Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New PA Study Shows Full-time School Librarian Boosts Student Achievement

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1700 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
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Today, there is only 1 book for every 300 children living in poverty in the U.S.

Sixty-one percent of low income families have zero books in their households.

In Philadelphia, 83% of schools do not have a library staffed by a certified librarian.  It is now common for a Philadelphia public school student to go through elementary and middle school without ever having access to a certified school librarian.


Word on the street is that the Inky has moved long-time education writer Dan Hardy to coverage of the South Jersey beat,  Our loss will be their gain.  Dan covered suburban Pennsylvania schools and state education policy.  Thanks Dan -- for years of great work!  Your voice will be sorely missed.  Here’s Daniel Denvir’s coverage at the Citypaper, which I somehow missed in the thick of the charter school bill machinations.

Education Law Center Press Release October 23, 2012
New PA Study Shows Full-time School Librarian Boosts Student Achievement
PSSA Reading and Writing Scores Raised for All Student Groups
PHILADELPHIA — Having access to a full-time, certified school librarian means better outcomes for Pennsylvania’s public school students, according to new research from the Colorado-based RSL Research Group.
The researchers examined the 2010-11 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in Reading and Writing for students in grades three through 11, and tracked outcomes for students based on five school library factors: staffing, collections, digital resources and technology infrastructure, library access, and funding. 
Overall, the greatest impact on student test scores was seen from having a full-time, certified librarian.
• Students who have access to a full-time, certified librarian scored higher on the PSSA Reading Test than those students who do not have such access. This finding is true for all students, regardless of their socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and/or disability status.
• For several student groups that tend to experience achievement gaps—economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, Black, and those with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs)—Reading and Writing results are markedly better when those students attend a school with a librarian and library support staff, according to the research. In fact, they benefit more proportionally than the general student population.
Attend the research briefing on Oct. 25:
View more information on the research project:

Want more info on the study announced above?

School Library Information Briefings on Latest PA Research

Join the Education Law Center, the Health Sciences Library Consortium, and the PA School Librarians Association for the release of findings of the Pennsylvania school library impact study on student achievement conducted by Keith Curry Lance and his associates.  
The year-long project examined the investments in school library programs needed to prepare 21st-century learners and the perceptions of administrators, teachers, librarians, and other interested stakeholders. 
There are two remaining briefings: Oct. 25 in Philadelphia; and Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh.
It's free to attend. Register online now!
Administrators, school board members, teachers, librarians, parents, community members, education organizations, and other stakeholders are welcome and encouraged to attend.

·         In 2011-2012, 198 PA schools (7%) eliminated or severely curtailed library services to their students.
·         In 2012-2013, 117.5 librarian positions were eliminated (5.8% decrease)

·         In Philadelphia, 83% of schools do not have a library staffed by a certified librarian.
·         There are only 12 certified librarians for Philadelphia’s 169 elementary schools.
·         There are only 3 certified librarians for Philadelphia’s 23 middle schools
·         It is now common for a Philadelphia public school student to go through elementary and middle school without ever having access to a certified school librarian.

“Today, there is only 1 book for every 300 children living in poverty in the U.S.
….Sixty-one percent of low income families have zero books in their households.”
The Rise of Poverty and the Fall of Education
Literacy organization calls on Obama Administration, Congress to do more for underserved communities across the US
Reading Is Fundamental website
Washington, DC—December 5, 2011—As 2011 winds to a close poverty levels in the United States have hit a record high of 46 million. Poverty is the single best predictor of a child’s failure to achieve in school, and about half of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers. It is clear that more has to be done to ensure that the nation’s neediest children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and end the cycle of poverty. The key to empowering the 15 million children living in poverty is education, making it all the more surprising that the federal government is cutting education programs from the budget—including essential programs like Reading is Fundamental. RIF, the nation’s largest childhood literacy organization, is urging the Obama Administration and Congress to restore funding for education programs.

Young People Frequent Libraries, Pew Study Finds
New York Times Media Decoder By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY October 22, 2012, 8:18 PM11
In a digital world where many younger readers feel increasingly comfortable downloading novels and textbooks onto their computers or e-readers, a majority of Americans from the ages of 16 through 29 still frequent libraries.
According to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans surveyed in this age group said they still visited the library. They use libraries to conduct research, borrow print, audio and electronic books and, in some cases, read magazines and newspapers.
That finding would seem to clash with the popular notion that young readers have turned away from libraries and print books as the source of their reading material, said Kathryn Zickuhr, research analyst with the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “A lot of people think that young people aren’t reading, they aren’t using libraries,” Ms. Zickuhr said. “That they’re just turning to Google for everything.”


Posted: Tue, Oct. 23, 2012, 7:05 AM

Upper Darby art programs cling to life after funding cuts

By Jonathan Lai Inquirer Staff Writer

The boys went straight to swords and weaponry, but four girls giggled in front of a display of medieval clothing worn under the armor that glinted throughout the rest of the "Large Armor" gallery.  "Tell me this would not look good with silver pants and silver high heels!" one girl said.  The fifth-grade fashion critic's insight resonated with her three friends, who nodded vigorously in agreement.

The two-part field trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a rite of passage for fifth graders in the Upper Darby School District. The museum program, uninterrupted for more than three decades, now survives only precariously in the face of state funding cuts.

This marks the second year without funding from the district. Last year, the museum itself covered the program's costs, and money for this year's visits came from a $20,000 grant from the private Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund. The Art Museum applied for this year's grant with the support of the school district.

Budget deficits have led the school district to go from trimming fat to cutting the meat of programs in areas such as the arts, physical education, and libraries.


Comcast Newsmakers: Roebuck on Charter Schools

Published on Oct 22, 2012 by pahousevideo Video Runtime: 4:31

Democratic Chairman of the Pa. House Education Committee Jim Roebuck discusses charter schools, which don't accept all students -- which is often a problem for special-education students.


“I think the charter advocates are wrong about the effect of competition. There is no evidence that charter schools are superior to traditional public schools, nor is there any evidence that the spread of charter schools has prompted public schools to improve. Instead, parents in cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia are being pitted against one another as they fight for space, while educators in charters and traditional public schools work in isolation from each other. We are spending so much time fighting over charter schools and so little time working to improve our public schools where the vast majority of children are still being educated.”

Beyond Charter Schools: Thinking About Public Education's Future

 Pedro Noguera  
In thinking about your last entry I've been taken by how frequently charter schools have come up in our exchanges so far when so few children in the United States are actually enrolled in them. Although there are a few places where charter schools now enroll a significant percentage of the students (Harlem and Albany, N.Y., are two places that come to mind), across the country less than 5 percent of all students are in charter schools, and several states don't even allow charter schools to be created.

Easton passes 'pay to play' fee for charter, cyber schools
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 9:56 p.m. EDT, October 23, 2012
Charter and cyber schools will have to start paying a fee for former Easton Area School District students who want to play sports for their home team.
The school board passed an amended policy Tuesday mandating charter and cyber schools reimburse Easton for costs associated with students who return to play on district athletic teams, including the storied football and wrestling programs. Easton will determine the reimbursement rate based upon the sport's cost per student during the previous year, but the district may not make a profit from the fee.
Athletic director Jim Pokrivsak requested the reimbursement fee in January, saying he was receiving an influx in requests from cyber and charter school students. At the time, the district said the fee could vary from $200 to $600 depending on the sport and the costs of transportation, coaches, officials and wear-and-tear on athletic facilities.
Easton sends cyber and charter schools nearly $10,000 per student and almost double that for special education students. Athletes can still play Easton sports as long as they meet try-out and academic standards and their school doesn't offer the same sport. But if a cyber or charter school fails to reimburse the district for athletic costs, students will lose the opportunity to play, according to the policy.

“While the court agreed that email doesn't become a public record simply because it was sent from a government address or is stored on a government computer, it said messages in which board members discuss school district business are public records regardless of whether they deal with actual decisions by the board.”
High court: Easton Area board email is public
Morning Call's Right-to-Know victory upheld in decision denying district's appeal.
By Peter Hall, Of The Morning Call 12:14 a.m. EDT, October 23, 2012
Pennsylvania residents can read the email of elected officials under a decision in favor of The Morning Call recently upheld by the state Supreme Court.
In January, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordered Easton Area School District to turn over a month's worth of email messages to and from the official email addresses of school board members, the superintendent and the district's general email address.
The court found that emails to and from individual members of the school board are records of the school district's activities under the state's Right to Know Law. The Supreme Court's decision last week not to reconsider the case means that the Commonwealth Court opinion will apply to similar cases in the future.

MAEA discussion on charter schools: 'fix public schools first'

Hazelton Standard Speaker BY JIM DINO (STAFF WRITER) October 23, 2012
State legislators debated whether charter schools are real alternatives to the public education system or a safer haven at a recent roundtable discussion held by the Manufacturers and Employers Association.  State Rep. Neal Goodman, D-123, Mahanoy City, said charter schools have changed since they were introduced, and are not needed anymore.
"It was supposed to work in conjunction with public schools, to meet the demands the public school cannot meet during the regular school day," Goodman said. "Ninety-six percent of our public schools are performing above and meeting No Child Left Behind, while only 60 percent of our charter schools are meeting No Child Left Behind. There is a myth that charter schools are these wonderful, special schools that have the key to education. They are going through the same struggles that public schools are. It's grown into privatization of public education, and we can't afford it."

New Charter School Resource Center helps school boards assess information on charters

NSBA’s School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min October 15, 2012
With the rapid growth of charter schools and their increasing implications for traditional public schools, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched the Charter School Resource Center, an online resource containing practical information and research to help state school boards associations and local school board members respond to charter legislation and policy in their states.

You Are Invited to Attend
"Erie Region Breakfast Series" Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  
 Ambassador Center (I-90 & Peach Streets in Erie, next to the Courtyard by Marriott)
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children and The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Why Investing in Early Education Matters, Even in These Difficult Economic Times
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Diane Robbins, Principal, Early Childhood Learning Center, Titusville Area School District
Jill Simmons, Vice President, Early Care and School-Age Enrichment, Greater Erie YMCA
Dr. James Tracy, Superintendent, Girard School District
Nancy Kalista, Executive Director, Early Connections - Success by 6 Kindergarten Readiness Program

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  
Share school district successes and challenges in supporting quality learning experiences. Hear from local school districts and early learning providers about how they have worked together to maintain early learning as an integral part of the school districts' overall goals. Learn how quality early learning can contribute positively to a community's economic success.
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.

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