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Followup questions

Upon returning from sabbatical I came across a few magazines from a year ago that I hadn’t gotten around to reading. I’m thinking that I should read everything on a one-year delay. The too-topical stuff (for example, promos tied to upcoming movies) I can ignore, and other items are enhanced by knowing what happened a year or two later.

For example, the 11 May 2009 issue of the New Yorker featured an article by Douglas McGray about an organization in Los Angeles called Green Dot that runs charter schools. According to the article, Green Dot, unlike typical charter school operators, educate just about everyone in their schools’ areas and so don’t benefit so much from selection. I don’t know enough about the details to evaluate these claims, but I was curious about this bit:

[L.A. schools superintendent] Cortines has also agreed in principle to a partnership in Los Angeles. . . . Green Dot could take over as many as five Los Angeles schools in 2010, and maybe more. This month, Barr expects to meet again with [teacher’s union leader] Weingarten and her staff and outline plans for a Green Dot America . . . Their first city would most likely be Washington, D.C. “If we’re successful there, we’ll get the attention of a lot of lawmakers,” Barr said. . . There are risks for Barr [the operator of Green Dot] in this kind of expansion. It will be months, and maybe years, before there’s hard evidence about what Green Dot has accomplished at Locke [High School]. And that one takeover put a real strain on the organization. . . .

A year and a half have passed. What’s happened, I wonder?


  1. Joseph says:

    is what I could find (almost exactly one year later). It sounds like they are doing well but costs remain an issue:

    "But progress is coming at considerable cost: an estimated $15 million over the planned four-year turnaround, largely financed by private foundations. That is more than twice the $6 million in federal turnaround money that the Department of Education has set as a cap for any single school. Skeptics say the Locke experience may be too costly to replicate."

    But it does seem to avoid the effect of selection. But this doesn't answer the question of what a public school would be like with the same resources as Green Dot.

  2. Steve Sailer says:

    My vague recollection is that Green Dot did a lot to improve physical security at Locke. For example, the teachers used to park on the basketball courts because the fence around the teacher's parking lot wasn't secure and their cars would get broken into. Green Dot fixed the fence and provided some extra guarding, so now the kids can play basketball at recess.

    In other news, LAUSD, which couldn't keep teachers' cars safe, has just opened a $578,000,000 school facility on Wilshire Blvd.

  3. Mark Palko says:

    I haven't followed the Green Dot story that closely (and it's a complicated story) but according to a piece in the LAT, Green Dot schools are allowed to put more stringent conditions on attendance than other LAUSD schools. For example, students have to wear school uniforms (which chases away most of the active gang members) and parents are required to volunteer for 30 hours (which tends to select for stable, engaged, two-parent homes).

    I'd need to look at the numbers more closely, but there is certainly at least a possibility of a self-selection effect and having taught in a school in Watts that took a similar approach (parental involvement, no gangs), I can assure you these things make a difference.

    That being said, I am under the impression that Locke was possibly the worst run school in the LAUSD. I'm sure that Green Dot improved on the previous administration.

  4. Bob Carpenter says:

    Mitzi puts most of her New Yorker issues on ice for a year. She finds them less scary that way.

  5. Aaron says:

    If you look at their website, they are involved in lots of metrics —

    I bet they would let some stats people in to have a closer look. Press contact info:

    Press Contact for Green Dot:

    Tracy Mallozzi

    The Rose Group

    (310) 280-3710 (o)

    (323) 333-2768 (cell)