Friday, May 23, 2014

A New Design for a Charter School? Hmm.

We here at Russ on Reading are constantly on the lookout for educational innovation, so when we heard of the new charter franchise, The College and Career Ready Scholars Rigorously Pursuing Educational Excellence Academy Charter School and Dollar Store (CCRSRPEEACSDS) we had to look into how this school was going to meet the needs of our inner-city youth.

First we stopped by the school's web site where we discovered this mission statement:

At CCRSRPEEACSDS we prepare scholars to succeed in a world that is controlled by the 1%. Our scholars are taught to love learning or else. Our rigorous curriculum is designed to ensure that children learn to comply with the demands that their superiors place on them. Chief among these demands is performance on standardized tests. Students are encouraged to score well on tests through our innovative "data wall" in the main corridor which displays each student's test scores for all to see. 

On the same page we found the school motto: In Virtute Autem Implerentur Dies Multi (which can be loosely translated as "Shaming You into Excellence").

Further down the page we find the description of how CCRSRPEEACSDS defines "career ready" innovation:

Our innovative design includes every student receiving on the job training in the Dollar Store which  is co-located in the building (pending the removal of the pesky public school currently located there). In the Dollar Store, students spend three hours a day learning a skill that will prepare them for the world of low wage work. Students perform such jobs as door greeter, shelf stocker, cashier, and security guard. For their work at the store, students receive special Dollar Store dollars, which they can spend on school supplies and college pennants and tee shirts at the Dollar Store. 

Also on the web site we found the list of the Board of Directors for CCRSRPEEACSDS, and while many of the names were not familiar to us, we did a count of the occupations of these directors and found the following:

12 Hedge Fund Managers
11 Finacial Analysts
10 Former CEOs
9 TFA Alumni
8 Media Moguls
7 Portfolio Managers
6 Former Athletes
5 Billionaires
4 Tax Attorneys
3 Tech Company Presidents
2 Movie Stars
And a teacher with two years experience

Clicking on the tab marked "Dress Code", yielded the following information:

Students at CCRSRPEEACSDS dress for success. The required uniform is a blue polo shirt and khaki pants. Through special arrangement with Ralph Lauren and Dockers, these items will be available in the attached Dollar Store. Students failing to wear the required uniform, or who fail to have their shirt tucked in, may be placed on the bench (see Discipline Policy).

With this prompt from the Dress Code tab, we clicked on the "Discipline Policy" tab, where we found the following:

One of the chief attributes of a CCRSRPEEACSDS scholar is compliant classroom behavior and total submission to arbitrary rules. Compliance and submission are chief components to a successful college experience or low wage career. Here are a list of rules that all scholars must follow:

No talking in class unless called upon
No talking in the halls
No talking in the cafetorium until after everyone finishes eating
No talking in the gym
Mostly, just don't talk
No untucked shirts
No crooked lines
No gum chewing
No hats
No leaving the classroom for any reason
No running in the halls
No writing on the walls
No bouncing basketballs
No standing when you are supposed to be sitting
No sitting when you are supposed to be standing
Always have a pencil and notebook for class (available for a fee in the Dollar Store)
Always wear the proper uniform (available in the Dollar Store)

While in class remember to SLANT:
Sit Up
Lean Forward
Ask Questions
Nod at the teacher
Track the teacher

Students who fail to follow will face the following consequences:

First Offense: Student is placed "on the bench." A student is identified as on the bench by being required to wear a day-glo yellow t-shirt (available at the Dollar Store) for one to three days as determined by the Chief Compliance Officer in the school. While "on the bench" the student will sit at a separate table in the cafeteria, a separated desk in the classroom and must write and orally deliver a letter of apology to classmates for interrupting their scholarly pursuits and write a 500 word essay on the theme, To SLANT or Not to SLANT That is the Question.

Second Offense: Suspension for 3 days and revocation of Dollar Store shopping privileges

Third offense: Back to public school for you.

Having gleaned what we could from the web site, we called the CCRSRPEEACSDS CEO, Achieva Remarkowitz, to discuss her vision for this new charter.

According to Remarkowitz, CCRSRPEEACSDS seeks to combine the best of both educational worlds.

"Look we want all of our scholars to go to college and break out of the cycle of poverty, but we also need to be realistic. No amount of teaching like a champion, no amount of churn in our teaching staff, no amount of mining data to improve learning is going to prepare most of these kids for college. College is so darned expensive and these kids don't have the money. And with people like our Board of Directors hoarding it all, they are not likely to get that money soon. So, we have determined that while we aim at "college ready" we need to help our kids be "career ready" and that most likely means a low wage service industry or retail job. After all, somebody has to do the work that our Board of Director's children will refuse to do, right?"

So, there you have it. A new and innovative design for charter schools. Will the innovation never stop?

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