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  1. #1
    ArcticSplash's Avatar
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    Exclamation SDP Collapsing Faster than Expected


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    NE19149 is offline (^!^)
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    And to quote that article:

    "Finances are one main driver. The district has long spent beyond its means, current leaders say, but the time of reckoning has arrived."


    You can say THAT again, bubby!

    Same goes for this city's officials.... all greedy, lazy, no-nothings.

    I reckon...

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    The way it's crumbling now with increasing speed, what it looks like at face value is that the unproven charter system is gonna get all the kids.

    The decentralized public school model with regional administration is what I went to school with, costs less to run (Texas homes are cheap and even with high millage rates, do not generate loads of tax revenue), but it remains a public system that has local voices because the schools are independent of any other municipal government except for the state.

    The charter system has had some spectacular failures with charlatans sitting in non-profits launching charter schools that have turned out to be dismal failures. Sure, some will do better, but when you got folks in the City behind non-profits who are building real estate empires as their #1 game--the kids take a back seat. If the SDP can identify and shut those crap charters at a quicker pace, that could offset some of the damage that psudocharters cause.


    Germantown Settlement was forked over cash to run two miserable charters which had to be shut, if anyone forgets.

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    eldondre is offline Moderator
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    I'd argue it's collapsed slower than expected an that this is long overdue. I'd have thought this would have happened years ago. it's good to see them finally taking real steps to address the situation
    "It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past"
    Jonathan Safran Foer

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    Quote Originally Posted by eldondre View Post
    I'd argue it's collapsed slower than expected an that this is long overdue. I'd have thought this would have happened years ago. it's good to see them finally taking real steps to address the situation
    What kind of response is this? Horrible quip.

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    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    To me this is less a collapse and more a rebirth. Getting rid of seats in bad schools is a no brainer. Firing half of the central bureaucracy is also a no brainer. It's about time that sanity started sinking in at HQ's. My favorite part is that the successful schools will be given tremendous autonomy.

    I would replace 'Collapsing' in the headline with 'Dismantling Itself' or 'Devolving Power'. It would both be more accurate and also it would put a positive spin on what is fundamentally a positive development.

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    eldondre is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    What kind of response is this? Horrible quip.
    ok drama queen, the sdp has more schools than it needs and that's been the case for some time.
    billy is right, it's not a collapse, but a change. some might even say decades overdue. had steps been taken all along, they wouldn't be in this position now
    "It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past"
    Jonathan Safran Foer

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    What kind of response is this? Horrible quip.
    Agreed. However you feel about closing of 40 schools in year, 64 by 2017, the other parts of the plan do not look good. The "Achievement Networks" aspect in particular. The Achievement Networks are going to be potentially bid out (rehashing of the failed Education Management Organization model we just got rid of) AND they're going to be rating principals AND have to show rapid improvement. As if we're not in the midst of a giant cheating scandal.

    Having attended the recent SRC meeting on charter non-renewals, I have to say it seems a lot harder to close a charter (public hearings, appeals that could take a year) than it does to open one. Of the three charters are starting the non-renewal process only one seemed truly shady (Truebright). The closure of district schools seems to happen much faster.
    Last edited by annie; 04-24-2012 at 09:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    To me this is less a collapse and more a rebirth. Getting rid of seats in bad schools is a no brainer. Firing half of the central bureaucracy is also a no brainer. It's about time that sanity started sinking in at HQ's. My favorite part is that the successful schools will be given tremendous autonomy.

    I would replace 'Collapsing' in the headline with 'Dismantling Itself' or 'Devolving Power'. It would both be more accurate and also it would put a positive spin on what is fundamentally a positive development.
    It seems more like an abortion than a rebirth.

    I wonder how many charlatan charter CEO's will suddenly appear to try to snap up contracts in the coming 12 months with this announcement out.

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    Naveen is offline Senior Member
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    It does seem pretty messy.

    Is there a list yet of the schools they are closing? And, also, which schools would be expected to have students from shuttered schools sent to them? (I'm talking public, not charter)

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    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    It seems more like an abortion than a rebirth.

    I wonder how many charlatan charter CEO's will suddenly appear to try to snap up contracts in the coming 12 months with this announcement out.
    I prefer evolutionary change over revolutionary change, especially in a centralized system, but this train has run too far off of the tracks for anything other than a wartime effort to fix what's wrong in an incredibly compressed timeframe. I am more excited by the decentralization going on than by the revamping of procedures at the center - that constant upheaval seems to create havoc when continued over many iterations.

    Allow the schools to sink or swim, with help 'offered' by the center but not forced upon schools, with a rigorous method of evaluating progress and comparing apples to apples, and that will lead most quickly out of the desert of the past 40 years. If the public schools are working, allow them to thrive. All kinds of schools need to perform, and any school which doesn't, whatever its management model, needs to be put out of its misery, quickly.

  12. #12
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    I think it's pretty misleading to say that the District has spent beyond its means. The District's budget is set by three external entities--State, Federal, and City government. It spends what it is given. Maybe someone can clarify this for me but I don't think it's easy in most cases for the District to hoard money for future years. There might have been too much in bonds which is the closest to spending beyond its means but I think criticism should be more about poor spending decisions not overspending.

    I also think Knudsen's plan is pretty tenuous (if what the Notebook reported from tweets last night is correct). It relies on: an extra $94 million in revenue from the city; $33 million (in FY13) from closing 40 schools; $156 million in decreases in pay and benefits; and $149 million per-pupil payments to charters. City Council is revolting on the first. There will be public outcry about many of the schools closing. They will have to use Act 46 to cancel PFT's contract to save anywhere near $156 million not to mention what they do with the other unions creating major labor strife. And the state of PA controls charter reimbursements. I just don't see how all of that will get done.

    For those interested I looked at the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports over the past few years to compare revenue. These are for fiscal years ending on June 30th of the year shown. Figures in millions of nominal dollars.

    Year = General Fund + Intermediate Unit Fund + Categorical Funds = Total (% change) (CPI-U inflation)
    2004 = 1,705.3 + 66.9 + 350.5 = 2,122.7
    2005 = 1,784.4 + 72.0 + 438.9 = 2,295.3 (8.131%) (3.39%)
    2006 = 1,839.7 + 74.6 + 453.0 = 2,367.3 (3.136%) (3.24%)
    2007 = 1,933.5 + 79.1 + 434.9 = 2,447.5 (3.387%) (2.85%)
    2008 = 2,054.6 + 82.8 + 458.8 = 2,596.2 (6.075%) (3.85%)
    2009 = 2,132.3 + 81.2 + 462.0 = 2,675.5 (3.054%) (-0.34%)
    2010 = 2,196.8 + 83.7 + 584.8 = 2,865.3 (7.094%) (1.64%)
    2011 = 2,253.4 + 86.2 + 586.3 = 2,925.9 (2.114%) (3.16%)

    It's clear the District has a problem. It has rising labor health care costs which it can't control under its current contract and it has shrinking student base partially out of its control and partially because it sent them to charters without right sizing at the same time. The FY2012-13 Guide to School Budgets shows salary averages for teachers of $68,700 (~step 8), and the fringe benefits average is $30,800. They can attack wages and benefits so fewer highly qualified teachers with other options will come to the SDP and those who can will leave. They can keep wages and benefits the same to keep good teachers which will equally reward the bad ones. Eventually I think the SDP and PFT will have to make the decision to have better wages while getting rid of underperforming teachers or take wage cuts in under to keep it difficult to fire bad teachers (the District is complicit in not really attempting to fire bad teachers instead shunting them from school to school). There really is a disincentive for working hard in the system as currently construed.

  13. #13
    annie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naveen View Post
    Is there a list yet of the schools they are closing? And, also, which schools would be expected to have students from shuttered schools sent to them? (I'm talking public, not charter)
    No but this document leaked from last year has 84 options on it, more than 8 of which were already acted on. Now they're talking about closing 64 schools by 2017.

    http://www.thenotebook.org/sites/def...eport-full.pdf

    For the neighborhood district schools that have already approved for closure, they are redrawing the catchments of nearby schools. All catchments on are the table to be redrawn this year so I imagine these closings will overshadow a lot of that process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    Allow the schools to sink or swim, with help 'offered' by the center but not forced upon schools, with a rigorous method of evaluating progress and comparing apples to apples, and that will lead most quickly out of the desert of the past 40 years. If the public schools are working, allow them to thrive. All kinds of schools need to perform, and any school which doesn't, whatever its management model, needs to be put out of its misery, quickly.
    Yeah, you didn't read the article or at least not very closely. That's not what's happening. I thought we had turned a corner with you with Mifflin but you're quickly back to your old tricks. I was just at an SRC meeting where they were trying to justify their "apples to apples" comparison of Masterman as a "good school" for its high test scores with a charter serving students in the foster care system for its low scores. Painful to watch smart people defend such blind idiocy.

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    seand is online now Senior Member
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    Surely there is some way to set standards specific for schools specifically designed to serve kids with disabilities, kids with histories of severe disciplinary issues, kids with extraordinary social situations. On the other hand it seems like a lot of charters serving the average population of the SDP are not being held to accountability as quickly as they should.

    Isn't there some sort of standard policy for measuring schools with specific missions like this against other specialized schools?

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    Quote Originally Posted by seand View Post
    Surely there is some way to set standards specific for schools specifically designed to serve kids with disabilities, kids with histories of severe disciplinary issues, kids with extraordinary social situations.
    Not what they're doing with the School Performance Index, which they set the baseline for in 2009 (cheating scandal goes back to that year). They do have what's called a "similar schools rank" but it's a little hard to take that seriously when the "similar schools" are under investigating for cheating.

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    seand is online now Senior Member
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    And School Performance Index is state policy or local SRC policy?

    I'm not sure because administrators are willing to cheat is a good argument for tossing out standards formeasuring their performance altogether, more that enforcement of the standards have to be improved, that bad scores should set off an automatic review, but a review that is transparent and can be adjusted for the circumstances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seand View Post
    And School Performance Index is state policy or local SRC policy?

    I'm not sure because administrators are willing to cheat is a good argument for tossing out standards formeasuring their performance altogether, more that enforcement of the standards have to be improved, that bad scores should set off an automatic review, but a review that is transparent and can be adjusted for the circumstances.
    SRC. It was one of Ackerman's cadet's Ph.D. dissertation and they won't let go of it for some reason (sunk a lot of $ into developing it). Besides the issue of cheating, assessing schools on scores depends on the PSSAs being an accurate measurement of student achievement and teacher performance and I am not convinced that it is.

    ETA: Live stream and updates here http://www.thenotebook.org/blog/1247...osings-planned

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    seand is online now Senior Member
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    Sure PSSA's are not the be all, end all measurement of the quality of education, but as a short hand quick guide to whether a school is getting its students to up to basic skill levels, whats wrong with using them as an indicator for cases where education up to basic skills are running off the track?

    People paying taxes want simple numbers that they can look at to watch for instances where a basic level of education is not happening. As an analogy, colleges don't only look at SAT's but none of them are willing to throw SAT's completely out the window as a measure for admission either.
    Last edited by seand; 04-24-2012 at 11:22 AM.

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    NE19149 is offline (^!^)
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    Perhaps I'll schedule a festive lunchdate at Le-Bec-Fin with the honorable Grande Lady Arlene, so she can offer suggestions, and her worldly assistance.

 

 

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