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NCLB Outrages

MEAP Results Lead to Job Losses

Ohanian Comment: Maybe they should fire a few board members, who admit they haven't a clue what's going on.

According to charter statistics, the Board met 12 times a year. One can wonder what they did in these meetings (and how much they were paid to attend).

You don't see the Charter Schools Office at Central Michigan University stepping up to accept responsibility, do you? Here's the opening statement in a document they issued titled Investing In Our Children's Future.

Our Vision
To help create quality public schools so one day all parents will have quality educational options for their children.

Our Mission
Advancing public education through our national leadership and gold standard approach to chartering schools, overseeing and supporting their operations, and evaluating their performance.

Our Role
Our role with charter public schools expands a tradition of leadership that began in the late 1800s, when we educated our f irst public school teachers. We believe educational leaders, in joining forces with families and communities, can create schools that foster excellence.

As an authorizer, we pursue our oversight responsibilities with diligence. We monitor governance and we ensure that each charter public school board upholds its responsibilities under its charter contract. We strive to ensure that schools are providing quality educational opportunities to all students. We visit the schools regularly and work on their behalf, helping them navigate the state and federal regulatory system.

We believe charter public schools authorized by CMU have made tremendous progress and have pioneered educational breakthroughs that benefit all. These schools make the grade under intense public scrutiny, proving their value to families and taxpayers alike.

Our Responsibility
Investing in our children’s future, one school at a time.


The rhetorical flourishes continue:

Building on our gold standard reputation, we continue to refine and define a system of processes and procedures during the 2003/2004 school year. Our goal is to maintain consistency among schools while also maintaining a solid relationship between professionals working with both individual schools and our office. This combination of high standards and personal relationships allows for the maximum time spent on teaching and learning.

All this means is that them's that got the gold gets to make the standards. Three charter schools were among 10 Michigan districts to receive money in the first round of Reading First grants as part of NCLB. Linden Charter Academy received $190,500 to hire a reading teacher assistant, implement a new Reading Mastery curriculum and provide professional development for teachers.

MT. MORRIS TWP. - Some major staff changes are taking place at Linden Charter Academy in response to poor test scores.

Chereathe Hollinger, who was in-school suspension supervisor at the school, is one of about a dozen employees fired last week.

"The quality and continuity of the care for these children is going to go down the drain," Hollinger said at a recent school board meeting after she lost her job. "There's so much animosity in this building, you can feel it. The kids feel it."

Hollinger didn't get answers from the school board. But Tara Powers, spokeswoman for Grand Rapids-based National Heritage Academies, a for-profit company that manages Linden Academy and several other charter schools, including Burton Glen Academy in Burton, told The Flint Journal that the staff changes were made in the best interests of the students and the future of the school.

The changes included the resignation of school Principal Kathryn Russell.

Powers said the workers at Linden are at-will employees. Officials decided to lay off 12 to 15 paraprofessionals who assist teachers and redirect the funding for those workers into other areas. Hollinger said paraprofessionals were only some of those terminated, and estimates there were 15 more employees, including teachers and workers like herself, let go.

Powers said a search for a new principal is under way.

"The staff decisions were based on keeping the best of best and was based on ability and contribution made," Powers said.

Powers said the school's Michigan Educational Assessment Program test scores have not met adequate yearly progress, or AYP, for the past three years and are expected not to meet it again this year.

Schools not meeting AYP for four consecutive years need to make major changes under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Among the 46 area school districts and charter schools, Linden Charter ranked among the worst this year in every MEAP testing category, according to 2005 MEAP scores released by the Michigan Department of Education.

The school will expand its before and after school student tutoring programs. All the programs will emphasize literacy.

The school also plans to expand its summer school program and offer a parent education program, Powers said.

Board members, who are appointed by Central Michigan University, which oversees the school, said they haven't been informed about what's taking place at the school in the past year, but hope to change that.

"We as a board will be more informed in the future," said board member Michelle Voorheis.


— Matt Bach
Flint Journal


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