Tuesday, September 4, 2012

President Obama, March 2011: “….one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you're not learning about the world”




U.S. 15-year olds in schools with fewer than 10 percent of kids eligible for free or cut-rate lunch "score first in the world in reading, outperforming even the famously excellent Finns."  U.S. schools where fewer than 25 percent are impoverished (by the same lunch measure) beat all 34 of the relatively affluent countries studied except South Korea and Finland.


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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
  
Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 09/04/2012

Lifelong Democrat ready for fight in Charlotte over school reform

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
The Democrats are opening their political convention on Tuesday with hopes of rallying the troops for the fall campaign ahead — but on one issue they are getting pushback from activists within the party: school reform.
The Obama administration’s school reform policies have been met with
(JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)increasing opposition in communities across the country over the past year for a variety of reasons, including:
·         the expanded use of standardized test scores as the main “accountability” measure for students, teachers and schools
·         the push to expand the number of charter schools despite their very mixed academic record and financial scandals involving some charter management organizations, and other efforts that have contributed to a push to privatize the public education system.
·         the embrace of Teach for America — which trains new college graduates for five weeks and then sends them into some of America’s neediest classrooms. Veteran teachers feel this and other related initiatives, including the push for evaluation systems that assess teachers based on their students’ test scores — amount to a war on them.
In many — though certainly not all — ways, the administration’s education policies have aligned with Republican views on school reform, and so it is in the area of school reform that there has been probably more bipartisan agreement than in any other.
And that has plenty of Democrats furious. One of those activists is Pamela Grundy, co-chair of MecklenburgACTS.org, a six-year-old grass-roots coalition of parents and community members working to build community commitment to equity and excellence in all schools. Grundy, who is also a co-founder of the Parents Across America organization, wrote the following piece:

“But here is what is alarming: Either President Obama is trying to mislead people, or he is unfamiliar with the policies being advanced by his very own secretary of education, who was seated just a few feet away from him at this event.”

Obama Blasts His Own Education Policies

 Anthony Cody  
If only the Department of Education could hear this guy Obama, boy, they would have to rethink their approach!
In a town hall meeting hosted by Univision, President Obama was asked by a student named Luis Zelaya if there could be a way to reduce the number of tests that students must take. 
His answer was superficially reassuring, but underneath, rather alarming.

If you would like to contact JC Penney media relations and let them know your thoughts on supporting TFA and it’s program to bring college graduates with no education training or experience other than TFA’s 5-week boot camp into classrooms full of high poverty, high-need students here is their media relations contact information:
jcpenney media relations Kate Coultas and Daphne Avila (972) 431.3400 or email at jcpcorpcomm@jcp.com
JCPENNEY INVITES CUSTOMERS TO JOIN ITS SUPPORT OF TEACH FOR AMERICA
By Rounding Up Purchases, jcpenney Customers Can Help Make America’s Schools Great
Grammy Award Winning Singer John Legend Teams Up with jcpenney to Champion Teach For America Cause
JC Penney Press Release PLANO, Texas (August 30, 2012) /PRNewswire/
As part of its charitable giving program, jcp cares, jcpenney is supporting Teach For America, an organization committed to developing teachers and leaders to make America’s schools great. Throughout the month of September, jcpenney customers can round up their store purchases to the nearest whole dollar and donate the difference to Teach For America.
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunities for children facing the challenges of poverty. Each year, the organization recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Today more than 10,000 corps members are teaching in 46 urban and rural regions across the country.
Customers shopping jcpenney this September can help ensure that every child across America receives an excellent education,” said Miki Woodard, president of jcp cares and vice president of philanthropy for jcpenney. “With the school season officially underway, we know this is a cause that will be top of mind for both our customers and team members. Together, we’ll be able to raise funds that will enable Teach for America to recruit, select, train and support more corps members and alumni, helping to close the education gap in our country.”

Posted: Tue, Sep. 4, 2012, 3:01 AM
Northeast High program with Philadelphia Futures helps students get into college
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
In the Philadelphia School District, students' potential often outstrips school resources.
The situation is especially acute when it comes to college counseling. Take Northeast High School, where just seven counselors handle the more than 3,000 students.
Though Northeast is one of the city's strongest comprehensive high schools - about half of its graduates go on to college, compared with 36 percent citywide - it's not strong enough, leaders say.  "We knew we had the kids who had the ability, but we didn't have the resources - enough counselors, enough parent input - to get the kids where they need to be," said principal Linda Carroll, who lost two counselors this school year.
……Enter Philadelphia Futures, the nonprofit that helps promising low-income city students get into college and then succeed there. Traditionally, it has handpicked a select group of teens - currently, 176 high school students citywide - for intensive, long-term mentoring, academic enrichment, guidance, and funds for college-related expenses.

More info on Philadelphia Futures
Philadelphia Futures: a union of White-Williams Scholars and Philadelphia Futures provides Philadelphia's high-potential, economically disadvantaged, college-bound students with deep, rigorous and life-changing programs and resources as they make their journey to and through college.  Working with volunteer mentors, donors, and school and college personnel in direct service to students, in partnership with educational institutions, and in advocacy activities in the broader community, Philadelphia Futures increases the percentage of Philadelphia graduates prepared for higher education, while simultaneously reducing the institutional barriers to their academic success. Our organization operates on the belief that a college education is the portal to economic self-sufficiency and a satisfying life.

Posted: Tue, Sep. 4, 2012, 3:01 AM
Inquirer Editorial: School begins with challenges
Another school year, another big test for the Philadelphia School District - will that ever change?
It's not the only district facing challenges. Budget cuts and leadership changes are having an impact on both sides of the Delaware, in particular in the Camden and Chester Upland districts.

Pennsylvania schools fear Adequate Yearly Progress won’t be in reach

Pittsburgh Tribune Review by Rachel Weaver and Rick Wills Published: September 2, 2012
Education insiders call a federal law requiring 100 percent student proficiency on state exams an unreachable goal.  By 2014, the No Child Left Behind Act specifies all students must score “proficient” or higher in reading and math on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. Educators expect the criteria will keep most schools from making adequate yearly progress, a state measurement of student achievement.
“It was quite predictable that as 2014 approached, a very large percent, if not all schools, will not be meeting AYP,” said Ronald Cowell, president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center, a Harrisburg nonprofit. “Everybody recognizes in the most technical sense it is impossible to get to absolute perfection.”
Surprise: Area high schoolers will start taking Keystone exams this year
Districts knew tests were coming, but didn't know until July they would start this winter.
By Marion Callahan, Of The Morning Call 11:16 p.m. EDT, September 3, 2012
The decades-old PSSA tests are out for Pennsylvania's 11th graders this year.
The new Keystone exams, which eventually will be tied to student graduation, are in.
The rollout of the Keystone exams this year is the first step in a sweeping overhaul of the state's testing system, which aims to raise the standards and stakes for students graduating from high school.

Cash still flows to troubled charter school

Law allows Vitalistic charter school to receive tax payments even though it doesn't have a building.

 10:37 p.m. EDT, September 1, 2012
The classrooms walls are stripped bare and the desks are gone. The modular buildings are on flatbeds waiting to be towed. Empty crates are piled in the main hallway under the banner featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s paraphrased quote, "Within every child … there is the potential for greatness."
This is all that's left of Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School of the Lehigh Valley at 902 Fourth Ave. in Bethlehem. The 13 faculty members and six administrators who survived previous layoffs were forced to vacate Monday after a Vitalistic-affiliated board of trustees sold it to pay down the charter school's debt and end a monthly $17,000 contract it could not afford.
Where Vitalistic has gone is unknown to the Allentown and Bethlehem school districts, which have had joint oversight of the regional charter school since 2001. But while the school may not have a new known address for students, most of whom have emotional, behavioral or physical disabilities, there is one thing it does have: Tax money.
Under the 1997 charter school law, Vitalistic is entitled to receive local and state tax dollars as long as it has students on its enrollment books, and it does.

Pa. school districts, cyber charters vie for students
Last of a three-part series covering cyber schools in the Pittsburgh area
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 4, 2012 12:03 am
No matter whether he turns left or right driving home from his Homestead office, Paul Cindric, curriculum coordinator for the new STREAM Academy Cyber Charter School, is bound to pass a huge billboard advertising a competitor.
"The competition is fierce," Mr. Cindric said.  This may be the most competitive year yet.
This fall, there will be 16 cyber charter schools trying to attract students from across Pennsylvania. Last school year, 13 cyber charter schools, one of which has closed, drew more than 32,000 students.

Cyber charters in Pennsylvania growing despite issues

First of a three-part series covering cyber schools in the Pittsburgh area
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 2, 2012 12:07 am
In the fall of 2000, the Pittsburgh area was introduced to a new, though largely unwelcome, educational venue when Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School opened, allowing students to attend school online from home.

Franklin Park home is a cyber schoolhouse
Second of a three-part series covering cyber schools in the Pittsburgh area
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 3, 2012 12:18 am
On weekday mornings, school buses transporting neighborhood children to North Allegheny schools rumble up and down the Franklin Park street where the family of Jill and Rick Buffalini lives.  Instead of scrambling for buses, the Buffalini children sit comfortably with laptop computers inside their home, already deep into their school work for the day.

 

Our failing public schools: 104 of 141 members of JPL’s Mars team graduated from public schools
“The overwhelming proportion of the Mars exploration team came from America's public high schools. A JPL website, "Zip code Mars," carries brief bios of the Mars team. When this article was written, 141 names were posted.  Of those, 104 graduated from public high schools.”
Our public schools still launch Earth's best, brightest thinkers
For this LA Daily News article and links to additional Labor Day postings:

http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/2012/09/our-failing-public-schools-104-of-141.html

 

When Pennsylvanians Went to White House

Notes from August 30th meeting at the White House and links to additional weekend postings
So there we were at the White House. Forty “education leaders” from Pennsylvania invited to meet with President Obama’s senior policy advisors as well as top staff at the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

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 
Can you guess what topic The Patriot-News receives the most letters to the editor and commentaries about?  …..Everyone has an opinion about our schools.
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.
We all have a view on education. Join us Sept. 13 to discuss the future of our schooling system with key leaders. The issue is critically important.

Education Voters PA Statewide Advocate Leadership Session
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.

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.

Upcoming PSBA Professional Development Opportunities
To register or to learn more about PSBA professional development programs please visit:  www.psba.org/workshops/

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!  Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA
www.psba.org/workshops/school-leadership-conference/

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 aei-pa.org 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!

http://www.aei-pa.org/


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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