I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reformy Maniac Ben Chavis is in BIG Trouble!

Right after I posted a quick blurb about the reformy, profane and quite possibly unbalanced Ben Chavis, the Perimeter Primate points me to some unbelievable news:
Chavis could soon find himself the subject of a criminal investigation. Jordan announced Wednesday she would forward the case to the District Attorney's office, as recommended by the audit team. Jordan said she also wrote a letter to Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith, asking the district to consider revoking the schools' charters.
"The lack of oversight by the AIMS board and the unethical practices by its founder are unacceptable and an abuse of the public trust," Jordan said.
Between mid-2007 and the end of 2011, the school paid Chavis, his wife, Marsha Amador, and their various real estate and consulting businesses about $3.8 million, the auditors found. Many of those payments were made with state and federal facilities grants in the form of construction contracts to Chavis' companies -- business deals for school construction work that never went out to bid.
Meanwhile, the school's weak governing board did little to stand in the way, auditors found. For a short period of time last year, Chavis served on the board while he was employed as the organization's director and his wife was handling the books.
"The lack of due diligence and internal controls by the governing board has effectively granted the founder and his spouse unrestricted access to the assets of the organization and implied authority to enter into a variety of business arrangements for personal gain," the report stated.
Other findings included the opening and closing of bank accounts without approval and $25,700 in credit card purchases billed to the school with no authorization or apparent benefit to the school. They included airfare, restaurant, hotel and retail bills from out-of-state, including the North Carolina town where Chavis owns a farm; DirecTV; Giants tickets; and costs related to another venture, which foundered after the investigation became public -- the opening of a charter school in Arizona.
Folks, you gotta understand - it was all for the kids!

Of course, as tough as this story is on Chavis's financial improprieties, it still plays right into the media's predilection for claiming charters are "successful":
he Oakland school district's charter school office, under new leadership, again expressed concerns this year when one of the three schools, American Indian Public Charter School II, applied for a renewed charter. The charter office recommended that the Oakland school board deny the charter renewal, potentially closing the school.
But at a packed hearing in which Chavis entered to rousing applause, the Oakland school board went against the charter school office's recommendation and, in a 4-3 vote, allowed the high-performing school to stay open.
Chris Dobbins, an Oakland school board member who supported the school at that meeting, said Wednesday afternoon that he couldn't "tear the school apart" because of the alleged improprieties of its leader. Even now, he said, he didn't have an easy answer.
"At the end of the day, it's hard to argue those test scores," he said. "It's a really hard question."
They always talk about the test scores, but they never stop to consider who is taking the tests. I'll turn it back over to the Primate:
Dear Mr. Finn,
I would like to provide you with simple, yet important, factual information about one of the schools featured in David Whitman's book, "Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism." The school is the American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland. It has received a great deal of acclaim for producing high test scores and was a 2006 National Blue Ribbon School.
I am hoping you will be able to forward this message to David Whitman. I've been unable to locate his email address.
Please take a look at the changing percentage of students who belong in one of the following subgroups: American Indian or Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Hispanic or Latino, or African American. This is for the 13 school years from 1996-97 to 2008-09. All figures are from DataQuest at the California Department of Education’s website.
· 1996-97 = 100.0
· 1997-98 = 97.0
· 1998-99 = 93.8
· 1999-00 = 100.1
· 2000-01 = 97.0
· 2001-02 = 100
· 2002-03 = 98.7
· 2003-04 = 74.3
· 2004-05 = 55.4
· 2005-06 = 65.3
· 2006-07 = 51.1
· 2007-08 = 50.5
· 2008-09 = 42.3
The school’s American Indian or Alaska Native percentage in 1996-97 was 100%. This year it is 1.1%.
Now look at the changing percentage of the school’s students who are either Asian or White.
· 1996-97 = 0.0
· 1997-98 = 2.9
· 1998-99 = 6.2
· 1999-00 = 0.0
· 2000-01 = 2.9
· 2001-02 = 0.0
· 2002-03 = 1.2
· 2003-04 = 25.7
· 2004-05 = 44.6
· 2005-06 = 33.7
· 2006-07 = 22.4
· 2007-08 = 38.4
· 2008-09 = 54.4*
Ben Chavis took over the failing school in 2001-02. It only took him a short time to figure out how to maximize his school’s test scores. One of his primary methods was simply to change the demographics.
Cook the books; cook the student population; cook the comparisons with the rest of the world. What's the difference?

Remember: Whitney Tilson LOVES this guy! Some taste you got there, Whitney...


jcg said...

Hey JJ,
Diane Ravitch posted more about this scandal and links to video of some of Chavis' Cheerleaders here:


If you can withstand gagging, watch Jonathan Alter insult teachers in his interview on MSNBC sitting next to his bff Chavis

Alter should be publicly shamed.

Duke said...

Alter makes me nuts: