Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Note to departing Ackerman: Don’t let the door hit you in your assertions on the way out…..

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BEGIN COMMENTARY

Note to departing Ackerman: Don't let the door hit you in your assertions on the way out…..

Apparently not content with taking a $900K buyout from the kids of Philadelphia ex-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman tossed them a bone in her comments in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday – bad advice.

"Expanding charter schools and passing school-voucher legislation, as being voted on right now in Harrisburg, will end the public school monopoly that has failed low-income neighborhoods. Allowing parents to vote with their feet and letting some education funding to follow children to new schools is the drastic measure necessary for improving the public-education system. "

While Dr. Ackerman may be frustrated with her recent tenure and departure from Philadelphia, there is simply no conclusive evidence that either charter schools or vouchers are systematically any more effective at improving student performance for low-income students.  On the contrary, while they may enrich a few adults, there is extensive research and evidence showing that charters and vouchers make no difference at all.

On the recently released 2010-2011 PSSAs, 44 percent of Pennsylvania charter schools did not reach the state's AYP performance targets this year as compared with just 6 percent of school districts that failed to hit those marks.  This is consistent with prior year's results.


Since 2003, scores on the benchmark National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), considered to be the gold standard in K-12 standardized assessment, have never shown an advantage for charter schools as compared to regular public schools whether comparing students who are black, Hispanic, urban or low-income.


A June 2009 Stanford University/CREDO study (funded by the staunchly pro-choice Walton Foundation) looked at charter performance in 15 states and the District of Columbia covering more than 70 percent of the nation's charter school students.  It found that only 17% of charters had academic gains better than traditional public schools; 37% were worse and 46% showed no significant difference.


A 2011 Stanford University/CREDO study found that reading and math gains for charter school students in Pennsylvania were significantly below their traditional public school peers.


A June 2010 study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and commissioned by the US Department of Education found that, "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress.

A RAND study of charters in 8 states showed no difference.

Some charters get high scores; many get very low ones.  On average, there is no difference.  Some get high scores by skimming, excluding special-ed students and English Language Learners.

After 21 years and a billion dollars spent on vouchers in Milwaukee, 2011 state tests showed no advantage for voucher students or charter students over public school students.  All were doing very poorly.  Black students in Milwaukee have NAEP scores about the same as black students in Mississippi and Alabama.

Clearly unconstitutional under Pennsylvania law, vouchers would be nothing more than a taxpayer-funded bailout for our parochial schools and a tax-payer funded handout to our private schools.

Despite Dr. Ackerman's assertions, evidence at this point is very strong that these strategies waste money and do nothing for kids.  Our focus should be on best practices and improving educational opportunity for ALL students.

END COMMENTARY

Posted on Mon, Oct. 17, 2011
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion by Arlene Ackerman
School change must come from outside
For the last 43 years, I've served as a teacher, principal, and school district superintendent with the sole goal of helping all children receive a quality education. Much of my career has been spent working in urban districts where generations of low-income, minority children have been forced to attend violent, chronically failing schools. In many communities, our public-education system has returned to separate and unequal. Access to a quality education is the civil rights battle of our generation.


House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Clymer and State Auditor General Jack Wagner are among those who have indicated that they plan tol participate in this event.

RSVP for Bucks County PTO Legislative Forum on 10/27

Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM Warminster, PA

William Tennant High School, 333 Centennial Road, Warminster, PA 18974
Please RSVP at: http://buckslegislativeforum
Pennsylvania has passed a state budget that cut over $900 MILLION from public education, and as the new school year begins we're starting to see the effects of these cuts on our kids and our communities.  Especially now, we need our legislators to make public education a priority to help strengthen our troubled economy and ensure a brighter future for all Pennsylvanians!
All public education stakeholders are invited to this special event.  Join us on Thursday, October 27th at William Tennent High School in Warminster from 7PM to 10PM for an evening with key state legislators from Bucks County.  Every legislator representing the Bucks County school districts is invited to attend and discuss their positions on public education and take questions from audience members.
Talking about our priorities with our elected officials and hearing their views on issues that are important to the community is a vital part of democracy!   Don't miss this important conversation!

Pennsylvania Constitution and Vouchers

The PA House and Senate were back in session yesterday and this reminder was faxed to all of their Harrisburg offices.

Do vouchers help students?

Both supporters and critics say evidence backs their position on measure Gov. Corbett wants to allow in Pennsylvania.

By John L. Micek, Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau, 11:21 p.m. EDT, October 16, 2011
HARRISBURG — Ask Gov. Tom Corbett how to fix what ails Pennsylvania's public schools and you'll get an unequivocal answer:  "What we need to do is create the competition," the Republican said recently as he rolled out a revamped school reform agenda at a charter school in York. "When we have failing schools, we know we have failing students."
Academic and official research on vouchers is equally split, with researchers reaching different conclusions about programs already in operation in several cities.

" 44 percent of charter schools did not reach the state's performance targets." That finding underscores a Stanford University study that examined academic records of America's charter school students. It found that only 17 percent of charter schools do a better job than their local school districts, while 37 percent do significantly worse.

Infinity Charter School in Penbrook has a perfect record in meeting the yearly academic performance targets

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 12:00 AM
Infinity stands out from most of the state's 153 other charter schools. While Infinity is an undeniable success story, critics say the same can't be said of many of the state's charter schools.
— Of the 12 cyber charter schools that are independent public schools and deliver instruction over the Internet, only two made AYP.
— Of the 142 brick-and-mortar charters whose students took the state exams, 86 made AYP.
— 44 percent of charter schools did not reach the state's performance targets.
— Of the 499 school districts that administer the state exams, 467 made AYP.
— Of the 3,096 school buildings in the state, including cyber and brick-and-mortar charter schools and career and technology centers, 2,326 schools made AYP

Secretary Duncan comments on Harkin/Enzi NCLB overhaul plan:

Reforming NCLB Requires Flexibility and Accountability

ED.gov Blog Posted on  by Arne Duncan
Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is four years overdue. In March of 2010, the Administration unveiled its Blueprint for Reform. Since then we've worked on a bipartisan basis to craft a comprehensive reform bill that would help give our children the world-class education they need and deserve.


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