Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nation's largest urban school voucher program doesn't produce better results than public schools, reviews find

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Nation's largest urban school voucher program doesn't produce better results than public schools, reviews find
Student graduation rates, test scores analyzed
Great Lakes Center for Education Research, Casey Cobb casey.cobb@uconn.edu
EAST LANSING, Mich. (April 19, 2012) – A longitudinal study on students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) found little differences between voucher students and those attending Milwaukee Public Schools overall, according to an academic review released today.  Three recent reports of the MPCP, produced by the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas use largely sound methods, but the data they assemble provide little in the way of an endorsement for the 22-year-old school voucher program – the largest urban voucher program in the nation.

KDKA Report: Taxpayer Dollars & Cyber Schools

April 30, 2012 6:30 PM KDKA Reporting Andy Sheehan
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – These are tough times in public education.
Struggling from cutbacks and tight budgets, school districts are laying off teachers and cutting programs.  At the same time, some cyber charter schools are thriving, which are funded by your local tax dollars.  Is this fair, or are your kids being shortchanged? Watch video (3:50)

Here are a few prior related posts on cyber school funding and performance:
PA Auditor General’s Office: Taxpayers and school districts could have saved approximately $86 million in 2009-2010 if cybers received funding based on what they spent per student.
On March 20, the PA House Education Committee held an informational hearing with Pennsylvania's Department of the Auditor General (DAG).  Speaking to the issue of cyber charters and their fiscal impact on school districts, Deputy Auditor General Thomas Marks noted the following:
·          During the 2009-2010 school year, school districts paid nearly $800 million to charter and cyber charter schools. Cyber charter schools received over one-third of this money.
·          Cybers continue to receive the same funding as brick and mortar charters even though they spend approximately $3,000 less per student.
·          Taxpayers and school districts could have saved approximately $86 million in 2009-2010 if cybers received funding based on what they spent per student.
·          Cyber enrollment has more than doubled over the last five years, which has resulted in school district tuition payments to cybers tripling from $70 million in 2004-2005 to over $250 million in 2009-2010.
·          The amount of required tuition payments from school districts are expected to climb even faster and higher due to the addition of two new cybers over the past two years, and seven new cybers projected to open in September 2012.

In an interview,, K12’s Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Packard said, “For reasons I don’t fully understand, there are a lot of people who don’t like for-profit companies in education.” 
It's all about the kids......K12 Inc. chief executive Ron Packard paid $5 million compensation package in 2011

PA Cyber Charter PSSA AYP 2007 - 2011 from PDE

Of 12 PA cyber charters - only 2 made AYP for 2011, while 8 were in corrective action status.

Posted: Tue, May. 1, 2012, 3:00 AM
PA Senate passes bill limiting superintendent payout packages
Spurred in part by former Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout package, the Pennsylvania Senate on Monday approved a bill that would limit the amount school systems could pay departing leaders.
The bill passed, 44-0, in the state Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola remains hopeful for significant education reform in Pennsylvania

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 12:00 AM
As his 36-year career in the General Assembly winds down, state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola remains hopeful for significant education reform in Pennsylvania.

Parents stand united in fight against Upper Darby school cuts (With Video)
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2012
By LINDA REILLY Delco Times Correspondent, llreilly1@gmail.com
UPPER DARBY — Parents, teachers and alumni rallied Friday night to reverse the Upper Darby School District proposed curriculum cuts and challenged everyone to fight the fight.
District-wide, parents are upset with the proposed academic realignment in elementary and middle schools and held a meeting at St. Mark Church, Oak Avenue, in the Westbrook Park section to plan their strategy and suggest options.
Lawn signs with “Stop the Cuts — Go to Say No on May 1 and May 8” regarding the next school board meetings were distributed especially to persons living on main streets or near schools.
According to Caron, the group met with State Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby, and made it clear their intention is to meet face to face with Gov. Tom Corbett.

Posted: Mon, Apr. 30, 2012, 3:00 AM
Closing of Pennsylvania school-tax loopholes has had questionable effect
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Last year, the Pennsylvania legislature closed many loopholes in the Rendell-era Taxpayer Relief Act, also known as Act 1, with lawmakers and Corbett administration officials proclaiming that, finally, residents would get more say on school-tax increases.
But one year in, that has not happened.

Report: Charter school would duplicate services in Chester
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
By JOHN KOPP jkopp@delcotimes.com @DT_JohnKopp
The Chester Upland School District board released a document detailing its decision to deny a charter application submitted by The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts.
The document, titled “Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law,” argues that a charter proposed by The Chester Fund would duplicate services the district already provides. The board unanimously voted to approve the report Thursday night.

Educators: New teacher evaluation system is a lot of talk -- but so far that's good

The first part of the system is being tested now. Still to come is how student performance will affect a teacher's evaluation.
By ANGIE MASON  York Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated:   04/29/2012 09:08:16 AM EDT
 Some local educators trying out an observation tool to be used in a new evaluation system for teachers in the future said it's more time consuming, but worthwhile in the end.  "What we found is it's a much more in-depth process, and it requires more time ... on the administrative and teacher part," said Karen Schoonover, chief academic officer at New Hope Academy Charter School. "But the upside is it leads to a much more valuable conversation about improving instruction in the classroom."
Pennsylvania has been working to craft a new evaluation system for educators. The current system has been criticized for rating nearly all teachers and principals as satisfactory.
In 2010-11, a handful of school districts tried out a new observation system. For 2011-12, districts and schools statewide were invited to pilot the new tool in the second phase of the effort, and more than 100 volunteered.
In York County, those participating in the pilot are the Dover Area, Northeastern, Red Lion and York City school districts and New Hope Academy Charter School.

Local control under siege

NSBA by Cathy Woodruff, April 21, 2012
The ability of local boards to control the destiny of their own schools, rooted in the establishment of one-room school houses in America’s rural farming communities, is under siege on several fronts, a panel of experts warned in a presentation Saturday titled School Boards’ Last Stand.
Threats to local control often are characterized as educational reform, the panelists said, and they include: charter schools, bids for mayoral control, voucher programs, virtual charter schools, for-profit school operators, state and federal funding tied to adoption of specific programs and approaches, and efforts to standardize curriculum and textbooks.

Education Talk Radio: At the Chalkface
Listen online; One hour talk show dedicated to education.  SUNDAY MORNINGS AT 9am
Hosts Tim Slekar and Shaun Johnson cover the biggest issues in education, from standardized testing to No Child Left Behind.
If you want a text reminder send "CHALK" TO THE NUMBER 60193." 
Audio clips of prior shows are available too.

Here are more than 400 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:



Has your board considered this draft resolution yet?

PSBA Sample Board Resolution regarding the budget

Please consider bringing this sample resolution to the members of your board.


PA Partnerships for Children – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The governor’s budget plan cuts funding for proven programs like Child Care Works, Keystone STARS and the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. These are among the most cost-effective investments we can make in education.  Gov. Corbett’s budget plan also runs counter to a pledge he made when he ran for governor in 2010. He acknowledged the benefits of early childhood education and promised to increase funding to double the number of children who would benefit from early learning opportunities.
We need your help to tell lawmakers: if you cut these programs – you close the door to early learning! Click here to tell your state legislators to fund early childhood education programs at the same level they approved for this year’s budget.

Education Voters PA – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The Governor’s proposal starts the process, but it isn’t all decided: our legislators can play an important role in standing up for our priorities.  Last year, public outcry helped prevent nearly $300 million in additional cuts.  We heard from the Governor, and we know where he stands.  Now, we need to ask our legislators: what is your position on supporting our schools?

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