DEMOCRACY PREP CHARTER SCHOOLS COMING TO SAN ANTONIO ISD

Mar 21, 2018 by

“Democracy Prep Charter Schools Coming to Texas – Taking Over Elementary Public School in San Antonio ISD”

By Donna Garner

3.20.18

 

On 3.19.18, the San Antonio ISD Board of Trustees approved unanimously that they will hand over operations of P. F. Stewart Elementary School in southeast San Antonio to Democracy Prep Charter Schools (DP) based in New York State:  https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Teachers-spar-with-SAISD-over-proposed-charter-12765016.php?utm_campaign=mysa_breakingnews&utm_source=email&utm_medium=newsletter

 

 

I decided to see what I could find out about Democracy Prep Charter Schools (a.k.a., Democracy Prep Public Schools) and was very concerned about what I found.  I have put most of my personal comments in brackets [   ]:  

 

Democracy Prep Public Schools website — New York charter school network:   http://democracyprep.org/about/ 

 

 

CURRICULUM AND ACADEMICS

 

[The entire DP website is jazzed up with lots of people-pleasing photos, attractive graphics, eye-catching designs, etc. – in other words, a smooth public relations, marketing ploy.

 

However, I found very little specific information about the academic curriculum used in these DP schools.  Everything seems very general with no specific information given about school policies, disciplinary procedures, types of reading programs taught (phonics vs. whole language/balanced reading/Guided Reading), no emphasis on classical/traditional knowledge and skills (e.g., grammar, spelling, cursive, expository/persuasive/research writing, the great literary classics, an in-depth study of American history and world history, etc.).]  

 

“Democracy Prep Public Schools currently operates 22 high-performing schools and one program in New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Baton Rouge, and Las Vega…” 

 

[Where is there any peer-reviewed, independent, replicated research to prove that Democracy Prep has been successful in raising students’ academic achievement, particularly in Texas?  I see none given on this website.

 

Since the states in which Democracy Prep operates charters (i.e., New York, New Jersey, DC, Louisiana, Nevada) are all Common Core states, I believe DP will have a very difficult time making sure that their curriculum and teacher training are fully aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards that have been adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.

 

The biggest majority of Texas’ curriculum standards (TEKS) are fact-based, traditional, academic, and objectively tested while the Common Core curriculum standards/assessments used by DP are process-based, emphasize the cognitive domain (feelings, emotions, personal opinions), and are subjectively evaluated.  

 

In particular, I am very concerned that DP-trained teachers will definitely not be prepared to teach curriculum that is aligned to the new English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) TEKS that are to be implemented starting this fall.  Unless Texas public school students are taught curriculum aligned to the TEKS, they will not be prepared to take the STAAR/End-of-Course tests which are mandated by state law.]

 

Here are various excerpts that I have captured from the DP website which give me concerns:

 

Rigorous, College-Preparatory Academics

All scholars study two hours of math, three hours of literacy, one hour of science, and one hour of social studies every day as well as art, theater, music, health, and physical education. In our high schools, Korean language, speech and debate, a cappella music, and AP courses are offered to all students.

[The word “literacy” rather than “reading” tells me that DP probably utilizes the Common Core-aligned, whole language/balanced literacy/Guided Reading approach rather than phonics. Then, too, I see no mention of any other foreign languages being taught in these charters – only Korean. These are warning flags that should concern everyone in Texas.]

[Evidently the founder, Seth Andrew, taught in South Korea; and he has woven his penchant for the Korean language into his charter schools. What students in San Antonio (which has a high percentage of Spanish speakers in it) need is to learn English really well in their English classes and then to have a choice of taking foreign language classes such as Spanish, Latin, French, German, etc.  DP teachers appear to have little experience with the teaching of traditional foreign languages.  None is indicated on their website – only the Korean language is mentioned. 

[I tried to find more information about DP’s academics (particularly elementary school reading curriculum):  http://democracyprep.org/schools/elementary-schools/.

 

However, when I clicked on the name of each of the Democracy Prep elementary schools and then tried to find specific details about the reading curriculum used, there was nothing specific listed under Academic Pathways – just some generalized graphic designs.]

 

[Here are some of the names of courses listed on the DP website for high schools, and the names themselves indicate non-traditional course content.]

 

DEMOCRACY PREP CHARTER SCHOOL — http://dpchs.democracyprep.org/academics/

 

ACADEMICS –

  • ELA — Literature I
  • Literature II
  • Writing I
  • Writing II
  • Advanced English Seminar: Alternate Worlds
  • Advanced English Seminar: Descent into Madness
  • Advanced English Seminar: Facing the Darkness

 

Social Studies

  • Global History I
  • Global History II
  • US History
  • Sociology of Change
  • AP US History

Korean

  • Korean I
  • Korean II
  • Korean III
  • Korean Literature & Culture

 

=======

SETH ANDREW – FOUNDER OF DP

Here is Seth Andrew’s Twitter site, and it is obvious that he and his charters are closely associated with the Democrat Party and are in direct opposition to President Trump and his policies:  https://twitter.com/SethAndrew?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

I see by looking through Seth Andrew’s twitter site and the DP website that he puts a heavy emphasis on anti-President Trump initiatives, the DREAM ACT, girl empowerment, anti-guns, victimization, globalization, racial bias, anti-police, virtual reality, diversity, pro-ACLU, pro-UNESCO, pro-Democrats, pro-Obama, etc.]

This link indicates how DP students/teachers/parents can purchase a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt: http://dphes.democracyprep.org/get-a-black-lives-matter-t-ss/

EXCERPTS FROM THE DP WEBSITE:

ABOUT OUR FOUNDER:  Seth Andrew started his career as a public school teacher in South Korea and South Africa, before becoming a Special Education Administrator in Massachusetts.  

Seth is a proud product of the New York City public school system and earned his A.B. in Education and Public Policy & American Institutions from Brown University and an Ed.M in School Leadership & School Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is now a Senior Advisor in the Office of Education Technology at the White House…

[The DP website is definitely not current. Seth Andrew was a part of the Obama administration – not the Trump administration: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2015/december/technology-from-the-top-white-house-adviser-seth-andrew-describes-the-obama-adm/ ]

=========

KATIE DUFFY – CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from The George Washington University, and has completed an executive education program at Columbia Business School.

[Does Katie Duffy have any experience as a classroom teacher?  I do not see any mentioned in her bio.] 

http://democracyprep.org/assets/uploads/downloads/Katie-Duffy-CEO-of-DP-Press-Release.pdf

https://www.edreform.com/about/people/our-advisors-and-partners/

=========

DP EMPHASIZES STUDENT INVOLVEMENT IN PARTISAN ISSUES

[Here are examples of what Democracy Prep emphasizes to get its students involved in civic activities – more like Obama’s community organizing/Common Core social justice agenda which has led to the violent, destructive student protests that are occurring throughout the U. S.]

[Notice the signs students carried – anti-gun]  — 3.15.18 — “DPAC Scholars Organize Walk-Out to Protest Gun Violence in Schools” — http://blog.democracyprep.org/dpac-scholars-organize-walk-out-to-protest-gun-violence-in-schools/

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE DP WEBSITE:

Each Election Day, elementary and middle school scholars run our “Get Out The Vote” campaign, standing on busy street corners wearing t-shirts and handing out flyers that read “I Can’t Vote, but You Can!” Since its inception, the campaign has encouraged thousands of Harlem, Camden, Washington, D.C., and Baton Rouge resident to get out and vote. Our scholars are the youngest in history to testify in front of the New York State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council.

 

==========

 

[Notice the excerpts from this article telling about the far-left ACLU summer institute that DP student(s) attended.]  — 2.7.18 — “Democracy Prep Endurance High School Scholar Attends Prestigious Program in Washington, D.C.” — http://blog.democracyprep.org/democracy-prep-endurance-high-school-scholar-attends-prestigious-program-in-washington-d-c/

Last summer, Democracy Prep Endurance High School 11th grader Aissata Diallo attended the prestigious American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Summer Advocacy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The week-long program is an intensive learning experience that teaches high school students from all over America about contemporary civil rights issues…

I learned more about an issue that I care deeply about, the recent immigration and muslim ban, from great ACLU lawyers… 

I also learned that no one is illegal no matter where they come from because we are all human beings.
Before April, I didn’t know anything about the ACLU or what it stood for. Now I’m extremely grateful that I took the opportunity to attend the summer institute program because it made me truly believe that I have the ability and power to make a difference. Our former president, Barack Obama, once said, “change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.” This is exactly what the ACLU taught me and so many others.

Whether the ACLU is achieving equality for the LGBTQ community, putting an end to mass incarceration, initiating privacy protection against government surveillance, or conserving the right to vote or have an abortion, the ACLU takes on the toughest civil liberty cases and issues in order to defend the rights of the people.

=========

FUNDING OF DP CHARTER SCHOOLS

Democracy Prep also seeks private philanthropy for strategic initiatives separate from the running of its schools, including private facilities’ costs and alumni support. These initiatives are essential for the replication of our schools to serve more students, promote education reform, and share promising practices with the broader education community.

The Walton Foundation gave $250,000 in 2012 to DP:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/01/walton-foundation-giving-8-million-to-rhees-studentsfirst-plus-2012-donations/?utm_term=.91c640015b16

Democracy Prep Donation Page:  http://democracyprep.org/support/

Here is the financial audit of Democracy Prep for 2013 – 2014:    http://democracyprep.org/assets/uploads/downloads/DPCS_FY14_Audited_Financial_Statement.pdf

==========

8.28.16 — “U.S. Department of Education Awards $245 Million to Support High-Quality Public Charter Schools”  — https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-245-million-support-high-quality-public-charter-schools

Obama’s USDOE – Total Recommended Funding — Democracy Prep — $12,659,595 

Excerpts from Democracy Prep website:

In the fall of 2012 [during the Obama administration in which the Common Core Standards Initiative and Obama’s social justice agenda were aggressively forced into the U. S. by his U. S. Dept. of Education and then implemented across the country], Democracy Prep Public Schools received a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education to open 15 additional schools. Subsequently, using its successful Harlem model as a starting point while accounting for key operational and cultural distinctions, Democracy Prep opened thousands of high quality public school seats in Camden, the South Bronx, the District of Columbia, Baton Rouge, and Las Vegas. In 2016, DPPS received a second round of expansion funding from the federal government along with a mandate to educate over 10,000 scholars by the end of the 2020-21 school year. Accordingly, Democracy Prep will continue to explore opportunities to partner with communities looking to expand the availability of high quality public school options for low-income students.

At Democracy Prep we are committed to ensuring that our scholars are well-rounded citizen and knowledgeable voters.Our arts and athletics programs ensure that. Our scholars study the language and culture of South Korea to expand their own horizons. Democracy Prep Pathways is a program born from the desire to do more for students with severe learning challenges.

We provide our scholars with opportunities each year to travel to their local city halls, state capitols, and Washington, D.C., to lobby our elected officials on issues ranging from charter school funding to the DREAM Act. Democracy Prep scholars have registered thousands of New York City residents to vote and conducted Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns for local and national elections. Our scholars have even testified before Congress.

=========

COLLEGE PREPARATION AT DP

Drop-down box “College Acceptance” —  http://democracyprep.org/schools/  [How many DP students actually graduated from college?  I see no data on this.]  

Drop-down box “Assessments” — http://democracyprep.org/schools/  [Notice the references to the New York Regents 2015 Common Core Assessments.] 

3.14.17 – “Charter schools’ ‘thorny’ problem: Few students go on to earn college degrees” – USA Today

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/14/charter-schools-college-degrees/99125468/

“It’s a big, hard, thorny problem,” said Seth Andrew, founder of Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of 20 charter schools in New York, Washington, D.C., Camden, N.J., and Baton Rouge, La. Although its first alumni are not slated to finish college until this spring…

At the moment, Duffy [Katie Duffy, Chief Executive Officer of DP] said, 87.5% of its first graduates, from the Class of 2013, are still enrolled in college…

[This USA Today article was published on 3.14,17; the DP Class of 2013 should have graduated in May 2017.  I would like to know how many of the Class of 13 graduated from college.  I see no mention of any such current statistics on the DP website.]  

 

MY CONCLUSIONS

 

Because Texas taxpayers expect their public schools (including charter schools) to remain non-partisan, Democracy Prep definitely does not fit in our state. Not only that but they have demonstrated no propensity to teach the type of fact-based, academic curriculum standards (TEKS) that our elected Texas State Board of education members have adopted.  Without students being taught the TEKS, they will not be ready to do well on the STAAR/End-of-Course tests.

 

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency are working harder than ever before to make sure that this time around, the new English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS will be very closely aligned to the STAAR/EOC’s.  ELAR teacher training and the training of school administrators will be more closely focused than in the past on exactly what each ELAR/TEK looks like in a classroom lesson and how students can best be taught to learn and utilize each ELAR/TEK. 

 

Democracy Prep has a completely different agenda from that mandated by the Texas Education Code. DP emphasizes the indoctrination of students into a social justice agenda while the public schools of Texas are focused on making sure students acquire deep knowledge and skills.

 

I can predict right now that DP will be a total failure in Texas and that students in DP charters will not improve their academic achievement. By the time the San Antonio ISD trustees figure it out, it will be too late for thousands of students who have been harmed by yet another education fad.  When will thinking adults “do their homework” and quit being coerced and manipulated by some fast-talking public relations team?      

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.