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Fixing Public EducationRecently, Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, in order to help the...

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 4:37 PM via web

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Fixing Public Education

Recently, Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, in order to help the economy, is suggesting that Pennsylvania reduce its public schools by 80%.  Currently, Pennsylvania has 501 schools.  Rendell wants to condense this to 100 schools.  He wants a committee to study this proposal and come up with two workable plans. 

This just amazes me!  I don't see how this idea will be best for education.  It frustrates me that our government's solution to improve education is to simply put a band-aid on it. 

I am interested in what you think about Governor Rendell's idea. 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 4:44 PM (Answer #2)

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What does it mean to reduce public schools? Does he intend to create mega schools?

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM (Answer #3)

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I suppose that would depend upon the proposals that the committee puts together, but I took it as he was going to decrease the number of schools by combining school districts.

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Jen Sambdman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 6:28 PM (Answer #4)

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Wait...is this for real?
This cant be real...
Are they planning on building insanely large schools and having all of the students attend them? They will still have to have almost as many teachers because you cant have 40 kids per teacher (in good conscious). In order to heat and cool that size of an infrastructure will be less cost effective as well. What about the transportation cost of getting everyone to the schools? I mean really...was this thought through?

Very VERY rarely am I rendered speechless but...wow. I just...wow.

Wow.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 7:40 PM (Answer #5)

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He is talking about consolidating school DISTRICTS, not schools,in order to decrease administative costs. But he is also talking about significant cuts in various areas., including closing a school for the deaf.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20090205_Rendell__Boost_school_funding__consolidate.html

 

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 8:12 PM (Answer #6)

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Rather than consolidate schools, I would search for other ways to balance the budget.  I went to a HS of 400 students, and I think that's a good number if you are going to try to be a school "community" not a school "factory."  It's possible for all the teachers to know most of the students.   There are drawbacks (not a lot of variety in teachers ... I often had one teacher for two subjects), but I think smallness is worth working toward.

Of course this is not going to happen because they already seem to have large schools, but I still think you have to have some desired outcome in mind when you make these decisions...

I'll echo jennyrocks ... WOW :(

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 8:17 PM (Answer #7)

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Thank you for posting the link for the factual information behind Rendell's proposal.  My first post was misleading because in my mind I was thinking school districts, but I said schools.  So, mega schools would not necessarily be built, but rather absorb other districts.  For example, if district X has 5 schools and district Y has 6 schools, under Rendell's plan, these schools would combine into one district with 11 schools.  Now, this doesn't mean that once this merger takes place that all schools within the district would remain open.  Once the merger takes place, what would happen if the new larger district decides to close some of its schools because it is not cost effective to keep them open?  This is a very real possibility.  The students who attended the buildings that closed will need to be absorbed by remaining open schools.  I just don't see how this benefits education.  Maybe I just don't understand politics!

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litchick2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 6, 2009 at 7:02 AM (Answer #8)

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If by consolidating they mean that they are going to cut administrative positions, I can't say that I disagree. At the district level, at least in my experience, there is a great deal of overlap. There are people who get paid entirely too much to simply stand around and wait until someone needs them.  I would question any cuts to necessary programs and definitely any cuts to the number of teachers or an increase in the student to teacher ratio.

 

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 6, 2009 at 5:46 PM (Answer #9)

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I definitely agree with scdaniel about not cutting programs or teachers, but I am not in totally agreement about cutting administrative positions.  It seems to me that perhaps we don't have enough administrative positions, at least in the district I teach, and the district where my children go to school.  I for one am tired of doing administrative jobs such as writing curriculum and not getting paid for it.  Now, I'm not saying that our schools should be packed with administrators, especially those who do nothing, but it needs to be proportionate to the faculty.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 6, 2009 at 7:23 PM (Answer #10)

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I agree with #9.  There's nothing more irritating than doing the job of those above you (who already get paid outrageous salaries) and not getting compensated for the work.  I, too, have written course descriptions, curriculum, and done much work that is generally assigned to administrators for nothing more than my teacher pay.  On the other hand, effective admin support the teachers by taking care of discipline problems and by acting as mediator between parents and teachers.  As long as the education of the students and the support of the teachers doesn't suffer, I say save some money and cut admin positions.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 7, 2009 at 11:24 AM (Answer #11)

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In the metropolitan area that I live, there are three large school districts and many smaller districts. The largest district stretches over every kind of community, from the very wealthy to the very poor. You would think this would give the district a chance at arriving at some kind of parity between the schools from the "richer" areas and those from the "poorer" areas. In reality, it does just the opposite. The parents in the "richer" areas are adept at manipulating the political process and budgets so that the schools which serve their students always seem to get more services than those in the "poorer" areas. In addition, the school board and the last several superintendents have tried to implement a "one size fits all" approach to education. This approach ends up being "no size fits anyone". The district is simply too large to focus on the problems of individual schools or areas. Teachers have little communication with one another and the bureaucracy is huge. That means that teachers do not have much imput at the district level. Combining school districts will mean having fewer school districts, not fewer administrators.

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readingdiva | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 11, 2009 at 4:44 PM (Answer #12)

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I think that the Governor made a blanket statement that took everyone by surprise.  I agree that it is a balancing act to have enough support and administration without waste.  However, our economy is forcing many companies, both public and private, to make some major changes.  It is not unreasonable to ask our schools to look at their budgets and assess their spending.  I can equate it to our town consolidating the village and town job positions, taxes, and resources.  Sometimes it can make a lot of sense to pool resources in order to save money and offer people more. 

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msbrenner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 19, 2009 at 4:32 PM (Answer #13)

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He is talking about consolidating school DISTRICTS, not schools,in order to decrease administative costs. But he is also talking about significant cuts in various areas., including closing a school for the deaf.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20090205_Rendell__Boost_school_funding__consolidate.html

 

I don't know about PA, but in MI administrative costs are huge.  I would like to say I know what they are doing in that building downtown to make the district better, but I can't say I do...

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 1:54 PM (Answer #14)

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Has this governor ever been a teacher who has had to teach in the kind of megaschools he is proposing? It is a matter of continued concern to me that so much of educational policy is decided by non-teachers who have no idea of what life is like at the coal-face for us teachers. Am I alone?

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