Pa. Gets A D But School Choice Can Make Teachers Rich

Pennsylvania gets “D” for promoting teacher quality, the National Council on Teacher Quality announced Friday.

The Council  advocates for tougher teacher evaluations and more rigorous teacher preparation.

Most states did as bad or worse.

The Council says Pennsylvania does not require teacher evaluations and tenure decisions to be based on student achievement; makes it too difficult to fire bad teachers; fails to oversee teacher preparation programs; elementary teachers are not well-prepared to teach math; and that the state sets low expectations for what special education teachers should know.

It also says Pennsylvania’s teacher pay and benefits are “inadequate incentives” to attract and retain good teachers.

I’m not sure about the last point but I’m not against a little more carrot for a lot more stick.

Consider this:  Cut the school year from the existing 190 days or so to 120 days and make each child eligible for a $5,000 tax-funded voucher to whatever accredited education facility their parents want per 120-day term

You should not need to be a high school calculus teacher to understand that would make just about any competent educator very rich.

The teacher leaves the public system and starts his or her own office much as a lawyer or doctor might. The office would be a classroom and the clients or patients would be the students. The teacher would have a huge advantage over a doctor or lawyer, however, in that the teacher could see far more than one client at a time. A good one could handle over 30, in fact.

Consider 30 students per class x $5,000 per student = $150,000 per 120 day term = $300,000 per 240 day year minus $50,000 for building rental, insurance, supplies, bookkeeping etc. = $250,000 before taxes.

Pretty sweet.

But the incompetent teachers  are against it so don’t expect it soon.

For those of you concerned about cutting the amount of education per calendar year, don’t be. The plan actually expands it. Re-read what I wrote and do the math.

And the plan might save the Catholic parochial schools.

When The ‘Raving Fanatics’ Were Right

California approved via referendum allocating $3 billion to embryonic stem cell research in 2004. Opponents of Proposition 71 or “California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act”, objected on moral grounds since the act resulted in the destruction of human life, and on practical grounds since other avenues of research seemed far more likely to get results.

The measure was supported by Hollywood A-listers such as Brad Pitt and Silicon Valley high rollers.

The opponents concerns were dismissed as the ravings of religious fanatics who wished to inflict suffering on Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve.

Well the verdict is in: the effort was a waste and the The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — the institution created with the money — is giving up embryonic stem cell research to concentrate on finding cures using adult stem cells, which was never controversial and is being studied at many other places.

And California teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

 When The ‘Raving Fanatics’ Were Right

Sen. Specter Casts 10,000th Vote

Arlen Specter was praised by fellow Democrats, Jan. 25, after casting the 10,000 vote of as senator during a reign that began in 1981.

From the “magic bullet theory” to getting Ira Einhorn free on bail to an imaginative citation of Scottish law to keep President Bill Clinton in office after his impeachment, Arlen Specter has certainly made himself part of history.

May 2010 be the last year he casts a Senate vote.

Choice Is The First Step In Solving Philly’s School Violence

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer had several stories involving school violence, and with the exception of one rather one-sided whine, all concerned serious incidents involving city schools.

This one, for instance, has girl gangs brawling outside of Bartram High school over comments on Facebook. Their fight ended up with three people — one girl and two boys — getting shot apparently by the boys they brought along. The boys were in critical condition as of this morning.

This one –granted it’s from the Daily News but the Inky had a similar story — concerned a hearing  incidents at Audenried High School in which a mother described how officials failed to discipline a school bully who had broken her son’s ribs, and how a teacher watched helplessly as a group of 20 students barged into her classroom and attacked a girl.

And this is on top of the incidents last December in which parents of Asian students kept their children home because of the unwillingness of officials to act against those attacking them.

If parents were allowed to chose their children’s schools most of these problems would go away. Schools and officials who did not respond to bullying would soon be weeded out because the parents would have the ability to cut off their money simply by  choosing to send their children elsewhere.

This would also apply to incompetent teachers.

The biggest opponents to school vouchers are, in fact, inattentive officials and incompetent teachers.

If the state legislators summed enough courage to oppose the teachers unions and approve school vouchers, parochial schools such as St. Joseph Grade School in Collingdale would be saved, and the kids who want an education in Philly would not have to attend class in fear.

RI Senator Disses Sestak After Sestak Endorses Him

Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa7), who is seeking to replace fellow Dem Arlen Specter as Pennsylvania senator, said in a Jan. 22 interview with TalkingPointsMemo.Com that the Democrats running the Senate lack courage especially piling on Harry Reid of Nevada.

He said he thought Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island should be leading things.

Reed responded by saying he’s endorsing Specter for re-election and  Dingy Harry as Majority Leader.

The Right To Know Where Dog Owners Live

Pennsylvania’s Right To Know law still has some bugs to be worked out.

The law, Act 3 of 2008, took effect Jan. 1, 2009, and was much-needed improvement over the existing Sunshine Act.

But then who could have guessed the implicit conflict between the right to protect the privacy of public school teachers and the right to know where dog owners lived?

Yesterday, Delaware County Daily Times columnist Gil Spencer described how Lauren Marks wanted to know where dog owners lived in four zip codes in Delaware County. Ms. Marks runs a pet-sitting service and was looking for potential customers. Businesses have long used lists of registered voters, taxpayers and real estate transfers for similar things.

Ms. Marks made requests in Montgomery and Chester counties without issue.

Delco, however, felt uncomfortable about releasing the information. County Clerk and Open Records Officer Anne Coogan checked with Solicitor Frank Catania, who recommended the request be denied citing a recent court injunction barring the release of the home addresses of public school employees.

Ms. Marks appealed and the state directed Delco to release the information — after removing the names of the public school employees.

This is a ridiculous and an almost impossible demand, especially since Spencer says state Open Records Officer Executive Director Terry Mutchler has expanded the rule to prohibit the release of the addresses of every public employee in the state.

Spencer says Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R-9) is preparing a fix.

And may people wake up to the understanding that transparency is much better than hiding behind a false sense of privacy.

Pa. To Pay $800M Tax Anticipation Loan In May And June

The $800 million Pennsylvania borrowed via tax anticipation notes (TAN) authorized Dec. 7 is due June 30.

Along with $6.5 million in interest.

The law gives these notes  the first right of revenue. Revenue from state business taxes arrive in March followed by personal taxes in April.

The debt is scheduled to be paid off with $300 million in May and $500 million in June.

This year’s Pennsylvania budget is about $27 billion not including $1.2 billion in federal American Recover and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money. It is expected to rise between $1 billion and $1.2 billion.

This was the state’s first TAN offering since 1997.

State Of The Union Bingo

Something being passed around the web to make tonight’s State of the Union speech bearable.

Event Instructions

Obama says “let me be clear”

Do one shot

Obama says “change isn’t easy”

Do one shot

Obama says “make no mistake”

Do one shot

Obama says “Let me be clear, change isn’t easy, make no mistake.”

He’s screwing with you to get you drunk, do five shots

Joe Wilson yells something

Do two shots

Obama yells back

Finish the bottle

Obama says “jobs”

Do one shot, two if you’re unemployed

Obama says “health care”

Do not drink, you will not be given a replacement liver

Nancy Pelosi claps like a seal

Do one shot

Nancy Pelosi becomes a seal


Obama mentions Bo

Put beer in your dog’s water bowl

Joe Biden nods-off/laughs inappropriately/starts talking before the speech
is over

Do three shots

Obama uses the term “Congressional leadership”

Do two shots carefully as all that laughing will make it difficult to

Obama says he’s “fighting for you”

Do one shot, two if you believe him

Obama mentions Haiti

Text “Haiti” to the number 90999 and donate $10 to the Red Cross

Athony J. Frascino, Obama’s New BFF

Athony J. Frascino, Obama’s New BFF — Step aside Ellie Light, here comes  Anthony J. Frascino of Swedesboro, N. J.

Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer published this letter from Frascino in which he described the independents in Massachusetts who elected Scott Brown to the Senate as voters having “no loyalty” and  “switch parties like underwear” and are “America’s insurgents”.

“Welcome to the new age of anarchy,” he said.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe published this letter from Frascino in which n which he described the independents in Massachusetts who elected Scott Brown to the Senate as as voters having “no loyalty” and  “switch parties like underwear” and are “America’s insurgents”.

“Welcome to the new age of anarchy,” he said.

At least Frascino is consistent as to where he lives.

Kudos to James Taranto’s Best of the Web for the tip.

Taranto notes that Frascino wrote a letter to the Inquirer in April, not available on the web, in which  he praised Sen. Arlen Specter for switching parties, and that he found this letter to the Inquirer in which he said that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct)  “makes Judas Iscariot look like Mother Teresa!”

Athony J. Frascino, Obama’s New BFF


Obama Losing Obama Girl

Obama Losing Obama Girl — Amber Lee Ettinger, who spent 2008 singing of her crush for Obama,  has fallen out of love.

On the eve of the President’s State of the Union address she is giving him a B-minus.

“In my opinion, I feel like he should be focusing a lot more on jobs and the economy,” she said. “He did create some jobs, but most of them were government jobs and that doesn’t really help the middle class.”

Ms. Ettinger notes she still does not have health care.

“I can’t afford it, ” she says.

Obama Losing Obama Girl