Saturday, September 15, 2012

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

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

City schools try to find balance for class sizes

September 15, 2012 12:04 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Public Schools vowed to increase class sizes this fall to save money, but parent Donna Marzan never thought it would mean her sixth-grader would end up in a class of 37 students at Pittsburgh Brookline K-8.  "That's a lot for one person to handle no matter how good you are as a teacher," said Ms. Marzan

Q&A from The Patriot-News' Education 2020 forum
By Patriot-News Editorial Board Published: Saturday, September 15, 2012, 12:30 AM
The Patriot-News hosted a community forum on the future of education on Thursday evening. While there are many issues in K-12 education, our focus was on what education should look like in 2020 (and beyond) and how we get there.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis, Infinity Charter School Director Nancy Hall, Mechanicsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Leidy and Patriot-News Capitol Bureau chief Jan Murphy served on the panel.
The discussion lasted two hours with many questions from audience members and readers following along on social media. Below are excerpts:

Pennsylvania's teacher pension returns 3.4 pct in fiscal 2012

Reuters Sept 13 | Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:42pm EDT
(Reuters) - Pennsylvania's public pension fund for school teachers returned 3.4 percent in fiscal 2012, it said on Thursday, falling short of its goal but outperforming many other state-level pension systems.

Chicago Forges Outline to End Teacher Strike

Published: September 14, 2012
CHICAGO — Five days into a teachers’ strike that halted classes for 350,000 public school students across this city, leaders on both sides of the contract dispute said on Friday that they had reached the outlines of a deal.
While details of the agreement had yet to be formally drafted and leaders in the Chicago Teachers Union still need to vote on whether to lift the strike, schools in the nation’s third-largest school district were expected to reopen as early as Monday.
……Much of the contract dispute has focused on teacher evaluations and job security, but few details of the deal were made public — a striking change of tone from previous days when those on both sides had openly argued over specific elements of their proposals.

Published Online: September 14, 2012
NAEP Shows Most Students Lack Writing Proficiency
Education Week By Nora Fleming
Premium article access courtesy of
After decades of paper-and-pencil tests, the new results from the“nation’s report card” in writing come from a computer-based assessment for the first time, but only about one-quarter of the 8th and 12th graders performed at the proficient level or higher. And the proficiency rates were far lower for black and Hispanic students.
With the new National Assessment of Educational Progress in writing, students not only responded to questions and composed their essays on laptop computers, but also were evaluated on how frequently they used word-processing review tools like “spell check” and editing tools such as copying and cutting text. Some prompts also featured multimedia components.
According to the NAEP report, released today, the switch from paper and pencil to a computer-based test is tied to recognition of the role technology plays in a 21st-century student’s life. In 2009, a hands-on and computerized science NAEP was administered, and all new NAEP exams are slated to be computerized, including, for example, a 2014 technology and engineering assessment administered entirely on computers.

White House: Sequester 'deeply destructive' to defense

Politico By AUSTIN WRIGHT and JONATHAN ALLEN | 9/14/12 1:54 PM EDT
President Barack Obama on Friday detailed how roughly $120 billion in cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs will be applied if Congress doesn’t shut off a planned “sequester” before the end of the year, casting blame on Congress for failing to bring spending and taxes into line and address the nation’s $16 trillion debt.
POLITICO obtained an advance copy of the 158-page White House report, which shed little new light on the sword of Damocles hanging over Washington’s head but sharpened its political point.
The report confirms in painstaking detail which budget accounts are subject to cuts — down to the congressional gift shop — and which are exempt. And it is likely to add new urgency to efforts to stop the cuts from taking effect.
…..The overview: There would be a 9.4 percent cut to most defense programs — except those exempted in the sequestration law — and a 10 percent cut to a handful of other Pentagon accounts that are not subject to annual congressional appropriations. Medicare would get hit with a 2 percent cut, while domestic discretionary programs — such as scientific grants and Education Department programs — would be subject to 8.2 percent cuts. Most mandatory domestic programs — those that are funded based on eligibility — would be slashed by 7.6 percent.

Friday, September 14, 2012
Anthony Cody education reform debate with the Gates Foundation:
From PJ Thomas’ Blog
Anthony Cody
(1) Dialogue With the Gates Foundation: How Do We Build the Teaching Profession?
(2) Responding to the Gates Foundation: How do we Consider Evidence of Learning in Teacher Evaluations?
(3) Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It?
(4) Dialogue With the Gates Foundation: What Is the Purpose of K-12 Education?
(5) The Dialogue With the Gates Foundation: What Happens When Profits Drive Reform?
Gates Foundation
(1) The Gates Foundation Responds: How do we Build the Teaching Profession
(2) The Gates Foundation Writes: How Do We Consider Evidence of Student Learning in Teacher Evaluation?
(3) The Gates Foundation Responds: Poverty Does Matter--But It Is Not Destiny
(4) The Gates Foundation Writes: K-12 Education: An Opportunity Catalyst
(5) The Gates Foundation Responds: The Role of the Marketplace in Education

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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