Latest News and Comment from Education

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On eve of federal fraud trial, charter school guilty plea

On eve of federal fraud trial, charter school guilty plea:

On eve of federal fraud trial, charter school guilty plea

Charter school founder Dorothy June Brown faces more charges. (April Saul / Staff)
Charter school founder Dorothy June Brown faces more charges. (April Saul / Staff)

PHILADELPHIA As jury selection was getting underway in the federal fraud trial of charter-school founder Dorothy June Brown and three former administrators, one of the administrators decided to plead guilty.

Joan Woods Chalker, 75, a top lieutenant in Brown's school network who worked with Brown for more than 20 years and served as a chief executive at one of her charters, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of obstruction of justice.

She stood accused of conspiring with Brown and the others in a scheme to defraud four charter schools of $6.7 million, then staging a cover-up.
Chalker had faced multiple counts that included conspiracy to obstruct justice and wire fraud. She changed her plea in a hearing before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick.

He scheduled sentencing for Jan. 29.

It could not be learned whether Chalker had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Brown and the other defendants.

Joseph G. Poluka, Chalker's lead lawyer, declined to comment Tuesday on the terms of her plea because they are under court seal.

Patricia Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's


10-23-13 Seattle Schools Community Forum

Seattle Schools Community Forum:

West Seattle Blog's Advanced Learning Discussion
If you live in West Seattle and have thoughts on Advanced Learning in that area of the district, weigh in here.

Your Kid Going to Roosevelt in the Next 3-5 Years?
It's going to be a very tough time in the neighborhood.  There is no way it will not possibly affect Roosevelt and its community.I just attended a community meeting at Roosevelt High School about the building of the light rail station that will be directly west of the school.First, as a resident, it is definitely NOT going to be fun.  In fact, despite promises about mitigation, I (and many at the

10-22-13 Seattle Schools Community Forum
Seattle Schools Community Forum: Owners of MLK, Jr. Building Cited in State AuditThe Times is reporting that First A.M.E. Church operated a daycare at Seattle Central Community College - rent-free - for 16 years.  (Yes, I know - how is that possible?)  The daycare was allowed to do this by a program at SCCC called Seattle Vocational Institute whose students' children were to have first-in enrollme

API will soon lose its clout as shorthand for defining school success | EdSource Today

API will soon lose its clout as shorthand for defining school success | EdSource Today:

These are the test components that made up this year's AP for elementary and middle schools (top) and high schools. CST stands for the California Standards Tests in various subjects. CAPA and CMA are acronyms for alternative standards tests that studies with disabilities take. Math and English language arts count the most, leading to criticism that the API has contributed to a narrowing of the curriculum. Source: API Information Guide, page 11

For more than a decade, the Academic Performance Index has defined the public’s perception of a school.
Parents relied on the three-digit number, tied exclusively to scores on standardized tests, to decide where to send their children. Realtors used it to set the price of homes near “good schools.” Superintendents judged principals by how close their school’s API came to the totemic “800.”
But now the API’s power – some would call it tyranny – is waning. In the near term, the API will be a husk of its former self and may disappear for a couple of years. Longer term, it will become just one of many gauges of school performance – demoted from sheriff of accountability to the rank of sergeant.
The passage of Assembly Bill 484, sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, on behalf of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, suspends most of the standardized tests that had been given annually from grades 3 to 11, with no timeline for replacing many of the(see accompanying story).
In 2014, AB 484 requires that districts give a preliminary or “field” test in the Common Core 

Free schools: our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice | Stephen Ball | Comment is free | The Guardian

Free schools: our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice | Stephen Ball | Comment is free | The Guardian:

Free schools: our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice

Our uneven and unclear education provision now allows well-informed, persistent parents to entrench social advantage
Capital City Academy school, Willesden, north-west London, is one of many different types of school that parents can choose from. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
The English education system is being dismembered. Gradually but purposefully first New Labour and now the coalition government have been unpicking and disarticulating the national system of state schooling. With free schools and academies of various kinds, faith schools, studio schools and university technical colleges, the school system is beginning to resemble the patchwork of uneven and unequal provision that existed prior to the 1870 Education Act.
At the same time, we are moving back to an incoherent and haphazard jigsaw of providers – charities, foundations, social enterprises and faith and community groups – monitored at arm's length by the central state. Furthermore, private providers are waiting in the wings for the opportunity to profit from running schools.
Local democratic oversight has been almost totally displaced. Our relationship to schools is being modelled on that of the privatised utilities – we are individual customers, who can switch provider if we are 

Daily Kos: Leaves on the Current - a rougher patch

Daily Kos: Leaves on the Current - a rougher patch:

I have just come back from an evening visit with my wife in her hospital room.  It is a bit difficult right now, with some loss of appetite and even occasional nausea.  Her blood counts are low, and could conceivably go lower tomorrow, but so far not so low as to require a transfusion, and by Friday could well start to recover.  Someone from her doctor's office informed her that she still is on target to return home next week.
In the meantime, because her white blood cell count is so low, we have to ask people to refrain from visiting for the next few days, as much as she would enjoy the company - while she is not in isolation, there is still a very great risk of infection that we are trying to minimize.  I make sure to visit at least once each day, even if on days like yesterday and today professional obligations make impossible for me to come out before late evening.
We remain grateful for all the support - prayers, holding us both in the light, cards, gifts (although for now the latter will remain at home).
She asked that I put out this message, especially after she learned that a few people had inquired not having heard anything in the past few days.




Dear Illinois Legislators:
If you pass “pension reform” as it is now being considered in committee, you will join a long line of corrupt and unethical Illinois legislators.
You stole (you called it borrowing), the teachers’ pension money over a lengthy period of time. You also technically stole more than the original money because that money could have been invested and earned a lot more money. Now, if you diminish the benefits of current retirees, you will actually be stealing again from the same people that you stole from in the first place. You are now asking the victims of your robberies to give up more of their money to replace what you stole. Illinois legislators, if you pass this “pension reform”, you are basically admitting that you are SERIAL STEALERS.
You took a vow to uphold the Illinois Constitution. If you pass this “pension reform”, you will be in violation o

Fine Dining With New York State Education Commissioner John King

Fine Dining With New York State Education Commissioner John King

I just came across this blog;  Oneonta Area For Public Educationtoday. I think I saw it on the New York Bats Facebook page, or somewhere. Anyway, I fully haven't given it a good read through, but I'm adding it to the SBSB blog roll. Oh, and one other thing caught my eye on that blog. I found out today that NYSED Commissioner John King enjoys fine dining.

One of the authors of OA4PE (Got it right?), Betsy Bloom, shared about a conference she went to in Saratoga in which The King was the keynote speaker. The King yada-yada-yada'd about all the stuff 

The Next Internet Radio Show

The Next Internet Radio Show

Tomorrow night, Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 9 PM will be the famed NYC teacher taking on the NYC DOE of education, Francesco Portelos

Francesco first made news when as a representive on his school's, PS 49 in Staten Island,  SBLT (School Based Leadership Team) he used his constitutional right to inquire about his school's finances. What he found, financial improprieties by his principal, has put him on a Kafkaesque odyssey sitting in the Rubber Room. 

You can find out more about Francesco and his case on his blog;Protect Portelos

The number to call in is (347) 308-8259

Two teachers killed. Two students blamed. | Get Schooled |

Two teachers killed. Two students blamed. | Get Schooled |

Two teachers killed. Two students blamed.  

Soft-spoken teen accused of killing Mass. teacher
Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzeris seen in this undated photo provided by the family of Ritzer. Fourteen-year-old high school student Philip Chism was accused of killing Ritzer, a well-liked math teacher at Danvers High School, in Danvers, Mass., whose body was found in the woods behind the school. Law enforcement officials recovered the remains of 24-year-old Ritzer early Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. Chism was arraigned Wednesday in Salem on a murder charge and ordered held without bail. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune)
Nev. boy says he came face-to-face with shooter photo
This undated photo released by the Nevada Air National Guard shows Sparks Middle school math teacher and former Marine Michael Landsberry, 45. Authorities say the student who opened fire on a the Nevada middle school campus, wounding two students and killing Landsberry, got the weapon from his home. Washoe County School District Police said they are still working to trace where the gun was bought. Police said a Sparks Middle School student was the lone shooter and turned the weapon on himself. (AP Photo/Nevada Air National Guard)

On Monday in Nevada, a 12-year-old shot and killed a teacher and wounded two other students at his middle school before killing himself. The seventh grader killed math teacher Mike Landsberry as he shielded students. A former Marine, Landsberry is a member of the Nevada Air National Guard who served two tours in Afghanistan. He leaves behind a wife and two step-children.
In both cases, no motive has yet to be given for the violence.
A police report states Chism “assaulted and subsequently murdered Colleen Ritzer and disposed of her body near the high school grounds.” Police state they also have surveillance footage of Chism.
A high school student told the Herald today the school superintendent alerted families via a robo telephone call 

Female Sexuality on TV: Suppression, Declension, and Remington Steele |

Female Sexuality on TV: Suppression, Declension, and Remington Steele |:

Earlier today I stumbled across a brewing kerfuffle in response to The CW’s decision to cut a female masturbation scene from one of its shows. As Tracy Clark-Flory wrote over at Salon,
“We’re thoroughly comfortable with women’s bodies being sexualized — but not so much with women being sexual. That is not to mention that we’re still unaccustomed to depictions of female desire that emphasize sexual longing as opposed to manipulation or a narcissistic want to be wanted.”
I’m completely on board with that characterization and its underlying critique, with one small exception: that “still” in the second sentence. Because it’s my sense that we’ve actually moved backwards in that regard.
A weird and slightly personally embarrassing case in point:
Television viewers of a certain age and inclination may vaguely remember “Remington Steele,” a not-particularly-significant private eye show that ran

Here's How Americans Stack Up Against Students In Other Countries

Here's How Americans Stack Up Against Students In Other Countries:

Here's How Americans Stack Up Against Students In Other Countries

international tests
When it comes to math skills, Alabama performs like Armenia, Mississippi comes close to Dubai, Washington, D.C., performs like Ukraine, and Massachusetts is just one rung below Japan, according to a study released by the U.S. government Wednesday.
In science, Mississippi and Alabama look a lot like Kazakhstan, D.C. is close to Bahrain, and Massachusetts edges out Taiwan.
The study is the first to show where U.S. states would rank on the international exam Trends in International Math and Science Study, or TIMMS. Students in most U.S. states don't take TIMMS, so U.S. statisticians approximated results using the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest U.S. comprehensive standardized test.
The results are mixed. Thirty-six U.S. states scored higher than the international math average of 500, out of a possible 1,000 points. On average, Americans would have scored 509 on math, according to the study. In science, 47 states would have performed higher than the average of 500. Three performed lower, and two were tied. Americans would have averaged a 525 on science. Massachusetts and Vermont topped the U.S. results in both subjects.
While the average U.S. scores look respectable, the result masks a deficit in U.S. performance. Students in even the highest-scoring states don't match the top-

For Weingarten, New York’s Common Core fight hits home | GothamSchools

For Weingarten, New York’s Common Core fight hits home | GothamSchools:

For Weingarten, New York’s Common Core fight hits home

photo (9)edit
New York State Superintendent John King and AFT President Randi Weingarten speaking on a panel at an event hosted by Teaching Matters. At center, Teachers College professor Jeffrey Henig, who moderated.
Randi Weingarten has been a national union boss for over three years, but her heart remains in the state that groomed her as a labor leader. So when California recently became the latest state to alter its testing policies amid reforms to learning standards and teacher evaluations, Weingarten said her thoughts turned to New York.
“I get embarrassed when a state like California is figuring it out more than my beloved Empire State,” Weingarten said Wednesday in a speech in midtown Manhattan, where she accepted an education award from the education nonprofit Teaching Matters.
Weingarten twice referred to California, which moved a step closer to eliminating high-stakes tests for a year, while making her latest case for why New York should strip high stakes from state tests for teachers and students in order to focus on adopting Common Core learning standards. She also appeared on a panel 
Remainders: A father calls late-enrollment woes all-too-common
A study backs a father’s experience of finding few good school options for a late-enroller. (InsideSchools) A Mass. high school student was charged Wednesday in the murder of a math teacher. (Reuters) A new MIT study found that NYC small-school students were more likely to attend college. (GS in Brief) Taking away recess is a common but unhealthy punishment, according to researchers. (Atlantic) A

Public Education: A Civil Religion | California Father

Public Education: A Civil Religion | California Father:

California Father

One of the authors of this interesting book used to be a special ed teacher. Here he describes an experience I am afraid I know well. The thesis of the book is that we have confused public education for a religion. From the right, we get faith in business solutions. From the left, the idea that everyone can reach the same high standards:
It may have seemed obvious to the planners that this kind of mandate would lead to uniform excellence. However, those carrying out the plans experienced the demand as futility. One of the authors was once a special education teacher forced to administer standardized multiple-choice achievement tests lasting several hours to young adolescents reading three for four (or more) grade levels below the reading level of the test. All of the students were classified as “educationally mentally retarded.” Though working with this group of students was generally a wonderfully 

The Non-Crisis Crisis: insane level of attack on public school teachers | Reclaim Reform

The Non-Crisis Crisis: insane level of attack on public school teachers | Reclaim Reform:

The Non-Crisis Crisis: insane level of attack on public school teachers

Rahm Emanuel
If the pension crisis isn’t fixed in the Illinois pension systems via “pension reform” that hurts active and retired teachers, the separate Chicago pension systems will destroy Chicago according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). State Senate President John Cullerton (D) says there is no state pension system crisis. Today, the Tribune reported, “The mayor wasn’t talking specifics today, but a plan put forward by his chief Springfield ally, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, could provide an outline.”
depaul-plays-baketballGo ahead, read that over several times.
It makes no sense, but that is their story, and they’re all sticking to it. Do you smell a rat? Or, do you smell the stench of politically corrupted cronies?
Emanuel said, “Should Springfield fail to pass pension reform for Chicago soon, we will be right back here in (city) council early next year to start work on the city’s 2015 budget — a budget that will either double city property taxes or eliminate the vital services that people rely on.”
Emanuel, who recently handed over $70 million in education tax money to a private Catholic university, DePaul, to build a second basketball arena, added, “I believe I can 

Full Funding Friday #7 | WeArePCAPS

Full Funding Friday #7 | WeArePCAPS:

Full Funding Friday #7

The Full Funding Friday Campaign keeps rolling along.
Here are the schools where rallies are planned for this Friday. We really appreciate all the people who have volunteered to come out and join with school staff, parents and students. Please let me know if you can help and what school you can go to. As before, we will have flyers and other materials on hand. Times will be 7:45 am for elementary schools, 7:15 am for high schools.
Blankenberg, 4600 W. Girard Ave.
Carnell Elementary, 1100 Devereaux Ave.
Carver High School, 1600 W Norris St
Conwell Middle, 1849 E. Clearfield St.
J. Hampton Moore Elementary, 6900 Summerdale Ave.
Morton Elementary, 2501 S. 63rd St.
Pennypacker Elementary, 1858 E. Washington Ln.
Also we are starting to reach out to people we have identified from petitioning and canvassing as potential education activists and leaders. Be sure to make sure we get the names and contact information of people who are responsive at these rallies. We will be scheduling a phone bank to contact people in our data base, urging them to get involved. More information on this will be forthcoming.