Friday, December 21, 2012

What’s missing from the “recovery planning” for Chester Upland, Dusquene, Harrisburg, York, Philly?


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What’s missing from the “recovery planning” for Chester Upland, Dusquene, Harrisburg, York, Philly?

If we want to make a difference for kids in high poverty districts, this is what a solution might look like; things that kids in well funded, middle class, successful public school districts take for granted:

Top 10 education policy wishes

Here are the top 10 items on an education wish list for the holiday season and the New Year. It was written by Greg Kaufmann, who reports on poverty for the Nation, and Elaine Weiss, the national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education. This appeared on  The Nation’s website and was also picked up by Valerie Strauss on her Answer Sheet blog at the Washington Post.

Pittsburgh Public Schools board passes $521.8 million general fund budget

By Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 19, 2012 8:43 pm
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board Wednesday night passed a $521.8 million general fund budget for 2013 but will not set a property tax levy until January due to unfinished county property assessment hearings.
The district's spending plan for the coming calendar year is $8 million, or 1.5 percent, less than the 2012 budget. It envisions no additional school closings but will require the district to again tap into its shrinking fund balance to help offset an operating shortfall that could approach $9.8 million by the end of next year.

York City schools' recovery officer introduces process

David Meckley discussed upcoming work at a school board meeting Wednesday.
By ANGIE MASON York Daily Record/Sunday News Updated: 12/19/2012 10:35:15 PM EST
An advisory committee created to help craft a plan for turning around the York City School District's finances will begin meeting sometime in January, the district's new chief recovery officer said Wednesday night.
The city district was recently declared in financial recovery by the state education department, and David Meckley was appointed as chief recovery officer, tasked with helping the district create a financial recovery plan. Meckley attended Wednesday's board meeting and gave those in attendance a glimpse at what the process will entail. Among the first steps is creating an advisory committee, in accordance with financial recovery law.

“Whatever your opinion may be of charters, there’s no question the District has failed  to explain its inconsistent approach of allowing charter expansion without regard to expense or academic quality while insisting on draconian and widespread sacrifice among District schools. This despite the fact that many of the District schools targeted for closure outperform some of the charters the SRC renewed and expanded last spring.”
Philly mass school closings: Why the numbers don't add up
The notebook Commentary by Helen Gym on Dec 20 2012
Like most of the public, I’ve been baffled by the District’s latest rationale for closing down an unprecedented number of schools in a single year. In observing the school hearings this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou: “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”

School cheating probe winds down
Allentown Morning Call By Kathy Matheson, Of The Associated Press 10:49 p.m. EST, December 20, 2012
PHILADELPHIA — A school cheating investigation that has led to educator suspensions, stricter testing protocols and more than 140 professional misconduct complaints is winding down, state education officials say.  The Philadelphia district and two city charter schools are the only remaining subjects of the 17-month probe into suspicious math and reading scores on standardized tests known as the PSSAs, or Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

Daniel Boone School Board may cut kindergarten, sports, staffing
Pottstown Mercury By Denise Larive Journal Register News Service Posted: 12/19/12 12:01 am
BIRDSBORO — Daniel Boone Area School District parents expressed disbelief Monday night when they heard for themselves that the district’s now half-day kindergarten program is on the chopping block as just one measure to make up a $5 million deficit in the 2013-14 budget.
The school board has until June 30 to adopt a final budget, but district administrators proposed drastic measures to balance the plan at a Dec. 6 meeting.
To make up for the $5 funding shortfall, administration propose the maximum property tax hike allowed by the state, eliminating kindergarten and all extracurricular activities including sports and marching band, eliminating two school buses, and furloughing 40 professional staff, including 28 full time positions.

State's new PennWATCH website makes tons of information available

By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau December 21, 2012 12:19 am
HARRISBURG -- If you'd like to know the number of salaried employees for the milk marketing board (23) or which agency has spent the most this fiscal year (education), you won't need a right-to-know request.  Those facts are among the reams of information on the business of Pennsylvania government available on the new PennWATCH website. The site, the product of a 2011 law, compiles in one place information that is legally public under the state right-to-know law.

PennWATCH

An open window into YOUR state government

It’s your money, find out how it is being spent.  PennWATCH lets you keep tabs on the state budget, spending, revenue, employees and performance – all in one website! 
Learn more about PennWATCH, the agencies that provide data and the types ofinformation included.

Boehner's Plan B fiscal cliff bill pulled amid dissension in GOP caucus

From Deirdre Walsh, Dana Bash and Craig Broffman, CNN
updated 9:10 PM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
Washington (CNN) -- House Speaker John Boehner's proposal to avert the looming fiscal cliff's automatic tax increases has failed to get enough Republican support, throwing yet another monkey wrench into the contentious debate.
Boehner said earlier Thursday that he was confident that his so-called Plan B -- which would extend tax cuts that are set to expire at year's end for most people while allowing rates to increase to 1990s levels on income over $1 million -- would pass the House, and in the process put pressure on President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate. But that gambit seemed in doubt Thursday, as Republican leaders struggled to get all their members to sign on, knowing the chamber's Democrats oppose it.

The Year In Research On Market-Based Education Reform: 2012 Edition

Shanker Blog Posted by Matthew Di Carlo on December 20, 2012
2012 was another busy year for market-based education reform. The rapid proliferation of charter schools continued, while states and districts went about the hard work of designing and implementing new teacher evaluations that incorporate student testing data, and, in many cases, performance pay programs to go along with them.
As in previous years (see our 2010 and 2011 reviews), much of the research on these three “core areas” – merit pay, charter schools, and the use of value-added and other growth models in teacher evaluations – appeared rather responsive to the direction of policy making, but could not always keep up with its breakneck pace.*

"The concentration on examination and testing can have a deleterious effect in a couple of ways. First of all there is documented evidence that kids get stressed out . . . but moreover what we find is that the overemphasis on tests can dampen down some aspects of creativity, critical thinking, originality, aesthetic work and a lot of the kind of higher order competences that are really required for the new economy and for global economies."

Should Singapore scrap the primary school exam?

Updated 3 December 2012, 12:56 AEST
Singapore's education system is known as one of the most competitive in the world, but it's facing big changes.  Singapore's education system is known as one of the most competitive in the world, so it has come as a huge surprise that the country's Ministry of Education and Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) will stop listing the top-scoring students in all national examinations.

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