APS watchdog delves into charter school chain with history of problems. Yet, APS board considers renewal.

You’ve probably heard the expression that there are two things you don’t want to see being made: Sausages and laws.

As a longtime reporter, I’ve been surprised at how elected officials approve legislation or make critical decisions with very little information or with a complete disregard for the facts. I once attended a three-hour meeting of the House Judiciary Committee where 18 witnesses — including a national expert flown in by the committee — testified in opposition to the bill under discussion. The witnesses provided convincing and overwhelming evidence that the law would be a nightmare to enforce and would only worsen the problem it was supposed to solve. Not a single person spoke in favor it the law except the sponsors.

But the committee passed the bill anyway. And the state has been at the losing end of legal challenges ever since.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Atlanta school board’s debate over renewing the charter for Atlanta Preparatory Academy. Several of you commented on the lack of depth of that debate, including forensic accountant and APS watchdog Jarod Apperson.

While most of us went on our way after the blog discussion, Apperson went to work. He continued to delve into Atlanta Prep and its management company, Mosaica.

Here is what he found. This is an excerpt from his incredible Grading Atlanta blog.

Please take a look at his blog — a must-read for APS parents, superintendent Erroll Davis and the school board — as Apperson has more details and data on Mosaica. He also has a comparison of Atlanta Prep and other APS charter schools. Again, this is only an excerpt so please take the time to read his entire investigation.  It is worth your time.

By Jarod Apperson

This for-profit charter management company was founded in 1997 by Sandy Springs resident Gene Eidelman and has since expanded to a network of 90 schools, generating more than $125M in annual revenue.  For several years, Inc. Magazine has ranked Mosaica as one of the fastest growing companies in urban America.

Unfortunately, students attending schools managed by Mosaica have not seen their educational trajectories rise with the management company’s revenue.  Instead, Mosaica’s students around the country consistently underperform their peers.

Mirroring the organization’s national record, Mosiaca’s local charter school, Atlanta Preparatory Academy (APA), is one of Georgia’s worst performing schools on annual exams, with students in all grades scoring in the bottom 20% statewide.

The school is currently up for charter renewal and has requested that the Atlanta Board of Education grant it a five-year charter extension.

During the December 2012 school board meeting, Mr. Allen Mueller, Executive Director of Innovation for Atlanta Public Schools (APS), recommended that the Board of Education decline to renew APA’s charter, citing low academic achievement and concerns about the school’s financial independence from Mosaica.  District 1 Board of Education representative, Ms. Brenda Muhammad, quickly rebuffed this recommendation and advocated extending the school’s charter for an additional five years.  The Board ultimately voted to delay any decisions until its January 2013 meeting.

A review of Mosaica and APA’s history, academic performance, and financial management raises serious questions about the prudence of granting the charter school an extension.

During Mosaica’s short tenure on the national stage, it has found itself immersed in a series of scandals across the country.

The Lafayette Academy Charter School opened in the fall of 2006, paying Mosaica $773,000 for the first year of a five-year management contract.  Less than 10 days into the school year, the charter’s governing board started “noticing problems.”  In a lawsuit filed against Mosaica, the governing board alleged that the management company failed to align its curriculum to Louisiana standards, failed to establish an after-school program for struggling students, and failed to properly organize transportation to and from the school.  On September 14, 2007, an arbitrator awarded the governing board a $350,000 judgment against Mosaica and upheld the school’s termination of its management agreement.

Two years later, Mosaica’s Howard Road Academy in D.C. was embroiled in a cheating scandal when a student announced to her exam proctor that she knew all the answers to the DC-CAS standardized test because she had been given the test to practice the day before.  The Washington Post later reported that Mosaica administrators distributed tests prior to exam day for “extra practice.”

In April 2012, Mosaica’s STEAM Academy of Winston-Salem, North Carolina faced revocation of its charter for financial problems and low academic performance.  Just before annual exams were to be administered, The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Mosaica hired Susan Willis to run the school.  Prior to landing this job, Ms. Willis was fired by her previous employer when an investigation found that she conspired to boost test scores as the principal of William Flemming High School in Roanoke, Virginia.  Mosaica claimed to be “aware of a testing irregularity,” when hiring Ms. Willis, but “didn’t think it was anything significant.”

Last month, four of Mosaica’s Atlanta students were injured when a classmate mixed dry ice, vinegar and water together in a bottle.  One student was burned.  Another was hit in the head with the exploding bottle, and another got chemicals on his face.  The injuries occurred when a substitute teacher “wasn’t looking.”

Just last week, the Detroit News reported that Mosaica’s newest school in Muskegon Heights, Michigan has struggled to maintain a stable staff during its first year of operations.  The principal quit before classes started, and just three months into the school year, 25% of the teachers have also left the school.  A student described his experience as follows: “It’s confusing because I go from this learning process to this learning process to that learning process and it’s just ridiculous how some teachers leave and we have to start all over and learn something new…It’s just, it’s crazy.”

The nation’s most admired charter networks (e.g. KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Achievement First, Success Academies, etc.) have all followed a familiar pattern of expansion.  First, they started with a single school in a single city, worked to perfect that school, and then replicated the successful model.  As they expand, the networks strive to ensure their new schools consistently implement the approaches which proved successful in their flagship location.

Unlike these organizations, high standards do not seem to be a priority at Mosaica.  Perhaps the thing most consistent about Mosaica’s schools is their failure.

A comprehensive analysis conducted by Arizona State University lists the first 36 schools founded by Mosaica since it began operating in 1997.  Twenty seven of those schools have since been shut down by local authorizers or have extricated themselves from Mosaica’s management.

Of the nine which survived, eight can be classified as categorical failures.  They have consistently scraped along the bottom of the barrel in their states as measured by performance on annual exams.  Here are those schools’ most recent statewide percentile rankings on exams as compiled by SchoolDigger:

  • Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac (MI) – 10th Percentile
  • Bay County Public School Academy (MI) – 15th Percentile
  • Columbus Arts & Technology Academy (OH) – 11th Percentile
  • Columbus Humanities Arts and Technology Academy (OH) – 8th Percentile
  • Grand Blanc Academy (MI) – 16th Percentile
  • Howard Road Academy (DC) – 14th Percentile
  • Phoenix Advantage Charter School (AZ) – 34th Percentile

The only possible beacon of success among Mosaica’s first 36 education attempts is the Columbus Preparatory Academy.  Founded in 2004, until recently, the school has struggled, its test scores falling in the 6th percentile in 2008.  After the Columbus Dispatch ran a story including the school on a list of charters facing closure, the Columbus Preparatory Academy saw its performance undergo a meteoric rise to the 81st percentile on the state’s 2011 tests.

Even if this single-year increase is an accurate reflection of lasting student growth at Columbus Prepartory Academy, Mosaica has demonstrated no capacity to duplicate the success elsewhere.  Instead, the organization seems willing to accept a certain level of school closures, focusing instead on a strategy of opening new schools.  During the time the network watched 27 of its first 36 schools close, it was able to open more than 75 new schools.  As long as Mosaica opens more schools than it sees closed each year, its revenue can continue to grow.

By the time local or state authorities step in to shut schools down, Mosaica has already earned several years of profits and can move on to the next opportunity.

In December 2006, Mosaica’s President Gene Eidelman filed a charter petition to open the Atlanta Preparatory Academy (APA).  The charter application indicates that non-profit APA intended to contract with for-profit Mosaica to provide all services.

Unlike Grant Park’s community-based Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, APA was not founded by a group of local parents seeking better options for their kids.  Instead, Gene Eidelman was joined by a team of three outsiders, none of whom live in the community where APA planned to operate its school and none of whom send children to the school.  The charter lists its inaugural board as follows:

  1. Gene Eidelman – President
  2. Neil Shorthouse
  3. Ann Davis Jones
  4. Falomi Prescott-Adams

The application acknowledged a conflict of interest as APA’s President was also the founder, owner, and President of Mosaica.

Undeterred by this conflict, the APS Board of Education approved the application, paving the way for APA to open in the fall of 2008.  The school was not prepared to receive students in 2008 and ultimately delayed its start to August 2009.

Since the Board of Education approved the school’s charter five years ago, APA has been a revolving door for board members who join then leave the organization.  Founders Ann Davis Jones and Falomi Prescott-Adams have both severed ties to APA.  According to filings with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, each of the past four years the school has had a different Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  None of the individuals who have served as CFO appear to have earned a degree in finance or accounting.

  • 2009 CFO Gene Eidelman did not graduate from college.
  • 2010 CFO Neil Shorthouse earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh.
  • 2011 CFO Colin Colvin’s background is unclear
  • 2012 CFO Dekisha Drayton is an MD who studied Biology as an undergraduate.

This instability and lack of financial experience stands in stark contrast to the consistent financial leadership seen at Atlanta’s successful charters.  One of the city’s most highly regarded charters is the Charles R. Drew Charter School.  Its CFO, Brian P. Williams, has served in that role for at least six years.  He also has a financial background and worked for 10 years as a CPA with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Much like Mosaica’s other schools, APA’s students rank among the bottom of the pack on Georgia exams.  For the 2012 CRCT, the school didn’t see students in any grade exceed the 20th percentile statewide.  In three of five grades, students ranked in the 10th percentile or lower. Importantly, the school’s highest performing students are 7th graders who received their K-4 educations elsewhere, prior to APA opening. APA’s sub-par performance is even more disappointing when one considers that, with a low-income percentage of 61%, fewer of its students may face the challenges faced by students in most other APS charters.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

49 comments Add your comment

Raquel Morris

December 12th, 2012
10:32 am

Brenda Muhammad was the school board member pushing to give this horrid school more time to harm our children. It is clearly past time for her to go. I can’t figure out who Brenda is working for, but it’s clearly not the students.

Dunwoody Mom

December 12th, 2012
10:37 am

Wow…tragic…that’s about all I can say after reading Mr. Apperson’s writing.

Snarkysnake

December 12th, 2012
10:52 am

Shut ‘er down- That’s what charter advocates will say.(I think). If they are not cutting the mustard,cut ‘em loose as an example to other companies that come behind them. This is the way the system is supposed to work. If we could only do this with every school.
Charter haters want the flexibility to shut down failing schools-As long as they are the right failing schools.

Astropig

December 12th, 2012
10:56 am

The tone of this article suggests that Maureen now agrees with reform advocates that schools should be held accountable when they fail. Welcome to the revolution!

Miya T.

December 12th, 2012
11:01 am

This is quite ridiculous. So many parents think that charter school education is always a better option. One of the reasons I was so against the Charter School Amendment. It will give too much power to people who are not associated with education.

jd

December 12th, 2012
11:02 am

Wait, don’t tell me that for-profits use non-profits as a cover to expand their business! And, you mean you can start a charter without local parents requesting such! Round up the usual suspects!

bootney farnsworth

December 12th, 2012
11:16 am

but, but, but…..

I thought charters were holy writ, infallible, and incapable of wrong.

BT

December 12th, 2012
11:18 am

As an educator for the past 32 years, I have very little confidence in our legislators and the DOE. Nothing makes sense anymore and neither have any credibiltiy with me. This APS charter situation is a perfect example of what is going on. Everybody has the “fix” for education with very little support. Until you have spent a day in my shoes, dont tell me you know best!!

Concerned taxpayer

December 12th, 2012
11:25 am

Mr. Apperson’s research is impressive and eye-opening, but it sounds like the APS board (like the House Judiciary Committee in the example given by Maureen) doesn’t want to be bothered with the facts.

3schoolkids

December 12th, 2012
11:26 am

And so it begins…Is the APS’s January 2013 timing coincidental? Mosaica will be seeking a State Charter for an online school from the State Charter Commission, they have a website for Mercury Online Academy of Georgia. This is the same Mercury Online Academy which previously sought a charter under the State Charter Commission while one of it’s former incorporators sat on the commission. Thankfully, the commission voted no to their charter. Will we be so lucky this time, or will Mosaica be allowed to spread their failure? Stay tuned folks!

Jerryskids

December 12th, 2012
11:43 am

So obviously low-performing charter schools should be shut down. What about low-performing public schools? And obviously we need some sort of local oversight of charter schools – like the local public school board. Ooops! That would be eactly what we have here now. So if the APS board is doing such an obviously lousy job overseeing both charter schools and regular schools, should they be shut down as well? Or does actually being held accountable for job performance only apply to the private sector? (Or at least that part of the private sector too small to get government bailouts and taxpayer subsidiesas a reward for poor performance .)

bootney farnsworth

December 12th, 2012
11:52 am

@ BT

preach on, friend.

bootney farnsworth

December 12th, 2012
11:59 am

it would be interesting to see if the state would be willing to make this swap: in exchange for limited union bennies –

specifically the ability to confront abusive and corrupt management with political force, and the requirement they PROVE their claims when they go on witch hunts to an impartial “jury”, and protection for repercussions when we legitimately challenge administration

nothing else, just this

-in exchange for the same “jury” to have the power to close poor performing schools…..

would they go for it?

lahopital

December 12th, 2012
12:00 pm

I’m not sure the mishap with dry ice is relavant. I’m actually impressed they were doing experiments. The other info is pretty scary.

Teacher

December 12th, 2012
12:11 pm

BT- I agree!

Error Davis and The APS Board Have Got To Go NOW! Not Tomorrow! Now

December 12th, 2012
12:17 pm

When are the parents of APS students and taxpayers going to

WAKE UP and see what the APS and superientendent are

doing to OUR CHILDREN?

Is it BECAUSE the majority of the students ARE POOR

and BLACK that NO ONE CARES about what is being

DONE TO THEM?

In the future Atlanta is GOING TO PAY FOR WHAT THEY ARE

DOING and have done TO OUR BLACK CHILDREN.

How Dare They!

December 12th, 2012
12:17 pm

How dare they allow a charter school to fail without accountability! Only the traditional public schools are suppose to fail without accountability!

SHOCKED! That they would think about closing this school...

December 12th, 2012
12:23 pm

Before first blaming:

1) The obviously lazy,unmotivated parents.
2) The poor and “English is a second language” kids.
3) The grossly inadequate funding.
4) Federal “Red Tape” that make it impossible for the educators to educate.
5) The Koch Brothers.

williebkind

December 12th, 2012
12:54 pm

Dangit this charter school sounds just like a public school. No matter how much money there is no education and its the parents fault.

JK

December 12th, 2012
1:36 pm

Error Davis: and by ‘Atlanta is going to pay’ you mean white people?

catlady

December 12th, 2012
2:52 pm

Any possibility of getting Mr. Apperson appointed to the Charter Schools Commission? How about a prominent position in Deal’s educational advisors? Oh, wait, he actually KNOWS SOMETHING, unlike so many of Deal’s appointees!

Don't Tread

December 12th, 2012
2:59 pm

You mean they’re not parading in the streets promising a denial of contract extension? Color me shocked.

HS Public Teacher

December 12th, 2012
3:04 pm

Approve all charter schools. Charter = great. Isn’t that what Georgia thinks?

If APS doesn’t approve them, then now the State can approve them. Who cares? Approve them all.

We want our tax dollars going to the eduation corporations anyways. Let them have it! Close down the public schools!

Ros Dalton

December 12th, 2012
3:13 pm

School board members are politicians and like all politicians they count on your ignorance and apathy to accomplish their dirty work. Hopefully at least this once they’re wrong.

williebkind

December 12th, 2012
3:37 pm

“We want our tax dollars going to the eduation corporations anyways. Let them have it! Close down the public schools!”

You must have been typing with emotions and fast. You misspelled education. My high school teacher would have docked me for that. That is why I hated high school.

Error Davis and The APS Board Have Got To Go NOW! Not Tomorrow! Now

December 12th, 2012
3:39 pm

@JK

December 12th, 2012
1:36 pm
Error Davis: and by ‘Atlanta is going to pay’ you mean white people?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NO!!!!!!

Society as a whole will pay for NOT EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN.

It is the older generation that will suffer under those UNEDUCATED,

UNSKILLED, UNTAUGHT, UNMENTORED, UNCARED FOR,

UNLOVED children.

You can see it happening right now.

Dr. Monica Henson

December 12th, 2012
5:01 pm

It’s quite telling that the Charter Schools Commission turned down Mosaica’s application for an online school, Allen Mueller (a well-respected charter authorizing expert) recommends nonrenewal for Mosaica’s APS school, yet APS’s BOE dithers over the question. Everyone with any integrity in the Georgia charter sector would recommend precisely what Allen did.

This is what happens when “local control” by a board of education is exercised over a charter school. The vast majority of district boards of education are simply not equipped or knowledgeable enough to exercise appropriate oversight of charter schools. Atlanta Public Schools is one of the most highly-resourced districts in the Southeast, and they have a top-notch charter school authority in Allen Mueller–yet they ignore his recommendation.

This situation is a textbook example of why we needed a single-purposed authorizer for charter schools in Georgia. Thank God we will finally have it.

living in an outdated ed system

December 12th, 2012
5:17 pm

Dr. Henson is 100% correct on this one. You’d all be wise to listen to her.

living in an outdated ed system

December 12th, 2012
5:25 pm

As Dr. Henson so eloquently stated, now you understand EXACTLY why local school boards can’t be the only authorizers of public charter schools. Thank you @Maureen for drafting a story that shows what happens if the amendment failed. We’d continue to have local school boards make decisions without sufficient knowledge or understanding.

My sincere thanks to @Maureen for her tireless efforts at unveiling the truth for all to see.

RCB

December 12th, 2012
5:58 pm

Error Davis @ 12:17 “It is the older generation that will suffer under those UNEDUCATED,
UNSKILLED, UNTAUGHT, UNMENTORED, UNCARED FOR, UNLOVED children.”

We’re all suffering now. Poor parenting creates these children, not education.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
6:45 pm

RCB, Blame the poor parents for poverty, is that it? If you’re actually interested in reality in the United States, here’s a chart for you. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/10/29/opinion/29blow-ch/29blow-ch-popup-v2.gif

U. S. version of health care for school children: http://www.drugs.com/monograph/benzocaine-eent.html = pain relief medicine

bigbill

December 12th, 2012
7:34 pm

Bravo, Mr. Apperson, and kudos to you, Ms. Downey, for publishing excerpts from Mr. Apperson’s research on Mosaica. I hope I can be forgiven here for mentioning that I was one commenter who explicity supported Mr. Apperson’s comment when I posted this at 4:30 PM, Dec. 5: “We do need to focus on Mosaica Education, Inc. and all the other private, for-profit businesses which are making a fortune on the taxpayer funds they receive as part of their involvement in the charter school process.”

I am one person who remembers when subprime mortgage products were praised to the heavens for providing “access to credit” to low and moderate income, minority, and elderly homeowners who had been heretofore “shut out of the mortgage-refinance market.” We all now know what that led to: the near total collapse of the American and worldwide economies. And of course, banks were making billions off these toxic loan products and they made billions on the bailout. Follow the money.

These for-profit entities and their political and free market idealogue backers pushing this charter school movement nationwide are looking at profit margins and privatization, not what’s best for public school children. And just as the subprime mortgage lenders had their backers offering specious rationales for making abusive loans to unqualified borrowers, the charter school profiteers are also offering deceptive and misleading justifications as they endeavor to open the floodgates, increasing the number of poorly performing, largely unregulated charter schools. Therefore, I would watch very carefully when school board members and officials push hard to retain these failing charter schools. Follow the money because there is indeed a lot of money at stake: billions.

Ed Johnson

December 12th, 2012
8:10 pm

“Therefore, I would watch very carefully when school board members and officials push hard to retain these failing charter schools.”

When APS Board members do in fact act to retain failing charter schools – or any charter school, for that matter – they violate both their Oath of Office and their Code of Ethics Oath, a close reading of the Atlanta Independent School System Charter reveals. Accordingly, a complaint against the whole APS Board has been filed with the Board’s Ethics Commission.

living in an outdated ed system

December 12th, 2012
8:18 pm

Let me reiterate what I said earlier, for those hardliners who refuse to consider what this story REALLY means. Not every public charter school will be run effectively. We all know the corruption in our traditional public schools full well. Remember that all of you who voted “no” to the charter amendment are allowing local school board members to make ill-informed decisions such as what has transpired here. To quote Dr. Henson:

“Atlanta Public Schools is one of the most highly-resourced districts in the Southeast, and they have a top-notch charter school authority in Allen Mueller–yet they ignore his recommendation.”

Georgia ABSOLUTELY did the right thing by passing the charter amendment, so a qualified body can make educated decisions on public charter schools. Who gives oversight to traditional public schools? Oh, that’s right. We had to have an “independent” investigation HANDLED BY THE STATE.

This article shows the folly of opposing the public charter amendment.

RCB

December 12th, 2012
8:27 pm

@Private Citizen–I’ll re-phrase. LACK OF PARENTING creates most of these children. Rich or poor. If these particular charter schools have such dismal results, they should be shut down immediately. Really, five more years?!?!?!? That should be a crime. These children don’t get a do-over.

Jan

December 12th, 2012
8:38 pm

@lahopital The dry ice incident IS relevant. Dry ice, vinegar and water in a bottle is NOT an experiment. It is dangerous horsing around that created an explosive device with chemical weapon potential. Thank goodness it was vinegar in the bottle with the water and not a more caustic liquid like hydrochloric acid. The fact that these items were openly available for the students to do this means that the school is NOT following appropriate safety training and recommendations.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
9:50 pm

RCB, I think we are in accord (agreement) on the gist of things, but I do not blame parents. I think most parents work hard and love their kids. I’ve worked with plenty of poor parents and deranged kids, at least some of them. Kids need structure at school and need to know where the lines are drawn, and need specialty environments suited to their needs, not getting passed along at the school house and allowed to do what they please to anyone and anything at the school house. There are some good intelligent loving parents who say, “I need help. I’ve tried. I can’t do anything about the behavior.” If you want to take an intelligent approach, you might wish to see that since the 1980s, the U.S has 4x as many people locked up in prisons and jails (while this same has grown as a for-profit industry) and this certainly impacts homes. We need to stop blaming families and start taking responsibility and acknowledging the peculiar conditions that have developed in “America.”

In Georgia, somebody with one “joint” gets locked up for six months. Meanwhile Colorado and Washington (state, as in “Seattle”) just legalised marijuana and will be taxing the sale of it. ‘Might want to think about that. They’ve got a whole different operational reality. Their police are now going to have to respect people’s recreational drug use instead of acting like they have power over people’s personal lives. Coloradoans celebrating their new law: http://postimage.org/image/w44h12lk5/

TeacherLeader

December 12th, 2012
10:12 pm

I disagree with those who are using this as supporting evidence for local boards not aging control. I believe this supports why we should vote out these lazy politicians who refuse to do research, fail to listen to field experts, ignores facts, and makes decisions contrary to what their constituents demand. It is time to pay more attention to school board elections! It’s time to stop letting these ineffective people run uncontested! It’s time to use our power to vote people into office that will close ineffective schools regular public or charter!

crankee-yankee

December 12th, 2012
10:40 pm

bootney farnsworth
December 12th, 2012
11:59 am

Not a chance. To agree to that they would be giving up a modicum of control over the situation, on both ends. An anathema to power structures of any ilk.

Leigh

December 13th, 2012
7:43 am

I found it interesting that APS granted the charter and the original charter school commision did not. Thank goodness the amendment passed! The commision rarely granted charter approval because they knew what they were doing, unlike APS and other districts.

CJae of EAV

December 13th, 2012
9:40 am

@living in an outdated ed system – Personally, while Dr. Henson’s comments are well placed, I believe its a cop out to say the APS Board and/or other local boards across the state are ill equipt to do the very job they are elected to do in the first place.

Bottom line, it doesn’t take much in the way of due dilligence (as evidenced by this blog) to gather enough information about what you’re dealing with to make an informed choice. Furthermore, APS has been at the business of authorizing charters for well over 10 years. At least half of the APS board members have been seated on the board during this time period, thus they have some context to draw from.

Enough with the excuses, local board members need to step up and do the job they signed up for or get out of the way and let someone else fill the position.

Private Citizen

December 13th, 2012
12:58 pm

local board members need to step up and do the job they signed up for or get out of the way and let someone else fill the position.

The crazy part is school board members are not specialised in some of the huge things they do. You can vote me to be your dentist, but don’t expect me to fix your teeth. I’m not a dentist. I wonder how “it is done” in the rest of the world. This U.S. school board thing is pretty bizarre. There is just not a direct line -> vector -> on responsibilities and qualifications. This gets dismissed through the concept of “local control” being important, but they exert practically zero control over curriculum and such in this time of outside mandates. Are there any published comparative studies on different ways regional school management is done, because the system we use is peculiar. They don’t have “school boards” rearranging schools in Hong Kong, Berlin, Paris, and Prague, I am guessing. We should see how they do it in Shezhen. They sure make a lot of quality electronics there. I think they’re pretty direct with the kids, too. I wonder what they do re: truancy, or not doing school work etc. Shenzhen has come a long way on the quality of their manufacturing. Even their cheap stuff is well made now, real tight build using metals and durable electronics inside. They make the Samsung and Apple phones in that region, just north of Hong Kong.

Hmm. 2nd grader steals teacher’s cell phone. Teacher beats three of the kids with a wooden chair leg. http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-968-pupils-beaten-by-teacher-after-being-accused-of-stealing-mobile-phone.html

The Shenzhen teenage soul sisters make video to raise money for sick person http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-4818-video-of-shenzhen-students-charity-performance-goes-viral-on-weibo.html

Ravi Shankar is dead @ 92. Thanks, Ravi. http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-12/13/content_2313650.htm Good luck to your daughter Anoushka.

Private Citizen

December 13th, 2012
1:04 pm

That Shenzhen 2nd grade teacher is probably an employee of the Regional Economic Development Counsel, not an employee elected school board made up of parents and neighborhood people or petty (as in small) politicians. I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears Georgia teachers of the “in” crowd talk about how long they have “been with” “the board” as if “the board” is their spouse or lover. It is really weird. Maybe they get some “unconditional love” from “the board.”

Private Citizen

December 13th, 2012
1:23 pm

It is also notable that Shenzhen teachers have before gone on strike and left the school building and the little kids went to the school building to hang out because they had nowhere else to go, although the teachers were not there. They probably have very few lawyers in Shezhen and schools are not overtly concerned with liability. http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-886-100-teachers-go-on-strike-over-wage-dispute-in-shenzhen.html

Air-conditioners for honors students only in Shenzhen school http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-2523-air-conditioners-for-honors-students-only-in-shenzhen-school.html

They haven’t got it backwards over there. They’re not doing reverse-grading and giving free grades, and it looks like the teachers don’t have to put up with bad behavior from the students. Right or wrong, they know who’s who. Probably the kids who do not perform is schools get sent to work in the fields or something. Let’s find out. Hmm Looks like Shenzhen is a specialty economic zone with a sort of work-ethic-on-steroids. http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/05/10/china-expelling-the-unemployed-from-shenzhen/ Therefore, Shenzhen is not like the rest of China. Due to poverty, their parents went to Shenzhen to make a living, and nobody took care of these kids. It was reported that only one of the five boys had been sent to school, but he used to play truant, despite school officials and teachers having visited his home to persuade him back. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90882/8038703.html

Rick L in ATL

December 13th, 2012
2:21 pm

This episode is yet another example of the APS BOE excusing poor performance rather than holding individuals accountable for their failures. The APS BOE is the standard-bearer for “excuse-based education” –it’s always someone else’s fault, or there’s not enough money (BTW: there’s PLENTY of money), or the Feds are just too doggone demanding…

Shenzhen is an extreme example and I don’t think anybody here would like to see us adopt their values, but in successful systems worldwide, school officials don’t coddle bottom-of-the-barrel parents and unprepared, undisciplined children the way we do here–the system is (properly) weighted toward kids who value the education they’re receiving and behave accordingly.

Dr. Monica Henson

December 13th, 2012
11:15 pm

bigbill posted, “These for-profit entities and their political and free market idealogue backers pushing this charter school movement nationwide are looking at profit margins and privatization, not what’s best for public school children.”

This is another reason why Georgia needs the Charter Schools Commission. When dealing with a charter management company, it’s crucial that the relationship between the board of directors and the CMO or EMO be carefully laid out. A quality authorizer understands that and ensures it.

I submit that the optimum arrangement occurs when authority over administrative decisionmaking rests with the school leadership, and they are the employees of the board of the directors, NOT the CMO. Otherwise, you have a situation where the profit motive is in direct competition with the education mission. When that happens, whoever is in charge of administrative decision making will get to determine which one wins out.

Pride and Joy

December 14th, 2012
7:27 am

This comment is interesting “The tone of this article suggests that Maureen now agrees with reform advocates that schools should be held accountable when they fail. Welcome to the revolution!”
If the charter school fails, it SHOULD CLOSE just like any other traditional public school should close if it is failing…
There is ONE FACT THAT IS MISSING in this story, which is, how well or how poorly is the traditional public school that the charter school was meant to address? In other words, is the traditional public school in the area as bad or worse than the charter?
I don’t think charters are a magic bullet as some posters think we charter-supporters are. Charter schools are an option and they can be the remedy for poor education choices. They can also be the necessary competition needed to create a sense of urgency in a dismal traditional public school.
However, we must not be duplicitous, if a CHARTER school must be closed because it fails then SO MUST THE TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL FAIL.
On this blog, as another poster pointed out, we have a duplicitous scenario. When a traditional public school fails, the reason is the state, the parents, the kids, the community and everyone except the school. The solution is supposed to be to pour more money into it. Yeet, when the charter school fails, we are supposed to shut its doors.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander. BOTH schools should close and its employees fired.

Stinkfoot Jones

December 14th, 2012
9:49 am

Maureen, we get it – you hate charter schools. I wish you’d turn your biased eye towards the complete failure that are the numerous cheating APS schools, all of which should’ve been shuttered immediately. Instead, they stay open, shuffle some loser teachers around (similar to how the Vatican dealt with molester priests), and beg for more money.

What a disaster GA public schools are. Thankfully A1’s passage will hopefully open some new doors for parents who want a real education for their children, rather than the mediocre joke known as the traditional public school that you hold in such high regard.

Private Citizen

December 14th, 2012
8:12 pm

Stinkyfoot, only time will tell.