Follow by Email

Saturday, May 28, 2016

LMSD a target for charter schools?!

A good read for business, not appropriate at all for education.

 In this local newspaper op ed attacking teacher pensions in PA, something interesting appeared in the comments. One commenter shared a concern about charter school investors wanting suburban tax dollars. Indeed, we have much higher spending per student than city schools. Plus, they are running out of city schools to take over.

The defensive response of "guest" sounds like it is written by someone in the charter school industry. Note how test scores are used as the measure of student success.
Very corporate education reform style. Why would we consider giving up our local schools to private operators who pay themselves big money and aren't accountable to tax payers? Interesting that the last words written are, "If charter school investors come around, let's listen to them."

Read about Brookline, which is like LMSD here.
In a national discussion about cyber charters, look what district was compared to Philadelphia in terms of spending per student...

Every school district in America is being targeted for corporate takeover. This is bipartisan and supported by the federal government. There are PR & marketing firms being paid to spin the joy of charter schools to the American public. Are students at the center of this movement? No, opening the education market is their focus.

If you care about children and want to have a voice in who runs our schools, pay close attention and work on improving and supporting our public schools. Abandoning them to the open market has no proven track record, especially in districts like ours.

I am not saying that venture capitalists and venture philanthropists are bad people. I am saying they are mainly interested in their returns on investment. Most have very little to no professional experience in the world of teaching & learning, and most do not even send their kids to public schools. 

The sharks are circling and some of them even live next door.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tenure and Pensions: MYTHS v FACTS

Getting a little frustrated hearing the misinformation about both.
Just to clarify:


"In states with tenure, teachers must work satisfactorily for a period of time before they are eligible for tenure.... (In Pennsylvania, one must teach three years before earning it.) Only then may the principal decide whether to grant tenure."

Tenure ensures due process.  It DOES NOT mean public school teachers can't be fired. "A teacher with tenure is entitled to a hearing before he or she may be fired, and evidence of misconduct must be presented before an independent hearing officer."

Below is why I care about tenure, and why you should, too:

"Tenure protects academic freedom. In the absence of tenure, teachers may be fired for any reason. Teachers may be fired if the principal doesn't like them or if they are experienced and become too expensive. Teachers may be fired for being outspoken. There is no evidence that tenure causes low test scores. There is no evidence that children get higher achievement if their teachers have no tenure. The best predictor of low test scores is poverty. Every standardized test -- whether the SAT, the ACT, state tests, national tests, or international tests – shows the effects of family income on test scores...
We expect teachers to teach children to think critically, but how can they do this if they are not allowed to think critically and to teach without fear?"


"... (Pennsylvania) continually hasn't kicked in enough money to cover its growing debt, the single biggest reason for the dire straits the state now faces...Through it all, to this day, state workers made their required contributions, which for teachers is 7.5 percent of salary... Pennsylvania (is) second-worst in the nation when it comes to making its pension payments. New Jersey takes top honors."

Pennsylvania is not in this financial crisis because of teachers. Teachers consistently paid into their pension, the state did not. This is not the fault of teachers at all. 

Never a problem there.

" (PA) lawmakers' pensions offer particularly generous terms. Nearly all lawmakers (some refused the 2001 boost) are now entitled to collect 3 percent of their peak salary for each year of service, compared with 2.5 percent for teachers and most others in the state workers' retirement system. In other words, someone who was making about $60,000 before he retired after 20 years in the Legislature would qualify for a pension of about $36,000 a year."

Surprised? Call your legislators, then VOTE.