The American Indian Model School in Oakland has a checkered history.
It began as a school for American Indians. It was taken over by a swaggering, authoritarian leader named Ben Chavis. Chavis quietly got rid of the American Indians and replaced them with Asian and white students. The scores escalated, and the charter became famous and celebrated for its “no excuses” discipline and its high test scores.
Governor Schwarzenegger visited the school, as did a parade of media luminaries. Chavis became a hero on the right, as he excoriated unions, multiculturalists, liberals, and anyone who questioned his harsh methods.
In a book called “Sweating the Small Stuff,” David Whitman cited AIMS as an exemplary charter school. Whitman’s book was published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Whitman became Arne Duncan’s speech writer.
The ceiling fell in on Ben Chavis, leader of AIMS, when a state audit discovered that $3.8 million was missing from the school’s account–and had been deposited in Chavis’s personal and business accounts.
Chavis retired, but the school lives on.
Earlier this year, Chavis wS arrested and charged with fraud.
The latest news is that the school is in turmoil. Parents, teachers, and students are angry at the administration.
AIMS is listed by Jay Mathews as one of the best high schools in America, positioned as #11 on his list.
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