Grifters Gonna Grift: Oakland’s American Indian Public Charter Schools

Last week, the Oakland school district revoked the charter of the company running its best-performing middle and high schools, American Indian. Ben Chavis, the company’s founder, had been self-dealing to the tune of a few million dollars. Some background on the schools are here and here and here and here.

I don’t have much in the way of facts to add except that this story is illustrative of how even the most clearly misbehaving education “reformers” can pull the wool over the eyes of many well-meaning people in the field. A family member who trains local teachers brought the story to my attention, framing it as “it’s a shame Ben Chavis did some crooked things because his schools had great performance”….when even the slightest bit of research would have probably changed his point of view to “Ben Chavis was a con artist who added little actual educational value but was an expert at gaming the system. He cherry-picked a bunch of motivated and already-high-performing Chinese-American kids and then claimed their subsequent success as his own and as victories for a crackpot disciplinarian philosophy.”

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