Governor Tom Corbett chickens out



Governor Corbett was all set to address some nice, quiet, dutiful students who would sit still and would respectfully listen while he took credit for the performance of Philadelphia's schools. Then, he heard that he might receive some crticism from the city's students, parents and educators and promptly turned tail and ran. As the Philly Student Union put it: "We are proud of and celebrate our students' achievements, yet we recognize that they have accomplished this in spite of, rather than because of, your budget cuts and educational policies."


The crowd here gathered opposite the Olney Transportation Center in North Philadelphia.

Good photos of the rally by PCAPS.

More reporting on the morning of the 17ths:

Nearly 100 students at Central High School — where Corbett was slated to make his appearance — rallied in front of their school at 7:30 AM, chanting "No Education, No Life," and "Save Our Schools," waving banners and posters and passing out informational flyers to parents and students entering the building.

Later in the morning, a crowd of 200 protesters from teachers' unions, the NAACP, black churches, and community groups marched to the school, according to Rivera.



Under Corbett's tenure, 10 percent of Philadelphia's schools — which are controlled in part by state appointees — have been shuttered, and 20 percent of school workers have been laid off. Meanwhile, the state is funneling resources into private charter schools while withholding nearly $50 million in funds in a bid to pressure the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) to accept steep concessions in their contract.

School closures hit low-income students and communities of color the hardest. While black students make up 58 percent of Philadelphia's population, they account for 81 percent of the city's youth directly impacted by the closures.

The governor has overseen a slash of $1 billion in school funding state-wide while moving forward with plans to build a $400 million prison in the Philadelphia suburbs.


There's plenty of hate and discontent over how the state budget apportions dollars to school districts.

Pennsylvania's $5.5 billion education budget includes several funding supplements, which target districts on criteria ranging from innovative curricula to large populations of minority students.

Detractors argue that inconsistent cash supplements aren't equitable and are based on antiquated student data collected in a state-sponsored study from 2007. The Education Department's website refers at least once to the 2000 Census.


The bearded fellow in front is from Philly Against War.

From a study by Stanford:

Researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes looked at test data from charter schools in 26 states and the District and found that 25 percent of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading while 29 percent of charters delivered stronger results in math. That marked an improvement over a similar 2009 study by the same research team.

But 56 percent of the charters produced no significant difference in reading and 19 percent had worse results than traditional public schools. In math, 40 percent produced no significant difference and 31 percent were significantly worse than regular public schools.

States that shuttered at least 10 percent of their charter schools — the worst performers — had the best overall results, the study found.


Charters don't seem to last very long.

A whopping 80% of special-needs kids who enroll as kindergartners in city charter schools leave by the time they reach third grade, a report by the Independent Budget Office released Thursday shows.

In Columbus, Ohio, 17 charter schools closed in 2013:

Nine of the 17 schools that closed in 2013 lasted only a few months this past fall. When they closed, more than 250 students had to find new schools. The state spent more than $1.6 million in taxpayer money to keep the nine schools open only from August through October or November.
But while 2013 was unusual, closings are not rare. A Dispatch analysis of state data found that 29 percent of Ohio’s charter schools have shut, dating to 1997 when the publicly funded but often privately run schools became legal in Ohio. Nearly 400 currently are operating, about 75 of them in Columbus.


The Notebook faults the state for poor oversight of education dollars that go to charter schools. The PA Auditor General finds that the Education Department is doing a poor job of accounting for money and seeing to it that schools do what they're supposed to do. Cyber-charter schools legitimately serve a need as not every student learns in the same way, but they shouldn't get the same amount of money that the brick-and-mortar schools get as they don't have as many expenses.

almost there

Also, the Governor's attempt to fix a non-existent problem was frustrated by a court decision that came down the same day. In requiring ID cards to prove that voters were legitimately residents of the state, the Governor overstepped his Constitutional mandate and asked for documents that many members o Democratic constituencies don't have and can't easily get.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley ruled:

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal,” McGinley wrote as part of his 103-page ruling.

He added that the law “unreasonably burdens the right to vote” and poses “a substantial threat” to hundreds of thousands of eligible Pennsylvania voters.

Indeed, let’s not forget that Pennsylvania state Senate President Dominic Pileggi (R) boasted in the summer of 2012 that the Republicans’ voter-ID law, ostensibly about the integrity of the electoral process, “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”


Think Progress weighs in:

Officials estimated that as many as 750,000 Pennsylvanians lacked an acceptable identification, leaving nearly 1 in 10 voters at risk of being disenfranchised.

Judge McGinley said that the Voter ID law: “...denies the franchise, or ‘make[s] it so difficult as to amount to a denial.’”

rally 2

Now I have to admit that my “radar” went off when I saw this statement:

Early one morning in July, former CNN anchor Campbell Brown appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe, pen in hand, notes fanned out in front of her. Viewers might have mistaken her as a fill-in host, but Brown had swung by 30 Rock in her new role as a self-styled education reformer, a crusader against sexual deviants in New York City public schools...

Wait. What? New York City is tolerating “sexual deviants”?!?!? And only this “ self-styled education reformer” notices?!?!?!

"In many cases, we have teachers who were found guilty of inappropriate touching, sexual banter with kids, who weren't fired from their jobs, who were given very light sentences and sent back to the classroom," Brown, the mother of two young sons, explained.

Hmm, so it's not that nobody's noticing or that they're not taking action, Brown just doesn't feel that the action is harsh enough. Brown's group charged that NYC has had “128 cases of sexual misconduct by school employees in the past five years.” Brown made it sound as though her group was non-partisan, but blamed teacher's unions when Democratic candidates for Mayor refused to endorse her get-tough approach. And oops! It just so happened that

“...her husband, Dan Senor, sits on the board of the New York affiliate of StudentsFirst, an education lobbying group founded by Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington, DC, chancellor. Rhee made a name for herself as public enemy No. 1 of the teachers' unions and has become the torchbearer of the charter school movement.”

Tch, tch! People can be so judgmental!

Writing in Slate, Brown, a veteran journalist, confessed to being naive about the standards for revealing a potential conflict of interest: "If you live in the overlapping world of politics and media, as I am learning, anything less than full transparency can potentially do you in." She still managed to get in a few digs at the unions. "I failed to disclose," she wrote, "because I stupidly did not connect the teachers' unions' opposition to charter schools to their support for a system that protects teachers who engage in sexual misconduct."

Golly gee! It was just an inadvertent oversight! Yeesh! Why does everyone have to be so vindictive?!?!?

Oh, and...

What about Brown's allegation that the New York schools did nothing about 128 cases of sexual misconduct? It turns out that in 33 of those cases, the employee in question had been fired, the New York Times reported. Many of the others were disciplined.

So, the cause that she was so bravely and forthrightly defending was, well, not all that big a deal. It may have deserved some attention, but surely not a crusade of any sort.

And did the American Federation of Teachers do anything to protect the sexual deviants? No, they have a zero-tolerance policy. So, it's hard to take Brown at all seriously.