Friday, September 21, 2012

The purpose of public education is to create informed American citizens who are life-long learners. The purpose of a business is to create profit.

How do we, as a nation, create scalable, sustainable models for effective public schools in high poverty communities?

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

Delco superintendents decry amount of time spent on testing
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Delco Times By LAURA WISELEY Times Correspondent
Students who recently headed back to Delaware County’s public schools will spend nearly 60 percent of their classroom time this year taking, retaking and practicing for standardized tests, according to the county’s superintendents association.
“This begins an era where more testing, more than one could ever have imagined, will be taking place,” said William Keilbaugh, chair of the Delaware County Chief Schools Officer Association and superintendent of Haverford Township School District, in a letter to state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis. “As we constantly test, retest and yes, practice test because of its importance to graduation, there will be no time for other subjects.”
In the Aug. 28 letter, which is signed by Keilbaugh and lists the names of the county’s other 14 public school superintendents, as well as Intermediate Unit Director Lawrence O’Shea, the superintendents group said this year’s implementation of the Keystone Exam Initiative will hike the amount of time spent preparing for and administering standardized tests by more than 100 percent.

New CEP Report on High School Exit Exams
Center on Education Policy
This week, CEP at GWU released its 11th annual report on state high school exit exams.  The report, State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition, finds that states are embracing higher standards on their exit exams, which means schools and students will feel the impact. Based on data collected from state education department personnel in 45 states, the report discusses the present status of state exit exam policies, the future of these policies as states implement the Common Core State Standards and common assessments, and lessons that can be learned from states’ past experiences with implementing new exit exam policies. State profiles for exit exam states are also available on the CEP Web site (

If you are a resident of Pennsylvania it is very likely that your tax dollars contributed to the 2011 $5 million compensation of Ron Packard, K12 Inc.’s CEO and their ubiquitous “Tuition Free Online Public School” advertisements.
Charles Zogby, PA's Budget Secretary and Former Secretary of Education under Governor Ridge, served as K12's Senior Vice President of Education and Policy prior to being recruited to serve in the Corbett Administration.
The purpose of public education is to create informed American citizens who are life-long learners.  The purpose of a business is to create profit.  The allegations cited in this post highlight  that difference.

Read The Virginia Lawsuit Accusing K12 Of Misleading Investors

A federal lawsuit could shed more light on how the nation’s largest online education company earns its money.  Florida is investigating K12, the nation’s online educator, but we could learn more from a federal lawsuit filed in the company’s home state of Virginia.  The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System filed the lawsuit, which alleges the company misled investors in what K12 did and did not report about how it makes money.
Among the allegations, which must be heard in court:
  • The company did not tell investors how much their business depends on “churn,” signing up new students when others drop out. The company also did not reveal that more than half of students at some K12 school did not return the following year.
  • The company listed students as inactive rather than sending them back to their home district. That allowed K12 virtual schools to continue collecting that student’s funding.
  • Some teachers reported having as many as 400 students.

U.S. could learn from Finland on education

By Patriot-News Op-Ed  Published: Friday, September 21, 2012, 12:31 AM
Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., is professor of teacher education at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa.
As the presidential campaign moves into high gear, the quality of our public schools will be a topic of debate. Some will point to international comparisons to argue that we need to eliminate teachers unions and tenure while privatizing our educational system with vouchers, charter schools, cyber schools and for-profit colleges. 
Comparisons of scores on the most recent Program for International Student Assessment do suggest that U.S. students are in the middle of the pack in reading and science, and below average in math. However, because many countries’ scores are so close, the rankings are misleading. When analysis technics are applied, the U.S. was tied for fifth place worldwide. Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that U.S. students’ scores have been increasing steadily.
If we compare apples to apples, our schools are doing well. For example, in schools with little poverty, America’s students are No. 2 in the world. In schools where the majority of children qualify for free or reduced lunches — such as many school districts in Pennsylvania — scores decline.  What have other countries done to improve student outcomes? How did Finland’s students, for example, get to the top of the PISA rankings?

Obama’s Dreadful Education Agenda

Diane Ravitch’s Blog September 21, 2012 //
The Washington Post has a good article about the aggressive way that the Obama administration has imposed its education agenda in the past three+ years.  The article notes, almost in passing, that there is no evidence for the success of any part of this agenda. No one will know for many years whether the Obama program of testing, accountability, and choice will improve education.

“…..But it is impossible to predict whether his policies, which are years from full implementation, will work. There is little or no research showing that these measures lead to better-educated children or higher graduation rates.”

Rethinking the Classroom: Obama’s overhaul of public education

Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Published: September 20
In 31 / 2 years in office, President Obama has set in motion a broad overhaul of public education from kindergarten through high school, largely bypassing Congress and inducing states to adopt landmark changes that none of his predecessors attempted.
He awarded billions of dollars in stimulus funding to states that agreed to promote charter schools, use student test scores to evaluate teachers and embrace other administration-backed policies. And he has effectively rewritten No Child Left Behind, the federal law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, by excusing states from its requirements if they adopt his measures.

New Berlin charter school officials on the hot seat
They get grilled for more than three hours
The Sunbury Daily Item By Evamarie Socha September 19, 2012
MIFFLINBURG — MIFFLINBURG - Area school board members questioned the application for the proposed New Berlin Regional Charter School for more than three hours during public hearing Tuesday night.  Lewisburg, Mifflinburg and Selinsgrove school districts were all represented at the meeting held at Mifflinburg Area Senior High School before an audience of about 40, including teachers.
The K-4 public charter school must win approval from all three districts in order to form.

Propel school plan rejected in Sto-Rox

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  September 21, 2012 12:05 am
For the second time, the Sto-Rox school board has voted unanimously to reject a charter application from Propel schools to open a K-12 school within the district, an action that ends a two-month discussion between the two sides about possible cooperation.
The vote, taken Thursday, means that Propel founder and executive director Jeremy Resnick will head to the state charter appeals board as he has done several times since opening his first school in Homestead in September 2003. Propel currently operates nine schools in Allegheny County.

Opinion: For-profit corporations are ruining our nation's education

By Patriot-News Op-Ed  Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 12:44 AM
By Jill Bartoli; Jill Bartoli of Carlisle is an emeritus faculty member at Elizabethtown College.
It is vital that we hear and support the Chicago teachers’ call for less reliance on standardized testing — for student evaluation and for teacher evaluation. They were not fighting for more money, although all city schools are in desperate need of support. They were fighting for the soul of public education, which is under attack by for-profit corporations. 
The testing-industrial complex, which includes test-prep and textbooks geared to the tests, is sucking the lifeblood of creative and critical teaching and learning out of classrooms.

Education Voters PA Blog THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
Who "owns" the schools? Thinking about fiction with a non-fiction eye...
The soon to be released movie “Won’t Back Down” is raising some controversy [in no small part because it is a fictional story and as such, the plot doesn’t require the characters to negotiate the realities of the actual non-fictional world].  If you haven’t heard about it, it is the made up story of a parent and teacher who work together to turn their school over to a charter operator.   I’d be happy to talk about the positives and negatives of charter policy any day, but let’s just leave that aside for the moment.
Here is one of the (many) important questions that the movie seems to miss.  Who “owns” the schools?  Is it the parents who have children enrolled that year?  All the parents in the district?  Only the parents of children who participate in the public school system? 

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.

New Brief Offers Suggestions for Teacher Evaluation Design

National Education Policy Center Reference Publication: 
BOULDER, CO (September 20, 2012) –The first in a new series of two-page briefs summarizing the state of play in education policy research offers suggestions for policymakers designing teacher evaluation systems.  The paper is written by Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
Mathis summarizes research findings on the effects of teacher evaluation systems, including unintended as well as intended consequences. At a time when teacher evaluation controversies in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other school districts have erupted—particularly over the issue of evaluations based in part on the growth of students’ test scores—understanding the evidence about these issues has taken on new urgency.
Mathis counsels that lawmakers should be wary of approaches based in large part on test scores, because of three problems:
  • The measurement error is large—which results in many teachers being incorrectly labeled as effective or ineffective; 
  • Given that only certain grade levels and subject areas are tested, relevant test scores are not available for most teachers; and
  • The incentives created by the high-stakes use of test scores drive undesirable teaching practices such as curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.

Fox Won't Disclose News Corp. Testing Contracts At Heart Of The Chicago Teachers' Strike

In 89 segments between September 10 and 16, Fox News reported on the Chicago Teachers Union's strike without disclosing its financial ties to the educational technology company administering the standardized tests with which the union takes issue.  
Fox News parent company News Corp. acquired a 90-percent stake in Wireless Generation in 2010. Last May, the company agreed to provide Early Mathematics Assessment Services and Early Literacy Assessment Services to Chicago Public Schools. These contracts total $4.7 million. A central reason the Chicago Teachers Union decided to strike is their objection to the school district's call for heavily weighing such standardized testing to ultimately determine teacher pay and layoffs.

Groups defend 'pornographic' books in East Penn
Letter to school directors defends two titles that parents call 'pornographic.'
By Patrick Lester, Of The Morning Cal 9:58 p.m. EDT, September 20, 2012
The East Penn School District's debate over sexual content in books on a student reading list is drawing national interest from book publishing and anti-censorship organizations.
The National Coalition Against Censorship and other groups have written to Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger and school directors in support of keeping Curtis Sittenfeld's "Prep" and Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," on a list of books students can read over the summer after complaints about "pornographic" passages in the books.

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!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.