Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pa. Cyber Charter School fires most top managers....unclear whether related to July search by FBI and IRS

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These daily emails are archived at
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Pa. Cyber Charter School fires most top managers

By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 19, 2012 12:05 am
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School board has axed its director, finance director, personnel director, compliance officer and a longtime lawyer, in a near-sweep of its top management that education experts on Tuesday characterized as highly unusual and potentially damaging in the long term.  It's unclear whether the firings, approved by the school's board late Monday, have anything to do with the search of the school in July by FBI and IRS agents. A federal grand jury is probing current or former executives of the Midland-based school.


Here’s a related PPG posting from August 12….

PA Cyber connections prompt inquiry

Many Trombetta associates had role in school's development
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 12, 2012 12:18 am
When the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School needed more office space, then-superintendent Nick Trombetta didn't hesitate to seek help from his friends.
The burgeoning school secured property on the main drag of the Beaver County town of Midland with the aid of Mr. Trombetta's high school wrestling teammate. It built a three-story brick office building at 735 Midland Ave. under the supervision of the teammate's brother.
A nonprofit run in part by allies and relatives of the superintendent's inner circle leased and later sold the building to PA Cyber. And a company run by a PA Cyber board member sold the school teleconferencing equipment for the facility.
In the process, hundreds of thousands of dollars that originated with local public schools flowed through PA Cyber into the hands of people with long relationships with Mr. Trombetta.
The FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and a federal grand jury are probing some people who have been associated with PA Cyber.

Inquirer Editorial: Strike did raise valid topic
Posted: Wed, Sep. 19, 2012, 3:01 AM
Perhaps Chicago's teachers felt they were doing the rest of the country a favor by trying to force a debate on student tests with their strike.
But with so many other distractions, including the murder of a U.S. ambassador in Libya and a presidential election campaign that has largely ignored public education, not enough people outside Chicago really focused on that part of the labor dispute.

Duquesne board faces decision on financial recovery

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 18, 2012 9:41 pm
The state board of control overseeing the Duquesne City School District did not announce at its meeting tonight whether it will accept the designation of being in "fiscal recovery" as declared by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis last month.
But board of control chairman Francis Barnes explained to the public how the process will work under newly-enacted financial distress legislation for school districts and it doesn't appear there will be much local opportunity to reject any financial recovery plan that may be devised.

Advertising Public Education
Yinzercation Blog — SEPTEMBER 18, 2012
Does your local public school have money to make slick commercials ready for prime time? Can it put up billboards along all our major highways and on the sides of buses advertising for students? Does its name pop up at the top of your Google searches? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Yet charter schools are allowed to take our public taxpayer dollars and use them to advertise. Around here, PA Cyber Charter is one of the biggest spenders on this kind of publicity (they are also the largest cyber charter in the state, which speaks to their recruiting prowess).
But one local teacher decided he would like to share the good things going on in his public school system: have you seen this commercial that just started airing last week? 


Local school libraries feel budget cuts but ride the digital wave

By BARBARA MILLER, The Patriot-News  Published: September 15, 2012
Tight budgets have resulted in some school districts cutting library programs. Technology isn’t eliminating the need for library services, say the librarians, but is increasing it. 
At least 198 schools in the state had library services reduced for 2011-12.
95.25 librarian positions were eliminated, 34.25 of them through attrition.

Northwestern Lehigh testing new teacher evaluation system
New performance reviews will go into effect statewide next school year.
By Douglas Graves, Special to The Morning Call 11:50 p.m. EDT, September 17, 2012
Northwestern Lehigh School District is doing a pilot test of a new teacher evaluation system slated to go into effect statewide next school year.  Twelve teachers have volunteered to let their principals review them under the new guidelines, district officials said.
The pilot program will help administrators get a better understanding and gain experience with the system before it becomes mandatory, district Superintendent Mary Anne Wright said.
Under a law signed by Gov. Tom Corbett this summer, teachers across the state will be evaluated under a new system that will label them as "distinguished," "proficient," "basic," or "unsatisfactory."  Fifty percent of an educator's evaluation will be composed of 16 multiple measures of student achievement, including graduation and promotion rates, attendance rates, classroom projects, quizzes, tests and other district-designed assessments, he said. The other half will be based on classroom observations.

Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER)/Research for Action
Issue Brief Teacher Effectiveness: The National Picture and Pennsylvania Context
This September 2011 PACER Issue Brief — the first in a series — explores research and emerging practice on teacher effectiveness, and answers frequently-asked questions to inform the work of state policymakers.

Early Childhood Education - Yes, There are Short Term Returns

 Stu Silberman   
I am a firm believer that quality early childhood programs are critical to closing achievement gaps and improving overall achievement. One of my recent posts focused on thinking about early childhood programs as an investment rather than an expense and pointed out that political and policy leaders sometimes have difficulty waiting for the long-term results. Now there is information for those folks who have a need for quicker gratification. A recent report by ReadyNation, " Savings Now, Savings Later: Smart Early Childhood Programs Pay Off Right Away and for the Long Term," documents some short-term returns on investments in early childhood education.

Standing up for teachers
Washington Post Opinion By Eugene Robinson, Published: September 17, 2012
Teachers are heroes, not villains, and it’s time to stop demonizing them.
It has become fashionable to blame all of society’s manifold sins and wickedness on “teachers unions,” as if it were possible to separate these supposedly evil organizations from the dedicated public servants who belong to them. News flash: Collective bargaining is not the problem, and taking that right away from teachers will not fix the schools.

Important school issues are ‘off the table’
Chicago Sun-Times BY JESSE JACKSON  September 17, 2012
The Chicago teachers strike has gotten national attention, much of it presuming that the biggest issues are pay and evaluation. But the Chicago Teachers Union has stated that the two sides have been very close on pay.  And union members have no objection to evaluation; they just want a system not so skewed to standardized, high-stakes testing. These tests aren’t particularly good ways to measure teacher performance and, even worse, have the perverse effect of forcing teachers to teach kids to take tests rather than to love learning.
But the big issues for these schools and for the teachers aren’t talked about because they are officially “off the table.” CTU teachers are most concerned about class size, about adequate facilities, about wraparound services from social workers to nurses, about well-rounded curricula including art and music and languages, about early childhood education that helps children come to school ready to learn.

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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