Small Change
Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted
Malcolm Gladwell The New Yorker October 2010

The civil-rights war that engulfed the South, and the lives of some 70,000 students in the 1960’s, happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook, or Twitter.

When the sit-in movement spread from Greensboro, it did not spread indiscriminately. It spread to those cities which had preëxisting “movement centers”—a core of dedicated and trained activists ready to turn the “fever” into action.  That meant groundwork training sessions, retreats for protesters, legal planning, in other words…high-risk, strategic activism.
Fifty years after one of the most extraordinary episodes of social upheaval in American history, we seem to have forgotten what activism is.
Digital Media is simply a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger.
It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are not a natural enemy of the status quo.
“Networks are passive motivators. If it doesn’t cost me much time, money or energy, I’ll “Like” your cause on Facebook. I’ll retweet your plea to sign a petition. I’ll perhaps even donate a few bucks to clean up oily pelicans.
But weak ties won’t motivate people to DEFY a government.
(CCSS, VAM, Corporate School Seizures, High On Pay Scale Firings, TFA)

Gladwell’s tome wasn’t an attack on social networking. It was merely an attempt to bring a sense of reality to the over-inflated sense of import we give it. This isn’t to say social networks aren’t powerful or meaningful or cannot help facilitate revolution, activism and social change. They can. But they help facilitate it, not drive it.” Jason Falls @ Social Media Explorer

If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this essay should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating, it ought to give you pause





The Brooklyn NY Sheepshead Bay marine biology classes took place during an activity of school closures and teacher strikes.  But these picket lines were peopled by unionized, public school professionals who had most recently gone south and volunteered in the 40+ Freedom Schools that had erupted in Mississippi and elsewhere, beginning in 1964.  These teachers knew better, had witnessed and survived mob violence first hand, and as a result, were not afraid of the NYC power elite.

The idea for those CRM ’64 schools began with other classroom teachers in Boston MA and Prince Edward County VA, who responded to right wing, racist resistance to the Brown vs. Board 1954 decision by refusing to cooperate with locked door policies.  Instead, they opened their own schools in off-site locations which became the epitome of liberated learning spaces, places where discriminatory facilities, textbooks, parents/teachers/administrators/elected officials, and curriculum held no sway.

In every case, social change was the order of the day.  Freedom schools were immediate and relevant, framing activism and investigation around local conditions that cried out for confrontation and change.  Youth attended but so did parents and intergenerational citizens.  Of course math, science, literacy, history, economics, civics and geography were embedded in all of it.  How could they not be?  But these were not empty, fragmented, reductionist, test-driven, corporate routines, passing for academics.  These subjects came to life as the entry points into activism on pressure-point issues.  All teachers were crystal clear that ignorance, illiteracy and incompetence formed the institutionalized foundation of separation, exclusion and oppression.

Today, it would be the same bitter wine but in newly branded bottles where the labels might read Race To The Top, TFA, Pearson, Common Core, ALEC, NCTQ, FERPA, Broad Foundation, or Vouchers and Charters.  But the 2015 reincarnations aren’t nearly as important as the essence that continues to promote and insure social isolation and injustice.  That multi-headed hydra is more than worthy of our eternal vigilance and our instinctive resistance.

In the case of Morris’ Sheepshead Bay marine biology classes, for some teens this was simply something to do while schools went silent and faculty on-strike.  Certainly there would have been typical teen grumbling that he or she had no interest in getting wet feet down by the bay.  The sentiment was that since we’d never explored there before, why bother now?  What does marine life or the pollution of the bay, its history or its economics have anything to do with my life, or my liberation, anyway?  Peer pressure and major NUDGing may have been brought to bear.

But the trade-off was the sight of sunrise over the water, and a story about the demise of oysters which meant the loss of the sheepshead porgy, and how we once ate what we caught right amidst the seaweed and salt marshes, fresher healthier and environmentally safer for adjacent communities.  There was the investigation into what REALLY happened to the Canarsie/Canarsee native people, a bloody legacy.  Following, was the discovery that slaves, and later emancipated slaves, were original founders of bayside villages since slavery was once quite legal in New York, among many other northern states.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the city teachers were exercising their professional responsibilities in determining curriculum and social behavior and they were free to be creative, without restriction, from a bureaucratic administration.  In fact, parents and teachers OCCUPIED some schools around the clock for the duration of a 1968 strike.

Principal Sid Morrison described that episode as a beehive in which parents covered administrative duties, helped out in classrooms and “slept-in” so the doors remained open.

Never before weekly meetings were held between parents and teachers to mingle, mix and discuss problems and goals. Classes became more relaxed and informal, and lesson covered a broader scope. When the strike ended, the group that had been active continued its investigation into changing the system in order to offer an enriched and more personal educational experience for every child.

From there it was a natural step into Open Corridors type classrooms where families contributed comfortable sofas, chairs, rugs, lamps and bookcases. Parents made games and materials for classroom use.

They built and painted storage units, painted classrooms, and provided pots, pans, measuring utensils, tools for workbenches, typewriters – all those items never before found in classrooms. Wardrobe trunks were fitted with casters and filled with colorful costumes. Incubators, sandboxes and indoor ponds were built. Animal cages and feed were donated.

Parents with media background worked with classes in doing films and filmstrips. Musicians shared their talents. Actors and dancers taught in their fields. The skills of sewing, cooking, carpentry work and teaching were utilized. A mini-market was set up in the school where children did comparison shopping, went to the wholesale market bought food, and learned to run their own co-op.

That was then but this is now, where we remain one long continuum of struggle, related as a family of inexhaustible, global energy precisely because we can link arms with each other at every stage of the push-back.


Active Learning And Activist Learning

What if Active Learning and Activist Learning came to mean the same thing at Michael Brown’s high school? Maybe Ferguson would not have been inhabited by an occupying army. Students with the support and guidance of authentic teachers, meaning not adults simply drawing down a paycheck and going along with the educational-industrial atrocities, would have called a meeting. Maybe Michael would have lumbered in to listen, curious, skeptical but reflective.
In this meeting, students would have announced that they were lives in search of an education, one they were not receiving in their current “reformist” situation. They would have made it quite clear that a rich man with theme park “budget experience” had no business being given a phony title and phony authority anywhere within their school district’s hierarchy.

They would have declared that deliberately impoverished school budgets and segregated learning centers were nothing new, just the old, stale, sick repetition of the same old bigotry.
Video, protest art, interviews, dance, drama and public media exhibitions would have begun to document what passed for high school in Ferguson. Out of control students, teachers, police and politicians would have been denounced and then put on public museum display for all to see and censor.

This is what Active and Activist Learning is capable of and it is exactly why we only catch glimpses of it on the cover of an aging newsletter from the 1970’s.

Rest In A Disturbed Peace All Ye Who Love Democracy!

As you might guess, there was no resting in the imagined Normandy HS.

Active and Activist Learning requires action, action that disturbs the peace and prosperity of right wing, reactionary eejets like a plutocratic-appointed “President Of The Ferguson Board Of Eduction”,  the Silver Dollar City Theme Park tycoon from Branson, MO and his state school board cronies.

The community of learners at Michael Brown’s high school recognized a colonial model when they saw one. Some secret somebody announced the arrangement one morning by gaining access to the Public Address system and airing an up tempo version of Gil Scott-Heron’s hit song, Johannesburg, with revised lyrics that inserted Fergusonburg. And for that week, What’s The Word? Fergusonburg! was the chorus chanted over and over in every hallway, assembly, food line and sports team warm-up routine.

Michael Brown had never heard of Johannesburg, Steve Biko or poet Dennis Brutus but his teenage school mates made certain that he began to listen up and learn. If Normandy High was to be their Robben Island, then there was a rich history of resistance that cried out for absorption.

The first rule of survival in such a degraded, Power Over Paradigm is self discipline, survival and unified action.
When Michael behaved like a bully or was spotted hanging out with the wrong crowd, he got called on it in a community meeting. He didn’t like it much. He even stomped out a time or two but in the end, he embraced the upbraiding delivered in his best interest. He was no bull in a china shop and he could not muscle his way through life in Ferguson. Though oblivion was a logical choice, his friends cautioned him not to get lost in a haze of drugs and illegal misadventures. They needed his intelligence, his humor, his loyalty, his affection and his strength. A dead hero is no good to no living body. These kids were fighting for a good life and Michael’s spiritual muscle was a Must Have.

It was in this fashion that Michael Brown might have begun to master the art of channeling his outrage at the conditions that surrounded him. He could have learned that he was not alone, an aberration, a menacing giant or a renegade. In the end, he did become a young man with a purpose, the very big purpose of revealing Ferguson to the world for what it was, an oppressive arrangement, repeated across our USA in countless communities of class and color.
Did you really think the Ferguson Teens needed to read that the White House authorized U.S. torture centers around the globe? Of course not, because militarization of the entire culture was obvious on their neighborhood streets day after day. It was crystal clear in the corridors of Normandy where students roamed freely outside of assigned classes while unable to read and comprehend the front page of USA Today. Time to take the bull by the horns.

Michael Brown first argued that he did not have time to tutor anyone but he was soon persuaded otherwise by his affirming affinity group. They would set up shop after school at the library, in a church basement or barber shop, using whatever was at hand to launch their improvised adventures into literacy. It was crazy, sometimes raucous and rowdy but these were effective sessions and they knew it. It felt absolutely RIGHT.

Numbers swelled and soon bands of teen tutors and tutees began a next logical step, mounting voter registration drives across the most under-served sections of Ferguson.

They fashioned themselves after the freedom-seeking literacy/voter movements on John’s Island SC in the 1960. They knew full well how literacy and grassroots empowerment were linked and they also knew that the cops would interfere the moment their work began to pose a challenge to the White Power Structure. What’s The Word? Fergusonburg! And in Fergusonburg it became a badge of honor to be stopped by the police and interrogated or threatened for distributing handbills that laid out the particulars on how and why to register and vote out the ruling junta.

Well, you know how youth are. They talk to each other. They post and twitter, message and selfie and before too long, surrounding public high school student bodies began to hear about the active/activist Ferguson learning movement. No one needed sanctioned internships or co-op experiences. It was not a self-serving resume citation they were seeking nor did they request official transcript credit. They knew the real deal when they saw it and they wanted in.

Soon, the P.D. was hassling the sons and daughters of hard-working county clerks, plumbers, beauticians and practical nurses. These parents were having none of it and so their dignity and influence brought an entirely new audience to the inhumane horror that was Fergusonburg.

When the private schools arrived, it really went viral. After a day of voter reg sidewalk pounding, the new recruits headed home with iPods and iPads full of video, audio, photos and Instagrams documenting the paramilitary protocols practiced in Fergusonburg.

These pampered parents were fast and furious with a response that rained official censure all over the pathological parade that passed for a community police presence in Ferguson. Talk about class warfare. The 1% were finally throwing their weight around someplace where it would do some good. A whole new world of energy, citizenship and inclusion began to take shape.

The desegregation of St. Louis County county took place spontaneously, outside the purview of court orders, as 2015 youth broke bread together, exchanged mix tapes and dance steps, played hoops and Xbox, toured each other’s homes and neighborhoods, silkscreened banners, placards, teeshirts and hosted teach-ins on how institutionalized racism is an economic arrangement benefitting only a malignant few.

Ferguson students of grassroots democracy artfully and courageously moved the details of their lives ever closer, until a seamless web was sewn that pulled everyone together in a civic embrace of inclusion and participation.  The spirit of Michael Brown was their instigator and their inspiration.

It’s a miracle Michael Brown even graduated from this beleaguered school!

By Mark Sumner @ Daily Kos

In Pluto’s diary on the life of Michael Brown, you might notice one detail that’s both touching and disturbing:
Mike’s graduation photograph was taken in March 2014, still many months ahead of when he would be able to graduate in August. Imagine the “why” of this fact:
The grinding poverty in Mike’s world only allowed Normandy High School to acquire two graduation gowns to be shared by the entire class. The students passed a gown from one to the other. Each put the gown on, in turn, and sat before the camera to have their graduation photographs taken. Until it was Mike’s turn.

What kind of American school would have to share robes across the entire senior class?
The kind that’s been the subject of a lot of attention from the state board of education.

This district was created by merging two of the poorest, most heavily minority districts around St. Louis—Normandy and Wellston. The poverty rate for families sending their kids to Normandy Schools was 92 percent. At Wellston School District, the poverty rate was 98 percent. Every single student in the Wellston district was African American.

Still, the state education board voted to merge the districts in 2010 (the first change to state school district boundaries in thirty-five years). Plagued by white flight, crashing property values that destroyed tax revenues, and a loss of state funds as the better-off residents of the area sent their children to private schools, the resulting district isn’t just short of gowns, it’s short of everything. Residents of the district voted again and again to raise their own property taxes, until their rates were actually the highest in the state, but a higher percentage of nothing was still nothing, and district revenues trended steadily down.

After the merger, the state board proceeded with the next step on their plan. In 2012, they rated Normandy as a failed district, removed its accreditation, and placed it under direct state control. The idea was to reform the district to the state board’s design, only there was one problem: the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled that students in a failed district had the right to go to other districts. Hundreds of Normandy students signed up to do just that, heading for classrooms in surrounding districts, some of which were majority white. At first, this generated tension:

News of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the transfer law initially sparked anger and fear among some white Francis Howell parents.
“I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed, or taking a drug, or getting robbed,” one mother said during a school board meeting, referring to the prospective arrival of Normandy students.

“We don’t want this here in Francis Howell,” another parent said.

But for the most part that attitude didn’t last. Normandy students settled in at their new districts, and despite a financial drain—Normandy had to cover the cost of transportation and pay tuition to the other districts for those students who transferred—things seemed on an upswing in the district.
…the remaining students and school community came together to celebrate a spirit of new beginnings. They held pep rallies and welcome-back-to-school gatherings. Students at Normandy High School said they began tutoring each other to improve the school’s academic ranking…
Indeed, walking the halls of Normandy High School at the beginning of the school year, there was a sense of optimism despite the dire state of things.

Well, you know what they say about optimists. Read below the fold for what happened next.
Funding the transfer students was costing the district more than it cost to educate students within the district. Part of that was transportation, but most of it was the simple fact that other districts spent far more on their students than the poverty-stricken Normandy district.

The state board of education took over the district’s finances, but rather than providing a new stream of revenue, they figured out a simple way to reduce costs:

On Friday afternoon, the board met in a hastily called meeting to change the Normandy’s accreditation status — or at least how that accreditation is described. Normandy now has “accreditation as a state oversight district,” the revised June minutes now read.
Get that? The state board, which had taken away the accreditation, now argued that Normandy was accredited, magically, without having the district actually meet any of the standards they had set. How did that happen?
“The Missouri State Board of Education, pursuant to its statutory authority to waive its rules, including those regulating accreditation, has accredited the Normandy Schools Collaborative and thus its schools,” the state’s motion to the court says. “Because of that accreditation, the Plaintiffs are not entitled to relief. … ”
The school is now accredited because the board has the right to ignore the law the board claimed it was enforcing in the first place, and parents now have no right to transfer their kids to another district … because the school is accredited.
Naturally, the case is headed back to court. And if the accreditation by decree isn’t enough for you, there’s another bit of magic applied by the board. That transfer law? It only applies to school districts. But see, Normandy Schools are no longer in a school district. Normandy schools are now in a special collaborative and, according to the state board, “are not in any district in this state.” So there you go. You can transfer from a district if you’re not in a district, and if you happen to be in a district, it’s magically accredited. Problem solved.

So who actually runs Michael Brown’s school district? Well, the president of the board of education is Peter F. Herschend of Branson, Missouri. Herschend isn’t a former teacher, or a former principal, and doesn’t have any training in the education field. He’s the owner of Herschend Family Entertainment, which runs Silver Dollar City and other amusement parks. He’s also one of the biggest contributors to the Republican Party in the state.

So, when you’re wondering who runs Michael Brown’s school district—when you’re wondering who’s in control of an urban, minority district so poor that the students have only two graduation gowns to share—it’s a white Republican millionaire from out state.


What I Learned About Love As A School Lunch Chef

I cook for about 40 kids every day.

Since 2009, I’ve made lunch from scratch for the kids of the Burlington Children’s Space, or BCS. Open for the last 30 years, BCS is located in the heart of Burlington, Vermont’s historically poorest neighborhood, the Old North End.
I had a lofty goal in mind when I started this job. I wanted healthy food to become a central part of the school culture by taking advantage of Burlington’s unique urban farming landscape and teaching the kids about fresh, local food and sustainable community food systems.

But I quickly realized this wasn’t enough. As one of our faculty succinctly put it, where your food comes from or even how it tastes doesn’t matter, until you have enough of it. And more than half of the kids we were serving desperately needed only one thing from their lunchtime: enough food to eat.

A preschool boy, I’ll call him James, came to BCS from a wildly chaotic environment. At only four years old, he’d already experienced homelessness, hunger, violence, and a distinct lack of positive interactions with kids his own age. Understandably, he couldn’t quite settle in to the rhythm of the school day. He couldn’t connect with his classmates because he was worried about his basic needs being met.

During his first few weeks at school, mealtime was stressful. James would refuse to eat, or empty everything out of a serving bowl onto his plate. He would throw tantrums, and try to take food from others at the table. His teachers tried to encourage him, by sitting at his side and talking calmly about what was on the table.

lunchtime 1

Gradually, James learned that I was ready to feed him as much as necessary. He began to trust that he would get enough to eat, and would come to the table every day without a fight, waiting for his turn to serve himself.

One day, I made mac and cheese, a preschool favorite. I noticed that James seemed distracted; he was calm, but wasn’t eating much, and kept trying to keep the bowl close to him. I knelt down next to his chair. “Hey, don’t worry,” I said. “ I made extra mac and cheese today. There’s plenty for everyone.”

“I know.” He replied. “But Kate’s not here! This is her favorite. I have to save her some for when she comes back!”

That was the moment I realized that making simple school lunch is much more than a way to support kids physical development. It’s a profound way to support their emotional growth as well.

lunchtime 2
Image courtesy of Sam Simon

“Food insecure” is a term that describes anyone who cannot depend on daily adequate nutrition, and it leaves a gaping hole in the development of growing children. As James showed me, when children don’t have to worry about getting enough to eat they can relax and play and their social interactions improve. They start to connect with their teachers and their peers. They open up to the love around them, and they start to give love in return. School lunch programs replace that insecurity with a sense of abundance, care, and community.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the mechanics of getting food in front of kids, at school and at home, that we forget what we’re actually doing – nourishing people we love. Food is a language we all share, and preparing and sharing food are powerful ways to show how much we care for kids, especially at school.

At my school, when we teach kids to work, play, rest, create, and eat together, what we’re really doing is teaching them to care for each other. To make healthy choices for themselves and those around them. To love one another, and themselves.

What I learned about love by making school lunch is simple. For our kids, a good lunch IS love.


Jonathan Kozol

We now have an apartheid curriculum . Teachers and principals in the inner city are so test driven that inner city children, mostly students of color, are not allowed to have their voices heard through stories and questions.  Yet White students are given that flexibility, opportunity and creativity.

Test preparation is driving out child centered learning. Testing mania has become a national psychosis, driven by corporatized business.

Racial isolation/segregation which does terrible damage to young people, is also on the rise.
It is important for children of color to become comfortable in the majority culture, so imagine how devastating this new segregation is in the long term.
It is worse than foolhardy to think Black children can be taught in class and racial isolation and then have the skills and confidence as adults to succeed in a white world where they have no experience.
This new segregation is a theological abomination.






A nightmare of a program is headed to Los Angeles where there is already a sleazy Deasy mess in the making.  It is founded and supported by individuals unburdened by years of excellent Math classroom experience.  Reasoning Mind is a brand that is constantly being “refreshed” and for 2015, it is advertised as an Early Algebra Preparation System.
Are you getting goosebumps over the PR rigor of it all?

But what does this slice of the educational-industrial complex look like in action?
Just about what you would expect.  Teachers are TOLD that it is being inflicted upon them.  
There is never even the hint of a PROFESSIONAL consultation with faculty to ask if they want, need, or approve of RM. Teachers are laboring long hours in behalf of their 2nd and 3rd grade students from a very impoverished neighborhood, with test scores in the basement, but now they will add one more requirement to the mix.  Instantly, they must acquire hardbound composition books for their 300 + charges and label each with student name, username and password.  

These passwords are in addition to those already in use for Accelerated Reader/Math, State Testing, MySatori,AutoSkills, Reading Counts, iStation and whatever else constitutes the newest tech flavor of the moment.

The RM sessions must take place in a big computer lab, multiple times a week, monitored only by the teacher, and for a specified total # of minutes “in program”.  Big Brother keeps a relentlessly close eye on the stats. Much like the current Food Network, every aspect of RM is instantly transformed into a competition in which educators vie against one another for data indicators of progress, which are then posted throughout the school and celebrated over the PA.

Adults are directed Not To Assist students at any time. The administration-driven competitions help to establish the marketable efficacy of Reasoning Mind, all at the expense of under-paid/overworked teachers. Time on Task and Mastery Levels are what get used when it is time to fundraise from the donor base and make the winning sales pitch to nationwide school districts.

NTA means that even though you may know for certain that Caleb cannot manipulate the online number line embedded into the positive and negative integers sequence, you must sit and watch him struggle from a distance, absent all prompts or intervention.  The software program will cycle him back through until he “gets it”, not to worry!  

Predictably, an emotional disturbance resembling a storm front sets in.
These RM sessions create an atmosphere percolating with frustrated children, unable to “show your work/reasoning” on the pages of the composition books which are crammed into a severely limited tabletop space, now strewn with broken pencil parts.  Student frustration eventually turns to detachment, misbehavior, anger, alienation, a contempt for mathematics and an indefatigable genius for discretely clicking onto fun screens like Lego, PBS Kids and BrainPop.  Remember that these time and energy consuming computer sessions Do NOT take the place of mandated classroom math instruction, assessment, RTI, and after-school tutorials by teachers.

The Texas Observer

Reasoning Mind: How Big Oil and Texas Politicians Came to Love Math

By Patrick Michels

At one point during this year’s SXSWedu—a slick Austin conference heavy on marketing for education technology—an audience member stood and asked a panel of Texas lawmakers the question most in the room were probably wondering: how do you get the state of Texas to buy your software?

State Rep. Dan Branch suggested an egalitarian process at work behind the scenes: build a good product and put in your time convincing lawmakers. “If you walk the halls and talk to key members of committees, I think you can get your message out pretty well,” Branch said. For example, he said, one particular outfit called Reasoning Mind has built a reputation at the Capitol as “a very strong math software program.”

The creators of the Reasoning Mind software have certainly found success in Texas, but Dan Branch might be surprised to learn how they attained it.

The state contracts with all sorts of companies for educational software; most decisions are made by the Texas Education Agency. Reasoning Mind, a math program, is the only software program lawmakers wrote into the budget by name last session.

In its most recent funding request, TEA suggested cutting Reasoning Mind—they’d already contracted with another online math program—but lawmakers weren’t keen on ditching it. They gave the program its own budget rider and kept its funding steady, at $2.25 million in public funds a year.

It’s even more impressive that Reasoning Mind did so well at the Capitol without the services of a registered lobbyist. But Reasoning Mind has something even better going for it: close friends in the highest ranks of big oil.

Reasoning Mind’s board is chaired by Ernest H. Cockrell, the longtime head of the Cockrell Oil Corp. Its vice chair is Forrest Hoglund, a former Enron CEO and a force in the Dallas philanthropy world. As of 2011, the program’s biggest backer was the ExxonMobil Foundation, which, according to EducationWeek, had donated $5 million to Reasoning Mind. In April, the world’s largest corporation leaned on its support for Reasoning Mind to rebut an ad by an anti-oil group suggesting that “Exxon hates your children.”

Russian couple Alex and Julia Khachatryan founded Reasoning Mind in 2000 as a computer-based math education program for their son, whose school lessons they deemed too basic. Geared toward students in grades 2 through 6, Reasoning Mind promises to build math skills and to encourage critical thinking and independent learning, all with a game-like interface for kids.

Those friends in the oil industry are no accident. Before starting Reasoning Mind, the Khachatryans ran a firm called RPC overseas—short for Russian Petroleum Consultants—based in Moscow and Houston, with clients including Halliburton, Koch Industries and Cockrell Oil. According to its tax filings, Reasoning Mind spent $1.6 million on “computer programming and testing of end product” in Moscow, and paid another $20,000 direct to RPC Overseas for office space. As president and CEO, Alex Khachatryan made $62,292 in 2011, down from $115,000 the year before.

The program is growing. Schools in a few states use Reasoning Mind today, but its strongest foothold is in Texas, where Houston ISD and Dallas ISD both use the program. In all, the company says, 60,000 Texans use the program either as a supplemental curriculum or a full-time course. Nearly 11,000 copies were paid for by TEA.

The company has proved resilient when its funding is threatened. In summer of 2011, during the special legislative session on the state budget, the House overwhelmingly approved an amendment to zero out funding for Reasoning Mind. But when the budget bill returned from conference committee with the Senate, the math program’s rider was back in. House members couldn’t change the bill at that point, so Reasoning Mind’s funding continued. Because the conference committee discussions are closed to the public, it’s hard to say who in the Senate championed the program. Reasoning Mind’s two biggest boosters, Cockrell and Hoglund, have each given $66,000 to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaigns since 2004.

In November 2012, the Dallas Morning News reported an internal study from Dallas ISD saying the program cost too much and did too little—but the district with more Reasoning Mind students than any other in the state stood by the program and pulled the study from its site.

Reasoning Mind countered with studies of its own. To help out, Reasoning Mind’s blue-blooded backers got involved. The News recounted an interview with Hoglund, who “said prominent charitable givers might pull their support for DISD if it isn’t continued.”

Too many important people, in other words, had too much invested in the program to let the district pull the plug—performance be damned.

Like so much else in Texas, in the education tech business, it helps to know a few oil execs.


The 2015 version of mill and mine owner’s children DO NOT attend schools where technologized mis-education is permitted.

Over 8,000 books have been weeded from one, single Middle School library in Racine,Wisconsin thanks to a hit list provided by Pearson. District librarians have no dough to replace the removed titles on the Holocaust, the Koran, the Bible and Hiroshima but never fear, because Pearson is here with great prices on their preferred reading list.
Cue the thump of jack boots marching in the background.

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