Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A couple Rheesponses and a Rhee-run

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.

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One Page Primer on the Education Reform Debate
From Education Week, Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue Blog January 1, 2013

“Students remain in the program until they graduate from college, and supporting them is not cheap - $3,040 per student per year.  But the results are strong. Last year, 100 percent of high school students in the program graduated, and 94 percent began college. Program-wide, the college graduation rate is 53 percent; the citywide college graduation rate is 10 percent.”

What Works: Philadelphia Futures

Nonprofit that helps students in need gets $1 million

Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer January 9, 2013, 4:06 AM
Imagine you're the head of a local nonprofit. What's the best thing that could happen to your organization?  Would a check for $1 million work?
That's just what happened recently to Joan Mazzotti, executive director of Philadelphia Futures, which provides intense college preparation and support to underserved city public school students. A donor slid an unexpected and unrestricted check containing many zeroes across her desk.

School closings plan gets raucous reception in North Philadelphia
By Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner January 9, 2013
Nearly a thousand angry students and parents from North Philadelphia turned out to a community meeting Tuesday night to challenge the School District’s school closing plan, which would hit their neighborhood especially hard.  “How do you justify closing 12 schools in North Philadelphia?” asked Shamiah Simms, a 6th grader at TM Peirce Elementary at 23rd and Cambria Streets.

“A good principle in life and in public policy is that when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging. Pennsylvania's current roster of cyber charter schools is costing school districts and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year while delivering results that lag far behind state standards and the performance of other public schools, including traditional charters.”
The state should impose a moratorium on new cyber charter schools
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette By Adam Schott January 8, 2013 12:08 am
Adam Schott is a senior policy analyst at Research for Action, a nonprofit organization that studies and works to reform education policy ( He also is a former executive director of the State Board of Education.
The Pennsylvania Depart- ment of Education has the opportunity to make a meaningful New Year's resolution when it comes to raising standards for performance and accountability.
Across the commonwealth, public school districts face unprecedented financial and structural challenges, leading many -- including Pittsburgh's -- to drain reserves, furlough staff and end proven, research-based programs. Yet one sector of public education is burgeoning, due in part to a lack of sufficient regulation by the state and a funding system that creates incentives for rapid growth.
More than 30,000 students attend Pennsylvania's 16 cyber charter schools, four of which are new this year. With eight more cyber charter applications before the Department of Education, the sector's footprint could go up by as much as 50 percent in the span of just six months.

“Rhee assumes that better test scores equal better education. She never once mentions literature or history or science or civics or foreign languages; she doesn’t talk about curriculum or instruction. She never calls out a teacher for poor instruction or a principal for a weak curriculum; she is interested only in the bottom line, and that is the scores.”

Ravitch: My Commentary on the PBS Rhee Special

Diane Ravitch’s Blog January 8, 2013
I was invited by Frontline to offer reactions to the documentary about Michelle Rhee. I was disappointed that the documentary did not mention that Rhee is now working on behalf of a far-right agenda of privatization; that Washington Teachers Union President George Parker now works for StudentsFirst; that Rhee’s “miraculous gains” as a teacher in Baltimore have been discredited. But I had space limitations. So this was my commentary:

Lessons from Michelle Rhee
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 08 2013
Tuesday night, Frontline is airing a documentary, by my friend John Merrow, on Michelle Rhee. Merrow, who has been following Rhee's career since her days with the New Teacher Project and was granted unprecedented access to her, includes allegations from a former principal that the Washington, D.C., school district failed to pursue allegations of adult cheating on tests.

Rhee-run: Watch Frontline’s “The Education of Michelle Rhee”
PBS video runtime 53:40

Gates Foundation airs model to evaluate teachers

Observations, tests, pupil surveys used
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 9, 2013 12:07 am
After studying the classrooms of 3,000 teachers, including some in Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has concluded the best way to determine teacher effectiveness is to use a combination of state test results, observations and student surveys.  The foundation Tuesday released the final findings from its three-year Measuring Effective Teaching project.

Here’s a critique of the above Gates’ findings….

The 50 million dollar lie

Gary Rubinstein's Blog January 9, 2013

Last year I spent a lot of time making scatter plots of the released New York City teacher data reports to demonstrate how unreliable value-added measurements are.  Over a series of six posts which you can read here I showed that the same teacher can get completely different value-added rankings in two consecutive years, in the same year with two different subjects, and in the same year with the same subject, but in two different grades.

Catasauqua schools chief: Medical Academy Charter School isn't delivering
Catasauqua board gives Medical Academy Charter School a month to prove itself.
By Bill Landauer, Of The Morning Call 11:06 p.m. EST, January 8, 2013
The Catasauqua Area School Board said Tuesday night it might move to revoke the Medical Academy Charter School's charter in 30 days if the school doesn't prove it's offering what it promised.  District Superintendent Robert Spengler told the board that the charter school isn't the school that board members were promised when they approved its charter in February 2012.
The school's organizers said they created Medical Academy Charter School to help meet the needs of the booming health care employment market. They said they would offer a medical-related curriculum with opportunities for hands-on experience, like job shadowing at area hospitals.

Senate Panel to Take a Closer Look at NCLB Waivers

 Alyson Klein  
So far, without much public scrutiny from Congress, the U.S. Department of Education has been able to issue 35 waivers that made big, big changes to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. 
Many folks in Washington have been wondering whether lawmakers will take a closer look at how the waivers are playing out. After all, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said that the waivers could help inform a long-stalled renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and that's ultimately going to be Congress' job.

Former teacher, middle class advocate Elizabeth Warren joins influential U.S. Senate education committee
NEA Education Votes by Félix Pérez Posted January 8, 2013
The first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, Elizabeth Warren aspired to be a teacher when she was a youngster growing up in Oklahoma. And teach she did – special education students at a New Jersey elementary school.  These days, Warren is still involved with public education, but from a vantage point she never envisioned while earning a degree in speech pathology and audiology. Last week, Warren was sworn in as the newest U.S. senator from the state of Massachusetts.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
SAVE THE DATE: 2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit Feb. 21st
Many Pennsylvanians have sent a clear message to Harrisburg in recent months: The state budget cuts of the past two years were too deep. It is time to once again invest in classrooms and communities.  Next month, Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his 2013-14 budget proposal. Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for an in-depth look at the Governor's proposal and an update on the federal budget -- and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania.
2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hilton Harrisburg, 1 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA
Registration is free and lunch is included.


The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2013 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Registration is $45 and includes coffee/donuts, lunch, and materials.  
Philadelphia Region Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 1605 W. Main Street, Norristown, PA 19403
Harrisburg Region Saturday, February 9, 2013– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 23, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh/Monroeville, 101 Mall Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146
To register, please click here.

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