Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More on Rochester Charter Wunderkind (Or: How Hard Is It To Do Your Job, Anyway?)

It has only been a day since the story of Ted Morris, Jr., Rochester's 22-year-old charter school phenom and new holder of a NY State charter school authorization, began to unravel.

I did some quick research and wrote about it. Mercedes Schneider turned her research mojo loose. Leonie Haimson turned up some inconsistencies in his CV. And Diane Ravitch covered the story as well, drawing out a note from his alleged former principal shooting more holes in his story.

The Democrat & Chronicle has... well, "updated" would be an understatement and "finally did the legwork they should have done the first time" might be too mean. At any rate, a whole new version of the story appears here.

Turns out that young "Dr." Morris might have overstated his resume a bit.

Elaine Comarella, the [Hickock] center's CEO, said his title was actually administrative assistant, and that the responsibilities he listed in the resume were "a little overshot."

His high school administrators remember him as someone who was a great talker and very sociable, but not real big on attending classes. Morris allows as he just wasn't challenged enough. And at this point it's not really clear where he did or did not get his college degrees. It does seem that none of his diplomas involved interacting directly with humans.

My favorite new detail may be that he found his board of trustees mostly through LinkedIn, Craigslist and a website for nonprofits.

You can find even more here at Mercedes Schneider's update from today. The information just keeps rolling in. 

Justin Murphy, the reporter covering the story, clearly did some real legwork and talked to many of the parties involved (though some have yet to return his calls), and it's great that he did. But here's what I want to underline.

Twenty four hours.

It took a handful of bloggers and one reporter twenty-four hours to find the holes from which the fishlike smell emanates from this story. I don't know how much time Mercedes, Leonie and Diane spent following up on this, but I used the twenty-five minutes left over after I finished my cafeteria sub on Monday. A computer, some search terms, google, and twenty-five minutes.

The New York Board of Regents has had considerably more than that. The guy has been sending in letters of intent for this charter since January of 2010! Did nobody at the Board of Regents do even a cursory background check? If I take care of filling out the paperwork carefully for him, can my dog get authorization to run a charter school in New York?!!

I mean, I want to do a small tsk tsk to reporter Murphy, but I know that sometimes a nice press release lands on your desk and a quick seemingly harmless feel-good story writes itself without you having to exert much effort, and that's kind of irresistible. Also, it's becoming clear that Morris got a PhD in shmoozing from somewhere. But Murphy at least went back, did his job, and made things right.

Will the New York Board of Regents do the same?

[Update-- because this story just never stops-- My hat is off to Murphy-- I was hard on him above but he has been on this story like a boos all day--

What will that mean in terms of his total involvement with "his" school? Stay tuned, campers!

Still unrolling-- Dr. Kozik apparently has a specialty in adapting CCSS for students with disabilities. Here's his presentation-- from EngageNY.

And here's his LinkedIn recommendation for Dr. Ted

Ted has done an outstanding job as the Executive Director of the Greater Works Charter School where I serve on the Founding Board of Directors. He listens exceptionally well, is extremely detail oriented, and has balanced many complex tasks in developing an application for the charter school successfully. He is bright, gracious, and works well beyond what's required to ensure the success of the group. He is a talented team builder as well as a "team player." I recommend him unequivocally for any position for which he is qualified.

So the whole thing should be in great hands now. Holy smokes-- is this any way to run a school??


  1. However, no matter positive Morris's resignation is, I'm sorry to say that it won't last.

    My own educated prediction:

    Dr. Ted Morris, Jr.'s parting from the charter school is only temporary. (Indeed, the latest is that he's only been replaced as "lead applicant" by Kozik.)

    Morris' resigning is just a strategic ploy to quiet criticism in the short term... then, once enough time has passed, and the spotlight is off, Kozik and the charter honchos will just do what then originally wanted to do in the first place---install Ted back into a high-paying leadership position at the school.

    Mark my words, Dr. Ted will eventually end up employed by the school at some position---with a six-figure salary, a fancy title, and vague duties / job description... and those folks calling the shots won't have the least bit of shame in doing so.

    When defending Ted's rejoining the charter, be prepared to hear the charter school leaders vomit up something along the lines of...

    "Someone of Ted's caliber and dedication and leadership abilities will be a fine addition to our school. We'd be foolish not to avail ourselves of his talents... "

    or words to that effect.


    As anyone who follows education knows, once the charter is granted---especially with a rabidly pro-charter Board of Regents led by Ms. Tisch---and the charter school's functioning is underway, it's impossible to close them or exert even minimal oversight, or effect any safeguards---i.e. one barring this mountebank Morris from having anything to do with the school.

  2. In the above post, the sentence should instead read:

    "No matter how positive a development Morris' resignation is, I'm sorry to say that it won't last. "

    Gee, even THAT sounds a little awkward... I'm tired... but you all get what I'm saying

  3. Jack, I think you're probably right and we haven't seen the last of Dr. Ted.

    On the other hand, I've known a couple of wunderkinds like this-- charismatic and charming and absolutely able to convince others that they are geniuses with great visions that you want to be a part of. Until it becomes evident that they are users and not all that competent. They burn out their connections and eventually have to move on, because the people they suck into their orbit always figure out that they're just running a con.

    The thing I keep coming back to is Dr. Ted's trustees. He grew up in Rochester. He worked with all these organizations. So why is he looking for charter partners on the internet? Why isn't his board filled with all the people who know him and have come to believe in him?

    Maybe this resignation is just a shell game. But I have a tiny hope that his board of trustees are just starting to wake up and smell the baloney, that they didn't realize quite what a sham he is. It's a tiny hope, but I have it.

  4. Yeah, he claims in his resume that he was the...

    "Senior Administrator at Victory Living Christian Faith Center"

    at the age of 10??!!!

    Note, this was one of the things on his resume that Morris still stands behind, telling Justin Murphy that, "as little as I was," he was, in fact, that organization's "Senior Administrator."

    It's kind of foolish to even dignify this nonsense... but doesn't that mean that Victory Living Christian Faith Center broke child labor laws by employing a ten year-old? Were there tax forms generated for his work there? Or did he get paid under the table in cash?

    When the Victory Living staff had meetings in the board room, did this ten-year-old sit at the head at the table and say,

    TED MORRIS, JR. Senior Administrator:

    "This meeting of the Victory Living Christian Faith Center will now come to order. Will the secretary please read back the minutes from the last meeting before we proceed with today's agenda?

    "Oh, could someone else go get the Capri Sun juice box and the Oscar Meyer Lunchables that my mom always puts in my backpack?

    "Proceed with the minutes... "

    Here's Victory Living Christian Center's website: (it's headquarters is in Garden Grove, California, but it has outlets nationwide... such as, I'm assuming her, the one in Rochester)


    Telephone +011 555 5500

    Mobile number: +011 555 6780

    13350 W Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92840, USA

  5. The website for "Great Works Charter School" is still up. Check out how slick it is:


    Any parent who is not fully informed about the latest developments would view this site, then assume that the entire operation is indeed a legitimate educational institution.

    They would also assume that a man with no proof of even a high school diploma---who is on the main page of this website---is, in fact, a "Dr.":

    "Opening in 2015 with 100 ninth graders!

    "We are now accepting applications for admission!

    "Thanks for visiting our website!

    "Greater Works Charter School will offer an alternative option to families in the Rochester, New York area!

    "We invite you to learn more about GWCS and contact us if you have any questions!


    "Dr. Ted J. Morris, Jr.
    "Founder - Greater Works Charter School"

    It still reads that way.

    Also on the same page:
    "It's Official!
    "GWCS Approved by NYS Board of Regents!!

    "The New York State Board of Regents approved GWCS to open in 2015 at their November meeting on 11/18/14.

    "We are now accepting applications for admission for the 2015-2016 school year!"

    Here's GWCC's Facebook page: (with news of Morris' resignation):


    KOZIK: "Ted Morris, Jr., lead applicant and Board Member, has resigned his position from the Board of Trustees of the Greater Works Charter School effective immediately.

    "Our goal – to provide a high quality education in a safe and supportive school that provides students with the academic and technical skills needed to succeed in college and in today’s workforce – is bigger than one person. For the good of our students, we will move forward.

    "We plan to open the Greater Works Charter School in Rochester, NY in the fall, 2015 initially serving 96 9th graders; ultimately, our plan is to educate up to 384 students in grades 9 through 12 with the aim of fully preparing every one of them for the rigors that await them in college and their careers."

    "For more information, please contact Peter Kozik

    at (315) 380-9721


    at pkozik@keuka.edu.

  6. Also, Ted has left his Facebook page up, but wiped it clean of the detailed curriculum vitae that was previously there... it's barren as a desert:


    At the bottom there are just links to the Great Works Charter School website and GWCC's Facebook page.

  7. Peter,

    Here's a thought-provoking post from Deborah on the Ravitch blog:



    DEBORAH: "… last I heard, online activity involved the FTC, and other federal agencies, and wire fraud was a federal criminal act. So, if this guy applied, online, to an online college, and claimed to be a high school graduate, but wasn’t, well, there’s Count One. And each material intentional misrepresentation of fact on the Internet… successive criminal counts… All the way up to his Ph.D, and beyond…"

    Is this true? Could Morris face criminal charges?

  8. As of today, this school will still be opening... and look what they have in store for their future students and the Rochester community!

    When Greater Works CC does open, most of the teachers that you'd see at a traditional high school won't be there (SEE BELOW).

    No, they will be replaced by computers, while those few teachers remaining won't have to "waste hours of time" creating those antiquated "lesson plans."

    It's genius!!! Pure genius!!! Only a prodigy such as Ted could innovate like this.

    With his "freshly-minted Ph.D", Ted will be---er... was formerly going to be until he resigned---putting all his skills to use, talents so lacking in older members of "academia"... such as... "logic."

    From this Greater Works Charter school promotion puff piece: (what follows is real, NOT a parody)


    "The (Greater Works) school will be largely computer-based, which will free the teachers up for one-on-one tutorials where needed. Hmm, no time wasted literally writing HOURS worth of lesson plans, like 34, or so a week…. I’m just sayin’.

    "For some reason, libs are not too 'keen' on charter schools. One can 'choose' whether to grant life to a kid that would potentially attend the school, but not allow said kid, or parent a choice in selecting the school.

    "Got it?

    "Ted Morris is a freshly-minted Ph.D., and he has that oh-so-rare attribute largely lacking in academia; ummmm, LOGIC! He will be opening this charter school in Rochester, New York, in 2015.

    “ 'I remember being in school and feeling I was a bit more advanced and (not having enough options),' Morris said. 'I wanted to grow up and open a school that’s predicated on each student’s needs and interests. … I did it sooner than I expected.'

    "Instead of funneling all of the students towards college, the school will also encourage the military or other career choices. F.Y.I. our 'trade' industries are really lacking trained workers which is why former Texas gubernatorial candidate Tom Pauken brought attention to that matter.

    "It will be called Greater Works Charter School, accepting about 100 ninth-graders in its first year and eventually expanding to about 400 students in grades 9-12."

    Read more at http://unhyphenatedamerica.org/2014/11/25/greater-works-than-libs-by-age-22/#hbz1V3RMIcDJbQjC.99

    Gosh, if only I had high school-aged kids... I'd be signing them up for Greater Works so fast...

  9. You would think Dr. Kozik et al would be so embarrassed they would withdraw the application. Or the Board of Regents would rescind it. What's innovative about a school that has a mission statement that's the same as almost any other school and evidently is simply going to use the same K-12 online curriculum so many other charter schools use. Maybe parents will find out about this and no one will sign up anyway.

  10. ***VIDEO OF TED MORRIS, JR,***

    Here's a news story with a handsome, telegenic male reporter who forget to check if Morris had actual credentials... and Morris arguing that his lack of experience actually gives him an advantage over seasoned education professionals.