Tuesday, October 30, 2012

School choice has been very very good for State Rep. Christiana

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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If you want legislators who support public education then please support these candidates with your time, your money and your votes.

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!

EITC expansion sponsor State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-15 Beaver) who reportedly received $170K from pro school choice PACS earlier this year, was rewarded with another $100K during the past month.  State Senator Anthony Williams, who received over $6 million from the pro voucher PACS during his unsuccessful run for Governor, got another $50K this past month.
While you are cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy, take a look at what “Tropical Storm Betsy” has dumped into Pennsylvania political campaigns recently
Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children dropped $400K onto PA’s Student first PAC.
Students First PAC then reported that they spent $534K from Sept 18th through Oct. 22nd

“Missing entirely from this quantification is a sense of what really matters in education: real student learning (not just learning how to take standardized tests). Well rounded knowledge outside basic reading and math skills. (Where is art, music, science, history?) Character development. Citizenship. The building score misses the point of education. Yet the state intends to make these scores public and then evaluate teachers on them.
Which begs the question, why does the Department of Education plan to exempt charter schools from this teacher evaluation plan? Charters are quite fond of claiming they are public schools, so why shouldn’t building scores apply to them?”
Evaluating What?
Yinzercation Blog — OCTOBER 29, 2012
If only they spent this much time worrying about adequately funding our schools. The state Department of Education just released a complicated new formula for evaluating teachers that will take effect next fall. One of the new components is a “building score” that will account for 15% of each teacher’s evaluation. That score includes a variety of measures, including students’ PSSA scores, graduation rates, attendance, and whether or not the school offers Advanced Placement courses. Half of every teacher’s score will be based on direct observation, 20% will come from locally developed factors (approved by the state), and 15% from “correlation data based on teacher level measures.” [Post-Gazette, 10-29-12] Whatever that means.

Measuring the worth of a teacher?
L.A. Unified School District's Academic Growth Over Time measurement system, based on students' progress on standardized tests, spurs debate over fairness, accuracy.
By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times October 28, 2012, 6:28 p.m.
How to measure the worth of Los Angeles math teacher Kyle Hunsberger?
The teacher at Johnnie Cochran Jr. Middle School works 60-hour weeks, constantly searches for new teaching ideas and makes every minute count in class. During a fast-paced review of square roots and perfect numbers, he punctuated explanations with jokes, questioned his students to check their understanding and engaged them in group work.
His principal, Scott Schmerelson, praises him as a leader who heads the math department and started a campus program to give struggling students extra help.
Some of his students say he's the best math teacher they've ever had — a caring, funny mentor who explains well, pushes on homework and most of all believes in them.
"He always tells us nothing will stop us from learning and nothing will stop him from teaching us," said Edwin Perez, a gregarious 12-year-old, as three of his classmates nodded.
Yet, according to a key measure of teacher effectiveness used by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Hunsberger is average.


High schools with core courses produce more successful students

Post-Gazette By Kathryn Juric  October 30, 2012 12:09 am
Kathryn Juric is vice president of The College Board's SAT Program (www.collegeboard.org).
When it comes to education policy in the United States today, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: The structure of course work matters.
As states move to implement the Common Core State Standards, the positive impact that core course work and advanced study can have on college readiness is already evident in the SAT performance of recent high school graduates throughout Pennsylvania and the nation.
According to The College Board's 2012 SAT Report on College and Career Readiness, which was released this month, students who completed a core curriculum in high school did significantly better on the SAT than those who did not. A core curriculum is defined as four or more years of English and at least three or more years of math, science and social science or history.

Virtual Ed. Advocates See Potential in Common Core

Education Week By Ian Quillen Published Online: October 15, 2012
Perhaps no segment of educators is more enthusiastic about the transition to the Common Core State Standards than those who work in virtual schools or in blended learning environments that mix face-to-face and online instruction.
With the standards’ emphasis on deeper learning, collaboration, and applied knowledge, some proponents of online education suggest their adoption could lead to the passage of policies that are more friendly to effective online learning. Meanwhile, many online programs are already practicing the other changes inherent in common-standards adoption, such as the use of computer-based online assessments.

The Writing Revolution

The Atlantic October 29, 2012
For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school’s principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, across nearly every subject—one that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.

Chester Upland Charter Sponsor Is Very Successful

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 29, 2012 //
Vahan Gureghian runs a successful charter school called the Chester Community Charter School. The school is nonprofit, but Mr. Gureghian supplies its good and services through his for-profit company and collects millions of dollars as a management fee. Meanwhile the local Chester Upland public schools–whose funds pay for the students in the charter school–is in bankruptcy and under the control of a Governor-appointed “chief recovery officer.” Poor Chester Upland has been controlled by the state for most of the past decade,  yet gets blamed for the fiscal insolvency that the state has deepened and may now use as an excuse to eliminate its public schools.

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