Exclusive to Cloaking Inequity: A Banned Book About a Charter School?


During Thanksgiving week, Cloaking Inequity’s visitors voted on the 1st Annual Educational Policy Turkey of the Year. One of the contestants was Great Hearts Academies charter management organization. I wrote:

Recently granted a new charter in Texas. Discussed on CI here and here and here. (An interesting book about Great Hearts entitled It’s All About the Information: What Great Hearts Academies Doesn’t Want You to Know)

Innocuous right? Until I received this email from Great Hearts (To be fair I redacted the author’s name and have not edited the email whatsoever):

Professor Vasquez Heilig,

Please see the brief note below regarding a gentleman that has sent you a document that you have linked to on your blog.  That he sent this document (filled with blatantly false statements, half-truths, and distortions) is itself a violation of law, and we request that you remove the link to it.

Great Hearts Academies (Great Hearts) entered into a Settlement Agreement with Dr. David Alberts in 2009, regarding termination of Dr. Alberts’ employment.  Dr. Alberts violated the terms of the settlement agreement, and Great Hearts initiated a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court requesting, among other relief, a preliminary injunction prohibiting Dr. Alberts from violating the “No Contact and Non-Disparagement” provisions in the Settlement Agreement.  The Court issued the Preliminary Injunction.    Dr. Alberts, however, ignored the Injunction, and the Court found Dr. Alberts in Contempt of Court and issued a Civil Arrest Warrant.  That finding is attached to this email. [Bold emphasis was in original email]

Please feel free to call or email me to discuss this specific issue or to discuss any other concerns you might have about Great Hearts Academies.  We are excited to open our first Texas school in San Antonio!  I appreciate the work you have done on behalf of students in Texas—you and I may disagree on some matters, but we are driven by the same mission to provide increased educational quality to all students.  I guarantee (from reading your blog) we can find plenty of common ground in our opinions regarding  NCLB, high stakes testing, the ESEA waivers being granted.

Thanks so much, and again, don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss any of this further,

P.S. Not that you would, but please do not post this response to your blog or forward it to the gentleman in question—I really don’t want to engage in any sort of back and forth with him as that has never proven productive.

It appears that Dr. Alberts took a cash payment and signed a confidentiality agreement when he left Great Hearts Academies (Does this sound strangely similar to how corporations function?). He was naughty and wrote a book about Great Hearts instead. Great Hearts took him to court.

Side note: Charters do not openly submit to being studied— just ask my graduate student Amy Williams. She contacted EVERY charter in the state of Texas to study their enrollment of special populations (Special Education, ELLs, etc). Of the more than 200 charter districts in the state, less than 15 agreed to participate in her dissertation research. Imagine if our traditional public schools refused to participate in research?

…So Great Hearts has banned this book? Now that makes me more interested than I was before. Honestly.

Someone recently characterized the banned book to me via email:

In between his invective are a few good bits of background information that might be valuable to some people looking at the Great Hearts expansion.

I would agree. But I will let you be the judge. No pun intended. Check out the banned book It’s All About the Information: What Great Hearts Academies Doesn’t Want You to Know currently ONLY available here at Cloaking Inequity.

p.s. At the very least, you have to love the last line of the book.

Edit 12/5/2012:  The point is not about the quality of the book— it is the democratic control of our schools. There is clearly much higher quality work on Great Hearts out there. See for example David Safiers blog. The interesting nuggets are few and far between, but at least you have the information to make the decision. From my experience as a researcher, charters are often very resistant to sharing information with the public. Or in the case of KIPP, being totally honest about the data. Or in the case of Great Hearts, seeking an arrest warrant.

For the Great Hearts Academic charter management organization’s lawyers:

I called the Maricopa County Superior Court on 12/3/2012. They notified me that the case against Dr. Alberts was dismissed on October 9 of 2010.

I am citing this book as an important part of my academic research on charter schools which is directly related to my scholarship and regular duties at the University of Texas at Austin. It was obtained via the internet.

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