Saturday, October 6, 2012

Who's cheating now? PA Sec'y of Education Reform Tomalis' rules change appears to have inflated success rate of some charter schools.




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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Commentary: PA charter school reform should protect taxpayers, not just K12, Inc. CEO Ron Packard and CSM CEO Vahan Gureghian
Keystone State Education Coalition October 4, 2012
Pennsylvania lawmakers should consider the following principles in any charter school reform legislation:

Commentary: Charter school lobby seeks to restrict democratic control of schools
The notebook by Ron Whitehorne on Oct 05 2012
Gov. Corbett's administration, supported by the charter school lobby, is seeking to pass a change in the charter school law that would effectively remove control of charter schools from local communities in favor of a statewide commission of political appointees. The proposed law would also ease requirements for prospective charter school operators, increase the term for renewals from five to 10 years, and dramatically increase the ability of local school boards to convert existing public schools to charters.
Under the revisions, any district-run school, regardless of its performance, could be targeted for conversion to a charter, and the requirement that some parental and community support be demonstrated is dropped. The law would also exclude the records of some charter school vendors from the “right to know” law.

The PA Legislature is in recess until October 15th
Please contact 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

Corbett's education chief changes PSSA testing rules for charter schools without federal approval
Rules change appears to have inflated success rate of some charter schools.
By Steve Esack and Eugene Tauber, Of The Morning Call 4:13 p.m. October 5, 2012
A review of PSSA math and reading scores shows charter schools outperformed traditional public schools in 2012.  That's because state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis, at the behest of charter school advocates, changed the testing rules in a way that makes it easier for charter schools to meet state benchmarks.
But the change Tomalis quietly instituted was done so without receiving the required approval from the federal Department of Education.


“As a result, 44 of the 77 charter schools that PDE has recently classified as having made AYP for 2011-12 in fact fell short of the targets for academic performance that other public schools had to meet, some even declining in proficiency percentages rather than making gains.”
PDE using unapproved formula to artificially inflate charter school AYP numbers
PSBA 10/5/2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has implemented a new way of determining whether charter schools have met student achievement milestones for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The new method is less stringent than the standards that must be met by traditional public schools, and which until this year were also applied to charter schools. As a result, 44 of the 77 charter schools that PDE has recently classified as having made AYP for 2011-12 in fact fell short of the targets for academic performance that other public schools had to meet, some even declining in proficiency percentages rather than making gains.

My spies tell me that guests for this discussion may include MatthewJ. Brouillette, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives and Helen Gym, former Notebook editor and a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane
Radio Times discusses parent trigger Monday October 8th at 10 am
Are you familiar with the 'parent trigger' laws? And how do you feel about parents taking schools into their own hands to ensure the outcome of the children's education and safety? Some states have enacted such laws, and there's a bill in the Pa legislature to move this along in the commonwealth. Join us Monday morning at 10 to hear a debate on the controversial issue.
You can listen live on Monday at this link: http://www.whyy.org/91FM/live.php

Want to call in during the show?

Won’t Be Silent
Yinzercation Blog — OCTOBER 5, 2012
The new film, “Won’t Back Down,” is a thinly-veiled propaganda piece produced by ultra-right ideologues bent on privatizing one of our most cherished public goods. It’s a blatant attempt to inject “parent trigger laws” into the national conversation on education, laws pretending to give parents and teachers control over struggling schools that in reality strip away local control and hand schools over to private corporations. But you wouldn’t have known any of that from the panel discussion after a private screening of the movie held Wednesday night.
Hosted by A+Schools along with the Pittsburgh Public School district and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, the film screening played to a packed theater of parents, teachers, and community members. Perhaps sensing the mood of the audience, we were told not to boo during opening remarks by Randy Testa (Vice President of Education at Walden Media which produced the film) who was inexplicably invited to this event. Despite essentially having a two-hour infomercial to tell his story, complete with Hollywood stars and a tear-jerking soundtrack, Testa was also infuriatingly given the majority of microphone time.

It is what it is. But what if it’s WRONG?

At the chalk face blog October 4, 2012 by Tim Slekar
Last night I attended my local school board meeting to use my three minutes of public comment time to address the board.  I was there to continue my comments from last school year on teacher evaluations and why the board should at least think about the consequences when our teachers and principals will be forced to have 50% of their evaluation determined by the invalid high stakes test scores of the children taking these invalid measurements.

Posted: Fri, Oct. 5, 2012, 3:01 AM
Esperanza gets $2M grant to form middle school
By Aubrey Whelan Inquirer Staff Writer
A North Philadelphia charter high school is set to add a 635-pupil middle school to its burgeoning population by next year, thanks to a $2 million grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership.
Esperanza Academy, founded in 2000, already serves 750 students in North Philadelphia's Hunting Park neighborhood. About 17 percent of the majority-Hispanic student body speaks English as a second language, and while anyone in the city can apply to attend Esperanza, the school largely serves lower-income students in and around Hunting Park.
….The high school's grant comes less than a month after another expansion grant PSP awarded to Powel Elementary, a K-4 public school in West Philadelphia. That $215,000 grant, which will allow the school to add a fifth grade and 500 more students, marked the first time PSP had funded a Philadelphia public school as opposed to a charter or private school.

Private Dollars for Longer School Days

 Nora Fleming  
Schools in North Carolina may be lengthening their calendar in an effort to improve high school graduation rates, but footing the bill with at least $55 million in donated dollars, according to an article in The Charlotte Observer.
According to the article, the North Carolina legislature authorized nine schools in the Charlotte area to lengthen their school days, but didn't authorize any additional funding to pay for the extra costs accrued with more time in school.
In response, a coalition of foundations, local businesses, and other donors has pooled resources—amounting to $55 million—that they want to use to lengthen the calendar at the local high school and the eight schools that feed into it in an initiative called Project LIFT: Leadership and Investment For Transformation

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 www.buildingonepa.org or by emailing name, title, organizational affiliation, address, phone and email to  info@buildingonepa.org.   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
www.psba.org/workshops/school-leadership-conference/

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 aei-pa.org 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!

http://www.aei-pa.org/

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