Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feds charge Philly charter school mogul in massive fraud

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

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Posted: Tue, Jul. 24, 2012, 1:12 PM
Feds charge Philly charter school mogul in massive fraud
A charter school mogul was charged today in a multimillion-dollar fraud case by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Dorothy June Hairston Brown, who received accolades for students' test scores and gained notoriety for collecting large salaries and suing parents who questioned her actions, was indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.
Brown, 75, and four executives from her charter schools, were charged with defrauding three charter schools of more than $6.5 million in taxpayer funds.
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced that a federal grand jury had returned a 62-count indictment against Brown and four of her trusted employees.

Tweet by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham ‏@newskag 7/24/2012
66 p. indictment against charter founder june brown and others, announced today

Schools PR effort includes GOP lobbyist funded by William Penn. Schools chair calls City Paper exposé a “fantasy.”

City Paper by Daniel Denvir, July 24, 2012
 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook has discovered that the William Penn Foundation has spent more than $160,000 on a public-relations campaign for theSchool Reform Commission, which faces mounting criticism over a proposal developed by the Boston Consulting Group that would dismantle the central office, close more than 60 schools, and potentially put those that remain open under private management.
The Notebook reported that William Penn is paying the Bravo Group, controlled by Mitt Romney fundraiser and long-time state Republican leader Chris Bravacos. The money is being passed through the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Penn Prof Helps Struggling Philadelphia Students by Josh Rosen 7/24/2012
While politicians and activists argue over budgets and testing, Howard Stevenson talks to students.
While Philadelphia politicians, activists and researchers continue asking the same, tired questions about school reform, one bold professor has been asking a much simpler one: Can we talk?
“Can We Talk” is the name of a program run by Howard Stevenson, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, that is aimed at responding to the emotional needs of young students, particularly young African-Americans. For 25 years, Stevenson’s been the ears for “at-risk youth,” opening a dialogue between students and teachers in high-stress environments. His “racial literacy” is a conversation between students and teachers centered on the kinds of racial, financial and familial anxieties that so often plague students who go to school in urban communities.
…..Today, 66 percent of African-American children are born to single-parent families. In Pennsylvania, the number is 70 percent; and most of these single parents are mothers. Among African-American students in grades six to 12, 43 percent have been suspended from school.
In the city of Philadelphia, nine of every 10 shooting victims are African-American; most are between 18 and 20 years old. Seventy-five percent of school children, from the ages of 10 to 19, report having witnessed a shooting, stabbing, robbing or killing of another person.
Despite these tragic figures, Stevenson believes that our work might not be as hard as we’d expect it to be. In fact, it’s cut out for us: “It’s easier to bond with kids who are strikingly emotional,” he says, “because when you do it, it’s such a contrast to other things they’ve had in their lives, that you stand out.”


271 Pittsburgh school workers await layoff vote

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 25, 2012 1:18 am
The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools is expected to vote tonight to furlough an estimated 271 employees, including 178 teachers and other professional members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers in a cost-cutting move.
In May, about 285 teachers and other professionals received provisional furloughs, but additional retirements, resignations and other changes have reduced the number by more than 100.
Even so, the number of teacher layoffs is larger than any other year in the district's institutional memory, said superintendent Linda Lane.

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/24/2012

What’s missing from congressional hearing on teachers

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Congressional hearings are supposed to provide lawmakers wth information they need to make policy and legislative decisions. But sometimes, when you look at the witness lists, it is hard to figure out why legislators bother to hold them.
Take the hearing being held on Tuesday by the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter from California. It is called “Education Reforms: Discussing the Value of Alternative Teacher Certification Programs.”

Chicago: City agrees to hire more teachers to handle longer school day
After months of acrimony culminating in a 90 percent strike authorization vote, the Chicago Teachers Union and the city have reached an agreement that could help avert a strike.  Both sides declared victory.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel got his longer school day — 7 hours for elementary schools and 7 1/2 hours for high schools.
And teachers maintained the status quo on the length of their workday.
How? Instead of requiring teachers to work a 20 percent longer day, the Chicago Public Schools have agreed to hire more teachers to fill the extra instruction time with such classes as art, music and physical education.

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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