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Rhode Island Charter Board to Seth Andrew: You’re Fired!

Seth Andrew

Seth Andrew

In an Edwize post earlier this year I suggested that Seth Andrew should not quit and leave New York to help run a new charter school in Rhode Island. As it turns out, Andrew will be coming back — last week it was announced that Democracy Prep’s contract with the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies to operate Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley had been terminated. In other words, Seth Andrew was fired. Andrew, who paid himself an annual salary of $168,000 for his job as head of the single Democracy Prep school in New York in 2008, had decided to request higher management fees (apparently taking a cue from for-profit operators such as Victory Schools) — and the board called his bluff.

Oddly enough, this came right after Michelle Rhee’s visit to Democracy Prep’s New York location, where she praised the school and its leadership. Rhee also charged that Democracy Prep’s schools in New York were underfunded, even though due to recent increases in charter funding in New York, it seems likely that Democracy Prep is now getting more base funding than the district schools in its buildings. She also failed to acknowledge that those district schools served higher proportions of students who were eligible for free lunch and who needed the highest level of special education services than Democracy Prep:

Free Lunch Eligible, 2008-09 SpEd, 2008-09 Self Contained as % of SpEd, 2008-09
ACE 71% 12% 50%
PS 197 87% 20% 59%
Democracy Prep 64% 16% 18%

Apparently this experience is something Rhee should be getting used to — since earlier this month a principal hand-picked by Rhee to take over a failing school in D.C. was also fired — by Rhee’s own former deputy chancellor. Hopefully these two education “reformers” will pay attention to the fact that even their colleagues feel they’ve made some poor decisions, and will use this as an opportunity for soul searching rather than pushing for more of the same.