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Attorney for Cayuga teacher calls cheating investigation an 'inquisition'

By Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook and Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 8, 2014 06:02 PM

The attorney for Ary Sloane, one of the educators from Cayuga Elementary School who was criminally charged in the investigation of cheating on standardized tests, has called the state attorney general's probe "an inquisition."

Sloane, former Cayuga principal Evelyn Cortez, and three teachers were arrested Thursday on charges that included conspiracy, forgery, and tampering with public records. 

Cortez, Jennifer Hughes, and Lorraine Vicente were also charged with perjury and "corrupt organizations," a first-degree felony that is similar to racketeering. (The federal RICO law stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.)

"This matter is serious, but I think the extremes by which the state attorney general is going to proves this case is really unfair," said Michael Coard, who represents Sloane.

He called the "corrupt organizations" charge levied against three of the educators "ridiculous. You're talking about the Mafia, organized crime."

Prosecutors in Atlanta, home to what has been the most wide-ranging criminal investigation of test cheating in the country so far, also used racketeering laws to charge educators. There, 35 educators faced criminal charges; 21 pleaded guilty and 13, including former superintendent Beverly Hall, are facing trial.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education had flagged 53 District schools for possible cheating and investigated 11 so-called "Tier 1" District schools -- those with the most suspicious statistical irregularities. These included Cayuga.

The District is investigating the remaining schools and has taken disciplinary action against 15 other educators. But these are the first five to face criminal charges. Three Philadelphia charters were also flagged by the state and ordered to investigate themselves.

Cortez's lawyer, Matthew Sedacca, has told reporters that the charges are false and that his client is shocked by them. In the grand jury report, teachers describe Cortez as orchestrating various cheating scenarios and ordering them or others to comply.

Sloane had been at Cayuga for 15 years, from 1993 to 2008, in the last years serving as the PSSA testing coordinator. She admitted to the grand jury, according to its report, that on the orders of principal Cortez, she made test booklets available to teachers so they could review the material with students in advance, in violation of the rules.

Sloane also said that she observed other teachers helping students with answers and saw them take students who had not missed the original testing to the make-up room for do-overs.

She also said that she saw Cortez remove booklets from their secure location, take them into her office in the company of other teachers, and close the door.

Another teacher who was charged, Rita Wyszynski, told the grand jury that she, Sloane and Cortez would come into the school on Saturdays and change test answers. She also said that Sloane would coach students on test content before they took the test.

"These allegations are just that, allegations," Coard said. "Based on my investigation, my client is not just presumed innocent, but factually innocent. ... Without pointing the finger at anybody else, it seems to me that if there's any blame to be had, it certainly is not to be directed at my client." 

The investigation covered the testing years of 2007 to 2011. Most recently, Sloane served as principal of Bethune Elementary. She and the others were suspended immediately and will be paid until a disciplinary hearing that will probably take place next week, according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

Leno Thomas, attorney for teacher Jennifer Hughes, said his client was "100 percent unequivocally not guilty. ... We look forward to vigorously defending her and addressing these issues in court."

The grand jury report quotes teacher Barbara Dolt saying that students told her that Cortez and Hughes, a special education teacher, helped them fill in answers to the test. Dolt took notes and had the students sign them.

Another teacher told the grand jury that Hughes performed duties that she was not authorized to perform because she was not the testing coordinator, and that she and Cortez watched small groups of students retake the test when they were not eligible to do so.

Asked why the grand jury included her in the charges, Thomas said, "I have no idea. My client participated in the grand jury investigation. Every time she was asked to come down, she came down. She never once took the Fifth Amendment. She's always told the truth and she was never part of any cheating. I'm not saying that it didn't go on there. I'm just saying she was not a part of it."

Attorneys for Wyszynski and Lorraine Vicente, the other teacher charged, could not be reached. 

The grand jury report says that Sloane and Wyszynski cooperated and answered questions and the three others denied that any cheating took place. 

Gallard said that in the District's own investigation of 19 so-called Tier 2 schools, 15 educators have so far been disciplined. The discipline process for educators is a civil procedure. The District can take action, such as termination, and then refer the case to the PDE for further sanctions, such as revocation of credentials. 

To date, three principals and three teachers have been terminated, he said. Three others, a principal and two teachers, were suspended for finite periods of time. One person has been barred from ever being a testing coordinator, while two former employees, a principal and teacher, have had their termination pay held while their cases are referred to PDE. Two former principals were barred from working again in the District and their termination pay deducted.

Past press reports have noted that two former principals surrendered their administrative credentials in April 2013. The three terminated principals were identified in January. One teacher lost his teaching credentials for the summer, which was noted on a state website. One charter school administrator was also disciplined by the state. The other employees have not been named.

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Comments (44)

Submitted by doublestandard (not verified) on May 8, 2014 8:13 pm
Just bring up Vahan Gureghian's Chester Community Charter and their 30 point drop and Corbett will see to it that the charges against the Philly posse is dropped. Vahan had a thirty point drop in his PSSA scores and yet there was NO investigation of his school. He is the biggest, single political contributor to Corbett. If Philly had put that much money in Corbett's pocket do you think this would be happening. Conflict of interest with a taint of corruption. Hope their lawyer seizes on this fact and rams it all the way up.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 9, 2014 12:11 pm
Corbett didn't bring the charges. Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, did. This isn't political. A grand jury, i.e. citizens, decided there is enough evidence to prosecute. If they're found guilty under RICO, they are looking at some pretty serious prison sentences.
Submitted by doublestandard (not verified) on May 11, 2014 4:49 pm
But Corbett protected Chester Community Charter from any investigation after their PSSA scores dropped 30 points. Guess the fact that the owner, Vahan Gerighian, is his biggest single campaign contributor had nothing to do with Corbett protecting him?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 8:33 pm
There was an investigation. The state started an investigation, but then allowed the school to take over the investigation. The school's findings were inconclusive. The state came back to investigate. Then, all of a sudden the investigation was closed. Shady business all around.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 9:22 pm
Inquisition implies that nothing wrong was done. The real issue is that too much wrong was done but they're only going after the low-level players.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 10:38 pm
"Three Philadelphia charters were also flagged by the state and ordered to investigate themselves" REALLY?
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on May 9, 2014 2:20 am
Walter Palmer Charter School is one of the charters. They "cleared" themselves even though they also had a huge drop in test scores. Now, Walter Palmer is crying fowl because the District is proposing closing the school. (For many reasons - test cheating is not on the list.)
Submitted by doublestandard (not verified) on May 10, 2014 1:25 pm
Then why were the public schools that were implicated not given the same offer?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 2:51 pm
SDP and PDE are only interested in in decimating public schools. They need the charters to seem successful in order to further their privatization agenda. Sadly, many charters are so mismanaged they can't contain their dysfunction, such as Walter D. Palmer. It is also worth noting that after the debacle of Dwight Evans/Foundations, Inc.'s charter schools in Philadelphia (MLK,etc.), it was just announced they are being thrown out of Camden, too…effective immediately (City Invincible Charter).
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 2:54 pm
Maybe they didn't find anything prosecutable at the charters???
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 2:23 pm
How will we ever know? According to this article, they don't even look. Not sure about you but I am always skeptical of self-reporting….esp. when millions of dollars are at stake.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 10:30 pm
Everything stated above is true, however, if the charges are proven to be true, than the teachers involved deserve what they get. As "most" (evidently) of us teach each our kids each day cheating is wrong!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 6:08 pm
I'm aware of people who have witnessed other teachers cheat but are afraid to report it to the principal for fear of reprisal. This is not just a culture of cheating it's a system in which principals are given so much latitude that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I long for the old days when a teacher's contract meant something (before these destructive privatizing clowns hit town).
Submitted by anon (not verified) on May 10, 2014 8:26 pm
it must be wonderfully simple to see everything in stark black and white terms. i grant you that cheating is wrong, but isn't it also wrong to pass a law stating that in x number of years, every student in the country will be proficient in reading and math or else we're going to brand their schools as "losers", fire their teachers and turn them over to the private enterprise flavor of the month to have a go at making some money off of them. do you honestly believe the "no child left behind legislation" had any reason for its existence other than to privatize the public education system? what does one do when faced with an immoral law? go along with it, fight it, try to change it or subvert it. when you threaten someone's livelihood, their ability to provide for their family, people will do what they think they have to do to get by.
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on May 9, 2014 9:02 pm
After having read the Findings of Fact of the 35th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury I’m struck by a number of underlying issues. How ironic that these 5 educators come from a school with a significant Spanish speaking population. If there is any school that is inherently at a disadvantage in the PSSAs, it’s such a school as Cayuga Elementary. In the Findings of Fact an incident is recorded on page 12 where an English is Second Language (ESL) teacher, Katherine Cook, testified how 3 students who could neither read nor write English, finished the Reading section of the test by randomly filling in answers. Later, a Spanish speaking noon-time Aide directed these students in retaking the reading section of the test, a blatant act of cheating. But I had to wonder why were such students included in the testing pool? And why are our ESL teachers not required to be bilingual? You see, Ms. Cook does not speak Spanish…nor is she required to in that job. How do you assist Spanish speaking students in English if you don’t know Spanish? We require middle-school and high school teachers to be certified in the subjects they teach. A 7th grade Math Teacher must be certified in Math. An 8th grade Science teacher must be certified in Science. We tried for many years having History majors teach Math and it doesn’t work, so these certification requirements represent an advancement in education. And yet, ESL teachers are not bilingual, nor are they accountable. I know of one teacher who in an 8th grade class of 28 children had 3 who spoke only French and no English and 1 child from Saudi Arabia who only spoke Arabic. This teacher was tasked with teaching them Algebra. When this teacher asked for assistance she encountered a roving ESL teacher (who spoke no other language than English) but recommended that this teacher give these students a grade no less than B, or else it might harm these children in getting into a High School of their choice. Of course the teacher refused, but she remembers that encounter because the comment was so outrageous. By the way, these children turned out by be serious students who did conquer Algebra, probably because of its abstract nature. However, the reality is that the SDP provides little real resource in addressing non-English speakers, but holds these schools to the same rigorous standards in the PSSA. This does not excuse cheating, but I can understand the pressures on folks in such schools to cheat.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 9, 2014 11:30 pm
Darryl, I could be wrong, but I thought that students were able to take the PSSAs in Spanish. Regarding ESOL teachers, not all English Language Learners are Spanish-Speaking. Of course it is beneficial for an ESOL teacher to know more than one language. However, being bilingual in English/Spanish would not help a teacher mush if he/she is teaching mostly Vietnamese-speaking students. Non-ELL students who are reading significantly below grade level end up doing something similar to the ELL students you describe: These students reading below grade level would just bubble in answers. This practice of testing at grade level instead of instructional level goes against everything that teachers are supposed to do. Especially with students with behavior problems, especially those with a diagnosis of Emotional Disturbance, testing should never be at frustration level. Well then why are students reading frustration level text on the PSSA? This makes no sense at all. I wonder how much standing a parent would have if he/she sued the SDP over forcing his/her child to take a test above the child's frustration level. I wonder how a judge would rule in this situation, particularly if the student had Emotional Disturbance. Educator of Great Students
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 11:34 pm
ESOL, English to Speaker of Other Languages, is not bilingual education. Students from Central and South American, Asian, African, and European and other countries come into city schools and expectedly need a "leg up" to be on par with native English speaking peers. They are waived from standardized tests in Literacy for first 12 months but take same tests in Math and Science from get go. Bilingual versions of the state exams, also offered in Spanish, no other language, are allowed first 3 years. There is also a matrix to grade them so that they are not unfairly discriminated against when it comes to report card grades, but that does not preclude failing if no effort has been demonstrated. SDP students who speak Spanish as a first language progress at a lesser rate than other English Language Learners whose progress is captured in the ESOL data subgroup.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 11:12 am
I am a teacher with a majority ESL student body. My ESL students speak Spanish, Khmer, Hindi, Napoli, Chinese, Vietnamese, Urdu, and a few "minority" Asian dialects. I am fluent in only one other language beside American English. The ethnic composition of all urban America is in flux. One should not attack teachers who try to lead these students into mainstream life. It is not a question of language per se. We take PD after school to try and understand the culture. It is not like years ago when the majority of ESL students were Puerto Rican or Mexican and spoke Spanish, it is much more complicated. If I were fluent in all these languages, would the SDP pay me my worth? As it is, they want to reduce my pay, my benefits, and my retirement. The truth is, these tests are meaningless. They show who is most integrated into the majority culture, for the most part. I do not experience students who conquer Algebra due to its "abstract nature" in any classes, ESL or not. It is the abstract nature of Algebra that stumps most students, or its lack of meaningful application in daily life. The edupreneurs are currently enriching themselves with meaningless testing instruments while corrupting politicians and administrators who hold purse strings. The very idea that teachers were arrested, much like violent felons, is outrageous. They were merely following the lead set by the top administration. Of course, the students involved will always be from poor backgrounds. The background is the problem here, not the teacher. Any for real educator who has struggled to communicate ideas to a person who is not ready to receive them knows what I am talking about. To the rest of you, holier than thou, the noise you are making contributes nothing to this picture.
Submitted by ebd (not verified) on May 10, 2014 12:33 pm
I am sorry but I do not agree with your opinion that an ESOL teacher should be bilingual. There are schools in Philadelphia where students come from 30 different countries. Do you think that the ESOL teacher should speak 30 languages? ESOL teachers are specialized to teach English. They go through special training and courses to teach English to speakers of different languages without knowing all the languages. The federal money that is used to pay ESOL teachers is to teach English, not to know all students languages.
Submitted by Penny (not verified) on May 10, 2014 10:27 am
Inquisition? Hardly. Scapegoat, perhaps. Give it up Cayuga defendants, you are guilty...oh so guilty. But so are numerous other SDP employees. A culture of cheating can not exist without permission from the higher ups. Arlene Ackerman (and other CEO's) didn't care who was down there slaughtering the cows, as long as they were served that delicious steak. Test scores were originally intended to benchmark indicators...a teacher's tool, not for public consumption. Therefore, it became a competition within the school districts and soon got out of control. We must prosecute all violators to the fullest extent of the law. If you don't throw them in jail, take away their pensions.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 10, 2014 12:59 pm
Wow, that is a harsh punishment for the crimes and misdemeanors which they allegedly have committed. One concept of due process is that the punishment must fit the crime. But the most important one is the most basic notion of our criminal jurisprudence which is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law "beyond a reasonable doubt." Part of the 'test cheating culture" which infected not only Cayuga, but the district itself, was the "culture of retaliation" against those who spoke up which festered in our district during those years. Did you know that "insubordination" is grounds for dismissal under the School Code. The teachers were "directed" to do what they did by the principal. As "subordinates" they had a legal duty to do what they were told to do by the principal. Seems like they were between a rock and a hard place, and I assure you that they did not know what to do. It could be well argued in a court of law that they are victims of that culture, not perpetrators of that culture. We all know that the root cause of all of this is the "test and punish mentality" which infects everything we do in education today. What we see are symptoms of an "unhealthy school system" which has arguably become toxic.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 10, 2014 1:34 pm
As usual, Rich, you make perfect sense. I do think, however, that a principal who ordered a teacher to cheat outright might have a problem proving "insubordination". But principals have many ways of making life unbearable. They can threaten other sanctions based on unrelated charges of breaking rules. They can order a teacher to move to different grades or subjects from year to year. They can make up all kinds of reasons to give unsatisfactory ratings. They can simply be mean and anal. I could go on and on. But any veteran knows or has experienced such harassment. It is unconscionable and unreasonable to ask ESOL students to take a grade level reading test in English. Think of an American child going to school in China and having to master their script and vocabulary in time to take a grade level test. AG Kane has been on the hotseat recently. What a nice distraction and new crusade for her to adopt after the recent sting disaster. Anyone who cannot see the politics involved here is not paying attention.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 10, 2014 2:43 pm
Totally wrong. You cannot be "insubordinate" for refusing to obey an illegal order. In fact, it is illegal to follow an illegal order, whether that be in the private sector, the military, police etc. That is what these people are about to find out.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 10, 2014 6:38 pm
As I already said, they may not have had to follow an obviously illegal order, but there are ways an administrator can make life for the subordinate miserable. Survival sometimes trumps ethics.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 6:17 pm
The SDP is not the private sector as everyone who works in the District knows. Yes you are considered insubordinate (within the system) and can face charges for not dong what a principal asks you to do. However the principal then writes it up and ostensibly you have due process.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 11, 2014 8:55 am
Tax! You are correct in a rational world, but the school district is not a rational world. Obviously you have not read the Grand Jury report which documented the fact that the teachers who did report the cheating were retaliated against and hounded right out of the school. Read what Gloria wrote. Then read today's Inky front page. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback and pontificate. Many teachers did speak up and they met deaf ears and blind eyes, and what is even worse -- unfettered retaliation.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 11, 2014 9:14 am
Rich: My post was to rebut your assertion that the teachers had a legal responsibility to follow orders to cheat. Here's what you said: " As "subordinates" they had a legal duty to do what they were told to do by the principal." My response was, and still is, that there is NO legal responsibility to follow an illegal order. It is illegal to follow an illegal order, both in the private and public sectors. I don't know if you actually believed your statement or were attempting to spin in defense of the perps, but your statement is factually incorrect. Threats of retaliation or termination do not provide justification for breaking the law. In the private sector, if a CEO orders a CFO to cook the books under threat of termination and the CFO does it and is caught he will be prosecuted. The public sector is no different.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 11, 2014 11:59 am
I understood what you meant, Tax. I would argue that there is an ethical duty to say, No. But that is easier said than done when you are told to do what I say, or I will go after your job. There are many times that teachers and principals have been told to do things which "stretch the boundaries" of the testing rules, which are arguably illegal, arguably unethical, and arguably inappropriate. There is no bright line in these areas and the lines are just beginning to be drawn and defined. Teachers and principals make moral and ethical decisions every day. Unless you have lived in a school which has a "toxic climate" you have no idea what teachers go through when they are told to do things which they think is wrong. If the teachers did cross the lines, yes, there should be consequences. No one here argues with that principle. But those consequences should be appropriate consequences under "all of the facts and circumstances." That is why we have courts of law and "due process" requirements.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on May 11, 2014 9:54 am

Read today's Inquirer for a chilling account of what happened to teachers who complained for years to the District.    The Ackerman administration willfully covered up and encouraged cheating.   They constructed a false narrative of dramatic achievement gains based on test scores that were inflated by both intensive teaching to the test and cheating.   Apparently no one at the top will face any consequences.

The lengths to which administrators like Cortez are willing to go to advance their own careers underlines why teachers need tenure and a strong union.   Who do you think would have gotten laid off and who would be kept on the job at Cayuga given the suspension of seniority?  

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 11, 2014 11:55 am
Yes, this is one prime example why teachers need tenure. As the PA Supreme Court has said time and time again: "The purpose of the tenure provisions of the School Code is to protect teachers from being subjected to unfounded charges." Tenure embodies Due Process rights and speech rights which are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Tenure protects the good teachers and principals who have the courage to speak up and do the right thing. So what did happen to the teachers at Cayuga who did speak up?
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 11, 2014 6:52 pm
"So what did happen to the teachers at Cayuga who did speak up?" They got hammered, just like poor Hope Moffett. I am more than dismayed by the lynch mob mentality here. Those teachers who were asked to either cheat or cooperate with cheating were caught between a rock and a hard place. Arlene is in her grave and unable to face any consequences. But they want to draw and quarter the subordinates who were pressured to help cook the test scores. If they did not choose to fall on their swords by blowing whistles, they are somehow disgraced beyond repair and must have their livelihoods taken away. All over the cockamamie illegitimate tests. Seriously?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 11, 2014 6:21 pm
I'm disturbed about what happened to the teachers who did speak up and try to fight the cheating. The Inquirer story about what happened is incredible. What that principal did is indefensible. What really bothers me though is that those teachers went to the PFT and nothing was done. Not only was nothing done, but the Principal found out they went to the PFT and retaliated against them. Is this the future if they eliminate seniority? http://tinyurl.com/jwn7674
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on May 11, 2014 6:00 pm
This is not unique to Cayuga. There are a number of "bully" principals who get away with it because the PFT rep. tell us there is nothing they can do. So, the only choice is to leave. Sometimes the "bullying" is subtle and sometimes it is in your face. With principals getting more power, it will be worse.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 11, 2014 7:53 pm
It is the future if they eliminate tenure.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 11, 2014 7:06 pm
First of all, under the SRC, the union is toothless. It can talk, talk, talk all it wants but in reality has no power. If seniority and tenure are eliminated, teachers will be at the mercy of dictators, some of whom may be nuts. All of us who are veterans or retirees can tell horror stories of bullying by principals. If I did not have union representation, I would have faced a possible 204 over hearsay. Repeat, over hearsay. The union prevailed naturally, but the principal retaliated by changing my floor and grade with just a note in my mailbox. I used my seniority to transfer of course. (Actually, all the moving around I did under that goofy principal was good for my resume. I have taught every grade from K-8. Priceless!)
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 11, 2014 7:19 pm
Hi Gloria: You are so right. I watched the movie "Lincoln" on TV last night about his getting the 13th Amendment passed, and then after his death, the 14th Amendment was passed. Near the climax of the movie, Lincoln said in a conversation about his antagonists, "Dictators are not susceptible to law."
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 12, 2014 2:32 am
Hi, Rich I loved that movie, except for the graphic battle scenes which I could have passed. Lincoln was a bit ahead of his time and a game changer. We can only guess how different reconstruction might have been had he lived. I really fear for our young teachers, Rich. We at least accomplished something by standing up to the "dictators". We secured working rights and teaching/learning conditions that stood for decades and which the SRC and its minions, with no accountability to anyone, are systematically destroying. That they couch it in terms of "reform" is beyond sad.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 12, 2014 7:08 am
I mentioned Lincoln and the history of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, and 14th Amendment giving us all "due process rights" in the hope that we all can understand the historical importance of what is going on in all of this. Those who are anti tenure and anti seniority do not understand the importance of those two concepts to a "viable profession of education" and the protection of our civil rights. They, like the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause, were intended to protect educators from First Amendment retaliation and from being subjected to unfounded allegations and charges. In respect to all of the teachers and administrators who did have the courage to stand up against what is going on including the PSSA test cheating, and may have experienced repercussions, may I remind us of the language in the 14th Amendment for which Lincoln died, and has since become two of the most important concepts in civil rights law. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause: "...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." If we do not stand up for our rights as citizens at every turn, those words of the 14th Amendment become meaningless. Professional public employees, which public school teachers and administrators are in Pennsylvania, have "property rights" in continued employment and "liberty interests" in their professional reputations which they have a "due process right to protect." Our Constitution does not stop at the schoolhouse steps, nor can we ever allow it to.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 12, 2014 7:35 am
Rich, well said. I thought that concepts like seniority and tenure were built into our state school code precisely for the reasons you stated: to protect public school teachers from arbitrary and capricious treatment. Administrators must follow strict rules when assigning jobs within the school, giving promotions, or making evaluations. The only reason the SRC wants to abolish all that is to make it easier to eliminate teachers who strain the budget and also to reduce the demand for retirement benefits. It is obvious they want only cheap, temporary workers.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 12, 2014 7:11 am
Yes! As you well know, arbitrary and capricious, while not specifically stated in the School Code, is a "legal standard" used both in tenure law and labor law. The "just cause" provisions of the PFT contract and the "for cause" provisions of the tenure law protect educators form arbitrary and capricious treatment from administrators. What few of us realize, and at one time I did not realize, is that the tenure provisions of the School Code were enacted long before teachers had the right to collective bargaining and were enacted because of the many abuses which were inflicted upon teachers who spoke up for political reasons. I hope the present attacks on teachers and workers results in a renaissance in the profession of education and a new civil rights era.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on May 11, 2014 6:07 pm

Yes, and the same people who moralize about how there is no excuse for cheating like the editorial board of the Inquirer were big fans of the high stakes testing regime and support weakening job security and due process for teachers.

Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 11, 2014 7:30 pm
It plays right into the final solution of dis-empowered teachers. Take away their rights and set them up to fail by (a) giving them an impossible task or (b) ask them to compromise their ethics. This makes teachers give up and not wait around for a pension. It opens positions for unqualified amateurs like Teach for America, who only hang around long enough to doh-see-doh with the next round of amateurs. It is cost effective and fits the factory model of scripted curriculum, top down teaching, test driven curriculum and a bigger bottom line for all the edu-entrepreneurs. Revolting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 2:56 pm
It was not only SDP employees that were accused of cheating. What happened to the charter schools that were investigated? Why are we only hearing about a Philly public school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 11, 2014 10:28 am
Charter school employees were also targeted, Employees at charters were terminated and certifications taken, as well. The greater problem is that district schools seemed to be supported and encouraged by those in central office administration.

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