Thursday, December 13, 2012

Philly, York, Harrisburg in today's PA education news......

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1750 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, 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
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A copy of this Inky OP/ED was faxed to all members of the PA General Assembly last night.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is considering eight new cyber charter school applications, including four that would target Philadelphia-area students.
It should not approve a single one.

Pa. would take $300 million hit if fiscal cliff talks fail

TrivLive by By Brad Bumsted  Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
HARRISBURG — If Republican negotiators and President Obama fail to reach a fiscal agreement by Dec. 31, Americans will pay more taxes, and state programs from education to welfare will fall short, interest groups and state officials warn.  Pennsylvania would lose about $300 million in federal money starting in January, said Charles Zogby, Gov. Tom Corbett‘s budget secretary.
“The potential impact of going over the ‘fiscal cliff,‘ on every state, is enormous,” Corbett told the Tribune-Review last week. “It will go to education. It will go to welfare.”
Stop Sequestration
NSBA’s website
The Budget Control Act of 2011 will impose across-the-board cuts of approximately 8.2 percent to education and other domestic programs in FY2013 through a process called sequestration (the cancellation of budgetary resources), unless Congress intervenes.
What can you and your local school district do?

Hite to announce plans to close 37 school buildings

Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 5:16 AM
On Thursday, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. will announce the proposed closures of 37 school buildings, plus multiple other changes coming to the cash-poor Philadelphia School District.  Hite is proposing that the buildings listed for closure - around 20 elementary schools, a handful of middle schools, and about 10 high schools - shut their doors for good in June, according to sources and documents obtained by The Inquirer.

School closings don't address real problems
by thenotebook on Dec 12 2012 Posted in Commentary
Commentary by Dawn Hawkins
The impending announcement that the District will close dozens of schools at year’s end is another wrong-headed reform measure by District leaders. It is a blow to students and parents who place their hopes for the future in a good public education.  My 12-year-old son attends L.P. Hill Elementary in Strawberry Mansion, which will be closed at the end of this school year. Nothing about this decision will improve the education he receives. In fact, school closures have never been shown to improve student achievement. The challenges that my children’s schools face are overcrowded classes, inexperienced teachers that lack support, and children coming from poverty and very challenging lives whose needs are not being met.


WHO: Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, and District leadership
WHAT: Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite will outline the actions that the School District of Philadelphia must take in order to place public schools on the road to a higher-performing school system that improves academic outcomes for all students and is financially sustainable.   
Specifically, the announcement will highlight recommendations to reduce excess capacity, standardize grade configuration and decrease capital expenses.  Recommendations will also expand efforts to improve safety and educational programs and supports for students.
WHERE: Atrium 440 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19130
WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 13 2 p.m.

Audit lesson: fix charters

Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial Published: December 11, 2012
Charter schools are public schools, yet state lawmakers and the Corbett administration continue to allow them to evade the same funding restrictions and accountability standards that apply to conventional public schools.
The U.S. Department of Education recently stopped the administration from diluting charters' test standards to make them appear stronger when compared with conventional schools.
Charter proponents in the state Legislature, meanwhile, steadfastly have refused to alter the funding formula for charters, often allowing them to accrue public funding that is far beyond their actual costs of educating students

York schools recovery officer sees his role as 'very cooperative venture'

ANDREW SHAW / The York Dispatch 505-5431 / @ydblogwork
Updated:   12/13/2012 12:54:09 AM EST
The man who will oversee York City School District's finances is a York County resident with a school board background.
David Meckley, a Spring Garden Township resident, was appointed by Department of Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis as the school district's Chief Recovery Officer.
It's a new role created by the state that will allow Meckley to guide York City schools through a new plan in how they will address their ongoing financial woes, which in recent years have included teacher layoffs, massive tax hikes, mid-year budget shortfalls that required borrowing from the state, and bleeding their surplus dry.
Meckley, a former York Suburban School Board member, is president and owner of Strategic Advantage Inc., which he founded in 2001. Meckley also is a former president and chief executive officer of Flinchbaugh Engineering Inc., and served on the Spring Garden Township Board of Commissioners.

State deems Harrisburg School District in "moderate financial recovery" mode, names Gene Veno chief recovery officer
By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News 
on December 12, 2012 at 4:07 PM
Harrisburg School District is in a state of "moderate financial recovery" and Gene G. Veno of Lower Paxton Township has been named the district's chief recovery officer, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced this afternoon.
Veno, 62, will help implement a financial recovery plan for the district that is plagued by debt and annually faces a budget deficit.  If the school board refuses to adopt the plan, like the city, it would be sent into state receivership.

International Test Panic
Yinzercation Blog December 12, 2012
Stay calm and don’t panic. You’re about to start seeing a whole new wave of alarmist rhetoric over the state of U.S public education with the release yesterday of two new international tests. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS, conducted every 5 years) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, conducted every 4 years) both just announced their 2011 results. [TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center]
This is where headlines, such as the one in today’s Post-Gazette, start to scream things like “U.S. Students Still Lag Globally in Math and Science, Tests Show.” Then the hand-wringing commences over the fact that the U.S. ranks behind South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan (in fact, these tests put us 11th in fourth-grade math, 9th in eighth-grade math, 7th in fourth-grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science). [Post-Gazette, 12-12-12] But the headlines and articles inevitably fail to mention several key points.

Congratulations to East Penn!

School leaders see firsthand the best ways to use technology in classrooms

NSBA’s School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min|December 12th, 2012
The National School Board Association’s (NSBA) Education Technology Site Visits are one of the best ways to see firsthand the best ways to use technology in classrooms. Registration is now open for next year’s tours, sponsored by NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network (TLN).
Four school districts across the nation will demonstrate best practices and newest tools to help improve student learning through technology. 
The 2013 line-up includes:
 Miami-Dade County Public Schools, March 6 – 8, 2013
 Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights, Ill., March 13 – 15, 2013
 East Penn School District, Emmaus, Penn., April 28 – 30, 2013
 Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash., May 1 – 3, 2013

What Works: City Connects serves as a hub for student support activities in schools.
City Connects – Boston College Lynch School of Education
Our school-based model identifies the strengths and needs of every student and links each child to a tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services in the school or community. We efficiently and cost-effectively address the in- and out-of-school factors that impact students’ academic, social-emotional, family, and physical well-being.
City Connects, formerly Boston Connects, is active in Boston and Springfield, Mass., and is a project of the Center for Optimized Student Support at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. City Connects also has a program in Catholic schools.
Our data show that this systematic and scalable approach to meeting the needs of urban students helps children thrive in school, improves academic performance, and significantly narrows the achievement gap. Learn more about our data in ourpublications.

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