Monday, November 19, 2012

CITY CONNECTS’ MISSION: To have every child engage and learn in school by connecting each student with the tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services he or she needs to thrive.

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

CITY CONNECTS’ MISSION: To have every child engage and learn in school by connecting each student with the tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services he or she needs to thrive.
Central to City Connects’ work is the belief that addressing the “out-of-school” factors impacting students helps them come to school ready to learn and thrive.  Children living in poverty face especially pervasive and severe out-of-school factors, like hunger, homelessness, and violence.

PA Lawmakers walk away from $500M

Scranton Times Tribune Published: November 16, 2012
Now that the state Legislature has finished its two-year session, lawmakers should reflect on their keen sense of priority. The majority rapidly passed a voter identification law designed to serve partisan political goals, but failed to reform the state and school pension systems - the single largest financial issue facing the state government and 500 local school districts.
In the process, lawmakers allowed to continue a particularly egregious aspect of the state's pension mess: double-dipping by public charter schools.
The Corbett administration and its allies in the Legislature aggressively and successfully have pressed for the creation of public charter schools. They have not, however, been as zealous in pursuit of a fair funding system for charters.

Chief recovery officer named for Duquesne School District

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 17, 2012 12:20 am
Paul B. Long, a McKees Rocks native, graduate of Shaler High School and the U.S. Naval Academy and a former administrator in the North Allegheny School District, has been appointed by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis as the chief recovery officer for the Duquesne School District.  Mr. Tomalis made that announcement Friday in conjunction with making final his declaration of the Duquesne district being in financial recovery status as per the requirements of financial distress legislation for schools that was approved by the state Legislature in June.

Ambitious plan questioned as Chester Upland looks to rebuild school system
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
CHESTER — There has not been a lack of proposals to rescue the Chester Upland School District during the last two decades as it has often wallowed in a pool of red ink — both financially and academically.  The district has operated under various boards of control, witnessed the rise of charter schools and watched as a private company was brought in to run its schools. The state government held control during much of that span, though the school board has run the district since 2010.  The result? Continued underachievement and financial instability.

Guest column: Chester Upland students deserve great schools
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Delco Times By JOSEPH WATKINS Guest Columnist
As the Chief Recovery Officer for the struggling Chester Upland School District, I have met with school administrators, staff, the board, parents, students and members of the school community. Although they may differ on how to achieve results, everyone sees the need for change. But the voices that resonate the most for me are those of the students.

PA Cyber CEO's consulting work questioned

Leader paid by firm to help manage program to which he guided school employees
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 18, 2012 12:31 am
In May 2010, one of the top managers at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School wrote to his leadership team about what he called a "new and exciting program." The online public school's employees would soon be able to get master's degrees from nearby Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio in the highly specialized area of online instruction, wrote Michael J. Conti, then PA Cyber's director of administrative services, and now its CEO.

“But his message on education is evolving from the one he began with last year, when he was heavily critical of school boards and teachers' unions and carried out more than $1 billion in budget-balancing cuts in aid to public schools and state-supported universities.
"We will make historic investments in education and we will always look for ways to give our students, the workforce the tools they need to succeed," he said.”

More Democrats could tangle Corbett's next 2 years

MARC LEVY , The Associated Press  November 18, 2012, 11:56 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. - This month's election results created a less friendly political landscape for Gov. Tom Corbett as he prepares for his 2014 campaign, with Democrats newly elected to attorney general and auditor general pledging to hold the Republican governor accountable and a narrower Senate GOP majority that could complicate his path to success.

SATURDAY, NOV 17, 2012 01:00 PM EST

Michele Rhee’s right turn

The school-reform advocate touts her "bipartisan" bona fides, but more and more of her allies are conservatives

November 6 was a good day for Michelle Rhee. The former Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor, through her organization StudentsFirst, poured money into state-level campaigns nationwide, winning 86 of 105 races and flipping a net 33 seats to advocates of so-called “school reform, a movement that advocates expanding privately run public charter schools, weakening teachers teachers unions, increasing the weight of high-stakes standardized tests and, in some cases, using taxpayer dollars to fund private tuition through vouchers as the keys to improving public education.

Duncan Sketches Out Second-Term Agenda

 Michele McNeil  
In his first major postelection remarks, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he will use his second term to continue to leverage education improvement at the state and local levels, with a new emphasis on principal preparation and evaluation. And, he made clear that if Congress isn't serious about reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which the No Chid Left Behind Act is the current version, then his department won't devote a lot of energy to it.

School Health & Wellness News Roundup: Week of Nov. 12, 2012
City Connects – Optimized Student Support
OUR MISSION: To have every child engage and learn in school by connecting each student with the tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services he or she needs to thrive.

The impact of poverty and out-of-school factors in the news

City Connects Blog NOVEMBER 13, 2012
Central to City Connects’ work is the belief that addressing the “out-of-school” factors impacting students helps them come to school ready to learn and thrive. Children living in poverty face especially pervasive and severe out-of-school factors, like hunger, homelessness, and violence. Three recent articles from Education Week address different aspects of these out-of-school factors and are worth a read:

Christie: Newark teachers' contract a model for US

SAMANTHA HENRY , The Associated Press
POSTED: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 5:23 AM
NEWARK, N.J. - A new teachers' contract in New Jersey's largest city, funded in part by a donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, should be a model for the nation on how to remake a struggling public school system through private-public partnership, Gov. Chris Christie said Friday.  …The contract, ratified earlier this week, allows educators to earn more earlier in their careers and offers bonuses for teaching in low-performing schools and hard-to-staff subjects. The performance pay is funded primarily through a $100 million grant from Zuckerberg, with the district allocating $100 million , half from public sources, half philanthropic , to fund the entire contract.

Former Entertainment Properties gets good returns with diverse portfolio
Company that started with AMC movie complexes adds sports, schools, other niches.
BY KEVIN COLLISON The Kansas City Star November 15, 2012
David M. Brain, president and CEO of EPR Properties, enjoyed the view from the rooftop of 909 Walnut, which houses the firm's headquarters.  What does the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center in Chicago have in common with a charter school in Arizona and the Schlitterbahn water park in western Wyandotte County?
….The most unusual new real estate venture being taken on by EPR is the business of financing charter schools. It’s a growing national industry with an estimated 500 charter schools coming on line each year across the country valued at $2.5 billion.
Brain said his interest was piqued a while back after a question from the Kauffman Foundation about financing a building for a charter school.
The schools receive their funding from the state, with about one-third generally going to the building and administration costs and the rest for classroom expenses. Brain estimated 15 to 16 percent of the school’s budget was available for real estate.
“We realized there are attractive economics to support the business,” he said.  Charter schools now represent a growing share of the EPR portfolio with Arizona, California and Florida being among the more attractive locations.

Lessons from Abroad The Hechinger Report November 16, 2012

Standardized tests a foreign concept in Finland

As the United States focuses more on using tests as a means of holding educators and school districts accountable, Finland—which is one of the top performers on international tests—has gone in the opposite direction.  In the U.S., states give annual high-stakes exams that determine whether schools must undergo reforms, in some cases whether students can pass to the next grade level or graduate from high school, and increasingly whether teachers can receive tenure and keep their jobs. Yet the U.S. tends to rank in the middle on international tests. 
In Finland, by contrast, the few tests students take are low stakes, said Finnish educator, Jari Lavonen in a presentation on Thursday in New York. Assessments are used as a tool for professional development and to help teachers gauge student growth, never for accountability.
Yet, despite a lack of practice, when Finnish students do take standardized exams, they tend to excel. The country ranks consistently near the top in math, reading and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is a standardized test taken by students in dozens of countries. The Finnish school system has become the envy of less successful nations around the world, including the United States.

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


CELEBRATE Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s 5th Anniversary!
Friday November 30th 12 pm1:30 pm
Join us in celebrating 5 years of providing a strong, independent voice for working Pennsylvanians and their families in the halls of the state Capitol and beyond.
Friday~November 30th, 12 pm - 1:30 pm
Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel
201 N. 17th Street | Philadelphia PA 19103
Registration begins at 11:30
Hon. Gene DiGirolamo & Hon. Thomas Murt
Voter ID Plaintiff Legal Team
The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP)
The ACLU of Pennsylvania
The Advancement Project
Arnold and Porter
Hon. Edward G. Rendell | Hon. Vincent Hughes
Hon. Blondell Reynolds Brown | Hon. Maria Quiñones Sánchez | Hon. W. Wilson Goode II
Hon. Diane Ellis-Marseglia | Willig, Williams, & Davidson | Dianne & Ted Reed | Donna Cooper
Public Citizens for Children and Youth | Women Against Abuse
Education Policy and Leadership Center | Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Project H.O.M.E | Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania

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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