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Steve Barr & Green Dot Divorce, Cali School Sups Apply Pressure, & More on Value Added

March 29th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


I’m not sure why no LA media seem to have reported on this story since Barr has been such a significant figure in LA’s education reform movement, but….in any case, this story from the NY Times has the basics on Barr’s parting of the ways with Green Dot. He’d stepped down as head of Green Dot a couple of years ago, but had remained on the board of directors. But now, it seems, the divorce is complete.

It sounds like it would be a good time for WLA to check in with Steve and find out more. But until then, here are some clips from the NY Times article.

On Friday, Mr. Barr and Shane Martin, the college dean who succeeded him as chairman of the Green Dot board in 2009, issued a joint statement announcing that Mr. Barr would no longer use the Green Dot name as he sought to open charter schools in New York and elsewhere.

The Green Dot organization will continue, under the leaders who have replaced Mr. Barr
, to run its network of 16 charter schools in Los Angeles.


Alexander Russo, the author of a coming book on the efforts of Mr. Barr and Green Dot to overhaul the troubled Locke High School in Los Angeles, said, “Steve is a hard-charging visionary, as many founders are, and as Green Dot got bigger, people struggled to find an appropriate place for him in the organization.”


For more than a year, Mr. Barr has been in discussions with school and union officials in several cities, exploring ways of extending his vision of overhauling schools nationwide.

He has been operating as Green Dot America, and recruited a six-member board for that organization that includes two other directors who also sit on Green Dot’s board: Susan Estrich, the prominent Los Angeles lawyer, and Jeff Shell, the president of programming for Comcast.

On Friday, Green Dot America changed its name to Future is Now Schools. [Not the most felicitous of names, IMHO, especially with its acronym of "FINS." But maybe it'll grown on me.] Mr. Barr said the name was inspired by President Obama’s call in the State of the Union address to “win the future” by improving American education.

In an interview, Mr. Barr said that the use of the Green Dot name had become confusing as he sought to build the new organization, which he said would explore using a lot of technology in classrooms to augment traditional instruction in what he called a “hybrid model.”

Read more here.

As always, it will be intriguing to track what becomes of Barr’s newest venture.


Let’s hope that it works. The Fresno Bee has the story.

Here’s a clip:

With time running out for a budget deal, a group of California school superintendents is pressing for a tax vote, saying that the state’s schools will see debilitating cuts if tax extensions are not approved in June.

The superintendents told reporters Monday at the Capitol that they have urged Republican lawmakers to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax election, a big part of his budget plan.

If the measure fails, Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson said, “We will spend the ’11-’12 school year decimating, devastating and tearing down programs … across this entire state.”


I’d still like to see a far more robust conversation about the advantages and pitfalls of the various approaches but Teresa Watanabe moved the ball down the field at least a bit, which is good.

It was slightly curious that the LA Times part in the controversy was so undermentioned. On the other hand, maybe that was a good thing as otherwise the Times part in the kerfuffle might have intentionally high-jacked the article.

(photo by Kris Krug, Flickr)

Posted in California budget, Education, Green Dot | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. alexander Says:

    agreed about the strange delay in everyone grasping that barr and green dot had split — here’s my take on what happened and why

    my book about green dot and locke is coming out in a week or two
    / alexander

  2. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Alexander, that’s great news about the book. Please, please make sure we’re on your PR list for any announcements,

    Your observations in your scholastic post are very interesting. Clearly there’s a LOT more to the story.

    BTW, I don’t think such stories are just common to education non profits, but to nonprofits in general when they are started by high profile, visionary, charismatic leaders.

    We should talk.

  3. Mavis Beacon Says:

    They should be doing the Value Added both ways – controlling for demographic factors and without them. Once you have the models I don’t think it’s way more work (though I don’t know). More information means more options in determining rewards for good teachers, especially rewarding those who successfully teach disadvantaged kids.

    While the article gets into some good stuff, what they miserably fail to mention is that high-stakes testing can lead to cheating, as we are seeing evidence of in Houston and D.C. They should absolutely be talking about this.

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