Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CHARTER SCHOOL REFORM: SB1115: We could save a lot of time and effort if we just let Mr. Gureghian and K12’s CEO Ron Packard set the charter funding formula….

“Tuition free online public schools” are not free.
They take significantly more of your local tax dollars than it costs them to educate their students, accumulating large balances of excess funds, spending your local tax dollars on advertising and corporate bonuses while achieving lackluster academic results.  Only one of 12 Pennsylvania cyber charter schools made AYP for 2012.  Most have never made AYP.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

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

“Gov. Corbett and Tomalis need to leave Oz and accept the reality that there have been consequences to their spending cuts.”
Posted: Tue, Sep. 25, 2012, 3:01 AM
Inquirer Editorial: Cheating only part of problem
State education officials' reaction to the first drop in test scores since Pennsylvania students began taking the standardized exams in 2002 conjures images from The Wizard of Oz.
Remember when the lovable charlatan who was pretending to be a wizard begged Dorothy and her determined crew of misfits - Toto, too - to pay no attention to him and instead focus their widening eyes on the noisy machinery he was manipulating.
Likewise, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis wants the public to disregard the hundreds of millions of dollars in public-school funding that the Corbett administration has cut and instead attribute the lower scores to better policing of cheaters.
The state's tougher response to test cheating deserves a loud and long round of applause. But that laudable effort must be put in perspective. Tomalis says the state expects to eventually charge about 100 educators with cheating. Was catching those 100 out of Pennsylvania's nearly 150,000 teachers responsible for the statewide decline in scores?

Governor’s proposed Charter School Entities Funding Advisory Committee: We could save a lot of time and effort if we just let Mr. Gureghian and K12’s CEO Ron Packard set the charter funding formula….
Here is the section of SB1115 (a special education bill that was amended to include charter school reform provisions) as amended defining the composition, powers and duties of the Governor’s proposed Charter School Entities Funding Advisory Committee.  
Take a good look at the composition of the committee. Of the 17 members, most are either political appointees or charter school representatives.  Only 3 represent the school districts and taxpayers responsible for paying the bills.

COMMENTARY: Shameless; just (expletive deleted) shameless
On the last day of June as PA House members worked feverishly to finish their business, Rep. Tom Killion (R-168, Chester/Delaware counties) dropped a 54 page amendment into SB1115 containing charter school reform provisions.
It included a clause that would specifically exclude companies doing business with charter schools, including management companies, from Pennsylvania’s Right-To-Know laws.

Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars
$4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight
KEYSEC Posting Updated September 24, 2012
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

Eliminate the pension double-dip reimbursement that PA taxpayers pay to charter schools
Removing the "double dip" for pension costs in the charter school reimbursement formula would create an estimated savings of $510 million for PA school districts and taxpayers by 2016-17

Charter school supporters gather at the Capitol to promote reform legislation

 By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News  Published: Monday, September 24, 2012, 10:04
Several hundred charter school students and their advocates came to Harrisburg on Monday to give state lawmakers a homework assignment on their first day back from their summer recess. They told them, in no uncertain terms, that it’s time to pass the charter school reform legislation.

“The nonprofit’s $215,000 investment is significant - it represents the first time PSP, a relatively new but increasingly powerful organization, is funding a Philadelphia School District project. It has raised over $50 million in two years, but to date given money to only charter and private schools in its quest to expand high-quality educational choices for Philadelphia students.”
Phila. school gets funding to plan for expansion, new MS
Inquirer Philly School Files Blog Posted by Kristen Graham
Powel Elementary, a tiny public K-4 school in West Philadelphia, has long been regarded as an oasis in the neighborhood - a safe, strong school where kids achieve.  But parents often worry - with a dearth of good post-Powel options, what happens after children finish fourth grade?
They got a boost on Monday when the Philadelphia School Partnership awarded Powel a grant to plan to add a fifth grade, expand its enrollment, and plan for a brand-new middle school modeled after Science Leadership Academy, one of the city’s top schools. Drexel University will partner with Powel and SLA to help plan the new school, which would likely be located on the same campus as Powel, perhaps in the nearby former Drew School, which closed in June.
The goal is to serve an additional 500 students in West Philadelphia.

NSBA announces Thomas J. Gentzel as new Executive Director

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Board of Directors unanimously selected Thomas J. Gentzel to be the next NSBA executive director late last week. Gentzel is the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).

SAT reading scores hit a four-decade low

Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown, Published: September 24

Reading scores on the SAT for the high school class of 2012 reached a four-decade low, putting a punctuation mark on a gradual decline in the ability of college-bound teens to read passages and answer questions about sentence structure, vocabulary and meaning on the college entrance exam.  Many experts attribute the continued decline to record numbers of students taking the test, including about one-quarter from low-income backgrounds. There are many factors that can affect how well a student scores on the SAT, but few are as strongly correlated as family income.

How to Fix the Schools

New York Times By JOE NOCERA Published: September 17, 2012 
No matter how quickly the Chicago teachers’ strike ends, whether it is this afternoon or two months from now, it’s not going to end well for the city’s public school students. Yes, I know; that’s the hoariest of clichés. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
It’s not just the school days that are being lost. Far more important, the animosity between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration will undoubtedly linger long after the strike ends. The battle will end, but the war between education reformers and urban public schoolteachers will go on.
Teachers — many of them — will continue to resent efforts to use standardized tests to measure their ability to teach. Their leaders — some of them — will denounce the billionaire hedge fund managers who are financing many of the reform efforts. Reformers will continue to view teachers’ unions as the greatest roadblock to higher student achievement. How can such a poisonous atmosphere notaffect what goes on in the classroom? Alienated labor is never a good thing. “It is not possible to make progress with your students if you are at war with your teachers,” says Marc Tucker.

Schooling Beyond Measure

Education Week Commentary By Alfie Kohn Published in Print: September 19, 2012,
alt="Article Tools" class=article-tools v:shapes="_x0000_i1025"> The reason that standardized-test results tend to be so uninformative and misleading is closely related to the reason that these tests are so popular in the first place. That, in turn, is connected to our attraction to—and the trouble with—grades, rubrics, and various practices commended to us as "data based."  The common denominator? Our culture's worshipful regard for numbers. Roger Jones, a physicist, called it "the heart of our modern idolatry ... the belief that the quantitative description of things is paramount and even complete in itself."

Teachers’ Unions Court G.O.P.

New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: September 24, 2012
The strike by public school teachers in Chicago this month drew national attention to a fierce debate over the future of education and exposed the ruptured relationship between teachers’ unions and Democrats like Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Over the past few years, lawmakers who have previously been considered solid supporters of teachers’ unions have tangled with them over a national education agenda that includes new performance evaluations based partly on test scores, the overhaul of tenure and the expansion of charter schools.
As these traditional political alliances have shifted, teachers’ unions have pursued some strange bedfellows among lawmakers who would not appear to be natural allies.
……While donations to Democrats still far outweigh contributions to Republicans, the proportion of union money going to Republican candidates this year, just over 8 percent, is its highest since 2004, according to the institute.  “The notion that just because you’re a Democrat” you can take the teachers’ unions for granted “has changed,” said Jim Reed, director of government relations for the Illinois Education Association.

The harm of local grading in a world of standards: what NAEP reveals (Thoughtlessness part 4)
Granted, but… Blog Posted by Grant Wiggins Sep 22 2012
Once again the recently released NAEP results reveal that American student achievement in writing is far worse than local report cards would have us believe. If the new assessments for Common Core are going to be as demanding as NAEP tests are – a likely bet – then we have a disaster in the making: scores are going to be bad and there is going to be hell to pay politically (since NAEP is not district-level reported and typically flies below the layperson radar).
Just so we’re clear on the problem, let’s compare 8th grade writing results on NAEP with results on a state writing test (Pennsylvania), in four varied districts.

PSSA: PA test scores drop – teacher beatings will continue
2012 PSSA commentary, links to data, press release and reactions

Building One Pennsylvania 2012 Statewide Public Meeting
Promoting sustainable, inclusive and economically prosperous communities
Saturday, October 13, 2012 10 am to 11:30 a.m.  (doors open at 9:30 for registration)
Franklin Commons, 400 Franklin Avenue, Phoenixville, PA
Declining local tax bases, aging infrastructure, unfair state and federal policies are undermining our communities. It's time to stand together to support our diverse, middle class communities.
Join local elected, faith and civic leaders from across Pennsylvania for a public meeting to call on state and national policy-makers to act on bi-partisan solutions to the pressing problems impacting our communities.  
·                     Reduce our local property tax burdens  
·                     Invest in our schools  
·                     Redevelop our infrastructure while creating local jobs 
·                     Promote more balanced housing markets 
 The event is free but you must register in advance to reserve your seat. Register at www.buildingonepa.org or by emailing name, title, organizational affiliation, address, phone and email to  info@buildingonepa.org.   To defray the cost of the event, we are accepting donations. Suggested donation: $5-$10. 

Public Forum in Delaware County: What State and Federal Budget Changes Mean for DelCo Service Providers
Thursday, Sept. 27th at 1pm Media Borough Hall Community Center; 3rd & Jackson, Media, PA
The SEPA Budget Coalition will join with Family and Community Service of Delaware County and PathWays PA to host a forum on the state and federal budgets.   Experts from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will offer a look ahead.  Congress faces dramatic budget choices that will have a deep impact on our ability to provide services DelCo families depend on.  Governor Corbett is also at a choice point, and there are some signs of a course correction in PA this coming year.  Please RSVP for the forum:
Click here to RSVP.

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 aei-pa.org 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!


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