Tag Archive: Uncommon

Massive Norcross Hypocrisy: Competition Is Good For Schools, But Bad For Me

Jersey Jazzman posted this at his own excellent site just before the weekend. Yesterday, Camden parents protested the undemocratic privatization of their schools as personified by George Norcross. I thought this post was in order – Rosi

Sometimes I wonder why my head doesn’t just explode:

With 300 people filling a shiny new auditorium for speeches and cheers, the ribbon-cutting held yesterday at the new KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy in Camden at times seemed as much a precursor of the city’s educational future as it was a celebration of the opening of a school.

The event marked the opening of the first new “renaissance school” built under the Urban Hope Act of 2012 that brought the hybrid charter schools to New Jersey and, specifically, Camden.

The speakers were familiar names in Camden circles: Mayor Dana Redd; U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, who authored the Urban Hope Act when he was a state senator; and Susan Bass Levin, president and CEO of Cooper Foundation.

Sitting in the front row was George Norcross III, chairman of Cooper University Health Care and the chief driver of the school’s rise from a vacant lot next to the hospital. [emphasis mine]

Because it’s now standard operating procedure in America to throw everything down the memory hole, a little history is in order:

The vacant lot that this KIPP school sits on today was supposed to be for a public district school. The state promised that it would build the school to serve all of the students in the Lanning Square area. And as the city school board waited for the state to fulfill its promises, it rebuffed an effort to bring KIPP into Camden, perhaps motivated by the fact that KIPP had already tried and failed in the city years before.  

Where Will All the Boys Go?

I’m pulling this up top again today to make sure as many people as possible see it. Are Gov. Christie’s brave new world reformers even aware of this kind of research? let alone conducting it themselves with the vast power they exercise over the Camden district and its kids? Do they even care? Promoted by Rosi, with thanks to Julia, and to her Rutgers colleague Stephen Danley, at whose excellent site, Local Knowledge Blog, Julia first published this today.

Imagine turning your public schools over to a private corporation that is unaccountable to your community; has no experience educating children like those attending your public schools; and forces most of the boys to leave before graduation?

That is exactly what the Christie Administration is doing in Camden.

The Administration is transferring control of public education to three out-of-state charter corporations – KIPP, Mastery and Uncommon Schools – that are completely unaccountable to the people of Camden.  The corporations will take hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from existing Camden public and charter schools to build or renovate and operate 16 new renaissance charter schools.*

The three charter corporations are aggressively marketing themselves and their new facilities to Camden parents and could quickly account for 9,300 of the district’s almost 15,000 publicly-funded spots, leading to the closure of the majority of Camden’s public and charter schools.  

Bizarre Teaching: Approved by Christie, Coming To YOUR School!

Blue Jersey readers may have blinked and missed it this morning in the round-up: there’s a radical new teacher training program that has just been approved for New Jersey by the Christie administration:

The Christie administration has approved a new graduate school of education in Newark, clearing the last hurdle on Friday in resolving questions over the credentials of the innovative program’s faculty.

The Relay Graduate School of Education, started in New York City in 2011 by the leaders of three prominent charter school networks, will open its New Jersey program in September with its first 25 or 30 students seeking Master’s degrees.

The program already has a presence in Newark, where it offers alternate certification for about 100 new teachers, most of them from charter schools.

Relay will be the first grad school approved by the state that is not affiliated with an in-state university. Some of New Jersey’s university-based teacher preparation programs have objected to it as not fitting their definition of a graduate program.

Would you like to see what kind of training Relay “Graduate” “School” of “Education” is going to bring to New Jersey’s schools? You can, thanks to a series of videos the school has up on its website. I’d recommend the one titled “A CULTURE OF SUPPORT,” described here by education writer and NY State Principal of the Year, Carol Burris:

In the video, the teacher barks commands and questions, often with the affect and speed of a drill sergeant. The questions concern the concept of a “character trait” but are low-level, often in a ‘fill in the blank’ format. The teacher cuts the student off as he attempts to answer the question. Students engage in the bizarre behavior of wiggling their fingers to send ‘energy’ to a young man, Omari, put on the spot by the teacher. Students’ fingers point to their temple and they wiggle hands in the air to send signals. Hands shoot up before the question is asked, and think time is never given to formulate thoughtful answers. When Omari confuses the word ‘ambition’ with ‘anxious’ (an error that is repeated by a classmate), you know that is how he is feeling at the moment. As the video closes with the command, “hands down, star position, continue reading” there is not the warmth of a teacher smile, nor the utterance of ‘please’. The original question is forgotten and you are left to wonder if anyone understands what a character trait is. The pail was filled with ‘something’ and the teacher moves on.