Letter: Takes issue with Hellrung letter

To The Editor,

Letters1Shame on You, Jeff Hellrung!

It is a very sad day for the UCFD school district when a sitting school board member (Jeff Hellrung) uses his position to engage in politics in an election outside his region. Jeff’s scurrilous editorial attack on Kathy Do, Bev Brookes and Gregg Lindner has no place in schoolboard dynamics. It will only poison the well of our deliberations.    

I’ve been a member of the UCFCD Board for nearly two years. Kathy Do and Gregg Linder have never raised politics in any of our meetings. Both have repeatedly said to me that politics has no place in School Board deliberations. I couldn’t agree more. I have watched Gregg, who is vice chair and who sits on both the finance and buildings and ground committees, work tirelessly to do what is best for the school district and our students. I’ve also watched Kathy, as chair of the curriculum and technology committee, give countless hours and thought to a wide range of curricular and technology issues trying to figure out what is in the best interests of our students.

Unlike Jeff, neither Gregg nor Kathy ever developed a political action committee to spread their political views about education and our public school system. Jeff’s and his colleague Keith Knauss’ political action committee aims to promote what they called efficient education. When I first joined the Board Keith encouraged me to visit their website Efficient Education. What I found there was alarming—the use of shoddy statistical work and cherry picking of the academic literature to suit their ideological predispositions. As a practicing research economist I was appalled. To make matters worse, Jeff’s political action colleague said at a recent Board meeting that he’d like to see the UCFSD create a KIPP charter school. Except for the Hellrung/Knauss ideological predispositions, I can’t see how this makes any sense. Sad to say, I’m led to conclude that Jeff not only carries his political predispositions into his role as a school board member, now he is parlaying his political action work into a local school broad election outside his region where it has no place. Jeff, shame on you!


Michael T. Rock

Unionville Chadds Ford School Board Director

Samuel and Etta Wexler Professor of Economic History

Bryn Mawr College


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  1. TE Resident says:

    These two can bicker like children back and forth all they want. Look at the numbers folks. They don’t lie. In every district around here, the majority of the school district budget (anywhere from 75% to 90%) is eaten up by salaries and benefits. In the last 4 to 8 years, look at the salary increases for employees in both teacher and administrator segments. Keith has spearheaded a whopping 15% salary hike for one Administrator, bringing his pay to $193,000! So Keith, it’s a little disingenuous for you to say:

    that many school districts in the Philadelphia area spend far past the point of diminishing returns and more money is not the answer to a better education for our children

    What do you expect Mr. Rock, an educator himself, to do when you support this? Sit on his hands? and say, “Keith’s right, Administrators should make 3 to 4X’s what teacher’s make? ” Of course that motivates him to fight vigorously for teacher pay hikes that match what you have granted for the Administrators.

    And who loses? TAX PAYERS AND STUDENTS in the form of higher taxes for tax payers and increased class sizes for students, activity fees for parents and outlandish parking fees for students. When you have Administrators making $193,000+ per year, there is no way parents and students should be paying extra for anything.

    Citizens have disengaged in the political process and have stopped holding public officials accountable for their actions. This is the result!

    Vote in candidates who will get back to representing tax payers and students.

  2. Keith Knauss says:

    Dr. Rock is doing exactly what he criticizes Mr. Hellrung for – sticking his nose into a “local school broad election outside his region where it has no place”. How ironic!

    I see that Dr. Rock is afraid of competition in the form of charter schools. Has he ever looked at the incredible work KIPP schools have achieved with disadvantaged children? Should we be afraid of a charter school specializing in the arts or STEM? Is he afraid that parents might enjoy having a choice of where to educate their children? Maybe he is unaware that we (the Chester County Intermediate Unit) already runs two cyber charter schools in the area. Why? To save the taxpayers money that would drain to other charter schools outside the county.

    I also see that Dr. Rock continues to criticize my statistical analysis done on the 60 Philadelphia area school districts showing parental education and parental income are the major factors determining student achievement. (note: the school board has no control over these two factors) Spending, student to teacher ratio and teacher salaries, the factors school directors do control, are relatively minor factors. This is nothing new and is standard knowledge for educational researchers going back decades. I know Dr, Rock is uncomfortable with this conclusion. I challenged him many months ago to analyze the data for those same 60 districts so he can correct my “shoddy statistical work”. Who better than a “practicing research economist”? So far, he is content only to criticize. Is he afraid that he might reach the same conclusion – that many school districts in the Philadelphia area spend far past the point of diminishing returns and more money is not the answer to a better education for our children?

  3. Carol Catanese says:

    Kudos to Mike ROck for taking a stand regarding Jeff Hellrung’s egregious tactics.

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