Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday With Susan: Randi and UFT Pal Steve Barr in Yet Another Charter Scandal - ho hum

There is a lot of meat in today's report from Susan. Here are some details on another Randi Weingarten good buddy Steve Barr mess.
New Orleans student Social Security numbers found on auctioned-off laptops
Ohanian Comment:

It's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your child's Social Security number is?

Could a school name be more appropriate: Future is Now. They've put kids' data is at risk NOW.

New Orleans, the nation's first all-charter school district, named the Recovery School District (RSD), reported about 1 1/2 years ago that an audit revealed $2.7 million in RSD property was missing--"things like computers and equipment." Superintendent Patrick Dobard said that the audit's finding was misleading, that "70 percent of the items listed as missing have incorrect location codes -- but are still present in schools."

Complete with student data.

When the Future is Now (formerly known as Green Dot America), operated by Steve Barr, took over an historic New Orleans school in 2012 (See Ed Week's version: Steve Barr's Quest to Save a New Orleans High School) it received $800,000 in start-up funding, which Barr promised to use for iPads. When the school shut down just two years later, all the teachers lost their jobs and all the students had to find new schools. Barr attributed this to "supply and demand"--just not enough students to make it profitable. Nobody is saying where the iPads are.

Or the student Social Security numbers.

Answering the Where Is He Now? question, on July 30, 2014, California Democrats for Education Reform announced that with their chair Steve Barr they're going to create a political consensus to reform education. No New Orleans teachers need apply.

Footnote: New Orleans Superintendent Patrick Dobard is a Broad Institute alumnus and the district is featured in a Broad Spotlight, December 2012, calling "the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are one of the most vibrant communities for education reform."

But where is that student data?

by Danielle Dreilinger

State officials announced Friday that the Social Security numbers, names and birthdates of 210 students were left on at least two laptops sold at auction Oct. 11. Those laptops were surplus equipment from the Future Is Now charter group sold after the organization ended its program at John McDonogh High in New Orleans..... more
on this
And here's the rest of Susan's report.

I so enjoyed the New York Times 'correction' today that I posted it on Twitter: Bermuda is 670 miles EAST of NC, not WEST.
Thank you for sharing this geography slip-up, NYT. When will you correct worse education errors?

Reminder: The opt out billboard campaign in Colorado needs your donation. This venerable annual campaign urging parents to opt out of the standardized test is truly grassroots, and it is moving--steady increase in opt outs. Be part of the revolution. Send $5 to:
Coalition for Better Education
2424 22nd Ave.
Greeley, CO 80631-8154

This campaign is spearheaded by Don Perl, the first teacher in the country to refuse to give Colorado's test--in 2001. Here's how the Denver Post reported it back then:
This New Yorker cartoon cuts to the bone:
We are destroying a generation's possibility for encountering school happenings that inspire a love of learning.

Here's a reprise of a golden oldie:
And this page has three more.
Monday is cooking day at the Senior Center. Last minute cancellation from my dessert maker. No problem. I just turned 15 pounds of apples into applesauce and I've got 70 slices of bread getting stale. They should be ready by Monday for applesauce bread pudding. Tomorrow I'll soak the black beans for pumpkin black bean curry soup.
After looking into what Steve Barr is up to these days, I need the applesauce and pumpkin to keep me sane. You may think that you're far removed from what happens in New Orleans and Los Angeles.

You're wrong. Read on to find out why.


New Orleans student Social Security numbers found on auctioned-off laptops
 Danielle Dreilinger with Ohanian comment
New Orleans Times-Picayune
It's 10 o'clock. Do  you know where your child's school has put his Social Security number?

Big Doubts About Big Data
Emma Uprichard
Chronicle of Higher Education
Big Data is a bandwagon term that everyone needs to talk about to show that they can play the game

Jump that Bar; Lift that Bale
Susan Ohanian
The Duncan communications chief has a new job but he's sticking to the old metaphors.

To the editor
Susan Ohanian
New York Times
This is published online in the hopes that some editor will see that school data collection is a topic worth looking at.

Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don't get hired
Elizabeth Weise and Jessica Guynn
USA Today
Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Deasy's Gone: Two Newspapers Tell the Tale
Editorial  and Ohanian Comment
Los Angeles Times & New York Times
Superintendents with phony degrees and Gates imprint may come and go, but teachers are the folks who are always there.

Tulane's Cowen Institute retracts New Orleans schools report, apologizes
Jessica Williams
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Here are the people involved in the withdrawn report termed a 'high profile embarrassment.'



  1. Norm,

    Gary Rubenstein did a brilliant critique of Barr’s performance in that god-awful, Oprah-produced high school reality show about their take-over of New Orlean's John McDonough High school, commenting that Barr, in his opinion, badly mistreated the community members critical of his school in one scene.

    Well, apparently Barr’s contempt and mistreatment is not limited to them.

    When Gary wrote that, he might not have been aware of Steve’s attitude towards career teachers—long-timers, unionized, teaching at traditional public schools… and who, as a reward for a demanding career and all a teacher’s hard work, will have something to look forward to—retirement, decent old age health benefits—once a teacher’s long haul of a career is over.

    Well check out this little nugget BELOW. (The Internet rocks!)

    If one has any doubt about Steve Barr’s contempt for unionized teachers at traditional public schools, and the work that those teachers do, check what Steve say about them here.

    Envisioning a world where public education is extinct, and privatization rules, Barr opines…

    (again, CAPS mine)
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    “Says Barr, in his classic no-nonsense style:

    ” ‘Where are these SHITTY TEACHERS going to go? Where are these LIFETIME BENEFITS going to go? What will happen to all of these GROUPS PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS AND JOBS (read: “GROUPS” = “teacher’s unions”… Jack) and their construction contracts?

    “The political puzzle of this is really fascinating. But I have no doubt that within five years, you’re going to see our impact. And it’s going to be huge.’ ”

    – – – – – – – – – –

    This 2006 piece is from the L.A. Weekly, which is ever-worshipful of all things privatization, so this gushing article might be hard to take (or amusing, as I found it):

    That’s the page with the quote. Here’s a link to the first page:

    Barr says, let’s see how things are “in five years.” Well, it’s been eight since the article (2006), and five since Green Dot took over Locke….

    … well for one thing, ex-Green Dot teacher Brett Wyatt, Green Dot’s equivalent of “THE INSIDER”—the tobacco industry’s Jeffrey Weigand, played by Russel Crowe in the movie—has part of that answer here:

    and the L.A. Times bathroom article has another part of that answer here:,0,2501944.story

    Check out the photo of the students' bathrooms bereft of bathroom stall dividers. Does this look like a bathroom at a school with an extra $15,000,000 of private funding?

    Again, a 30-second Google search yielded a site where bathroom stall dividers cost a mere $ 90 each:

    $ 15,000,000 of private funding—on top of the per-pupil allotment that LAUSD gives charters? Where did all that money go? Based on that photo, not to fix the bathrooms!

    As to Barr’s disgust for lifetime health and retirement benefits given to teachers after a long, difficult career, that’s been taken care of to his satisfaction, at least with Green Dot teachers… since how much retirement or post-career health benefits can you collect if your teaching career is 3 years or less? (that time frame based on Wyatt’s list in the link ABOVE).

  2. Randi is as we speak preparing to ramp up her fight against Ebola. I for one feel a little sad she is so far from the action. Just as she got herself arrested in Philly and involved in Newark merit pay from a ringside seat I think Randi needs to get to Liberia asap where she can do the most good. If anyone knows how to set up one of those crowd sourcing accounts put me down for $100.00 and let's get this labor leader cum virus hunter into the front lines where she does her best work.

    1. I have yet to hear of any AFT members with Ebola. Call the Ebola Czar!


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