Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lancaster Online: 10 pieces on PA Cyber Charters

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

Testing and More Testing
Yinzercation Blog November 12, 2012
It’s National Education Week and it’s time to talk about testing. High-stakes-testing that is. These are not the old end-of-unit quizzes you and I took in school. We’re talking about an entirely new system of labeling and punishing schools that is having dire consequences for students. Hand in glove with other corporate-style “reform” measures and draconian state budget cuts such as we’ve seen here in Pennsylvania, high-stakes-testing lies at the heart of the modern attack on public education.

Area school boards move to denounce state education chief

Bethlehem Area and Salisbury Township districts say Ron Tomalis' policies favor charters at the expense of traditional public schools.

 1:39 p.m. EST, November 12, 2012
Fed up with what they perceive as a series of unfair laws targeting public school funding and testing, two local school boards are considering resolutions denouncing state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis and his agency.
The Bethlehem Area School Board's Human Relations Committee decided Monday to seek support among other Lehigh Valley school boards and local state lawmakers for a regional resolution against Tomalis, saying he has tilted the agency toward charter schools and away from school districts.
Bethlehem has a backer, the Salisbury Township School District. Bethlehem plans to vote on its resolution in January with or without additional support, said Bethlehem board President Michael Faccinetto.

Mechanicsburg teachers, school board reach contract agreement that freezes salaries for a year

Patriot News by Roger Quigley  on November 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM
The Mechanicsburg Area School Board and its teachers union have reached tentative agreement on a four-year contract that would run through June 2017.
The proposed agreement, under which salaries would remain frozen for the 2013-14 school year, is listed for possible action on the agenda for the board’s meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Under the proposed contract, salaries would increase 2.3 percent in the 2014-15 school year, 2.45 percent in the 2015-16 school year and 2.5 percent in the 2016-17 school year.

CYBER-CHARTERS: Public schools outperform cyber-charter schools

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Nov 11, 2012 21:29
Lancaster Online SUNDAY NEWS SOURCE: Pa. Dept.ofEducation
PVAAS Charts Public schools outperform cyber-charter schools
How public school districts and cyber-charter schools performed on 2012 PSSA and PVAAS assessments. Schools in the upper right quadrant of each graph showed the highest achievement and most academic growth in each subject. Schools in the lower left quadrant had the lowest achievement and least growth

CYBER-CHARTERS: Critics: More oversight needed

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Nov 11, 2012 21:29
Taxpayers can get an inside look at local school districts by visiting their child's classroom or attending a school board meeting.
Brick-and-mortar charter schools are authorized and overseen by the school district in which they're located, giving nearby residents some degree of input.
But taxpayers have considerably less opportunity to understand and influence cyber-charter schools.

CYBER-CHARTERS: Booming days for cyber-charters

Lancaster Online Sunday News Nov 11, 2012 05:55
Cyber-charter school enrollment has grown dramatically in recent years.
According to the state Department of Education, 15,838 students attended Pennsylvania cyber-charter schools in 2006-07. 
Five years later, enrollment had more than doubled, to 32,322  students.

CYBER-CHARTERS: Who is taking the attendance at cyber-charter schools?

Lancaster Online Sunday News Nov 11, 2012 05:55
Cyber-charter leaders say many checks and balances are in place to make sure students log on and do their work.  But critics say tracking attendance relies too heavily on the honesty of the student and the dedication of the student's family.

CYBER-CHARTERS: Cyber-charter schools: Are they making the grade?

Spending school days online, not in classroom
Lancaster Online Sunday News Nov 11, 2012 05:59
Supporters say the schools offer choice and flexibility to families, who, for a variety of reasons, are dissatisfied by their experiences in traditional school districts.
Critics, on the other hand, say cyber-charters produce lackluster academic results, operate without sufficient oversight and put a financial strain on local districts.
Read more: 

CYBER-CHARTERS: Schools list reasons some students not keeping up

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Nov 11, 2012 21:29
Cyber-charter schools' annual reports offer a number of explanations for their academic performance.  The reports, which generally are hundreds of pages long, are public information posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website.

CYBER-CHARTERS: Prospects for pupils following graduation

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Nov 11, 2012
How do cyber-charter students fare after graduation?
Commonwealth Connections Academy's website lists nearly 500 colleges and universities that have accepted its graduates, including Harvard University and Amherst College.
The cyber-charter school has proven its academic rigor, CEO Dr. Maurice Flurie said.
"We have kids in every academic institution in the commonwealth and some in Ivy League colleges," he said.


CYBER-CHARTERS: Cyber-charter pupils not connecting well on Pa. tests

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Updated Nov 12, 2012 10:18
Originally Published Nov 11, 2012 21:30
2nd of four parts
SusQ-Cyber Charter School promises "the best education possible."
PA Distance Learning Charter School claims it "fosters academic excellence."
But neither school has made "adequate yearly progress" for at least three years. PA Distance's graduation rate is 51 percent. SusQ's is 32 percent.
Cyber-charter critics cite those and other objective academic measures in arguing that the schools don't measure up.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/775900_CYBER-CHARTERS--Cyber-charter-pupils-not-connecting-well-on-Pa--tests.html#ixzz2C2ncs6io


CYBER-CHARTERS: Districts floored by payments to charter-cyber schools

Lancaster Online Sunday News Nov 11, 2012 05:56
Lancaster County school districts' annual cyber-charter costs are soaring.
According to a Lancaster Newspapers analysis, county districts paid almost $14 million in cyber-charter tuition in 2011-12.
That's nearly triple the total amount paid in 2007.
The state previously reimbursed up to 30 percent of districts' cyber-charter tuition costs. But the 2011-12 state budget eliminated the reimbursements, putting a greater burden on already-strapped school districts.

CYBER-CHARTERS: School district tuition payments per student (Chart)

UPDATE: Bank of America Raises PO to $25 on K12 on Outlook for New School Openings

David Johnson, Benzinga Staff Writer November 12, 2012 12:00 PM
Bank of America reiterated its Buy rating on K12 (NYSE: LRN ) and increased its price objective from $24 to $25.

K12 Inc.: Churn, baby churn…….

Prior Keystone State Education coalition posting from May 2012

Related New York Times article:
Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools, 12/12/11 by Stephanie Saul

PA Cyber Charter PSSA AYP 2005 - 2012 from PDE

Updated September 26, 2012
Of 12 PA cyber charters -only 1 made AYP for 2012
only 2 made AYP for 2011 while 8 were in corrective action status.

Lawsuit Brewing Over Georgia Charter Amendment

 Andrew Ujifusa  
In my most recent story for the newspaper, I wrote about how Election Day turned out to be a big win for charter school advocates, with the decision by Georgia voters to approve a new statewide commission to approve charters a big reason. The amendment on the ballot got 59 percent of the vote, which seemed to send a clear signal to Peach State politicians.
But some don't see it that way. The state's Legislative Black Caucus will reportedly join a lawsuit filed Oct. 26 by a pastor alleging that the amendment's wording misrepresented what its passage will actually accomplish. (The lawsuit is filed against Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican).

A better way to grade teachers

Effective evaluation requires rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers' instruction, looking at classroom practice and evidence of student learning.

November 5, 2012
It's becoming a familiar story: Great teachers get low scores from "value-added" teacher evaluation models. Newspapers across the country have published accounts of extraordinary teachers whose evaluations, based on their students' state test scores, seem completely out of sync with the reality of their practice. Los Angeles teachers have figured prominently in these reports.

Gregory Thornton was the Superintendent at Chester Upland for three years prior to becoming Superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools in July 2010

A call to parents and community

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel By Gregory Thornton Nov. 10, 2012
I've visited more than 50 schools since the first day of school on Sept. 4. I'm impressed with what I've seen; teachers are instructing students with greater rigor thanks to our comprehensive literacy, mathematics and science plans aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
Our efforts are showing signs of paying off. New state Department of Public Instruction school report cards found schools in Milwaukee Public Schools are growing student achievement at a rate better than or roughly the same as the rest of the state. Our students lag in overall achievement, but we're headed in the right direction.
We are working hard to help students succeed academically. We need the assistance of parents and the community in demanding students have the kind of behavior that allows them, and others, to succeed. 

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


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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