Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Wants YOU to Give Standardized Tests to Your Kids at Home – Education Article

    A multi-million dollar corporation wants to make sure Pennsylvania’s children keep getting standardized tests.  Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) and the state Department of Education are providing the optional Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) assessments for use in students’ homes.     Students are not required to take the CDT in the Commonwealth unless their district decides to give it. The test is encouraged by the state as a way of telling how students will do on the required tests.…

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Why High Stakes Testing Was Cancelled This Year (and Probably Will Be Next Year, Too) – Education Article

 There are at least two silver linings to the current Coronavirus catastrophe for education.   One – with nearly all public schools closed, March was the first month since 2002 without a school shooting.   Two – districts nationwide cancelled high stakes standardized tests in April and May.   Taken together, these are two victories that no one could have predicted before November.   Gun safety restrictions remain laughably lax in the US compared to the rest of the world.…

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Mike Turzai is Willing to Sacrifice Pennsylvania’s Students and Families to the Economy – Education Article

 Mike Turzai says he’s furious with Pedro Rivera.   Why is the highest ranking Republican in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives so angry with the state Secretary of Education?   Rivera said the Commonwealth’s public schools, which have been closed since mid March due to the Coronavirus pandemic, would not reopen until it was safe to do so.   If that means schools don’t reopen on time in the Fall, so be it.   Specifically, on Wednesday, Rivera said:   “At…

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HBO’s “Bad Education” Aims at Public School Theft While Ignoring More Frequent Fraud at Charter Schools & Testing Companies – Education Article

 “Bad Education” is a frustrating movie to watch as a public school teacher.   It does a fine job telling the true story of a wealthy New York district where administrators stole millions of dollars for themselves.   But it ignores the far more frequent waste and malfeasance caused by school privatization, high stakes testing and runaway ed tech.   Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but there is no subject more political than public schools.   During the current Coronavirus…

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You Can’t Have My Students’ Lives to Restart Your Economy – Education Article

    It’s okay if a few children die to start up the economy.   That is literally the opinion being offered by media influencers and policymakers as Coronavirus social distancing efforts continue passed the 30-day mark.   In the midst of a global pandemic, we’ve closed down all nonessential businesses while people self quarantine at home waiting for the curve of infection to plateau and then drop off. Medical experts tell us this is the only way to ensure…

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How Did America’s Schools Cope with Spanish Flu vs. Coronavirus? – Education Article

  They say history repeats itself.   And if you’ve read any accounts of the bygone days of yesteryear, the current crisis certainly appears like a rerun.   Look at all the closed businesses, frightened people venturing out wearing face masks or self quarantined in their homes. It sure looks a lot like 1918.   The Spanish Flu epidemic that swept the nation a little more than a century ago bares more than a passing resemblance to COVID-19, the coronavirus.…

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Top 10 Things I Want My Students to do During the Coronavirus Quarantine – Education Article

      Dear Students,   A schoolteacher without a classroom is kind of like a firefighter without a fire.   Or a police officer without crime.   But here we are – self-quarantined at home.   Our classroom sits empty, and everyday this week we sit here at home wondering what to do.   I want you to know that I’ve been thinking about all of you.   I hope you’re doing alright during this unprecedented moment in history.…

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Public Schools Can Recover from the COVID-19 Quarantine by Skipping High Stakes Tests – Education Article

 There is one plus from being sick during a global pandemic.   You get perspective.   While all the schools in Pennsylvania are closed for at least the next two weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (colloquially known as the Coronavirus), I self-quarantined a day early.   No, I don’t think I have the virus, but I’m not taking any chances.   Still, sitting here at my laptop with a steaming mug of tea, I’m filled with optimism.…

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Bernie Sanders Would Be the First Jewish President – What That Means to Me – Education Article

 Being Jewish is not something I advertise.   Some of my earliest memories are trying to explain to school friends that no, I didn’t kill Jesus – and, yes, I do eat matzo but it isn’t made with baby’s blood – and would they like to come over to my house and play Legos?   I’ve been called “yid,” “kike,” “heeb,” even just plain “Jew” with the lips curled and the word hurled at me like a knife.   Heck.…

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Don’t Fear Summer Lee. Fear the Devil’s Bargain Labor Leaders Are Willing to Make Opposing Her – Education Article

 Cancer or unemployment.   That’s the choice Pennsylvanians are being asked to make in 2020.   Do we allow hydraulic fracking to continue to destroy our environment and increase our risk of cancers and other debilitating illnesses?   Or do we clean things up and risk losing jobs?   Some labor leaders seem willing to chose the former on behalf of their constituencies.   That’s why the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council (PA AFL-CIO) voted to oppose the re-election of…

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Gov. Wolf Proposes Saving $280 Million a Year in PA With Charter School Reform – Education Article

    Charter schools waste taxpayer money.   Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf proposes we stop wasting that money by holding charter schools as accountable as the state’s authentic public schools.   The Democratic governor made his most recent proposal yesterday as part of his 2020-21 budget address.   It’s a common sense proposal that only seems revolutionary because officials have been so blinded with school privatization fantasies.   Charter schools are funded with tax dollars but can be run by…

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Sixteen Gadfly Articles That Made Betsy DeVos Itch in 2019
 – Education Article

  “Life can only be understood backwards,” wrote Søren Kierkegaard, “but it must be lived forwards.”  I remember reading the Danish philosopher’s “Fear and Trembling” in my philosophy of religion class back in college.   To be honest I was never a big fan of his work – I thought if the only way to truth was taking a leap of faith, how many madmen have already reached enlightenment?     But he had a point when he wrote about…

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Charter Schools, Harrisburg & Mayor Peduto Created Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Budget Deficit – Education Article

 Where did all the money go?     Pittsburgh Public Schools will start 2020 with a $25.1 million budget deficit.     Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet has asked for a 2.3% tax increase to cover the shortfall, but school directors ended up approving his spending plan without approving the tax increase.     The school board will meet on Friday to decide whether to ultimately raise taxes or make cuts including possible staff furloughs.     But in the meantime,…

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Top 10 Lessons From the 2020 Public Education Forum – Education Article

The school bell chimed and the class shuffled home.   But the students weren’t little children.   They were Democratic Presidential candidates!   And boy-oh-boy did they get sent packing with a ton of homework!   Teachers, students, parents and community members from all over the country sat them down with instructions on how to improve the public education system.   Kudos to the candidates for agreeing to listen.   It was billed as the MSNBC “Public Education Forum 2020:…

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Public School Teacher Questions for 2020 Dem Presidential Candidates – Education Article

      What happens when you give a microphone to a public school teacher?     That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know, because we so rarely let educators speak in any context other than the classroom.     Maybe that’s why it’s so refreshing that MSNBC is hosting “Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Justice for All”on Saturday, Dec. 14, in my hometown of Pittsburgh.     Public policy is usually made by billionaires who…

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Demand Reform to Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law – Before It’s Too Late – Education Article

  If no one answers a question, was it even asked?  Way back on August 24, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) quietly posted a little notice on the PA Bulletin Website asking for public comment on the state’s charter school law.   This is not exactly a high traffic site.     It’s a state-run page that includes proposed rules, notices, proclamations, court rulings, actions and executive orders.  Unless you work for the state, are a journalist or…

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