrition and performance in awarding millions in taxpayer dollars to KIPP but go along with KIPP in keeping those specific statistics from the public?

In short, what are KIPP and the Department of Education hiding from the American people?

4. The CEO Foundations Pushing School “Choice” and Subsidizing KIPP

KIPP also asked the Office of Innovation and Improvement to redact the amounts of funding provided to KIPP by foundations that wrote letters of support for KIPP to receive federal taxpayer money under the grant.

The grant documents the Center for Media and Democracy has examined reveal that these are the names and amounts that KIPP sought to keep the public from knowing and that the Department of Education blacked out at KIPP’s request:

  • Robertson Foundation: $20M
  • Atlantic Trust/ Kendeda Fund: $15 million
  • Marcus Foundation: $4.5M
  • Zeist: $1.7M
  • Lowe Foundation: $357,000
  • Webber Family Foundation: $351,780
  • Sooch Foundation: $675,000
  • Tipping Point Community: $2M
  • Schwab Foundation: $2.5M
  • Koret Foundation: $2,135,000
  • SAP: $297,389
  • Kobacker: $100,000
  • Todd Wagner Foundation: $1,000,000
  • El Paso, $1,000,000
  • Charles T. Bauer Foundation: $1,242,000
  • Karsh: $8M
  • Charter Schools Growth Fund: $2 million
  • Formanek: $526,000
  • Goldring Family Foundation: $1,000,000
  • Charles Hayden Foundation: $1.393 million
  • Victoria Foundation: $626,000
  • CityBridge Foundation: $2.9M”

Almost all of these donors are foundations that have to annually disclose to the IRS and make available to the public the names of their grantees and the amounts granted. So this information is not privileged, confidential or proprietary.

Why would the Office of Innovation and Improvement go along with a request to keep secret from the public information that is subsequently required to be made public?

While many of the foundations listed above are led by corporate CEOs or their families, only a few are corporations whose donations might not be routinely disclosed.

SAP, for example, is the name of a German corporation that made headlines 18 months ago for dumping the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after Google dumped ALEC for its climate change denial and obstruction. Should Americans be concerned that a foreign multinational corporation is influencing American “public charters” through KIPP? The truth is foreign multinationals are exercising increasing influence over American charter schools and testing. Just look at the growth in U.S. business of the British firm, Pearson.

At the same time, the volume of such private philanthropic support begs the question of why the American taxpayer ought to be subsidizing schools that are touted as public but act like private ones when it comes to executive compensation and roadblocks to transparency, especially at a time when traditional public schools are facing such budgetary pressures?

KIPP is a taxpayer-subsidized school franchise that pays no taxes on its revenue and provides a tax-deductible vehicle for uber-wealthy families to promote the school “choice” agenda.

And, the fact that taxpayer money is going to a group spending millions on luxury trips to resorts in Las Vegas is mind-boggling in an age of austerity when many public schools are going without basic necessities.

With each new fact that comes out, the charter school industry is looking more like the military defense industry with the scandals of the 1980s as with the infamous $600 toilet seat. There’s no indication of fraud by KIPP.

But from an optics standpoint some might consider a $600 plastic seat small change, compared with a “public school” spending more than a million to go to Disney World in one year, even if only one-third of KIPP’s funding comes from taxpayers directly and the remainder comes at taxpayer expense due to CEOs writing off donations to foundations that help underwrite KIPP.

Plus, separate from the grant application discussed here, KIPP has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education to conduct leadership training summits for KIPP principals and other personnel. That application also includes significant redactions, including about key components of the budget for what it calls KIPP “summits” or annual meetings and other gatherings (as well as a total redaction of the Mathematica analysis commissioned by KIPP).

Meanwhile, KIPP told the Education Department that in its first 10 years it had raised more than $150 million from private philanthropic sources, which underscores the question of why taxpayers are subsidizing an operation that already has ample support from the corporate community and those taxpayer dollars could be going instead to strengthen traditional public schools that are truly public and that are not subsidized by tax write-offs for the one percent through their foundations.

Indeed, those tax write-offs serve to diminish the base of revenue available for tax revenue to fund public schools and other genuinely public goods in the first place.

A Closer Look at KIPP

It appears that all the redactions were in response to “proprietary” instructions KIPP dictated to DOE through a four-page document titled, “Proprietary Information.”

The Education Department complied with almost all of KIPP’s instructions, despite how contrary they are to public policy and even to publicly available information.

These black marks come at a time when cracks are starting to show in KIPP’s once beyond-reproach veneer.

KIPP is the largest and most lauded charter school chain in the United States and the recipient of many millions of dollars in taxpayer grants, foundation gifts and handouts from billionaire charter school enthusiasts.

A new book by Jim Horn, Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys Through ‘No Excuses’ Teaching, focuses on the experiences and perspectives of dozens of former KIPP teachers who have become critics of the chain and many of the principles it is based on, including the Teach for America program that supplies KIPP with many of its teachers.

The book’s title is a reference to “Work Hard. Be Nice” the book-length puff piece authored by Washington Post education reporter Jay Matthews about KIPP’s founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levine.

In a review of Work Hard, Be Hard that is excerpted on Diane Ravitch’s blog, education professor Julian Vasquez Heilig writes that screaming at students is accepted teaching practice in KIPP schools:

Why does KIPP encourage and/or allow these practices? Horn writes, school leaders relayed that ‘because of cultural differences, black students are accustomed to being screamed at…because that’s how their parents speak to them.’ A KIPP teacher characterized the worst offender at her school as a ‘screamer, swearer and humiliator.’

“KIPP might also argue that they are the beneficiaries of widespread support in communities across the nation. It is very clear that KIPP benefits from powerful influential and wealthy supporters in government, the media, and foundations. Their no excuses approach to educating poor children has resonated with the elites in society and they have showered the corporate charter chain with resources for decades. So it may be surprising to some to read the counternarrative from KIPP teachers that is quite different than what you typically read in the newspapers, see in documentaries like Waiting for Superman, and generally experience in the public discourse. I proffer that the KIPP teachers’ counternarratives in Journeys should be required reading for all of KIPPs influential supporters.”

So what is the disgruntled KIPP teachers’ counter-narrative? For one, the model seems to create lousy working conditions for the purpose of encouraging high teacher turnover. One former teacher says, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone who wanted to be a teacher for the long-term…It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing.”

And this is where Teach for America comes in. “Without a constant infusion of new teachers to replace all those who burn out,” Horn writes, “KIPP would have to shut its doors… The role of Teach For America and programs based on Teach For America’s hyper-abbreviated preparation are crucial, then, for the continued survival of… KIPP.”

In short, the new book offers a devastating critique of the KIPP business model at a time when KIPP and the Department of Education appear to be aiding each other in trying to keep critical information out of the public debate through redaction.

PDF icon KIPP redactions 137.84 KB
PDF icon KIPP redaction list 45.7 KB
PDF icon KIPP 2013 990 1.93 MB
PDF icon KIPP 2012 990 1.82 MB

There’s a reason why so many people oppose having charter schools in Washington state.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

More on KIPP

Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

Male Hand Holding Stack of Cash Over Clouds and Sky

Per a previous post titled, “Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”, Bill Gates has been busy for several years funding established organizations or creating new ones to funnel cash into a push to establish charter schools in Washington State and around the country.

To follow is a list of organizations and schools that have received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizations and schools with figures shown in bold relate directly to charter school promotional activity in Seattle and surrounding areas. For the amounts given to all other recipients, go to Google docs.

Stand for Children: $9,000,000 +/- (I got tired of counting and recounting)

Aspire Charter Schools: $21M +/-

National Council of La Raza : $32M +/-

Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS): $159,440 (per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website , “Purpose: to develop a strategic plan for building a dynamic parent network that can embrace and catalyze change within Seattle Public Schools”, meaning integrating charter schools into Seattle, particularly in the minority communities.)

Charter School Growth Fund: $5M

University of Minnesota

New York Charter School Resource Center Inc

Chicago Charter School Foundation

Success Academy Charter School: $400,000

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

St. HOPE Academy

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $7M

New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +/-

Progressive Policy Institute

University of Washington Foundation: $1,089,761 (Lot of papers and “studies” came out of the UW supporting charter schools. Also a Teach for America, Inc. training ground was set up in the School of Education.)

GreatSchools, Inc.: $9M +/

Perspectives Charter School

Noble Network of Charter Schools: $2M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6M +/-

NCB Capital Impact

Progress Analytics Institute

High Tech High Foundation

Keys to Improving Dayton Schools, Inc.

Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School: $1.6M +/-

Pacific Charter School Development Inc.

Charter Schools Policy Institute: $200,000

Charter School Leadership Council: $800,000

Illinois Network Of Charter Schools: $1.4M +/-

Stanford University: $12M +/- (Charter school “studies” were produced here. Unfortunately for Gates, the most well known study Stanford produced, the CREDO Report, stated charter schools were either the same or lower performing than public schools.)

RAND Corporation: $7.5M +/-

National Alliance For Public Charter Schools: $12.5M +/-

Green Dot Public Schools: $9,675,588 (One  was approved for Seattle.)

KIPP, Inc charter schools.: $10,000,000 (KIPP charter schools were touted by state legislators as the best thing since sliced bread. Sad day for them, they’re not and none were approved for Washington State.)

Institute for Research and Reform in Education Inc.: $11M +/-

Marquette University

Aspira Inc of Illinois

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: $670,000 +/-

Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund: $57.5M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6.5M +/-

New Schools for New Orleans Inc: $8.6M +/-

Houston Area Urban League Inc

District of Columbia College Access Program

Newark Charter School Fund, Inc.: $3,595,070

National Association Of Charter School Authorizers: $15M +/-

Trustees of Dartmouth College

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Texas Charter School Association: $1.6M

FSG, Inc.

New York City Charter School Center: $4.7M +/-

Friendship Public Charter School

New Visions for Public Schools, Inc: $73.5M +/-

School District of Philadelphia

Denver School of Science and Technology Inc

The Arizona Charter Schools Association: $200,000

New York Charter Schools Association Inc: $204,988

Partners for Developing Futures Inc.

Mastery Charter High School

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools: $650,000

League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation: $2,586,378

Colorado Education Initiative

Black Alliance for Educational Options Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Colorado League of Charter Schools: $818,471

The Boston Educational Development Foundation, Inc.

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

The King Center Charter School

Rocketship Education: $200,000

Georgia Charter Schools Association Inc.: $250,000

Jumoke Academy Inc

Denver Public Schools: $4,001,999 (The Seattle Public School board members took a trip to Denver a few years ago to visit charter schools. They came back with rave reviews about KIPP charter schools.)

Hartford Public Schools

Spring Branch Independent School District

Achievement First Inc.

Philadelphia Schools Project

Boston Private Industry Council Inc

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation: $10M The AFT had Bill Gates as their main speaker when their convention was in Seattle.

Harvard University: $33.6M +/- (Lots of papers and “studies” favorable to charter schools were produced at Harvard for Eli Broad and Bill Gates.This number is based on grants tagged for K12 education and doesn’t include community grants)

Washington State Charter Schools Association: $10.5M +/-

Mississippi First Inc.

CHIME Institute

Seneca Family of Agencies

Summit Public Schools: $8,000,000

Spokane School District #81: $525,000 

Children’s First Fund, The Chicago Public School Foundation

LEAP Innovations

East Lake Foundation, Inc.

New Schools for Chicago

Low Income Investment Fund

Fund for Public Schools Inc

Friends of Breakthrough Schools

Puget Sound Educational Service District: $27.5M +/- (See CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy)

Franklin-McKinley School District

Craft3

The list above does not include Teach for America which Bill Gates granted $2.5M to open an office in Seattle and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that came to town with their dog and pony show bashing teachers and trying to make way for Teach for America. Bill Gates has granted that group $12M+/- between 2009 and 2013.

Also see The Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality: Manipulating Teacher Layoffs (& Union-Busting?).

It is also interesting to note that the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently received $1,743,064.

For the list with all of the numbers see Google docs. The list was put together by a Parents Across America Portland member using information provided at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awarded Grants website.

So, if Gates paid his fair share of taxes in our state rather than be the man behind the curtain, would it help us fund public schools adequately?

My guess is “YES!”.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Check out Mercedes Schneider’s post to find additional expenditures made by Bill Gates pertaining to charter schools:

Who Does Gates Fund for “General Operating Support”?

 

KIPP charter schools and the behavior modification of…teachers

“The No-Nonsense Nurturer Program has transformed the lives of thousands of students by transforming the practices of their teachers… It is simply a must-learn set of new skills for every teacher in America.”

Dave Levin
Co-Founder, KIPP Schools

Remember that quote while you read this edushyster post:

“I Am Not Tom Brady”

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!*

Meet C3PO
Last year, my school contracted with the Center for Transformational Training or CT3 to train teachers using an approach called No Nonsense Nurturing. It c3powas supposed to make us more effective instructors by providing *immediate, non-distracting feedback to teachers using wireless technology.* In other words, earpieces and walkie talkies. I wore a bug in my ear. I didn’t have a mouthpiece. Meanwhile an official No Nonsense Nurturer, along with the school’s first year assistant principal and first year behavior intervention coach, controlled me remotely from the corner of the room where they shared a walkie talkie. I referred to the CT3 training as C-3PO after the Star Wars robot, but C-3PO actually had more personality than we were allowed. The robot also spoke his mind.

No Nonsense Nurturing
If you’re not familiar with No Nonsense Nurturing or NNN, let’s just say that there is more nonsense than nurturing. The approach starts from the view that no nonsenseurban students, like my Lawrence, MA middle schoolers, benefit from a robotic style of teaching that treats, and disciplines, all students the same. This translated into the specific instruction that forbade us from speaking to our students in full sentences. Instead, we were to communicate with them using precise directions. As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: *In seats, zero talking, page 6 questions 1-4.* But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style.  *Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6.*

Robot moves
My efforts to make the narration seem less robotic—*I see Victor is on page 6. I see Natalie is on question 3*—triggered flashbacks to Miss Jean and Romper Room. All that was missing was the magic mirror. But even this was too much for the NNN squad in the corner. *Drop the ‘I see’* came through my earpiece. All this narration was incredibly distracting for the students, by the way, to the point where they started narrating me. *Mrs. Berard is passing out the exit tickets.* *Mrs. Berard is helping Christian.* *Mrs. Berard is reviewing the answer to question 4*

*Tell them you are like Tom Brady*
The students were also perplexed by my new earpiece accessory. *Um, Miss, what’s that in your ear?* they asked. I looked over to the three adults in the far bill-belichickback corner of the room for my scripted answer. *Tell them you are like Tom Brady. Tom Brady wears an earpiece to be coached remotely and so do you,* was the response. I never would have said that, and mumbled instead *But I’m not Tom Brady. No I’m Tom Brady.* The students, who could hear me, but not what I was hearing through my earpiece, were more confused than ever. At which point I explained to the students that I was being trained by the people in the corner who were telling me what to say via their walkie talkie. I’m all for transparency and simple answers to simple questions.

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

Joyless joy
I struggled to adopt the emotionless monotone that NNN required. I was told that my tone was wrong. My voice was too high, and that I came across as too happy—I smile a lot; I celebrate a lot, including every two weeks when the flowers on my cactus bloom, again. When I asked the NNN trainer to elaborate on what she meant by my tone being off, a critique she delivered just hours after meeting me for the first time, her response included a full blown, and exaggerated, impersonation of me delivered in front of my behavior intervention coach and assistant principal. When her performance was done, the NNN trainer winked at me. *But don’t lose your joy,* she said.

Mountain pose
I was told to stand in mountain pose and not to favor one leg over another. I C-3PO-3was told not to cross my legs. My body language must be in no way casual (or human). And I needed to stop conveying so much excitement at the students’ accomplishments. After one session of C3PO training, I was told that I was too happy that a student had legible writing. I shouldn’t praise basic things that should be expected. Another time I was chastised for pointing out to a child: *Woah, this is great. This is your best work so far this year!*

*Don’t turn*
I felt awful after that critique, like I had let my students down with my excessive enthusiasm. I went back and apologized to them. The student whose handwriting I’d praised said it had made him happy to be complimented. *I didn’t take what you said in a bad way.* *Just be yourself,* another student told me. *Don’t be who that want you to be. Don’t become like the rest.* You see, the students were old enough to see what the school and the trainers wanted the teachers to be and what their teachers were becoming.

They begged me not to turn.

Amy Berard grew up in Lawrence, a half a mile away from the Guilmette Middle School where she taught ELA last year. She was let go at the end of the school year after administrators determined that she was not the *right fit* for Lawrence.

The complement post to this is KIPP charter chain and torture adviser Marty Seligman: A match made in hell?

To follow are comments from the edusyster post.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

OMG, Edushyster, this is about the most horrifying thing you’ve published (and you’ve published a lot of horrifying things.

I’m somewhere between speechless and I could fill 20 volumes, but I’ll limit myself to this for now: There is nothing nurturing about punishment, there is nothing nurturing about being a robot, and there is nothing nurturing about treating all students the same. But I’m sure they all know that, because they’d never treat their own flesh and blood that way.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

OMG is right. Horrifying came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory positive approach into senseless tragedy.

Reply

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being controlled is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

I can imagine these bamboozled teachers narrating the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

Jason Davidson July 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should distance themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

Reply

Sarah Blaine July 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm

This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

Lloyd Lofthouse July 22, 2015 at 6:14 pm

My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book The China Mirage by James Bradley.

http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

Reply

Steve Lee July 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 6:28 pm

In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling no nonsense nurturin and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

Reply

Mary July 22, 2015 at 6:58 pm

This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this

    1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      OMG is right. “Horrifying” came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory’s positive approach into senseless tragedy.

      Reply

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

    Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

    In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being “controlled” is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

    Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

    I can imagine these bamboozled teachers “narrating” the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

      1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

  • As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should ‘distance’ themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

    Reply

  • This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

    Reply

  • My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book “The China Mirage” by James Bradley.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

    Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

    Reply

  • Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

    On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

    “As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant”

  • In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling “no nonsense nurturing” and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

  • This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students’ work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

    Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this?

    -Submitted by Dora Taylor