Thursday, November 15, 2012

PP4C Report: Pennsylvania's progress in preparing children for school has been 'slow and, at times, immeasurable'

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

Pennsylvania's progress in preparing children for school has been 'slow and, at times, immeasurable,' nonprofit group says

By MONICA VON DOBENECK, The Patriot-News on November 14, 2012 at 7:51 PM
Pennsylvania is not getting much better at preparing its youngest children for school, according to a report issued today by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.  According to the nonprofit organization’s press release, “positive change has been slow, and, at times, immeasurable.”
The report looks at a number of factors that can contribute to a child’s success at school, including poverty levels, access to health insurance, access to pre-K education, early intervention programs and quality child care.
About two out of five Pennsylvania children live in poverty, the report says. About 5 percent lack health insurance, although the state offers universal coverage to children through Medicaid and the CHIP program. Fewer children are getting child care subsidies, and there continues to be a waiting list for subsidized child care programs.
The percentage of children benefiting from high quality publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs dropped to its lowest level since 2007, according to the report.

Pittsburgh Public Schools to vote on resolution opposing sequestration

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 14, 2012 8:24 pm
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board is preparing to vote on a resolution opposing sequestration, which Superintendent Linda Lane said would have a "pretty severe impact" on the district.

“Noted charter school researcher Gary Miron, in a Huffington Post story about the report, points out something that the NAPCS report doesn't address: the growing role of charter management organizations in creating networks of schools. Miron says that, nationally, 42 percent of charter students now attend schools run by such organizations. Here in Philadelphia, they include Mastery, KIPP, Universal, and Young Scholars. The growth of charter networks, Miron argues, has diluted the original purpose of charters as small schools acting as centers of innovation.”
Among largest cities, Philadelphia has highest share of charter students
The Notebook by David Limm on Nov 14 2012 Posted in Latest news
With nearly one in four city students in publicly funded schools attending a charter, Philadelphia is among the top 10 cities in the country for charter market share, according to a report released this week.  Philadelphia, though, is by far the largest district in the country with such a big proportion of students in charters. With more than 200,000 students, the Philadelphia's School District is nearly twice as large as the next biggest district in the top 20, Detroit, which has 113,000 students.

“Part of the task for Republicans is the same: holding together members who represent the most rural and conservative areas of the state as well as the heavily populated and moderate suburbs of Philadelphia. But each Republican senator will have more power to sway policy, especially if Democrats provide a united front against it.”

Narrower majority will confront PA Senate GOP

By: MARC LEVY | Associated Press 
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) The Pennsylvania Senate will embark on a new session in January with the narrowest Republican majority in nearly two decades, after the GOP lost a large cushion that gave them the upper hand and helped them pass several highly partisan bills under Gov. Tom Corbett.

Pittsburgh - Bad Report
Yinzercation Blog November 14, 2012
The latest report on Pittsburgh Public Schools is bad, but no one seems to be asking the right questions. On Monday, A+Schools released its annual summary of Pittsburgh school performance with a dreary assessment: despite years of determined effort, student test scores are down, the racial achievement gap is widening again, and the graduation rate has declined. [A+Schools 2012 Report to the Community] But neither A+Schools nor the Pittsburgh Public School district seem to want to talk about two of biggest reasons why: horrifyingly bad decisions made by the state and poverty.

Pennsylvania Department of Education responds to Bethlehem school district's critique

Lehigh Valley Live By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on November 13, 2012 at 7:37 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education was following the law when it calculated a list of the state's low-achieving schools and when it changed the way a district's tax cap is calculated, a department spokesman said today.  Department spokesman Tim Eller responded to the Bethlehem Area School Board's Monday night rebuke of the department and state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis.

“However, the resolutions considered in Bethlehem and Salisbury go beyond money. They are aimed squarely at Tomalis as he marshals Gov. Tom Corbett's education policies. Those policies, which come at a time of reduced education funding, are centered largely on using tax money to send more children to more private schools, expanding publicly funded independent charter schools, and tying in part student test scores to the pay of public school teachers, not charter school teachers as well.
The proposed resolutions come at a time when the Republican governor's approval ratings remain low, and a big reason for that is public education cuts that have occurred under his two-year administration. But there is growing anger over the administration's push to expand charter schools, which have fewer educational and financial oversight rules to follow than school districts.”

Pennsylvania School Boards Move To Denounce State Education Chief Ron Tomalis

Huffington Post 11/14/12
The Morning Call  |  By Steve Esack Posted: 11/13/2012 4:08 pm EST
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.

Failure to reform charter funding leaves pension bubble on the table

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent November 14, 2012
HARRISBURG — The legislative quagmire that is Pennsylvania’s charter school funding formula once again went unaddressed this legislative session.  That means the state and school districts will continue giving excess pension contributions for charter and cyber charters schools.
It’s one of several fiscal realities that has school district advocates, and some lawmakers, calling for funding formula reform.

Saccone Holds On for the Win in PA 39th House District

Rick Saccone will start his second term much as he began his first: with a mandate of fewer than 200 votes. After all the absentee and provisional ballots were counted, the Republican had a 114 vote lead over Dem challenger David Levdansky.

Erie, Crawford, Warren schools seeking money from intermediate unit
The Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit Five is holding on to millions of dollars that Erie, Crawford and Warren county school officials want back.  A recent financial assessment showed at least $11.8 million in excess funds in the intermediate unit's fund balance and other revenue accounts.  The Edinboro-based intermediate unit is one of 29 across that state that helps districts share services and professional development and provides schools with special education, technology, mental health and other services.

Destroying Good Public Schools = Bad Education Reform
PFT Blog 11/13/2012
The SRC's bottom line focus has our neighborhood public schools in a race to the bottom.
The cost-cutting model of education reform in Philadelphia has had a huge negative impact on neighborhood schools that have struggled to provide children with a top-notch education using very limited resources. But as we’ve seen, the “austerity reform strategy” hurts our more successful schools as well.
The plans to eliminate bus service to the Girard Academy Music Program (GAMP) would destroy one of Philadelphia’s best public schools. GAMP has a well-earned reputation as a premier magnet school, known as much for the diversity of its student body as it is for its stellar music and academic programs.

As state considers 8 more cybers, here's Lancaster Online's broad coverage of PA cyber charters….. 

School of the Future: 10 years after concept, School District and Microsoft partnership prepares for new future
Technically Philly November 12, 2012
In 2006, West Philadelphia’s School of the Future opened boldly, expecting every student to have a laptop by her side every school day. Text books weren’t required.
Three years earlier, Microsoft and the School District of Philadelphia first paired up to design, develop and launch what a school that prepared students for a changing world would look like, built to change the role of education in the city. Microsoft had done something similar before at its Redmond campus in Washington state – with its “office of the future” and “home of the future” — and in 1990 a similarly-named grade school launched in Manhattan.
But the West Fairmount Park location near the Philadelphia Zoo was chosen to be a different kind of model. The school district and Microsoft believed that if this sustainable and technology-influenced initiative could work in Philadelphia, it could work anywhere, and thus could serve as a model for cities around the nation. It’s the same ethos that is driving a social entrepreneurshipconversation here locally now.
In the 10 years since the concept was unveiled and six years since launching, SOF has been challenged by funding troubles, educational attainment shortcomings and all of the headaches and surprises one might expect with launching a new school with a model in Philadelphia’s educational climate of the last decade.

Pedro Noguera’s Good Agenda Going Forward

Diane Ravitch’s Blog November 14, 2012
Pedro Noguera, my colleague AT&T New York University, took my place as blogging partner with Deborah Meier at “Bridging Differences.”  In his latest column, Pedro says that it is not enough to recognize that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have failed. It is necessary to shape a new agenda.  Pedro offers these three elements to a new agenda.

States Target 3rd Grade Reading

Education Week By Erik W. Robelen
At the same time that thousands of school districts nationwide are beginning to implement the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts, many also face new state reading policies for the early grades that call for the identification of struggling readers, require interventions to help them, and, in some instances, mandate the retention of 3rd graders who lack adequate reading skills. A number of states recently adopted such policies, many of which have echoes of a long-standing Florida measure for reading intervention and retention for those who lack adequate reading skills. In all, according to the Education Commission of the States, 32 states plus the District of Columbia now have statutes in place intended to improve reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade.

Counting late graduates strengthens accountability, doesn’t weaken it

The Center for Public Education
The Edifier by Jim Hull November 14, 2012 @ 4:52 pm
Giving credit to schools for graduating those students who take longer than four years to earn a standard high school diploma does not weaken how schools are held accountable as this Education Week article suggests. To the contrary, if accountability systems are set up to measure whether schools are meeting the needs of their students then giving schools credit for their late graduates is a no brainer.

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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