A California Ruling Is More Bad News For Philly Teachers

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Being a Philadelphia school district teacher is not an easy job. And this past week it just got harder. Not only because of yesterday’s decision by the School Reform Commission to terminate the district’s agreement with the teachers union and require teachers to now pay in for their health insurance. It’s also because of a ruling in California.

Per Breitbart last Friday:

In what will be a devastating blow to California public employee unions, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy of the City of Stockton that pensions managed by the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, can be cut in bankruptcy “like any other garden variety” unsecured debt. He rejected the unions’ argument that the world’s largest pension fund is an “arm of the state” and that public employee pensions are protected by federal and state laws.

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What They’re Saying About the School Reform Commission

Protestors demonstrate against the school district's sudden decision to cancel teachers and others contract and force them to pay health care premiums, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. The decision Monday by the School Reform Commission follows nearly two years of stalled negotiations between the district and union.

Protestors demonstrate against the school district’s sudden decision to cancel teachers and others contract and force them to pay health care premiums, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. The decision Monday by the School Reform Commission follows nearly two years of stalled negotiations between the district and union.

A day after the School Reform Commission abruptly and unilaterally ended its contract with the 15,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, there is still plenty being said — a lot of anger, but some support, for the action. An overview:
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School District Sues Ex-Webmaster Christopher Akers for Fraud, Theft

christopher-akers-lawsuit-school-district-linkedinBack in 2008, just a few months after Arlene Ackerman’s reign as Queen Bee of School District of Philadelphia began, Christopher Akers, seen here in his LinkedIn profile, was hired as the district’s full-time webmaster at a salary of just under $50,000. Well, six years later, Ackerman is gone (as in literally gone: she died in 2013) and Akers is being hauled into Philadelphia’s Federal Court by the cash-strapped district, which is alleging that he spent his taxpayer-funded time there developing apps for his own business. Read more »

Bill That Approved Cigarette Tax Guarantees More Charter Schools in Philadelphia

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Philadelphians exhaled last week when the Pennsylvania House approved a $2-a-pack cigarette tax increase in the city, a move expected to generate up to $170 million. Without that extra money, the district’s schools faced drastic cuts in October. No one was really happy about it. When it looked as if the bill would pass this summer, Newsworks’ Dave Davies wrote the legislative victory was “spectacularly depressing” — but at least it’s a solution for this school year.

It’s not like House Republicans suddenly changed their mind on a cigarette tax that was declared dead in late June and delayed again this July for nothing. A report in the Inquirer this summer detailed the reason many House GOP members flipped: An amendment in the cigarette tax bill allows charter school applicants rejected or ignored by the School Reform Commission a second chance with the state Charter Appeals Board. Previously, they had no avenue to appeal. (See the final version of HB 1177 below; it contains both the cigarette tax language and the charter appeal process.)

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2 More Philadelphia School Principals Charged with Changing Test Answers

Two former Philadelphia school principals have been charged with changing students’ answers on standardized tests in order to boost scores. District Attorney Kathleen Kane announced the arrests of Barbara McCreery, 61, of Philadelphia, and Arthur “Larry” Melton, 70, of Cherry Hill Thursday afternoon.

McCreery, the former principal at Communications Technology High School, is accused of changing answers on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in 2010. Melton, the former principal at Edward W. Bok Technical High School, is charged with changing answers of a group that was “on the cusp.”

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