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Candidate for governor stands in solidarity with hunger strikers

By the Notebook on Jun 21, 2013 01:55 PM

by Sonia Giebel

The hunger strikers protesting the 1,200 noontime aide layoffs have gained the support of gubernatorial candidate John Hanger. He met Friday with the four School District parents and employees who are now on their fifth day of fasting.

“I stand in solidarity with the parents and school workers who have made this commitment to safe schools in Philadelphia,” said Hanger in a statement released by UNITE HERE, a union that represents the aides.

Hanger, Pennsylvania’s former secretary of environmental protection under former Gov. Edward Rendell, hopes to be the Democratic challenger to Gov. Corbett in 2014. Taking a strong stance against failing charter schools, especially cyber charter schools, Hanger advocates the defunding of failing charters in an effort to bring more money to District schools and preserve jobs.

“Schools all over Pennsylvania are cutting staff and programs because they are forced to send precious dollars to failing charter schools and cyber-charter schools and because of Corbett’s budget cuts,” Hanger said.

In addition to shifting funding away from poor-performing charter schools, Hanger has said that he would restore the $1 billion in education funding cuts and impose a natural gas drilling tax to raise more revenue for public education. 

The fasters intend to continue their strike until the District rehires the noontime aides. Helping to keep schools safe, the aides patrol school classrooms and lunchrooms in an effort to defuse conflicts. According to UNITE HERE, there were 10,000 serious incidents in Philadelphia schools last year. 

Several parents from Action United have also joined the strikers in a three-day solidarity fast.  

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Comments (138)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 21, 2013 6:03 pm
Pandering for votes, are we? How much money has he collected from United Here and the PFT in return for kickbacks if he gets elected? Tell the people of Pennsylvania you are going to raise taxes. Tell the parents of the charter schools you are going to close them to help your special interest groups. Good luck with that.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 21, 2013 7:24 pm
Once again, the blame for a failed education funding structure gets pointed at charter and cyber charter schools. These schools use only 1% of the entire education budget. A lot of whining about a little money. Follow the political money trail and you will see that the loudest opponents of school choice are those that accept the most campaign contributions from teachers unions and other agenda-driven groups.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 21, 2013 8:42 pm
Goodness Gracious--Make stuff up much ??!! Throw a fact in there once in a while just to break up the constant lies. Are you Fernando Gallard??? Jeez !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 21, 2013 8:01 pm
Instead of calling my response a bunch of lies,Joe, why don't you tell the folks exactly where I'm wrong?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 21, 2013 8:54 pm
In Philadelphia, charter schools enroll about 37% of students, so here, it is a huge part of the budget here. This figure comes from watching a recent SRC meeting. Also, many of these charter schools have significant barriers to entry ( and EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 21, 2013 9:38 pm
Talk about pandering to get a vote. Employ the Obama strategy, say that you'll give'em anything and everything.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 22, 2013 3:57 pm
Pandering is Boy's Latin telling the public that 100% of thieir students go on to college, purposely leaving out how many kids dropped out. It's such a sham, we will take YOUR students (because obviously you haven't done anything with them) dress them in a shirt and tie, and they'll all be college bound. Seriously?
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 22, 2013 3:34 pm
You are so right !!!!!!!!!! What a sham and scam. Like Imhotep and many of the rest, just pure nonsense to make money for the already rich and using the kids and families to bolster their lies.
Submitted by Kelly Jenkins (not verified) on June 23, 2013 9:33 am
They don't drop out of charter schools. They get put out at the first hint of trouble. I give all new students a reading test when they enroll in my school. If they come from a charter, I ask them why they left. 99% of the time, they were put out. They also help students get "accepted" to colleges. Doesn't mean they actually enroll and go. I was told that by a friend who was a counselor at a charter school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 10:34 am
What I really meant was that the number of those who graduate is not similar to the number who initally enrolled. Agree about the college "acceptance," and how can any school promise that its mission is to have everyone in a 4 year college- it's ridiculous, but people lap it up
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 23, 2013 10:50 am
W.C. Fields--"A sucker is born every day." It's mean spirited joke, lie after lie after lie while the Public Schools--the ral ones--are being starved and destroyed. The Middle Class will no longer exist in the inner cities and as Eileen stated a week or so ago, Everybody will be working for charters, making $30,000 a year with NO security and NO rights.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 23, 2013 11:14 am
Exactly. The children, parents and community also will have very few of the rights they now have. Rights change when schools are turned over to privately managed entities. All people have less rights in privatized versions of schools. Everyone needs to understand that issue in the privatization of the American schoolhouse.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 23, 2013 2:19 pm
But children, parents, and community have little to no rights with the SDP right now. I have yet to hear of a situation, even at Central, where parents who disagreed/had issues, were given redress by the SDP. The attacks against charters ironically are more accurately levelled at the SDP.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 23, 2013 7:06 pm
That may very well be true, but Central is not a good argument for that point. Central has a principal, Tim McKenna, with a great reputation as a collaborative leader with a democratic leadership style. The school community of Central, which included parents, alumni and teachers, and I believe at least one student, chose their own principal through a site selection process. I also assure you that no students are thrown out without appropriate due process. Tim also had a reputation for being responsive to parents and student needs while he was principal at Furness. I never heard a bad word about him and I know and talk to just about every teacher at Furness. Tim, in my eyes, is a Great leader and I have interacted with him. Leadership matters -- so does how we choose our leaders.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:17 am
Not all that appears gold is golden... nepotism reigns in Philadelphia. We need a transparent system for all schools - not a system of who knows who...
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:06 am
I agree wholehearted and with emphasis. I have a whole chapter in my book about that and similar immoral issues that fester in the district. That is an instittutional illness which festers within the "unhealthy climate" within the district. Great point.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 23, 2013 3:01 pm
Sorry for my typos yesterday. I swear I don't drink !!!!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 23, 2013 10:25 am
Kelly--Thank You. Nothing you could tell me would surprise me. It's all a giant shell game being foisted by the rich on the poor. What else is new?? A Public School???? No Way but the scam goes on.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 21, 2013 10:38 pm
Telling you exactly where you are wrong: From the SRC's FY 2014 Proposed budget in brief issued April 26,2013 which was adopted May 20th: In FY09 Charters were 15% of the budget. In FY14 Charters are 30% of the budget. The summary states: "The current level of expenditures in these three categories - debt service, charter school payments, and out-of-district placements – is a result of past decisions for which The District must now manage. All of these expenditures are mandatory and are all becoming increasingly large share of the District's overall operating budget. In FY09, these categories constituted approximately 29% of the overall District operating budget in FY14, they are projected to be approximately 48% of the District's operating budget. As a result, a smaller share of the District's operating budget can be spent on District operated schools." In FY09 debt service was 10% of the budget. In FY14 it is 12% of the budget. And before you say this shows Philadelphia cannot manage its public schools, these debts were run up by the state controlled SRC and the highly paid Superintendents they brought in (two with connections to the Broad Foundation) to run (or is it defund?) Philadelphia's public schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 22, 2013 1:26 pm
Wait. Take money away from failing charter schools, and give it to failing public schools? How about take money away from ALL failing schools, public OR private? Why does it make sense to GIVE money to failing public schools? If that makes sense, why doesn't it make sense to give money to failing charter schools? The answer? Paying unions back for their votes and money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 22, 2013 3:40 pm
I have said this from the beginning, charter schools and public schools should not be under the same umbrella. If you want to open up a school then do so, but the SDP is a known entity to me. I don't know Mastery from Universal from Kipp, from Young scholars, from Boys Latin.from Moe Larry and Curly Institute but they STILL get my money. Someone please tell me what kind system that is. (public/private what 's the difference we're all one big melting pot)? Public schools have not declined or closed by accident, and that's where reformers have some of the public bamboozled (believing anything). As my SDP grade teacher taught us in spelling class: never beLIEve a lie. When I invest in a company it's voluntary, I decide to purchase the stock or not, it's not forced on me so where do these companies get off raking in tax money? The whole charter system is rigged and just as people are protesting and fasting in Harrisburg, WE AS TAXPAYERS need to revisit this whole charter concept.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 22, 2013 10:42 pm
We should ALSO be looking at why we're spending money on failing public schools. Let's hold the public schools to the same standard as the charter schools. After all it's the same money (although quite a bit less of it). Let's face it. The Philadelphia public school system (which I attended btw) is NOT about teaching children or preparing them for the future. It's a massive jobs program. If some kids happen to get an education, great. But we all know that doesn't happen very often. The charter schools are just a threat to the unions. Nothing more, nothing less. If the charter schools were unionized, every bit of controversy about them would magically disappear. And yes, this POS running for governor is just pandering for votes. Thankfully I moved out of Philly a few years back, but I'm sure they'll find some way to get some of my dollars anyway. All cities should be run as well as Philadelphia. Detroit in 10 years. You read it here first.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 22, 2013 10:06 pm
Do you have a reference for your that charter schools are the standard to go by or is this a figment of your imagination. How does your imagination match with these facts?:
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 22, 2013 10:28 pm
School District schools were closed very quickly in Philadelphia - decisions were made in about 3 months. There are charter schools which have been slated to close for a couple of years. Charters are given an extensive process before they are closed. They law is on the side of the charter. How many charters have been closed versus School District schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 11:09 am
Hold charters to the same standards as public schools? Great, start by forbidding charters to screen out potential problem students. Demand the end to the charters' practice of "take their money and then kick 'em out". You got 'em, you keep 'em, just like the public schools.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 23, 2013 1:26 pm
At what point does the right of a troublemaker to be present to create trouble, not pay attention, and not benefit from a school's program trump the rights of the children who don't create trouble, pay attention, and who do/would benefit from that program? I met a teacher who used to work at a charter in NJ. He told me the school went out of business because of its unwillingness to "kick out" the troublemakers. The parents of the other kids just left. Perhaps that is the problems of the SDP in a nutshell. Parents have been leaving because their children's right to an adequate education is not being met. Not because of incapable or "lazy" teachers, but a broken system. If you look at the failure of the State "takeover" close enough, you would see that it failed because it did nothing to change the structure of the SDP. It failed the most when it did the least, as clearly seen during Ackerman's tenure. It would appear that it doesn't matter what type of "top" governance it has, so long as there is no change to the fundamental structure.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 2:31 pm
Ms, Cheng- we did not HAVE the issue of charter schoolsto this extent before the state takeover, so if you want an honest comparison in governance you'd have to remove the charter school factor.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 23, 2013 2:09 pm
But we did have the exodus of parents with their school age children from the City before the State takeover, and before the proliferation of charters. This mostly from the reputation of District schools of being "not safe" or "substandard". My comment here is not about governance specifically. I acknowledge that there are problems with having too many independent entities, i.e. charters. My comment is about whether the "screening out" of bad behavior children is actually denying their right to an appropriate education or actually enforcing their and the rights of the other children to an appropriate education.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 2:10 pm
Ms, Cheng- we did not HAVE the issue of charter schools to this extent before the state takeover, so if you want an honest comparison in governance you'd have to remove the charter school factor. >anon Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sun, 06/23/2013 - 14:26. But we did have the exodus of parents with their school age children from the City before the State takeover, and before the proliferation of charters. This mostly from the reputation of District schools of being "not safe" or "substandard". Let's answer sentence #1 before going off on another tangent,
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 2:08 pm
Ms. Cheng, Yes, there was an exodus of parents from the city. However, prior to charter schools, many parents simply put their children in private, mostly parochial schools. The huge number of closings of Catholic schools last year has a lot to due with the growth of the charter sector. Catholic schools were once the primary alternative to neighborhood public schools. Charter schools, and special admit public schools (to a lesser extent), now offer a cheaper alternative to the Catholic schools. The rise in charter enrollment is almost the exact opposite of the decline in Catholic school enrollment in the city. I read this somewhere, and I will try to find the source. The difference in Catholic school vs. charter school enrollment is important for the District. When students transfer from Catholic schools to charters schools (or traditional public schools), the District now has additional students who require public money to educate. Thus, the overall enrollment of children in publicly-funded schools has been INCREASING even though enrollment in District-run schools is decreasing. Not only are charter schools taking away students from District-run schools, but the charters (and special-admit schools) are also bringing more students into the publicly-funded system. Thus, there are more students to educate at the same time that there is less money, mainly due to cuts from the Commonwealth. Why this issue isn't more prominent is puzzling, but it's an important factor driving the District's deficit. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 3:57 pm
EGS, it would be good to know the number of students who have transferred from Catholic/private schools to charters. I have not seen this figure published. To get an estimate, here're my numbers gleaned from Notebook articles and the U.S. Census website for 2009/10 FY: SDP has 70,000 empty seats; Philadelphia County's population of 5 to 14 years has decreased by 44,000 from 2000 to 2010; Charters have approximately 50,000 seats. If you subtract 44,000 (loss of school age children from Phil. County) from 70,000 (number of empty seats in SDP 2010), you get 26,000 which went elsewhere, likely to charters or private schools. The number of charter seats was roughly 50,000 for the corresponding time, and the difference (between 50,000 and 26,000) is 24,000 which then had to have come from Catholic/private schools. The 26,000 figure is on the high side because we assume that in 2000, the 70,000 (in 2010) empty seats were full; therefore the 24,000 from Catholic/private schools is an estimate on the low side. So roughly half of charter students are transfers from parochial/private schools. If you look at the State's charter funding page, you will see that the home district, in this case the SDP, is still being compensated for the first year per child cost for transfers from private schools directly to charters. The funding lost from partial compensation for charter transfers is significant; however, just having that compensation encourages the increase of charter seats with little critical evaluation. The District needs to first get on a more solid financial foundation, which includes better use of the money given it. This will decrease the per child instruction cost and in turn decrease the per child charter cost.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 5:36 pm
Ms. Cheng, Can you give the links for the Notebook articles, Census page, and charter funding pages to which you refer? It would save me (and others) some time. I trust what you're saying, but with regard to the way the Commonwealth funds charters and districts, I'd like to read more about it just to inform myself and clear up some confusion that I have (since I'm not a financial expert). Also, Can you elaborate on your point that "just having that compensation encourages the increase of charter seats with little critical evaluation"? Does this have any relationship to the inability of the District to impose enrollment caps? I found that table for which I was looking (yay!): District, nonpublic, and charter enrollment in Philadelphia The lines for non-public and charter enrollment are pretty much the inverses of one another. This doesn't say anything about causation, but the lines are an interesting phenomenon. Here are a couple of sources about enrollment trends in Catholic schools in the Philadelphia area: Philadelphia Is Ground Zero in the Fight to Save Catholic Schools - "In 2011, Philadelphia's Catholic school system had reached a breaking point. Enrollment was down 38 percent in its elementary schools and 34 percent at the high schools; all together, the schools had run up a $6 million deficit." - "The Commission found that many of the Catholic schools receive large subsidies from the parish in order to operate. As enrollment declines, those subsidies increase. Many schools operate well below their enrollment capacity" (p. 8). - "Perhaps the biggest single issue facing most Catholic parents today as they decide on where to send their children to school is tuition costs. Other criteria are important, such as academic excellence and location, but cost is the most critical for the average family" (p. 18). Looking at the Blue Ribbon Commission report provides clarity about the impact of charter schools on Catholic schools. As the table on p. 10 of the report shows, enrollment had been declining in the the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's schools for decades. However, the decline began to level off in the early and mid 1990s, then started to take a nosedive again in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Who knows how much charter schools impacted this decline. After all, Catholic schools closed in suburbs where there are few, if any, charter schools, pointing to tuition costs as the big issue. While former Catholic school parents in the city may transfer their children mainly to charter schools, parents who live in suburbs with good school districts can just sent their kids to public schools. The alternatives are different, but the common denominator of tuition costs remains. Based on my personal experience as a member of a lower-income parish in the city, I know parents whose children attended our parish school or another Catholic school but then left and began attending a charter school or traditional public school due to tuition costs or the school closing. So in the city's Catholic schools, charters are a part of the story but given that Catholic school enrollment has declined for decades, charter schools are not the whole story. Your data from the Census also adds overall demography to the discussion. While the city's population overall has been growing, the population of school-age children has been declining. This points to the necessity of closing some schools---Catholic and public---for demographic reasons. This may be particularly relevant for District-run schools near universities because as the population of college and grad students increases, the population of school children decreases. The families of school-age children may leave these areas due to the rising cost of rent, commercial or university buildings displacing housing, and other factors. Growth of universities has certainly impacted the population composition in catchment areas for schools like Drew, Alexander Wilson, and University City. It would be interesting to look at the school-age population in catchment areas over time in order to see how much of the enrollment decline in neighborhood schools was due to (a) school-age population decline in the catchment or (b) school choice, opting to attend a charter school or special-admission school. Based on data available on the FMP website for individual schools (, the District has the data about these trends, it's just (a) not available publicly or (b) requires some serious internet digging. If the information isn't available online, I wonder how easy/difficult it would be for an ordinary citizen or a media outlet to obtain this kind of demographic data for the past 10 to 15 years for catchment areas. In terms of the District's financial footing, I'm curious how much of the deficit is related to: - Cuts in Commonwealth funding - Charter schools costs - Inefficiencies related to declining enrollment but the continued presence of fixed costs (e.g., utilities, maintenance costs) - Debt service - Pension costs Pension costs are the elephant in the room. I suspect that many of the regular posters and readers on this site would rather sidestep the issue of pensions. However, it's an important issue to address. As I understand it, the PSERS pension payout is around 70% of one's highest salary. The percentage was lower, but increased under Tom Ridge, to the benefit of many elected officials and others. I think there needs to be a dialogue about adjusting the percent calculation for pensions in order to be more sustainable over time. There needs to be balance between fairly compensating public employees and keeping the cost of educating children reasonable and sustainable. This discussion also needs to touch on the issue of double-dipping by persons who used to work for school districts and now work in the charter sector. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 6:29 pm
First of all pensions are not the elephant in the room, the governors just want you to think that they are. The probem arises when the state doesn't pay their share, they divert it to something else and it can continue for years. Also stock market performace is a factor but the investments are farily conservative. However it's a guaranteed pension that's how it works. This why recipients get so annoyed when we're called "greedy," we met our part of the obligation by paying our share out of each paycheck. The requirements for a full pension have been the same for a long time: -35 years or more service (any age) -60 yrs old with 30 years of service -1 year of service and at least 62 year old Payout is based on the *average* of your 3 highest years, and how many years you were with the system. In 2001 I believe it was one was given a choice (not mandatory) to pay a greater percentage that'd be matched. However new hirees (as of the last contract) contribute a higher percentage. You can't really say 70 % as it varies based on various factors. In any case one doesn't make what they were making while working so it's imperative that you have another source of income. I agree about the double dipping.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 9:06 pm
Thank You for clarifying the truth behind the pension lies. Again, republicans, by and large but not solely, want to drive a wedge between the union folks and the non union folks. It ain't really new but it's very ugly and dangerous for people with a guaranteed pension. Republican Governors like Walker and Corbett forget to mention the truth because it gets in the way of their agenda which is to lesson pensions, wages and benefits of union workers. WE ALL need to fight these slithering types who are doing corporate bidding.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:32 pm
EGS, Notebook link: State charter funding page: (Click on link " Section 1725-A (PDF)" of the Pennsylvania Public School Code) U.S.Census Bureau website: (This last requires you select filters to get the data for 2000 and 2010 for population of Philadelphia County) Regarding my statement that compensation for charter transfers encourages less critical evaluation of expanding charter seats, here's the explanation: If you don't have to deal with the full financial impact of the transfers, you have less reason to deny them in the form of (yes) enrollment caps or even the denial of authorization of new charters. You are basically getting money for children that you are no longer responsible for. I suspect this is part of the reason why Philly has 80 plus charters.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:06 pm
In terms of the District's financial footing, I'm curious how much of the deficit is related to: - Cuts in Commonwealth funding - Charter schools costs - Inefficiencies related to declining enrollment but the continued presence of fixed costs (e.g., utilities, maintenance costs) - Debt service - Pension costs State funding and charter schools are commonly known as the 2 biggest problems. The idea is to get Corbett to accept the Medicaid expansion which will free up a whole lot of money for the SDP.. Some ppl will say it's not transferable but not so according to the state senate Democrats. Several R governors have decided to accept tthe Fed money fully knowing what a gift it really is.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 3:18 pm
I assume the "charter school issue" is the ability to "kick out" behavior problems while the SDP can't. Correct me if I'm mistaken. Being unwilling or unable to "remove" behavior problem children from the classroom started when? After charters or before? Assuming it was before, then that is a time period without charters. Correct me if I'm wrong here also, but I believe the structure of the SDP was not much different then.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 4:57 pm
Ms. Cheng, Regarding the "screening out" of children with bad behavior, if the "bad behavior" is attributable to or results from a disability, then the "screening out" is a violation of IDEIA on the grounds of Zero Reject. However, the District hasn't been holding charter schools (CSs) accountable for "screening out" special ed students or other Zero Reject violations. "Bad behavior" is the defining feature of some conditions/disabilities, e.g. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Depending on the child, "bad behavior" can be a part of disorders/disabilities such as Tourette's Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Again, if the District isn't holding CSs accountable for serving children with disabilities who have behavior problems, and the parent doesn't fight the CS, then CSs can get away with "screening out" students. There are a number of factors affecting whether a child qualifies for special ed services. For all intents and purposes, the parent/guardian has the final say on whether the child receives/doesn't receive a diagnosis and special ed services. A student may lack a diagnosis because the parent (a) refused to consent to the evaluation process or (b) refused to sign off on an evaluation report. (It's common for a caregiver to be in denial about a child's behavior problems or disability.) The caregiver can receive an independent evaluation at District expense, but my understanding is that the parent doesn't have to agree with the findings of this evaluation either. Thus, unless a school district has a court order (which is rare in Philadelphia) or DHS gets involved, a district cannot force the IEP process to happen against the wishes of the parent/guardian In order for a District school to "get rid of" a student with behavior problems, the student would typically have to do something really serious, such as bring a weapon to school or serious injure another student. And even then, the process differs for younger students and older students; as I understand it, alternative/disciplinary schools are mainly for students in fifth grade and above. Also, the principal has some discretion over what happens to a student who commits a serious offense. Another issue is that even if a child has a disability, he/she may not necessarily be placed in the most appropriate placement due to the wishes of the parent. Unless there is a court order (or, possibly, unless DHS gets involved), the parent has to consent for the child to receive special ed services, including moving to a different school where appropriate services are available. If a child is re-evaluated and receives a different diagnosis, the child can stay in the same placement as stipulated in the previous IEP simply because of the parent's wishes, e.g. because it's more convenient for the parent if all of their children go to one school. Unless there is a court order, DHS involvement, or the child commits a very serious offense, the school can't do much; teachers just have to "deal with it" and do their best. I've dealt with this first hand. I worked with students in a District-run school who remained in the neighborhood school, even though it didn't have the appropriate low-incidence program, because of parental wishes. Some parents may eventually "come around" to admitting the presence of a disability, especially if/when they become aware that they may qualify to receive SSI benefits for a child who has a disability. When parents won't consent to a diagnosis for a child with behavior problems and the child attends a CS, the CS can get away with sending a regular ed student (who should be receiving special ed services) back to a District-run school because the child's behavior problems are against the CS's policies. Not only does the CS no longer have to deal with the "difficult" child, but if the parent was also "difficult," then the charter no longer has to deal with her/him either. And the District hasn't been holding CSs accountable for serving all students, so District-run schools often end up serving the students with the thorniest behavior problems. In sum, the issues you raise are very complicated. I've described some worst-case scenarios. Most parents want what is best for their children, and after coming to terms with the presence of a disability/behavior problems, will do what is best for them. Nonetheless, these worst-case can be huge headaches for teachers, principals, and other students. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 4:04 pm
O.k., but why if the District has a continuing responsibility to educate these kids, and now more than ever because they are being "kicked back" to them, have they not invested in some form of alternate curricula for those that are not Special Ed? I am especially unforgiving in what I see as the misuse of Title I funds. As big a problem as poverty is here, inevitably some of these behavior problems are related to basic needs insecurity. As a matter of policy, the SDP, should use these funds only for the poor kids, even though they are technically allowed to use them schoolwide with only a 40% qualified population. The SDP should also look to strengthen the community involvement using these poverty designate funds, to secure continued services for qualifying families (the community school concept). Couldn't those suspected of having learning disabilities also be informally included in the appropriate curriculum for example? I've never had my children tested for MG, but my younger son is being allowed to participate in an MG class based on the teacher's interview. I think parents hesitate to label their children, but wouldn't object to tailored curriculum.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 7:38 pm
Regarding your point about Title I funds, the U.S. Department of Education stipulates 40% as the cutoff, not the SDP. See the following publication for more information: "Implementing RTI Using Title I, Title II, and CEIS Funds," (The point about the 40% cutoff is on p. 4.) I'll address your point about an alternative curriculum, but let me start by mentioning Response to Intervention (RtI). Up to 15% of IDEIA funding can go toward interventions which address interventions for students without disabilities. RtI is a more proactive alternative to the "wait-to-fail" approach, which was common in the past. RtI also meets the criteria for Child Find, which is the requirement that a school district attempt to identify children who have disabilities. Pennsylvania calls its version of RtI Response to Intervention and Instruction (RtII). RtI models typically have 3 tiers while PA's RtII has 4 tiers. Tier 1 is for universal interventions for all students. Tier 2 is a more intensive intervention, and tier 3 even more so. Reaching tier 3 of RtII will often trigger the special ed evaluation process. Tier 4 either means the child is receiving special ed services or is under evaluation for them. At the two District schools at which I have most recently spent time (for student teaching and employment), regular ed students have received this kind of "alternate curriculum" to which you refer. I am aware of children receiving teacher-delivered interventions such as Corrective Reading and Reading Mastery from a reduced-class size teacher, school based teacher leader, or reading intervention specialist. Typically, the aforementioned teacher would pull out students. At one school, this pulling out would often occur during a school-wide intervention period. At each school in the District, there is an RtII champion, often a school based teacher leader. This person is responsible for overseeing RtII implementation in the school. Based on my time in these two District schools, the fidelity of implementation varied. At one school, everyone was "in the loop" about RtII, whereas at the other school, I heard virtually nothing about RtII (via email or otherwise), although, to be fair, this was probably due in part to working in a special ed classroom. At one school, computer time was often used for interventions whereas at the other school, computer time wasn't generally used for interventions. Common interventions in the District seem to correspond to materials available. Common ones are Reading Mastery (teacher-delivered), Corrective Reading (teacher-delivered), Corrective Math (teacher-delivered), and Earobics (computer-based). I've also seen a school use Lexia (computer-based) and Achieve 3000 (computer-based), and Language for Learning (teacher-delivered) for RtII for regular ed students and/or special ed students. The District has a certain number of licenses available for the computer-based interventions so teachers have to designate which students should receive certain computer-based interventions. The SDP's approved interventions are here: For more about RtII, see: (This link doesn't appear as a hyperlink, but it's correct. Make sure to include the (RtII) at the end.) I hope my explanation is helpful. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:44 pm
EGS, in your opinion, how effective are these interventions?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 8:09 pm
I'm not comfortable commenting on the efficacy based on personal experience. I've never spent an entire year with students and seen them progress over that period of time using an intervention. I can tell you that a couple of SDP teachers have told me that Reading Mastery works. These were special ed teachers using it with students receiving special ed services, and their students were making progress with Reading Mastery. The efficacy of specific interventions depends on the intervention. Not all of the SDP-approved interventions have strong research support. Many interventions claim to be "research-based," but companies will typically tout only positive results for their product (which makes perfect business sense although it can make distinguishing effective from less effective or ineffective interventions difficult). Last night, I was looking at some websites about the efficacy of various curricula and interventions. Two useful sites are: Best Evidence Encyclopedia What Works Clearninghouse From WWC, Find What Works,, I selected the most rigorous criteria: Effectiveness Rating: Positive Effects Extent of Evidence: Medium to Large For Literacy, there are 5 programs that meet both of these criteria: - Reading Recovery - Sound Partners - Success for All - Fast ForWord - Literacy Express Here are the BEE's findings for reading programs with "Strong Evidence of Effectiveness": Beginning Reading: - Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) - Reading Reels - Success for All Struggling Readers: - Success for All - Direct Instruction/ Corrective Reading - Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) - Reading Recovery - Targeted Reading Intervention - Quick Reads - One-to-One Teacher Tutoring with Phonics Emphasis Programs: 1) Auditory Discrimination in Depth 2) Early Steps/Howard Street Tutoring 3) Intensive Reading Remediation 4) Reading Rescue 5) Reading with Phonology One-to-One Paraprofessional/ Volunteer Tutoring with Phonics Emphasis* Programs: 1) Sound Partners 2) The Reading Connection 3) SMART 4) Reading Rescue 5) Howard Street Tutoring 6) Book Buddies Based on reviewing the WWC and BEE sites, three things stood out to me: (1) Success for All programs have consistent, strong evidence of effectiveness, (2) Reading Recovery have consistent, strong evidence of effectiveness, and (3) face-to-face interventions are more effective than computer-based interventions. The evidence for math interventions is much spottier, so that's why I only included results for reading. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 3:51 pm
Thank you, Ms. Cheng. I have expressed the same sentiments on this site numerous times. I believe that most parents who choose charters over traditional public schools do so because the charters, for the most part, do not allow disruptive students to hijack the learning of others. Give traditional public schools the option to remove disruptive students and educate them in alternative settings or classrooms and I expect that the exodus to charters will come to a grinding halt.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 23, 2013 3:12 pm
I agree with you that the exodus to charters, and maybe even to the suburbs, would stop. And we could save what I feel are the strengths of the SDP with its ability to pool resources: the ability to serve Special Ed, ELL, and offer Instrumental Music instruction, Athletics, Nurses, Counselors, etc., services which charters struggle to provide at the same level currently offered (though now threatened) at the District.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:05 am
I agree with you that the exodus to charters, and maybe even to the suburbs, would stop. And we could save what I feel are the strengths of the SDP with its ability to pool resources: the ability to serve Special Ed, ELL, and offer Instrumental Music instruction, Athletics, Nurses, Counselors, etc., services which charters struggle to provide at the same level currently offered (though now threatened) at the District. >Ms Cheng Well looking here a "communism" advocate, but just for this post because scroll down and you change your "position," The purpose here is to divert and confuse, sounds rather trollish.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:03 am
I'm for whatever provides the most for the children. My own tendencies, are towards socialism, but this has problems as demonstrated in Europe. I am not a fan of the levelling that communism extols. I'm an Arts person. Across systems, whether they be democratic/capitalist, socialist, or communist, what works for the "better of all" are checks and balances in power, and the push towards/enforcement of ethical and moral standards. By the way, you need to be clear about these ideologies as well. If I point out that the SDP has the advantage over charters in pooled resources, I am not supporting communism, but socialism.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 11:09 am
"I'm for whatever provides the most for the children." >Ms Cheng In what way does this differentiate you from anyone else?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 12:20 pm
What differentiates me specifically from the teachers, and the private business owners, is that I don't have an income or benefits at stake when I point out what I think will benefit the children or not. My only future aspiration at this point is in the Arts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 2:56 pm
Private business owners /teachers/retirees on one side Ms Cheng objective observer on th other. Aah yes, I see how that works for you. If your only aspiration is the arts then why all the poking around?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 4:21 pm
Sorry, some of us still have a conscience :)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 4:50 pm
Your conscience as opposed to whom?.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 5:14 pm
My conscience as the explanation as to why I "poke around". As an arts person, I successfully homeschooled my children, one through 5th, and one through 3rd grade. Let me also dedicate my continued "poking around" to Kyree (7th grade) whose eyes lit up, when I brought in flash cards to Chess club to help him with basic math tables, that I had used for my own kids before first grade. I registered him to an ASAP Chess match which I was chaperoning volunteer, and his aunt failed to sign his permission slip, and he could not get transportation... You really love confrontation don't you? No wonder you like accusing writers of being trolls. Yes, the world is all about power in the end.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 6:06 pm
A volunteer who homeschools, case closed. Now I see the source for all the verbiage yet superficialaity. Back and forth like a ping pong ball with no allegiences to anyone or anything. I don't enjoy confrontation but when I see something that doesn't add up I will say something. Now I can scoot along and address the issues. TYVM.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:52 pm
I am most honored to be ignored by you -thanks in return.
Submitted by Pay-TV Vergleich (not verified) on December 16, 2013 7:12 pm
I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 7:26 pm
Anonymous, It's not an issue of communism, but rather, economies of scale. The SDP's size allows it to provide some programs that smaller districts and charter schools cannot provide. As a case in point, small school districts in many counties in the Commonwealth rely on Intermediate Units to provide low incidence special ed and vocational ed programs. However, larger districts can provide these programs in house. For example, in Bucks County, Central Bucks SD services almost all of its special ed students "in-house." Smaller districts in Bucks County rely on the Bucks County IU for support with or to provide special ed services. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:19 pm
You gloss over the inflated salaries of those running the charters compared to their public school counterparts. Compare the lack of education training and experience if these charters heads. Then look at the wages they want to pay their teachers. That is why they are desperate to keep unions out of the charters. It has little to do with real educational reform. If it did then Philly would be allowing teachers to run their own charters. So far there is not even one despite PA being the leader in all things charter. It's amazing how you can only see what you want to see.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 7:14 pm
This is true for a lot of the charter schools in Philly, but not all of them.
Submitted by Dave (not verified) on June 22, 2013 2:23 pm
I smell pepperoni pizza. Let's offer them a slice.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 3:45 pm
So now we're introducing something else into the mix and this is what gets us off track. I thought you were talking about structure and now it's about "rights."
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 23, 2013 3:56 pm
O.k. I did talk about structure, and it is related to the "screening of children". How?: 1. Inability to find or use the already given (Title I for example) resources for those who are the behavior problems. 2. Inability to take action on the root cause of the abandonment of the SDP. The bureaucracy must be broken up. It can't be just a few individuals making the important decisions, or a few vendors being given huge contracts. Rating and responsiblities should be shifted from individuals to teams. This empowers everyone, and creates a better "balance of power".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 23, 2013 6:28 pm
You've got a dozen things going here as usual, and your stances aren't consistent.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 3:17 am
There are 2 in my above comment: 1. mistaken judgement on removing "trouble kids"; and 2. the inadequacy of the current bureaucratic hierarchical structure of the SDP (which also enables number one). Some other things related I can restate: 1. I am not against privatization/charters if they are doing more for the children in their care than the SDP school these children would otherwise be in. You can't make the blanket statement that privately run schools couldn't possibly do more for the students simply because they are privately run. 2. So for those who like to argue democracy: Shared resources directed by the government is not democracy, it is socialism. Democracy does not guarantee equality in the distribution of resources at all -remember, the majority rules. In the case of school matters, the voter turnout is historically some of the lowest, so even less, "fair representation". 3. And for those who argue "equality" (of the levelling kind): A classless society is communism. My perspective may seem inconsistent because you are looking to see if I am for or against your pre-cut platform. I'm a pragmatist. I don't equate ideologies unequivocally to realities, power plays are too complex. Yes, I am not an activist (and happy I am not -been there, done that...)
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 5:06 pm
I haven't the foggiest idea what you're saying, Ms. Cheng. I try, I swear I do but I can't seem to connect your words. I don't drink. I don't do drugs. I don't curse.......well, that's not true. I believe in God and believe SHE is good but...............It must be I. My father and I used to read Chuck Stone back in the day. He was a writer for the Daily News. Neither one of us ever understood his columns and would laugh hysterically-in a gallows humor kind of way---I didn't say, the relationship was healthy. In any case, just sayin.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 6:31 pm
Joe you just answered my prayers.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 7:59 pm
Joe, I don't necessarily agree with Ms. Cheng, but I understand where she's coming from and why she may appear to have seemingly contradictory views. Some people have the same sentiments about me. For example, while I am a strong believer in unions, I also have serious issues with the PFT and am not afraid to write about them. People get confused and think I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. I'm not, I just don't equate being pro-union with totally supporting the PFT's policies. I think that a dialogue about the weaknesses of the PFT is important and healthy in order to think about ways to improve it and other unions. Think of my criticism as tough love---I see the weaknesses of the PFT and other unions and point them out because I believe in unions and want the the unions to improve and not continue to be decimated. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:51 pm
I see you as more sincere EGS but with regard to the PFT it's another instance where you might hear "stick around for awhile." It's one thing to read about things and another to have had experiences with them and the previous leadership. Philadelphia is in a situation similar to some other cities right now and it's interesting to see how the various unions respond, how strong or weak they are, and what and how much they are willing to concede. You're coming in at a time of crisis where the plan is privatize the SDP, but also with the loss of so many veteran PFT members. Needless to say it's a challenge and one that worries me.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:24 pm
I enjoyed your post and agree with you. They're trying to privatize EVERYTHING and the more you privatize, the fewer the rights and protections workers have against the corporations. It's ALL by design and focused on the inner cities because they're the easiest segment to control and bully. It won't end there but suburban areas will fight them in a massive, organized and hostile way......but they'll try. None of this is new. Corporations are always trying to divide and conquer workers from one another to increase the profit margin and reduce overhead like wages and benefits. We better be careful and fight this with more vigor and far less restraint. Our lives depend on it.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 8:55 pm
Anonymous, For the record, I base a lot of what I say about PFT on speaking to PFT members, many of them veteran members. My opinion about the PFT has been shaped more by what PFT members have said that on what I have read. Obviously, that's no substitute for first-hand experience, but my opinion isn't just "book knowledge." EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:57 pm
EGS there is also a difference between what members have personally been through and the PFT as an entity. God only knows how many times people have been burned but when the time comes to act the more supporters the better.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 26, 2013 12:26 am
I have never seen new employees obsess this much about the PFT as they are usually busy getting acclimated to their jobs.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 26, 2013 11:36 pm
I was getting acclimated to the most dysfunctional school in which I have ever spent time in my entire life.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 7:15 pm
Glad you understand. I'm not trying to be unkind though that unattractive trait comes quickly to me. I just read the words but don't get it. Unions aren't perfect but what is? Improving unions isn't what is necessary NOW, protecting them against the invaders, is. Unions protect ALL working people, to various degrees.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:36 pm
You're not unkind just "impatient" to have people see what the root of the problems really are. The unions have to be strong, there is no alternative, but agreed that's not the main focus nor are all the numbers being thrown around.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:50 pm
Agreed. Patience is not one of my strengths. When I was a Principal, I told a teacher that I wished I could throw him off the roof of the school. Not my proudest moment but he tended to stay farther away from me after that so it was worth it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:13 pm
OMG that's hilarious. Holy cow, you were a principal. Whoda thunk?
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:19 pm
I was a Principal of a prison population. That's how I got this way.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 2:36 pm
What way? Joe in time you'll learn not to be so hard on yourself but it may take some time even after retiring.Most of us have done the best we could with what we were given and by that I'm not talking about the students.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 2:08 pm
Thank You Very Much.
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Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 8:21 pm
Joe, I agree with you. At the same time, it's important to look at how the policies of unions like the PFT affect children directly, not just working people, and by extension, their children. Many policies, such as caps on class size, benefit both teachers and students. Where there are policies that have less direct benefit to students or may be harmful to students, it's important to have the dialogue. The "doing what's best for children" can't be lip service. Ultimately, I believe that, on most matters, doing what is best for children will ultimately benefit the PFT and other unions because of public support. For decades, public support for unions has been eroding. If unions like the PFT can genuinely gain the support of the public, the privatizers will have less sway. If people believe that teachers unions, by and large, promote policies which promote the common good for children, people will support them. Obviously, the union is there to protect adults, but that's goes back to my point about paying lip service. Don't say you're "about the children" when you aren't. People see through this charade. Actions and policies speak louder than words. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:27 pm
EGS, a lesson in labor history is needed here. We don't exist for the purpose of getting public support, although it's better to have it, and it shouldn't be hard these days to garner it. It's is not called The Federation of Children, I have seen this ploy many times before so the guilt trip only works with some people. Teacher's unions exist for the purpose of bargaining collectively for their members, (salary, working conditions, benefits etc) and most people should know (but don't) that teachers with high morale function much better, which in turn filters down to their students. Lip service, excuse me but how gutsy is this?
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 8:40 pm
You're wrong in every paragraph. Unions protect the rights of adults and by extension, the rights of kids. Kids are part of the family structure and families who make a livable wage, are better able to provide for their kids. It's all connected. The privatizers, corporate types, have sold a bill of goods to the non union working class about the selfishness of unions and some dunces have bought it, hook, line and sinker. Again, unions aren't perfect and they and management have played an appropriate ying and yang game for a 100 years but don't fall for the line that unions only help adults and are anti child because that's stuck on stupid. Google Child Labor pre unions in the USA for a glimpse into disgraceful behavior. Then google Henry Ford and prepare to throw up.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 24, 2013 9:54 pm
The post above is for EGS.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 10:13 pm
Joe, I made the point that by benefiting working people, the working people's children also benefit. One of the ways in which the PFT and other teachers unions could help to work even more for children is to allow for certain pay increases, privileges, or better compensation for teachers who teach in the hardest-to-staff schools. These schools need stability. If not incentives, then the union needs to be proactive about focusing on the hardest-to-staff schools so that these schools aren't so hard to staff. There should also be a system in place so that senior teachers can put in their requests and the District can process these requests in a timely manner so that the District can fill its vacancies earlier during the peak hiring months of May and June. The PFT needs to speak up about and hold the District accountable for providing sufficient supplies and textbooks, terms that are listed in the contract. Of course the union should be defending seniority, pay, and benefits, but the union shouldn't just be speaking up about these matters. Supplies are a major issue in the schools and the union needs to hold the District's feet to the fire on supplies-related terms in the contract. Another issue I have with the PFT is that they don't take complaints about poor performance, incompetence, and unprofessional conduct seriously. I've heard a union rep tell a parent with a legitimate complaint about her child's teacher that "I can't say anything, I'm the PFT rep." I knew that the complaints were legitimate because I had frequent chances to observe the teacher with students and had the same concerns as this parent. Other teachers also shared these concerns. This kind of response is incredibly self-serving and is terrible PR for the union. There needs to be a process by which parents who have concerns about teachers can legitimately address them, whether it be by referring them to the principal or a responsive ombudsman. There also needs to be a way that PFT members can speak up, in good faith, about another PFT member who isn't doing their job. Principals can't see everything that is going on in the school all the time. If a teacher brings a compliant to the administration about a teacher or other member who is cursing out or berating students on a regular basis (e.g. telling them that they'll end up in jail), doing paper work during instructional time day after day, coming to an IEP meeting with an incomplete IEP, these are serious instructional and professional issues that should be addressed. When teachers and other PFT members who consistently demonstrate unprofessional conduct and poor instructional practices are allowed to remain in their jobs without repercussion, it hurts the reputation of the PFT and hurts kids. PFT members should be holding each other accountable for high levels of professional conduct. Sometimes this happens, other times it doesn't. PFT members should be able to bring legitimate matters of concern to the attention of the administration without fearing repercussions from the building rep or other PFT members with clout. I've seen and experienced this scenario first hand. I haven't been sold a bill of goods and I never said that unions were anti-child. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:35 pm
#1 those are called incentives EGS #2 there ARE deadlines for transfer requests. but with the mess this year things are bound to get messed up #3 there is nothing stopping a parent from going to a principal to discuss a complaint about a teacher. As for teachers reporting on other teachers,my advice if for you to talk amongst your friends about a solutiion but watch your step. These little anecdotes you speak of "I saw"" I heard" are hearsay. It's not your business if somebody marks papers while kids are working or who has an incompleted IEP. the counselor or designate runs that show, not you. #4 PFT members should be holding each other accountable? You will become personna non grata in no time flat. The principal can be asked to check on somebody, but you're making an awful lot of demands for a newly hired person, and I've seen a lot, but that's chutzpah. Do you want to teach or be a little snitch with everything you see thinking (wrongly) that it's going to better the PFT? PFT staffers don't deal with member on member disputes, only member/admnst problems and they're not even good at that anymore.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:40 am
Very good post and I agree with all of it.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 25, 2013 9:04 pm
Anonymous, When you say PFT staffers, does that include building reps or just PFT employees? I'm aware that the assignment deadline was later this year, which is understandable given school closings. I have dealt with these issues personally; they are not just hearsay. When I am working in a classroom where a teacher is doing paperwork, and the children have nothing to do and are out of control as a result, then yes, it affects me. Not only does it affect me, but it's wrong. These children are supposed to be receiving instruction. Your attitude is precisely one of the reasons why parents are fed up with some of the District-run schools. The code of silence and tolerance for unprofessionalism---cursing out students on a regular basis, threats of corporal punishment, day after day doing paperwork doing instructional time---is ridiculous. As educators, aren't we supposed to be providing children with a high-quality education? How would you feel if your child's teacher was doing paperwork day after day during instructional time or came with an unfinished draft IEP to your child's IEP meeting? (I would be furious.) As a chapter of the AFT, "A Union of Professionals," yes, PFT members should be holding each other to high standards of professionalism. If teachers want to be considered professionals and want to continue to bolster the professional reputation of teachers, then yes, we must hold ourselves and our colleagues to high standards. (And if so many of the principals in the SDP are incompetent, then holding each other to high standards is even more important.) Most parents cannot be in their child(ren)'s school on a daily basis. You can try to justify all you want the unprofessional conduct to which I refer. You can call me a snitch. But the reality is, that the vast majority of the general public would find the kind of behavior I describe appalling and would share my sentiments about the issue. These are publicly funded schools and the public is paying for teachers to be teaching students during instructional time, not doing paperwork while children are largely unattended. The majority of teachers do their jobs and do them well, but the unprofessional and neglectful conduct of some teachers and PFT members cannot just be "swept under the rug." It must be addressed so that it does not become even worse and continue to hurt students and the reputation of the teaching profession and SDP teachers. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 11:07 pm
Staffers are PFT employees not BR's. No, what you said regarding transfer deadlines, was can there be something done so that... etc etc. Ahem, what I've been told more than once is my attitude brought a buiding to life, as they had had no libriarians before I arrived and I served at many schools. There were issues her and there but I loved the job and you learn to cope. You can always talk to the principal or AP if you have concerns and he/she may stop by unannounced to see the situation. Your BR is not going to tell you to report other PFT members, that's not what they are there for. Hold on EGS you are famous for telling people what to to do and you are not in any position to do so. I agree about the level of professionalism but that's for the principal to decide upon observation. IF you want to take up the cause of being policeman in the buliding you are free to do so, you might even make freinds with the principal for awhile by serving as a spy until of course they turn on you on a dime. Call me what ever you want but I know whereof I speak. The dynamics at play are not nearly as cut and dried as you think and people skills are very important in this job. In 30+ years I saw plenty I didn't like but when you overstep you'll hear about it. I've seen very few aides with Master level degrees in PARA jobs, so I guess you feel entitled to be all puffed up. "The majority of teachers do their jobs and do them well," and you're going to do something about those who don't? Thats' some real chuzpah right there, but that's okay you'll find out.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 26, 2013 11:53 pm
Anonymous, I wasn't trying to be the police. My concerns regarded what was occurring in ONE classroom, the one in which I worked. In every other place I've worked, including the grocery store with unionized employees (I was a member of the union), you reported concerns to your supervisor. That's all I did, but it was an issue with the BR because the other person was a PFT member. (However, people could more freely report concerns about employees in the building who weren't in the PFT.) I was stuck in a school with one of those principals who isn't very good...from what I hear, it seems to be a common problem in District-run schools (sarcasm intended). I know it's not the building rep's job to encourage me to report on others. I get preachy at times, I know, but when do I tell people what to do any more than some other posters on this site? EGS
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:38 am
As stated before many times, unions aren't perfect and nothing else is either. As my father used to say, "The last perfect person died on a cross 2,000 years ago." Nobody has been more concerned about Jordan's apathy than I.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 26, 2013 11:08 pm
And rightfully so, Joe. Jerry Jordan is PATHETIC! Where is the fire? Yes, he needs to negotiate and use the courts to defend the union, but he also needs to FIRE UP the membership. But I won't be surprised if he turns out to be a turncoat or if he's getting paid under the table for God knows what. EGS
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 26, 2013 11:09 pm
And rightfully so, Joe. Jerry Jordan is PATHETIC! Where is the fire? Yes, he needs to negotiate and use the courts to defend the union, but he also needs to FIRE UP the membership. But I won't be surprised if he turns out to be a turncoat or if he's getting paid under the table for God knows what. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 4:05 pm
EGS- The Chicago teachers union has been succesful in part because they engaged the community, so yes the outreach is important, but the more important point is that corporate nvolvement has affected teachers AND children in that the most vulnerable in the inner cities have been targeted. This is where the commonality comes in but basically teachers unions represent teachers and their working conditions..It's time we stopped apologizing for that and internalizing the reformy divide and conquer message that teachers are selfish and "not for the kids." Teaching is one of THE most important jobs and there is no reason in a country with resources such as ours that conditions are so awful. I don't get a good vibe from the state and certainly not from the WH
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 5:25 pm
Several Kudos coming your way. I couldn't agree with you more and I wish I had posted it myself.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:47 pm
As a retirement gift you can post it and sign it Joe K ;)
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:14 pm
I did write that--You know it, I know it and The American People know it. Walter Mondale.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:17 pm
I forgot to mention that it is maddening that so many working people can't see through this charade. It's stunning how dumb some people can be when you try to sell them a bill of goods. In Phila., the problem is made worse because the PFT Leader acts more like follower and is more likely to accept abuse in the name of "peace."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 27, 2013 2:43 pm
I'm sure he's not pleased about this ridiculous "budget, or the shenanigians behind it all " but common sense dictates we have to wait to see what money comes in then proceed with negotiations. What is he realistically going to say at this time ahead of the state budget? There are a lot of retirees and schools that have closed, so don't tell me there haven't been considerable savings as a result. Asking the union to condede more $ that you ask from the state is ludicrous, so htat with the layoffs should have everybody fired up. I wouldn't be so fast to condede this and that because Hite *says* there is no money, it's part of his job to neuter the union as much as possible.Pension contrubutions were already conceded for new hirees, so now they are going to start in on healthcare- just a guess. Seniority needs to stay in place, its' been eroded too much anyway by site selection (which was also a concession). Anyone who allows these contracts to erode too much is making a serious mistake whether it's' JJ or the membership, but the younger the membership the more "job focused "they are.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 25, 2013 9:57 pm
I never said that teachers were selfish. If the teachers union is about working conditions and teachers, then so be it. But then don't go to rallies and advertise that the union is about "what's best for students" if the union isn't about that. That's all I was saying.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 26, 2013 12:58 am
We can do both and much of what we advocate for benefits children. IF we are to take a pay cut (not likely), have benefits reduced, reduced prep periods, and longer days how do you think teachers will feel about their jobs - excited to come each day with new and fresh ideas? Face it EGS, without teachers where would the kids be, sitting behind a computer all day in a sterile lab or home with mom being homeschooled? Because as we know all mothers are educational "experts." Take it easy on being the boss of all things, if you are lucky enough to get your own classroom then you'll be able to do things your own way to an extent.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 9:03 pm
You know Joe, it makes no difference what I say, so it doesn't matter. Parents are choosing to leave the SDP and the SDP refuses to acknowledge the real reasons. They were leaving before charters, and they left when the District had plenty of money. So when the District once again gets plenty of money, they will continue to leave - what will be different? The majority of Notebook comments now convince me that it was the parents who left who did the right thing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 10:31 pm
From what I'm reading here your hope is that everyone leaves. You might want to do some intensive thinking about the repercussions of everyone leaving. Not only should we have a cap on charters but a cap on homeschooling, and I'm dead serious.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 12:44 pm
A little bit of humor - thanks for that. I wasn't hoping that everyone would leave, but now that you mention it, it's a great idea. Then no one will be stuck with anything, if everyone leaves. You won't even need caps because there will be nothing to save. So there's the solution :) My last act of conscience regarding the SDP (before I myself leave) should be to publish a book of quotes from Anonymous on the Notebook, titled, "1001 Reasons Why You Made the Right Decision in Leaving the SDP, as stated by those who stayed or would have been teaching your children". Maybe even a larger volume titled, "Historical Time Sinks". So on the serious side, death notwithstanding, there are forces already in action, and not because of any conspiracy. Things may work out for the better in the end after all. Again, nothing I say will change this.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 12:38 pm
I did not post that but since we both like it, I'll take credit for it.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:05 am
Ms. Cheng--I know you had a very bad personal experience with one of the schools and I believe, that is the genesis of all your vitriol against the schools. I could be wrong, of course, but I could be right too. In any case, I believe I am being far more objective but maybe I'm wrong there too.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 11:36 am
Not necesessariy related, but in discussions with virulently anti union ppl I've found that many have had bad experieinces. IOW it's not necessarily ideology that drives the anger.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 25, 2013 11:07 am
Ms. Cheng--Not for nothin, but the larger point, by far, is that Public Education is a right that needs to be protected and corrected when necessary. It shouldn't be starved and marginalized by the rich to line their own pockets at the direct expense of the poor. The issue of charters per se, is not, for me, not nearly so important as the democracy issue in a free society. Also, I've been asked by 4 different charter groups to join them. EVERYONE of them mentioned makin money in the first sentence. Just sayin.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 12:03 pm
And Joe, the majority agree with you. I actually agree if the issue is "money vs. access to education", I'm a volunteer for goodness sake, I give my time no money required. In the matter of charters, some are doing their job. Parents and caregivers will be the final judge regardless of what you and I might say.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 1:13 pm
"In the matter of charters, some are doing their job. Parents and caregivers will be the final judge regardless of what you and I might say." >Cheng That remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 24, 2013 7:14 pm
Ms. Cheng, Communism, in theory, means equality of outcome. When I think of equality, I think of equality of opportunity, e.g. equitable funding of education (per-pupil spending). Equality means that everyone has a fair shake, that there is a level playing field. I can't speak for others, but that's my definition of equality. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 24, 2013 9:46 pm
Communism attempts to eliminate the oppression of property ownership and class. But the theory errs in its blanket assumptions, and neglect of one of the driving impulses of life, which is the betterment of oneself. Levelling turns out to create as much oppression to the spirit of man as exploitation does.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 11:28 am
"Levelling turns out to create as much oppression to the spirit of man as exploitation does" >Ms. Cheng It must be quite difficult to go through life with no core values. I would think that equal opportunity and access to quality education is something to strive for,and I'm unequivocal on that. Most ppl would agree but the difference come in how to achieve that goal, and profiting monetarily off that idea is a great source of concern.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 11:01 am
When you allow a "bad behavior" child to disrupt classes, you are levelling everyone's access to a common low... perhaps even "zero". This is "equal access" and the purpose of public education? In the world of compartmentalized bureaucratic thinking, apparently it is. Perhaps you can excuse this so long as your wages and benefits are protected I guess. Yes, I have seen this mindset in action. "Core values" ... nice smoke.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 1:53 pm
Perhaps you can excuse this so long as YOUR wages and benefits are protected >Ms Cheng Well here we have it, it's not really *about* education is it, it's about blame. I don't imagine most employees "allow bad behavior," a school needs to enforce its discipline policies but often they don't. Why? The admininstration has to "look good" to the District, so many things go unreported. Now I understand that the District did away with its discipline policy (regarding suspensions),maybe someone with updated info can speak to that. A few years ago the PFT added a clause to the contract about teachers being able to use reasonable force against a student as a result of some teachers being badly hurt. I would think the PFT could do more in this area but how many alternative schools still exist? . "Core values" ... nice smoke" >> Excuse me, but what are you getting at Ms Cheng?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 1:10 pm
Because I point out the negative effects of "levelling" you say that shows a "lack of core values". Then you go on to talk about how you support "equal access". The inference being that "equal access" is a core value that "levelling" supports. (Get a dictionary if that's too wordy.) Then you give me a whole paragraph on how the District's policies are the reason, "bad behavior" can't be handled adequately. Well, administration in the bureaucracy gets a paycheck and benefits too. Did you skip over my mentioning the "compartmentalized thinking" of a bureaucracy? Enough said, this conversation should be published as part of "Why You Made the Right Decision to Leave the SDP" from Anonymous... coming soon to a suburban bookstore near you... Btw, I thought you were going to ignore me.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 2:56 pm
Wow, can someone clue me in as to what happened to her? There is a difference between "leaving" and retiring but I can say (to state the obvious), most of use are speaking from experience of been employed IN the SDP. Nobody is making excuses for things that haven't worked but don't you think it's a good idea that you understand why? Why do you resist all knowledge that doesn't emanate from you?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 3:15 pm
Then you give me a whole paragraph on how the District's policies are the reason." >cheng Well pardon me but WTH do you think the reason is? Do you think that employees want disruption and put up with it just go get a paycheck? I didn't say that it *can't *be handled properly I 'm saying that it isn't being handled*. You asked and when people answer you dismiss it. The fact is that you don't know, it's all conceptual for you. * Here's the real deal Ms.Cheng: the more disruption, the more parents want out to charters, and surprise LOOK HOW that's worked out! It's all planned out or the Distirict would never have abandoned their discipline policy. FYI the conversation won't be published but be on the lookout for books as last of the old school veterans leave. Usually arts ppl don't have this level of hostility, something is off,.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 3:57 pm
Alright, I'll try to keep this short. If this is all "by design", then what really can anyone do about it? I believe Councilman Green wanted to break up the SDP into smaller districts. Is that a viable solution in your opinion? My "hostility" is called "thin skin". I have yet to advertise for anything on here except ASAP Chess and Temple CMSP, and there is no pay there for me.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 4:05 pm
People ARE doing something about it, we are trying to keep as many schools andopen as possible and not have them being taken over. One would logically think that with so many closings and retirements there wouln't BE the need for such a bare bones offeing, so doesnt that make one wonder? This clown Hite wants more from the union that he's asking from the state, so if that doesn't tell ppl the aim I don't know what does. Folks are up in Harrisburg today fighting for public ed funding and their jobs, and as far as I'm concerned if acceptable conditions arent't met it's time for a strike. FYI many of us have volunteered.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 4:27 pm
Very good, it's an optimistic reply. Add the requirement that the District reinstate their discipline policy to your demands.This should help the enrollment. From my perspective as a pragmatist and volunteer- go after the community partnerships.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:39 pm
Are you talking about the PSP?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:34 pm
No, not the PSP, it has its own agenda. Such organizations as Big Bros. Big Sisters, Interact, PCCY, YMCA, Friends of the Free Library, PHS (Penn Horticultural Society), Settlement Music School, Fleisher Art Memorial, Education branch of Philadelphia Theatre Co., etc. etc. and the like. Those that have been working for years for children. For mental health and disabilities, I'm not sure what organizations exist with outreach, but I'm sure they exist - perhaps the teaching branches of the universities.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:42 pm
Not sure what you mean by "go after" partnerships.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:43 pm
Oh sorry, wrote "go after". Did not mean "confront", but pursue working relationships with, in order to build those future community schools. That will help keep schools open.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 7:40 pm
Ms, Cheng- you're stiil not getting the picture that schools are not closing just because parents are bailing They are closing because a plan was made to defund and target a certain number of schools (and quite frankly specific schools in the inner city.) When you defund the result is that we don't have the programs and services we once had then they say that these schools are "''failing" or "underuilized" blah blah AFTER they were starved. Making traditional schools unattractive to parents fits right into the scheme so the idea is to get as much funding as possible. We don't have the kind of money to do an outreach campaign that these charters are doing. I'm very angry that my taxes go toward these institutions but I don't see many people talking about it. Now it's about scratching around for crumbs and saving this and that.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 8:55 pm
Does it show in these particular schools' budgets? That is if I were to go to the SDP's website and pull their budget info, would I see that compared to other District schools with similar enrollment and population demographic, their budget is clearly less?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 9:04 pm
What are you talking about?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 4:06 pm
I hope this doesn't start another round of misunderstandings, but for the record, the quote you used was not a "brush off" but was to say, " you've just affirmed my blame on the bureaucracy."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 4:55 pm
Have a drink on the house and relax.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 2:04 pm
Ms Cheng, you are usually thoughtful and manage to keep your comments civil, but I have to say i'm really offended by your wages & benefits remark. You know very well that it's not the teachers who want to keep problem kids in our classrooms in ways that are detrimental to other students. There have been times when I would have done anything to have a kid removed from my room and could not. If I send a student out of my room for disciplinary reasons, he or she is usually sent back almost immediately. Some kids simply require additional structure that they can't get in a traditional setting. We want the ability to send kids to accommodation rooms or in-house suspension or to have kids placed to discipline or more supportive classrooms when behavior problems are chronic. We want more support from our administration so that we can appropriately focus on the other students in the room. To suggest that we simply don't care as long as we are paid is extremely insulting. However, we DO want even those kids with problems to have access to quality education. Students with a history of behavior problems are rejected outright from charters and magnets. This is true even when their behavior is written into their special education plan--such as oppositional-defiance-disorder. Some of the most difficult kids I have dealt with are on the autism spectrum. Others are brilliant 14 year-olds from a parents with significant drug problems, or who were horribly abused in some way. Given the appropriate attention they can improve their behavior and learn, but what options are they likely to have outside the SDP? When it gets to the point where these are the only students who remain, will it be fair to just the pace of progress in public schools to the environments without such issues? You will never hear me say a positive thing about the way this district is run, but it is incredibly frustrating to be one of the people on the ground with no control over the way the system operates, and be told that it is my fault and that I'm not doing a good job. I think you are smarter than that, Ms Cheng. Don't fall into the trap of blaming all teachers for the actions of a few or for the failings of the administration.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 2:41 pm
please excuse all the typos! I didn't read it carefully before I posted.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 3:41 pm
Sorry for the cynical comment that implicated teachers. I know it's not your fault, or that you allow this to go on just because you are paid. My thoughts were about the bureaucracy. I have sat in classes, so I understand what you are up against. I thought it was my criticism of the SDP's bureaucracy that was being criticized.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 3:09 pm
An addition to my reply: What community partnerships have been explored for the special needs children? I was taking groups to Chess meets (yes I had my volunteer clearances). I had an ADD diagnosed child with an IEP, and with some extra supervision, he did fine. I understand about the borderline cases. My younger son could have been considered borderline high functioning Autistic, and has improved in his social skills greatly since elementary school. As I have said, I'm basically a pragmatic person. If we are going to keep the SDP, then there needs to be qualifications. Put them into the PFT negotiations, while you still have the power to.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:38 pm
I thought you said your children are home schooled, maybe I misread.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 25, 2013 6:59 pm
Just through 5th and 3rd grades, oldest and youngest respectively. Would have continued but family circumstance would not allow.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 24, 2013 9:47 am
Good Lord communism/socialism added to the mix, well at least you took a stand. It's quite obvious now that you have no objections to privatizing. " Do more for the children," says more about your stance than anything else you've written, but it's not only the stance it's all in the writing style, Carry on "Ms Cheng."
Submitted by Deepika Rai (not verified) on July 10, 2013 9:30 am
This is really a bad thing that they have to do such hunger strike. I will discuss about this on

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