Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Birthday H.A. Rey

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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…..

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Today is the birthday of the creator of Curious George, H.A. Rey
Today is the birthday of the creator of Curious George, H.A. Rey (books by this author), born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany (1898). As a kid, he spent a lot of time at the zoo, drawing the animals. In 1939, he and his wife, Margret, both German Jews, were living in Paris when World War II began. They were at work on a new book featuring one of Hans' animal drawings: a mischievous monkey named Fifi. "It seems ridiculous to be thinking about children's books," Rey wrote to a friend. "[But] life goes on, the editors edit, the artists draw, even during wartime." By June 1940, the Nazi invasion was imminent, so Hans built two bicycles out of spare parts, and the Reys gathered whatever they could carry, including the collection of monkey sketches for the book manuscript. They fled Paris two days before the Nazis invaded, and rode 75 miles in three days, which turned into a four-month journey that took them to Lisbon, then Rio de Janeiro, and finally New York.
The first book, Curious George, as the monkey was now called, was published in the United States in 1941. George went on to become an international sensation. Margret Rey explained the little monkey's success this way: "George can do what kids can't do. He can paint a room from the inside. He can hang from a kite in the sky. He can let the animals out of their pens on the farm. He can do all these naughty things that kids would like to do." H.A. Rey's explanation was even simpler: "I know what I liked as a child, and I don't do any book that I, as a child, wouldn't have liked."
Rey was also an astronomy buff, and besides the Curious George books, he wrote The Stars: A New Way to See Them in 1952. The book includes constellation diagrams with cartoon outlines to make them easier to remember and recognize. His new diagrams were widely adopted by other astronomical texts, and the book is reissued from time to time as we learn more accurate information about our galaxy.

Questionable application processes at Green Woods, other charter schools
by thenotebook on Sep 14 2012
By Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, Notebook news partner
For years, parents have had to jump through astonishing hoops to apply to the popular Green Woods Charter School in Northwest Philadelphia.
Interested families couldn't find Green Woods’ application online. They couldn't request a copy in the mail. In fact, they couldn't even pick up a copy at the school.
Instead, Green Woods made its application available only one day each year. Even then, the application was only given to families who attended the school’s open house – which most recently has been held at a private golf club in the Philadelphia suburbs.

State expects to spend millions in attempt to repair finances at 4 school districts

Some aren't sure the investment will yield good results. But state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said what's happening in York City could serve as "a wake-up call" to other districts.
By ED MAHON York Daily Record/Sunday News Updated:   09/15/2012 10:59:17 AM EDT
Administering the law that the state says makes it possible to immediately intervene in the finances of the York City School District and three others like it is expected to cost taxpayers about $6 million this fiscal year, according to estimates from the state House and Senate appropriations committee.
That money is separate from the additional $39 million that the Pennsylvania Department of Education says was included in the 2012-13 budget for 16 school districts. Lawmakers considered those 16 districts, including York City, to have financial challenges, but they aren't all immediately impacted by the new financial recovery law.

In testimony before the House Democratic Policy Committee in Philadelphia last year, then Archdiocese Superintendent Mary Rochford estimated that they had lost 30,000 students to free public charter schools.  The EITC program diverts tax revenue to private and religious schools.

EITC 2.0 Corbett, Philly archbishop laud program funding scholarships for the poor

Newsworks by Elizabeth Fiedler September 13, 2012
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett rallied with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput Thursday at a Catholic high school in Drexel Hill.  The officials were promoting the state's "Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit" program, which gives write-offs to businesses that donate to scholarship funds.  Corbett said he hopes the tax credits help students get a good education in Pennsylvania.  He said fostering competition between schools can help -- but getting the government to pour more money into education is not the solution to struggling schools.

Testing overrated

The Altoona Mirror by Tim Slekar September 15, 2012
Parents get ready for new tests this school year.
Pennsylvania is rolling out the new Keystone exams (the Keystones will take the place of the PSSAs).
All of Pennsylvania's 11th graders will be required to take Keystones (high-stakes standardized tests) in algebra, literature and biology.
Great. New tests to replace the old tests.
And why has Pennsylvania decided to get new high-stakes tests?

Are We Asking Too Much From Our Teachers?

New York Times By ALEX KOTLOWITZ Published: September 14, 2012
……“Reform of teacher tenure,” Paul Tough writes in a new book, “How Children Succeed,” has become “the central policy tool in our national effort to improve the lives of poor children.” Are we expecting too much of our teachers? Schools are clearly a critical piece — no, the critical piece — in any anti-poverty strategy, but they can’t go it alone. Nor can we do school reform on the cheap. In the absence of any bold effort to alleviate the pressures of poverty, in the absence of any bold investment in educating our children, is it fair to ask that the schools — and by default, the teachers — bear sole responsibility for closing the economic divide? This is a question asked not only in Chicago, but in virtually every urban school district around the country.

Posted at 11:17 AM ET, 09/15/2012

What research really says on teacher evaluation

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
The Chicago teachers strike has put the issue of teacher evaluation front and center in the education debate. The popular “value added” method of using student standardized test scores to figure out how effective a teacher is highly controversial; I wrote about it here. Here is a new important look by an education expert, Richard Rothstein.

Who Is Victimizing Chicago’s Kids?

Dissent Magazine by Joanne Barkan - September 14, 2012 11:38 pm
Yes, schoolchildren in Chicago are victims, but not of their teachers. They are victims of a nationwide education “reform” movement geared to undermine teachers’ unions and shift public resources into private hands; they are victims of wave after wave of ill-conceived and failing policy “innovations”; they are victims of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which turned inner-city public schools into boot camps for standardized test prep; they are victims of Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program, which paid states to use student test scores—a highly unreliable tool—for teacher evaluations and to lift caps on the number of privately managed charter schools, thus draining resources from public schools. Chicago’s children are victims of “mayoral control,” which allows Rahm Emanuel to run the school system, bully parents and teachers, and appoint a Board of Education dominated by corporate executives and political donors.

K12 Inc.: School Might Be Out Of Session, This Is Why We're Short
Seeking September 14, 2012 
High student churn, questionable student performance, increased government and state scrutiny, growth via acquisition (non-organic growth), headline risk scaring other states away, state funding issues, poor technicals and questionable practices relating to using non-certified teachers (and covering up the fact). What's not to like as a short-seller?

Commentary – feedback welcome
How do we, as a nation, create scalable, sustainable models for effective public schools in high poverty communities?
That question was asked to Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to President Obama for Education, in a meeting held a couple weeks ago at the White House with about 40 Pennsylvania education leaders. 

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!

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