Twelve Reasons Deion's Prime Prep Deserves the State's Scrutiny Besides its Lunch Program

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Patric Michels
Deion Sanders meets with parents at an open house before Prime Prep opened in 2012.
The Texas Education Agency is still investigating the Deion Sanders-founded and publicly funded Prime Prep charter school, after officials announced plans to revoke the school's charter for mishandling funds intended for the school lunch program. Prime Prep is appealing and hopes to stay open. But school lunch funds are just one small flame in the uncontainable tire fire that is Prime Prep.

Here are some more compelling reasons to shut down the school, or at least ask some tough questions:

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It Really Sucks to Be a Kid In Texas

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woodleywonderworks
Dallas County kids are some of the poorest in the country, but recent grassroots programs are helping to improve those numbers.
And we're not just talking about the unaccompanied Central American variety. A new report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities zeroes in on a national study ranking child well-being. Several factors come into play, including health care, education, parental employment, and standard of living.

See also:
- It Really Sucks to Be Old In Texas
- It Really Sucks to Be Mentally Ill In Texas

Texas ranks 43rd in overall child well-being, with roughly a quarter of Texas children live below the poverty line. Specifically, Texas ranks 47th in the Family and Community category, with 19 percent of kids living in high-poverty neighborhoods.

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Why Prime Prep Closing Would Be Good News for its Remaining Star Athletes

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Amy Silverstein
Who wouldn't trust this face?
Whether Prime Prep manages to stay open or not doesn't matter to Emmanuel Mudiay. The kid who would have been king, the explosive, rangy point guard, is not going to SMU, whether he would have been eligible to play for the Mustangs or not. Athletic apparel company Under Armour -- which sponsors both Prime Prep and Mo Williams Elite, Mudiay's AAU summer team -- is working behind the scenes to secure his first pro contract, a move that removes any doubt as to his amateur status.

Whether Mudiay is bypassing Moody Madness because he had fears about his potential academic eligibility, because, as he and his family have said, he wants to help his mother financially or, in the most likely scenario, because of some combination of the two, his high school alma mater's closing isn't going to have any further effect on his basketball future.

The same can't be said for Mudiay's star teammate, Terrance Ferguson.

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Here's Audio of Deion Sanders Admitting That He Choked Prime Prep's COO

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Amy Silverstein
This photograph was taken the first time we met Deion Sanders, when he randomly sent some friends to the Dallas Observer office and invited us to campus.
State regulators have revoked the charter of Prime Prep Academy, Deion Sanders' troubled DFW charter school, over problems with its school-lunch program. Barring a successful hail mary from the school, Sanders' days as a wannabe public educator are over, and it was byzantine federal grant rules that did him in.

But over the two years that Prime Prep Academy has existed, it's Sanders' temper and penchant for throat-grabbing that have given the school perhaps its blackest eyes: Three different school officials, including Sanders' co-founder, have accused the NFL great of choking them.

Sanders has denied choking one of them, CFO Kevin Jefferson, and ignored the other allegations. When I confronted him about them at a school meeting last year, he said only "God bless you." But in an audio recording obtained by the Observer (and embedded below), Sanders can be heard admitting that he choked one of the other men who has accused Sanders of assault.

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The People Choosing Texas' Social Studies Texts Don't Know Enough about Social Studies

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PCHS-NJROTC
You children could be learning horrible things in this social studies classroom. Like how the earth evolved over millions of years.
Last year, like so many years, Texas' attempt to adopt new science textbooks was clouded by controversy, as creationists tried once again to cut out teaching of evolution.

This year it's social studies' turn. And while experts say the state board, the elected and highly political body that governs textbook adoption, has worked to clean up the process, critics say there remain too few social studies scholars and too many unqualified, politically-motivated appointees on the panel that will help choose the textbooks.

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Texas Has Revoked the Charter of Prime Prep, the Public School Founded by Deion Sanders

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Patrick Michels
Deion Sanders meets with parents at an open house before Prime Prep opened in 2012.
It was two and a half years ago that we, along with every other media outlet in town, started telling you about Deion Sanders' disastrous plan to open a charter school with campuses in Oak Cliff and Forth Worth. That disastrous plan eventually became a disastrous reality called Prime Prep Academy, the subject of two Observer cover stories and countless Brett Shipp EXCLUSIVES, featuring lawsuits, throw-downs, old-school corruption involving old-school church leaders, and some really exciting high-school basketball. Sanders, the self-described (but fired-and-rehired) "Head Nigger in Charge," was at the center it all.

See also:
- Deion Sanders Demanded a Raise, Threatened to Break Prime Prep CEO's Neck (Audio NSFW)
- Deion Sanders' Bitter and Violent Quest to Retake Control of His Crumbling Charter School
- Deion Sanders' Charter School and the Making of a Prime Time Scam

There will, it appears, be no more. The Texas Education Agency, which granted Prime Prep's charter in 2012 despite brazen lies and attempted kick-backs on its initial application, informed school officials today that it has revoked that charter, citing problems with its school-lunch program and "fiscal mismanagement."


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Starting Today, Some Texas Teachers Are Learning to Become Armed School Marshals

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Patsy Lynch
Some Texas teachers will store guns in safes in case of an emergency.
When the Sandy Hook school shootings occurred in December 2012, Jason Villalba had one toddler and one child in kindergarten. Like all parents, Villalba felt an urgent need to offer better protection for his kids. Unlike most parents, Villalba had just been elected to his freshman term in the Texas House.

Villalba authored a controversial bill that would allow for certain school officials to act as undercover marshals on school grounds. He spent a good part of the 2013 session ensuring its passage, and now the young law is entering its first trial period.

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Tight Budget Ends DISD's Successful Program to Keep College-Bound Kids Motivated by Texts

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Alton
Dallas ISD was one of the first districts in the country to implement a text messaging program for college-bound grads. Unfortunately, it's not in the budget to repeat the program.

Between the excitement surrounding high school graduation and the ensuing laziness of the summer months, it's not uncommon for many college-bound students to flame out. In particular, first generation college students have trouble following through with their fall university plans in the summer months after high school graduation.

It's a phenomenon educators and sociologists call "summer melt". A Harvard study recently noted that as many as 20 percent of Dallas, and other urban area, college-bound graduates lose momentum and do not attend college in the fall.

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Park Cities Parents Want Their Kids to Read the Classics, Not These Newfangled Porn Novels

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WTPS
Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes is one of the novels being challenged by HPHS parents.
Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes and Steven Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower have two things in common. They both delve into complicated topics of teenage bullying and social struggles, and Highland Park High School parents don't want their kids reading either of them. Both contain passages of sexually explicit situations, which some parents say are pornographic.

In a flurry of e-mails exchanged between furious parents and HPHS English teachers last month, parents expressed their frustration that kids were reading sexually-charged contemporary fiction and not enough from the classical literary canon.

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Dallas ISD Is Experimenting with Offering Pre-K to 3-Year-Olds

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Stanton Stevens
This past spring, Dallas ISD rolled out a generally successful push for eligible families to sign their 4-year-olds up for pre-k. Early registration more than doubled, from 3,288 to 6,905, and while the increase in the number of kids who ultimately enrolled was slightly less impressive -- from about 9,000 to about 9,500 -- a 5.5 percent jump isn't bad.

DISD's pre-K expansion, though, is just getting started.

"What we're looking at this year is a heavier investment in preschool and also our early childhood [program]," Superintendent Mike Miles told Unfair Park last week.

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