The REAL A-F Grades in IPS!

That’s one hell of a curve.

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A couple days ago, the letter grades came out for all of the schools in Indiana.  A very smart person among us (hats off to MaryAnn Schlegel Ruegger) realized that the grading system was not fair at all.  She uncovered the fact that new charters and IPS Innovation Network Schools are all allowed to be graded on growth only if they so choose.

(They chose).  There are over 40 schools statewide that are choosing to report bogus grades in this manner.

Many of the news articles that have been released discussing the letter grades for the schools did not point this out.

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This, of course, provided a PR field day for IPS and especially the Mind Trust- whose reputation is at stake if their incubated Innovation Network Schools should be reported as failing:

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So these grades are based on growth in scores ONLY, resulting in the A and B grades.  But, what are the REAL scores for these schools?  Let’s take a look at the actual percentages of students PASSING BOTH MATH AND ELA:

Cold Spring:  30.2%

Enlace: 28.0%

Global Prep: no data

Phalen 103:  12.8%

Phalen 93: 38.2%

Kipp Indy: 18.0%

Kindezi: no data

I teach at the college level, and my students would never get an A or B for these scores.  Do the parents know that their child’s A and B-rated school is graded on the sell-out curve?  Do the parents know that in the world of public education, the dollar sign is highly favored over the percentage passing sign??  And bogus grades are being created in order to continue to drive customers to failing schools?

And do the parents know there are some traditional public IPS schools that are performing better than the schools listed above?  But this is the truth that the Mind Trust and IPS don’t want the public or the parents to know, so that the privatization of our public schools can continue.

Please share widely, and if you haven’t already, follow Indy Apples and the IPS Community Coalition on Facebook, or become a member of the IPS Community Coalition at this site.  Those are two groups dedicated to exposing the truth about public education in Indianapolis.

 

*Thanks to MaryAnn Schlegel Ruegger and Indy Apples for graphics and ideas.  Data comes from IDOE Compass or 9/6/17 Chalkbeat article detailing ISTEP scores.

 

Focusing on key issues

Let’s talk about neoliberalism, gentrification and race instead of who-said-what at the last meeting.

Dear Mrs. Sheila Kennedy,

In response to your blog dated 9/7/2017 “How Not To Win Friends and Influence People” :

You don’t know me, but I do seek to find commonalities before highlighting what divides us.  So first, I’ll say that I voted for Lugar in the primary the last time he ran.  I like him and I especially like his across the aisle political style.  A moderate.  But, as some of your commenters point out, desperate times call for desperate measures.  And many of the folks who pay close attention to IPS issues felt the ‘desperate measures’ threshold was crossed some time ago.   Please allow me to explain.

While your blog entry is focused squarely on civility in public discourse (some of which I do happen to agree with) – the time for us liberals to be burying our heads in the sand regarding what is truly happening with IPS has got to end, or there will be no IPS left.  Hence the strong language and attention-grabbing testimonials.

Based on what I have read of your blogs, I’m interested in your thoughts on the deeper issue here. When it comes to IPS, it seems that you have skirted the underlying issues while instead focusing squarely on superficial happenings such as the tone of one person’s delegation.  But, what about the underlying message?

Jim Scheurich (full professor of Education at IUPUI with decades of experience) and other concerned citizens of the IPS Community Coalition are speaking directly  to the effects of neoliberalism which are playing out in our own backyard with IPS.  Our free public school district is, piece by piece, becoming free market, privately owned, and our tax dollars a source of fine income for the owners.   If you require further explanation, please see my previous blogs on Phalen Academy, Innovation Network and their CEO Earl Martin Phalen, a Boston resident managing one Indianapolis charter and one IPS Innovation Network school.  Phalen’s salary rivals or exceeds that of IPS Superintendent Dr. Ferebee’s (who manages ~60 schools and is present in Indianapolis every day).  Don’t take my word for it – please follow the links in my blogs to explore the IPS Board Documents which ratified what I am describing.

Mrs. Kennedy, in your blog you state:

“…he has lectured the Board that it is “amateurish,” accused members of being “bought and paid for,” and characterized their elections as “undemocratic.”

As far as Dr. Scheurich’s comments regarding being bought and paid for, there is a large network of organizations that are supportive of this neoliberal agenda- organizations which give large campaign finance donations.  I was “bought and paid for” as well in my 2012 election, as are six of the seven current IPS Board members (excepting only Elizabeth Gore, elected in 2016, who was not supported by the ed-reform organizations).  Campaign finance documents tell the tale.  I would further agree that his characterization of the elections as “undemocratic” are spot on.  What average citizen can compete with millions of special interest campaign spending?

I bet that your comeback (if you amuse me with one) is going to point to the declining enrollments and declining quality of IPS due to the poor test scores.  You will justify your daughter and former student’s IPS board actions by saying that it is necessary to close schools (I’m not talking about closing schools) and you might even dare to propose on that basis that IPS is justified in handing over schools and resources to outside entities (who stand to profit, regardless of 501c3 status).

This is a divisive issue, especially among white liberals.  I’ll tell you why I think it is so – based on the lingering effects of racism and segregation.

There are some white people who have moved beyond the city limits who are simply tired of making that long drive everyday, or who live in elite enclaves of the IPS district.  They need a school that they feel *comfortable* sending their kids to.  These folks are generally supportive of anything that might create a school *just diverse enough* for their kids to attend.

Mrs. Kennedy, I bring this up because of your following comment:

” He topped it off by telling the white members of the Board they were racists. (He’s white.) He rarely looked at the Board during this extended diatribe; instead, he aimed his rhetoric at  the largely African-American attendees who were clearly his real audience.”

Race is a real issue for a school board making decisions in the throes of advancing neoliberal policies located within a city in the midst of gentrification.  There are white liberals (such as yourself, your daughter, and your former student) who tend to make the issues of race and segregation worse by assuming that racism is a problem solely for the black community to solve.  One of the facets of white privilege is obliviousness.  The black community isn’t the intended audience…black people have long been aware of racial issues in IPS and see it not as a new problem, but one that simply continues to exist.  Dr. Scheurich was not speaking to only the black people in the room because I’m sure he realizes that it will take ALL of us to tackle these seemingly insurmountable issues.  I say insurmountable because, the first step in solving them would be for our elected representatives to get beyond their white privilege and be engaged listeners.

Can we focus less on the mode of delivery for a group of people in the city who are feeling unheard, and focus more on the bigger issues mentioned above?  I’m on campus.  Let’s grab a coffee.

 

Hey! Enroll Indy, we’ve got questions.

We need to know what the process really is.

So I was perusing Facebook, and I came across this article on the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation website about school reform and the resulting need for school enrollment reform:  https://www.msdf.org/blog/2017/04/enrollment-reforms-created-equal/

In this article, it notes that “unified enrollment” systems such as Denver, DC, and New Orleans simplify the problems of school choice by offering families just one choice after applying a complicated matching algorithm.

We say, this is a problem in itself.

If we are going to have school choice, then we need choices.  If I am choosing, it is because I am being offered several options, not just one.

Besides, shouldn’t it be my choice, as the parent?  Or is it truly to be left up to a computer program?

Indianapolis parents deserve to know how this is going to play out.  Can we get a demo, a response, an explanation?

Credit to Mary Ann Schlegel Ruegger for inspiring this post.

Comments are open, if anyone can enlighten us on the intricacies of unified enrollment.

 

A MUST READ! Think National, Fight Local: The Story of Indianapolis and the DPE (Destroy Public Education) Movement

This is a piece that myself, Jim Scheurich (IUPUI Professor) and Nate Williams (Knox College Professor) wrote for Diane Ravitch’s blog: https://dianeravitch.net/.   Please share, and let us know what is happening in your area if you are reading from outside Indianapolis.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This very important post was written for this blog by Jim Scheurich on behalf of himself, Gayle Cosby, and Nathanial Williams, who are identified in the text. They are experienced in the school politics of Indianapolis, a city whose school system is being systematically dismantled and privatized. They have been active in the fight against what they call the DPE (Destroy Public Education) model in their city. Their experience and insights are extremely informative, especially their recognition that the DPE movement is not limited to Indianapolis; it has gone national. Indianapolis is only one of its targets. The business community, civic leaders, political leaders, DFER, the Mind Trust, and Stand for Children have joined together to Destroy Public Education. As they attack democratic institutions, they falsely claim that “it is all about the kids” and they claim they are advancing civil rights. Instead, it is about money and power and…

View original post 2,359 more words

The Sam’s Club of Schooling: IPS’s Innovation Network

Affording charter schools the opportunity to “buy in bulk” comes at a cost to IPS.

This month’s IPS agenda is rife with Innovation Network agreements, which are partnerships between IPS and charter school operators.  There is one presentation scheduled for a proposed partnership with Herron High School (both downtown and Riverside locations).  The other three slated Innovation Network schools have the documents already drawn up: Avondale Meadows Middle School, Elder Diggs Elementary #42, and Thomas Gregg Elementary #15.

The details of each arrangement vary from school to school.  A partnership with Herron High School came as a surprise to many. A short announcement of the intended partnership was buried in the Herron High School newsletter – with no public announcement or any solicitation of feedback from Herron families.  Community members are left wondering what’s in it for each party.  IPS will benefit by being able to count Herron High School students in their enrollment numbers and are surely seeking a boost from counting Herron student’s test scores and graduation rates as part of their own.  It appears that Herron may benefit from receiving IPS’s higher per-pupil student expenditure amount.  This is an atypical partnership because typically IPS owns the building of the Innovation Network school, but this is not the case with Herron.

Similarly, Avondale Meadows Middle School owns their property, and thus their partnership will reap similar benefits to Herron’s.  Avondale Meadows and Herron have been freestanding charter schools before pursuing a partnership with IPS.  The difference is that they now will receive more funding (at the higher IPS student rate).

In the case of schools #42 and #15, these are historically traditional IPS schools that are being converted to an Innovation Network school status.  In plain language, this means that IPS is contracting with a charter school operator company to run the school.

IPS Innovation Network partnerships are becoming the Sam’s Club of the charter school world. Small, independent charter schools operation costs are much higher than a large district like IPS.  If a prospective charter school seeks membership in the IPS Sam’s Club, they either receive services like transportation, food service, special education and ELL teachers for free, OR their membership gets them the power of buying in bulk.

Rather than “innovate” with IPS, why don’t these charter schools use their authorizers (the Mayor’s Office or the Indiana Charter School Board) as a lever for buying in bulk with other similar schools?

If IPS continues ‘innovation’ at this pace, it will become a shell corporation, an umbrella simply offering some shelter and benefits to a slew of smaller charter school operators.

IPS truly needs to reinvent itself.  Not by giving away precious resources to charter operators, but by investing in their teachers, giving true autonomy to educators with ideas, and revamping their ideas about curriculum.  Sadly, instead IPS is innovating itself out of the business of providing a free, appropriate public education for all students.

 

Guest Blog: IPS and Alternative Ed

Is our IPS “dumping” certain students into alternative programs to increase its grad rate?

 

     This is a possibility for any district according to “Hidden Dropouts: how high schools game the system by dumping underachievers into alternative programs.”

http://www.pressreader.com/usa/usa-today-us-edition/20170221/281479276181361

      Except for the recent scandal at IPS #28, we don‘t hear much from the IPS Alt Ed Division. You’d think we’d constantly hear about how students were “turned around” and put “back on track” and returned to the mainstream where they were successful, and all due to our district’s alternative programs.  

     (FYI Here’s the link to IPS alternatives http://www.myips.org/Page/34369)

    One reason for this lack of public information may be that IPS alternatives simply warehouse students in “soft jails” in the underbelly of the system. This goes along with the history of punitive alternatives which are actually created for the school adults who don’t know what else to with the chronically disruptive. Here alternative schools act as “safety valves” for teachers and not “safety nets” for those students underserved by the district. In some cases then, IPS programs are neither alternative nor educational.

     Here’s the real question: If IPS alternatives do “work,” why can’t any student attend?

    Thus, the issues here are: 1) How would we know if IPS doesn’t game the system to increase its grad rates; and, 2) are IPS alternatives the first step for some students into the pipeline to prison? We won’t know unless we see the data–but does IPS keep data on its alternative programs and students?

________

John Harris Loflin is an IPS graduate and retired IPS teacher. He has a graduate degree in Alternative Ed from IU. John’s ideas are published locally, in the state and the U.S., and internationally. He’s also presented at conferences regarding alternative and democratic education on 6 contents.  See his work here:

http://vorcreatex.com/general-alternative-ed/

http://vorcreatex.com/indianapolis-indiana-alternative-ed/

http://vorcreatex.com/national-international-alternative-ed/

A nail in the coffin


I’m back.  Well, I never really left.

But someone else has returned.

This month the brand new IPS board saw it fit to appoint Patrick Herrel to be the Director of Student Enrollment and Options.

Who is Patrick Herrel?

He was the right hand man to David Harris, CEO of the Mind Trust.  The Mind Trust is a nonprofit organization that works to place IPS schools in privately owned hands by converting them to Innovation Network, or charter-operated, schools.

Patrick left the Mind Trust and Indianapolis to be the Director of the Mind Trust #2 in Cincinnati.  Now he is back to run Student Enrollment and Options at IPS.  And he doesn’t come cheap:

  Combine this with the fact that Enroll Indy, another privatizing nonprofit focused on jointly enrolling students into both IPS and charter schools, moved into a prominent space on the first floor of the IPS Education center – and we have a recipe for disaster of EPIC money grubbing proportions.

The Mind Trust’s prodigal son and its daughter company Enroll Indy are now perfectly poised to seize even more public school $tudent$, propertie$, building$, and tax dollar$ intended to provide a free public education.

How many more nails will this board and administration drive into the coffin of public education in Indianapolis?  

Maybe this is the final one necessary.