Pittsburgh

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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Pittsburgh Mayor’s Tantrum About School Finances Proves He Doesn’t Understand Education or Equity – Education Article

  Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is steaming mad and he doesn’t care who knows it.   On Tuesday he raved that Pittsburgh Public Schools’ finances should be taken over by the state – the same fate the city had suffered during its own economic troubles from 2004-18.   The reason Peduto thinks the school should submit to a financial recovery plan overseen by a state appointed board? School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet is proposing a 2.3% tax increase in 2020…

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Vulture Voucher Bill Latest in Mike Turzai’s Quest to Please Betsy DeVos in PA – Education Article

 The best way to help a struggling public school is to cannibalize it.     At least that’s what Betsy DeVos thinks – and so does her Pennsylvania puppet Mike Turzai.     The Republican Speaker of the state House is expected to propose a school voucher bill Monday that will treat Harrisburg Schools as nothing more than carrion fit for plunder by school privatization vultures.     Sure the district is in state receivership after decades of neglect and…

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The Stink of Segregation Needs to End in Steel Valley Schools – Education Article

 I am a teacher at Steel Valley Schools.   I am also an education blogger.   In order to belong to both worlds, I’ve had to abide by one ironclad rule that I’m about to break:   Never write about my home district.   Oh, I write about issues affecting my district. I write about charter schools, standardized testing, child poverty, etc. But I rarely mention how these things directly impact my school, my classroom, or my students.   I…

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Who’s Trading Public School Funding for a Tax Credit? – Education Article

  Ever wonder why our roads and public school buildings are crumbling?   Ever wonder why schools can’t afford books, buses and nurses?   Ever wonder why classroom teachers are forced to buy paper, pencils and supplies for their students out of pocket?   Because businesses like Giant Eagle, American Eagle Outfitters, and Eat’n Park aren’t paying their fair share.   It’s a simple concept – you belong to a society, you should help pay for the roads, bridges, schools,…

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Gov. Wolf Tries to Stop Charter Schools Gorging on Public School Funding – Education Article

  Sooey! Here Pig Pig Pig!   No one minds that healthy call at the hog farm when it’s time to feed the sows.   But taxpayers do take issue with it when it’s the call of the state legislature gathering a different kind of swine around public tax dollars.   Pennsylvania’s 180 charter schools gobbled up $1.8 billion last year from the Commonwealth’s public schools.   And Gov. Tom Wolf is refusing to let them continue to gorge on…

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Every Charter School Must Be Closed Down – Every. Single. One. – Education Article

 The problem with charter schools isn’t that they have been implemented badly.   Nor is it that some are for-profit and others are not.   The problem is the concept, itself.   Put simply: charter schools are a bad idea. They always were a bad idea. And it is high time we put an end to them.   I am overjoyed that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are starting to hear the criticisms leveled against the charter school…

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Charter Schools Are Quietly Gobbling Up My Public School District
 – Education Article

  I work in a little suburban school district just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that is slowly being destroyed by privatization.   Steel Valley Schools have a proud history.   We’re located (in part) in Homestead – the home of the historic steel strike of 1892.   But today it isn’t private security agents and industrial business magnates against whom we’re struggling.   It’s charter schools, voucher schools and the pro-corporate policies that enable them to pocket tax dollars meant…

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Pittsburgh School Board Candidate Anna Batista Takes Big Money From Special Interests – Education Article

  Meanwhile, her opponent Pam Harbin, a public school watchdog, is supported almost exclusively by grassroots donations.     Both candidates are running for District 4, which serves parts of Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, Shadyside and North Oakland. Since they’ve cross filed and will appear on both the Republican and Democratic primary ballots, the seat should be decided in the May 21 primary.   Batista and Harbin have raised similar amounts for their campaigns. Harbin has $33,412.95 while Batista has…

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Schools That Hinder Opt Outs Are Participating in Their Own Demise – Education Article

You can’t be a public school and still ignore the will of the people.   That’s the problem at too many districts across the country where narrow-minded administrators are waging an all out war on parents opting their children out of standardized testing.   The federal government still requires all states to give high stakes tests to public school students in grades 3-8 and once in high school. So states require their districts to give the tests – despite increasing…

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Let Voters Fix Harrisburg School Board – Not State Takeover – Education Article

Pushing the self-destruct button is the ultimate measure of last resort.   But that’s how several Pennsylvania lawmakers are suggesting we fix the dysfunctional Harrisburg School Board.   An election that could oust most of the very school directors responsible for the district’s troubles is less than a month away. But Democratic Representative Patty Kim, Republican Senator John DiSanto and Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse all say we shouldn’t wait – The state should takeover the Harrisburg School District immediately.  …

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A Gadfly’s Dozen: Top 13 Education Articles of 2018 (By Me) – Education Article

    I’m not going to mince words.   This year, 2018, has been a monster.   We’ve been fighting the dumbest and most corrupt President of our lives – Donald Trump. And we’ve been making progress.   Thanks to the midterm election blue wave in the U.S. House, Trump will finally have a check on his power.   We have more black and brown representatives, more women, more nationalities, ethnicities and faiths in the halls of power than ever…

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