Monday, September 10, 2012

Sept. 13th Patriot-News education forum will focus on the question: Where are we headed?

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

We won’t back down, either
Weekend postings including another solid commentary from Yinzercation’s Jessie Ramey and PA Blue Ribbon Schools for 2012

Inquiry continues into cheating on PSSA tests

Pittsburgh, Derry, Monessen among districts in question
September 9, 2012 12:14 am
By Eleanor Chute and Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As the state prepares to release the latest math and reading statewide test results, an investigation of cheating on previous tests continues in 10 school districts and charter schools across the state, including Pittsburgh.

Posted: Mon, Sep. 10, 2012, 3:01 AM
As school opens in Pennsylvania, teacher strikes have dropped sharply
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Not many years ago, along with the reappearance of school buses and brightly colored leaves, there was a predictable sign of fall: teacher strikes.
Though walkouts were never numerous, in most years, one or more of the 63 school districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties had teachers on picket lines.
Since the recession hit in late 2007, however, there has been a sharp drop-off in strikes.
As schools opened this month, 16 districts in the area - four in Bucks, five in Chester County, four in Delaware County, and three in Montgomery - still had unresolved labor agreements. But there have been no walkouts, and no immediate sign of any to come, though in one - Neshaminy - a strike could yet take place.

EITC 2.0: Students wait for delayed scholarship money to leave underperforming schools

Published: Saturday, September 08, 2012, 6:43 PM
By BARBARA MILLER, The Patriot-News 
Parents looking for scholarships through a new state program in order to transfer their children out of low-performing schools in Central Dauphin, Harrisburg and Steelton-Highspire school districts didn’t find them in time for the start of school.
But they could be coming, say those associated with the new Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program. Businesses have 60 days from the time their applications were approved in August in which to contribute scholarship funds, said Steven Kratz of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which is administering the program.

Pennsylvania’s pro-voucher Students First PAC contributed $350,000 to the Citizen’s Alliance PAC during the primary race earlier this year.

Website 'follows the money' certain unions give to Pennsylvania legislators

By Tom Barnes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 9, 2012 12:18 am
HARRISBURG -- A conservative political group that was created to fight costly legislative pensions now has a new goal -- telling voters how much money legislators get from state government labor unions.
The 18-month-old Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania opened a website last week with the names of all 253 House and Senate members, listing how much (if any) campaign cash each lawmaker got from government unions for the last three years.
Related Prior Postings:

Chester Upland charter schools keep growing
Published: Sunday, September 09, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp
CHESTER — Three years ago, parents of fourth-grade students attending Widener Partnership Charter School recognized they soon would need to find a new school for their children. At the time, Widener Partnership only planned to expand through fifth grade.  “They started saying, ‘All right Widener, we really like what you’re doing,’” said Paula Silver, who chairs the board of trustees. “‘We want you to do more. Don’t abandon our children after fifth grade.’”

Sept. 13th Patriot-News education forum will focus on the question: Where are we headed?

Patriot News By Jeanette Krebs  Published: Sunday, September 09, 2012, 10:00 AM
The Patriot-News Opinion staff believes the question about the future of education is critical to our state. So much time, money and effort is spent on our education system. We have entire state and federal departments devoted to it. Every person in Pennsylvania has a stake in it. We work in the K-12 education system, send our children there or pay for it.
That’s why we are holding a free forum as part of our The Big Story series called Education 2020: What can we achieve? It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center in Camp Hill.
We are fortunate to have an outstanding panel to discuss the topic.

Chicago Teachers Strike: Union, Emanuel Disagree On Bottom Line

Huffington Post by Joy Resmovits and Emmeline Zhao
Posted: 09/09/2012 11:07 pm Updated: 09/10/2012 6:05 am
On Monday, Chicago's public school students won't have any classes to go to.
After weeks of negotiations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's team and the Chicago Teacher's Union failed to agree on a contract. On Sunday night, CTU officially announced it was going to strike for the first time in a quarter century. So on Monday, instead of teaching, the union's 26,000 educators will protest.

Chicago Teachers Strike as Education Reform Tensions Boil Over

 Stephen Sawchuk  
Chicago teachers are scheduled to take to the picket lines today, following the failure of marathon negotiations this weekend with the school district over issues of pay, job security, and evaluations.  The strike, which will involve some 25,000 teachers and support staff, is the first in the city in 25 years, and it will be the largest teachers' strike since Detroit teachers marched in 2006. More than 400,000 Chicago students will be affected.

“It may have helped that Education Secretary Arne Duncan sat down with sometimes-adversary Rick Perry, the Republican governor, in March to talk about the waiver. He assured state officials that no, they didn't have to adopt the common core to get a waiver—which has been one of the state's chief concerns.”

In Surprise Move, Texas to Apply for NCLB Waiver

 Michele McNeil  
Putting it mildly, Texas likes to do its own thing. And that includes in K-12 education. The Lone Star State has shunned Race to the Top, refused to join the vast majority of other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards, and has been unenthusiastic about the offer of flexibility under No Child Left Behind.  Until now.
In surprise move today, the state said it is finally going to ask the federal government for a waiver under NCLB.
UPDATE: There is a very important caveat. Texas is not applying for the formal waiver that the department has spelled out, but as is the Texas way, wants to create its own waiver proposal. "This allows us to define the waiver request without agreeing to the strings that were attached to the NCLB waiver," Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe told me. (This is the route California wants to take, too.)

WHAT WORKS: What Makes a School Effective? By David Miller Sadker, PhD |Karen R. Zittleman, PhD
Excerpt from: Teachers, Schools, and Society
Consider the following situation: Two schools are located in the same neighborhood and are considered "sister schools." They are approximately the same size, serve the same community, and the student populations are identical. However, in one school, state test scores are low and half the students drop out. In the other school, student test scores exceed the state average and almost all students graduate. Why the difference?
Puzzled by such situations, researchers attempted to determine what factors create successful schools. Several studies have revealed a common set of characteristics, a five-factor theory of effective schools. Researchers say that effective schools are able, through these five factors, to promote student achievement. Let's take a look at these classic five factors, and then move on to some more recent studies.

Some Ga. Schools Make Mandarin Mandatory 
NPR Weekend Edition by ADAM RAGUSEA September 8, 2012
Public schools in Macon, Ga., and surrounding Bibb County have a lot of problems. Most of the 25,000 students are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced lunch, and about half don't graduate.  Bibb County's Haitian-born superintendent Romain Dallemand came into the job last year with a bag of changes he calls "The Macon Miracle." There are now longer schools days, year-round instruction, and one mandate nobody saw coming: Mandarin Chinese for every student, pre-K through 12th grade.
"Students who are in elementary school today, by 2050 they'll be at the pinnacle of their career," Dallemand says. "They will live in a world where China and India will have 50 percent of the world GDP. They will live in a world where, if they cannot function successfully in the Asian culture, they will pay a heavy price."

If you have received an absentee ballot for PSBA officers it must be postmarked by this Monday, 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.

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.


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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