The American Indian Model Schools (AIMS) consist of three schools: American Indian Public Charter School, American Indian Public Charter School II, and American Indian Public High School.
American Indian Public Charter Schools I, and II are located at located at 171 12th Street.
The high school is currently housed at two locations. Eleventh and 12th graders attend school at 171 12th Street. Ninth and Tenth graders take classes at 746 Grand Ave., the site of the old Lakeview Elementary School.
AIPCS I & II and AIPHS (510) 893-8701
External link: http://www.aimschools.org/
As of May, 2015, Maya Woods-Cadiz is the Superintendent.
The schools were members of the Oakland Unified School District and were exceptionally well performing. [need #s] On April 16th, 2013, high school students Jintian Liang and Christopher Hinds were recognized by the City Council for their outstanding academic achievements. The council spoke highly of AIMS and hoped that the school could work out their problems.
According to the website, no student has been expelled from the school since the American Indian Model was adopted in 2000.
On May 7, 2013, AIMS will be recognized by the Oakland City Council in a Ceremonial Resolution acknowledging their academic achievements. The high school was named the number one high school in the nation for the year 2013 by the Washington Post according to Councilmember Noel Gallo.
About the School
According to the website, the American Indian "Model of Education" focuses on the four tenets of "Family, Accountability, High Expectations, and Free-Market Capitalism." The final item, "free-market capitalism," seems a little strange when discussing a public school, and it is explained like this:
1. There are clear, consistent, and high expectations in the student contract that are enforced by all employees. Student consequences (detention, Saturday School, embarrassment, cleaning, etc.) are given for not following school rules.
2. Families choose to enroll their children in an American Indian Model public school. State and federal funding follow the student to the family’s school of choice. This is the same funding model of vocational schools, community colleges, and universities in the United States.
3. We focus on excellent student attendance (99.5%). Students and staff are given cash rewards for hard work, academic performance, and reinforcing the school’s mission statement and credo.
4. Job descriptions are posted that cause administrator or teacher applicants to self-select out or in when applying for a job with American Indian Model Schools.
5. Financial rewards are given to employees and students for increased student achievement on standardized tests combined with maintaining high levels of student enrollment from the beginning of the year until the end. (See page 65 for more details.)
6. We encourage all classes and American Indian Model school sites to compete with each other and instill in students the values of a free-market capitalistic society.
7. The administrative leadership focuses on fiscal responsibility and a superior business model. The school pays for student trips, the SAT, the PSAT, and other costs related to students.
Controversial and Odd Practices
(Summarized from the FAQs.) The school does not focus on technology and computers, stating that even the best schools with the best technology perform poorly on the SATs, and they prefer to focus on fundamentals first. In one incident, the AIMS founder shaved a student's head after he was caught cheating. The school limits PE to stretching and running, stating that they only want to spend money on academics and that students can play basketball, etc, in other places. For the same reason, AIMS has no music or arts program. Similarly, AIMS does not provide free lunches to students because it would be unethical to "providing extra food to a generation of mostly overweight children at the expense of textbooks and quality teachers when so many students are undereducated."
AIMS calls No Child Left Behind the "greatest public education legislation that has ever been passed for the sake of minorities" and support teaching to the test, which they call "teaching to the standards." AIMS is against teacher unions. AIMS does not have a PTA because they believe that parents too often "perpetuate the culture of victimhood with their children." They do have a "Family Advisory Committee (FAC)."
AIMS calls "letting kids be kids" "Middle class values." They write that "Those who feel sorry for these students and want to "just give them a break" are dooming these students to lives of poverty, crime, and incarceration."
The founder is quoted in the FAQs as saying "There is no such thing as a complete failure at American Indian; you can always serve as a bad example," and "If you act like a fool, you'll be treated like a fool."
History of the School
AIMS was founded in 1996. According to the school the goal was promoting "American Indian" culture while simultaneously improving this group's performance. They write "Unfortunately, the students who decided to attend the school did not receive the academics and structure they so desperately needed. The original founders decided to focus on bead making, drumming, and self-esteem classes. Classes started later than the other public schools, because it was believed that American Indians couldn't get up early in the morning. They called it "Indian time."
After this, ....
Revocation of Charter
In March, 2013, OUSD began the process of revoking the charters of these schools. The OUSD website has issued this recommendation from the Superintendent: (full text available here)
The leadership of American Indian Model Schools (AIMS) has repeatedly broken the law, engaged in financial mismanagement, and violated the terms of its charter. When provided numerous opportunities to reform its practices, AIMS failed to make changes that would address these issues and protect public funds.
As a result of not only this misconduct, but also the persistent refusal to fully acknowledge or correct these transgressions, the Superintendent and staff of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) recommends that the charters granted to AIMS for the operation of American Indian Public Charter School, American Indian Public Charter School II, and the American Indian Public High School be revoked, effective June 30, 2013.
The statement continues with a justification that includes a background and timeline and the following violations:
1. in violation of conflict of interest laws, the AIMS founder personally profited from $3.8 million in public funding that was funneled to his private business interests.
2. AIMS violated the prohibition against charging tuition when it assessed a financial penalty on students for absences from an enrichment program.
3. AIMS committed fiscal mismanagement and violated Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
a. neglecting to implement policies to prevent credit card misuse;
b. losing a $30,000 escrow deposit in a failed real estate transaction with Lumbee Holdings, the founder’s company;
c. failing to prevent an employee’s forgery of a teacher’s attendance report.
This paragraph is (ironically? presciently?) published on the school's FAQ page, undated:
7. There is very little oversight at charter schools. How can anyone know that you aren't misspending public money or allowing your kids to cheat on their tests?
In Oakland, charter schools are more strictly controlled than any other type of school
All charter schools must have an independent, annual audit of their finances. In addition, the district requires financial reports throughout the year in order to monitor cash flow and ensure that schools have enough operating capital to keep their doors open. The Office of Charter Schools at OUSD completes two official visits annually to ensure that teachers are properly credentialed, to review school policies (including admissions, suspension, and expulsion procedures), to visit classrooms, and to review teacher performances. They also attend one charter governance board meeting per year, minimum. They complete annual reviews of testing data and discuss each school's progress towards meeting measurable pupil outcomes, which are the goals that schools have for their students.
In June 2013, the Alameda County Board of Education upheld the decision by OUSD to revoke the AIMS charter.
On July 8, 2013, an Alameda County Judge temporarily suspended the charter revocation and said OUSD could not interfere with funding or operations. OUSD can continue to monitor, supervise and audit the school.
Half of the 1200 students have left the school since the March revocation of the charter but school director Nabeeha Shakir hopes that even more people will come to the school "since we're so famous" presumably referring to the school's performance, not their financial issues. ""They can't touch our money, the premises or the property or stop our operations budget," she said. The school will now appeal to the State Board of Education and AIMS can stay open while they do that, which may take up to a year. (see Oakland: American Indian Model Schools can remain open for now)
On July 10, 2013, the FBI searched all three campuses. The FBI declined to state what they were looking for. (see FBI searches embattled charter schools in Oakland)
At the July 25, 2013 hearing on the censure of Desley Brooks, Ben Chavis spoke in defense of Brooks and said that he broke the law and would do it again.
http://oaklandnorth.net/2013/01/31/ousd-starts-process-of-revoking-three-aims-schools-charters/ (fascinating comments)
http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_28181196/high-drama-oakland-charter-school-cuts-ties-unsavory?source=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter (as of May 2015, the Bey family and Chris Dobbins are now involved in this "high drama")