California Educator

May / June 2017

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students had accidents or developed bladder infections as a result. "There absolutely were behavior prob lems," says Carrasco, who transferred in the fall to Bachrodt Academy, a San Jose Unified School District charter school, where she teaches a combination class for grades 34. Because students were put into learning labs for much of the day, schools with more than 600 students could operate with as few as six teachers, plus aides. But money saved by replacing teachers with computers and non credentialed staff resulted in test scores plummeting. Rocketship has 13 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tennessee and Wis consin. From 2010 to 2013 the "nonprofit" company increased its assets from $2.2 million to $15 million — and Rocketship relies primarily on state money for its $52.6 million budget, reports the San Jose Mercury News. A shortage of bathrooms — and em phasis on instructional minutes — meant students were restricted on bathroom breaks. A pediatrician told the Mercury News several students had urinary tract infections. Accidents were frequent, says Carrasco. Former Rocketship teacher An gela Khai, who also teaches at Bachrodt, says accidents were at times intentional, just so students could go home. Students were not allowed to talk in classrooms and hallways and during lunchtime at Rocketship schools. They were also forced to sit in the "slant" po sition (feet flat on the floor, back straight, head up and hands folded on top of the desk) and to maintain this position even when writing. Teachers typically worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and were paid according to their test scores and parent involvement. They were micromanaged by coaches on every element of their teaching and forced to administer tests nonstop. They were afraid to complain, since they were ROCKETSHIP FAILING THEIR STUDENTS, EDUCATORS "e Castlemont schools promised many things to these fami- lies in terms of community supports, academic interventions, and other things that were not available to them," says Davis. "But they didn't have enough money to function, and that impacted indi- vidual families a great deal. ere has been an absolute lack of accountability for making sure charters are doing what they are supposed to be doing." D outh erd says billionaires don't understand th e dynam- ic s of O akl and 's v i brant hi stor y and uni qu e culture or th e challenges they face, and worries charters are becoming the "McDonald's" of education. "As the mother of an African American son with special needs who is really struggling in the public school system, I have made the personal and political choice for my family to invest in the public school system for my son. But many families feel forced into other options when their children's needs are not being met. Children, quite frankly, are being pipelined into prison. So, we as a community need to do some organizing and do the necessary work to build up public education, so we're not vulnerable to cor- porate and private interests." Charter school proponents often target poor and minority fam- ilies, telling parents that charters will "save" their children from a poor or indifferent public school system. However, a legacy of broken promises is changing that perception. In October, the NAACP Board of Directors called for strengthening public over- sight of charter schools' governance and practice. Angela Khai and Ceci Carrasco taught at Rocketship before transferring to a public charter school in San Jose. Both speak of student behavioral issues at Rocketship in part due to extended computer labs and restricted bathroom breaks. Rocketship educators were paid according to their test scores and parent involvement. atwill employees. Turnover was rampant. At Bachrodt, Carrasco and Khai enjoy "freedom" and a happier, less stressful environment. They also appreciate San Jose Teachers Association membership and due process. "Sometimes I felt like I was working at a startup in Silicon Valley," says Khai. "It was like, 'Here's a model, let's try to replicate it as much as possible.' " 29 May / June 2017

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