Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ U.S. House panel to vote

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House Democratic Policy Committee to hold public hearing
on impact of education funding cuts Wednesday July 13 in Abington

ABINGTON, July 13 – The House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to explore the impact of funding cuts on Pennsylvania’s schools and the potential consequences of the recurring cuts in the 2012-13 state budget from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Penn State Abington, Sutherland Building Auditorium, 1600 Woodland Road, Abington.

State Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, requested the hearing and will serve as its co-chairman. State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, plans to attend.

The hearing will focus on the effect state funding cuts have had on schools and students as well as how local districts are operating with a continued decline in state aid. The recently approved state budget did not include additional reductions in state funding, but it did maintain the billion dollars cut from the 2011-12 state budget.

The current hearing agenda is:
·       10 a.m. – Welcome and opening remarks
·       10:10 a.m. – Panel one:
Ø  Dr. Leigh Altadonna, assistant superintendent, Abington School District
Ø  Dr. Michael Pladus, superintendent, Upper Dublin School District
Ø  Susan Arnhold, school director, Abington School District
Ø  Mark Miller, school director, Centennial School District
Ø  David Robinson, school director, Upper Dublin School District
·       11:10 a.m. – Panel two:
Ø  Baruch Kintisch, director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center
Ø  Vanessa Good, secretary, Upper Dublin Education Foundation
Ø  Judith Evans, head of Career Education, The Pathway School
Ø  Kathleen Joyce, parent of child with Individualized Education Programs (IEP)
Ø  Michael Evans, graduate of Abington High School and IEP student
·       12:10 p.m. – Closing remarks

The hearing is open to the public and media coverage is invited.

Proponents Hail Expanded Education Tax Credit Opponents Call ‘Voucher Light’
KYW Newsradio CBS Philadelphia  By Pat Loeb July 17, 2012 6:32 AM
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania has expanded a controversial tax credit program that subsidizes private and religious schools. The expansion doubles the amount of state money going to non-public schools.  Both supporters and opponents of the program refer to it as the equivalent of a voucher program.

Invitation to a Dialogue: An Excess of Testing
New York Times Published: July 17, 2012
Letter to the Editor by Stephen Krashen
The writer is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.
The common core standards movement seems to be common sense: Our schools should have similar standards, what students should know at each grade. The movement, however, is based on the false assumption that our schools are broken, that ineffective teaching is the problem and that rigorous standards and tests are necessary to improve things.
The mediocre performance of American students on international tests seems to show that our schools are doing poorly. But students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools rank among the best in the world on these tests, which means that teaching is not the problem. The problem is poverty. Our overall scores are unspectacular because so many American children live in poverty (23 percent, ranking us 34th out of 35 “economically advanced countries”).
Poverty means inadequate nutrition and health care, and little access to books, all associated with lower school achievement. Addressing those needs will increase achievement and better the lives of millions of children.
How can we pay for this? Reduce testing. The common core, adopted by 45 states, demands an astonishing increase in testing, far more than needed and far more than the already excessive amount required by No Child Left Behind.

Yong Zhao (from Ed Week posting below): “The United States has to stop pushing standards and standardization and high-stakes testing—even if all students scored above average on the new tests based on the common core or surpassed other countries on the Program for International Student Assessment, our children would not be ready for the future. America needs to take a break from looking at test scores from a few subjects as indicators of success. We need to look at every child as individually talented, and [recognize that] their talents, if fully developed, will be valuable to them and the society. “
Posted: Tue, Jul. 17, 2012, 3:00 AM
The story of West Philly High School's hybrid-car team is now a documentary
Philadelphia Daily News by Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist
I'M A SUCKER for a love story. I just never thought I'd see one on "Frontline."
The weekly PBS documentary showcase rivals only "60 Minutes" in its Very Important Coverage of news and public affairs. The last thing you'd expect while watching "Frontline" is to reach for a Kleenex while pressing your hand to your heart and sniffling, "I LOVE these guys…"
But if you watch Tuesday night's "Frontline" premiere of "Fast Times at West Philly High," I promise that you, too, will be tearful and smitten.
And you will ask, "Shouldn't more teachers be doing what these people are doing?"
The gripping, 36-minute documentary by Swarthmore filmmaker Debra Morton chronicles the three-year quest of students at West Philly High School to win 2010's Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE.

Zhou on Entrepreneurship, the Common Core, and Bacon

 Catherine A. Cardno  
I recently read Yong Zhao's World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (Corwin, 2012). The book is an intriguing one, and once I began reading I found it difficult to put down.
In his book, Mr. Zhao argues that the elements of the American education system that foster creativity and entrepreneurship in its students and are most envied by China (including by the renowned education system of Shanghai, with its test-taking dominance) are in danger of being destroyed altogether by current U.S. reform efforts such as the Common Core State Standards. Using the relatively unwieldy metaphor of a sausage-making machine, Mr. Zhao argues that while China's mastery in turning out identical sausages (i.e. extremely high test scores) is unparalleled, it can never make bacon. America, on the other hand, doesn't make sausage as well as China does, but every now and again it turns out a fantastic piece of bacon. In this metaphor, he points to Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga as (you guessed it) the bacon.

Good News from New Jersey
Diane Ravitch’s Blog July 17, 2012 //
Jersey Jazzman reports that New Jersey will not approve the state’s first online for-profit virtual charter school. K12 has been told to come back next year, perhaps on the hope that citizen outrage will have died down by then. Jersey Jazzman, you may recall, memorably referred to New Jersey as “the cesspool of school reform.”
This is two wins in a row against the K12 giant, first in North Carolina, where the school boards banded together to stop the raid on their own strained budgets, and now in New Jersey, where concerned parents and educators blew the whistle.
It’s important to remind everyone that the reformers are vulnerable. They are vulnerable to public exposure because the fact is that their harmful ideas have no public support once the public understands what they are up to. There is no public support for handing taxpayer dollars over to corporate interests and calling it “reform.”

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ U.S. House panel to vote

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Should someone with five weeks of teacher training be considered a highly qualified teacher?
Today a U.S. House appropriations subcommittee will consider legislation that would allow students still learning to be teachers to be considered highly qualified teachers under federal law.
A Teach for America recruit gets classroom management training. (Ricky Carioti/THE WASHINGTON POST)The nonprofit organization Teach for America places college graduates into high needs schools after giving them five weeks of training in a summer institute. The TFA corps members, who are required to give only a two-year commitment to teaching, can continue a master’s degree in education with selected schools while teaching.

U.S. House K-12 Spending Bill Would Scrap Race to the Top
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 17, 2012 12:14 PM
The Obama administration's signature K-12 initiative—the Race to the Top competition—would get axed under a proposal put forward by Republicans on the House panel that oversees K-12 spending.
Two other major Obama priorities—the School Improvement Grant program, which provides $533 million to help turn around low-performing schools, and the nearly $150 million Investing in Innovation grant program—would also be eliminated, according to a press release put out by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

A Fresh Look at What School Menus Can Be

New York Times By DAN FROSCH Published: July 17, 2012
With new federal standards for school meals going into effect this month, and a renewed focus on the issue brought by the first lady, Michelle Obama, thousands of school chefs, food service workers and nutrition experts from around the country gathered in Denver this week at an annual conference put on by the School Nutrition Association, a nonprofit organization of school food professionals.

JULY 1, 2012, 11:00 AM
Disruptions: Next Step for Technology Is Becoming the Background
New York Times Bits Blog By NICK BILTON
Google’s glasses, in a version for developers, cost $1,500.
I have seen the future, and it is wearable.
But before I tell you about this future, let’s take a short trip into the past, specifically to the mid-1400s, when a German by the name of Johannes Gutenberg was hard at work inventing the printing press. There’s a common misconception that Gutenberg’s press instantly changed society. This isn’t quite so.

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 grass roots 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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