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Bartram's troubles: Not about funds?

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Apr 16, 2014 05:36 PM
Photo: Screengrab from Google Street View

As news of violence and disarray at Bartram High School dominated Philadelphia headlines, national education researchers were downtown at the Convention Center, discussing the theory and practice of a “portfolio” school reform strategy that relies on management changes – converting low-performing schools to charters or closing them.

And although many have tied Bartram’s troubles to the budget cuts that sharply reduced staff levels at the school, Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason does not agree.

“It’s not about funds,” said Gleason, whose organization controls millions in private dollars that it distributes to replicate, improve, or expand well-performing schools. He made his remarks as he talked informally with a group of educators at the American Educational Research Association convention earlier this month.

“Bartram was a dangerous school three years ago, and it’s still a dangerous school, with less funding. It’s not a more dangerous school,” Gleason told the group.

Told later of Gleason’s take on funding, Superintendent William Hite shook his head in wonder.

“There’s more to it than resources,” said Hite, as he stood in Bartram’s auditorium after a boisterous community meeting called to discuss the crisis. “But resources are required.”

Since reports of the violence and “chaos” at Bartram first emerged, Hite has poured new resources into the cavernous Southwest Philadelphia school: new staff and administrators, new training for disciplinary procedures, and new building upgrades, including fresh paint, security cameras, and smoke alarms.

District officials have long argued that District schools like Bartram lack the funding needed to offer a top-quality education. Hite’s most recent “Action Plan” calls on the city and state to come up with new funding – hundreds of millions of dollars – to support a wide range of “evidence-based” improvements across the District.

“We don’t have enough resources in the schools,” Hite said.

But for now, Hite faces a precarious budget that sharply limits the District’s ability to intervene.

In recent years, the District’s main strategy for improving struggling schools like Bartram has been to shut them down or turn them over to charters. It has closed several neighborhood high schools, including Germantown and University City, and converted three – Gratz, Audenried, and Olney – to charters. Altogether, 20 District schools have become charters, and 30 schools have closed.

“We’re going to continue working to turn around our lowest-performing schools, and whoever can do that the fastest is who we’re going to work with,” Hite said. 

Bartram: more violent – or safer?

One thing that is not an option for Bartram is to “dump” it, Hite said.

“There are 1,200 students that call Bartram their school,” he said, “As superintendent – and last I checked, I’m still superintendent – it’s my decision to make sure that we provide the resources [they] need.”

Hite was referring to the most controversial aspect of the “portfolio” strategy – the belief that schools that struggle excessively should be closed and replaced, rather than showered with new investments.

Gleason made headlines at the conference when he acknowledged that “dumping the losers” is an accurate description of the portfolio management strategy.

After his presentation, he told a group of educators and reporters who gathered around him in a hallway that school districts shouldn’t be afraid to shut down low performers.

In choice-based systems that “push responsibility and accountability down to the school level,” a natural selection takes place, Gleason said: “Great schools rise and thrive,” while struggling ones “are not allowed to exist on the taxpayer dime.”

He cited New Orleans, now almost entirely served by charters, as a success story. Philadelphia needs a similar approach, he told the group. “I don’t know a lot of people who would voluntarily send their children to some of these schools that we have in Philadelphia,” he said. “The only people who go to those schools are people who have no other options.”

“So why don’t they get fixed?” asked one educator. “Why don’t they get funds? Why don’t they get resources?”

“Because it’s not about funds!” Gleason replied, to a chorus of protest.

Asked later to clarify his thoughts on Bartram, Gleason wrote in an email that he knew little about what led to the recent violence. “I'm not close enough to what's gone on in the school to comment on specific, recent incidents,” he wrote.

Nonetheless, Gleason said that while Bartram’s budget and staff have gone down, key indicators have gotten better.

“It’s still far from an acceptable learning environment, but even so, academic performance and safety have improved,” he wrote, citing District data to argue that there is no simple correlation between a school’s available resources and the state of its climate and academics.

He said that Bartram’s test scores had actually increased slightly while its per-pupil expenditures were declining. And he offered District data showing that there were fewer violent incidents this year despite the reduction in personnel at the school --  notwithstanding the headline-grabbing chaos – 12 incidents per 100 students in 2011 and just 8 per 100 students so far this year.

“The number of serious violent incidents in that school was higher three years ago when it was at its peak staffing levels,” Gleason told the educators. Reporters were also present, and the conversation was recorded.

A 'human rights violation'

In his panel discussion at AERA, Gleason said that Philadelphia’s fiscal crisis has been caused by “overspending” its resources, primarily because it failed to shrink staff to match enrollment declines over a 10-year period.

He said this right after Lori Shorr, Mayor Nutter’s education adviser, described the problem as a failure by the state to distribute education aid through a predictable funding formula that takes into account a district’s enrollment and student needs. (Gleason said he would endorse such a formula, but that Philadelphia shouldn’t expect a “windfall” from it.)

After Gleason spoke, Hiram Rivera, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, called the lack of basic needs and services in schools a “human rights violation.” Hite reiterated that students tell him “they don’t all feel they have access to resources and quality individuals who believe in them. It is a revenue issue.”

It is hard to dispute that Bartram has undergone hard times. A longtime principal who had brought stability left in September. Her replacement, a newcomer to the city, lasted all of two weeks. The school had some funds for a “restorative justice” program – an approach to discipline based on student responsibility and peer adjudication led by a national organization – but was unable to implement it.

“We don’t know what happened,” Hite said.

At the school’s community meeting, parents, students, and staff members weren’t buying the notion that resources are not the main issue. Staff and program cuts, they said, led directly to trouble.

“Of course money is a problem,” said Penda Diawara, a bilingual counselor who works in several West Philadelphia schools. “We need more staff in the hallways, more staff in the lunchrooms. Our kids get bullied all the time.”

“You start losing programs, the kids have nowhere to turn,” said Robert Hooks, whose granddaughter is a “straight-A” senior. “You end up with a bunch of kids selling drugs.”

District officials do not yet have an estimate of how much they’ll spend this year on extra services for the troubled school – or how that will affect a looming end-of-year deficit of nearly $30 million.

Hite said it was essential that the school improve – somehow. “I see this as delivering on a child’s civil right to an education. That doesn’t change with influxes of revenue, or money, or anything. They still have that right,” Hite said.

“We’re going to educate them with what we have, but do we need more? Yes,” he said.

But Gleason said that despite Bartram’s lean budget, the school has no excuse for backsliding this year, even if it can’t expect to be a top performer in the portfolio.

“It would be a stretch to expect all District schools to be ‘competitive’ this year, when so many have not been competitive in the past,” Gleason wrote. “But it would be fair to say I expect all District schools to find ways to improve even in a budget-constrained environment.”


Additional reporting by Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa.

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Comments (75)

Submitted by liebo (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:19 pm
Gleason infuriates me; he has no understanding of the challenges true public schools face in order to give EVERY kid a chance to succeed. What will the Gleasons of the world do when they've bled the district dry and don't have any place left to dump their "losers". The real losers are the citizens of this city - particularly those who are already behind the 8-ball.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 12:43 am
Mark Gleason has been given a great deal of power by the support of the Walton Family Foundation. He speaks with the authority of someone who has actually done something, but what has he done, when and how did he become an authority on anything; where's his research, where's his experience? He seems to be a shadowy figure, all bluster, no substance.
Submitted by John (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:54 pm
Let's stop the moaning about more money and figure out how better to distribute the $2.4B that the school district gets today. Management of the schools at the district level has been the recurring challenge for years - which is why the state took over in the first place. The charter management companies that stabilize failed schools don't have more money - they have better schools' management. Hite is one person - he needs help from the Mayor and Council to fix the management issue. Gleason is distributing private money in an intelligent way - to build on what works. Don't like to see private money coming in from the Walmarts of the world, but let's follow their lead with the public money, and we won't need them.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:36 pm
Mastery spends more - they get additional funding from private sources like Gleason. Mastery also has very heavy administration - 23 alone at Gratz. Money does matter. In Philadelphia, the District continues to depend on the benevolence of teachers.
Submitted by John (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:42 pm
I just don't think that the charters or Gleason are the bad guys in all of this. The way they get their money is secondary; they are supporting education that works. Continuing to ask the city and state for more money is just playing into the hands of the politicos, who are intent on administering "death by a thousand cuts" to the public education system, i.e., refusing to update the charter funding system, vouchers, not following the recommended funding formulae, etc. We are not on the path to fixing schools now - and a few hundred million won't change that; meanwhile they'll get the money from middle class people in Philly who can't get by already, and whose kids can't get a decent education.
Submitted by Anne Tenaglia (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:48 am
There are very few charters in Philly that "work." Most of them don't serve a representative population where ELL and Special Ed students are concerned, yet they still manage to NOT outscore the regular public schools. This is well-documented. NOT asking the state to fairly fund the school district is truly "administering death by a thousand cuts." In 2010, our very own state legislature determined that the states had underfunded the city's schools by $2.1 BILLION. State schools in general, they said, were underfunded by $4.4 BILLION. There are many schools in the city where kids can get a decent education. You don't often hear about them because they don't suit the needs of the privatization gang. You are right that money alone won't transform the schools. We need a concerted effort by all hands to alleviate the level of poverty in the city by raising the minimum wage to a living wage and increased job-training services and opening up better transportation links to suburban locations where the jobs are. Maybe then, when everyone has the chance to live on more than a less-than-subsistence wages, we will be able to truly make a large difference in the academic success of our students.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on April 17, 2014 12:13 pm
The sources of PSP''s money is not a secondary issue. Numerous foundations funnel their money though PSP, including the William Penn Foundation and the Dell foundation. Both of those foundations have inserted themselves into the decision-making of the district. Dell, for example, has played a part in the Universal Enrollment Process. I heard the tape of Gleason's remarks to the group. I don't want to misquote him, but if I did hear him correctly, he said that one reason we have not been able to get fair funding is that people do not want their tax dollars going to failing schools. The tape was was heard to hear in parts, so if I am wrong, please let me know. We all know that reporting on serious incidents is far from reliable and that it depends mostly on what the principal wants to report. Schools are punished for having too many, and the ones who report honestly are labeled "dangerous". Underfunding and massive layoffs of staff cannot be ignored as major factors in Bartram's problems. We know there is a funding crisis, but many feel that Hite's spending priorities in light of that crisis are questionable: substantial increases of salaries for senior staff, creation of senior staff positions, investing (Hite did not say how much in the Ed Week story) in three new high schools, creating a cyber charter at a cost of $5 million/year, creating more Renaissance schools. The fact that Hite, according to a Daily News story, hired the first Bartram principal after one long-distance interview, and that she had to be removed after only nine days, obviously created some chaos in the school. Creating a situation where it there are three principals in one school year points to some serious management misjudgment. The problems in this school, and the one in CAPA (today's Daily News), should give pause to anyone who thinks that principal autonomy is the answer to the school district's many problems.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:47 pm
It is purposefully created churn. Right out of the Broad playbook. This is the ugly side of churn and burn. But, you ain't seen nothin' yet! Wait a while, once the deed is done and we are left with mediocre charters and child warehouses for the losers that Gleason wants to dump and charters won't take. It'll be time for riot gear then.
Submitted by anonymousl (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:19 pm
You are right. By then, Gleason will be nowhere to be found.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:11 pm
"The charter management companies ... don't have more money" In FY '11, the last year for which data are available, average Philadelphia charter per pupil expenditures were about ~$1.5k/pupil higher than SDP's. And that is after charters cream off the more expensive to educate children to SDP. I would link the data source but can't because it triggers the spam filter and prevents posting a reply.
Submitted by John (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:59 pm
The point is this: good schools are the ones that are drawing money. Why is it that Mastery gets more money - its not the public money, but the private money that wants to support good schools. Money follows performance, but money doesn't produce performance.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:32 am
No money does not follow performance. If it did then schools such as Meredith and Central wouldn't be subject to intentionally having their funding reduced. OTOH, there are charter schools with completely average or worse results that are spending significantly more per pupil than either of the schools I mentioned. Gleason has signaled clearly that he wants all or nearly all of the city's schools converted to charters.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:59 pm
Please don't feed the troll.
Submitted by Sadder but Wiser Black Man (not verified) on April 17, 2014 1:11 am
"The charter management companies that stabilize failed schools don't have more money - they have better management." Debatable at best, John. But what ISN'T debatable is the fact that they DO have one hell of a time holding onto their employees. Don't believe me? Take a gander at the US REAP hiring site and see exactly who is beating the highways and byways for teachers. Yup, those same charters folks so roundly laud. Not that charter schools in predominantly white, economically stable sections of the city can't retain their teachers. Hell, given all the assets enjoyed by the pupils at these schools - solid home lives, involved parents, middle-class incomes, etc. - it would be a miracle if teachers DIDN'T elect to teach in these relative Valhalas. But - alas! - the majority of kids in this city do NOT enjoy these things. These are the kids who come to school hungry - the kids who are full of pain and rage and resentment and who act out and curse and make threats and kick and bite and punch and sometimes stab and shoot - the kids who perform way below grade level and have parents that don't give a damn. You know - the kids who are routinely returned to the public school system each autumn right after the charter schools have collected their yearly attendance fees from the SDP. Well, John, who the hell are you going to find to teach THESE kids? Right now, it's mighty tough to find instructors who are willing to go into North Philly or Southwest Philly or Kensington to deal with students who give them 100x the number of headaches that their suburban teaching counterparts experience - and for a fraction of the salary yet! You do know that charter school teachers make appreciably less money than regular public school teachers, don't you? (Of course you do!) Well, IF YOU CAN'T FIND ENOUGH TEACHERS TO WORK IN THE HOOD FOR THE CURRENT PUBLIC SCHOOL SALARY LEVELS, HOW IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU GOING TO FIND THEM WHEN YOU OFFER EVEN LESS? I'll tell you a little secret: you won't. Not when the pipeline of education majors has all but dried up. Not when teaching in Philly is the kiss of death for the prospect of ever teaching in a suburban district that offers better wages and benefits. Not when your newly-minted teachers flee after a semester or two and more experienced teachers throw up their hands in revulsion and cash in their chips. In short, there is no real "up side" to teaching here - and even the most selfless teacher gets tired of being a cannibal feast. So then they leave - and then you have a REAL problem on your hands: nobody left to teach an army of (justifiably) outraged, bitter, vengeful kids who know damn right well that they've been cheated. You've heard the term "flash mob", haven't you, John? Well, brother,you ain't seen nothin' yet. The bulwark against Philadelphia's demolition by roving bands of angry teens bent on retaliation is NOT the police, necessary as they may be. It's the public schools and, yes, the public school teachers. Take these away - yes, go on and sow this particular wind - and I guarantee you that you'll reap a whirlwind the likes of which you never imagined in your worst nightmares. How do I know all this? Call it deja vu. I once taught in Detroit. And in Oakland. And I'm very familiar with what's happening right now in Chicago. Philly is galloping down the same disastrous path under the aegis of short-sighted nincompoops like our Mr. Gleason. But will Mr. Gleason stay here to witness the civic cataclysm his mindless interference will set off? When there's no one left to engage the most volatile kids (there are damn few left now!) and the bullets start flying and the fires start burning, will Mr. Gleason pocket his 30 pieces of silver and flee the city's demise to safer territory? Will Hite? Will Nutter? Will YOU? No need to answer, John. Just please see to it that the last dedicated, long-suffering teacher to flee the SDP turns the lights out when he/she goes - it may save Mr. Gleason a bit of that "private money."
Submitted by Ten Years In (not verified) on April 17, 2014 6:02 am
Hear, hear!
Submitted by anon (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:14 am
i can hear the four horsemen of the apocalypse galloping by as you speak.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:18 am
Regardless of the truth of your words, you are the last person the de-formers will listen to. And they will deny, deny, deny that truth to everyone.Their educational fraud is expedient to personal fame and fortune, and the hell with public school children, teachers and our city's future.
Submitted by John (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:22 am
I sympathize with the teachers and principals who not only face the daily challenges of trying to teach kids who aren't ready to learn, but also suffer humiliation from the management that is destroying their dignity along with their livelihoods. While frustrated folks like yourself take your anger out on Mastery and Gleason, who will help our teachers fight back against the system's management and the politicos who run the system? Teachers and principals can't strike - so they can't defend themselves. Will eliminating Mastery and Gleason stop this assault? In fact, the cry for more money plays into the hands of those that are taking back what the teachers have earned through their work and their careers. Let's start to discuss what positive steps can be taken to help the teachers - and stop the fruitless attacks on Mastery and Gleason - because you may not like them, but the kids and their parents do - and, yes, I have been there.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on April 17, 2014 10:58 pm
But apparently the charters CAN strike!! No act 46 for them. Look at Khepera in Mt Airy - they have formed a union and are voting to strike if they don't have a new contract.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 18, 2014 10:16 am
"But will Mr. Gleason stay here to witness the civic cataclysm his mindless interference will set off?" Mark Gleason's interferene isn't mindless, but intentional.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on April 16, 2014 6:47 pm

Social darwinism rears its ugly head in the form of Mark Gleason.   

Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:57 pm
Is Gleason willing to give up his $235,000/year plus benefits? Is he willing to live with a "budget constrained environment?"
Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:59 pm
On a side note, why in all of the articles I have reds about Bartram, no one names the principal who lasted two weeks?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:09 pm
The principal that lasted 2 weeks at Bartram is still on payroll despite "walking out" on her students & staff. That principal was hand picked by Hite from California. I'm sure her move was paid for along with tons of other perks. Most people don't know that Ackerman brought in a bunch of hand picked principals. Not sure how true it is, but I've been told that their housing and cars were taken care of as part of that 5 year agreement. Look for all of those principals to leave this Summer.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:39 pm
So.....why can't we name her. Is she Voldemort?
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:11 pm
"Ogo Okoye-Johnson, a children's-book author and an assistant principal from Los Angeles, was hired Sept. 1 by the district to be principal at Bartram in Southwest Philadelphia, Gallard said. Okoye-Johnson was removed by district officials Sept. 19, nine days after classes started." (Phila. Inquirer, Nov. 27, 2013). Ogo Okoye-Johnson is friend of Hite's. She is making $131,000 plus benefits to sit in an office. Hite should be held accountable for Bartam - he set the school up to fail when he brought in a friend who couldn't handle the job. (He also ensured that Okoye-Johnson's kids are at Masterman and Central. So much for admission requirements...)
Submitted by union member (not verified) on April 17, 2014 1:03 pm
She was transferred to Bache-Martin and is an AP.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 17, 2014 1:10 pm
Why? There were over 100 laid off APs. She was only at Bartam for 9 days - did Hite give her a contract that guaranteed not only her children would go to Central / Masterman but also a job for life? She should have been fired if she was not capable of handling her assigned school.
Submitted by union member (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:20 pm
I think that you have to consider whether she was sold a bill of goods by Hite. Did he really truthfully present the situation she would be dealing with at this high school? Did he tell her that she would have a staff that was cut by almost one-third in two years? I'm not ready to pass judgment on this woman until I hear the whole story.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on April 16, 2014 6:10 pm
"But it would be fair to say I expect all District schools to find ways to improve even in a budget-constrained environment.” Well if wasn't for the "dumping the losers" comment this would win the most absurd quote of the year award (Mark Gleason category).
Submitted by Ken Derstine on April 16, 2014 7:02 pm
The full conversation with Mark Gleason after the panel can be heard here.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 8:46 pm
All through the conversation Gleason is "I decided this...", "I think these schools should be dropped...". "I decided to support these schools..." I, I, I. This is someone who has never been a teacher or administrator. He has no degree or background in education. This is someone who has been in this city for two years, knows nothing of our history or the history of the district, and has a barely veiled contempt for its residents. This is the person we are allowing to decide the fate of over one hundred thousand children in Philadelphia? What is wrong with us?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:42 pm
Gleason is under the impression that if someone as important as HE is (I mean - look how much money he makes! and his power!) then anything he says must be right. Mr. Gleason, your assertions that "money doesn't matter" proves you are either a vicious, mean-spirited person or so delusional that you should be removed from your position. In either case you are destructive. Money *does* matter. Libraries, nurses, mental health aids, counselors, sufficient supplies - all these come with money. So does quality of life and quality of education. God help the children whose lives you affect.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:07 am
So how do you explain children in dirt floor school houses in small African countries that do not behave anything like these students? They're not violent because they don't have librarians and nurses. Money is not the answer.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:48 am
????? dirt floors, no electricity and very likely no indoor plumbing? how is this relevant to the conversation about denying American children a fair chance? But if you're so interested in the violence rate in African schools, here's what the UN found out. There is pervasive bullying and assault in African schools
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 10:19 am
This is typical American stereotyping about the world with no knowledge. Do you know anything about militias using hundreds of thousand children in Africa as child soldiers?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 1:15 pm
Is this the standard we seeking for our poor students? What do you know of school houses in "small African countries"? Are you picturing perfectly behaved youngsters with no problems. How are these mythical "small African countries" you speak of doing as nations? Please do not resort to these cheap shot responses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:16 pm
and so the door opens to close Bartram, reopen it as a Mastery or charter school...problem is, the SDP knows full well that it would have to make the schools TAKE the problem children.....then there goes the "good rep" of those sorts of schools with $$$. Linda K.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on April 16, 2014 7:06 pm
That is the crazy thing, the Charters do not want our children. Most of them have already been kicked out of a charter, parochial school, etc. Yet the Charter lobby is still hell bent on killing off the Public schools. For our funds no doubt and since we make more than the $30,000 or so the operators are prepared to pay theirGreat teachers we drive up their costs and cut profits.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 8:24 pm
Exactly Poogie, exactly Linda K.
Submitted by Retired School Admin (not verified) on April 17, 2014 3:43 pm
So true Poogie... Prior to retirement I had the displeasure of having to attend multiple disciplinary hearings. While sitting in the waiting area of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities I witnessed an interesting exchange between a hearing officer and a parent of a student returning from an outside placement. The parent was upset because she tried to register her son at Gratz Mastery but was told they were "full". The hearing officer told her that the district would make a placement and provide him with tokens if necessary. Smh...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 8:05 pm
Problem solved. If all schools became charters, including special admits, then all schools would have to accept Philly students. It would then be easy to see which of the schools succeed and which fail. The failing schools close or change providers. There would be plenty of jobs for all of the SDP teachers in the charters and no more complaining that the charters are dumping the bad students back into the District.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on April 17, 2014 12:03 am
Don't be naive. The privatizers will always keep just enough public schools open to warehouse the students they do not want to teach, the special needs children who do not fit into their custom designed schools, the most expensive to teach. Gleason and his cohort just want to hasten the privatization movement as it was done by ex-CEO Vallas to New Orleans. He is even involved in taking over certain parochial schools and high schools from the cash strapped archdiocese. It is a for profit business to him, nothing more.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 9:09 pm
Why is anybody listening to Mark Gleason? He is not an educator or education expert? Why should his opinion even matter in regards to Bartram or any other public school. How has this man and PSP , private entities, been allowed to hijack the public School District of Philadelphia?
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 17, 2014 3:06 am
The schools who have taken money from Gleason - SLA, Workshop, Hill-Freeman, Blaine, Kelley, FACTS Charter, Wissahickon Charter, Freirie, and other Charters - need to say "NO" to Gleason and his money. Until the so-called "progressive" educators at these schools refuse Gleason bucks, nothing will change. Gleason dollars are blood dollars!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:38 am
As long as everyone keeps talking around the elephant in the living room, nothing will change. You could throw 4 trillion dollars at a single school. Do you really think it will change the violent mindset and home training of some of these kids and their parents? People who exercise self-control and consideration do so because they were taught to do so. Not because they have money. But we don't want to admit that, do we?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:02 am
Nor do we want to admit the role poverty plays in these social conditions. The only thing wrong with lower income people is that our economic and political system does not address poverty. Or instead of addressing the historic caste system in this country, do you subscribe to the racist, Social Darwinism which says lower income people are innately inferior?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 6:37 pm
If you don't like poverty, why don't you work hard and lift yourself out of it instead of looking at yourself as inferior.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:39 pm
I lost my magic wand! Poverty is built into the very structure of the "free market" system. People have two jobs and remain in poverty. Billionaires sit at their computers gambling with other peoples money and get richer. That's the system we live under.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:18 am
Why do I constantly hear about charter wait lists, yet there was an article about athletic recruiting at Charters in the Inquirer penned by Matt Breen on April 12th? These Charter operators that were interviewed said athletes come in so easily because they have no wait lists. Something doesn't add up.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2014 12:40 pm
Some charter schools don't actually have wait lists. I worked at a Center City charter school for several years. Kids started leaving in the upper elementary grades. The school begged teachers to find kids they knew to enroll in order to have full classes. Every empty seat was money the SDP didn't have to give them. Yet, the school's website bragged about the incredible wait lists. It was basically a lie in order to promote a demand in the public's eyes. The school wanted to parents to think the school was so superior that they were turning away prospective students all the time. Additionally, they enrolled students all the time who didn't go through the lottery, ex. teachers' friends' kids or relatives. And the lottery process is suspect as well. I agree with you - something is shady that athletes can transfer in with no problems, but not an ordinary student.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2014 10:10 am
The issue with athletes, basketball especially, is that the top teams have adopted the college model of player recruiting and admission right down to bag men paying kids to attend specific schools. The bottom line is that everyone knows which schools (charters and catholic especially) are admitting kids solely for athletic reasons, but the PIAA is doing nothing to enforce its rules in this area. I'm glad to see someone in the legislature is investigating out of control recruiting, but I'm not holding my breath on anything substantive being done to enforce PIAA rules with regard to player recruiting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2014 2:23 pm
There is an update about the unfair advantage charters have in athletic competition because they can recruit for their teams while public schools can't.
Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on April 17, 2014 10:09 am
Who made this right-wing tea party Mark Gleason guy the ruler of the SDP?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 3:49 pm
Disgusting Billionaires like the Waltons, owners of Wal-Mart. We all know about Wal-Mart too. They screw their employees over again and again to stack more loot in their overseas accounts. They are vicious, greedy, power- hungry creatures like many rich are. Gleason is an opportunist who is getting directives from the Waltons,(siblings who don't even get along because of money fights-shows you about them). Koch Bros. are right up there too. Look below at how grossly rich the Waltons are yet still aren't happy people-that's why they fight with each other. Footnote:“The Waltons are now collectively worth about $93 billion, according to Forbes." Don't patronize Wal-Mart stores .They are out to ruin the average hard working person and want us to make substandard wages.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 5:40 pm
"During his tenure (Gleason’s), PSP has been a money magnet for the leaders in big-bucks corporate-education reform - beginning with an unprecedented $15 million grant from the local William Penn Foundation in 2012, then $2.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $4.5 million from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, millions more from donors like Cigna, Janney Montgomery Scott and JP Morgan Chase, and a $5 million challenge grant (its largest ever) from the Walton Family Foundation, led by the Walmart heirs, which already had named Gleason an "Education Reformer to Watch." The group is fast approaching its goal of $100 million, a baseline for funding 35,000 "high-performing seats." Gleason said that of $29 million doled out so far, more than half - $17 million - has gone to either Renaissance or lottery-based charter schools, with $9 million for district public schools and $3 million to parochial schools." Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News 12/24/14
Submitted by anon (not verified) on April 18, 2014 8:13 am
obviously corbett & src welcomed him, but it didn't help that nutter did too. everyone is in bed with the privatizers.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 2:23 pm
Gleason makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. If he has children, I bet they go to a well funded school. But money doesn't matter when it comes to Bartram? Enough said.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 6:15 pm
Gleason is a School District of Philadelphia parent. How many of you can say that. How many PFT members have their children in a charter? Parochial school? Private school? Suburban district school? My guess is we're talking 60-70% easily. If Gleason had 10 kids and only 3 went to District schools, you'd swallow your tongue in a fit. And for the record, just how much more money would it take to fix Bartram?
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 17, 2014 8:47 pm
Which school?
Submitted by anonymousl (not verified) on April 17, 2014 9:26 pm
Central. No intent to pick on his child but that is where he goes.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 18, 2014 5:12 am
Why not Mastery Gratz? According to a 2013 article, "What does Philly School Funder Gleason Want" (Inquirer, 12/24/2013), Gleason "enrolled his son at a Philadelphia public school." How was Gleason able to enroll his son at Central? Other students have to apply and meet the requirements of Central. So, Gleason used his connections to get his son into Central? (I happen to have 4 children in Philly public schools - no, not Central and Masterman. Their test scores weren't quite high enough. I don't have the connections to get them into the "top" schools. Gleason obviously does.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2014 11:00 am

Why not Mastery Gratz is a fair question. But don't pick on Gleason's kid ... how do you know he didn't test into Central?

Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on April 17, 2014 5:18 pm
Once again my comment was removed! It was no more offensive than any other comment here expressing my distaste for mark gleason. Please put it back up or remove all tbe other comments that are similar!!! Notebook - why are you picking on me??
Submitted by anon (not verified) on April 17, 2014 6:50 pm
very annoying. gleason is a very public figure who has thrust himself front and center into the philadelphia public education scene and has pulled no punches himself. as such, it's impossible to slime him, at least from where i'm standing. notebook editors reacting to perceived threat of he who butters their bread.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:35 pm
Unfortunately the Notebook gets money from some of the same filthy organizations to exert their power and greed as Gleason and his cronies
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on April 17, 2014 7:07 pm
I just equated him to a pimp and schools that take his money are prostituting themselves. It's true...
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 18, 2014 11:47 pm
It's an accurate analogy. Sometimes, the truth hurts.
Submitted by ms pat (not verified) on April 17, 2014 6:30 pm
Who is this gleason guy, anyway?
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on April 19, 2014 5:52 pm
An out of control, wanna be oligarch who is trying to control the SDP. Switch to FIOS because he owns Comcast. (Don't remove this comment - it is no more offensive than many others here!! )
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2014 6:46 pm
I think you are mixing up Gleason with David Cohen. David Cohen is a Democratic Corbett supporter and a supporter of Corporate Ed too.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2014 8:22 pm
I attended John Bartram high 09/69-06/73 and the school was violent AMD unsafe then, it had nothing to do with budget then anymore than it does now.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2014 6:31 am
What is it, then? Since you attended the school, you should have some credible insight.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 18, 2014 11:48 pm
Mark Gleason's comments reveal how LITTLE he knows about education. “Bartram was a dangerous school three years ago, and it’s still a dangerous school, with less funding. It’s not a more dangerous school,” Gleason told the group. How does he know that it's not a more dangerous school? How much time has he spent at Bartram? Has he had in-depth conversations with staff, students, and parents? Or has he just looked at the data about serious incidents? Students and staff persons are the BEST source of information about how safe a school is because they spend the most time in the building. --- “Because it’s not about funds!” Gleason replied, to a chorus of protest. Asked later to clarify his thoughts on Bartram, Gleason wrote in an email that he knew little about what led to the recent violence. “I'm not close enough to what's gone on in the school to comment on specific, recent incidents,” he wrote. So if Gleason isn't close enough to the situation, HOW CAN HE COMMENT on how violent the school is and has been over the past few years? --- “But it would be fair to say I expect all District schools to find ways to improve even in a budget-constrained environment.” Mr. Gleason speaks like HIS EXPECTATIONS matter. Who gives a you-know-what about his expectations? He's not superintendent. All he has is money, and yes that matters, but only because the Commonwealth isn't funding the District adequately. But seriously, Gleason has such a BLOATED sense of self-importance.
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