Students safe, thriving in public schools, association chief says
Public schools remain among the safest places for children, says the new executive director of the National School Boards Association.
“As horrific and awful as the tragedy was in Newtown, it would have been much, much worse had teachers and administrators not followed the lockdown procedures they were trained to do, had they not shielded the students from additional harm,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, 61, who began his new job in Washington on Dec. 3 after 32 years with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
He referred to the massacre in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Gentzel, who grew up in State College and received graduate and undergraduate degrees from Penn State University, went to work with the PSBA as a lobbyist before being promoted to head of governmental and member relations. He was named executive director in 2001. The group is searching for his successor.
Gentzel said he is troubled by the move toward public funding of online charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools.
“I realize charter schools are here to stay, but while most legislators want to see a successful public school system, the debate has changed somewhat,” Gentzel said. “Some so-called public-interest groups have an agenda against public education. And their motive is profit.”
He said he was encouraged by a November decision by federal education officials to back the PSBA's objection to the state Department of Education using more lenient criteria to evaluate charter schools' achievements. Federal education officials said the state must assess charter schools by the same standard as traditional schools and ordered the state to recalculate charter schools' results on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment examinations taken in 2011-12.
With the recalculation, no cyber charter school made adequate yearly progress, according to the state Department of Education. A smaller percentage of other charter schools made the grade under the more stringent calculation.
“There is no evidence of people taking vouchers and sending their students to other schools and they do better. Don't get me wrong, there are some high-achieving charter schools, but a lot them are pretty bad, too,” Gentzel said.
“Those schools are given relief from the mandates we have to follow, but there is no evidence out-performance is occurring. As a parent, I should be able to look at the performance of these schools — not only performance, but absenteeism, finances,” he said.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 724-850-2860or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Comcast cuts showings of anti-pigeon shooting commercial featuring Barker
- Police: Suspect Frein in Pa. trooper ambush ‘extremely dangerous’
- Manchin, Toomey to seek greater flexibility for veterans’ career counselors
- Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
- Police: Drunk prowler stole only Altoona couple’s candy
- Pennsylvania medical marijuana supporters hold Capitol rally
- Decline of Pa. police pursuits ‘a step in the right direction’
- Activist spotlights nation’s food waste with Pa. stop
- State police trooper shot dead outside northeastern Pa. barracks
- Savagery of ISIS stirs the grief of 9/11 for survivors
- Retiring circuit judge, a Carnegie native, ‘helped tutor generations’