Thursday, September 20, 2012

“Highly qualified”? Sticky question. I did actually stay at a Holiday Inn Express last weekend…….

How do we, as a nation, create scalable, sustainable models for effective public schools in high poverty communities?

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

“Highly qualified”?  Sticky question.
I did actually stay at a Holiday Inn Express last weekend…….
Teach for America interns with 5 weeks of bootcamp training as “educators” will continue to be considered “highly qualified”

Stopgap Spending Measure Deals With Highly Qualified Teacher Issue

 Alyson Klein  
There's a big budget showdown brewing in Washington, but school districts have at least some funding information to go on now, at least for the next six months, thanks to a rare bipartisan bill that passed the House of Representatives last week and is expected to gain approval in the Senate.
Last week, with very little fanfare or drama, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to extend funding for almost every federal agency until March 27, 2013, well after the presidential election. There's actually a very small increase for the Education Department, about $417 million, according to the Committee for Education Funding, a nonprofit organization in Washington. Most programs will be funded at current levels. Of course, if "sequestration" kicks in the money could be cut by about 8 percent, but most school districts wouldn't feel the squeeze until next summer. More on that very complicated issue here here.
The continuing resolution also sort of settles, for now, the sticky question of whether Congress should continue to allow teachers participating in alternative-certification programs to be considered "highly qualified." It would allow educators participating in those programs to count as "highly qualified" for an additional year—through the 2013-14 school year.

WITF TV Smart Talk – PA Keystone Exams, Thurs, Sept 20th, 8 PM
Written by Nell McCormack Abom | Sep 19, 2012 12:00 PM
Just when we were all getting used to the Pennsylvania System of State Assessment, the PSSA, along comes the new kid on the block -- the Keystone Exam. Starting with the Class of 2017, students must score proficient or better in three subjects – Algebra 1, Literature and Biology – in order to graduate from high school. Juniors will no longer take the PSSAs, although elementary and middle school students still will take them.  We'll examine the Keystone Exams and what they mean for your children on TV Smart Talk, Thursday night at 8 on witf TV.  Join the conversation!  Call 1-800-729-7532, email us at, post a comment here or to Facebook, or tweet @witfnews.  Guests include Tim Eller, press secretary for the state Department of Education and Jerry Oleksiak, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and a 35 year special education teacher in the Upper Merion Area School District

Andre Dunbar's Journey for Justice

 Anthony Cody  
Guest post by Andre Dunbar.
My name is Andre Dunbar. I am a senior at William L. Sayre High School in Philadelphia, and I am a student organizer with the Philadelphia Student Union.
The Philadelphia Student Union is fighting back against school closures and the transformation plans we are seeing in Philadelphia and nationally. As students we don't want to see what other cities are seeing now--closures that that are hurting their communities. These closures destroy our education.

Twice as many Allegheny County school districts failing to meet AYP goal

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 20, 2012 12:02 am
At least twice as many Allegheny County school districts failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress as defined under the federal No Child Left Behind law on the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams, compared with 2011 results.  Official results will be released by the state Department of Education by the end of the month. State Education Department officials declined to comment, pending the release of the official figures.

Less cheating makes 2012 PSSA scores a truer measure of student achievement, official says
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 5:00 AM
When the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores are released Friday, some schools will see their results take a 15 to 25 percentage point nosedive in the number of students who achieved passing marks.  Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis answers a question at the Patriot-News "Big Story" community forum on education. Tomalis said lower 2012 PSSA scores are a truer measure of student achievement than what past years’ results have shown.
State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis forewarned the statewide results from the state reading and math exams administered last spring won’t bring good news either. Those scores are down slightly, too.  But Tomalis bills the 2012 results as a truer measure of student achievement than what past years’ results have shown.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education finds that only 52 percent of Black male and 58 percent of Latino male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later, while 78 percent of White, non-Latino male ninth-graders graduate four years later. The report suggests that without a policy framework that creates opportunity for all students, strengthens supports for the teaching profession and strikes the right balance between support-based reforms and standards-driven reforms, the U.S. will become increasingly unequal and less competitive in the global economy.

76 percent of Texas school districts, representing 85 percent of all Texas public school students have adopted a version of the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students
Texas Assocation of School Administrators Website
As of September 18, 2012, 787 districts representing more than 4.1 million students have notified us they've adopted the resolution.

K12, Inc. under more scrutiny for high teacher caseloads

Post on September 18, 2012 by Sarah Ovaska
K12, Inc., the Virginia-based company in the midst of a court battle to open up a virtual charter school in North Carolina, is facing more scrutiny in Florida, this time over caseloads of up to 275 students per teacher.  The high caseloads are for high school grades and were revealed in a confidential K12, Inc. memorandum obtained by Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida, two non-profit news agencies.
The caseloads vary based on how much compensation K12, Inc. gets per student, with one higher ratio set for $3000 per student and another for districts that give K12 $4,000 per student.
But those caseload range from 275-to-1, to 225-to-1, much higher than the 150-to-1 ratio that the state-run Florida Virtual School maintains.

Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/19/2012

Is poverty destiny? Ideology vs. evidence in school reform

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
At the center of the school reform debate is the role that poverty plays in student achievement, as explained well in the following post. It was written by Paul Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina. His newest book, “Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. — The Corporate Takeover of Public Education,” was recently published. A version of this post appeared on This is long but worth the time.

Posted at 12:17 PM ET, 09/19/2012

Is The New York Times wrong (again) on teacher evaluation?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Last week I wrote about the push by school reformers to use student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers in a post that looked at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s reforms and a New York Times editorial that called such assessment “sensible.” On Monday, The Times published another editorial about teacher evaluation. Both education historian Diane Ravitch and award-winning New York high school principal Carol Burris were perplexed by the editorial, which appeared to defend Race to the Top evaluations while acknowledging that they were, in fact, problematic. Read the editorial and, below, what Ravitch and Burris had to say about it on Ravitch’s blog.

"Won't Back Down" Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

19 Sep 2012 10:10 AM
NEW YORK, NY-- Sept. 19, 2012-- NBC News released today the agenda and list of confirmed participants for the 2012 "Education Nation" Summit from Sept. 23-25 at The New York Public Library. Newly released sessions include a discussion on education as a national security risk with Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a taped interview with President Obama on his plans for education, a session on gaming as a learning method, an in-depth look at the skills gap between available jobs and the unemployed, a roundtable with CEOs from top U.S. companies on how business visionaries are addressing our education challenges, a session on teachers' unions in the 21st century, a convening of the nation’s current and former U.S. Secretaries of Education, and more.
Below is an abbreviated agenda and list of participants. For more information on timing and updates to the schedule, visit EDUCATIONNATION.COM.

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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