May 30, 2009

Outrage: American Indian-Run Charter Schools Indoctrinate Students in Bizarre, Out-of-the-Mainstream Ideologies and Discredited Theories
— Ace

Boy, do they ever!

I think it's fair to guess that only minorities could possibly get away with these outre heresies.

Three no-frills charter schools in Oakland mock liberal orthodoxy, teach strictly to the test -- and produce some of the state's top scores.

By Mitchell Landsberg
May 31, 2009

Reporting from Oakland -- Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multi-cultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots, and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply."

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hard-scrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television's "Colbert Report." They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.

School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded "self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort," to quote the school's website.

Students, almost all poor, wear uniforms and are subject to disciplinary procedures redolent of military school. One local school district official was horrified to learn that a girl was forced to clean the boys' restroom as punishment.


It would be easy to dismiss American Indian as one of the nuttier offshoots of the fast-growing charter school movement....

It would be easy for this reporter, considering he works at the LA Times.

But the schools command attention for one very simple reason: By standard measures, they are among the very best in California.


At American Indian, the largest ethnic group is Asian, followed by Latinos and African Americans. Some of the schools' critics contend that high-scoring Asian Americans are driving the high test scores, but blacks and Latinos do roughly as well -- in fact, better on some tests.

And wise Latinas' scores are off the charts, more often than not exceeding those of white males.


"What we're doing is so easy," said Ben Chavis, the man who created the school's success and personifies its ethos, especially in its more outrageous manifestations. (One example: He tends to call all non-white students, including African Americans, "darkies.") Although he retired in 2007, Chavis remains a presence at the school.

A Lumbee Indian who grew up poor in North Carolina and later struck it rich in real estate, Chavis took over American Indian in 2000, four years after it was founded with a Native American theme.

He began by firing most of the school's staff and shucking the Native American cultural content ("basket weaving," he scoffed). "You think the Jews and the Chinese are dumb enough to ask the public school to teach them their culture?" he asks...

The school just graduated its first class, and they're all going to college. Including one to MIT, and one to Cornell. (And I don't think it's the Keith Olbermann Farmer Fred Cornell.)

Liberal educators mocked the school. "It's easy to give kids a sense of self-esteem when they've actually accomplished something," one Bay Area basket-weaving teacher noted. "But what we do is far harder -- we convince kids to have self-esteem without having accomplished anything at all. Frankly, I'm pretty sure I deserve my third raise this year."

Thanks to gg.

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