Monday, July 11, 2016

Philly Schools Ordered To Pay $2.3 Million For Anti-WHITE Racism


Philadelphia’s public school system was ordered to pay out $2.3 million in damages after a court found it deliberately discriminated against a white-owned business.

Security and Data Technologies, Inc. (SDT) was initially chosen by Philadelphia School District (PSD) and then-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman back in 2010 to install surveillance cameras at 19 schools PSD classified as particularly dangerous. After the company began preliminary work, it was abruptly “deselected” and the $7.5 million no-bid contract was then awarded on an emergency basis to IBS Communications, a company not eligible for no-bid contracts.

The abrupt turn of events, it turns out, had a racial motivation. An investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer discovered Ackerman became fed up that the district kept giving contracts to white-owned companies. SDT is owned by two white men.

So, after telling other PSD administrators she would make sure “all these white boys didn’t get contracts,” Ackerman canceled SDT’s contract and diverted it over to IBS, which had black ownership.

After Ackerman’s stunt was publicized, SDT sued, and the six-year legal odyssey finally ended Monday with a victory for the plaintiffs. A jury ruled that the district, along with Ackerman’s estate (she died in 2013), must pay out $2.3 million in damages. The damages cover $2.1 million in lost profits along with a small sum of compensatory damages.

“It’s been a long, hard journey. Justice was served,” SDT attorney Michael Homans told the Inquirer.

PSD says it is exploring a possible appeal.

The case isn’t the only one that stemmed from Ackerman’s actions. Francis Dougherty, a member of the city’s School Reform Committee, was fired after he leaked Ackerman’s deeds to the press. He sued, claiming his free speech and whistleblower rights were violated. His case was settled for $725,000 earlier this year. Two more lawsuits are still pending.

Prior to her downfall, and almost simultaneously with her decision to cancel the SDT contract, Ackerman was praised by President Barack Obama.


British schools flunk the new 'chaotic' grade school exams, so what do teachers do? Blame the government

Teachers have provoked outrage by demanding the resignation of Education Secretary Nicky Morgan after the number of 11-year-olds who failed national English and maths tests rose sharply this year.

The militant National Union of Teachers said the ‘chaotic’ SATs were too difficult and had left children ‘extraordinarily demoralised’.

In an astonishing attack on Mrs Morgan, the union’s acting general secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘A Secretary of State who demands accountability from schools should apply that principle to herself.

‘Because of the major failings of a key reform, and because of the effect of those failings on schools and children, the National Union of Teachers today calls on Ms Morgan to resign her office.’

But supporters of the tests, which were significantly tougher this year as part of Government efforts to increase rigour in the classroom, told teachers bluntly to stop complaining. Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘The Department for Education has made the changes to the curriculum and tests to move expectations in England closer to international standards. The teachers should stop whingeing and concentrate on getting our children up to speed.’

Almost half of 11-year-olds in England – 47 per cent – failed to meet the required standards in this year’s SATs, up from 20 per cent last year. But the Government said the results could not be compared with previous years because they are the first to be based on a new curriculum introduced two years ago by former education secretary Michael Gove.

The exams in reading, writing and maths were overhauled to include questions of a much higher level, with some parents saying their children had been left in tears because they could not finish the papers.

Mr Courtney said: ‘It is really important that we reassure parents and children that this is not an accurate judgment of their abilities. This is not their failure – it’s Nicky Morgan’s failure.’

While many parents objected to the stress that the tests placed on their children, one mother wrote on the Mumsnet online forum: ‘The SATs are doing what I and many parents actually want: improving standards.

‘At my [daughter’s] school, it was the teachers who were stressed and they were passing that down to the kids.’ Writer Toby Young, who set up a free school in west London, said that his 11-year-old son Ludo had taken the tests without stress.

He added: ‘Parents who oppose the Government are using their children as political weapons.’

A Whitehall source said: ‘It is disappointing that the NUT have whipped up parents as part of their political posturing.

‘We share the same objectives as parents, which is making sure their children get the best start in life.’


Education: What the Legislature got right

There is a reason the Louisiana Legislature has stayed true to school improvement based on high standards, accountability and parent and student choice. This past year, the progress on fourth grade NAEP national testing and high school ACT scores was top in the nation among 50 states. The statewide high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. Our teachers and education leaders are unlocking opportunity for our children.

These improvements in student achievement are important not only as an indicator of opportunity for our children but also the future economics of our state. A recent analysis from the Hoover Institute and Stanford University in Education Week pointed to the potential of substantial state economic gains related to simply boosting student achievement in Louisiana.

Over a decade ago, the National Governor’s Association made high standards in education a priority issue. They put together national experts from Pre-K-12 and higher education, curriculum developers, child psychologists and others to develop a set of standards that could be used by any state wishing to use them. This became the Common Core State Standards that were adopted and piloted in Louisiana beginning in 2010.

Three years ago, controversy over these standards resulted from concerns about encroachment on local control of school boards and the difficulty of implementing new teacher strategies. Education standards became the focus of a political battle royale.

Rather than leave educators in a constant state of uncertainty and continue a “war of words” in the House and Senate Education Committee, the legislature devised a process to take a new look at the Louisiana standards based on an analysis of each individual standard for potential improvement. This was led by Louisiana educators who used their experience over the previous four years in the classroom to determine what needed to be changed and what standards needed to be kept.

They then brought this back to BESE, the legislature and the Governor for consideration. This year, all three sets of policymakers endorsed the work of our teachers with little objection.

Legislators also had to make decisions about many bills introduced in the legislature this year to limit parent and student choice through new limitations on charter schools. These bills did not even garner enough support in the Senate or House Education Committee to be debated in the general sessions.

From its beginning, the charter school system in Louisiana has been based on a process that demands quality. Last year, only one-quarter of charter school applications were granted by the Louisiana Department of Education and those that were chartered function under the same accountability as other Louisiana public schools.

Over the last decade, the Louisiana legislature has stayed the course despite intense pressure to roll back higher standards, accountability, and choice. We now have high education standards that have been vetted and improved by great teachers in our state. We have school choice for parents and students with a focus on quality outcomes. And our accountability system is one of the best in the country and will be reexamined for potential improvement over the next year.

Because the legislature has been consistent, Louisiana now has the opportunity to prioritize the next steps. These include consideration of greater investment in the professional development of our teacher workforce, early care and education, and college and career readiness of graduates.

Because the foundation of developing new Louisiana standards was based on a partnership between policymakers and people doing the daily work, the result was a workable solution and good policy. It is a model legislators could use in solving other state problems in other areas of education, healthcare, transportation, etc.

Improvement in student achievement is the outcome of good schools. It is the foundation of improving our economy and providing opportunity for all of Louisiana’s children. Our policymakers and educators are on the right track. It is up to us to lend them the community support needed for continued education improvement.


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