Friday, October 26, 2012

NYC study: 10 years of choice has not altered link between demography, destiny

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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Education Voters Action of PA 2012 General Election Endorsements

Education Voters Action of Pennsylvania Published on September 17, 2012
We are very pleased to announce our first of two rounds of endorsements for the 2012 General Election.  Based on a review of available information, including written materials, public statements, voting records and candidate interviews, Education Voters has decided to endorse the following candidates with a goal of having more legislators who support public education in public office.
These candidates recognize that if our economy and our communities are going to improve and remain strong that it starts with our students.  We need strong policymakers in Harrisburg that are willing to stand up for our values, so we ask that you support public education by supporting these candidates on November 6th!


NYC study: 10 years of choice has not altered link between demography, destiny

Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 25 2012 Posted in Latest news

With Philadelphia firmly committed to creating a "portfolio" of schools as a way to improve outcomes for all students, it seems worthwhile to take note of a study just released by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

The study found that after 10 years of school choice and expanding high school options in New York City, "college readiness rates are still largely predicted by the demographics of a student's home neighborhood." It concludes, "choice has not been sufficient to increase systemic equity of opportunity."


Clearer explanation of Keystone Exam timetable offered by Pennsylvania official

Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt Posted: 10/25/12 12:01 am

On Oct. 16, The Mercury   published an article  regarding the upcoming change-over to the Keystone Exams from the PSSA tests, and how it would require this year’s high school juniors to take a test on algebra 1, a subject most juniors took two years ago.

Several of the districts cited have made passing the state’s standardized exams a graduation requirement.  However, it will not become a state graduation requirement until 2017.

For purposes of clarification, Tim Eller, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, provided the following explanation for how the Keystone Exams will be implemented in an e-mail to The Mercury:


Sequestration: Philly's Head Start programs could be among casualties of going over fiscal cliff

WHYY Newsworks October 24, 2012 By Holly Otterbein
Listen to Holly Otterbein's radio report: Download Audio File »
……During last year's debt-ceiling showdown, Congress and the president agreed to make a deal to reduce the deficit, or else. Now, the federal government will face huge, automatic budget cuts in less than three months if Congress fails to act. This situation is known as the “fiscal cliff.”
Philadelphia officials say that local Head Start programs would lose more than $3 million under that scenario. A school administrator told Li about the potential cuts.  Terry Gillen, Philadelphia's director of federal affairs, says that if the cuts happen, approximately 400 out of 6,000-plus kids in the city would be cut from Head Start.


PDE has scheduled four public hearings regarding eight new cyber charter applications for 2012 (see link below).  If you are interested in submitting comments please note the following deadline:

“Individuals who wish to provide comments during the hearing must send the Department and the applicant a copy of the comments on or before November 5, 2012.”

Pennsylvania Bulletin


Cyber Charter School Application Hearings
[42 Pa.B. 6648] [Saturday, October 20, 2012]

The Department of Education (Department) has scheduled four public hearings regarding eight cyber charter school applications that it received on October 1, 2012. The hearings will be held on Monday, November 26, 2012, Wednesday, November 28, 2012, Thursday, November 29, 2012, and Friday, November 30, 2012, beginning at 9:15 a.m. in Heritage Room B, lobby level, 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA.


The hearings pertain to applicants seeking to operate cyber charter schools beginning in the 2013-14 school year which include: Urban Cyber Charter School, Akoben Cyber Charter School, Mercury Online Charter School of Pennsylvania, Insight PA Cyber Charter School, V3 Cyber Charter School, PA Career Path Cyber Charter School, MB Resiliency Cyber Charter School of Pennsylvania and Phase 4 America Cyber Charter School. The purpose of the hearings is to gather information from the applicants about the proposed cyber charter schools as well as receive comments from interested persons regarding the applications. The applications can be viewed on the Department's web site at www. 


Each charter applicant will have 30 minutes to present information about the proposed cyber charter school. Individuals who wish to provide comments during the hearing must send the Department and the applicant a copy of the comments on or before November 5, 2012. Failure to comply with this deadline will preclude the respective individual from providing verbal comments at the hearing. Verbal comments may be limited based on the number of individuals requesting time to provide comments and may also be limited if the comments are duplicative or repetitive of another individual's comments. 


Each hearing will be conducted by the panel of individuals who have completed an initial review of the applications. The panel members may question the applicants regarding issues identified during their review, as well as issues raised in the written comments filed before the hearing date. Panel members may also question individuals who offer verbal comments. Commentators will not be permitted to question either the applicants or the panel members. Individuals who are unable to attend the hearing may also provide the Department and the respective applicant with written comments on or before November 19, 2012. Any written comments provided to the Department by this deadline will become part of the certified record. 


Comments sent to the Department should be addressed to Marlene Kanuck, Bureau of Teaching and Learning, 333 Market Street, 5th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333. An agenda will be prepared after November 13, 2012, when the Department is aware of the number of individuals who wish to provide verbal comments at the hearing. That agenda will provide the order of presentation, as well as specify the amount of time allotted to each commentator. The agenda will be posted on the Department's web site at, under Public Hearing Notices. 

For questions regarding this hearing, contact Marlene Kanuck at (717) 783-9294 or


Pennsylvania Department of Education

Cyber Charter School Applications submitted to PDE for 2012


“Venizelos cited the explosion of charter schools in recent years as an area that has become ripe for wrongdoing and scrutiny.  In July, a federal grand jury indicted Dorothy June Hairston Brown, a longtime Philadelphia educator and charter school founder, for an alleged fraud that prosecutors said brought the loss of $6.5 million in taxpayer funds.”
FBI in Philadelphia sets up corruption tip hotline
October 23, 2012|By John P. Martin, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the two years since George C. Venizelos took over the FBI's Philadelphia division, the North Jersey native has developed a sense of how corruption works here.
The people and public officials are no more inherently corrupt than in other metropolises, according to Venizelos. But the government structure and history sometimes make the conditions ripe for graft.

“Why is President Obama coercing the states into coughing up billions they don’t have for standards they either don’t need or don’t need right this second? Just to make publishers and test writing companies rich?”

Romney’s right to oppose Common Core (even if wrong on facts)

$500,000 payment to failed Florida charter school principal sparks outrage
By Sevil Omer, NBC News
A Florida state senator is calling for an investigation into the payout of more than $500,000 to the principal of a failed Orange County charter school.  A school board chairman blasted the payout of taxpayer money, which has sparked outrage in Orlando, as “immoral and unethical.” 
Kelly Young, principal of NorthStar High School in Orlando, received a check for $519,453.96 in June, about the same time the Orange County School Board accepted the school’s plan to close in lieu of being forced to shut down based on declining student achievement, The Orlando Sentinel reported.  The Sentinel also reported that Young was “still being paid thousands of dollars a month” at the time to complete the school’s affairs. The school serves about 180 students in east Orange County.

“Simply in words heard, the average child on welfare was having half as much experience per hour (616 words per hour) as the average working-class child (1,251 words per hour) and less than one-third that of the average child in a professional family (2,153 words per hour),” Drs. Hart and Risley wrote.

Betty Hart Dies at 85; Studied Disparities in Children’s Vocabulary Growth

New York Times By WILLIAM YARDLEY Published: October 25, 2012
Betty Hart, whose research documenting how poor, working-class and professional parents speak to their young children helped establish the critical role that communicating with babies and toddlers has in their later development, died on Sept. 28 in hospice care in Tucson. She was 85.

More info on the Reach Out and Read program noted in the article above:

Study: Pediatric Early Literacy Effort a Boon to English Learners

 Lesli A. Maxwell  
A program that uses pediatricians to "prescribe" reading aloud with children and provides developmentally appropriate books to families with young children is showing benefits for at-risk Latino children, including those whose parents do not speak English, a new study shows.
Specifically, poor Latino children who come from households where English is not the primary language and who participate in the early literacy program known as Reach Out and Read from six months of age, have average or above average literacy skills by the end of kindergarten, and good home literacy environments.

Education In The Election: Why It Matters

Huffington Post By CAROLE FELDMAN 10/23/12 03:08 PM ET EDT AP
The issue:
States and local governments have the primary responsibility for education in the United States. But the federal government gets a big say, too, by awarding billions in aid, often with strings attached.
Where they stand:
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney agree that the No Child Left Behind education law needs revisions. But by including things like charter schools and teacher evaluations in his education policies, Obama has angered part of his base – the teachers' unions. Romney says those initiatives "make sense," but he also wants parents to have a greater choice in deciding where to send their children to school. He and Obama differ on voucher programs that use public money to send children to private schools.

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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