Friday, October 5, 2012

Teachers in the state's public schools have higher targets to meet and less money to do it

Send a Letter to the President on October 17

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 3, 2012 /
Earlier I posted the draft of a letter to President Obama and asked for your help.
I got some excellent suggestions.
To begin with, this is not an online petition, but an invitation to join together to write your own individual heartfelt letter to the President and to email the White House on the same day.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

The PA Legislature is in recess until October 15th
Please consider contacting your state senator and state rep regarding charter school reform during this break
You can bet that the charter school lobbyists are not taking a break

Teachers in the state's public schools have higher targets to meet and less money to do it

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 4, 2012 7:30 am
The release of the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores last week provided some shocking results:  The number of districts making adequate yearly progress, known as AYP, statewide fell from 94 to 60.9 percent and the number of districts in Allegheny County that failed to make the mark increased from four in 2011 to 17 in 2012.
Making those results even more disturbing is the fact that they come just two years before the federal No Child Left Behind Law requires 100 percent of students to test proficient or advanced in math and reading or districts and schools face possible sanctions, including such drastic measures as the loss of federal funds or state takeover.
And, while scores are moving in the wrong direction, the road will get rockier next year as targets increase again and districts continue to struggle with limited resources and new state rules that make it harder for districts and schools with special education subgroups to hit their targets.

Eyes On Hite: Community organizers hope to influence superintendent’s reform plan
thenotebook on Oct 04 2012 by Bill Hangley, Jr.
With a window of just a few months before Superintendent William Hite issues his recommended reforms for the School District of Philadelphia, a coalition of education and labor advocates is hoping to bring its influence to bear.
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools includes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), Youth United for Change (YUC), Action United, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and more. The group opposes many aspects of a reform plan produced for the District by the Boston Consulting Group that calls for the closure of over 60 schools and the introduction of a decentralized "portfolio" management model.

“He said the state looks at how many students were in ninth grade, and then in four years checks to see if that same number has graduated.
“Where the problem comes in is that if we have a severely autistic student that goes to Clairview until they’re 21, which is totally their right to do, that counts against that graduation rate…”

Area schools miss mark with AYP scores

Tribune Review By Rachel Basinger Friday, October 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
High schools in the Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland and Frazier school districts did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress marks.  Area superintendents attribute the failure to a change in the way the state looks at graduation rates.
USA PISA Results by School Poverty: the USA ranks 1st in the world for schools with less than a 10 percent poverty rate. (courtesy presentation by Dr. Linda Darling Hammond)

Will the Next "Education President" Please Stand Up?

 Anthony Jackson  
The nation watched as President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney debated domestic policies. My colleague Brandon Wiley shares his thoughts on strategies from other high-performing nations, and what is still missing from American political discourse.
by Brandon Wiley
Issues ranging from the economy to increasing international tensions dominate the headlines and election dialogue. Education has been reserved for discussion for "another day," that was until both presidential candidates participated in NBC's recent Education Nation Summit and then again referenced education several times in tonight's presidential debate.
NBC provided a platform for both candidates to highlight their beliefs about the problems and potential solutions aimed at improving the U.S. education system. Again tonight, both candidates wove their beliefs about education into their domestic policy stance. Unfortunately neither candidate offered many specifics and even some details they did offer were downright troubling. In the end, we are left with mixed signals from both candidates about how they will drive education reform and innovation during their presidency.

Turnaround Strategy Needs Turning Around, Says NEPC Report

 Jackie Zubrzycki  
Guest blog post by Jaclyn Zubrzycki
Efforts to improve schools through "turnaround" efforts like those supported by the federal Student Improvement Grant program are based on "faulty evidence and unwarranted claims," says a policy brief released Monday.  The brief by the National Education Policy Center, an education research organization based at the University of Colorado at Boulder, includes a critical review of current research on turnaround programs and makes recommendations for what it describes as a "more democratic" process for school turnarounds.

Pennsylvania’s cyber charters are discussed in this interview……

Diane Ravitch on the "Effort to Destroy Public Ed"

Part 2 of the Prospect's interview with the former assistant secretary of education
Click here to read part 1 of the Prospect's interview with the former assistant secretary of education.
When Diane Ravitch changed her mind about education reform, she became one of the leading critics of a movement that dominates American policy. For the most part, both Democrats and Republicans now push to make school systems resemble economic markets. They want fewer teacher protections, more testing, and more charter schools for parents to choose from. President Barack Obama's Department of Education, headed by education reformer Arne Duncan, shares many policy goals with those of George W. Bush's administration. Ravitch herself was once part of the movement, promoting student assessments and helping to create voluntary academic standards. After serving as assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush, she held positions at the pro-school-reform movement Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and was a member of the Koret Task Force at Stanford's Hoover Institution, which focuses on school choice and "accountability." But in 2009, Ravitch left both positions and wrote a book announcing her move to the other side of the debate.

The Texas Anti-Testing Revolution

Huffington Posst by Jason Stanford Posted: 10/04/2012 1:10 pm
If this were a John Steinbeck novel, they'd be picking fruit in California, playing an unwinnable game according to unfair rules. This meeting would be held in secret amid a real threat of violence. Drunk on hope and certain their cause was just, our heroes would rise up only to end up broken and beaten. But this isn't a John Steinbeck novel. It's worse.
It's Texas.


Strain for Teachers Runs Deeper Than Budget Cuts

By MORGAN SMITH Published: October 4, 2012
When Liz Peterson, a Teach for America alumna, became an educator 14 years ago, she thought of teaching as a form of social justice. She felt the call to teach because she wanted to help close the achievement gap between poor students and their more affluent peers.  But in August, as the new school year began, Ms. Peterson found herself teaching somewhere she had never imagined she would.
“I never ever, ever considered teaching at a private school,” Ms. Peterson said. “That was never a thought in my mind.”
Since the Legislature eliminated more than $5 billion in financing from public education in 2011, some early results are easily quantifiable — like the approximately 25,000 employees shed from the state’s schools and the more than 6,200 additional elementary school classes that have more than 22 students.

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. 

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!

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