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StaffEditorialsPhiladelphia Public Schools Opening Unclear

Philadelphia Public Schools Opening Unclear

Aaron Kase, in Salon.com August 19, 2013, stoked the fires in the fight over whether and how Philadelphia Public Schools will open its doors to students for the Fall term. It’s a school yard brawl that highlights ideological, political divisions in Philadelphia and in the country. The brawling features finger pointing and accusations of corruption. The issue strikes at an ongoing, sometimes brutal, discussion in and out of education about what constitutes adequate funding for schools.

No agreed upon formula or principle of economics of education offers definition or answer to the question, What does it cost to learn /A/? If such an answer grounded in experimental empirical data existed, it could help settle the issue for those paying the bills as well as those (educators, and suppliers among others) whose bills are being paid.

Mired in debt, Philadelphia school personnel claim they do not have adequate funding to pay school administrators, counselors, librarians, and others who would routinely operate these schools this Fall.

Kase argues it’s the governors and state legislatures fault, if the schools don’t open because of inadequate funding from them. He also argues against Charter Schools, pointing out that money they receive could be distributed to regular public schools.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took over the failing district in 2001. Last year, they reduced payroll by 4,000 personnel and closed 26 schools while trying to bring order to the school budget.

Among the more than 700 Comments appended to Kase’s statement are those from readers who argue, with reasoning and data, that educators receive too much compensation, especially through unfunded pensions and other benefits, and too many administrators make over $100,000 a year with a failing school system to show for it.

It’s unclear whether or how Philadelphia Public Schools will open as scheduled on September 9, 2013.

It’s also unclear what resolves will happen with similar issues in other cities and their surrounding communities.

The White Glove Teas at parent-teacher meetings of decades ago have changed to bare knuckle street brawls, at least in media. Hopefully, steadier heads will prevail before inflicting more damage with student illiteracy by them not learning to read, calculate, etc.

Does the hope for learners and settlement of these disagreements rest in educators describing the valid and reliable cost for learning /A/?

And, what’s the acceptable cost of failing to come to a peaceful settlement of disputes over funding public schools?

Maybe Ms. Brooks the principal should send combatants to their corners and give them dunce caps to wear, without pay for time served, until they choose to kiss and make up?

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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