The following comes from the regular posting by the Keystone State Education Coalition, a pro-public education group that is fighting for public education in Pennsylvania and against budget cuts and privatization.
You can find them here: http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
COMMENTARY ON RELEASE OF 2012 PSSAs
Ten years ago when NCLB was passed we talked about unrealistic targets of 100% proficiency that would one day cause all public schools to be labeled “failing”. We are reaching that point. Lower Merion High School, one of the top high schools in the state, in one of the wealthiest school districts in the state, did not make AYP this year.
No matter that the AYP targets have increased.
No matter that funding has decreased by a billion dollars.
For public school teachers, the beatings will continue.
But this year Pennsylvania’s “failing public schools” narrative has been updated: the lazy, greedy, pension-bloodsucking, incompetent union hacks who don’t care about kids are now also cheaters.
More justification for more charter schools and EITC “scholarships” to private and religious schools that are never subjected to public scrutiny and don’t have to give these damn tests to their students. More justification for increasing the taxpayer funded bailout of our parochial schools while accepting their performance as a matter of faith. More justification for doing nothing to address conditions in our high poverty schools that are required to accept ALL students.
It would be useful for the Governor, the Secretary of Education or perhaps some of the over 100 members of the statewide press corps who receive these KEYSEC emails to go and actually spend a full day (or two) shadowing a teacher in one of our high poverty public schools. Not just a whistle-stop photo op, but a hands-on, roll up your sleeves opportunity to see first hand the challenges that our teachers face every day.
Last year we posted that of 12 PA cyber charters only 2 made AYP, while 8 were in corrective action status. This year only one cyber made AYP. Coincidentally, that school, the 21st Century Cyber Charter, was created and is governed by professional educators – the Chief School Administrators from the four suburban Philadelphia counties’ intermediate units and public school districts. (what a concept!) and has made AYP for 6 out of the past 7 years.
Agora Cyber, run by K12, Inc. continued their streak of never making AYP and is now in their 3rd year of Corrective Action 2 status. A federal lawsuit filed against K12, Inc. in Virginia alleges that:
· The company did not tell investors how much their business depends on “churn,” signing up new students when others drop out. The company also did not reveal that more than half of students at some K12 school did not return the following year.
· The company listed students as inactive rather than sending them back to their home district. That allowed K12 virtual schools to continue collecting that student’s funding.
· Some teachers reported having as many as 400 students.
In 2011 Ron Packard, K12 Inc.’s CEO received $5 million in compensation. Charles Zogby, PA’s Budget Secretary and Former Secretary of Education under Governor Ridge, served as K12′s Senior Vice President of Education and Policy prior to being recruited to serve in the Corbett Administration.
Chester Community Charter, the state’s largest brick and mortar charter did not make AYP this year after being investigated for cheating in prior years. The owner of the management company under contract to run the school is still fighting pending right-to-know requests in court. The charter school reform legislation passed by the State House last June included specific language that would exempt him from the state’s right to know laws. The Philadelphia Education Notebook reports that “Chester Community’s proficiency rates plummeted about 30 points in both reading and math, and the declines were fairly uniform across all grade levels and demographic subgroups. The school, with more than 2,500 students on two campuses, …. is operated for-profit by Gov. Corbett’s single largest campaign contributor, Vahan Gureghian. Its CEO sent a letter to parents blaming the sharp drops on severe state funding cutbacks that caused “sharp declines in services.”
PA Cyber, the state’s largest cyber charter, did not make AYP this year. It’s founder and group of related companies are under investigation by the FBI and IRS.