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    "Ben Chavis, the most politically incorrect person on the planet, is also, not coincidentally, one of the people most correct about inner-city education. Read this book by a man who gets results as a practitioner of the 'no excuses' approach to schooling."
    - George F. Will, The Washington Post columnist

    "…[T]here is much to be learned from this account. It is possible to restore public education to its mission of educating the nation's citizens. There is a message of hope and possibility in 'Crazy Like a Fox' that we should embrace."
    - Mitchell Kapor, The San Francisco Chronicle

    "Chavis [is] undeniably one of the country's finest educators…Thrust this book into the hands of all the parents you know and implore them to read it…Chavis is passionate, articulate, and entertaining. He's also right."
    - Mark Hemingway, National Review

    "American Indian [is] a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school."
    - Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times

    "To get the kind of results Chavis does in Oakland is a work of stripped-down genius. Ben's book reads like Ben talks: forthright, funny, irreverent, and wise. For anyone who cares about American education, for anyone who cares about America, Crazy Like a Fox is an essential read."
    - Jack Cashill, author What's the Matter with California?

    CRAZY LIKE A FOX: One Principal's Triumph in the Inner City provides a hair-raising and inspiring account of educational achievement in Oakland, California.

    Before Dr. Ben Chavis took over as principal, American Indian Public Charter School was a litter-strewn, rundown mess with unsupervised students, horrible test scores and dismal attendance rates, all factors that brought the middle school rightfully to the brink of closure.

    Chavis, an American Indian raised in a sharecropper's shack with no electricity, came on the scene and said he'd like to take over the school, then referred to as "the zoo." Was he off his rocker?

    After being appointed principal, he raised the bar with an approach that would make most educators tremble and set American Indian Public Charter School apart as one of the finest middle schools in all of California.

    Carey Blakely's Blog

    Welcome! Please share your thoughts. Note that the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Crazy Like a Fox writer, Carey Blakely.

    Oakland Unified Wants to Close the American Indian Model Schools

    The Oakland Unified School District Board recently voted 4-3 to shut down all three American Indian Model schools. Why? Because of unfounded allegations against Dr. Ben Chavis.

    OUSD alleges that Chavis misappropriated about $3.4 million in public funding in rent, construction, and other fees. First of all, it is not illegal to lease facilities to a charter school that you are affiliated with as long as your financial interest is disclosed, which it clearly was. Secondly, the rent that Dr. Chavis charges AIM Schools is significantly below the market rate and less than half of what OUSD charges charter schools per square foot. The construction costs also fell way below competitors’ rates.

    Below-market rents and facility upgrades resulted in big savings for AIM Schools. None of this information was included in the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) audit, the main source used to justify revoking all three charters.

    Adding insult to injury, the FCMAT audit was not conducted by real accountants. No one on the team is a CPA. By contrast, the CPAs who conducted AIM Schools’ independent yearly audits for the past eleven years never found any misstatements or problems.

    The FCMAT audit contained over one hundred errors! It concluded, “fraud or misappropriation of assets … may have occurred.” Therefore, it did not determine that any fraudulent activities actually took place. FCMAT forwarded its findings to the District Attorney’s office almost a year ago; the DA has not filed any charges against Chavis or the schools.

    Dr. Chavis states his innocence. He has not been accused of a crime or of breaking the law, yet OUSD has stepped in and acted as judge, jury, and executioner based on its own unfounded allegations and its own bogus “auditing.”

    Who is the ultimate victim? The students and families who, instead of continuing to get an incredible public education at AIM Schools, will be forced to attend the dumbed-down, dropout zone otherwise known as Oakland Unified.

    I think it’s safe to say that Chavis has made a lot of enemies in OUSD who would love to harm his reputation and see the schools he founded disappear. Also keep in mind that charter students represent a loss of money to the district. AIM Schools currently serve about 1,200 students. If each student represents the potential for $17,000 in funding, then AIM Schools causes OUSD a loss of about $20 million per year. In ten years, that’s a loss of over $200 million. If AIM Schools close, then OUSD regains a hefty amount of funding.

    The good news is there’s hope. AIM Schools is appealing to Alameda County, which has the authority to overturn OUSD’s decision.

    What can you do to help? Please go to saveaimschools.com and sign this petition.

    Thank you!!!

    Racist? What?

    Dr. Chavis’s recent Stossel appearance has created some buzz, including misguided allegations of racism from so-called progressive websites, like Media Matters.

    I wish people would take a look at the big picture rather than generalizing from a soundbite. Does it make sense that an educator (himself a minority) would devote time and money to educating poor minorities yet in fact be a racist?

    Dr. Chavis likes to joke about race and use it as a motivator–in part, perhaps, because it has become such a politically correct, hush-hush topic of conversation. He knows there are racist assumptions out there, just as you do and as I do. So he will say things, like: If you don’t do your homework and are lazy in school, then people will assume you’re just another lazy Mexican. Is that right that people think that? No. But is it reality? Yes. Dr. Chavis knows the way to prove people’s stereotypes wrong is through achievement. He pushes all of his students to excel in school, which is why all AIM schools rank in the top 1% of schools in California. His schools send poor Mexicans, blacks, and other minorities to four-year universities like Cornell and UC Berkeley. How many other people run schools that provide the poor and underserved with so many extraordinary opportunities?

    Read Crazy Like a Fox to find out Dr. Chavis’s views on race and racism. Get the full context. Then comment and judge. But not before.

    Ben Chavis and AIPCS students on Stupid In America

    Dr. Ben Chavis and current students at American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland were interviewed as positive examples of academic achievement for the follow-up version of Stupid in America with John Stossel on Fox News.

    The first link below features Ben and the students. Click the other links to enjoy seeing Stossel make mental fools out of union bosses, as well as gain insight on school reform from Michelle Rhee, Eva Moskowitz, and charter schools in New Orleans.

    1.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyswCDwe3uo&feature=player_embedded

    2.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGNz0Y9vrBo&feature=related

    3.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlg1LBHlNAc&feature=related

    4.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Irx9o7DjO8&feature=related

    5.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_–4EDg06A

    6.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR3I6LUknxo&feature=related

    Follow AIPCS graduates on Fox, Saturday at 10 PM

    Saturday, September 17th at 10PM EST on Fox News Channel:

    There will be a new Stupid in America special program. Rumor has it that former American Indian Public Charter School students will be interviewed.

    Read John Stossel’s blog on the subject.

    4-Day School Week? You must be joking.

    Check out Ben Chavis on MSNBC debating the new policy some districts have adopted: a 4-day school week. How can less time in school be better for American students, who only spend 180 days in school as it is? What kind of impact would this have on working parents who then have to pay for daycare?

    http://video.tvguide.com/An+Education/120+school+districts+in+US+adopt+4-day+school+week/7492670

    Three Cups of Bitter Tea: One Man’s Mission to Deceive the World…One Lie at a Time

    The recent 60 Minutes expose on Greg Mortenson, co-author of Three Cups of Tea and famous philanthropist, provides a damning glimpse into Mortenson’s fabricated world.

    Some of the schools he claims to have started don’t exist; others stand empty or house spinach. Some of the schools that do exist claim they haven’t received a penny of funding in years.

    Mortenson billed his charity in one year for almost $2 million in travel and book tour/advertising expenses, even though the charity receives no royalties from his works. Some of those fees consisted of private jet flights. Pennies for schools but private jets for authors. More money was spent on domestic “outreach” expenses–i.e. book tours than on building and operating schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    If allegations are to be believed, his premise for deciding to open schools in Afghanistan is completely fabricated. I.e., he never stumbled into a small village after failing to climb K2, was never nursed back to health by the villagers, never vowed to return to fulfill his promise to a young girl that he would build her village a school.

    In full disclosure, I started reading Three Cups of Tea years ago and could not get into it at all, so I read only one chapter. I never read his second book, either. As a result, all the parts of his books that are being targeted as lies are unfamiliar to me. Apparently Mortenson describes being kidnapped by the Taliban, but upon further investigation 60 Minutes reveals that the people wielding AK-47s next to him in a published photo were his unofficial body guards, not his kidnappers, according to one of the so-called kidnappers.

    Maybe Mortenson should team up with James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces, also discovered to be a grossly exaggerated memoir) so that the two liars can shed some light on what motivates a person to lie and then publish lies and then promote those lies over and over to the public and then deny the lies when the truth rears its ugly little fact-finding head.

    What is incredible about this is that no one blew the whistle for years! How is it that his books and charity could become such a widespread sensation with no accountability? What does that say about the information that travels between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States?

    Same Old Story For Rhode Island School

    Bent on change, last year the troubled Central Falls High School decided to fire all of its teachers who, backed by the union, were resisting implementing the reforms so desperately needed at the low-performing high school. It was a brazen, ballsy move that I admired. However, once the firing was no longer a threat but was indeed a reality, the teachers said they were willing to accept the concessions that had previously been refused under union protection. As a result, there was a kumbaya granting of jobs back and an idealistic vision that everyone would move forward, working together in peace. Sounded good, but…

    The administration should have stuck with the mass firings. Why? Because just because people say they will do something doesn’t mean they actually will. The same resistance, laziness, and resentment toward the administration is still there tainting yet another class of high school students.

    An Associated Press article reports: “Many teachers aren’t showing up for work, often calling out sick. Several abruptly quit within the first few weeks of the school year. Administrators have had to scramble to find qualified substitutes and have withheld hundreds of student grades because of the teacher absences.

    “The progress that the city’s school board — and the Obama administration — had hoped for seems increasingly, and alarmingly, elusive.”

    I’m sure the administration is to blame as well, but a school can only be as good as its teachers and when they maximize their sick days and quit weeks into the school year they are putting their own self interests above the interests of their students.

    Sounds like it’s time to wipe the slate clean. There was a good lesson to be learned here for reformers in my opinion, which is to follow through with the severe actions that are sometimes called for in order to give children, not adults, a second chance.

    Video Footage of Ben Chavis on Stossel

    If you missed Ben on “Stossel” last week or just want to watch it again, here are a couple of links to segments of the show that I found on YouTube:

    Ben with John Stossel & Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute

    Ben and Coulson debate a NYC school board member

    Ben on MSNBC Sunday, Sept. 26

    Dr. Ben Chavis will appear on MSNBC Sunday, September 26, during the 11:30 AM EST news block! Tune in!

    His interview will be part of MSNBC’s Education Nation, a special about improving the American education system. Hopefully this time around, MSNBC won’t misidentify him as the black Ben Chavis who once ran the NAACP!

    MSNBC Education Nation special

    Dr. Chavis to Appear on “Stossel” on Fox Business News

    I am very excited that Dr. Ben Chavis will be on Fox Business News’ “Stossel” this Thursday, September 16, at 9 PM EST and again at midnight EST. Re-run schedules can be found on FBN’s website. Michelle Rhee will also be on the show.

    I am looking forward to watching the taping on Wednesday in New York City!