Pennsylvania principal loses appeal, remains convicted in cheating scandal

We’ve all heard the miracle stories about tough-as-nails principals taking the reins at a failing public school and turning it around in a matter of a few short years. How did they do it? we ask, amazed, and they respond with something akin to “hard work, and perseverance, and appealing to the kids, they’re our future,” etc. They cover all the talking points, mention all the buzzwords, tug at all the heartstrings, and we “aww” and give ourselves a collective pat on the back, because gosh darn it, inner city schools can be helped, after all.

Unless, of course, that principal is full of crap.

Arthur Melton, now in his 70’s, is just one of over a dozen Philadelphia-area principals caught in a test cheating scandal in 2014. The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, otherwise known as PSSA, measures individual school success through the testing of students in language arts, math, and science.

When Melton took the helm at Edward W. Bok Technical High School (known simply as “Bok” to locals) in 2005, the school was vastly underperforming, with less than 5 percent of students attaining grade-level proficiency in the above-mentioned subjects. In 2010 – a mere 5 years later – 71.1 percent of students met math proficiency standards, and 53.1 percent met language arts standards as measured by the PSSA. Turns out it was Melton’s tweaking that was responsible.

During an interview, Melton confessed to using an answer key to personally alter test results among students that were, prior to testing, determined to be “on the cusp” of passing. Later at his trial, he insisted this was not true. Witnesses never testified to have seen Melton tampering with exams, so he was convicted on “mere speculation,” which is appeal argued, but the conviction was upheld Monday, along with 12 months’ probation and the revocation of his teaching and administrator credentials.

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Bok’s math scores returning to “normal,” image courtesy Public School Review

Upon removing these practices from the school, Bok’s test scores predictably were back down close to where they’d been before Melton’s interference. Edward W. Bok Technical High School was finally closed in 2013, leaving its nearly 900 students, 96% of whom were minorities, to find elsewhere to attend school.

While more than 12 Philadelphia principals have been implicated, there is evidence to suggest that this is way more widespread, with more than 50 schools across Philly alone that have been flagged for cheating on standardized tests.

Principal of failing high school deserves conviction in PSSA test cheating scandal: Pa. court

Fallout of Pa. cheating scandal continues with charges against two Philly principals

2 former Philadelphia School District principals charged with PSSA cheating

Pennsylvania Department of Education — PSSA

Public School Review – Bok Edw W Technical High School (Closed 2014)

Surprise, surprise: Less school improves morale and performance

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Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

This may seem like common sense to many of us, but school districts in rural Oklahoma and Colorado are just now jumping on the bandwagon: less school apparently leads to greater student success.

Four-day weeks have been implemented in many small schools, undoubtedly eliminating the time spent on needless political and ideological indoctrination and placing the focus back on academics, forcing parents to spend an extra day with their children and fostering better relationships that, of course, result in happier, brighter, more receptive children.

This doesn’t take into account the benefit to teachers of having a four-day work week. Good teachers (you know, the ones that aren’t degenerates or pedophiles) often experience burnout after very little time within public schools, due to the long hours, unnecessary busywork, “character education” (i.e., brainwashing under the guise of “acceptance,” and of course, teachers’ unions, which do little to actually help teachers and a whole lot to help the Democratic Party.

Of course, as the push for four-day school weeks moves toward urban centers, there will be backlash, as parents who work will have to coordinate child care, or leave children unattended. Of course, teachers’ unions lobby for more money in spite of the shorter weeks (higher salaries for teachers equate with higher union dues paid to them).

Shorter weeks? Longer hours? “Better teachers” through higher pay? Year-round school? Distance education? There are many questions related to improving public schools and increasing student performance, but after the research, the debate, and the experimentation, the conclusion often arrived at is this: the public school system is inherently flawed, and no amount of corrective measures will make it adequate.

Four-day weeks bring smiles in rural schools. But will they work in big cities?