Friday, October 31, 2014
Was Chartrand’s QEA quid pro quo KIPP expansion?
First a little background. The QEA initiative has taken local cash and put them in I believe dubious programs that are designed to improve our schools. I think overall they will be a failure but some knowledgeable people disagree with me.
Gary Chartrand, the grocer turned most powerful man in local education is responsible for both the KIPP school coming to town and the QEA initiative. Like him or hate him, think he has done a lot of good or a lot of bad, there can be know doubt he has spent a lot of his own money and gotten his friends to chip in too.
Now that’s out of the way I will get to it.
The KIPP School is looking to do a massive expansion, which will ultimately see them take 1,800 kids out of the system. The super has also been selling the expansion in the conservative blogs and to whoever will listen.
Vitti’s accolades however are not supported by any evidence and an expansion of this size is unprecedented too so it got me thinking why would Vitti be pushing this hard sell?
Well it could be because there was a quid pro quo between him and the QEA initiative to get it to donate money. I can see it now, hey Vitti, we’ll slip you a few million dollars if you let the KIPP school expand.
To find out if something like that happened I checked the transcripts and minutes of all the QEA meetings, or I would have but they don’t exist. You see even though the QEA board was in effect creating policy, even though they were not elected to do so, no records were required to be kept and when I asked if I could attend one of the meetings I was told unequivocally, no. The public has no idea what was said or done at those meetings.
You might be saying, but what’s in it for Chartrand, KIPP schools are non-profit. That’s true the KIPP schools are non-profit and if I were to say one good thing about them it would be that they seem to funnel most of their money into their programs, though their executives do make quite a bit. But to Chartrand it’s not about money, it’s about replacing public schools and getting rid of unions who he blames for all the problems in education. I think he would happily go broke to see his dream of an all charter school district staffed with Teach for America hobbyists realized.
Was there a quid pro quo? I don’t have a smoking gun, conveniently the system was set up so the public would be kept in the dark, but I do have is a superintendent pushing for it without the data to support it, chumming around with a millionaire who hates public schools.
One last thing” I believe Chartrand has gone to great lengths to protect his precious KIPP School before. KIPP’s first grade was a F, the lowest grade in North East Florida, it then got a miraculous B, but in it’s third year it was supposed to drop to a D but out of the blue and quite surprisingly the state board of education, which is chaired by Chartrand passed a rule that said schools could drop only one letter grade at a time which protected the KIPP school whose grade now only dropped to a C. Chartrand and his friends had a lot riding on the success of the KIPP school and I imagine it would have been quite embarrassing and hurt his fund raising efforts had the schools grade plummeted.