Monday, November 29, 2010

Cathie Black on Board of Harlem Village Academies, HVA Head Makes 450 Grand, and Check the Pushout and Teacher Turnover Rates

Smack yourselves in the head - more than once - after reading this - and look for our followup later on another scandal packed charter,  Ross Global Charter.
From the Daily News article

"[Deborah] Kenny, who oversees 450 students, is paid $442,000, including a $140,000 "bonus" and $27,780 in "other" expenses.....Bloomberg has called the school a national "poster child" for school reform. Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave $5 million toward construction of the new high school.- The Daily News, Nov. 28

Cathie Black's placement on the board of  Harlem Village Academy as a way to get her ed creds- despite the fact that she didn't attend any meetings, has focused attention on this scandalous school and its relation to the BloomKlein corrupt running of the NYCDOE.

This Sept. 19, 2010 Ed Notes' report on Harlem Village Academy based on a surprising report in the NY Post received some notice.
This year Harlem Village Academy opened its doors with only 4 full time teachers returning, a turnover of more than 75%...
The Post article also references a 100% passing rate on the state math exam in 8th grade.  In order to be promoted in middle school you must have an 80% in each class (I am not sure if this practice is legal.) A number of students that do not have an 80 in each class choose to leave the school rather than be held back or go to summer school. In fact DOE numbers show that they lose 32% of their students between 6th and 8th grades (See the link below.) Under standing their standards for promotion, it is easy to see that the 32% of students that leave are almost all the lowest performing students. If traditional public schools withheld students that got less than an 80 it would be easy to have high passing rates, but we would have to build 30% more schools. Essentially HVA dumps its lowest third of students back into public school system.
My report also referenced a June 2010 Gotham School report by Kim Gittleson (who I got to meet at the Gotham School party 2 weeks ago). So, the scandalous story of HVA charter and its self-promoting leader Deborah Kerry who grows rich at public school expense, has been out there.

Some of the comments on my piece were telling. Take one Debra Kurshan, who many of us have seen representing the DOE at so many charter school invasion hearings. Her link to HVA is just another part of the chain of corruption in the NYCDOE under Joel Klein. (There's still time to take him out of Tweed with his coat over his head.)
Debra Kurshan
Cohort: 2006 New York
Fellowship Placement: Harlem Village Academies
Education: MBA, Columbia University, Business School
Current Position: Senior Director, Portfolio Planning, New York City Department of Education

As an Education Pioneer, Debra worked at Village Academies Network, a charter school management organization operating two schools in Harlem, New York. At Village Academies she was responsible for the relocation of Harlem Village Academy to a district space. She worked with contractors and vendors to negotiate purchasing and facility upgrades. She was also responsible for implementing the technology plan for the school which involved working with the e-rate program and various other vendors and stakeholders.

She now works for the NYC Department of Education as Senior Director, Portfolio Planning.
Another comment came from the inside apparently, even  prompting an email from Diane Ravitch asking where I got the info. I  could only say it was anonymous.
This is a school with teachers turn over rate in the past three years  60%, 53%, and now 75%. This is a school where only 19 out of 66 students that started 5th grade graduated. This is a school where 62% of the  students have been suspended. This is a school where if a student don't get 80% average, he is asked to repeat the class or attend a summer  school, and if the average is less than 75%, the student repeat the class or leave the school. Even regents score has to be no less than 80% or the entire course is repeated. This is a school where students spend 10 hrs a day, and are punished for speaking in the hallways. Upon all  these, our leaders are praising this school and even calling it the poster child school. Wake up people!!!        

Well, thanks to the Cathie Black story, people are looking at HVA. Another example of how Bloomberg even as he "wins" on Black, ultimately loses. Reality Based Educator at Pedido Street School picked up the story from the Daily News and I'll let him run with it.

Harlem Village Academies

This Daily News article on the Harlem Village Academies, ostensibly examining Cathie Black's alleged connections to the school, is a devastating look at the school itself:
Whatever Black's role there, Harlem Village has little in common with the average public school.

Kenny, who oversees 450 students, is paid $442,000, including a $140,000 "bonus" and $27,780 in "other" expenses.

The schools chancellor gets $250,000 to oversee 1.1 million students.

Many charter schools have a parent representative on their board. Harlem Village does not.

Bloomberg has called the school a national "poster child" for school reform. Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave $5 million toward construction of the new high school.

The school has been lauded nationally for its high test scores, including for pushing 100% of its eighth-graders to pass state math tests.

A look at the overall scores tells a different tale. In the last round of tests, like schools across New York, numbers dropped precipitously after the state made the tests tougher.

Schoolwide English test scores fell from 81% passing to 41%, while math dropped from 91% to 71%. And by eighth grade, the number of students taking the tests is a small fraction of the earlier grades.

The eighth grade with the 100% passing rate in math had 19 students.

'Why do they keep kids back?'

An unusually high number of younger students either drop out or are held back. In school year 2003-04, the year the school opened, only 48 of 73 fifth-graders made it to sixth grade. In school year 2006-07, 46 of 68 moved on; in 2007-08, just 40 of 76 fifth-graders made it to sixth grade.

Several parents praised the school for improving test scores and enforcing discipline but questioned why so many students were held back repeatedly.

"The school is good in some ways, but I don't like how they keep making so many kids stay back," one parent said. "There's a lot of pressure. If the school is as good as they say, then why do they keep the kids back?"

Higher grades fared better, although only 31 of 43 of the seventh-graders in 2006-07 made it to eighth grade and only 24 of that class went on to ninth, records show.

Harlem Village officials called the drop in overall test scores "irrelevant" because the school takes in low-performing students whose scores rise the longer they're at the school.

They also said the academy's high school students outperformed their public school peers, with 97% passing all Regents exams compared with 66% in public schools. They did not mention that the high school serves 163 students in ninth and tenth-grades only.

The middle school teacher turnover rate at Harlem Village Academies is also high: more than 50% of the teachers left or were fired in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. In 2008-09, the turnover was 25%; in 2009-10, the rate was up to 39%.

School officials said the reasons teachers leave are "wide-ranging," including teachers who "move out of state or become full-time mothers."

The school also punishes students at an exceptionally high rate. Harlem Village suspended half its students in school year 2005-06, 44% in 2006-07 and 62% in 2007-08.

By comparison, nearby Public School/Intermediate School 210 reported suspension rates of less than 5% in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

School officials said 95% of the suspensions were for "nonviolent behavior," including "teasing, cheating or disrespect."
High rates of students left back or dropping out of the school, exceptionally high rates of suspension, high teacher turnover rate and low test scores. Gee, it sounds like a fabulous school and one we should certainly use as a model for education reform.

And of course so many of the "celebrities" in the education reform world have stated it is just that - from Bill Cosby to John Legend to Bob Herbert to Tiki Barber to unfortunately the most powerful ed deform celebrity of all - Barack Obama. But the reality that underlies the hype is that Harlem Village Academies is no miracle shop and the people running it are no miracle workers.

Rather, it is an education sweatshop that runs through its workforce quicker than you can say "exploitation" and treats its students to an education that is designed to create even more feudal serfs for the future ready, willing and able to do whatever their corporate masters want them to do for whatever their corporate masters want to pay them and then go away quietly and compliantly when their corporate masters no longer want them.

And of course the people running the school pay themselves handsomely to do all this.

I think that RBE pretty much sums this one up. If the UFT didn't have 2 charters that invaded public school space, they might actually spend some time exposing this junk.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable...where has reality gone?