Friday, September 7, 2012

Parent trigger? How about parents as the citizen owners-managers of a public education system that is a central institution of democratic civic life?

Our failing public schools: 104 of 141 members of JPL’s Curiosity mission to Mars team graduated from public schools

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

Posted at 11:36 PM ET, 09/06/2012

What Obama said about education in speech

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss

Dear Mr. Rodriguez …
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey — SEPTEMBER 6, 2012
An Open Letter to Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy
Dear Mr. Rodriguez:
As you will no doubt recall, last week when I was invited to the White House as one of 40 education leaders from Pennsylvania I stood before you and pleaded for an end to the national narrative of “failing public schools.” I am writing to let you know about the national conversation that that meeting has sparked – and the overwhelming sense of disappointment, despair and frustration it has evoked. You asked for a dialogue and feedback, so please allow me to tell you what people are saying.

Corbett's aggressive charter push could cost PA money — and oversight
By Daniel Denvir City Paper Posted: Thu, Sep. 6, 2012, 12:00 AM
Gov. Tom Corbett has cut $860 million from the state’s public schools; now, he seeks to remake them. Into what is increasingly evident: an ever-growing number of charter schools. 
With newly legislated authority to install (pro-charter) district leadership, a freshly expanded tax credit for donations to private schools and a strongly pro-charter legislative agenda set for this fall, the governor could soon preside over an unprecedented expansion of privately managed education across the state — particularly in struggling districts like Philadelphia. But that pro-charter agenda has stirred controversy, thanks to charters’ mixed performance and frequent corruption scandals. And an aggressive shift to privatization could prove more costly than advocates would like us to believe. 
One key avenue for charter expansion, enacted this summer as Act 141, authorizes the governor to declare a school district “financially distressed” and appoint a chief recovery officer empowered to close schools, cancel union contracts and hand over school management to private entities. The law, says Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller, “put into place measures to ensure that quality educational programs are provided, and that the education of students continues to take place.”
But public-education activists say a larger agenda to undermine public schools in favor of charter operators — at a large cost to fiscally distraught districts — is evident.

How the Charter Formula Games Special Education
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, September 6, 2012
While the Charter formula for regular education students is relatively straightforward, the formula for special education students has several provisions that cause unintended consequences which are extremely detrimental to districts and which give charters unexpected windfalls, entirely unrelated to reimbursing them for their costs.
The current Charter formula is based on equalizing the playing field with the district from which the student comes, rather than on a basis of reimbursing the charter for its actual cost. But on that basis—equalizing funding with that of the District—the charter/special education funding interaction is especially deficient, for it in fact gives the charter school a large bonus over what is available for the district special education student.

Judge allows more time for 'complex' charter school fraud case
By Martha Woodall Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Sep. 7, 2012, 3:01 AM
A U.S. district judge has ruled that a fraud case against charter school mogul Dorothy June Brown and four codefendants is so complex that he will allow more time to begin the criminal trial.
In a decision signed Thursday, R. Barclay Surrick said that because of the multiple charges, number of defendants, and volume of evidence, additional time was needed so attorneys could prepare.  No trial date has been set.


Cyber Charters: K12, Inc. online schools: a view from the inside SEPTEMBER 4, 2012 BY: DAVID REBER

K12, Inc., a publicly-traded, for-profit online charter school company, has flooded the Kansas airwaves with advertising this summer and into fall. While K12’s sales pitch might seem attractive, it’s advertising leaves out a lot of key information about the company.

Melony Black, a former K12, Inc. teacher from Colorado, has come forward to share her story. Melony taught high school English courses through the Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA); managed by K12, Inc. She had some interesting things to say about K12’s promise of individualized instruction.

Parent trigger?  How about parents as the citizen owners-managers of a public education system that is a central institution of democratic civic life?

‘Parent Power’ Report Substitutes Influential Advocacy Organizations for Real Grassroots Activism, Says New Review

National Education Policy Center BOULDER, CO September 6, 2012

A recent American Enterprise Institute Report that its authors and publishers describe as an evaluation of opportunities for and barriers to “parent power” is instead a one-sided briefing paper for a particular approach and ignores the full range of grassroots parent activism, a new review of the report concludes.
Parent Power: Grass-Roots Activism and K–12 Education Reform, by Patrick McGuinn & Andrew Kelly, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Michelle Fine, of the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Stan Karp, of the Education Law Center, New Jersey. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.


Posted: Fri, Sep. 7, 2012, 3:01 AM

LTE: Eulogy for a school

Inquirer Letter to the Editor By Jeffrey Lee

In September 2007, I walked into the halls of Thomas FitzSimons High School. This was my first teaching assignment, at an all-male, African American neighborhood school, the only one of its kind in the city.

No one is walking into the halls of my school this September. Five years later, "Fitz," as we affectionately called it, has been closed. What remains for me are memories of the students who came through my classroom door and changed the way I think about education in America.


Is Deval Patrick’s “Miracle School” the Best Example of Mass. Ed Reform?

Andrea Gabor’s blog Posted on  
During his speech at the Democratic Convention this week, Gov. Deval Patrick praised the seemingly miraculous one-year turnaround of Boston’s Orchard Gardens school–actually, the Orchard Gardens Pilot School. Gov. Patrick’s choice of Orchard Gardens was striking for two reasons: First, it fit the mainstream education-reform narrative, which disproportionately scapegoats teachers for educational failure and argues that the best way to turnaround schools is to fire teachers. And,  second, because of the remarkable–and much more proven–Mass. turnaround story that he failed to mention at all.
The Orchard Gardens story is one of housecleaning and modest gains.  Two years ago, a new principal fired 80 percent of the teachers, replacing them with teachers who know how to use data. He also introduced other reforms, including an extended school day. While the firings suggest that the key problem with the school was the teachers, Orchard Gardens, which was founded in 2003, also had six principals in seven years.
As appealing as miracle turnarounds may be, the school’s still-low test scores suggest that it is way too soon to declare victory at Orchard Gardens. Which raises the question: Why didn’t Gov. Patrick reference what is probably the greatest turnaround in Mass., a success story that has been praised by Harvard researchers, among others, and one that he knows wellthat of Brockton High, the largest school in the state, where most kids are poor, African-American or Latino and where an obsessive focus on literacy has sustained a decade-long transformation?


How to Improve Teacher Training: The Clinical Model

Huffington Post by Kenneth D. Witmer, Jr., Ph.D. 09/06/2012 6:05 pm

Dean of the College of Education at West Chester University

Until recently, the model for student teaching has been that the teacher-candidate follows a cooperating teacher, slowly moving from observer to participant-observer, and finally becoming a full participant responsible for the classroom instruction. This type of experience is not only becoming difficult to sustain due to tightening resources and expanding responsibilities impacting PreK-12 schools, but current research supports the need to move in a different direction for pedagogically appropriate reasons.


D.C. Public Schools Initiative Will Boost Salaries For High-Performing Teachers In Low-Income Schools

Huffington Post 09/06/2012 8:35 am
Under a new D.C. Public Schools “career ladder” initiative, high-performing teachers in low-income schools will see a streamlined process to salary raises and more leadership opportunities, the Washington Post reports.  According to Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the goal of the Leadership Initiative for Teachers (LIFT) is to attract educators to the District and encourage them to remain in the city’s classrooms.
The career ladder features five rungs, with the “teacher” designation at the bottom denoting someone who receives normal pay and is subject to four formal classroom observations annually, the Post reports. To climb the ladder, an educator must earn “effective” and “highly effective” ratings on yearly evaluations. Reaching the top rung -- labeled “expert teacher” -- requires at least six years’ experience.


Posted: Thu, Sep. 6, 2012, 5:40 AM

Number of 'persistently dangerous' Phila. schools drops

By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer

The number of schools deemed so unsafe that parents have the choice of sending their children elsewhere has dropped 50 percent citywide.  Twelve Philadelphia schools were designated "persistently dangerous" by the state under federal No Child Left Behind guidelines in 2011-12. For this school year, there are six, according to information released Wednesday.


NEW: PSBA Leadership Institute Oct 16th  at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey
Opportunities for engagement in your association at the regional and state levels
Target audience: PSBA liaisons, assistant regional directors, regional directors, and all school board members who want to learn, network, and get more involved in public education leadership locally, regionally and at the state level. 
When and where: Tues., Oct. 16, 2- 3:30 p.m. in Trinidad Room at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, PA
Panel of speakers: PSBA members currently serving in leadership roles at the local, region and state level.
Facilitator: Tom Gentzel, PSBA executive director
Why attend? Make the most of your membership by learning about the current and proposed governance structure of your state association and the many ways in which you can become more involved in public education leadership locally, regionally and at the state level. If you are already engaged in the work of the association, learn more about how you can enhance your role and make it most meaningful for you, your local board, region, and at the state level. You will be hearing from a panel of “experts” who are already serving in various governance positions for the association. 
Regional Cabinet Meetings/ Region “Meet and Greets” are being held in the Trinidad Room and Wild Rose A&B following the institute from 4-5:30 p.m.
Refreshments will be served and registration is free!
 To register for the Leadership Institute and Region Meetings, contact Becky Mehringer by Oct. 9.
 Contact Karen Devine at for further information about the institute and region meetings.

If you have received an absentee ballot it must be postmarked by September 10th
Bios of candidates slated for 2013 PSBA offices 8/15/2012
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.


Education 2020—September 13th Forum will focus on where we want to go

Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 1:01 AM
Harrisburg Patriot News By Letters to the Editor 
The Patriot-News is holding a community forum focused on education on Sept. 13 at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center in Camp Hill to address these big questions.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis will join a panel that includes Mechanicsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Leidy, Infinity Charter School founder Nancy Hall and Patriot-News Capitol bureau chief and longtime education reporter Jan Murphy.
We also have interviewed numerous teachers, students, administrators, school board members and parents about what's working and what isn't in our current system. Their voices will play a role in the forum as well.

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.

Upcoming PSBA Professional Development Opportunities
To register or to learn more about PSBA professional development programs please visit:

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!

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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