Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Keystone Exams will be administered starting in the spring of 2013 and will replace the 11th grade PSSA tests beginning in the 2012-13 school year.

“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

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 08/07/2012

Principals: Our struggle to be heard on reform

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Carol Burris and Harry Leonadartos. Burris is the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York.  Leonadartos is the principal of Clarkstown High School North in Rockland County, New York. Carol is the co-author and Harry is an active supporter of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student scores. Over 1,500 New York principals and more than 5,400 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens have signed the letter which can be found here.
By Carol Burris and Harry Leonardatos 
Several weeks ago, on Meet the Press, Michelle Rhee unveiled her new ad, designed to hammer away at how bad she believes American schools to be.  The ad likened public schools to an unfit male athlete competing unsuccessfully in a women’s sport.  Many found the ad to be offensive in its stereotypical portrayal of an overweight and effete man. But the true offense was that it took a moment of national pride, the Olympic Games, and used it to give American educators a kick in the pants. 
It is reasonable to wonder why it is so important for Michelle Rhee and other “reformers” to constantly deride and disparage American public schools.  Although we should always seek to improve, why should those efforts be expected to follow from derision?  In truth, while we and others see daunting and unfilled needs in many schools, there has not been a sharp and sudden decline in student performance as is being implied, and in fact scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s educational report card — are higher than ever before. 
The answer is simple. School reform has generated a marketplace, and a profitable one at that.  Michelle Rhee’s standard fee is $50,000 an appearance, plus expenses. In Michigan, Clark Durrant is paid over half a million dollars a year to run five charter schools. Eva Moskowitz, Geoffrey Canada and Deborah Kenney all make between four and five hundred thousand a year running their New York City charter school organizations.
And these are the minor players. The real money is corporate.

David Shulick was a member of Governor Corbett’s education transition team

FBI probe leaves students, staff at Delaware Valley High School in limbo

By Amy Z. Quinn for NewsWorks August 7, 2012
With about a month to go before the first day of school, it remains unclear whether the Philadelphia School District will extend its contract with Delaware Valley High School -- and if not, where the 300 students at the private, alternative school's campus in East Falls will go.
Delaware Valley High School (DVHS), with campuses at 4333 Kelly Dr. and 6404 Elmwood Ave. in Southwest Philadelphia, is one of several independent operators that run alternative programs for students with social and behavioral problems under contract with the school system.
Its owner, David T. Shulick, is also involved in an ongoing FBI investigation, reported to be into connections between the school and Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this one.  On the teaching side, we have completely abandoned commonsense and now actually specify that college grads with 5 weeks of training are “highly qualified” under federal law and we send them in to our most challenging classrooms.  I get the business model perspective and I suppose that as long as the leader of a district is surrounded by good experienced people this makes sense.  Do we make generals of people who have never had any military experience?

Pennsylvania Superintendents No Longer Need Classroom Experience

 Christina Samuels  
The Times-Tribune out of Scranton, Pa. highlighted a new state law removing a requirement that school superintendents have a background in school administration. From the article:
A new law drops the requirement that prospective school chiefs have any experience in a classroom. There is no longer a need to be a teacher or principal or to have an education-related degree.  That means area school districts will suddenly find a much larger pool of applicants for the top jobs.
Supporters of the legislation say that the new requirements, including business and finance experience, are what a school chief needs in the time of unprecedented budget cuts.
Others wonder how someone who has never been in a classroom can make decisions on students' educations.

Posted: Wed, Aug. 8, 2012, 3:01 AM
Young Philadelphia family's choice reflects faith in its public school
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
Henry Scott's first day of school will be a big deal.
And not just because the 6-year-old is planning on "learning new things, like math and how to read," in first grade.
Henry's first day matters because his parents could have sent him to private school. They could have moved to the suburbs. They could even have sent him to the highly regarded Independence Charter School in Center City, where he had a spot waiting.
But Jill and Mark Scott chose E.M. Stanton at 17th and Christian Streets, their neighborhood public school, for Henry.

The Keystone Exams will be administered starting in the spring of 2013 and will replace the 11th grade PSSA tests beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
Frequently Asked Questions on Keystone Exams
Coatesville Area School District Updated: 7/23/2012
Proposed Transition to the Keystone Exams
PA Department of Education July 2012
In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released additional important information about Keystone Exam implementation

Education Policy and Leadership Center
EPLC Education Notebook

Education Policy and Leadership Center
EPLC’s Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters

EITC 2.0: School transfer program faces many obstacles

Hazelton Standard Speaker BY MIA LIGHT (STAFF WRITER) August 6, 2012
For students to receive funds to leave low-performing schools, including two in the Hazleton Area School District, parents will need to apply to scholarship organizations that do not yet exist.
The list of higher-performing schools to which the students can transfer does not exist, either.
Neither does the money for the scholarships.
But state officials expect to be distributing the scholarship money to students by the start of the 2012-13 school year.

Rep. Quigley to serve on House Select Committee to study property taxes
Pottstown Mercury By Mercury Staff Posted: 08/06/12 06:36 pm
Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist, announced Monday that he has been appointed to represent the House Education Committee on the select committee to study property taxes, established by his House Resolution 774. The legislation was approved by the House in June.

“If anyone needs confirmation that math, algebra, science, engineering and the ability to work in an international team are worthwhile skills to learn in school, you have it.”
The Red Planet: Touching down on Mars is a giant leap for all
Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2012, 1:00 AM
By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
A "sky crane" lowers the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover onto the surface of Mars.
Pause tonight and look up at the night sky.
There’s always plenty to marvel at, but there’s a little something extra right now.
While it’s not exactly a “man on Mars,” there’s an SUV-size vehicle on the Red Planet.
To put it another way, we just landed a six-wheeled, nuclear-powered rover weighing 2,000 pounds via a skycrane and a hovercraft onto the surface of another planet.
Talk about “to boldly go.”

American Legislative Exchange Council endures liberal firestorm

TribLive By Brad Bumsted Monday, August 6, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY — Against the backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains, sign-carrying protesters pounced on lawmakers from a number of states as they left a public rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and edged toward air-conditioned buses heading to their hotel.  The legislators attending an annual conference of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, were out for an evening of entertainment. The protesters carried handmade cardboard signs urging them to protect the environment and keep national health care.

Jindal’s voucher program called ‘bad for religious freedom’ by Interfaith Alliance

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss Posted at 02:58 PM ET, 08/07/2012
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is getting new pushback on his school voucher program, which is now the biggest in the country.  Opposition is coming from theInterfaith Alliance, a national, nonpartisan grassroots and educational organization based in Washington that has 185,000 members nationwide made up of75 faith traditions as well as those of no faith tradition.
A letter sent to Jindal on Tuesday signed by the alliance’s president, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, says in part: “Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution.”

Live Long and Prosper Blog TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2012
Kurt Schwengel: Occupy Kindergarten (video runtime 20:22)
It's time to return to developmentally appropriate Kindergarten. The obsessive focus on standards and the misuse of testing has turned Kindergarten into first grade. Instead of a place to grow socially and academically, Kindergarten has become a place of high pressure focus on assessment. Enjoy this Ted-Talk about what Kindergarten should really be like.

DVGBC Green Building Celebration Sept. 27th at The Barnes
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Whoever said that beauty and green practices don’t mix? DVGBC is making plans for our 11th Annual Green Building Celebration at the LEED Platinum-registered Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.  This year, the event will be held on September 27th at 6:00 p.m. featuring the presentation of The Barnes Foundation’s LEED Platinum plaque by U.S. Green Building Council President, CEO, and Founding Chairman, S. Richard Fedrizzi. Tours of the art exhibitions and of the building’s sustainable features will be offered throughout the evening. We will also be announcing the Greenbuild 2013 committee members at the event.

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!
Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

PSBA 2013 Officer Candidates Slated
If you are not planning to attend the October Leadership Conference and would like to vote for any of these candidates please see the absentee ballot information below and note the August 15 deadline for absentee ballot requests
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.
They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers, Lower Dauphin SD, Dauphin County
President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry, Conneaut SD, Crawford County
Richard Frerichs, Penn Manor SD, Lancaster County
Mark B. Miller, Centennial SD, Bucks County
First Vice President
Larry Breech, Millville Area SD, Columbia County
Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow, Chichester SD, Delaware County
Second Vice President

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
Absentee ballot requests must be received no later than August 15
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and home mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

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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