Charter schools 'amassing' special ed...

Charter schools 'amassing' special ed cash?

There are 175 comments on the The Morning Call story from Jul 10, 2009, titled Charter schools 'amassing' special ed cash?. In it, The Morning Call reports that:

Through their local school districts, taxpayers pay millions of dollars to educate special education students enrolled in Pennsylvania 's increasing number of charter schools.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Morning Call.

Concerned parents

Grand Rapids, MI

#43 Jul 10, 2009
redneck wrote:
UHMM why spend ANY money on special ed people? it is not like they are going to be of any help in the future. they just **** up TAXPAYER money. the parents should take on this burden NOT the taxpayer. why should I have to pay because you gave birth to it? with all the other issues in this country why WASTE TAXPAYER money on this type of .... also why is taxmoney going to these make believe schools???? WTF
The first thing I would like to say to this person is exactly where did you get your education to talk such filth of your fellow human beings! These people have rights just as you and I and with the mentality that you have shown here they have to deal with this on a daily basis.
Let's just wonder for a moment if you were to become a parapalgic one day and were restrained to a wheelchair and had to depend on the kindness of others to help you do every day tasks you were used to doing by yourself. What exactly would you do or say to someone who has shown such ignorance as you have in your comment????? I do wonder....
Special needs children are teachable and they can attribute to the community.
Everyone wants the charters schools to explain every penny given to them by the gov't but is anyone explaining the same type of funds given to public schools for sports. The taxpayers pay for that also and no one is asking if every cent was spent that year and to give back any surplus. But you expect it from special education, why?
Special education is needed in our public schools along with the charter school (which were established because public schools were too crowded and individual attention was needed). Why are we even questioning the need of education of ANY of our children? Education is the key to our success and growth. There is no room for ignorance which has been shown repeatedly by ones who think special education is not needed or warranted.
Why should all individuals or organizations suffer because the POSSIBILITY that someone MIGHT cheat the system. Looking back in the archives, one can easily find cheaters right within our public school system. Why isn't Morning Call riding on these stories like they have here. We have had other gov't officials who have cheated the gov't out of billions of dollars. One just arrested and tried recently and is spending the rest of his natural life in prison. Exactly how is this punishment for him.....and guess what....the taxpapers are paying for it.....are you happy about this....I know I'm not. So instead of asking about special needs and the money that is spent educating them along with your child, lets all look at the big picture which ultimely is the gov't and they way they spend our taxpayers dollars.
ABE-5980

Harrisburg, PA

#44 Jul 10, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
Abe, by equating a criminal trial to a job termination, you are making quite a leap in trying to play down the importance of tenure. "Having your case heard" and forcing "the employer to prove that the teacher is NOT doing their job" are not rights that the vast majority of employees in this country have.
Tenure is best contrasted with "at will employment", which is the situation that a vast majority of non-unionized private sector employees are in. These employees can be terminated at any time, for any (non-discriminatory) reason, such as budget cuts, unforseen changes in business patterns, poor performance, poor attitude, etc.
Tenured employees, however, must go through the process you described, which is far from easy. Yes - the extreme cases can be handled fairly easily, but the tenure system makes in an absolute nightmare to get rid of mediocre teachers, as well as those who are really bad, but know how to game the system.
It also makes reductions in force just about impossible, and restricts districts hiring when they have a short term need. Most districts decide that, faced with a temporary need for a teacher, they would rather go short for a year or two than create a new tenured positing that pretty much can never be eliminated.
Tenure, and the job security it provides, is a major benefit to the employee, and a major impediment to most school districts, even if you choose to downplay it.
The reasons you cite for firing an "at will" employee are EXACTLY the same ones that can be used to fire or lay off a tenured teacher. Schools can (and do) lay off teachers if there isn't enough money in the budget. Positions can be eliminated if the enrollment changes significantly in a district (that would be changing business patterns in your example). This rarely happens, though, because enrollment usually doesn't drop so fast that teachers need to be laid off. It is handled by not replacing some of the retirees, for example. As for poor performance and attitude, administrators are the ones that need to enforce the rules and make teachers accountable for job performance. If a teacher isn't doing a good job, I agree that they should be fired. However, don't confuse the limited protection tenure gives a good teacher with the protection that a lazy or incompetent administrator affords a bad teacher. The responsibility is on the administration to supervise and deal with bad teaching up to and including dismissal.

As for districts running short-handed because of a short-term need for a teacher, I don't understand why thy would. Do you have a concrete example of this? Districts can (and do) hire substitutes to fill positions for up to a full year. Is more than a year "short-term"? Even so, if the enrollment drops or the need to have two chemistry teachers, for example, is no longer there, someone CAN be laid off. It can happen.

How, specifically, is tenure a "major impediment" to school districts? Does making a school district prove that a teacher is not being fired for frivilous reasons add that much of an encumberance to its operations? Does giving that teacher a right to a public hearing take up that many resources? You will find no one that believes that bad teachers need to find something else to do more than me; however, I've seen small town politics get ugly and good people railroaded, too.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#45 Jul 10, 2009
Without tenure protection, a school board can hire a new football coach by bumping-out a magnificent, young educator.

Without tenure protection, a school principal can replace an excellent, senior teacher with a "hot" recent graduate who likes to party.

Without tenure protection, a school board can "cull" its salary expense by letting go any teacher with 5, or more, years of experience.

Without tenure protection, a school board president can provide his/her niece with a job whenever she wants one.

Without tenure protection, a school board member (or building principal) can privately SELL someone full-time employment.
Accountability

Reading, PA

#46 Jul 10, 2009
Accountability for the special ed situation starts at home. How many kids are "special ed" when all they need is parenting to get them under control? Granted there are children who need special services, but many are from homes where they are left to run wild and can't adjust to the classroom where some form of discipline is required.

Bad parenting on your part should not create a burdensome tax situation for me.
Sound Reasoning

San Jose, CA

#47 Jul 10, 2009
As pointed out in the article, some students cost more to educate, and some cost less.

If we want to change the law better fit what is being spent on each student, we as tax payers might end up with a larger, not smaller, total bill.

Yea, I am sure there are examples were a school gets $15,000 but spends only $10,000 on that one student. My worry is that there might be other cases where the school gets $15,000 but spends $50,000. If those unpaid examples exceed the overpaid examples, we as tax payers will once again get screwed instead of helped.
Horace Mann

Walnutport, PA

#48 Jul 10, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
Abe, by equating a criminal trial to a job termination, you are making quite a leap in trying to play down the importance of tenure. "Having your case heard" and forcing "the employer to prove that the teacher is NOT doing their job" are not rights that the vast majority of employees in this country have.
Tenure is best contrasted with "at will employment", which is the situation that a vast majority of non-unionized private sector employees are in. These employees can be terminated at any time, for any (non-discriminatory) reason, such as budget cuts, unforseen changes in business patterns, poor performance, poor attitude, etc.
Tenured employees, however, must go through the process you described, which is far from easy. Yes - the extreme cases can be handled fairly easily, but the tenure system makes in an absolute nightmare to get rid of mediocre teachers, as well as those who are really bad, but know how to game the system.
It also makes reductions in force just about impossible, and restricts districts hiring when they have a short term need. Most districts decide that, faced with a temporary need for a teacher, they would rather go short for a year or two than create a new tenured positing that pretty much can never be eliminated.
Tenure, and the job security it provides, is a major benefit to the employee, and a major impediment to most school districts, even if you choose to downplay it.
I'm sorry, but I don't think you have any idea of how many teachers are removed from their positions each year because of incompetence or immorality. The only ones that make any kind of news are those who fight in the courts. The vast majority of removals are done quietly and without any fanfare.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#49 Jul 10, 2009
Let us also not forget ...

Bad behavior CAN result in a label of Special Ed student. That kind of label can actually result in additional Social Security (SSI) disability payments to the parent on behalf of their kid.

Now, given today's society, wouldn't we ALL agree that certain bad behaviors are exhibited in hope of increasing family subsidy?
reader2

Allentown, PA

#50 Jul 10, 2009
somebody else wrote:
I disagree. I think this story actually could have us pointing fingers in the other direction. Perhaps the public school districts spend way too much or should I say....waste too much?
<quoted text>
I agree with you. GOOD teachers and administrators are worth what they get, but the exhorbitant amount of technology and therapy that many special ed students are required to receive makes very, very little change in their lives.
Common Sense

United States

#51 Jul 10, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Without tenure protection, a school board can hire a new football coach by bumping-out a magnificent, young educator.
Without tenure protection, a school principal can replace an excellent, senior teacher with a "hot" recent graduate who likes to party.
Without tenure protection, a school board can "cull" its salary expense by letting go any teacher with 5, or more, years of experience.
Without tenure protection, a school board president can provide his/her niece with a job whenever she wants one.
Without tenure protection, a school board member (or building principal) can privately SELL someone full-time employment.
You're examples have nothing to do at all with tenure. Most (or probably all) of the examples you cite would be classified as discrimination, and would not be legally allowed to occur in any industry. They are also quite dramatic, not at all like the much more common situation where a school adminstrator would prefer to dismiss a marginally performing teacher and replace them with a new one.

As Abe first addresssed, tenure shifts the burden of proof to the district, and sets a much higher bar for districts to jump when terminating teachers. It's a nice benefit, but to deny that tenure protects marginal teachers and the whole problem is "lazy administrators" is to turn a blind eye to the obvious.
Plain Truth

San Jose, CA

#52 Jul 10, 2009
I have some personal experience with special ed, and how it has changed FOR THE BETTER over the years.

20+ year ago, my oldest was in spec ed. Back then, like in the 5th grade, he was in an all spec ed classroom. The grandmother-ly teach would spend the school day sitting in her rocking chair, with the students sitting around her, reading them stories. In classroom activities were things like baking chocolate chip cookies.

He learned nothing. And today, he still can handle even the most basic arithmetic.

However, today, my youngest is a spec ed student too, but is in a regular classroom, learning all the same skills and material as the other students. Yea, an assistant teacher sits in the back with him, and provides him support and additional help, and yea, that adds to his education costs, but the result the infinitely better.

He is only 10, but has already surpassed the 30 yo.

There is a lot of good stuff going on in our schools. It isn't all simply spending money (tax money) for little to no results.
Getting real

Whitehall, PA

#53 Jul 10, 2009
My son was both home schooled and we did online charter school. It was great from an educational standpoint. He was able to move forward quickly. He had a need for keyboarding as he had motor skill issues. All beautifully tended to with charter schooling. But, because he is considered "gifted" and when financial reasons caused us to go back to public school, that gifted status meant nothing! Zero. Zilch.
I was told there is no gifted program beyond the eighth grade. They wouldn't even call the program in lower grades "gifted". They do that so they can filter the additional money alloted for aiding gifted kids to suit their needs. They hide the dough and do 'who knows what' with it.
When we were enrolled with the charter school, my son's needs were addressed and they did everything they could to accommodate his gifted status. They parted with the funding they had to help my son. That is what they are supposed to do. Help the kids! I sat in a room numerous times with the head of this the czar of that and the principals and vice principals and Superintendent Lewis and they all lied straight through their teeth and told me "there is no funding for gifted children in Bethlehem". At the time he was attending Northeast. Clearly on the bottom rung of the ladder. Especially the then vice principal, Rusnack, or something like that. She was literally in my face with foam at her mouth telling me to back off, no help for my son.
He is now doing fine but those years in this system were brutal.
I say stop picking on charter schools and more importantly check them out for your own kids. Teachers who choose charters as a career option like teaching. They actually care.
Seriously, stop by one of the schools and see what I mean. Your kids are worth the better education. Especially if they are "special needs" kids.
Sound Reasoning

San Jose, CA

#54 Jul 10, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Without tenure protection, a school board can hire a new football coach by bumping-out a magnificent, young educator.
Without tenure protection, a school principal can replace an excellent, senior teacher with a "hot" recent graduate who likes to party.
Without tenure protection, a school board can "cull" its salary expense by letting go any teacher with 5, or more, years of experience.
Without tenure protection, a school board president can provide his/her niece with a job whenever she wants one.
Without tenure protection, a school board member (or building principal) can privately SELL someone full-time employment.
Because of tenure protection, a "burnt out" teachers have to be kept in the classroom.

Because of tenure protection, teachers need to hang around the school for only 200 days a year (the rest of us work 250 days).

Because of tenure protection, teachers "peal out" of the parking lot two minutes after the buses leave. Hay, I drive by the school on my way home from work each day, and have to dodge the teachers running their stop sign in their zeal to get out.

Because of tenure protection, teachers who have chosen to not expand or even maintain their skills, are the highest paid.

Because of tenure protection, teachers feel they have no accountability anymore to their students nor the district.

Because of tenure protection, even bad teachers accumulate tax-payer funded lucrative pensions that they would have otherwise, never earned.
Concerned parents

Grand Rapids, MI

#55 Jul 10, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Let us also not forget ...
Bad behavior CAN result in a label of Special Ed student. That kind of label can actually result in additional Social Security (SSI) disability payments to the parent on behalf of their kid.
Now, given today's society, wouldn't we ALL agree that certain bad behaviors are exhibited in hope of increasing family subsidy?
Unfortunately, yes some bad behavior has been classified as special needs, which I disagree with those who have this label put forth on them. And for the same reason, parents are not taking forth the responsibility of teaching their children acceptable behavior and hiding behind this label of special needs.

What this article is mainly describing is those who are are truly 'special needs' and the cost of educating them.

Instead of using the term 'special needs' as a garbage term, for example, cerebral palsy is not a disease but a brain injury for a child, they should re-evaluate those who have behaviorial issues due to non-discipline and have another program designed for them.

Special needs children, years ago, were put into institutions because society didn't want to deal with them. This is so wrong on so many levels and with the growth of society over the decades, one would hope the ignorance and prejudice would have subsided by now. Unfortunately, it seems there are still people out there who still think this way.

I would hope that one day, each of you could walk in our shoes and see just how damaging this thought process really is. We are so quick to judge on appearance first that we really don't get to see the whole picture within.

I know for a large population of the special needs in our community no one is looking for a payout for their situation. What we are looking for is being treated as a human being and have all the rights that we are entitled to. Each day is a struggle to get just the basic needs met that any other person takes for granted.

For anyone who truly disagrees with the way funds are being used in our school systems, why not take the time and investigate thoroughly where and how the funds are used before you jump on the band wagon and say these funds are not necessary. Go into a MDS classroom and look into those children's faces and tell them they are not worthy of being taught. I know I couldn't it do nor would I want to.
hmmmmm

Wallington, NJ

#56 Jul 10, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
Abe, by equating a criminal trial to a job termination, you are making quite a leap in trying to play down the importance of tenure. "Having your case heard" and forcing "the employer to prove that the teacher is NOT doing their job" are not rights that the vast majority of employees in this country have.
Tenure is best contrasted with "at will employment", which is the situation that a vast majority of non-unionized private sector employees are in. These employees can be terminated at any time, for any (non-discriminatory) reason, such as budget cuts, unforseen changes in business patterns, poor performance, poor attitude, etc.
Tenured employees, however, must go through the process you described, which is far from easy. Yes - the extreme cases can be handled fairly easily, but the tenure system makes in an absolute nightmare to get rid of mediocre teachers, as well as those who are really bad, but know how to game the system.
It also makes reductions in force just about impossible, and restricts districts hiring when they have a short term need. Most districts decide that, faced with a temporary need for a teacher, they would rather go short for a year or two than create a new tenured positing that pretty much can never be eliminated.
Tenure, and the job security it provides, is a major benefit to the employee, and a major impediment to most school districts, even if you choose to downplay it.
Check out the hiring practices in Allentown. It may change your mind. Many teachers are hired as "salaried subs." They do not have a contract. They can be hired for one year or indefinitely. As a salaried sub, the teacher will get a step one salary (first year) at a bachelor's level regardless of their educational level. They never move up on the salary scale until they get a contract. I know teacher's who were at step one for 10 years. None of those years count towards longevity or towards tenure. They are not sure in June if they will have a job in September. A lot of districts do this.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#57 Jul 10, 2009
Sound Reasoning,

You make lots of assumptions that you can't back up with actual evidence. But, that's OK. It's your right to post on this topic.

I also wish to remind you, teachers pay at LEAST one-third of their own final retirement anunity account.

I also want to remind you, teachers who work "only on the clock," could be reacting to all the public condemnation they receive. They are MEETING your expectations!

Finally, how many Mack Truck workers do you think hang around for more work beyond their contracted shift?
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#58 Jul 10, 2009
Concerned Parent,

My message is NOT to demean the necessity of accommodating Special Education students. One of my family was disabled. My point is, the system is RIPE for abuse, and it does happen.

My opinion is one from a now-retired public school teacher.

By the way, so-called "gifted" students also qualify as Special Ed.
Concerned parents

Grand Rapids, MI

#59 Jul 10, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Concerned Parent,
My message is NOT to demean the necessity of accommodating Special Education students. One of my family was disabled. My point is, the system is RIPE for abuse, and it does happen.
My opinion is one from a now-retired public school teacher.
By the way, so-called "gifted" students also qualify as Special Ed.
I understand your point that the system is being abused constantly. And I agree "gifted" students should have a program to themselves rather than in a class with children that have needs.

This is where the attention should be, the categorization of our school programs and to make sure the funds are used properly and not spilling over to another "needy" group within the school system.
Sound Reasoning

San Jose, CA

#60 Jul 10, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Finally, how many Mack Truck workers do you think hang around for more work beyond their contracted shift?
Well, I am glad you admit teachesr are more like assembly line workers, than like professals. I completely agree with you on that one!

However, the professionals (truck design engineers) work long hours in their office, and then usually take work home with them.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#61 Jul 10, 2009
Not really, Sound Reasoning. I just believe teachers are actual human beings, that they behave as most human beings would.

Bottom line, for me, you simply can't beat ANYONE over the head and expect them to beg for more. That's all.
hmmmmm

Wallington, NJ

#62 Jul 10, 2009
Sound Reasoning wrote:
<quoted text>
Well, I am glad you admit teachesr are more like assembly line workers, than like professals. I completely agree with you on that one!
However, the professionals (truck design engineers) work long hours in their office, and then usually take work home with them.
First of all, a teacher would spell properly. Perhaps you should proof read you post before hitting the button.

Second, the teacher's that I know work long hours at home too.

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