Wednesday, November 7, 2012

City Connects: Here’s an alternative approach to effective school reform that bears closer scrutiny by education policymakers at the state and federal levels. (and some election results too....)

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, parent advocates, 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

How did candidates endorsed by Education Voters Action PA fare in yesterday's election?
See our collection of statewide election results:

Twenty years of “school reform” via vouchers, charters and tax credits has not shown them to be systematically any more effective than traditional public schools when it comes to educating high poverty populations of kids.  Here’s an alternative approach that bears closer scrutiny by education policymakers at the state and federal levels:

“The City Connects team has been collecting and analyzing data for 10 years that demonstrate their approach to addressing non-school factors significantly improves academic performance and narrows the achievement gap.  Briefly, their students are doing better on standardized tests, have less retention in grade and chronic absenteeism, and are less likely to drop out of school than students who are never part of City Connects.”

What Works: More on Turning Schools Around

 Stu Silberman   | 1 Comment
In a recent blog post about turning around chronically low performing schools, I stressed the critical importance of principal leadership in making such turnarounds possible.
In response, I heard from staff at City Connects, a non-profit organization that addresses out-of-school factors that affect learning (hunger, homelessness, violence, etc.) in the Boston and Springfield, MA, public schools. Many of these are turnaround schools. City Connects Executive Director Mary E. Walsh wrote: "While strong school leadership is imperative, we believe that it is unfair to ask schools and teachers to bear sole responsibility for closing the economic divide. Systematically addressing out-of-school factors can help students achieve and removes the burden from teachers, allowing them to focus on delivering quality instruction. In fact, our results show that the positive impact of City Connects is greater than the negative impact of poverty when considering student growth in academic achievements across grades 1-5."
At City Connects, trained School Site Coordinators work with teachers and school staff to look at the whole child across four domains: academics, social/emotional/behavioral, health and family. Together, they identify the in- and out-of-school factors affecting every student and match students to community- and school-based services and enrichment activities most appropriate for their individual strengths and needs. The current work is in K-5/K-8 schools with pilots underway for early childhood and high school models.
The results they report are impressive. For a cost of less than $500 per child, they are helping to break through achievement gaps. I believe this program (and others like it), in conjunction with strong development of principals, should be replicated around the country to help turn around chronically low- performing schools.

Here’s the website for City Connects…..
Welcome to City Connects
We are an innovative school-based intervention that revitalizes student support in grades K-8. City Connects collaborates with teachers and school staff to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the school and community designed to help each student learn and thrive. By address the in- and out-of-school factors that impact children, we help students succeed in school.

Dems, GOP Fight to Near-Draw in PA State House

After months of campaigning, it appeared Tuesday night that at least 2 but no more than 5 state House seats would switch party control.  Three straight cycles of wave-sized changes in the state House came to an end with 3 races still pending.

Major school reformer ousted by teacher as Indiana schools superintendent

In a major upset that will delight school reform foes around the country, Indiana voters tossed out  controversial state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and elected veteran teacher Glenda Ritz in his place, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The vote has resonance beyond Indiana because Bennett was a leader of the national market-driven school reform movement who pushed through a statewide voucher program and took other steps that critics said amounted to the privatization of public education.
Ritz opposes many of the initiatives that Bennett supported, including vouchers (though she can’t change the 2011 state law allowing vouchers), charter schools and state takeover of failing schools. She has also raised questions about the Common Core State Standards adopted by the state.

Florida rejects using public funds for religious school tuition

Florida voters defeated a measure that would have allowed the use of public funds for religious school tuition, effectively turning back an effort that was expected to lead to a state-wide voucher program.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that only 44 percent of voters supported Amendment 8, aimed at repealing a state constitutional ban on sending state money “directly or indirectly” to any “church, sect or religious domination,” which includes religious schools. The initiative needed 60 percent of the vote to pass.

 “We're all going to wake up some morning and find that our local school boards have no control over the schools and our teachers have been replaced with inexperienced TFA folks willing to work for next-to-nothing to help pay back their student loans.”

Help! Someone Collect All the Elections that Privatizers Are Buying

Diane Ravitch’s Blog November 6, 2012 //
I keep seeing articles about elections influenced by out-of-state and out-of-district contributions.
Sometimes, as in Los Altos, California, and in New Orleans, the elections are for local school board.
Sometimes, as in Louisiana, the election is for state school board.
Sometimes, as in Indiana and Idaho, the election is for state superintendent.

Sequestration: Lame duck looking lamer as fiscal cliff nears

Politico By AUSTIN WRIGHT and TIM MAK | 11/6/12 4:45 AM EST
The Washington defense establishment used to expect the life-or-death question of sequestration would be decided after Tuesday’s elections, in Congress’s year-end closing session. But the conventional wisdom has shifted: Now it appears that no matter who wins the White House, the lame-duck Congress is unlikely to have the last word.
That’s the consensus of defense watchers across Washington, several of whom told POLITICO they even expect sequestration to take effect, at least for the first few weeks after its official start date, Jan. 2. Billions of dollars in defense spending ride on the outcome of the election, as President Barack Obama has pledged to draw down the military, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney has said he’d plus it up.
So what might an endgame look like in the war of sequestration?

Sequestration: Staffers dreading fiscal cliff slog

Politico By DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 11/6/12 4:30 AM EST
Hill staffers are gearing up for the fiscal cliff slog: the six-week stretch of lame-duck negotiations expected to stomp right through Thanksgiving and up to Christmas.
It’ll be less grueling if Mitt Romney wins Tuesdaybecause that would very likely delay big decisions on tax policy, spending cuts and entitlement reform until after he’s sworn in.
But should President Barack Obama capture a second term, Democratic and GOP aides on both ends of the Capitol expect a serious attempt to address expiring tax cuts and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts mandated to begin right after the new year.

Point Person: Our Q&A with John Kuhn on school’s over-reliance on testing

by Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rodger Jones.  Published: 02 November 2012 07:21 PM
John Kuhn, superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt school district in Jack County, northwest of Fort Worth, is active speaking out and writing critically about public-education reformers. He’s gained some fame for his oft-quoted “Alamo letter” from 2011, in which he vowed never to surrender the fight for his students. Now that more than 850 Texas school boards have signed on to a resolution against over-reliance on high-stakes testing, we asked Kuhn what that movement is all about. 

There's still time to register for the Pittsburgh school library briefing on November 15th!
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, and learn about the investments in school library programs needed to prepare 21st-century learners:

Education Policy and Leadership Center

Register Now! 2012 Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium November 16th

The registration fee is $25 if paid by November 12, and $30 if paid after November 12 or on-site. Click here to register for the symposium.
Wildwood Conference Center Harrisburg Area Community College
Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Investing in Early Education Matters, Even in These Difficult Economic Times - "Erie Region Breakfast Series" Monday, November 19, 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
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
Darlene Kovacs, VP Administrative Services, 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.
Building One Pennsylvania – Fundraiser November 29th
Join us at our first fundraiser and awards ceremony to celebrate our progress in promoting inclusive, sustainable and economically prosperous communities.
Austin Room at IBEW Electrical Union 654
3729 Chichester Avenue, Boothwyn PA 19061

Thursday, November 29th from 6:00 – 8:00 PM
$100 per person • $75 for Building One Pennsylvania Member
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan
Estelle Richman, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Isaac Dotson, Yeadon Economic Development Corporation
Tom Gemmill, St. James Episcopal Church, Lancaster
Rev. Marlon Millner, Norristown Municipal Council and McKinley Memorial Baptist Church


Education Law Center invites you to a special evening December 5th
Honoring Len Rieser
Welcoming Rhonda Brownstein
And celebrating public education champions
Mary Gay Scanlon, Harold Jordan, Arc of PA, The Bridges Collaborative and School Discipline Advocacy Services
Food, Drink and Silent Auction
December 5, 2012 , 5:30 PM
Crystal Tea Room The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

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