Titan up… No. Really.

Yesterday evening I missed a thoughtful delegation from a Tech high school senior.  I always have mixed emotions when a student comes before the board.  My heart swells with pride for their courage, yet sadness usually multiplies with each word they speak.  Why?  Because I know why they’ve come.  They come when their school is being closed, or when they feel disenfranchised by the very institution that is supposed to enrich their lives.  I also worry whenever a student says something that might be cause for retribution. Since this delegation is now public record, I feel compelled to share it with you:

Hello my name is Chris. I am a Student at Arsenal
Technical High school. I am here before you to express my Frustration with the changes that came to Arsenal Technical High School this year.
The first thing I would like to bring up is the new administration. This
by itself has caused many conflicts between the students and teachers
because of the lack of effort and discipline in and on the school’s campus.
From the start of school on August 3, 2015 to today I have only seen the new administrative principal three times. This is a cause for concern because I distinctly remember the new principal said that we would be seeing more of the new administration on campus to:
1. Try and establish relations with the student body.
2. Also to grow more acquainted with the campus.
The second is the new disciplinary guidelines that were implemented in the k-12 system for IPS applied to Arsenal Technical High School does not seem to be effective. The students are taking advantage of it. There have been more fights at Arsenal Technical High School this year alone than in the three years I’ve been at this school. That being said the classroom is no better. Teachers spend more time redirecting kids than teaching. This has lead teachers to become almost unresponsive to what any student really needs in their education.
The Third thing is that some decisions have been made around the
school that have made a lot of students not even want to attend Arsenal Technical High School. These changes consist of pushing back the time students get off the bus. Approximately 2,000 students accumulate into the cafeteria which only leaves the students ten minutes to get food, eat, and then go to first period. It also creates a situation for a fire hazard. Also having teachers patrol the halls on their prep. I say this because in the past teachers used this time to allow students to make up tests, turn in work, and get extra help for the grades that we need. I myself can’t stress enough how much we need these grades.
Another thing is that the new principal made the decision to close the
library to the students. Making this decision has puzzled many people for this reason: It is the one place where kid actually go for studying, lunch, and to check out books. The library is the most calm environment on campus, but now that it’s closed the student that use this resource are now deprived of it usefulness. Its also the one place where student know they won’t get hit by a flying milk.
This last statement might be the most concerning of all. At the end of
the day during the 11th period, the administration has all of the buildings on campus locked up. This means that any student that was requested to either see a counselor or any other adult figure on campus can’t go back to class.
So inevitably it causes those students to then be on campus where they are most vulnerable. I only say this because the only cameras that are recording the campus are unreliable, and are a false sense of security. For not just the students, but also the staff that you yourselves employ.
I would like the board to think about what I had to say and hopefully make changes needed for the success of all at Arsenal Technical High School. I wish to see the teachers and students leave this school at the best it could be for they have made my experience at Arsenal Technical High school most successful and exciting.

Dear Chris,

First of all, thank you for your comments to the board. I admire your courage.  I believe that you are setting an excellent example for your fellow students. Maybe if the entire district was filled with students a little more like you, who made their voices heard, IPS would be a better place.  You see, a lot of adults who run things around IPS think that adults know best, and they go around talking about how to give those adults more autonomy to do what they think is best.  I happen to know that if you believe in your students, and you give them autonomy, they end up doing some freaking amazing things…like actually regulating themselves in very responsible ways.  I’ve been in a high school where there were no bells, and where students were allowed to get up and leave class if they needed to visit a counselor or administrator.  Guess what?  Contrary to what many adults might believe, those students did not abuse their privileges.  They changed classes when it was time and excused themselves from class as necessary to go visit adults that they needed to see.  I think this is an example that could be applied to your ability to go and eat breakfast, and to go visit the library.  Some isolated incidents that might have prompted these changes should not be applied to the ENTIRE STUDENT BODY.  I am a Tech alum, and I happen to know that library has been open to students for decades.  The actions of a few should not have such an impact, especially in an academic environment where we should be promoting literacy and appropriate technology usage to students who may not have access outside of school.

Secondly, Chris – the manner in which you were called into the office to discuss your delegation to the board is really inappropriate.  I am appalled at the response that you have received from your principal and district officials.  Any self-respecting educator would have appreciated your advocacy – not only for yourself but for your fellow Titans.  Instead, you were met with hostility.  You were not allowed to speak your truth.  You were constantly interrupted and they attempted to make you feel shame for going to the board, and silence you.  When you asked to leave, they would not allow you to leave, but forced you to sit and take even more verbal abuse from them.  Chris, do not let that dissuade you.  Know that your comments to the board STRUCK A NERVE and let that light your fire for continued advocacy. Continue speaking your truth and encourage other students to do the same.

Where are our student governments?  I’m afraid they no longer exist at any of our high schools. For the past three years, I have asked time and again as a board member to have student representatives be a part of what we do…student government or otherwise.  Obviously, that has never happened.

Where are my Tech alumni?

Where is our esteemed Cannon?

Here is what I am asking you, the reader, to do.  Teachers, students, administrators that are reading this blog: UNDERSTAND that students are just like us in this respect – they want things to be done in conjunction WITH THEM, not TO THEM.  If anyone’s listening, I’m ready to do my part to elevate student voice.  Send me student submissions, comments or concerns, and I will provide the platform.  Help me to make this a student-centered school district.

My thoughts are my own and don’t reflect that of any other body or entity.  You can contact me at gayle_cosby@yahoo.com

Why rich folks love charter schools

A national perspective of how charter schools make money – I had no idea that tax breaks were such a huge appeal, or that it was contingent upon locating in a certain area. No wonder we see so many in the IPS district.

Seattle Education

…even though they would never send their children to one.

its-all-about-the-money-4-540x630

As a result of this change to the tax code, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit. They are permitted to combine this tax credit with other tax breaks while they also collect interest on any money they lend out. According to one analyst, the credit allows them to double the money they invested in seven years. Another interesting side note is that foreign investors who put a minimum of $500,000 in charter school companies are eligible to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members under a federal program called EB-5.

Why Hedge Funds Love Charter Schools

By Alan Singer

Obscure laws can have a very big impact on social policy, including obscure changes in the United States federal tax code. The 2001 Consolidated…

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The Indy Star letter to the editor, upcoming events

Folks,

I wanted to post the article in it’s entirety since the Indy Star made some edits – I didn’t realize until I read it very carefully.

Also, upcoming events of interest:

event1   REGISTER HERE

event2 no registration necessary 11/23/15 6-8pm Julia Carson Center


Here is the letter to the Indy Star, originally published 10/31/2015, before the edits:

Ordinary Indianapolis citizens no longer run IPS schools

Local democratic control of IPS schools by ordinary folks no longer exists.  First, big outsider money has united with big insider money to make the cost of school board member elections far beyond the reach of ordinary folks.  Second, a linked group of “local” “reform” organizations, funded largely by the same outsider-insider big money, are controlling IPS.

Third, while these “reformers” act as if local control and community input are important to them, they are basically running a top-down “reform” model whose key ideas were not designed in Indianapolis or Indiana.  Fourth, the reform effort has NOT led to a major increase in academic success for all IPS students.

FACT: In 2010, those who could raise $5,000 among friends and supporters could run a successful school board campaign.  Starting in 2012, the cost of a successful campaign shot up over to $50-70,000, far beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. Where did this money come from?  Some came from wealthy donors like Michael Bloomberg (the billionaire ex-mayor of NYC, donated $30k in 2012) and Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook, $5.5k, 2014).  Local big money donors included Alan Hubbard (lawyer, $20k over 2012 & 2014), Christel DeHaan (local businesswoman, $2k), and Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, $10k, 2014).  Thus, the big outsider-insider money has put being on the school board completely out of the reach of ordinary Indy citizens, which severely reduces local democracy.

FACT: There is a group of “reform” organizations that act as if they are local and independent from each other.  However, their reform model has significantly been imported from out of state.  And they are in deep collaboration with each other.  Also, they tend to be funded by the same big outsider-insider money.  The Mind Trust is at the center of this, but the network of “reformers” also includes Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform, Eli Lilly (+ its foundation), Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Center on Reinventing Public Education, the local Teach for America, and Teach Plus.

For example, the Eli Lilly Foundation website explicitly states, “Our philanthropic support is primarily directed to the Mind Trust and its affiliate organizations.” Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce routinely chooses their preferred school board candidates before the filing deadline, thereby excluding candidates not supported by big money.  However, these organizations don’t telegraph their deep connections, though they are the ones largely orchestrating the reform.

This national model for the takeover of IPS is also being applied in New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, Chicago, and New York, among other cities. These takeovers are being driven largely by national big money businessmen who want to turn schools into corporate operations and treat children like commodities. That the “reform” model being applied in IPS is locally created is thus a charade.

FACT: These “reform” organizations act as if they care about local control and community input, but a more careful examination shows they do not.  The operations of the school board, elected through big money funding, is a good illustration of this.  The Board has given control of the decentralization of schools into independent, single, Innovation Network schools to the Mind Trust.  The Board is not even voting on this, claiming it was embedded in the prior strategic plan vote.  This is smoke and mirrors.  Shouldn’t a change this big be publicly discussed, vetted, and voted on?  Thus, the top down, big money “reformer” board does not really want community transparency or participation.

FACT: While the Mind Trust, etc. will quickly cite data or “research” that shows the success of the reform effort, in general independent local data and national research has shown the reform model being applied here and in other cities is no more successful than traditional schools.  Yes, there are some successful “reform” schools, but there are also some successful traditional schools.  Yes, many local schools were failing before the reform, but our point is that we are getting lots of so-called reform but no significant overall gain for children.

The problem is that the “reformers” only are interested in research that shows their success.  Though they often tout accountability for others, they have little interest in independent research that does not support their success claims, and there is plenty of national research done by independent researchers that does not support their claims. Indeed, following the corporate model, they use research like a PR firm rather than as an honest investigation and real accountability.

We ordinary citizens of Indy are being sold a bill of goods.  We call on all media to carefully examine what is going on and to quit being fooled by the PR hype and the big money. You media folks should be responsible to your community, get behind the curtain, and carefully look at who is the real wizard of Oz in local school “reform.”

What can ordinary folks do?  Stop voting for “local” folks who are willing to have their election purchased by big outsider/insider money.  Resist and complain about a reform model designed and funded from outside Indy and designed to decrease community participation.  Let’s take back the democratic control of local schools by ordinary Indy folk. And, finally, we know they will come after us because they can’t stand open critique and transparency, so defend us when they attack.

Gayle Cosby, current IPS Board Member

Dr. Nathaniel Williams, professor, Knox College, Illinois

Dr. Jim Scheurich, professor, IUPUI School of Education


These thoughts are my (our) own and do not reflect that of any other entity, institution, or organization.

Feedback?  Email me at gayle_cosby@yahoo.com