Jane Roberts has another article out tonight on Cornerstone's unfortunate controversies over its treatment of students and its relationships with parents and the community. It's a barn-burner with some balanced reporting about national "flare ups" where charter management organizations have trouble getting along with the communities that they want to serve, as well as the lack of accountability to its constituents that charters enjoy by holding non-public board meetings. Ms. Roberts also more fully explained how the problems at Cornerstone publicly emerged, first at the school board meeting, followed with the Chris Barbic meeting at the Lester Community Center. Not bad, Ms. Roberts, not bad.
I have written previously (here, here, here, and here) about the travails of Cornerstone and its political activism. What a month.
I remain hopeful that a full investigation of all of the allegations will take place, though it does not appear to be part of Cornerstone's "audit" by a local accounting firm. The audit report has not been made public, though some results were disclosed to the Commercial Appeal last week.
Instead of making the report publicly available on its website, as would be expected by a government organization engaging in transparent behavior, Cornerstone has adopted a public relations plan that involves letting the information trickle out, a little bit at a time. That might reduce the impact of any single story, but it will continue to keep them in the news. They'll learn. They might consult the ASD's public relations staff on how to handle this, and get some advice.
So here's today's little trickle of information, and it's a doozy! It's pretty well buried, but it's there! Those children who alleged that their shoes were taken away as punishment? They were totally telling the truth! "An internal audit of school practices released last week found no instances of child abuse at the school, but teachers interviewed by the auditor said they had taken children's shoes away to keep them from playing with them in class." Does Cornerstone have a policy that this is good classroom management? What about the part where the students had to walk around in their socks for the rest of the day? No biggie. These teachers have it locked down and under control. Perhaps this is among the "best practices" that ASD Supt. Chris Barbic promised that Cornerstone would bring to the ASD table.
Child abuse because of shoe confiscation? No. There are much worse allegations being made against the teachers and adminstration of Cornerstone - allegations that Cornerstone is apparently leaving to Child Services to investigate. But this kind of behavior by these alt-certified teachers is exactly the kind of behavior that would not fly in middle class schools, or even in real public schools. I pity the poor teacher at Snowden who confiscates the shoes of a spirited, gifted child. One of the fundamental questions that these charter management administrators must face is whether or not they would tolerate their own children treated in similar fashion. And whether it's the poverty or what that causes them to cling to their closely held belief that these children must be treated differently and strictly, this particular - and apparently, accepted, sanctioned, or suggested - behavior by the teachers is deplorable.