Tuesday, July 10, 2012

April 2011 study: "whatever cyberschools are doing in PA is definitely not working & should not be replicated." July 2012: State approves 4 new cyber charter schools

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

"In an April 2011 study (PDF), the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania's charter schools.  Virtual-school operators have been aggressively expanding in the state for more than a decade, making it a good place for a study; around 18,700 of the state's 61,770 charter school students were enrolled in online schools. The results weren't promising.
The virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters. But according to the study, they ended up with learning gains that were "significantly worse" than kids in traditional charters and public schools. Says CREDO research manager Devora Davis, "What we can say right now is that whatever they're doing in Pennsylvania is definitely not working and should not be replicated."

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.

State approves 4 new cyber charter schools
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 9, 2012 11:53 pm
This fall, students will be able to choose from four new cyber charter schools, bringing the statewide total to 16, thanks to approvals by the state Department of Education.
The newcomers are ACT Academy Cyber Charter School, Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School, Esperanza Cyber Charter School and Solomon World Civilization Cyber Charter School. All have offices in Philadelphia.

Four More PA Cyber Charter Schools to Open in the 2012-13 School Year
Harrisburg – Four cyber charter schools have been authorized to open in the 2012-13 school year, bringing the total number of cyber charters schools operating in Pennsylvania to 17.

This 2009 19 page report provides a look at the workings of the EITC program….
PA Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
Preliminary Report on Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program June 2009
Conducted Pursuant to Senate Resolution 2009-20 and House Resolution 2009-127

Here are details on the new EITC Supervoucher program
PSBA: Key Provisions of New EITC 2.0 Scholarship Program

This posting includes lists of all PA EITC recipients for 2011
Keystone State Education Coalition Friday, November 11, 2011
What is Pennsylvania’s EITC program and which organizations received contributions through this tax credit program for FY 2011?

The biggest waste of $249,660 in Pa. history, which is saying a lot
Philadelphia Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012
Daniel Denvir of the City Paper -- one of the best journalists in Philadelphia who doesn't have the words "Daily News" under his byline -- has what I think is something of a scoop today. Remember that ridiculous voter ID law we were talking about earlier today? Comes now Denvir, with a story that goes something like this:

Government reform advocates slam Pa. legislators for continuing to reap benefits from the 2005 pay raise
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News  Published: Monday, July 09, 2012, 12:34 PM
More than a dozen lawmakers who took the 2005 legislative pay raise that was later declared unconstitutional by the courts are now reaping the reward of the pay bump they accepted through their pensions, according to a report issued by Rock the Capital.  "That's a gift that keeps in giving," said Eric Epstein, founder of the government reform group, at a Capitol news conference.
….Another example offered by Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA was a last-minute insertion in a charter school reform bill that was taking shape on the night of June 30, when lawmakers were moving state budget bills. That provision, which he called stealth legislation, would have exempted charter school operators from complying with the state's open records law. 
"Nothing's changed. We've got new rules, but rules are still made to be broken," Epstein said.

Behind the scenes, Boston Consulting Group has been a driving force on labor talks, school closings, and charters
by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/Newsworks Jul 09 2012
The Boston Consulting Group has identified up to 60 Philadelphia school buildings as potential candidates for closure and helped line up private vendors willing to replace the School District’s unionized blue-collar workforce at a $50 million discount.
These steps are just part of the blue-chip consulting firm’s far-ranging behind-the-scenes effort to help the beleaguered city school system rethink how it does business.
The broad scope of BCG’s efforts this spring are detailed in previously unreleased “statements of work” obtained by the Notebook/NewsWorks under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law. 

Pa. state pension cost spike key in next budget

More cuts may be needed in upcoming state spending plan
July 8, 2012 12:47 am
By Laura Olson and Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- When Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed his inaugural budget into law in June 2011, the response from the state's largest teachers union was swift and severe.
Viewing public education as the main victim in last year's leaner $27.14 billion state spending plan, the Pennsylvania State Education Association proclaimed that the deep cuts would jeopardize student progress.

See what PSERs projections through 2016 might look like for Tredyffrin/Eastown School District, one of the state’s wealthiest districts.
Community Matters Blog by Patteye Benson, July 8, 2012
Former T/E School Board member Andrea Felkins created the following graphs with descriptions below each graph for Community Matters readers.  When we discuss the benefits, salary and pension costs of the District, it is difficult for some (myself included) to fully grasp the magnitude of the situation.  Through the use of the graphs, the data is more organized and easier to understand.  When you view the data through Andrea’s graphs, it is much clearer the role that each of the three components play in the budget, especially as the School District moves forward.  It should be noted that these graphs assume no salary increases.

Posted at 10:02 AM ET, 07/09/2012

The Common Bore

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Arnold Dodge, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration at Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus and a former New York state teacher, principal and superintendent.
By Arnold Dodge
Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted .  — E.M. Forster
I would argue that the three words to best describe an effective classroom are engagement, engagement, engagement. Those who make policy would disagree, it seems, since policy promulgated at the national and state level has less to do with engagement and more to do with obedience. My experiences as a public school teacher and administrator were in sharp contrast to the standard-focused juggernaut that now passes for educational leadership.

Tax-Exempt Groups Shield Political Gifts of Businesses

Published: July 7, 2012
Two years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the door for corporate spending on elections, relatively little money has flowed from company treasuries into “super PACs,” which can accept unlimited contributions but must also disclose donors. Instead, there is growing evidence that large corporations are trying to influence campaigns by donating money to tax-exempt organizations that can spend millions of dollars without being subject to the disclosure requirements that apply to candidates, parties and PACs.
The secrecy shrouding these groups makes a full accounting of corporate influence on the electoral process impossible. But glimpses of their donors emerged in a New York Times review of corporate governance reports, tax returns of nonprofit organizations and regulatory filings by insurers and labor unions.

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grassroots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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