Schools Cheating Questions Go National

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Hey, boss, the strong suggestion that Philly schools cheated on standardized tests get national attention today in the New York Times.

BE: So Queen Arlene starts the week with that in her face AND reports in today's Daily News that rumors of her imminent buh-byes are swirling yet again.

JB: Talk about a case of the Mondays, eh? The Times piece also offers props to The Notebook and former Inky education writer Dale Mezzacappa for unearthing details in a state report that shows 28 city schools looking awfully suspect.

BE: "Suspect" can't be good at a time like this.

JB: As usual, chief, you've hit the nail on the head. Times asks whether Philly is the next Atlanta, where 178 teachers and principals at 44 schools got snagged in a widespread cheating scandal after the state ordered a major investigation.

BE: How about a state investigation here, which you wrote about last week?

JB: I quoted state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis saying the school district has a week or so to respond to data that showed "red flags" on test results and that if the response looks shaky, he'll go in with a much deeper probe.

BE: Deep probes usually tend to hurt.

JB: And it sounds to me like Tomalis means business, though, as the Times points out, it's a huge task and could bump up against Tomalis' boss, Gov. Corbett, and one of the Guv's pals.

BE: Oh?

JB: Yep. Times says the  Chester Community Charter School, which was visited and praised by Corbett in April, is among 89 schools statewide with questionable test results (in its case REALLY questionable) and that the school is owned by top Corbett campaign donor, attorney Vahan Gureghian.

BE: Uh-oh, could be a test of this test issue.

JB: Could get unbearable for lots of folks. Grrrr.