Thursday, November 29, 2012

The new “philanthropy”: private agendas vs. public interest

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

The Secrets to Charter School Success in Newark:

Comments on the NJ CREDO Report

School Finance 101 Blog November 27, 2012
Today, with much fanfare, we finally got our New Jersey Charter School Report. The unsurprising findings of that report are that charter schools in Newark in particular seem to be providing students with greater average annual achievement gains than those of similar (matched) students attending district schools. Elsewhere around the state charter schools are pretty much average.
So then, the big question is, what exactly is behind the apparent success of Newark Charter schools – or at least some of them enough to influence the analysis as a whole – that makes them successful? Further, and perhaps more importantly, is there something about these schools that makes them successful that can be replicated?

“….Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado professor who tracks virtual schools, estimated that K12 is on pace this year to spend about $340 per student on advertising, or about 5.2% of its per-pupil public expenditures.  Welner, who directs the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, which has been critical of virtual schools, said that "will put immense pressure on other schools to compete by diverting similar amounts of money to advertising." He estimated that if every public school spent just $250 per student, taxpayers would pay more than $12 billion annually. "That's a lot of tax money spent on something so far removed from actually helping children learn," he said.”

Online schools spend millions to attract students

By Greg Toppo, USA Today

Virtual, for-profit K-12 schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising, an analysis shows.

5:17PM EST November 28. 2012 - If your local public high school has empty seats, the district might lay off teachers. If it's operated by K12 Inc., the company will take out an ad on CNN, The Cartoon Network or and fill those seats.
An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online charter schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating. The primary and high schools -- operated online by for-profit companies but with local taxpayer support -- are buying TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads to attract students, even as brick-and-mortar public schools in the districts they serve face budget crunches.

Shake-up at top of prestigious Philadelphia foundation

Philadelphia Business Journal by Peter Van Allen, Reporter

Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 10:57am EST
The William Penn Foundation said Wednesday its president has stepped down after less than a year and half on the job.  Jeremy Nowak said the “time is right” to part ways.
David Haas, the foundation’s chair, cited “differences in approach” and said the two parties mutually agreed it was time for a change.

Nowak out at William Penn Foundation
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 28 2012 UPDATED: 7:08 p.m.
The William Penn Foundation, citing "differences in approach," has announced that it is searching for a new president and that Jeremy Nowak is leaving.
The foundation's press release says that its board and Nowak, who became president in June 2011, "mutually decided that the time is right for Nowak to transition out of his current role."
Nowak guided the foundation through a strategic planning process, but had also become a lightning rod for controversy -- especially regarding William Penn's role in paying for the Boston Consulting Group to develop a transformation and austerity plan for the School District.

“…what we’re seeing across the country is an unprecedented level of private money shaping public policy under the guise of philanthropy. Too often that agenda has centered around a radical dismantling of public education, increased privatization, and disruptive reform that has sent many districts spiraling into chaos and sustained turmoil.”

The new “philanthropy”: private agendas vs. public interest

Jeremy Nowak is out as president of the William Penn Foundation. In light of his abrupt departure, deeper questions emerge about the role the foundation played under his tenure.
Most notably, Parents United for Public Education has raised serious questions about the Foundation’s role in funding and directing the work of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).  The Boston Consulting Group, a multinational corporation with an educational strategies division, arrived with the stated purpose of creating a District blueprint and a five year financial plan. Instead they parachuted into Philadelphia with a polarizing agenda that called for mass charter expansion, closing dozens of schools, and forcing schools into education management networks.

Editorial: Like it or not, C.U. recovery plan coming

Here we go again.
The Chester Upland School District is distressed, reaching for one more lifeline in a seemingly never-ending infatuation with state control.
Monday night the elected Chester Upland School Board faced a stark choice. Members could suck it up, swallow hard and try to digest the bitter pill that had been prepared by state-appointed Chief Recovery Officer Joe Watkins. Or they could decide to once again tilt at windmills, reject the plan and face the inevitable - a move by the state to place the troubled district in receivership.

Missed Live from the Newsroom talking Chester Upland School District? Here is the replay

Joining us was the man who put together the recovery plan, Chief Recovery Officer Joe Watkins. We also had on hand Democratic school board member Anthony Johnson.
Here is the replay:

Budget cuts stretch schools’ support staff thin

Trib Live By Tory N. Parrish  Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
….Cutting teaching positions has become commonplace as districts reduce budgets. The job losses that often go unnoticed, however, are those of employees who serve in supportive roles, such as teachers aides, librarians, secretaries, custodians and cafeteria workers, experts say.
Rising costs of state-mandated pension contributions, increasing health care expenses, declines in property tax revenue and cuts in government funding have forced districts to make tough personnel decisions, particularly since the average school district spends two-thirds of its budget on personnel, said Jay D. Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials in Harrisburg.
“I think, especially because of the spiraling cost of pensions, that positions that are not instructional in nature tend to be very large targets for those kinds of reductions,” he said.
Experts say the losses, especially of teachers’ aides and librarians, can impact student instruction just as much as the loss of teachers.
Libraries Tell Our Story
Yinzercation Blog November 27, 2012
Libraries are back in the news. Or to be more precise: old news about school libraries is getting some new attention. And it’s evidence of the power of our grassroots movement as we literally change the conversation here in Southwest Pennsylvania, keeping the focus on equity in learning resources for our students.

Education Policy and Leadership Center

“restore the $1 billion in the cuts to public education… oppose school vouchers”
Democrat John Hanger offers himself as the anti-Tom Corbett in announcing his candidacy for governor in 2014
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News  on November 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM
In announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 2014 governor's race, Harrisburg lawyer John Hanger distinguished himself in many ways from Gov. Tom Corbett who he hopes to make a one-term governor.
Hanger would restore the $1 billion in the cuts to public education Gov. Tom Corbett made last year.  He would favor imposing a "reasonable" natural gas drilling tax that Corbett wouldn't. He said he would devote that money to local communities, schools and the environment and called the failure to do "a blooper. It's a disaster."
He would oppose school vouchers that Corbett supports but has been unable to get the Legislature to go along with him. 

‘Finnish Lessons’ author wins $100,000 education prize

Finland’s Pasi Sahlberg, an international leader in education reform, has won a $100,000 education prize from the University of Louisville for his worldwide best-selling book that explains how Finnish schools were reformed to become among the best in the world.
Sahlberg, who directs Finaldn’s Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation,  won the 2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education  for the book “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?” The award is given annually to the person who has the most outstanding idea in education.
How did Finland do it?

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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