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Green Dot Does the East Coast

October 30th, 2007 by Celeste Fremon

drop-out-factories-ap.gif

The best LA-based education drama
of this past year has been the proposed—and now LAUSD school board approved— charter conversion of Locke High School by Steve Barr and Green Dot. A big part of the drama was the fact that LA’s teacher’s union, UTLA, did their best to derail the whole thing.

Now theres a related drama taking place on the east coast, where Green Dot wants to open a new charter school in the South Bronx. But this time UFT—the local union that represents New York City’s 110,000 public school teachers—has chosen to enthusiastically partner with Green Dot in the endeavor, instead of opposing it.

This past Friday, UTF and Green Dot announced in an joint press release that they’d cleared the second of three necessary hurdles when the State University of New York Board of Trustees approved the plan for the new school, which will begin with 100 9th graders, and eventually grow to 500 students, with no more than 25 kids in a classroom.

The last hurdle is the approval of the State Board of Regents.

According to UTF, this is the first such union/charter partnership in the nation.

So why can’t LA’s union and Green Dot forge their own cooperative bond?

Such questions are made more…..piquant....by the fact that the Green Dot/UTF announcement happened coincidentally to coincided with the release of a new national drop out data analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins for The Associated Press. It seems that Johns Hopkins decnstructed U.S. Education Department figures and came up to the discouraging conclusion that 1 out of every 10 American public high schools can be labeled a “Drop-Out Factory.”

Congress is hoping to address the nation’s drop out problem by tweaking the wildly flawed No Child Left Behind law to include accountability for drop out rates. (Since, as it stands now, NCLB “creates a perverse incentive,” as the AP puts it, for schools to encourage low-performing kids to drop out so they won’t bring down a school’s scores, some change might be in order.)

Did I mention that Green Dot’s existing LA schools have very low drop out rates and high graduation rates?

Consider it mentioned.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Posted in Education, Green Dot, unions | 7 Comments »

7 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    …NCLB “creates a perverse incentive,” as the AP puts it, for schools to encourage low-performing kids to drop out so they won’t bring down a school’s scores….

    Well, that puts up right back where we started. Brilliant.

    Keeping poor performers with good perfomers will hold the good ones back, and it doesn’t really help the bad students to be over their heads. (What about concerns over “self-esteem,” unless we just pass everyone, no matter up.) Oops. That’s what we have now.

    Maybe the real idea is to let those who will be able to learn to have a better chance.

    Did you consider that NCLB is really about “the children” rather than making administrators look good.

  2. Mavis Beacon Says:

    That’s great news. I certainly hope UTLA will follow suit. They’re really fighting the future on this one.

  3. L.A. Resident Says:

    I read this same story at the huffington-post web-site, I need to play closer attention to the name of the author of news stories. Nancy Zuckerbrod ??

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20071029/dropout-factories/#

  4. richard locicero Says:

    UFT, of course, was ground zero for the antics of Albert Shanker and I wonder what he would be saying about this if he were still alive.

  5. maggie Says:

    Another obstructionist tactic from the UTLA/maybe also LAUSD Board: Few people in L A even know about the California Virtual Academy, which is a FREE/taxpayer funded just like “real” classrooms, by which kids can be homeschooled with the exact same Cal. curriculum. The lessons are online night before, graded and guided online as needed; kids meet w/ a teacher min. 4 times a year, to ensure they’re doing their own work and learning. Same tests, etc. State even gives students the computer on loan while they’re in the program, so you have the guarantee of a homogoneous system.

    I’ve noticed that all the meetings for prospective students and parents and meeting places are OUTSIDE confines of L A proper and LAUSD, closest being Pasadena. The UTLA will do anything in its power to keep students in their four-wall schools, so they will have employment, etc. Whereas this is an excellent option not only for kids in dangerous schools, but a lot of parents of even bright as well as “average” kids have the hardest time just knowing what their kids’ homework is, even if it’s posted online it’s not updated daily, by then the kid is behind… Teachers don’t like to deal with parents over homework, so the kids falls further behind. Especially with boys, I don’t know of any parents not struggling with this “forgetting Homework.”

    The digital academy means the school system still gets the same funds as if the kid showed, but they save on facility usage and probably administrative and teacher time since the parent helps organize the day’s work. Of course the “social” aspects must be considered, but if a kid already has friends and this frees up daytime for music or other lessons the kid has a priority on, should be put out there as a choice, not covered up.

  6. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Very interesting, Maggie. It sounds like a very reasonable option for certain kids. I had no idea it existed. I know a number of kids (now older) who would have been good candidates for this Virtual Academy, had they known about it. Thanks for the info.

  7. maggie Says:

    I just recently found out about it googling homeschooling and gifted programs online; it wasn’t available when my son was in early grades, but the program has been extant at least a few years. I find it good to have as a backup with the many variables and expenses of private schools, dealing w/ teachers and homework issues — nice that schoolwork and homework are one, and kids can progress more quickly than in a classroom. Half the school day seems filled with organization, busywork, distractions, discipline issues and busywork. A year or two of such indie study could actually get a kid MORE organized.

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