Friday, January 13, 2012

Chester Upland/PSSA Cheating/Archbishop on Vouchers/Parental Education and Poverty/Finland

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Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis asks for relief from No Child Left Behind requirements

By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News  Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012, 3:32
In what may be viewed as welcome news to public school officials struggling to meet No Child Left Behind Act's requirements, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis met this week with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan to begin a conversation about freezing the state's adequate yearly progress targets at this year's levels.

Corbett suggests possible takeover of Chester Upland School District
By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Jan. 13, 2012, 3:01 AM
Gov. Corbett blamed local officials Thursday for the Chester Upland School District's financial woes and suggested the state was considering a takeover of the district.
He made his remarks on a Philadelphia talk-radio show on the same day the Chester Upland school board and some parents in the 3,700-student Delaware County district filed a federal lawsuit, demanding that the state finance the district through the end of the school year, at a cost of about $20.7 million.

Chester Upland files suit against Pa., Corbett for state funding

Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,
CHESTER — The Chester Upland School Board and parents filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday against the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and various state officials. The suit called on the state to provide the funding necessary to keep the district running through the fiscal year.

Spencer: Chester Upland’s failures continue
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012
Delco Times Opinion by By GIL SPENCER
There is a time for all good things to come to an end. Bad things, too. And that sums up the Chester Upland School District.  The district is broke. It can’t even pay its teachers. It owes more than $80 million.
District officials have gone begging to Harrisburg. They have asked for a lousy $18 million just so they can pay their teachers until the end of the year and our heartless Republican governor tells them to drop dead.  Good. He should.

28 districts and charters cleared in probe of 2009 PSSAs
by Benjamin Herold on Jan 12 2012 for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks
A handful of school districts and charter schools across Pennsylvania have confirmed that they have been exonerated in a statewide probe into suspicious test score results on 2009 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams

Here's the full list of schools that have been cleared by the Department of Education:

Abington Heights
Alliance for Progress CS
Ambridge Area SD
Belle Vernon Area SD
Charter HS for Architecture
Chambersburg Area SD
Cheltenham Township SD
Connellsville Area SD
Dallastown Area SD
Easton Area SD
Ephrata Area SD
Gateway SD
Governor Mifflin SD
Lebanon SD
Lincoln IU 12
Maritime Academy CS
Minersville Area SD
North Schuylkill SD
Northwood Academy CS
Pennsbury SD
Pennsylvania Cyber CS
Pleasant Valley SD
South Western SD
Spring-Ford Area SD
Wallingford-Swarthmore SD
Wellsboro Area SD
William Penn SD
Wissahickon CS

Archbishop: “To put it simply: Vouchers are a matter of parental rights and basic justice.”
Pennsylvania Constitution, Article III, Section 15 Public school money not available to sectarian schools:No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.”

Archbishop Chaput's Weekly Column: 1/12 Published : Thursday, 12 Jan 2012, 8:39 AM EST
Over the past week, I've received hundreds of emails about the report of our Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic Education. The report calls for the closing or merger of dozens of our archdiocesan schools
……..It's useful to wonder how many of our schools might have been saved if, over the last decade, Catholics had fought for vouchers as loudly and vigorously as they now grieve about school closings. Some Catholics - too many -- seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they're discriminated against every day of the year. They pay once for public schools; then they pay again for the Catholic schools they rightly hold in such esteem. Something's wrong with that equation. It's important for Catholics to hold the leadership of their Church accountable. No bishop or pastor should fear that. But Catholics should hold public leaders - beginning with our elected officials in Harrisburg - to an equally demanding standard. School choice may not answer every financial challenge in Catholic education; but vouchers would make a decisive difference. They'd help our schools enormously. To put it simply: Vouchers are a matter of parental rights and basic justice.

“only two factors are significant – Parental Education and Poverty and those two factors alone can explain the bulk of the differences in academic achievement.”

Do Higher Teacher Salaries in Philadelphia Area School Districts Equate to Higher PSSA & SAT Scores?

Community Matters Blog Posted on   by Pattye Benson
If you follow Community Matters, you may recognize Keith Knauss as one of those that regularly comments on school district issues.  Knauss currently serves on the Unionville Chaddsford School Board and brings first-hand experience, especially when dealing with teacher negotiations.  Knauss prepared a report for his own school district, which he has graciously offered for Community Matters readers.  He looked at the 61 Philadelphia area school districts for factors that might explain the wide variation in academic achievement on PSSA and SAT tests.
Factors Knauss considered included:
  • Parental education
  • Poverty
  • Student to Teacher Ratio
  • Spending per Student
  • Average Teacher salary
  • Average Teacher experience
  • Average Teacher degrees
In his analysis of the data, Knauss uncovered some interesting results.  He discovered that “only two factors are significant – Parental Education and Poverty and those two factors alone can explain the bulk of the differences in academic achievement.”  

Finland’s approach is opposite. They have come out on top in the OECD rankings even though, as a nation, they have abolished standardized testing. They view it as antiquated as a method, inefficient as a way of actually measuring the most important learning, and a dis-incentive to great, inspiring teaching.”
Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 01/12/2012
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Cathy N. Davidson, a Duke University professor and author of “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.”
By Cathy N. Davidson
It is fascinating to be in Hong Kong this week talking with the nation’s top educational officials and business leaders about new modes of learning for the digital workplace during the release of a new book by Pasi Sahlberg, a leading innovator in the Finnish Ministry of Education. Educators in Hong Kong are as intrigued, inspired, and perplexed by the Finnish educational success story as those in the United States. “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?” details the wayFinland has become the gold standard in public education by going in nearly the opposite direction of all the other top-ranked systems in the world.

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