Monday, March 05, 2012

Education reformer continues to speak of Nashville charter school progress in vague generalities

A post at Memphis's Achievement School District blog quotes Nashville's LEAD Academy CEO, Jeremy Kane. In the quote, Kane makes the same unsupported claims that the Nashville news media made about LEAD's Cameron College Prep last week while announcing LEAD's take over of other school.

Kane insists that LEAD is producing results without citing the same test data that Metro Nashville used to rationalized the privatization of Cameron as a charter school in the first place:

I’m proud to be leading a growing constituency focused on the most important work in Nashville: delivering great results for kids. We should all be of the leadership of Dr. Jesse Register at Metro Nashville Public Schools and his board’s continued pursuit of a great education for all of Nashville’s students. I am also proud to be working with Chris Barbic and his team at the Achievement School District.

We have done some great things at Cameron College Prep. One of the main reasons we chose to apply to work with MNPS two years ago was Cameron’s historic place in Nashville. We’re honored by the support and friendships we have made in the South Nashville community, the Cameron Alumni, and Councilwoman Moore and the other elected officials who are working with us to restore Cameron to its rightful place as one of Nashville’s premier schools.

What we have at Cameron is two organizations and one School: We should all be proud that both Cameron Middle and Cameron College Prep are showing signs of strong student achievement. If you haven’t visited us at Cameron yet, please make it a priority. It will make you proud.

One of the promises of public charters in Tennessee is that they can serve as laboratories of learning and innovation; collaboration is happening side-by-side in the Cameron building. Collectively, we are breaking down barriers between organizations in the best interests of kids. We are providing innovative professional development and support for teachers in both organizations with our partnership with Lipscomb University, one of the top teacher prep programs in the state. Cameron is proving that the school name is less important than how well we’re serving our students and families.

The overall lesson we’ve learned from the early results at Cameron reminds me of a Henry Ford quote: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."
Working together? Ford's cops prepare to assault
union organizers passing out leaflets, May 1937.

I suppose it is appropriate that Kane appeals to Henry Ford, since one of the characteristics that contemporary education reformers share with the industrial era automobile scion is aversion to trade unions and union organizing. It is understandable that Kane would also be proud of MNPS Director Jesse Register who has had his own problems with unions in the Nashville education system.

But again the script followed about charter schools, fostered by the LEAD founder is that they are hugely successful at catalyzing student achievement without the bar being set at the same level as it is for bona fide public schools. Instead, the script speaks in vague generalities and squishy categories that ask us to have faith in them without recourse to test results and harder measurements of performance.

One of the other claims that Kane tweeted last week during news coverage of his enterprise is that LEAD teachers are paid more than public school teachers. After trying unsuccessfully to hunt the exact salary numbers down, I tweeted Kane, who was once a John Kerry campaign speechwriter, and I asked him how much LEAD teachers make. He never replied and I cannot find his original tweet now. Does anyone reading this know where I might track down the salary numbers of LEAD teachers? Or is that information not public since charter schools are not by definition public?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know much about the TN charter school law re: public release of data but opening up LEAD's books means exposing more of their financial records to scrutiny. An FOIA is likely the best avenue to get financial info on charters.

    Here's what a group of parents in NYCity found out in 2010 and 2011 about charter school funding:

    and here: note the Machiavellian web that ties Rupert Murdoch's edu-tool, Joel Klien, to the school reform movement in Memphis. Someone affiliated with Democrats for Eduction Reform (DFER) paid Al Sharpton to be the minority face for Obama and Duncan's edu-reform model, brought to TN as Race to the Top:

    "April 4, 2008: Klein appears at the Sharpton NAN event in Memphis. According to account written by Joe Williams on Democrats for Education Reform blog, entitled MLK, Ed Reform Sharpton, Shifting Winds?: “….It will be particularly interesting to see whether Rev. Sharpton can match his rhetoric with action… Sharpton...talked about how the education problem is so dire that we can no longer honor past alliances which existed to protect the status quo in education. (He didn't elaborate, but I assume he was talking about partnerships and $$$ between old civil rights groups and big labor, specifically teachers unions. Why did I assume that? He made the dots pretty easy to connect.)
    April 10, 2008: Joel Klein sends an email to Eva Moskowitz, asking, “Did I send you article re Memphis w Sharptons comment about new alliances.” She replies, “Yes thanks. Thought it was amazing.”

    May 9, 2008: The AP reports that Sharpton is a subject of federal investigation and that his organization owes nearly $1.5 million in overdue taxes and penalties. It is also revealed that over the course of the past year, Sharpton's lawyers have been negotiating with the feds over the size of his debt, which include $365,558 in NYC income tax and $931,397 in unpaid federal income tax. His for-profit company, Rev. Al Communications, owes the state another $175,962 in delinquent taxes."

    Legalized money laundering and influence peddling. Remember, it's for the kids...