Great Oaks Charter Charging $100 A Seat To Hear Joel Klein Talk About Education

I really had to crack up when I saw this.  For those of you who have never heard of Joel Klein, he is the former New York City Chancellor of Schools and currently sits as the Chief Executive Officer for Amplify.  Amplify has been in the news quite a bit lately as the company tanked in spectacular fashion and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch dropped Amplify like a bad habit.  Klein likes to claim credit for reforming NYC schools, but he was appointed as Chancellor without the credentials necessary for that role and no classroom experience.  His huge offering from Amplify?  A tablet that caught fire and only one state bought it in mass quantities.

This isn’t his first rodeo in Delaware.  He spoke at a Vision 2015 gig back in 2010, also a gotta pay to get in event.  Weeks prior to that, the New York Times reported Klein chickened out from speaking during a protest by parents.  Why were the parents upset?  New York Times wrote:

The upheaval began after Mr. Klein, among others on the stage, said that despite the drop in this year’s scores after the state recalibrated its standardized exams, students citywide were still making substantial progress, based on graduation rates and other data.

Say, didn’t we hear something very similar this month in Delaware when the Smarter Balanced Assessment results were released?  But I digress…

What is Klein’s connections with Greak Oaks?  Because we know there is always a connection in the corporate education reform game.  He knows the Great Oaks founder, Michael Duffy, very well.  Duffy ran the NYC Charter School Office from 2007-2010 when Klein was Chancellor.  And Duffy probably knows Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman pretty well, because they both worked under former Massachusetts Governor William Weld back in the 1990s.  I bring up Herdman because Rodel is really promoting this gig.

Great Oaks is a charter chain with schools in NYC and Newark, NJ.  They opened a charter in Wilmington last month.  What is Great Oaks all about?  Technology in the classroom, personalized learning, and modeling themselves after a failed chain of schools from Sweden.  In an article for The Spectator, Duffy wrote:

On my most recent visit to the UK, I visited a school in Twickenham run by the innovative Swedish network of schools known as Kunskapsskolan (‘knowledge school’). Their approach is to tailor education to each child, with goals set between the student, a tutor and the child’s parents.

I wrote about this huge school voucher privatization failure in Sweden last year.  And take a wild guess which school chain was at the top of the list of these failed schools?  Kunskapsskolan!

Klein is coming to town to promote his book, Lessons of Hope.  It is all about his time as NYC Chancellor.  I wonder who wrote this description of the book on Amazon?

Lessons of Hope is Klein’s inside account of his eight-year mission of improvement: demanding accountability, eliminating political favoritism, and battling a powerful teachers union that seemed determined to protect a status quo that didn’t work for kids. Klein’s initiatives resulted in more school choice, higher graduation rates, and improved test scores. The New York City model is now seen as a national standard for meaningful school reform. But the journey was not easy. Klein faced resistance and conflict at every turn.

And what of Klein’s connections with our very own Delaware Governor Jack Markell?  We know they have met before and even though Klein and Markell never email each other, at least through official state channels, it’s obvious they have the same ideals.  As Markell publicly stated during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, “I have no problem with business executives running for office, after all, I am one.”  And apparently running the schools for one of the largest cities in the country thrives on that same business executive mentality.  But Klein left his role (it was rumored then Mayor Bloomberg was about to boot him out), and went to start up Amplify.  And even though Amplify is in the midst of financial controversy, the Delaware Department of Education seems to have no problem handing them money.  Between Amplify and their former name of Wireless Generation, Delaware taxpayers through the DOE have given this company $11,530,850.00 since Fiscal Year 2011 and it doesn’t look like that is going to stop anytime soon since many schools are currently using Amplify’s latest testing products.

Back to Great Oaks, this new charter school in the Community Education Building in Wilmington, is run by Kia Childs who was a leader at Mastery Charter Schools and Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School.  Touting the school as bringing kids to success by using tutors, Duffy talks about the school here:

In a very odd coincidence, both Great Oaks and Freire opened up shop in Wilmington this year.  They are both charter chains.  They are both backed by some serious cash.  And neither of them show up as schools on Delaware Online Checkbook.  Is it because they are new schools?  Nope.  Delaware Design Lab High School is listed.  So how can you find out how much money these schools are paying out?  To do that, you have to actually go to “Dept of Education continued” to find Great Oaks Charter School and Freire.  I guess that answer’s this question concerning Delaware Online Checkbook, DOE, and Great Oaks.  How convenient…

But in the case of Klein’s not-so-cheap visit to Great Oaks, interested attendees have to pay the piper to hear him talk about a book about himself.  But don’t worry educators, it’s only $25 for you!  Should a public school be able to charge outrageous prices to hear a guy stroke his ego?  And where are the proceeds going? In Klein’s pocket or into the classroom to help the children of the school?  This event is to “celebrate the launch of our school”, but it sounds like what should be a free and public event is for the Richy Rich crowd.

Fellow blogger Kilroy was not happy about Klein’s first visit to Delaware back in 2010 during another Rodel sponsored event when the tickets were only $50.00.  How will he react now that the price has doubled in five years?  You don’t have to pay $100 to hear Klein pimp his book though.  You can watch it here, if you have the stomach for it:

Hey, did you see that sign behind him?  Is that the Aspen Institute?  The same corporate education reform “fellowship” “think-tank” Markell, Herdman and soon to be former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy all belong to?  Yes, they all pal around together, our little destroyers of public education!

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