Monday, July 23, 2012

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

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Posted: Mon, Jul. 23, 2012, 7:03 AM
Education firm linked to Fattah's son lays off all its teachers, administrators
By Martha Woodall Inquirer Staff Writer
Without warning, Delaware Valley High School - a for-profit education firm whose records were recently subpoenaed by a federal grand jury - has laid off all 50 teaching and administrative employees at the four alternative schools it operates in the region.
Staffers said lawyer David T. Shulick, whose company operates the schools, owes them each thousands of dollars for work during the 2011-12 academic year. They had been expecting back pay last week but got furlough notices instead.
In late February, the FBI raided Shulick's Logan Square law office, searching for documents related to Delaware Valley's relationship with Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., 29, whose father is U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat. They also interviewed Shulick.

Charter schools seek revisions to state funding forms

July 21, 2012 12:03 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With charter schools already costing Pittsburgh Public Schools more than $47 million a year, school officials are concerned about a charter school challenge that, if successful, could cost the district more than $2 million a year.
District solicitor Ira Weiss said five charter schools have filed similar letters with the state Department of Education seeking to change what is counted under the existing funding formula for school districts across the state -- a change that could affect districts throughout the state.
"The point is that this is a concerted effort. Every letter is the same," Mr. Weiss said.

Inky Editorial: Charter gamble is no sure bet
Inquirer Editorial Posted: Sun, Jul. 22, 2012, 3:00 AM
The School Reform Commission may be taking too big a gamble by investing $139 million in charter-school expansions when there is evidence that many charters perform no better than traditional schools academically, and the lack of adequate regulation has birthed charters that misspend taxpayer dollars.
Charter schools should be made available for children who desperately need an alternative to city schools that are often violent and offer a poor education.  However, charters are no panacea and they do nothing to fix the bigger problem — the bad schools that the bulk of the city's students will still attend.

Testimony before the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center July 17, 2012

Posted: Sun, Jul. 22, 2012, 11:41 AM
A new Pennsylvania law requires high schools to report on athletic opportunities for girls
By Amy Worden Inquirer Staff Writer
When her daughter Kelly joined the field hockey team at New Hope-Solebury High School in 2006, Chris Flynn noticed the field.  The surface was dirt and dead grass. No restrooms, no scoreboard, no place to sit.  A few hundred yards away stood the boys' gleaming stadium field, with lighting, bleachers, restrooms, even a concession stand.
Flynn did not understand why girls' teams couldn't use that field, especially when there were no scheduling conflicts and it sat empty.
That started her on a six-year struggle to level the playing field for girl athletes.

K12 Inc. Stock Down After Scathing Report
Education Week Marketplace K12 Blog By Jason Tomassini on July 19, 2012
Another big shot in the ongoing debate over virtual schools was fired Wednesday, in the form of a report showing schools managed by online education leader K12 Inc. perform worse on average than brick-and-mortar schools.
The report, "Understanding and Improving Virtual Schools," was released by the National Education Policy Center, a nonprofit research organization based in Boulder, Colo., and a frequent sparring partner for K12 Inc. My colleague Ian Quillen has the details on the results from the most recent report focusing on K12 Inc., which shows students in schools managed by the company perform worse and drop out more frequently than students in brick-and-mortar schools.  In a lengthy response to the report posted on its website (see below), K12 Inc. claimed NEPC used selective data that didn't present the whole academic picture for virtual schools, including the tendency for students to enroll already behind grade level and ignores academic growth.

Response to NEPC Report on k12 Inc.
From k12 Inc. website

Which CEO made $5 million stealing your kid's lunch money?
YouTube video runtime 4:37 Published on Jul 19, 2012 by bravenewfoundation
ALEC is working to ensure that public education dollars get diverted to private profits. Their approach is working -- for them. Not so much for the students who pay the price in the form of a subpar education and poor performance.

Educator cited as model for Utah is raided by FBI
An expert in cyberspace education who was featured at the pre-legislative conference of the Utah Taxpayers Association was raided by the FBI last week, and is being investigated for allegedly misusing taxpayer money.
Nick Trombetta, who founded the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in 2000 and had an enrollment of more than 11,300 students in 2011-12, was the target of FBI raids at his offices in Pennsylvania and at a consulting firm he operates in Ohio.

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Apply Now!
EPLC’s 2012-13 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are still being accepted for the 2012-2013 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2012 and continues through June 2013.

New York Times Sunday Dialogue July 21, 2012
Responses to NYT Letter to the Editor by Stephen Krashen
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 conditional waivers allow states to move away from many of the highly qualified teacher requirements, as long as they adopt a system of teacher evaluations that takes student achievement into account.  So far, more than half of the states have been approved for waivers.
Of course, some big ones, including California, Pennsylvania, and Texas, are still not on board the waiver train. So we'll see where Congress eventually goes with this.”

House Panel OKs Bill to Scrap Race to the Top, SIG, i3

 Alyson Klein  
President Barack Obama's signature education programs would be scrapped under a bill approved this morning by the House Appropriations Committee panel that oversees education spending.
The measure would cut about $1.1 billion from the U.S. Department of Education's roughly $68 billion budget, according to an analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. The bill covers fiscal year 2013, which starts on Oct. 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee has already passed a similar measure. More information about both bills here.

Highly Suspect?
If TFA college grads with 5 weeks training are “highly qualified” then I guess I’m “highly intelligent” and “highly handsome”….

House Extends Labeling of Trainee Teachers as 'Highly Qualified'

 Nirvi Shah  
The disability advocacy community has been worried that a provision in federal law about who is considered a highly qualified teacher would be perpetuated as lawmakers take up new spending bills for the coming fiscal year.
Earlier this year, the Senate merely left the door open to extending a provision that allows teachers still working on their certification to be considered "highly qualified"—a designation created by 2001's No Child Left Behind law. The law says teachers must already be certified to qualify, but Education Department regulations created about the law allowed for teachers in alternative routes to be considered highly qualified, even if they were still working on their certification. For example, people in the classroom as part of the Teach for America training program would fall into this category.

NEPC Best of the Ed Blogs
National Education Policy Center
Best of the Ed Blogs features a frequently updated selection of interesting and insightful blog posts on education policy. The views expressed by the bloggers on our blog roll are thoughtful, original, and entirely their own. We hope you make Best of the Ed Blogs your first stop for concise takes on today's most important education topics.

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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