Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Commentary: Those Greedy Teachers

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Commentary: Those Greedy Teachers

Just about everybody has a friend, neighbor or relative who decided to become a teacher.  Have you ever met anyone who went into the teaching profession to make money?  On the other hand, have you ever heard of a hedge fund manager or financier who decided to go into their profession to help kids?  Businesses exist to make a profit.  Public schools exist to make informed American citizens.  These are radically different missions, with different priorities, goals and objectives.

Private Funding of Public Schools

 Walt Gardner  
The Bridgeport Education Reform Fund in all likelihood will mean nothing to most people. But ignoring the fund is a mistake because it is a model that figures to play an increasingly prominent role in the funding of schools in the years ahead in this country. Although the present venue is the largest city in Connecticut, whose schools were taken over by the state in July after the superintendent was fired, the strategy has the potential to spread to other underperforming school districts.
What is troubling is that the $400,000 in the fund has come from wealthy donors who remain anonymous. According to The Wall Street Journal, the probable benefactors are officials from the ZOOM Foundation, which is backed by hedge fund manager Steve Mandel ("Schools Look to Donors," Dec. 23). Because no one knows for certain at this date who the principals are, their agenda remains hidden. In business, opaqueness is common, but it is anathema in education - at least in public schools - because there are almost always strings attached.


 “The NCLB mandate for standardized tests requires the nation’s public schools to administer some 50 million tests annually, costing some $700 million a year, most of that money going to corporations that create and publish the tests, score the results and provide “interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Since I was a school boy, testing costs have risen by 3,000 percent. And so too has the opportunity to make a buck.”

No Child Left Behind has turned schoolkids into commodities

Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Daily, 
By Fred Grimm -
Compared to modern school kids, I was a downright worthless student.  I don’t mean worthless as a pejorative.  (My father would have used a more colorful term to characterize my scholarly pursuits.)  But worthless as a commodity.  Us kids at Montrose Elementary School weren’t making anyone rich.  Not like today’s pupils, particularly those in Florida, who’ve become valuable cogs in a burgeoning industry.



Despite their grip on state government, Republicans did not always get along in 2011

December 26, 2011|By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG - The budget landed on schedule for the first time in eight years. Spending was slashed. But no one figured out how to resolve the $3.5 billion transportation funding crisis.

No new taxes were slapped on Pennsylvanians. But neither was a long-debated "impact fee" imposed on the lucrative extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

And though a new law extended the hours beer can be sold on Sundays, wine and hard liquor can still be bought only in those beloved state-owned stores.

Despite one party's grip on the reins of power in Harrisburg, 2011 delivered a mixed bag of success and failure to the Republicans, who control both legislative chambers and the Governor's Office.


In RTI Era, is Federal Special Education Law Out of Date?

 Nirvi Shah  
When districts first started adopting response-to-intervention, the approach quickly became the target of criticism from parents who believed school districts were trying to put off more costly special education services.  RTI, an approach that involves using an escalating set of techniques to address skills a student is struggling with, got a boost in 2004, when the federal law changed to require states to let districts use it if they chose.
The hope was that its use would help distinguish between children who truly have specific learning disabilities and students whose learning difficulties could be resolved with general education interventions. Sure enough, in the last few years, the number of students identified as having learning disabilities has dropped.

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