Archives for category: Pennsylvania

Larry Feinberg, who runs the Keystone State Education Coalition of public school advocates, offered the following summary of K12 Inc.’s Agora charter school in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania’s Agora Cyber Charter, managed by K12, Inc. never made adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind

· In 2006 its AYP status was Warning

· In 2007 its AYP status was School Improvement 1

· In 2008 its AYP status was School Improvement 2

· In 2008 its AYP status was Corrective Action 1

· In 2010 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (1st Year)

· In 2011 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (2nd Year)

· In 2012 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (3rd Year)

·
In 2013 (no more AYP) Agora’s Pennsylvania School Performance Profile score was 48.3 on a 100 point scale; Acting Sec’y of Education Carolyn Dumaresq has indicated that a score of 70 is considered passing.

In addition to never making AYP, Agora’s 2012 graduation rate was 45% while the Philly SD graduation rate was 57%.

http://thenotebook.org/april-2013/135820/cyber-charter-graduation-rates

School Choices: K12 Inc execs taking $2K per student in salary. 8 execs, 75K students, $21M in salaries. 20% of revenue in 8 pockets.

Morningstar Executive Compensation

http://insiders.morningstar.com/trading/executive-compensation.action?t=LRN

The School Reform Commission of Philadelphia, controlled by the state, recently canceled the teachers’ contract to extract savings from the teachers’ benefits to plug a huge budget gap created by Governor Corbett’s $1 billion in cuts to education in the state. Corbett apparently hopes to privatize as many public schools as possible during his tenure. He likes to blame teachers for budget crises instead of his budget cuts. He is up for re-election in a few weeks. He should lose. He is a disaster for public education.

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2014

Contact:
Kate Childs Graham
202-615-2424
kchilds@aft.org
http://www.aft.org

American Federation of Teachers Launches Political Ad Buy on Philly School Crisis

WASHINGTON— The American Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education has launched an ad buy that tells the true story of the teachers’ contract in Philadelphia. The six-figure radio ad buy—which features Philadelphia educators Steve Flemming and Sharnae Wilson—started airing in the Philadelphia media market Oct. 14.

“You have to wonder why Gov. Corbett’s School Reform Commission is more determined to misrepresent contract negotiations as a pretext for imposing concessions than to work with the teachers and support staff in Philadelphia who have been the glue holding schools together,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Gov. Corbett has been blaming and attacking them for months on end. Now, weeks before he is up for re-election, his School Reform Commission pulls this stunt. It’s unacceptable and voters won’t stand for it.”

“Something doesn’t add up,” said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan. “We put $24 million in healthcare savings and $10 million in wage freezes on the table 14 months ago. The School Reform Commission refused the money and then stopped negotiating altogether in July. If they were serious about helping kids, they would work with us, not try to break us.”

Ad script

Steve: My name is Steve and I teach third grade. I absolutely love teaching.

Sharnae: My name is Sharnae. My passion has always been teaching.

Steve: The budget cuts are having a huge impact.

Sharnae: There are too many students in the classroom. We have to buy our own supplies.

Narrator: From old textbooks to outdated equipment to overcrowded classrooms, our Philadelphia teachers are up against many challenges … and yet they keep going.

Steve: We teach our hearts out every single day.

Sharnae: Hoping things will get better.

Narrator: Gov. Corbett cut $1 billion from Pennsylvania’s schools. Fourteen months ago, Philadelphia teachers put millions in healthcare savings on the table. But Gov. Corbett’s School Reform Commission refused to accept their offer. And now? The School Reform Commission is trying to pull the plug on our teachers’ contract. Choosing to spend money in the courtroom instead of the classroom.

Sharnae: The students are suffering.

Steve: Something must change.

Narrator: Send a message to Gov. Corbett and the SRC. Tell them to stand with our kids, our schools and our teachers. Vote Nov. 4.

Paid for by American Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education. The American Federation of Teachers is responsible for the content of this ad.

Click here to listen to the ad.

###

Politico.com reports today that Corbett is against the Common Core but maybe he is for them, or was until the election:

“NEW SITE FOR KEYSTONE STATE STANDARDS: Pennsylvania state education officials say a website for collecting public comment on the state’s new academic standards will be live sometime this week. Gov. Tom Corbett, currently fighting an uphill battle for a second term, called for public hearings on the standards in math and English last month. That confused some state lawmakers who thought Corbett backed the standards, which were approved last year by the state Board of Education and look like a slightly tweaked version of the Common Core. But Corbett said the public hearings were “the final phase” in a three-year fight “to permanently roll back” the Common Core. The new website will be interactive, a state education official told Morning Education, and anyone interested can submit their comments or feedback through the website. It will act as a repository for two to three months before state officials schedule public hearings on the standards.”

When is cheating not cheating? When it happens in a charter school whose owner is politically powerful. When it threatens the very foundations of test-based accountability, the foundation of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.

The story begins:

“The odds that 11th-graders at Strawberry Mansion High School would have randomly erased so many wrong answers on the math portion of their 2009 state standardized test and then filled in so many right ones were long. Very, very long. To be precise, they were less than one in a duodecillion, according to an erasure analysis performed for the state Department of Education.

“In short, there appeared to be cheating — and it didn’t come as a total surprise. In 2006, student members of Youth United for Change protested being forced out of class for test-preparation sessions and won concessions from the district. In 2010, principal Lois Powell-Mondesire left Strawberry Mansion; after her departure, test scores dropped sharply.

“But despite the erasure analysis and those suspicious circumstances, neither Powell-Mondesire nor any other teacher or administrator at Strawberry Mansion was ever disciplined. On the contrary, Powell-Mondesire was promoted — to a job at school-district headquarters, earning more than $145,000 as a “turnaround principal” charged with helping other administrators boost student achievement. (Powell-Mondesire, who retired July 1, could not be reached for comment. Neither the District nor the state would say whether her exit was related to the cheating investigation.)…

“After all, politically, the state would have a great deal to lose by prosecuting cheaters. Some of the most damning evidence of cheating has come from Philadelphia, a district run by the state since 2002, and from charters, including a Chester school run by a prominent leader in Pennsylvania’s self-described school-reform movement who is a backer of Gov. Tom Corbett. But more than that, bubble tests have become the high-stakes centerpiece of American public education; when the scores are tainted, it could throw an entire way of running schools into question.

“Given the scope of the issue and the lack of action since, it appears Pennsylvania is covering up one of the country’s largest cheating scandals — and doing so in plain sight.”

Here is the latest from Donald Cohen of “In the Public Interest,” which exposes privatization scams.

Donald Cohen writes:

“A $300,000 plane. $861,000 to pay off personal debts and keep open a struggling restaurant. A down payment on a house and an office flush with flat-screen televisions, executive bathrooms and granite counter tops. This isn’t a list of expenditures from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, this represents a small slice of the more than $30 million of taxpayer funds that have been wasted through fraud and abuse in Pennsylvania’s charter schools since they first opened in 1997.

A new report from the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, and Action United is blowing the lid off the lack of public oversight at Pennsylvania’s 186 charter schools.

“Inadequate audit techniques, insufficient oversight staff, and a lack of basic transparency have created a charter system that is ripe for abuse in the Keystone state. But there is hope. The report provides a detailed roadmap for the state to create an effective oversight structure and provide meaningful protections that can curtail endemic fraud and waste.

“The report calls for an immediate moratorium on new charters until the inadequate oversight system can be replaced with rigorous and transparent oversight. That’s the right first step.

“According to the authors, charter school enrollment in the state has doubled three times since 2000 and Pennsylvania’s students, their families, and taxpayers cannot afford to lose another $30 million. Pennsylvania’s students and taxpayers deserve better.

Sincerely,

Donald Cohen
Executive Director
In the Public Interest

Thank you!

From the In The Public Interest Team

“The Notebook” reports on the disgraceful funding of schools in Pennsylvania, especially Philadelphia.

Corporate tax breaks mean more to Governor Corbett and the Legislature than children. Public schools don’t make campaign contributions. Charter operators and corporations do.

Says “The Notebook”:

“It’s hard to overstate the deplorable conditions facing Philadelphia school children again this fall: another year of bare-bones education, overcrowded classrooms, and gaps in essential services like counseling and nursing.

“But Philadelphia is by no means the only Pennsylvania district to see budgets slashed and the jobs of teachers, librarians, nurses, and counselors eliminated. Districts across the state are reeling from four years of austerity. Here’s how some were responding this summer:

“Cutting activities: More than one-fourth of districts were expecting to cut extracurricular activities this year, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers.

“Laying off teachers: Allentown’s school district axed more than 60 teaching positions – on top of more than 400 cut in the three prior years.

“Eliminating the arts: A district near Scranton announced it can no longer afford music instruction for students through 2nd grade.

“Something is seriously wrong with this picture. Pennsylvania is not a poor state and is situated in one of the richest countries in the world. But many districts can’t provide our children with school personnel we once took for granted. Not to mention books, technology – and in some cases, soap and toilet paper.

“The Corbett administration would like us to believe that the problem in Philadelphia is that teachers haven’t sacrificed financially. But teachers deserve to be adequately compensated for their vital work and are right to resist a race to the bottom in education spending.”

Corbett is a disgrace.

Politico.com reviews a number of governor’s races around the country, and here is the takeaway: governors who cut education funding are on the defensive, even insisting that they didn’t do it.

Consider this:

” The fight is fierce in Pennsylvania, where Democratic challenger Tom Wolf is accusing Gov. Tom Corbett of cutting $1 billion in education funding, forcing 20,000 teachers out of the classroom and prompting 70 percent of school districts to increase class sizes [http://bit.ly/1llmers]. Corbett has countered with an ad accusing Wolf “and his special-interest groups” of spending millions to mislead the public, claiming that funding during his tenure as governor has increased each year to its highest level ever [ http://bit.ly/1rs9rXY%5D. But it’s Wolf who’s resonating with voters – he’s up about 17 percentage points in the polls [http://bit.ly/1rsawPz].

“- Check out this new roundup of campaign trail reaction to GOP governors who’ve cut education funding, exclusive to POLITICO [http://politico.pro/1wLJO4C]. American Bridge President Brad Woodhouse tells us governors like Rick Scott, Sam Brownback and Scott Walker are getting “slammed … dealing a major blow to their electoral futures.”

On California it is a close race for state superintendent between educator Tom Torlakson and investment bbanker-charter cheerleader Mardhall The fight is fierce in Pennsylvania, where Democratic challenger Tom Wolf is accusing Gov. Tom Corbett of cutting $1 billion in education funding, forcing 20,000 teachers out of the classroom and prompting 70 percent of school districts to increase class sizes [http://bit.ly/1llmers]. Corbett has countered with an ad accusing Wolf “and his special-interest groups” of spending millions to mislead the public, claiming that funding during his tenure as governor has increased each year to its highest level ever [ http://bit.ly/1rs9rXY%5D. But it’s Wolf who’s resonating with voters – he’s up about 17 percentage points in the polls [http://bit.ly/1rsawPz].

- Check out this new roundup of campaign trail reaction to GOP governors who’ve cut education funding, exclusive to POLITICO [http://politico.pro/1wLJO4C]. American Bridge President Brad Woodhouse tells us governors like Rick Scott, Sam Brownback and Scott Walker are getting “slammed … dealing a major blow to their electoral futures.”

In California, it is a right race for superintendent between educator Tom Torlakson and privatizer Marshall Tuck. The future if public education in that state hangs in the balance. If Tuck wins, expect more charter schools and attacks in due process rights for teachers.

For further information contact:

Clovis Gallon, 717-487-2530, clo95@hotmail.com
Lauri Rakoff, 717-577-8327, lrakoff@psea.org
YORK CITIZENS TO SCHOOL BOARD: STOP THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF OUR SCHOOLS
Community members will march outside School Board, Community Education Council meetings
York, Pa. (Sept. 12, 2014) – Parents, educators, and members of the York community are calling on York City School Board members to reject the bids of two out-of-state charter corporations competing to take over the city’s public schools.
The School Board is reviewing proposals from Charter Schools USA and Mosaica Education, Inc. to take over every one of the city’s public schools. This would be a first-of-its-kind experiment in Pennsylvania public education, allowing a private corporation to profit from the education of York schoolchildren.
“No other school district in Pennsylvania has handed over every one of its public schools to a for-profit charter corporation,” said Clovis Gallon, a teacher and member of the York City Education Association. “York students should not be treated like guinea pigs in some grand experiment.”
Parents, educators, and members of the York community will march outside of the York City School Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 17 and a Charter School Presentation for the Community Education Council on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
The details of both events are below. Media coverage is encouraged.
What: York City School Board Meeting

Where: York City Schools Administration Building

When: Wed., Sept. 17, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (School Board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.)

Details: The march will occur outside the Administration Building. Participants will then attend the School Board meeting.

What: Community Charter School Presentation

Where: Hannah Penn K-8 School

When: Wed., Sept. 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Community Education Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.)

Details: The march will occur outside the school cafeteria. Participants will then attend the Community Education Council meeting and Charter School Presentation.

The corporate takeover experiment is being pushed by the York City School District’s chief recovery officer, an appointee of Gov. Tom Corbett, who falsely claims this is the district’s only hope in the face of financial challenges.

“Gov. Corbett has starved York’s public schools of needed resources, and now his appointed chief recovery officer is blaming the city’s schools for not providing children with a rich enough educational diet,” said Gallon. “What York schools really need is for state lawmakers to reverse the Corbett funding cuts.”

York community members look forward to sending a message to school officials that they support their community schools and strongly oppose a corporate takeover by an out-of-state charter operator.

“Local taxpayers and elected officials should be making decisions about the education of York’s children – not an out-of-state corporation with its eye on the bottom line,” said Gallon.

The school board in Pittsburgh voted this week to reduce testing in K-5 by 50%. This is a huge win for children.

What this means is an additional 33 hours for learning, for recess, for all manner of things other than standardized testing.

Jessie Ramey, who blogs as Yinzercation, said:

“We scored a big victory in Pittsburgh last night! The school district and school board agreed to substantially reduce testing for students in grades K-5. The biggest winners are children in grades 3-5, where testing will be cut from 85.5 periods a year to 41.5 periods. At 45 minutes per period, that is 1,980 minutes of instructional time – or 33 hours of real learning time – that our children just got back in their lives.

“Thirty-three hours! And that’s just in test-taking. When tests are eliminated, students also gain back time that had been dedicated to test-prep, so there is a multiplier effect here, too.”

The purpose of testing is for students and teachers to learn about students’ strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can look at student performance and learn what they taught well and what they didn’t teach well.

When states, in collaboration with testing companies, keep tests confidential, reeves long nothing to students and teachers but test scores, they vitiate the value of the test. It’s akin to going to your doctor for a checkup and learning nothing but a score, with no context or interpretation of what you should do now.

A reader from Pennsylvania writes:

“What’s worse are the Pennsylvania Keystone Exams. They have not published a single question from any exam given nor any questions from the Classroom Diagnostic tests, practice tests for the Keystone. Instead they have only published a few sample questions some of which are poorly written. When asked about this, an official said that the sample questions were reject questions that would never be used on the exams. Basically students and teachers are being kept in the dark about these high stakes exams which will be used to determine if a student can graduate or not, how a school district is rated and how a teacher is evaluated.”

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