Blog: Receiver appointed for Mosaica

Diane Ravitch, a national voice in debates over public education, reports on her blog that a federal judge in Atlanta has appointed a receiver for the Mosaica charter school chain, as a result of a lawsuit filed by a creditor.

You can read her blog entry here. 

Here’s a story from Courthouse News Service.

Mosaica was one of the top two finalists considered as the York City School District has debated bringing in a charter company to run district schools.

Use the timeline below to see what’s been happening in York City.

 

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Spring Grove Rocket Scientists to work with NASA again

Spring Grove students Kyle Abrahims, left, and Mike Abata prepare the rocket for transport to Huntsville Alabama in 2013. (File photo)

Spring Grove students Kyle Abrahims, left, and Mike Abata prepare the rocket for transport to Huntsville Alabama in 2013. (File photo)

It looks like Spring Grove’s Rocket Scientists will have the chance to work with NASA once again.

Back in 2013, we wrote about a team of Spring Grove Area High School students who were selected for NASA’s student launch program. The select honor gave them the chance to build a rocket and launch it at NASA’s facility in Huntsville, Ala.

Then, last fall, we reported the news that NASA had cancelled the program for high schools, so what was supposed to be Spring Grove’s second year of participation came to an end.

Undeterred, the students built their rocket anyway and launched it in the spring at an event in Maryland.

Now, they’ll work with NASA again.

Teacher Brian Hastings told me by email that the high school’s proposal was accepted for the 2015 Student Launch program, which NASA has restarted. Spring Grove is one of eight high schools or middle schools in the country that were selected.

Stay tuned to see how things progress.

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This time, kids smooched a piglet for a good cause

I’ve blogged before about how principals are often doing crazy things to reward their students, maybe for hitting a reading goal or a fundraising milestone.

On the list of crazy things, we’ve seen principals pucker up to pigs. The events usually bring great photos of kids, who LOVE to see their principals do wacky things. (See a few examples below.)

But last week, I’m sad to say, I missed a good one.

There were kids kissing a pig.

Northeastern Middle School principal Michael Alessandroni emailed Thursday morning to let us know that later in the afternoon, the school was hosting a charitable pig-kissing event to raise money for Vickie’s Angel Walk, an organization that supports breast cancer awareness, and a student who is battling cancer, Hope Westrick. The school’s Friends of Rachel club sponsored the event.

But, as sometimes happens, we just couldn’t make it. So I missed the most adorable of moments – kids! piglet! – and for such a good cause. Two students, a teacher and Alessandroni all smooched the little pig.

But Alessandroni submitted a photo from the day, so we’ve still got some cute to share.

Student Obi Onwukanjo is the student selected by his team of peers to kiss the pig at the charity event held at Northeastern Middle School. The event raised money for Vickie's Angel and an eighth-grade student named Hope Westrick who is battling cancer.  To date the school has raised over 2,000.00 to support Hope and her family as they battle her cancer. (Submitted photo)

Student Obi Onwukanjo is the student selected by his team of peers to kiss the pig at the charity event held at Northeastern Middle School. The event raised money for Vickie’s Angel Walk and an eighth-grade student, Hope Westrick, who is battling cancer. The school has raised over $2,000 to support Hope and her family as they battle her cancer, said principal Michael Alessandroni. (Submitted photo)

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York Country Day students sing for new citizens

Judge John S. Kennedy stands with fifth-graders from York Country Day School. (submitted)

Judge John S. Kennedy stands with fifth-graders from York Country Day School. (submitted)

On Thursday, fifth-grade students from York Country Day School honored new U.S. citizens with a song at the naturalization ceremony that took place at the York County Administrative Center.

Meet the new citizens: Click here for a photo gallery and story from the day.

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York City School District audit coming

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York City situation draws attention in national media

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

The possible conversion of York City School District buildings to charter schools run by outside operators has drawn the attention of some national news outlets and bloggers lately.

The attention has been coming from sources opposed to the idea of charter operators, and that view comes through loud and clear in these pieces.

The Education Voters piece includes a list of questions, some of which you can find answers to in our coverage.

Click here to find a complete list of all of our coverage of this issue from the past two years. This story looked more closely at “turnaround” experience with Mosaica and Charter Schools USA.

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Pennsylvania School Boards Association asks candidates about education

Signs dotted the landscape outside a polling place in the May primary. (file photo)

Signs dotted the landscape outside a polling place in the May primary. (File photo)

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association sent six education-related questions to every state House and Senate candidate.

Their answers have been compiled on this website, where you can search for the candidates in your area.

It looks like only one candidate in York County, Kristin Phillips-Hill, answered the questions, most of which required only a yes or no.

But you can browse around and see what other candidates have to say. The questions included the candidates’ education priorities and their views on legislation related to charter schools, taxes and other issues.

 

 

 

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York City teachers cite fraud report in fighting charters

Community members rallied before a recent meeting about charter schools last night.

Community members rallied before a recent meeting about charter schools last night.

York City teachers, who continue to fight the possibility that charter operators could be brought in to run district buildings next year, this week pointed to a report detailing fraud by charter school officials in the state.

The Center for Popular Democracy issued the report, which says there has been $30 million in fraud by charter school officials since 1997. The report suggests there’s a need for improving oversight, saying general audit techniques don’t uncover fraud and that charter oversight agencies are understaffed.

Read more from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the report.

The York City Education Association, the union that represents teachers, on Wednesday followed up with a news release, citing the report as another reason the York City School District shouldn’t bring in charter operators to run schools.

York City is currently considering either bringing in Mosaica Education or Charter Schools USA to run district buildings next year or continuing with an internal reform plan.

The teachers’ union has been urging the school board not to go for charters.

“In light of the latest research, the last thing York City’s students need is to be forced into charter schools run by for-profit firms with their own track records of poor performance and accountability,” Clovis Gallon, a city teacher, said in the news release. He said there are better solutions, “starting with adequate funding of locally controlled traditional community schools.”

He added that an internal plan in place needs to be given an opportunity to work.

Also of interest: If charters are recommended, what happens if board says no?

 

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How do you quiet your noisy classroom?

This Buzzfeed story appeared in my Facebook feed courtesy of a teacher friend.

Teacher Meredith Yakelis told me some tricks she uses to get kids' attention include yelling "macaroni and cheese" to which the kids respond "everybody freeze!" (File photo)

Teacher Meredith Yakelis told me some tricks she uses to get kids’ attention include yelling “macaroni and cheese” to which the kids respond “everybody freeze!” (File photo)

“27 Attention Getters for Quieting A Noisy Classroom”

The list is mostly call and response chants teachers use when students are getting chatty or antsy.

I’ve heard some of these. This summer, a Red Lion teacher filled me in on “Macaroni and cheese” “everybody freeze.” And we’ve all by now heard “criss cross applesauce” to get students sitting nice and still.

But Buzzfeed had some new ones; in a pirate-themed classroom teachers would say “Crew” and the class would respond “Aye, aye captain!”

What do you do to get your students’ attention in a noisy classroom?

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Read more about charter meeting, rally in York City

Community members rallied before a meeting about charter schools last night.

Community members rallied before a meeting about charter schools last night. (Photo by Jeff Lautenberger)

Last night, two charter operators interested in running district schools appeared before York City’s Community Education Council meeting, and community members opposed to the idea rallied beforehand.

You can read the story I filed last night here. But when meetings run for hours (the rally started at 5:30 p.m., and I left the Hannah Penn K-8 School auditorium close to 10:30 p.m.), there are always a lot of points that don’t make it in print. So here are some more comments heard at the rally and meeting.

And if you haven’t been following, there’s still time. Mosaica Education will appear at a public meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Hannah Penn.

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Some audience members seemed to indicate they just don’t feel charter operators are needed. Representatives from the charter operators emphasized that they are in York because there was a request.

There’s good stuff happening in York, but it could be better, said Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA. Hage has said multiple times that the organization had 200 requests to open charter schools last year and opened 12.

“You guys are ripe for systemic change,” he said. “You’re at that place.”

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In response to criticism of charter schools in general, Michael Connelly, CEO of Mosaica Education, said that there are certainly charter schools that get shut down.

“At least what it demonstrates is charter schools are accountable,” he said.

♦♦♦

Some audience members raised concern about losing teachers students know and love if buildings are converted to charters.

Connelly said “great teachers will have the opportunity to be great teachers in the charter school.”

But Clovis Gallon, a York City teacher and parent, said he didn’t think charter schools would be able offer a competitive salary and families like his would have a hard time making thousands of dollars less.

♦♦♦

Parent Natisha Preston, who has three kids at Jackson K-8 School, said she agreed with some who felt the operators presented a “Disney version” of their schools. But she also said York City schools are open to change and have already made some good changes.

“We aren’t against change when it works,” she said.

♦♦♦

State Rep. Kevin Schreiber attended the rally and said he was “incredibly hesitant” about the idea of charters. He said it was important to ask as many questions as possible.

Charters aren’t a panacea, he said, but the status quo needs to change as well. He traced the city district’s problems to decisions under Gov. Tom Corbett, such as the elimination of charter school reimbursement.

Subjecting York City students to a different type of education than other students would be “fundamentally wrong,” he told the crowd at the rally.

♦♦♦

Margie Orr, York City School Board president, watched the rally before the meeting. She carried a “stop corporate takeover” sign, but said someone just put it in her hand. She said it was good to see the community out.

“This is what I told them we needed to see,” she said. “It’s a good thing. They want to protect their district.”

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