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  • David Hunn reported the charter school story

    Insulting, disparaging letters about not reporting the charter school story--- written by me to:

    gbailon, editor of pd--(4)

    dhunn pd--(1)

    Giegerich pd---(1)

    kristen hinman rft---(1)

    antonio french pubdef---(1)

    eric mink pd---(3)

    just in the last few days, but----------------------------------------------------------------HA!!!!

    CHANEL FIVE BROKE THE SILENCE!! (but hunn's pd article gives 10 times the information.
    Can! Academies can't make a go of it here
    By David Hunn
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    05/22/2008

    Can! Academies students (from left) Antonio Ford, 17, Keitren Teer, 18, and Devan Johnson, 17, at the school Wednesday on Goodfellow Blvd.
    (Huy R. Mach/P-D)



    ST. LOUIS — Students played cards in class one day this week, as they do most days now.

    Others watched movies or milled about in the halls, loud and aimless. The teacher sat at his desk, filling out job applications.

    The Can! Academies of St. Louis, a charter school for high school dropouts, started this past fall on Goodfellow Boulevard, just south of Interstate 70.

    Today, the state school board is expected to vote to close it, at least for one year.




    Its failure has led critics to again question Missouri's growing but still controversial charter school movement. Can is one of the first charters to open after a request from the office of Mayor Francis Slay, who is championing the schools as alternatives to a troubled city school system. It is also the first charter directly under the wing of the state department of education.

    But state and city officials say its fall is an isolated situation. They attribute it mostly to unprepared leaders and underestimated challenges — two-thirds of the students arrived with third-grade reading levels, or worse.

    They say Can's end, while difficult, is an example of a benefit of charter schools: Those that fail can be closed.

    "I think as the sponsoring institution, we're doing the right thing," said Jocelyn Strand, state director of charter schools. "They're not meeting our criteria and our expectations."

    But the school's leaders say Can was doomed to fail from the start. They say they never got the support they needed from their central office, in Dallas, and that they were denied the basics: tardy bells, intercom systems, computerized attendance logs, even textbooks.

    They warned everyone of the troubles, they said, but were given little lasting aid.

    "It's been really, really hard," said academy principal Vinikka McCoy, in her first year as an administrator. "My husband says all the time, 'They sold you a dream.'"

    McCoy's bosses in Texas told her not to talk about the problems, she said. And they told her not to let other staffers speak publicly.

    But McCoy is leaving, as is everyone still here, including the only teacher who stuck with the school from the beginning. Staffers are so angry, they want people to know the truth:

    Fights roil the campus weekly, gang signs cover the bathrooms, classrooms are unproductive, and both students and teachers are left adrift, uncertain when they lose their school and their jobs.

    Teachers, administrators, parents and students all spoke of specific problems:

    — Administrators constantly changed student schedules. At the start of the year, students had regular classes. Now they have study hall all day.

    — Can's payroll department didn't withhold retirement from teacher paychecks until recently. It is unclear what will happen with those staffers already gone.

    — Attendance was taken by hand each day; leaders couldn't say exactly how many students went in and out of the school. They estimate 530, but, for periods, data entry was months behind.

    — The school couldn't keep teachers in classrooms or students enrolled. Roughly two dozen teachers quit or left over the year. There are now just seven teachers and only about 118 students who come with any consistency — maybe half that attend daily.

    — School disorganization now threatens college applications. "They're never able to give you any straight answer when it comes to records," said Shelly Davis, mother of student Jur'nell Davis. "Nobody has his test scores. All they're telling us is he passed."

    Can Superintendent Yolanda Cruz, based in Texas, referred questions to the nonprofit group's vice president of communications, Cheryl Rios.

    Rios said she would only answer questions via e-mail, and sent a three-paragraph statement from Can's president, Richard Marquez.

    In the statement, Marquez said the Can model is proven, but "it was still a Texas program trying to fit in a Missouri model."

    "That doesn't mean it can't succeed," he said. "It just means that time is needed to take what was learned and come back with a system to serve these kids the best way possible."

    Indeed, Can's 10 Texas schools are well-known for taking at-risk students and getting them high school diplomas.

    Strand said it's clear now that the school opened here too quickly, that the administrators hired were too inexperienced, and that management gave too little support, especially with students who needed so much help.

    This spring, Marquez apologized to state and city officials.

    Today, Strand will recommend the state board suspend Can for a year, and give the organization an opportunity to hire new staff and retool the model. If successful, it could reopen in the fall of 2009.

    Still, Strand said, this year is not lost. As many as 50 of the 530 students who went through the St. Louis program will have passed their GED tests by the end of the year. Through a Missouri conversion program, they could receive their high school diplomas.

    "These are kids who were already out," Strand said. "So the fact they're back in is huge."

    But students were left either angry or confused this week.

    Tuesday, as some played spades and others watched movies, Rayford Marion put his head down in a quiet class next door.

    Marion, 17, passed the GED in May. He's working at a fast-food shop in the evenings. But the school says he needs more hours in class in order to get his diploma.

    So he comes to school before work, just to sit there. Still, he's worried about the teens next door.

    "They think tomorrow when they take the GED, they gonna pass," he said. "But they not doing nothing to help themselves."

    "They don't understand," he continued. "Sometimes, there is no third chance."

    Last edited by kjoe; 05-22-2008, 10:36 AM.
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  • #2
    Hunn covered and wrote almost all of the Riverview Gardens crap that went down. (Some stories were so big, he had help). I met him at our post "state auditor's report party" and he seemed like a pretty stand up guy. Very thorough. At that time, he said he had even more stories on Riverview, but he wanted to put them together well and he also didn't want to "over-saturate" the paper with Riverview stories.
    He had a point. Just because some of us may have an interest in a particular story or whatever, doesn't mean the rest of the area wants to hear every last little detail of it everyday. And god knows the PD has enough stories that are published half assed, so Hunn wanting to really delve in and get shit straight is a plus, IMO.
    Former Sponsor of Kyle "The Comeback Kid" Lohse.

    And Current (and former) Lounge Sponsor of Yadier "No-Glove til I get a Gold Glove" Molina and one BAMF

    Sponsoring Friends and Proud Co-Sponsor of Captain Morgan

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    • #3
      Originally posted by sportschick View Post
      Hunn covered and wrote almost all of the Riverview Gardens crap that went down. (Some stories were so big, he had help). I met him at our post "state auditor's report party" and he seemed like a pretty stand up guy. Very thorough. At that time, he said he had even more stories on Riverview, but he wanted to put them together well and he also didn't want to "over-saturate" the paper with Riverview stories.
      He had a point. Just because some of us may have an interest in a particular story or whatever, doesn't mean the rest of the area wants to hear every last little detail of it everyday. And god knows the PD has enough stories that are published half assed, so Hunn wanting to really delve in and get shit straight is a plus, IMO.
      I agree. When i called kmox monday night, Jon Grayson told me the story was not being reported because it is a big yawn--people are tired of hearing about failing schools.

      The thing about this story which is so different---the people who insisted on taking over the schools last June, with a nasty hostility, towards Diana Bourisaw and the board which hired her after the Floyd irons stuff, are the ones who thought hiring this texas outfit to do their job was a good idea. They ignored her warnings. she is just an educator---what does she know about cold hard business stuff?

      May 11, 2007

      D. Kent King
      Commissioner of Education
      Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
      PO Box 480
      Jefferson City, MO 65102

      Dear Commissioner King and members of the State Board of Education:

      I am writing to ask you to not accept the proposal for the State Board of Education to sponsor the charter of MoCAN in the City of St. Louis. It is my understanding the State Board is expected to vote on this measure at next Thursday’s board meeting.

      I have reviewed the proposal for this charter school and its programming for at-risk students in grades 6-12. While I concur there is a need for alternative programs for at-risk students, the creation of a new charter school in St. Louis is not the solution.

      Please consider our plans to plans for the 2007-2008 school year, including:---(details)

      Specific to MoCAN, we have requested from their parent company information on their track record in the areas of attendance and student performance. Thus far, we have only received marketing materials.

      We understand how disruptive students in the classroom can impact academic achievement for all. As you can see, we have accelerated our efforts to meet the needs of all of our students and would appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate our success.

      St. Louis does not need additional charter schools. Rather, we need opportunity to build on the successes of this current school year. We have the right staff in place and all the required tools to transform St. Louis into a model for other urban districts. What we need is time and resources.

      Again, please do not take the unusual step of creating the first State-sponsored charter school in St. Louis.

      Sincerely,



      Dr. Diana Bourisaw
      Last edited by kjoe; 05-22-2008, 11:02 AM.
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      • #4
        I can't get enough of these threads.
        "There is an old saying that goes 'no matter how good you are, there is always someone better.' That someone is me." - Chiun

        I require the lubrication to successfully handle some of them. *sigh*- Sunuvanun

        Matrem tuam pedicavi

        "I kinda dig Johnson" -Triggercut

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        • #5
          Originally posted by blue zone View Post
          I can't get enough of these threads.

          Admittedly, after screaming at the media for almost a year about this situation, and getting no meaningful response, it is more interesting to me, than it is to you and Jon. I get that.
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          • #6
            Where is Monty Python when we need him:

            Mo. to control St. Louis schools for additional 3 years

            Thursday, May 22, 2008
            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) The state Board of Education has voted to extend its control over St. Louis public schools for an additional three years and to suspend a struggling charter school.
            The action Thursday means Missouri's largest school district will remain under state supervision until June 30, 2011.
            The state took over the district a year ago because of academic and financial problems.
            Last year, the state also approved ''The Can! Academies of St. Louis'' a charter school for high school dropouts.
            But Thursday, the state board voted to suspend operation of the charter school because of what one official described as a chaotic atmosphere for students and staff.





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            • #7
              Post subject: How clueless is state senator jeff smith?
              Posted: 25 May 2008 13:30 pm
              on pubdef.net, someone named Justine reported her observations...

              Quote:
              I was in Jeff City on the last day of session. I observed my senator, Jeff Smith, on the senate floor fighting for the Can! Academy to be allowed to take in county drop outs. He argued to change the law to benefit this one entity! Smith said that Can! specialized in helping dropouts, that they had a record of significant success and was one of the “best” charter schools in St. Louis. Thank God some other senators beat him down and kept this from happening.

              Now, just a week later this school has been suspended by the State Board of Education. What is his problem? Is he so controlled by the Mayor and the money in charter schools that nothing else matters to him? He willfully fought for this terrible excuse of a school that was so bad that :!: near everyone employed there was fired. Is he just stupid or what?


              In fairness to jeff, if he had not checked the AP wire from Baton Rouge, at the time, there was no way for him to know of the disaster that is Can. The St. Louis media missed it because I failed to send 19 letters to various reporters over a 6 month period. (oh wait, I did not fail to do that).

              The state board of education disregarded Dr. Bourisaw's advice and outsourced their first venture into sponsoring their own charter school to Texas Can. Here is a followup by david Hunn to his shocking story from Thursday--the same day the state awarded itself 3 more years of power to help Mayor Slay establish more charter schools:

              Charter school fires 5 of its 7 teachers
              By David Hunn
              ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
              05/24/2008
              ST. LOUIS — Most of the faculty of a troubled St. Louis charter school were dismissed Friday afternoon after one of the charter network’s national leaders flew in and took over school operations.
              Staff at the Can! Academies of St. Louis, a charter school for high school dropouts, had just publicly revealed a year of chaotic, violent hallways and disorganized management at 4300 Goodfellow Boulevard, just south of Interstate 70.
              Thursday, the Missouri State Board of Education voted to suspend the school for one year, in effect closing Can next month.
              Then on Friday, teachers were released with pay through July, so they could look for jobs elsewhere, said Cheryl Rios, spokeswoman for America Can! President Richard Marquez. Some — not all — were given the opportunity to stay through the school’s June graduation, she said, and help remaining students get their GEDs.
              “A few had very negative attitudes,” she said of the teachers. “Kids pick up on that. What we want right now is the teachers who want to be there for those kids.”
              Staffers contacted Friday evening said they weren’t comfortable speaking publicly, but they all said they were pulled into a hasty meeting called Friday afternoon by Yolanda Cruz, superintendent of the Dallas-based network of charter schools, known as America Can!
              Cruz gave letters to the principal, staffers and five of the charter school’s seven teachers, saying their last day of work would be Friday, but that they would be paid through July 31.
              Students will continue to have class and “learning activities,” the letter said.
              Staffers said two teachers and two secretaries were not fired.
              The secretaries, they said, would be needed to organize and compile paperwork. The two teachers would instruct math and government classes. EARLIER STORY
              Can! Academies can’t make a go of it here
              Rios said the Can network was bringing two administrators and two special instructors from Texas to run the school through graduation at the end of June.
              Some parents were surprised Friday after hearing the news, and said that teachers had been working hard to help their children.
              “They fired everybody?” said Larry Bastain, father of a student there. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” The program, he said, could have been good.
              But student Nyquesha Thomas, 18, said she wasn’t surprised.
              “It’s not like we were learning anything any way,” she said. “All the students do all day is play cards and watch movies.”
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              • #8
                Why isn't this pinned?
                If you believe in something sacrifice a hobo to it or don't bother.

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                • #9
                  because it would be dignifying this unworthy thread with an undeserved honor?
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