Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chicago: Push to Add Charter Schools Hangs Over Strike

A whopping 23.1% of U.S. children under the age of 18 live in poverty, putting us second in the world.  Among developed nations, only Romania has a higher relative child poverty rate…..

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 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

Scranton under investigation for possibly cheating on state tests

BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) Published: September 12, 2012
HARRISBURG - The Scranton School District is under investigation for manipulation of standardized tests, including the possibility of teachers or administrators changing answers on bubble sheets.  A forensic analysis by the state Department of Education looked at Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores from 2009 to 2011 and examined the rate in which answers were changed, state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis explained Tuesday during an exclusive interview with The Times-Tribune.
Six school districts statewide - Scranton, Hazleton, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Reading - have not yet been cleared of wrongdoing.  …..Along with the six districts, four charter schools have not been cleared: Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia Electrical and Technical Charter and Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter in Philadelphia County and Chester Community Charter in Delaware County.

Report: Florida Investigating K12 Inc. for Using Noncertified Teachers

 Jason Tomassini   
UPDATED with official response from K12 Inc.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida reported today that Florida's Department of Education is investigating whether online education company K12 Inc. used noncertified teachers in violation of state law, and covered it up by asking teachers to sign class rosters of students they didn't teach.
The investigation revolves around Seminole County, Florida, and its Seminole Virtual Instruction program, provided by K12 Inc., a for-profit company that is the nation's largest virtual school provider. A series of internal emails sent to Seminole County by a former K12 Inc. employee suggest the company tried to skirt state teacher certification rules to use less-qualified—and, in turn, less-compensated—teachers, according to the report, by John O'Connor and Trevor Aaronson. Those emails sparked the state's investigation, the report said.
In a statement to O'Connor and Aaronson, K12 Inc. spokesman Jeff Kwitowski denied the allegations but would not comment further. "K12 teachers assigned to teach students in Florida are state certified," he said. K12 Inc. stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, dropped13 percent today, down to $20.31.

Chicago: Class warfare in the classroom: A story of teaching and treachery in Obama/Romney America

Post-Gazette By Greg Palast September 13, 2012 12:42 am
CHICAGO -- In a public school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher who had been cemented into the school system for more than a decade and wouldn't do a damn thing to lift test scores had an annual salary of nearly $70,000 a year. Under Chicago's new rules, which holds teachers accountable and allows charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by her principal.
In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school had complete freedom to hire. No teachers' union interference. The school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field -- for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the teacher fired by the public school.
You've guessed it by now: It was the same teacher.

Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 09/12/2012

Chicago: Why Rahm Emanuel and The New York Times are wrong about teacher evaluation

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
You know things are going very badly for public school teachers when The New York Times editorial board calls a bad teacher evaluation system a “sensible policy change.”……..
Think what you want about the Chicago teachers strike. But that doesn’t change this:
The Times can say that using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers is a sensible policy and Obama can say it and Education Secretary Arne Duncan can say it and Emanuel can say it and so can Bill Gates (who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop it) and governors and mayor from both parties, and heck, anybody can go ahead and shout it out as loud as they can.
It doesn’t make it true.

Chicago: Push to Add Charter Schools Hangs Over Strike

New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: September 12, 2012
CHICAGO — Of the issues that remain to be settled in the contract dispute here between the teachers’ union and the city, expanding charter schools is not officially on the table.
But the specter of those plans — an oft-cited goal of Mayor Rahm Emanuel — hangs heavily over the teachers’ strike. “Even if it’s not explicitly something that we’re bargaining over,” said Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, “everyone knows it’s the elephant in the room.”

Chicago: Students Over Unions

New York Times OP-ED By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Published: September 12, 2012
The most important civil rights battleground today is education, and, likewise, the most crucial struggle against poverty is the one fought in schools.
Inner-city urban schools today echo the “separate but equal” system of the early 1950s. In the Chicago Public Schools where teachers are now on strike, 86 percent of children are black or Hispanic, and 87 percent come from low-income families.


Chicago Teacher Strike Day Two: Obama Administration Weighs In Without Picking Sides

Huffington Post by Joy Resmovits Posted: 09/11/2012 5:04 pm Updated: 09/11/2012 7:45 pm
After a day of silence, the Obama administration addressed the ongoingstrike of the Chicago Teachers Union, a blistering fight that has divided labor, one of the most reliable bases for the Democratic party, against Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“I hope that the parties will come together to settle this quickly and get our kids back in the classroom," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "I’m confident that both sides have the best interests of the students at heart, and that they can collaborate at the bargaining table –- as teachers and school districts have done all over the country –- to reach a solution that puts kids first.”
Duncan's administration is monitoring the situation, and sources said he is being advised to publicly stay out of the fight and not take sides.


Education Voters PA Statewide Advocate Leadership Session Sept. 22nd
Added by Ian Moran
Time: September 22, 2012 from 8:30am to 4:30pm
Location: Temple University Harrisburg, 234 Strawberry Square
Education Voters of Pennsylvania will be holding a day-long summit for public education advocates across the state on Saturday September 22 in Harrisburg, PA. 
With public education coming under attack on multiple levels, the goal of this event is to bring together community members who are standing up for public schools in their own communities for training, planning and coordinating statewide efforts to maximize the impact that we all have.  We'll have a chance to brush up on and learn more about key policy issues, get training on effective advocacy tools and techniques and share stories and idea about local effort and how we bring this work together in a unified way.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Click HERE for more details on parking, directions, etc.

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!

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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