November 30, 2011

Tennessee May Take Responsibility for 68 Underperforming Memphis Schools

Memphis, Tn - The state identified the bottom 5 percent (85 schools) of the schools in Tennessee. 68 of the 85 are in Memphis. The federal government accepts is considering a plan for the state to take responsibility of these schools.

If everything goes as planned, those 68 Memphis city schools will become what is called "the Achievement School District," a state run district with its own superintendent, Chris Barbic. There are four options the Achievement School District can choose for the underperforming schools: The school can be left alone, it can be turned into a charter school with leadership and curriculum independent from Memphis City Schools, it can be controlled jointly by MCS and the state, or the state can come in and take over completely. Read more on My Fox Memphis.

State May Take Responsibility for 68 Underperforming MCS Schools: MyFoxMEMPHIS.com

Avoid past mistakes in Michigan charter school expansion

Dan Varner
By John Austin, president of the state Board of Education, and Dan Varner, a member of the state Board of Education and director of Excellent Schools Detroit.

The Michigan Legislature looks committed to pass charter and school choice expansion legislation, going even further than proposals made by Gov. Rick Snyder this spring. Given the likelihood of passage, it is important that this legislation as proposed be improved to prevent the same mistakes that were made when public school academies were first created, and that have continued to polarize debate on this issue ever since.

John Austin
When public school academies were first enacted in the 1990s, there was a massive fight. The fight was largely won by Gov. John Engler and charter proponents, and Michigan ended up with one of the more freebooting charter school regimes -- any school district, intermediate school district or community college can sponsor an unlimited number of charters. The plan did, however, include a cap of 150 on the number of university-sponsored charters, those institutions at the time that were most eager to facilitate charter school expansion.

As a result, the charters that have been created run the gamut from the good (innovative schools that help students achieve in new ways), to the bad (mediocre or poor-performing schools that don't offer anything different except a label), to the ugly (schools created essentially as fronts for management companies to make money, without the same transparency and accountability of public school). Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Education unions' lobbying rises in Michigan amid changes

Teachers' unions and some other education-related groups in Michigan have increased their spending to lobby state officials in 2011, largely in response to sweeping changes in school policy and budget cuts adopted by the Republican-led state Legislature.

The Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, reported lobbying expenses of $324,197 for the first seven months of the year, according to state records. The Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers reported expenses of $119,748. That's a combined increase of about 11% compared with the same period in 2010.   Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

In a misguided move, Michigan Dems introduce ban on for-profit schools

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for an amendment to the Michigan constitution that would outlaw for-profit schools. Four out of five charter schools in Michigan currently operate as for-profit schools. Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said only 17 percent of charter schools out-perform traditional public schools. She said school aid money should not go toward profits for businesses.  Read more.

State takes over Lawrence Public Schools in Massachusetts

State education leaders yesterday agreed to appoint an outside receiver to take charge of the “chronically underperforming” Lawrence public schools. It is a drastic but necessary step given the leadership vacuum in that struggling city and the fear that 13,000 kids are being punished because the adults are so busy playing dysfunctional political family.  Read more in the Boston Herald.

We Must Do More Than Merely Avoid the NCLB Train Wreck

Huffington Post:  The Obama administration's decision to allow states to request waivers from No Child Left Behind was a step in the right direction, but only a baby step. Four in five schools across the country will be deemed "failing" this coming year if nothing stops the "train wreck" that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will inflict upon the nation's schools. These include schools in which the vast majority of students are proficient in math and English, as well as schools in which students, teachers, and principals are making real progress in the face of formidable challenges: concentrated poverty, large numbers of students with special-needs, and state budget cuts that have severely reduced the resources needed to address the obstacles to learning.  Read more.

New Jersey Education Commissioner Defends Charter School Application Reviewers

New Jersey Education Commissioner Defends Charter School Application Reviewers
According to the NJ Spotlight, over the past year, the Christie administration employed an array of national and state charter school experts, educators, officials, and other advocates to help review applications for new charters, according to documents released under a public records request. Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) filed the request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), and her office yesterday shared the state's response of more than a dozen pages of names and emails. Gill said yesterday the lists in both years was notably absent of traditional public school educators and community representatives. "It underscores the need for the local community to have more of a role in the process," Gill said. Chris Cerf, New Jersey's education commissioner, said yesterday he's glad the names are out. Cerf defended the reviewers and their pro-charter leanings as valuable to the process. And he stressed that the final decisions still rested with his office and the department. "These are serious educators and quality people who want public education to succeed," he said. "A central theme of charter advocates today is we need to be extremely thoughtful about who we give a charter school to, and we may have been too generous historically. Being charter advocates is not at all inconsistent with being concerned about quality."  Source: NJ Spotlight

500 New Charters Opened for 2011-12, 150 Closed

NAPCS Estimates 500 New Charters Opened for 2011-12, 150 Closed

More than 500 new charter schools opened across the country for the fall of 2011 and about 150 closed over the past year, with California leading in both categories, according to November 2011 estimates by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

Back to School Tallies: Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools, 2011-2012 provides the top states for openings and closings of charter schools and a chart of the activity in each of the states where charter schools were operating in 2011.  Overall, NAPCS estimates there are now about 5,600 charter schools across the country, representing growth of about 7 percent. Four states showed declining numbers.

SABIS® University awards Cambridge and ICDL Certificates at recent ceremony

For Immediate Release

SABIS® University (SU) recently held its first award ceremony honoring students who successfully
completed courses thorough the university’s Continuing Education Department. Held on
November 21, 2011, in the university’s assembly hall in Erbil, Kurdistan, the ceremony brought
together SU students, faculty, staff, SABIS® team members, and supporters—including several of
Kurdistan’s ministers—who celebrated the 24 students who received certificates of successful
completion for the Cambridge International Certificate for Teachers and Trainers (CICTT) program
or the International Computer Driving License (ICDL).

“SABIS® University is pleased to have contributed to these individuals’ achievement by providing
the environment necessary for learning and by partnering with prestigious organizations such as
Cambridge International Examinations,” said Mr. Carl Bistany, Chairman of the SABIS® University
Board, in a speech delivered at the ceremony. He continued, “This means that the certificates we
award today are more than just pieces of paper; they represent the successful completion of
programs that are recognized world-wide; and they open the door to boundless opportunities for
the future.”

There were eight recipients of the CICTT certificate, all of whom are Ministry of Education teachers
who teach in SABIS® Public-Private Partnership schools in Kurdistan. The program provided these
teachers with world-class instruction to enhance their skills through a two-semester, practice-based
professional development course.

“The aim is to develop innovative, reflective teachers and trainers who are able to implement
international best-practices in their day-to-day teaching,” stated Mr. Myles Holloway, SABIS®
Special Projects Coordinator-English and CICTT program leader. “Our candidates’ success in this
demanding course is a positive sign that these Ministry of Education teachers in Kurdistan are
ready to embrace the challenges of the future,” added Mr. Holloway.

Of the eight CICTT certificate recipients, an impressive three were honored with “distinction” status,
indicating that they took a coherent, appropriate, and relevant approach in interacting with learners
and have the confidence to innovate in a realistic and resourceful manner.

Rounding out the certificate recipients at the ceremony were the 16 ICDL candidates who received
certificates in the internationally-recognized, integrated digital literacy program. SU’s ICDL course
provided students with comprehensive curriculum useful in today’s high-tech world, covering IT,
computer and file management, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, and
online information and communication.

Addressing the audience at the ceremony in his first visit to a private university, Kurdistan Minister
of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), Professor Dlawer Ala’aadin said
“MOHESR has embarked on a journey to reform the entire higher education system to be in sync
with the rest of the world.” He continued, specifically referencing SABIS® University, “You have
given us enough confidence in your contribution to make us one world.”

Established in 2009, SABIS® University currently offers 16 degree programs in the College of
Business and Management Studies and the College of Education. These colleges were carefully
selected and designed to fulfill the critical education and industry needs of Kurdistan and to meet
the demands of the global workplace.

For more information about SABIS® University, please visit www.sabisuniversity.net.

Contact Name: Ms. Amy Wesley    Contact Number: +1 952 918-1850    Email

November 29, 2011

Legislative Alert from the Michigan Association of Public School Academies


The House Education Committee could vote on SB 618 this week!

The legislature has returned back to Lansing from their two weeks of in-district work and is taking up SB 618, the bill that lifts the cap on university authorized charter schools. After the recall of then Chairman Paul Scott, the Speaker appointed Rep. Tom McMillan chair on an interim basis.

The Committee heard open testimony today. There were charter school supporters testifying for the need for more charter schools, relief from property tax, and a more clear path to replication. There were also plenty of detractors perpetuating age old myths about charter schools, i.e. they don’t have special ed, they don’t do high school, they only take the best and brightest kids, etc. They even said that charter schools take money from traditional schools. I think they forget that traditional schools do not have money of their own, only the money they take from the taxpayers. No one is taking their money, taxpayers are deciding how they want to spend their money.

The Committee is expected to vote on SB 618 tomorrow. Please let the committee members know that you support SB 618, and call your legislator today and ask them to support SB 618 because:

1. Parents want options and kids deserve quality choices in education.
2. Charter schools out perform similar districts in nearly every category despite being funded less.
3. Charter schools are held accountable for their performance by their authorizer and more importantly by the parents who choose to send their children there.

Call your legislator and members of the Education Committee today! Click here for a listing of all office phone numbers.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
http://www.votervoice.net/link/target/miapsa/8qifrN5Q.aspx

November 28, 2011

International Academy of Flint's Thanksgiving dinner serves about 600

The International Academy of Flint, a member of the SABIS® Schools Network, hosted its fourth annual Thanksgiving dinner. 

FLINT, Michigan — International Academy of Flint's Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition developed to aid the homeless and underprivileged, but it's more than those down on their luck who benefit from the dinner.

"This event is big every year, and me being part of it is a great experience," said Michigan State University freshman Monique Lewis, 18.

A graduate of International Academy, Lewis said she has volunteered at the dinner every year since it first started in 2008 with her middle school friend Dylan Luna, 19. Read the entire article in the Flint Journal.

Click here to see photo gallery.

International Academy of Flint hosts a holiday dinner

FLINT (WJRT) -
(11/24/11) - In Flint, hundreds of people turned out for the International Academy of Flint's free Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Organizers estimate over 600 people came through the doors for the fourth annual event.

The event has been so successful over the years, they're planning something new, for next month. Art Wenzlaff says the International Academy will host a community breakfast program, for those in need, beginning on the first Saturday morning in December at 9:30. The MTA provided free transportation to this year's Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2011

St. Francis of Assisi Church mistreats charter school by leasing building out from under it

The Lycée Français, a French immersion charter school that opened this year, announced Monday that it would rent out the school space owned by St. Francis of Assisi Church, but one important question was left unanswered. What would happen to the charter school that already rents out that very space near the corner of State and Patton Streets in uptown?

Turns out, the Milestone SABIS Academy was just as surprised to learn that another school had secured its building. In a perturbed news release late Monday, the school said it was "disappointed to learn today through media reports" that it will have to make other arrangements.

"Milestone has been a model tenant throughout its nine-year lease term with St. Francis and made several improvements to the facility that incurred to the benefit of the landlord," the school claims.

Milestone Board President Leslie Ellison said the school will continue with its expansion plans and is hopeful it will have a new school built by next school year, but has yet to begin construction. Its lease with the church ends July 1. She declined to mention where the new site will be because the school is still bidding on land and doesn't want to attract competition. Read more in the Times Picayune.

Milestone SABIS Academy board criticizes church’s selection of Lycee Francais as new tenant for school

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church’s recent selection of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans as the new tenant of its school building drew sharp criticism Monday evening from the board of Milestone SABIS Academy, the school that has been in the building for several years.

Lycée Français announced Monday morning that the St. Francis of Assisi school building at State and Patton streets will be its new main campus starting next summer, and that it has space for 500 students, enough to accommodate several years of the school’s growth.

After a Monday night board meeting, the leaders of Milestone SABIS Academy issued their own announcement, saying that they only learned of the plans for the building through media reports, saying the church “opted to not negotiate the lease renewal in good faith.” The SABIS board pledged to find new space for their school in time to continue instruction without interruption.  Read more in Uptown Messenger.

November 22, 2011

Tennessee education commissioner encourages increase in competition

Commissioner Kevin Huffman
Commissioner Kevin Huffman should start by seeking an amendment to the state's charter school law which currently prohibits private for-profit charter management organizations from operating schools in Tennessee.  Seeking to reform public education without the private sector is like choosing to get into a UFC cage fight with one hand tied behind the back.  It's a recipe for a bad outcome.  Instead of excluding private sector ideas and innovations, Tennessee should instead welcome any proven education provider, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, that is willing to engage in the hard work of closing achievement gaps.

Tennessee's education commissioner wants the state's lowest-performing schools to start using competition as a means for improvement. Targeting the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools is a crucial component to the state's application asking for reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind law, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said Monday said during an editorial board meeting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If the wavier is approved, the state will encourage creativity and competition among the lowest-performing schools, Huffman said. All sorts of reform efforts are on the table for these schools, he said, including differentiated teacher pay scales and lengthening the school year or school day. Read more.

Four New PPP Schools to Join the SABIS® School Network

The SABIS® School Network is proud to announce the impending opening of four new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools to be located in various cities across Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region located in northern Iraq. Supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and operated by SABIS®, the four schools will open in September 2012 and are expected to collectively serve 1,000+ students in grades K-2. The schools will expand by one grade level in each subsequent year of operation until they offer full K-12 programs.

Mr. Burhan Abdulla Adel, General Director of Kurdistan’s Ministry of Education expressed his gratitude toward SABIS® for its contribution to education in the region. He commented, “I am very happy to see that more children in Kurdistan will be benefiting from such quality education…I hope this educational experience will expand to reach every village in Kurdistan.”

The schools’ locations have been carefully selected to ensure that even students in the most remote parts of Kurdistan have the opportunity to attend a SABIS® PPP school. As such, the four new schools will open in rural areas where students there may not otherwise have access to a world-class education. Additionally, SABIS® will engage in training more than 150 teachers from Kurdistan’s Ministry of Education with an aim to ultimately foster efficient, self-reliant operations at all schools.

“The value added to students attending SABIS® PPP schools is remarkable,” commented Mr. Raed Mahmoud, SABIS® Representative in Kurdistan. “As a result, parents and community members have put a lot of pressure on government officials to increase enrollment and/or open similar schools in their neighborhoods. With the addition of these four new PPP schools, their request has been granted.”

The new schools will join SABIS®’s existing schools in Kurdistan - three PPP schools and two private schools, as well as the SABIS® University in Kurdistan. SABIS®’s involvement in the region began in 2006 as operator of the International School of Choueifat-Erbil. Two years after seeing students benefit from the SABIS® Educational System, in 2008 Kurdish leaders embarked on a Public-Private Partnership project with SABIS® in order to bring those same benefits to Kurdish students attending public schools. Today, SABIS® schools in Kurdistan are thriving in their respective communities and provide a world-class education to a combined total of nearly 3,900 students.

In addition to joining the growing network of SABIS®’s schools in Kurdistan, the four PPP schools will become part of the global SABIS® School Network comprised of schools in 15 countries on four continents. These schools educate thousands of students who follow the efficient, high-quality SABIS® Educational System, which provides them with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to excel in college and beyond.

For more information about SABIS® or the Public-Private Partnership schools in Kurdistan, visit www.sabis.net and www.pppkurdistan-sabis.net.

Jindal gets new conservative BESE

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal says he is happy with the new "conservative" Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after this fall's elections, and he's confident it will elect his favorite, Recovery School District Superintendent John White, as the next superintendent of education.

But at least two of the new members whom he is counting on for votes say they're not ready to commit to White. And one Jindal supporter who was re-elected says he wants to look at all the candidates before deciding.

The governor said at a news conference Monday that after his own re-election, "BESE elections were our top priority. Improving education for our children is our top priority."  Read more.

A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities

Public charter schools are a growing part of America’s public education system. Nearly 20 years after the first charter school opened, charter schools provide significant public educational options for parents and students in an increasing number of communities. In the last two years alone, 19 states partially or entirely lifted their arbitrary caps on the number of charter schools, and Maine enacted a law in 2011 to permit charter schools to operate for the first time in its history. All these policy changes create the potential for even greater growth of public charter schools. And the growth in public charter school enrollment presented in this report shows that parent demand for school options continues.

Today, a record number of school districts—six—have at least 30 percent of their public school students enrolled in public charter schools. Charter schools in New Orleans enroll an astounding 70 percent of public school students. Additionally, 18 school districts have 20 percent or more of their public school students enrolled in charter schools,  eleven more than when we first printed this report six years ago. Nearly 100 districts now have at least 10 percent of  public school students in charter schools.  Download the study from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

'Income Achievement Gap' Almost Double Black-White Performance Gap, Report Shows

This story comes to us courtesy of California's EdSource Extra.

In a dramatic illustration of the impact of income inequality on how children do in school, the achievement gap between children from high and low income families is far higher than the achievement gap between black and white students, a pathbreaking research report from Stanford University has shown.



The report by Sean Reardon, a Stanford professor of education and sociology, shows that the income achievement gap--the difference in the average standardized scores between children from families at the 10th percentile of income distribution and children at the 90th percentile--is now "nearly twice as large as the black-white achievement gap." Read more.

Innovators/Milestone SABIS Academy announces future facility plans

For Immediate Release

Innovators/Milestone SABIS Academy Current Tenant of St. Francis Assisi Advancing Long-term Vision for Students

(New Orleans, LA – November 21, 2011) – “After a nine year working relationship, Innovators in Milestone, Inc., the governing board for Milestone SABIS Academy in New Orleans, is disappointed to learn today through media reports that its landlord, St. Francis Assisi Catholic Church has decided to lease its school building to Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans. Milestone has been a model tenant throughout its 9-year lease term with St. Francis and made several improvements to the facility that incurred to the benefit of the landlord. Despite our investments as well as the facts that St. Francis increased Milestone's rent and opted to not negotiate the lease renewal in good faith, Milestone still fought to renew its lease with St. Francis to ensure that the children had an appropriate setting in which to learn.

The Board, however, is excited to announce that it is moving forward with its plans to expand the school by adding grade levels (eventually becoming a K-12 school). At tonight's board meeting, the Board unanimously voted to advance plans to secure land for a new campus and facility, which will include a state-of-the art facility, travel convenience and more green space to accommodate current and future enrollment. Milestone's Board of Directors and Staff are confident that the move to a permanent location will enable us to continue our pattern of providing an excellent education to the children we serve without interruption."

Innovators in Milestone, Inc.
Board of Trustees for Milestone SABIS® Academy of New Orleans
Media Contact: Leslie Ellison, Board President, (504) 812-9376

SABIS® Director of Marketing and New School Development receives a military command

New Camp Smith Commander Lt. Col. Robert Giordano, right, 
is congratulated by Regiment Commander Col. Michel Natali.
PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – SABIS® Director of Marketing and New School Development, Robert Giordano, was promoted to Lt. Colonel and given command of Camp Smith in upstate New York.  A commander returned to his roots November 20th in the rocky, rolling hills and valleys of the Camp Smith Training Facility.  

In his civilian job, Robert Giordano has worked for SABIS® Educational Systems for 12 years and is currently the Director of Marketing and New School Development.  

Lt. Col. Robert Giordano started his military career 30 years ago as a military policeman.  On November 20th he assumed command of 1st Battalion, 106th Military Police Battalion, which specializes in military police proficiency training, from outgoing commander Lt. Col. Michael McGurty.

“The 1st Battalion is already seasoned, proficient and has outstanding NCO trainers,” Giordano said. “It always has had excellent staff ann trainers. My plan is to assist, and make sure they have the resources needed to complete their mission to the best of their ability.”

Giordano has served in the military police, field artillery, infantry and public affairs career field. He deployed to Iraq with the 42nd Inf. Div. in 2004-2005 and served as the deputy public affairs officer for the 42nd Infantry Division and Task Force Liberty in North Central Iraq.

Giordano’s wife, Eryn, daughter, Sophia, among other friends and family, attended the event, which began with Giordano’s promotion from major to Lieutenant Ccolonel.

“I feel very fortunate to have been selected for command,” Giordano said. “It’s the culmination of almost thirty years, of a career where I started as an [private], as an MP. So to have an opportunity to come full circle, to where I started my career, is amazing.”   Read more.


Guide: How to hire a new school leader

As the number of public charter schools continues to grow, so too does the need to find great leaders to run them.  This issue brief presents a meaningful strategy for how charter schools boards [and management organizations] can hire top-notch, well-suited leaders for their schools.  Written by Mollie Mitchell, founder and president of The K12 Search Group, this brief is a how-to guide for managing the process of bringing on a new charter school leader.  As Ms. Mitchell notes, the only thing worse than having no ED, is having the wrong ED.  Click here to download the guide, published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

November 18, 2011

The Case for For-Profit Education

By Carrie Lukas, Independent Women’s Forum (Policy Focus)
For-profit entities should be among those providers competing for education dollars. Defenders of the status quo recoil from the idea of for-profit education companies, but there is no reason why the profit-motive will be any less effective in encouraging innovation in education than it has been in improving other aspects of life. Allowing businesses to compete for education dollars will lead to better educational outcomes and give our economy a boost. Americans should want the best and brightest minds competing to find innovative ways to educate students, and for entrepreneurs to know that they’ll be financially rewarded for developing effective programs.

This is a must-read analysis on how the private-sector can play an important role in addressing our country's educational needs.  To read the complete study in pdf, click here.   Here's an excerpt:

We all know our education system isn’t working as it should. During the last forty years, per pupil spending on public K-12 education has tripled, after accounting for inflation. Yet test scores have stagnated. Too many students leave U.S. schools without needed skills.

Our education system simply fails to encourage innovation or reward success. We need to fundamentally change incentives to encourage real progress and better outcomes. Putting education consumers—parents and students—in control of the resources we already spend on education would encourage real dynamism, as providers compete to provide the best service at the best price.

For-profit entities should be among those providers competing for education dollars. Defenders of the status quo recoil from the idea of for-profit education companies, but there is no reason why the profit-motive will be any less effective in encouraging innovation in education than it has been in improving other aspects of life.

Why you should care
A good education helps individuals reach their potential and creates a more productive, engaged society. Here’s why you should support education reform, including allowing for-profit education providers to compete for education funds:

  • The Status Quo Isn’t Working: We’ve poured money into education, and the results remain disappointing.
  • Our Poor Education System Is A Drag on the Economy: The management consulting firm McKinsey and Company analyzed the effects of our substandard K-12 education system and concluded it was the equivalent of a “permanent national recession” that made our country hundreds of billions of dollars poorer each year.
  • A Private-Sector Solution: Allowing businesses to compete for education dollars will lead to better educational outcomes and give our economy a boost.
  • Reform Without New Costs: Improving our education system doesn’t require more tax dollars—it requires  unlocking the resources already being spent on education to encourage real innovation and reward success.

November 17, 2011

SABIS® International Charter School and International Academy of Flint are a Success Story

SABIS International (Springfield, MA)
Two SABIS® charter schools in the U.S. are regularly in the spotlight for their efforts in closing the achievement gap and raising the bar academically in the communities they serve.  Click here to download a February 2011 achievement gap report.

The SABIS® International Charter School (SICS) in Springfield, Massachusetts, opened its doors in 1995 and carried with it the reputation for being the second lowest performing school in the district at the time. Today, 16 successful years later, the SABIS® Educational System has helped the school—which serves 1,500+ students in K-12 and has a waiting list of more than 3,000 students—to become one of the highest performing in its community with ongoing academic achievements among its students, including a 100% college acceptance rate for the past 11 years.

International Academy of Flint (Michigan)
The International Academy of Flint (IAF) in Flint, Michigan, began operating in 1999. Situated in one of the most challenging communities in the U.S., the school has impressively offered parents an alternative to the under-performing public schools in the district and currently serves more than 1,100 K-12 students. Like its sister school SICS, IAF has a history of impressive college acceptances with 100% of graduates accepted to college for seven consecutive years.

Academics
Both schools, located in mid-sized cities that have faced serious economic challenges in recent years, offer students a rich education that may not be otherwise accessible to them.  As a result, students are taking full advantage of the academic offerings available and are achieving their full potential.

Like all member schools in the global SABIS® School Network, SICS and IAF follow the dynamic SABIS® Educational System, which combines comprehensive curriculum with innovative educational technology. Through this system, these charter schools have the resources to provide students with the knowledge, experiences, and skills necessary to excel in college and beyond.

Students enrolled at SICS and IAF follow a curriculum that has been carefully tailored to accommodate both their future plans for university and the rapidly changing, global society. This includes studying mathematics, English, and world languages—SABIS® core subjects—among other subjects. Furthermore, students are prepared to sit for and excel on external exams, such as Advanced Placement® exams, facilitating their admission to top universities.

Commenting on IAF’s academic program, an IAF high school teacher said, “Academics are very important here at IAF. Our tough curriculum combined with teachers who are dedicated to the success of students helps ensure that our students will be prepared for college.” An IAF parent wrote in the school’s latest survey, “I am proud that my children are SABIS® students. I’ve seen well-rounded students emerge as a result of ‘SABIS® learning’. Students tend to be very productive and college-bound when they take advantage of the SABIS® Educational System. As a parent I am grateful for all that SABIS® has to offer.”

The SABIS® Educational System entails a specialized method of step-by-step teaching that measures knowledge to ensure optimal student learning and ongoing assessment, which makes certain no student is left behind. Through this system and the academic support provided, students are positioned for success. SICS graduate, Ms. Mary Jo Pham stated, “A popular SICS saying, ‘We’re all in this together’, has inspired me to do what I do today, that is continue to build my character so I may be a better person and focus on my international relations major at Tufts—all for the ultimate goal of leaving this world a better place.”

Achievements
Serving a majority of minority students, both these schools demonstrate the value of the SABIS® Educational System in raising the bar academically and addressing the ethnic and economic achievement gap experienced across communities in the U.S.

In fact, the academic performance among the schools’ students is often on par with their Caucasian counterparts, and in some cases higher, according to the results of 35 state exams administered to students in grades 3-11 at the schools. Combined, these two schools closed the African-American—Caucasian gap on 14 of the 35 exams or 40%. Also, together, these two schools had a narrower African-American—Caucasian gap in 19 of the 35 exams or 54%. Therefore, on 94% of the tests, SICS and IAF either closed the gap completely or were more successful than their two host states in closing the gap. Moreover, the state tests found that minority and low-income students attending SICS and IAF were outperforming their states’ Caucasian and economically-advantaged peers by the time they reach the 10th grade.

Beyond success on state exams, students at SICS and IAF have demonstrated their academic competence in other ways. For instance, SICS’s 126-strong Class of 2011 not only all gained entry to college or university, but they were awarded a total of $9 million in scholarships. Additionally, 43 of the 63 students, or 68%, who sat for AP® exams in May 2011 at SICS received a score of three or higher on at least one exam, plus three students were recognized as AP® Scholars. IAF has seen similar academic success among its students, with its 2011 graduating class having earned more than $425,000 in scholarships, plus earning the Michigan Charter Schools of Excellence award, and the "Beating the Odds” award by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

The schools’ success in providing students with a high-quality education and strong academic foundation has also been noted by popular American media. In fact, IAF has been among U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” for three years in a row, while SICS has been recognized by both Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best High Schools” on more than one occasion in recent years.

Remarking on her school’s academic accomplishments, IAF high school teacher, Mrs. Victoria Stoddard said, “At IAF I feel that we are extremely goal oriented in providing the best education for the students in Flint, Michigan.” Echoing Mrs. Stoddard, a parent stated in a recent IAF school survey: “This school is helping my child to achieve her full potential of higher learning. It motivates her to try harder at whatever she’s trying to accomplish!”

SABIS Student Life Organization® (SLO®)
Like other SABIS® member schools, the SABIS Student Life Organization® (SLO®) plays a large role in SICS and IAF’s day-to-day affairs. As such, students are encouraged to be empowered by the student-led society and play an active role in their education. Through SLO®, students have the unique opportunity to manage departments by becoming prefects, or they can participate in and contribute to clubs, events, and extracurricular activities. By fostering the exploration of a wide range of interests and promoting the development of students’ individual talents, SICS and IAF ensures that students acquire a broad range of skills and experiences so they can become effective and valuable team players, and strong candidates at top universities around the world.

“Student Life allows us to be part of something important. It teaches us how to be better leaders, and gives us the opportunity to make a positive difference,” stated IAF 11th grader, Emily Mather. “Student Life is the epicenter of the school, a place where students can voice their opinions and know that they are shaping their school,” said SICS prefect, Quincy Smith, who is in the 12th grade. Supporting Quincy’s sentiment about Student Life, SICS prefect and 12th grader, Danielle Lessards commented, “It’s amazing to watch the way high school students congregate, concentrate, compromise, and create something larger than themselves.”

Reflecting on the profound impact that his SLO® experience had on him, an IAF alumnus, Mr. Elvin Caldwell said, “The value of Student Life can be measured in the way it enabled me to initiate an effort to transform student culture through changing my speech, thought, and action.” Mr. Caldwell continued, “I will always hold on to its message of continual and infinite personal growth and leadership development. As a result of this fellowship, I operate with a level of both personal and social vigilance which is the origin of my motivation to continually grow and forever work to better myself and others.”

Through the schools’ SLO®, students are provided the resources and outlet to take up new interests and develop their individual talents. One of the many activities available to students is sports. SICS, whose sports teams are known as the Bulldogs, offers 14 varsity sports—including volleyball, softball, tennis, and basketball, among others—to its students in grades 9 to 12. Showcasing the school’s strong commitment to SLO® and its sports offerings, SICS’s athletic program was recently awarded a Republican Trophy by The Republican, a Springfield-based newspaper, for the school’s girls and boys sports program and placed 1st in the ‘small schools’ division among three counties.

“It is rare for a school to earn an overall Republican Trophy title as well as be recognized for having the top girls and boys programs!” commented SICS Guidance Counselor and Athletic Director, Mr. Tom Campagna. “It is great to gain the recognition associated with this prestigious award. It is certainly a testament to our dedicated student athletes, the coaching staff, and the students’ parents,” Mr. Campagna added.

In just over a decade and a half, SICS and IAF have been transformed into high-achieving schools that now serve as examples for other schools in the communities they reside. Given SICS and IAF’s positive impact in the communities they serve and the impressive progress in raising academic standards there, it is clear the schools will continue to make a difference in the lives of students, preparing them for success in college and beyond.

To learn more about the SABIS® International Charter School and International Academy of Flint, please visit www.sics-sabis.net and www.iaf-sabis.net, respectively.

SABIS® Professional Development Institute: Classroom Management Training

Through the SABIS® Professional Development Institute (SPDI), which oversees and develops training workshops and programs throughout the network, individuals working in SABIS® and SABIS® member schools have ongoing opportunities to sharpen their skills or become proficient in new ones. One of SPDI’s newest workshops, Classroom Management Training, has been designed with an aim of helping teachers manage their classrooms more effectively.

With thousands of teachers employed in schools across the SABIS® School Network, SABIS® launched the Classroom Management Training to provide educators with the necessary skills and techniques to maximize their efficiency in the classroom. “The Classroom Management Training gives SABIS® educators a good understanding of more than 40 techniques that can be applied when and where needed to ensure efficiency in the classroom,” commented SABIS® Corporate Operations Director, Mr. Johnny Harb. “SABIS® teachers are well-trained before stepping into a classroom, but this training program gives them even more guidance and tips on how to deal with specific situations.” He added, “These techniques are used by teachers who have seen exceptional results with them…and the fact that many of the techniques are aligned with the SABIS Point System® of teaching makes it easy for SABIS® teachers to apply them.”

The Classroom Management Training is delivered in a four-day workshop. “Teachers spend four days learning and applying 40+ techniques…from being trained on how attitude counts to commanding presence, there is something useful for every teacher. Because the same techniques will not work for everyone, we cover a lot of techniques so that teachers can find their preferred one,” said Mr. Harb.

The SPDI team at SABIS® put considerable effort into organizing the workshop. Commenting on the design process of the Classroom Management Training, SABIS® Training Specialist, Mr. Naoum Barakat said, “This particular training required a lot of research and is based on actual life experiences…meaning the techniques have been tried and tested already.”

The Classroom Management Training is one of several new training workshops designed to help strengthen and develop soft skills. These workshops will continue to provide SABIS® team members and teachers in SABIS® member schools with the knowledge and resources to uphold the organization’s high standards and to help all students achieve their full potential. (www.sabis.net)

New SABIS® Headquarters Inaugurated

SABIS® HQ - Ralph A. Bistany Development Center
After nearly two years of careful planning and building, the construction of SABIS®’s new corporate headquarters in Adma, Lebanon, was recently completed. The state-of-the-art, multi-story structure is now in operation and accommodating all SABIS® Educational Services personnel.

To celebrate the new headquarters’ establishment, an inauguration ceremony and reception was held on October 14, 2011. The event gathered more than 200 SES employees, SABIS® board members, and supporters for a celebration that honored the organization’s success and impressive growth that led to the building of the headquarters.

“With this new building we are strengthening the image of SABIS® as a global player and serious contributor to improving education around the world,” commented SABIS® President, Mr. Carl Bistany, who delivered the opening remarks for the inauguration. “However, let us not kid ourselves. Looks count, but what really counts are our achievements and what we produce in this building—tools and technology, systems and services that help our schools reach new heights of achievement.”

SABIS® Co-Founders, Mrs. Leila Saad and Mr. Ralph A. Bistany, were on hand for the inauguration festivities, during which Mrs. Saad delivered an inspiring speech and unveiled the headquarters’ name—the Ralph A. Bistany Development Center. Mr. R. Bistany expressed his deep appreciation for the honor during the reception that followed the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The inauguration reception was held in the outdoor space on the ground floor of the facility, space which will soon house a cafeteria for SES personnel. In addition to the eatery, the Ralph A. Bistany Development Center features extensive office space, a gym, underground and outdoor parking, training and seminar rooms, and capacity for more than 380 people, providing SABIS® team members with the atmosphere and resources to fuel passionate pursuit of the SABIS® Core Purpose, plus ample room to accommodate the organization’s growth.

SABIS® celebrates 125 years and counting


SABIS® Hosts 125th Gala Dinner and 15th Annual Directors' Meeting

SABIS® Board Members Participate in a Cake-Cutting Ceremony
Over the past year, SABIS® students, staff, and supporters have been engaged in 125th anniversary celebrations around the world. These celebrations have honored the organization’s ongoing contribution to the field of education for more than a century. With the new academic year already here and SABIS®’s 125th year winding down, the organization took the opportunity to host a final, large-scale event to celebrate its rich past and promising future.

Fittingly, SABIS® hosted a grand gala dinner in Lebanon on July 7, 2011, which gathered more than 800 guests including government ministers, partners, SABIS® team members, alumni, and supporters. A SABIS® team member commented, “I was amazed with the turnout...guests from around the world—the U.S., Germany, Pakistan and the U.A.E.—were there to celebrate SABIS®’s milestone. It was an unforgettable night that has inspired us to continue making a difference worldwide.”

The gala event was carefully planned and began with the showing of a documentary film that highlighted SABIS®’s history, global expansion, achievements, technological advancements, and vision for the future. The documentary was followed by several speeches, including one from ISC-Choueifat alumnus and distinguished scholar at UCLA, Dr. Ali H. Sayed, who spoke in depth about his time at the mother school as well as SABIS®’s evolution during the past 125 years. “The world changed in the last 125 years in unimaginable ways. Yet, since its inception, the school has continuously succeeded in training bright students of all ages to serve their societies in commendable ways. Given its rich history and the breadth, depth, and range of its contribution to society, the Choueifat school should come close to being considered a national treasure,” stated Dr. Sayed.

Mr. Ralph Bistany receives the National Order of Cedar-Commander
An especially memorable highlight of the evening came when Mr. Fadi Abboud, Lebanese Minister of Tourism and SABIS® alumnus, delivered a moving speech about his experience as an ISC-Choueifat student and the fond memories he cherishes. He went on to thank SABIS® Cofounders Mrs. Leila Saad and Mr. Ralph A. Bistany for their efforts to raise the standard of education. Taking the audience by surprise, Mr. Abboud spoke on behalf of the president of Lebanon, “I started my speech talking to you as an ex-student; I will continue to address you in my capacity as the official representative of the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Suleiman.” In this capacity, he decorated Mr. R. Bistany with the National Order of the Cedar-Commander Grade for his significant contribution to the field of education.

Among the gala attendees were school directors and key team members from across the SABIS® School Network who were in Lebanon participating in the 15th Annual Directors’ Meeting. The Directors’ Meeting provided participants with a platform to review and assess the past academic year, plan future strategies, and reaffirm the SABIS® philosophy within the network. Specifically, during the four-day conference, meeting attendees discussed operational challenges and determined objectives for the next academic year. Additionally, the most recent SABIS® technological breakthroughs were demonstrated and workshops conducted.

As the 125th anniversary year enters the countdown to its close in October 2011, the gala dinner is sure to be fondly remembered in the minds and hearts of all who attended.

Forget Wall Street. Go Occupy Your Local School District

Our nation's schools are a larger cause of economic inequality than investment banks and CEOs

By Andrew Rotherham (TIME)
It’s easy to get angry at banks and CEOs, especially as more Americans slip below the poverty line while the rich keep getting richer. But if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is improving social mobility in this country, then the movement really needs to focus as much on educational inequality as it does on income inequality. There is perhaps no better example of how the system is rigged against millions of Americans than the education our children receive.  Read more

Rotherham is a TIME columnist and writes the blog Eduwonk. The views expressed are his own.

November 16, 2011

Class of 2011 at SABIS International (Springfield, MA) earned $9 Million in scholarships

Demonstrating SABIS®’s ability to prepare graduates with the knowledge and skills that universities seek, for the eleventh consecutive year, 100% of 12th graders from the SABIS® International Charter School (SICS) in Springfield, Massachusetts, were accepted to college or university. And topping that remarkable achievement, the 126-student graduating class of SICS was awarded a total of $9 million in scholarships.

SABIS® is committed to providing its global network of students with a solid foundation of knowledge, skills, and experiences needed for success in college and beyond. As such, SABIS® students and graduates are continuously being recognized for their academic prowess and often are recipients of enviable college scholarships for their achievements.

The SICS graduates who were awarded scholarships were primarily recognized for their academic merit. In fact, 76 members of the graduating class, or 58%, qualified for the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship based on the strength of their state exams. This is the highest rate of qualification of SICS students to date for the prestigious scholarship that provides students with a full tuition waiver to any Massachusetts state university for a period of four years.

“This was a very successful year!” commented SICS Guidance Counselor, Mr. Tom Campagna. “Helping our students get into college has become the easy part of the job. Helping them to pay for college has become a challenge. Fortunately, members of the Class of 2011 have the skills and academic prowess to make attending college more financially accessible,” Mr. Campagna explained.

Not only are SICS seniors awarded scholarships based on merit, but often their financial need is considered as well. One such scholarship program, the MassMutual Scholarship, recently announced their recipients, and out of the 40 available awards, six SICS graduates earned $5,000 awards, renewable for four years. The awards were given to students who maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, demonstrated financial need, and planned to pursue a career in financial services, business, or information technology. “Our students are very deserving of the MassMutual awards and all the other scholarships they have received. We are very proud of their ongoing success!” stated School Director, Ms. Karen Reuter.

Ms. Stephanie Morin, a 2011 graduate of SICS who is enrolled at Bay Path College, credits SABIS® for helping to make a college education financially viable. “SABIS® has not only prepared me to be successful academically, it provided me with dedicated college counselors who made me aware of a great number of scholarships and also provided me and my family the help to complete the financial aid process successfully,” said Ms. Morin.

The first of SABIS®'s U.S. charter schools, SICS opened in September 1995 with 450 students. Sixteen successful years later, SICS serves 1,574 students in grades K-12—with close to 3,000 more on the waiting list—and strives to prepare them for success in college and beyond.  For more information about SABIS® International Charter School, please visit www.sics-sabis.net.

SABIS® Featured on Discovery Channel’s “The Profile Series”

SABIS® was featured on The Discovery Channel’s “The Profile Series,” a program that aims to inform, educate, and enlighten viewers on issues surrounding health and medicine, business, education, and the environment. The special edition, half-hour segment took a close look at SABIS® and its dynamic educational system.  It aired on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, at 7:00 am EDT.  Click here to watch the profile on YouTube.

“The Profile Series” segment comes at a pivotal time when local and national governments and their constituents are concerned about declining education standards. The show’s host, Mr. Lou Gossett Jr., will profile SABIS® and its efforts to provide students in the U.S., and around the world, with high-quality education.

“We are honored to have been featured in "The Profile Series" and to publicize the ongoing problems within education that are occurring across communities in the US,” commented SABIS® VP - Operations, Mr. George Saad. “Through this television segment, more people have become aware of the issues that are affecting our youth and leaders of tomorrow…and hopefully it bring about change so that all children have access to a world-class education and a better chance at life,” he added.

In the US, SABIS® manages eight charter schools and a private school, plus licenses the comprehensive SABIS® educational system to four additional schools.  These schools honor SABIS®’s goal of continually seeking improvement by dramatically raising the standard of education in the communities they serve and by consistently narrowing the achievement gap.

SABIS® is distinguished by a 125+ year track record in the operation of Pre-K and K-12 schools as well as a university.  Its track record of excellence in education spans the world, where it currently educates students in schools located in 15 countries on four continents. These schools educate thousands of students who follow the efficient and comprehensive SABIS® Educational System, which provides them with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to excel in college and beyond.

For more information about SABIS® or “The Profile Series”, please visit www.sabis.net and www.profilesseries.com.

SABIS® IT Department Officially Receives ISO Certification

A visit by a team from Bureau VERITAS on June 30, 2011 endorsed SABIS® IT Department’s acquisition of ISO 9001:2008 certification. This achievement was further corroborated with the issuance of an official certificate by Bureau VERITAS on July 27, 2011, with which SABIS® IT department joined over 350,000 companies around the world registered to ISO 9001.

The certificate states: “The management system of SABIS® Educational Services, IT Department has been audited and found to be in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001:2008.” The scope of certification is that SABIS® Educational Services, IT Department can develop and implement IT technologies and solutions for schools and educational institutions.

SABIS® IT Department’s quest for quality assurance started way back when it sought CMMI process improvement in 2008, culminating in the acquisition of Maturity Level 3 rating in July 2010. The quest continued with the initiation of ISO9001:2008 certification in February 2010. Since then, SABIS® IT Department has been completely engaged in aligning its processes to ISO standards in four areas: Software Development, IT Infrastructure, IT Operations, and HR related to the IT. Regular audits were held to measure how the quality system is working and to check that everything is in reasonable shape for the upcoming ISO certification.

Following this certification, which will remain valid till July 28, 2014, several internal audits will be carried out throughout the year, along with one surveillance audit to make sure that the IT Department's quality management system is in order.

ISO 9001:2008 certification is a testament to the fact that SABIS® IT Department has in place systems and processes to ensure that product and services are delivered effectively and in a controlled and repeatable manner. As such, SABIS® IT department will be able to enhance customer satisfaction and structure continual improvement to gain a competitive edge in the educational technology arena.

November 14, 2011

Detroit charter school joins the SABIS® network as a licensee

SABIS® is pleased to announce the opening of the newest school to join its growing licensee network, the American International Academy (AIA), located in Detroit, Michigan.

Founded by the American Charter Education Services and Mid-West Management Group, experienced organizations in the area of charter operations, AIA is a new public charter school that serves students in grades K-5. The school aims to become a full K-12 program and will expand by one grade level each year.

“Having AIA be Powered by SABIS® means that more students will have the chance to benefit from the dynamic and comprehensive curriculum that the SABIS® Educational System offers…and ultimately, these students will have the resources to reach their full academic potential,” commented SABIS® President, Mr. Carl Bistany.

After the school’s opening on September 6, 2011, Mr. Bistany and other key SABIS® team members made an official visit to welcome the school personally. The visiting group included Project Manager-SABIS® Products Licensing, Mr. Ayham Ayche, who said, “I believe that SABIS®‟s success in other areas of Michigan—like in Flint and Saginaw, where member schools are thriving—facilitated the school‟s decision-makers to select SABIS® as the provider of educational services and products for this promising new school.”

Specifically, SABIS®’s Michigan-based schools, International Academy of Flint (IAF) and International Academy of Saginaw (IAS), have become reputable institutions in their respective communities for their accomplishments in closing the achievement gap and raising the bar academically. “From graduating classes earning thousands of dollars in scholarships to stellar state exam results, IAF and IAS have given American International Academy great confidence for the future,” added Mr. Ayche.

Like many inner city schools, AIA’s student body is comprised of a majority of minority students of which most are economically disadvantaged. As such, AIA and SABIS® look forward to providing students there with a high-quality education that would be generally inaccessible to them.

“I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be a part of a team that is bringing a truly unique educational option to the children of Detroit,” stated AIA Director, Mr. Milo Tilton. “The rigorous college-prep curriculum, proven system of student engagement, and systematic testing regimen designed to identify educational gaps are pillars of a system that has produced stellar results around the world. At AIA we are positioning students to be competitive in a global society, and that is truly exciting,” added Mr. Tilton.

In addition to joining the growing network of SABIS® licensee schools in the U.S. and Romania, AIA is part of the global SABIS® School Network comprised of schools in 15 countries on four continents. These schools educate thousands of students who follow the efficient and high-quality SABIS® Educational System, which provides them with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to excel in college and beyond.

For more information visit the American International AcademyClick here to view the school's location.

SABIS® charter school in Flint receives award from the Michigan Department of Education

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) recognized the International Academy of Flint as a “Beating the Odds” school.  On November 8th, the MDE released a list of 123 schools who are outperforming schools with similar risk factors and demographic composition.  These schools were identified by the Department using state assessment data from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP).

“We have good things happening in Michigan schools,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. “These Beating the Odds schools are helping students make progress and finding ways to overcome traditional barriers to academic achievement.”  This year's list is based on a school's ranking on the top to bottom list, which includes school-wide improvement rates and achievement gaps in addition to achievement levels.

The International Academy of Flint was founded in 1999 and currently serves 1,142 in grades K-12. IAF has been recognized before for "Beating the Odds" and has also been recognized as a "School of Excellence" by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) and has made the national US News and World Report's ranking as one of America's Best High Schools.

“Beating the Odds schools have found ways to work smarter and harder, not just harder,” Flanagan said. “They have good leaders, knowledgeable and prepared teachers who engage students and a commitment to involve and embrace parents and the community.”

For more information on this award, and to view winners in previous years, please visit the MDE's Beating the Odds website.