Thursday, July 12, 2012

The “Public” played a very real role in the budget process for Upper Darby’s public schools this year. It’s one part of what gets lost when schools are privatized

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.

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The “Public” played a very real role in the budget process for Upper Darby’s public schools this year.  That’s how Democracy is supposed to work.  There was public budgeting, public discussion by a locally elected school board, public engagement with the board and local legislators, public decision making and extensive coverage in the local press.
Contrast that with the Killion amendment that would specifically exclude charter school vendors like Vahan Gureghian from Pennsylvania’s right-to-know laws, or with Pennsylvania’s “successful EITC program” that specifically restricts what info the state can collect (and the public can access) regarding the funds that are spent.  And contrast it with the process that is unfolding in Philadelphia noted below.
It’s one part of what gets lost when schools are privatized…..LAF
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
A miracle in Upper Darby
Delco Times Heron’s Nest Editor’s Blog by Phil Heron
It has been a rough couple of months in the Upper Darby School District.
This morning, 45 teachers who had been given pink slips as the district struggled to dig out of a $13 million deficit have been rehired, the beloved ‘special’ instruction in arts and music has been restored (albeit not in separate classrooms), and residents are applauding the way the board handled last night’s meeting, attended by more than 300 residents.

Philadelphia Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch
I'm getting to this party a little late, but better late than never. There was a great story last week on the cover of the Philadelphia City Paper -- a holiday week when a lot of folks were off or not paying close attention or both. (Yes, this too was written by Daniel Denvir...the dude's on a roll). In addition to the horrible timing, it wasn't about the things that usually get us all whipped up here -- race (well, maybe a little) or sports or sex or...did I mention sports? Still, I'm getting the vibe that the piece threw some of the city's elites into a tizzy, even if the common folk didn't notice it.
It's a story about power in this town -- who has it these days, and how they are using it.
And the focus is on Jeremy Nowak, the head of the increasingly influential philanthropy, the William Penn Foundation.  You didn't vote for Mr. Nowak. Nobody did. But the article makes this case that he has more say over the future of Philadelphia schools than any elected official.

Here’s a few items on our over-reliance on standardized testing and the proposed common core, which some are reporting will dramatically increase the amount of testing we do.

“It is time, he said, to see if Florida students are spending too much time taking standardized tests, not only the FCAT but end-of-course exams and others. He said he is talking to state officials about taking a look at the testing load.”
Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/11/2012

Has Florida governor had a testing epiphany?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who hasn’t seen a test he hasn’t wanted students to take, seems to have come to some sort of epiphany: The state that has been a national model for high-stakes test-based school reform just may be testing schoolchildren too much.
Speaking to a conference of newspaper editors the other day, Scott said that state officials had received an unprecedented number of complaints from parents about the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
It is time, he said, to see if Florida students are spending too much time taking standardized tests, not only the FCAT but end-of-course exams and others. He said he is talking to state officials about taking a look at the testing load.

Texas Association of School Administrators Website
As of July 11, 566 Texas school districts, representing more than 3.4 million students have adopted a resolution concerning high stakes standardized testing
The following is a list of school districts that have adopted a version of the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students. As of July 11, 2012566 districts representing more than 3.4 million students have notified us they've adopted the resolution. That's 55 percent of Texas school districts and 70 percent of all Texas public school students. The number following the district name is the ESC region number. Though individual districts may have made some modifications to the specific wording of the document TASA provided, the spirit of the resolution remained intact.

Protest Builds Against Pearson, Testing, and Common Core

Posted: 06/13/2012 10:21 am
Huffingtin Post by  Alan Singer, Social studies educator, Hofstra University

Wall Street Journal: School-Test Backlash Grows
Some Parents, Teachers and Boards Rebel, Saying Education Is Being Stifled
Wall Street Journal Online By STEPHANIE BANCHERO Updated May 16, 2012
The increasing role of standardized testing in U.S. classrooms is triggering pockets of rebellion across the country from school officials, teachers and parents who say the system is stifling teaching and learning.
In Texas, some 400 local school boards—more than one-third of the state's total—have adopted a resolution this year asking lawmakers to scale back testing. In EverettWash., more than 500 children skipped state exams in protest earlier this month. A national coalition of parents and civil-rights groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, signed a petition in April asking Congress to reduce federal testing mandates.
In recent weeks, the protest spread to Florida, where two school boards, including Palm Beach County, signed on to a petition similar to the one in Texas. A parent in a third,Broward County, on Tuesday formally requested that school officials support the movement.

Has your school board reviewed and considered this sample testing resolution?
PSBA Sample Resolution Concerning Student Assessment and Achievement
PSBA Board of directors urges congress to reconsider current assessments under NCLB
Recently, the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) passed a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act and replace the current school accountability system with one that more accurately assesses student progress.
The new system, according to the resolution, should "encompass multiple assessments, use more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflect what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhance the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurture the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students."
The resolution says the board "supports efforts to appropriately measure student attainment of state and local academic standards," but the process should use "multiple, ongoing methods of assessment for knowledge, skills and abilities."
In passing the resolution, the 27-member Board of Directors, which governs PSBA, expressed concern that there is a misconception that standardized, high-stakes testing is the most valid measure of determining student learning. Research shows many reasons why standardized test scores should never be the determining factor in making major decisions about students. Instead, the PSBA Board of Directors urges Congress to create an assessment system that takes into consideration coursework, tests and quizzes, presentations, projects and papers throughout a student's career.
The PSBA Board of Directors is using the resolution as a way to clearly define to Congress the assessment system that would help them, as local school directors, be more flexible in making educationally sound decisions that expand opportunities for all students, without an overreliance on standardized test scores, a narrowing of the curriculum, or prescriptive mandates.
As part of the resolution, the PSBA Board of Directors encourages local school boards to adopt the same or similar resolution.
The full resolution can be viewed online at

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/12/2012

Is Khan Academy a real ‘education solution’?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
The Khan Academy has been in the education news lately but it’s not the kind of publicity that its founder, Salman Khan, would have chosen if given a choice.  The academy is a nonprofit organization started by Khan, a former hedge-fund manager, that offers free lessons in math and other subjects via videos posted on the Khan Academy Web site.
……The myriad ways we learn and the number of uncontrollable variables involved put usefully precise evaluation of learner performance far beyond reach. If we can’t do it for one kid in one learning situation, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that computer-scored tests can evaluate the quality of thought of millions of kids for a year. We’ve made commercially produced standardized tests so important we’re blind to the enormity of their inadequacies and to the damage they’re doing to the young, to the teaching profession, and to the society for which the young will soon be responsible.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Feinberg I see you are very involved with other school districts in the the Delaware Valley, is there any way you can find your way to the Interboro School district? This school district has lost more than half there administrators including Dr. Hacker the Superintendent. I find this issue has gone so far without being addressed by anyone within the educational field. It seems the Delaware County Times are the only paper that has made these issues public and no else seems to care. There is no one running this district and principals have stopped the hiring process and the next two board meetings have been canceled without explanation. Please help this district.


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