Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Mothers Against Drunk Testing" stands up in Texas, birthplace of NCLB

“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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Delco Times Heron’s Nest Blog by Phil Heron, Editor Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Delco Times 'Live From the Newsroom' webcast tackles the PSSA test tonight at 7:00 pm

They very well may be the four most-feared letters in education.
No, we’re not talking ABC’s. We’re talking PSSA.
In case you missed it, the results are out from the most recent round of state standardized testing. And the news is not good.
Here in Delaware County, eight of 15 school districts failed to meet their Adequate Yearly Progress Targets. You can read about them here. The news was equally as glum across the state, as the numbers of students meeting state standards declined for the first time since 2002.
So what does it all mean? A lot of people talk about PSSAs, some believe entirely too much emphasis is placed on them and that districts now are literally “teaching to the test,” and failing to offer a more well-rounded education.
The districts themselves don’t have much choice. They are mandated to meet certain AYP levels or face the consequences, which could include funding cuts.
We’ll be talking about the PSSAs tonight on our live-stream Internet broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ We’ll be joined by Larry Feinberg, a school board member in Haverford and leader of the Keystone State Education Coalition. We’ll also be joined by Dan McGarry, an assistant superintendent in Upper Darby School District who ruffled a lot of feathers this year when he authored a district-wide realignment plan that emphasized curriculum changes to meet those AYP standards.
And I want you to get involved.
Have a question about the PSSAs? Do you think entirely too much is being made of them? How would you suggest districts be held accountable? Email me your question or comment to and I will put it to our panel tonight. Upper Darby parents, are you happy with the new realignment plan? If not what would you like to see the district do instead?
You can also join us live tonight at 7 (click here for link to tonight’s live webcast) at when we tackle the issue of PSSA test scores. Get involved. Join the conversation!

Capitolwire: Under The Dome 09/25/2012

To increase education funding, PA Budget Sec’y Zogby weighing 'weighted' funding approach. 
Budget Secretary Charles Zogby recently said Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration wants to increase education funding and has directed the Department of Education to look toward a “weighted” student funding formula. “We’d like to be able to put more into basic education, but again, as the governor said, we’ve got to be able to live within our means,” said Zogby, who served as Education Secretary under Gov. Tom Ridge. The latest budget and policy guidelines, as well as last year's guidelines, directed the education department to consider weighted student funding as a new way to fund schools. The weighted student funding approach bases funding on the number of students, with extra funding or “weights” based on per pupil needs, which include free or reduced-price lunch, special education, English language learners, and others. For more regarding that approach and what others think about it, CLICK HERE (paywall) to read a story from Capitolwire Staff Writer Kevin Zwick.

CHARTER SCHOOL REFORM: Charter Advocates Urge Passage of Reform Legislation

Pennsylvania Legislative Services September 24, 2012, 1:37 pm
Over 300 students, parents and educators from charter and cyber charter schools throughout Pennsylvania rallied on the Capitol steps today to urge the legislature to act on charter reform legislation. Lawrence Jones, President of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, emphasized the need for reform.  ”We need to ensure that every single child in the Commonwealth Pennsylvania has the right to have the option for a high quality, safe and accountable public charter school,” he stated. “Despite the myths and rumors and lies we are all about accountability.”  

“And though everyone has his or her own agenda, all sides seem to agree that topping the list of priorities this fall will be changes in the way charter schools are regulated. That is a key part of the governor's effort to create taxpayer-funded alternatives to traditional public schools.”
CHARTER SCHOOL REFORM: Major issues may languish in brief legislative session
September 24, 2012|By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - Following a nearly three-month summer break, legislators return Monday to the Capitol, where the burning question will be not what bills they will have time to pass but which ones they won't.  High on the priority list for the House and Senate's truncated fall season are charter schools, more corrections reforms, and funding for capital projects.
And though everyone has his or her own agenda, all sides seem to agree that topping the list of priorities this fall will be changes in the way charter schools are regulated. That is a key part of the governor's effort to create taxpayer-funded alternatives to traditional public schools.
"We came very, very, very close to getting charter reform," Gov. Corbett said last week. "And now, we need to get that done."
It is an issue that was left over from budget negotiations this past summer.
During those talks, the governor had pushed for a measure giving the state a larger role in regulating charter schools. He wanted to create a state commission to authorize new charters, taking that power from school boards.
A compromise fell apart just hours before Corbett signed the budget.
But the governor has said he is optimistic his administration and legislators can finish work on the measure in the next few weeks.

CHARTER SCHOOL REFORM: State Rep Clymer: No movement on charter school bills over summer

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent September 24, 2012
HARRISBURG — A major charter school reform package that would include funding changes and additional academic accountability is widely viewed as a top priority for Republicans in Harrisburg during the fall session, which began Monday.
But at least one top House GOP leader said little has been accomplished since the proposal reached the doorstep of becoming law in late June.

Philadelphia schools have progressed since state takeover, report says
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Tue, Sep. 25, 2012, 8:37 AM
Even taking into account the possible effects of a cheating scandal that has rocked the city, the Philadelphia School District has made strides in the decade since a state takeover.
The district "has shown steady, systemwide improvement in the overall quality of education," according to the Accountability Review Council, an independent body established when the School Reform Commission was created in late 2001.
….Later in Monday's meeting, the nonprofit Research for Action presented its findings on the district's Renaissance schools - failing district schools turned around either as district-run Promise Academies or charters.  Researchers found that at kindergarten-through-eighth-grade Renaissance schools, student test scores and attendance improved. Those same gains were not seen at Renaissance high schools.

PA Cyber, other area schools fail to meet state standards
Beaver Timesonline Posted: Monday, September 24, 2012 5:38 pm
Four days after the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber School fired four top administrators and its solicitor, the state Department of Education released test results that showed PA Cyber students failed to achieve state standards during the 2011-2012 school year.
PA Cyber students from third through 12th grades missed 18 of 19 state-determined targets in mathematics and 11 of 19 targets in reading, according to Department of Education figures. PA Cyber students failed to reach any of 13 math targets for students between sixth and 12th grades.

Hearing date set for York City School District financial recovery matter

Posted on  by Angie Mason Cram Session Blog
The state education department has set a hearing for Oct. 17 regarding the possibility of declaring York City School District in financial recovery status.
The district requested the hearing to contest the idea of having the state appoint someone to create a plan for turning the district’s finances around.
The hearing is set for 9 a.m. at the education department, according to spokesman Tim Eller. However, there’s a chance the whole thing could be handled through legal documents and briefs filed in advance, instead of verbal arguments.

“This Friday, the PIIN (the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network) education task force is holding a press conference at 3:30PM in front of the Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill, where the movie is premiering. It is scheduled right after school so that parents can zip over with their children and will only last 30 minutes. If you are in the area, please plan to come and tell the media why “I’m not Maggie Gylenhaall, but I play her in real life.”
I’m Maggie Gylenhaall, And So Are You
Yinzercation Blog — SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
 “I’m not Maggie Gylenhaall, but I play her in real life.” That’s a message being promoted by organizations, many like our grassroots movement, furious with the release this Friday of the Hollywood film, “Won’t Back Down.” The movie stars Gylenhaall as a mother struggling to change the school her daughter attends, working with a sympathetic teacher played by Viola Davis. The fictional pair illustrates the frustration many parents and teachers feel about the very real problems facing public schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods around the country.
But the movie puts the wrong target in its crosshairs. Our public schools are staggering under years of chronic under-funding and inequitable distribution of resources.
……OK. So I’m not really Maggie Gyllenhaal. (Too bad, actually, since she is terribly cute.) But we all play her in real life. And when real parents and real teachers work together, we are incredibly powerful. So here’s a fantastic opportunity for us to tell the world about how Pittsburgh parents, teachers, and community members are coming together to support public education:
This Friday, the PIIN (the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network) education task force is holding a press conference at 3:30PM in front of the Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill, where the movie is premiering. It is scheduled right after school so that parents can zip over with their children and will only last 30 minutes. If you are in the area, please plan to come and tell the media why “I’m not Maggie Gylenhaall, but I play her in real life.”

Don’t Mess with Texas. The Revolution Begins Here.

Diane Ravitch’s Blog September 25, 2012
This report from Texas describes a growing revolution against testing. The schools are up in arms: 77% of the school boards enrolling 86% of all Texas students have passed a resolution opposing high-stakes testing. The Houston superintendent said that 65 days (out of 180) are consumed by testing.
Now a group known as “Moms Against Drunk Testing” has joined the fray. (website:  facebook: ) They are mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore. Last year, the state cut the school budget by $5.4 billion, while handing a fat contract to Pearson for $468 million. Meanwhile the state wants more and more and more testing.

High schools with top 40 highest SAT scores in southeast Pa. (slideshow)
Philadelphia Business Journal Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 12:20pm EDT
See which public high schools in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs made the top 40 for average SAT scores in the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011) in this slideshow.

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 09/25/2012

What do SAT, ACT scores really mean?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
The big news in the world of college entrance exams — that would be the SAT and the ACT — is that the scores from the high school class of 2012 were disappointing.  Newly released reading scores on the SAT hit a four-decade low, and writing scores edged down too, while math scores were essentially unchanged from last year.  SAT average scores have declined by 20 points since 2006, when the test was revised to include a writing section.

Behind the SAT numbers
Source: College Board. The Washington Post. Published on September 24, 2012, 7:43 p.m.
On average, high school seniors’ SAT scores increase as students’ household income increases, according to 2012 data released by the College Board. Read related article.

Five-year-olds put to the test as kindergarten exams gain steam
Allentown Morning Call  by Stephanie SimonReuters 6:27 a.m. EDT, September 25, 2012
(Reuters) - With school in full swing across the United States, the littlest students are getting used to the blocks table and the dress-up corner - and that staple of American public education, the standardized test.  A national push to make public schools more rigorous and hold teachers more accountable has led to a vast expansion of testing in kindergarten. And more exams are on the way, including a test meant to determine whether 5-year-olds are on track to succeed in college and career.

Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 09/25/2012

President Obama interview for Education Nation — transcript

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Here’s the transcript of an interview that President Obama gave to NBC News and that was aired on Tuesday during the network’s 2012 Education Nation Summit.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also gave an interview at the summit, which you can read here.
During the interview Obama says something that many critics say we don’t hear nearly enough from him: “Part of the problem we've got is we've got a very diverse country. Compared to some — these smaller countries, where all the kids are coming to school pretty well prepared, they're not hungry, they're not poor — in our country, we — you know, we've got poor kids and we've — some kids who have deep troubles at home. And — and that affects performance.”
Here’s the transcript of the Obama interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, provided by NBC News/Education Nation:

Posted at 03:19 PM ET, 09/25/2012

Mitt Romney at Education Nation — transcript

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Here’s a transcript of Gov. Mitt Romney talking on Tuesday with NBC News anchor Brian Williams about education at the network’s “Education Nation” Summit in New York.
Highlights include a segment when an audience member points out a poll which shows that New York City parents support the teachers union, and Romney says: “I don't believe it for a minute. I don't believe it for a minute. I know something about polls.”
Here’s the whole transcript from NBC News / Education Nation:

Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement (At a glance)
Center for Public Education August 2011
It may be one of the least controversial statements in American education: Parent involvement can make a difference in a child’s education. The conflict can come, though, on how to define that involvement. Do all the PTA meetings, take-home flyers and Back to School nights actually generate increases in student achievement? The Center for Public Education examined the research and found that creating a partnership between parents and schools focused on academics truly does have significant impact on student achievement.

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 or by emailing name, title, organizational affiliation, address, phone and email to   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 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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