“Mary Courtney was one of KIPP Houston’s biggest advocates, even as she had to borrow money from relatives to keep up with payments to the charter school.
“She drove to Austin during School Choice Week, talking to lawmakers about why they should better fund charter schools. She volunteered on campus. She paid thousands in fees so her boys and other students could have access to books and science materials.
“But that was before she realized the fees she was paying were optional, something never mentioned by teachers or principals or on the fee agreement forms that the schools – KIPP Liberation College Prep and KIPP PEACE Elementary – tied to student registration. Now, Courtney and several other KIPP Houston parents are furious because they believe they were duped by the charter nonprofit system into paying for what they believe should be a free public education.
On a whim we downloaded the student handbook in question, and if you look at page 23 you’ll see that parents can be charged fees for picking up a confiscated cellphone, picking up children late after school, not to mention the infamous (though undefined) “etc.” category.
What a fuckin’ racket.
“At no time if I thought the fees were optional would I have paid for them, especially when I’m struggling to put food on the table or clothes on my children’s backs,” Courtney said. “It’s a lot to ask of a single parent, and it’s wrong for them to allocate fees from parents, especially knowing the demographic area where a majority of their school campuses are.”
It would ne nice to know if what appears to be a bait-and-switch tactic is being promulgated throughout the KIPP empire, more specifically right here in River City.
Hmm. Anyone know a local newspaper that still does investigative journalism?
The new cloud-based WIX web site is attractive, the design a fairly standard (and therefore ubiquitous) presentation, and the copy… Well, let’s talk about the copy. As we noted of the first United at Southwest site, there’s no there there; mostly it’s promotional copy, leavened with a promotional video. 2
However there is some data: The list of individuals on their advisory group has expanded to represent not just the Port Authority3, but the Mayor’s office, as well as several well-known Kansas City community leaders and noted business figures.
There are still uncertainties; while Uniting at Southwest says a partnership with KCPS is necessary, the group is also hawking the XQ: The Super Schools Project. It is unclear who would own the building, much less who would be in charge of the day-to-day administration and teaching; what –exactly– would the curriculum be? Would a XQ template be used? Which one? And how would that be implemented? Would this be a “test in” high school? If so, where would the entrance bar be set? And if not, how would acceptance to the school work? Will the school branch out from its (so far minimally) stated goals and attempt to “fix” cultural segregation?
These and many, many, many more queries all go unanswered.
Which is fair enough, we suppose. After all this is nothing (yet) but a marketing campaign, released with the obvious hopes of whipping up and channeling long-term dissatisfaction with the KCPS product into a force that might override the objections of the usual players 4, as well as convince Dr. Bedell to discard the KCPS master plan that calls for Southwest to reopen as a middle school. 5
Afternoon Update:From commenter Gloria, who reached out to Dr. Bedell’s office:
“There is a group in the Southwest corridor that is trying to rally support to open a charter-esque high school in that building. We have spoken with the leaders of the organization but are not currently involved in the project. I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you need anything further.” 7
Though ICANN shows the group waited to claim the unitingatsouthwest.com CN, through Network Solutions, until February 15, 2017. The ownership of the domain is hidden behind Perfect Privacy. The email for information is as follows: email@example.com. Think the money behind this effort wants to talk with anyone? yeah, me neither. ↩
Hmmm. Possibilities: Dr. Bedell granted the group the courtesy of a meet-and-greet while remaining noncommittal; the good doctor enthusiastically supported and encouraged the group behind closed doors only (for fear of upsetting previously named community organizations); the good doctor wanted no part of it. It boggles the mind – why not come right out and say whether you support the Uniting at Southwest efforts? What does that cost you, we wonder? ↩
Over the last couple of days we received a few emails noting the United at Southwest innernetz presence had disappeared. A couple of those missives went so far as to infer that perhaps, just perhapswe had imagined the whole thing. One writer actually claimed we were put up to the “prank” by the Trump campaign.
We confirmed this morning that United at Southwest was indeed among the missing.
However, that’s only technically true; as at least 10,000 people a day still discover (often to their horror), nothing truly disappears from the innernetz: Et voilà…
UAS also had a FB and Twitter presence; FB was captured, though not the Twitter feed…
And finally, Mike Zeller fronting for UAS…
As to why all UAS innernetz presence was mostly scrubbed? A couple of thoughts come to mind:
They weren’t ready for prime time; as we noted the other day there were links that did not work, verbiage badly in need of editing, etc etc etc.
It might also have to do with the opening of their mission statement:
United at Southwest will be an open-enrollment public high school (and potentially a middle school) located in the vacant Southwest High School facility that is…
As Dr. Bedell made clear Tuesday evening, he plans “…to follow the KCPS master plan.” And that plan calls for Southwest to reopen as a middle school: “Close SWECC afer SY2016 and designate as the preferred 3rd middle school site.” 1
Though back in the day, when the master plan was first unleashed publicized, it’s worth noting KCPS had a mind to to lease SWEC, so it could well be SWEC’s ultimate outcome could best be defined as “moving target.” ↩
Mike Zeller 1, erstwhile Académie Lafayette board member and a major proponent of the defunct KCPS/A.L partnership to turn the SWEC building into an I.B. high school, is these days fronting for United Southwest. United Southwest wants to create “…an open-enrollment public high school 2(and potentially a middle school) located in the vacant Southwest High School facility that is:
Inclusive – Socioeconomically and culturally diverse & benefiting from strong, neighborhood participation.
Rigorous – Equipping students for success in college, career and life.
Independent – Public charter school with an independent governing board enabling programmatic agility, broad-scale participation, and the major philanthropic investments needed for a successful launch.
Enduring – A culture, curriculum, and business model for a 100-year institution”
Notable, however, is the addition of Joe Perry, Vice President of Real Estate, Port Authority. This is what’s known as a “tell” (in case you’re wondering how this group might acquire SWEC.) 345
Frankly there isn’t much there there on the new site. Which normally means there’s no real, fully fleshed-out plan, one that details how the Ts were crossed and the I’s dotted. Instead, if pressed, what you’re likely to get is a “Trust us, we know what we’re doing” response.
And you know what? You can go ask the folks involved tonight. The new KCPS Superintendent, Dr. Bedell, as part of his ongoing Listening and Learning tour though the city, will be at the Waldo Library, 201 E 75th St, this evening, starting at 6:30 PM.
Whether you support re-opening Southwest as a project based STEAM school, or you’re openly skeptical of the idea, this is your chance to make your opinion heard.
Like the dead A.L./KCSP proposal, this would also be a “hybrid governance” authority , and the emphasis would be on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Though there is no mention anywhere of whom those authorities would be comprised. ↩
Also of note on that page is the following: “WHERE WE’VE BEENWe’ve done the research. Diversity is the key. We have visited some of America’s best examples of diverse schools and found that…..” And there it stops. No matter how many times you click the header or sentence, you don’t get to know “what they found.” Oh, bitter disappointment! ↩
Also? We found it instructive that the URI stem for the support page is called /rates. ↩
Finally, the ICANN registration is private, though Crissy Dastrup, Académie Lafayette parent, vocal proponent of the original KCPS/SWEC plan and just incidentally the latest Advisory Council Member of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, MO, appears to have put the site together. Dastrup was also recently elected to the Académie Lafayette board of directors as a parent representative. ↩
And most importantly would you care to comment on your decision to not
step from the AL board, but to only cede your current office? Would you
also care to comment directly on the comments you gave to the AL PTSO
meeting this past September?
Other thoughts you might like to share?
Thanks in advance for your time.
On 11/12/2015 8:13 PM, Marvin Lyman wrote:
Thank you for contacting me. I am available to meet with you provided we can agree on a date and time.
On 11/13/2015 5:19 AM, Nick wrote:
13 November 2015
Thank you for the offer, however past experience teaches that email is in everyone’s best interest: there can be no disagreement of what was asked and answered with an electronic trail. Moreover I find that email allows the subject of an interview the luxury of time, which in nearly all cases results in more nuanced, in-depth responses. Finally, email tends to remove emotions surrounding an issue, which leads to clarity.
I look forward to your responses.
On 11/18/2015 5:38 PM, Nick wrote:
18 November 2015
Have you perhaps had time to respond to our queries?
…and there the communication ends.
It seems obvious Lyman has declined to comment on his presentation at A.L.’s PTSO September meeting; the better part of cowardice being silence, and all that.
This could be because Mayor James’ people ordered him to keep his runaway mouth shut (Lyman’s LinkedIn profile still shows him as the Treasurer for the Sly James for Mayor Campaign1) Or it could be because Lyman realizes he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, that his comments at the September A.L. PTSO meeting were, and remain, indefensible. And that decision – since he has clearly decided he needs2 to remain on the A.L. board – is not only short-sighted, self-serving and stupid, it’s harmful; the other A.L board directors will remember Lyman’s behavior and soon come to resent his continued presence. If they don’t already.
The honorable, adult action would be for Lyman to immediately resign from the A.L. board, after first apologizing for his public rant. The only remaining question is whether Lyman is capable of owning up to his error in judgment and doing what’s best for Academie Lafayette.
Not to mention the Vice Chair of the Académie Lafayette French Immersion Charter School (board of directors), said position he resigned last month. But…hey! We understand, he’s super busy! We’re sure he’ll update that LinkedIn profile maybe after the holidays, right? Right? Explain why he stepped down from the Vice Chair position. Right? ↩
You decide as to Lyman’s motives; in Japan he would have resigned the next day, perhaps even committed seppuku. However, like Bishop Finn, Lyman doesn’t appear to believe he’s put a foot wrong. Oh, vanity… ↩