Friday, January 11, 2013

In perhaps 1st instance in the nation, teachers at a Seattle HS announce their refusal to administer a standardized test

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1800 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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“School Choice Week”, a marketing/media campaign for privatization of a public good, is coming around again at the end of January.  Here are 2 pieces that provide some context for it….
Selling Schools Out
The Nation by Lee Fang, November 2011
Under the banner of high-tech progress, corporate lobbyists have rammed through legislation privatizing K-12 education across the country.
Education reform as a business
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on January 9, 2013
Did you know that the education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product? That for-profit education is valued at $1.3 trillion, and is one of the largest U.S. investment markets?

 “When we heard that district representatives themselves reported that the margin of error for this test is greater than an individual student’s expected score increase, we were appalled!”  … Not a single teacher voted against the action.”
In perhaps 1st instance in the nation, teachers at a Seattle HS announce their refusal to administer a standardized test
SEATTLE – In perhaps the first instance anywhere in the nation, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School will announce this afternoon their refusal to administer a standardized test that students in other high schools across the district are scheduled to take in the first part of January.  Known as the MAP test, it purports to evaluate student progress and skill in reading and math. The teachers contend that it wastes time, money, and precious school resources.

“The current system is also unsustainable for local school districts, which are looking at cutting things like athletics, music, art and kindergarten in order to meet their pension obligations. “The taxpayers have reached their maximum pain point in terms of school cuts,” Zogby said.”
Corbett targets pension reform in coming budget
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt 01/10/13 08:50 pm
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett has no plans to focus on property tax reform this year, telling a group of editors and reporters from Digital First Media who met with him at the Governor’s Residence Thursday that pension reform must come first before it consumes the state budget.  “Not this year. We have to deal with the pensions first,” Corbett replied when asked if some of the challenges facing this year’s budget might be addressed by reducing Pennsylvania’s reliance on property taxes to fund education.

MBIT's tasty lunch makes funding point
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 5:45 pm | Updated: 12:24 am, Fri Jan 11, 2013.
By Gary Weckselblatt Staff Writer Posted on January 10, 2013
If the way to lawmakers’ hearts is through their stomachs, the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology should count on a hefty helping of funding from Harrisburg.
That would only be fair to repay the heaping helping of quality dining served up Thursday in the school’s Aspirations Restaurant, which is run by the students.
The event was designed by Better Choices for Pennsylvania, an arm of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, which is calling for “public investment” to support education, according to the center’s director, Sharon Ward.

“Corbett said Wednesday that anyone concerned about cuts to education funding should breathe a little easier.  "I think they're going to be happy," he said about the budget.”
6 demonstrate against school funding cuts
BY AMY MARCHIANO STAFF WRITER AMARCHIANO@REPUBLICANHERALD.COM) Pottsville Republican Herald Published: January 10, 2013
PINE GROVE - Six women, some of them retired teachers, stood across from the Pine Grove Area school buildings Wednesday with signs voicing concern over education funding.
Gov. Tom Corbett was visiting the school for a presentation about the important role Pennsylvania played in the Civil War.  One of the signs said in capital black letters, "Put education first, restore funding now." Another read, "We are one for public education."

Chester Upland hires chief fiscal officer

Rita Giordano, Inquirer Staff Writer January 10, 2013, 3:01 AM
A former schools business manager and financial consultant has been hired as chief fiscal officer of the Chester Upland School District.  George Crawford, 55, of Allentown, assumed the $167,800-a-year post Monday, state-appointed district receiver Joseph Watkins announced.

Philly district to shift some Head Start classes to private providers

Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer  January 10, 2013, 5:57 AM
In a cost-cutting move, the Philadelphia School District will restructure its early-childhood education program in the fall, shifting thousands of preschool seats to private day-care providers throughout the city.  Moving the 2,000 Head Start children, ages 3 and 4, to private facilities will save about $8 million and require layoffs in the teacher and aide ranks, officials told The Inquirer. More than half of the district's early-education children will now be handled by private providers.

Neshaminy school board considers pulling offer to teachers union By Christian Menno Staff writer Posted on January 10, 2013
The Neshaminy school board labor attorney will bring a document to a contract negotiation session Jan. 17 with the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers that he hopes won’t have to be removed from his briefcase.  “The state mediator knows that I am going to come to that meeting with 10 copies of a letter, which I will have already signed, saying we hereby withdraw the offer of Dec. 18, 2012,” attorney Charles Sweet said during a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board Wednesday.

PA Senate Republican Standing Committee Memberships for the 2013-14 Legislative Session

Senator Scarnati’s website January 10, 2013
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) today announced the Republican members for each of the 22 Senate Standing Committees for the 2013-2014 legislative session.
“Senate Committees are the cornerstone of the Senate and provide a proven environment for legislation to be shaped and policies formed,” Scarnati said. “I am pleased that we have members with a great deal of expertise in numerous areas, who will evaluate and guide measures that will strengthen our Commonwealth.”
Chairs of Senate Committees were announced in December.

Committee of Seventy
PA 2013 Election Calendar

January 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Gates Foundation report calls for deeper teacher evaluation
Seattle Times Letter to the Editor by Stephen Krashen
Systemic issues prevent teaching success, not individual teachers
The publicity given to the latest Gates Foundation report on teacher evaluation [“Gates: Test scores not enough for teacher reviews,”, Jan. 9] adds strength to the common view that there is something very wrong with American teachers. There is, for example, no pressing concern about how we should evaluate nurses, carpenters, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, butchers, newspaper reporters, etc.
Every profession has some inferior practitioners, but the available evidence says that American teachers as a group are excellent. When we control for the effects of poverty, our international test scores are very good, ranking at or near the top of world.
There are two major factors preventing teachers from being even more effective:
 (1) The high level of child poverty in the U.S., 23.1 percent, second among high-income countries; children who are hungry, have poor health care and little access to books will not do well in school regardless of teacher quality.
 (2) The unreasonable demands of the Common Core: a tight, inflexible curriculum that crushes creativity, designed by elitists with little idea of what goes on in classrooms, and a massive amount of testing, more than we have ever seen on this planet.
-- Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.

Superfluous grades; StudentsFirst ranking considers performance last
Center for Public Education EDfier by Patte Barth January 10, 2013 @ 9:07 am
January so far is looking like Michelle Rhee month. Last night the self-described education reformer was the hour-long focus of PBS’s Frontline series. The day before, her organization StudentsFirst released its report card on the state of education policy in which Rhee and her colleagues “flunked” most states. The headlines wrote themselves (see here and here).
But before we collectively freak out about our own states’ GPA, let’s take a critical look at what StudentsFirst is grading. First — and I can’t emphasize this enough — there are no points awarded for education performance. None. Zero. So if you’re concerned about that ‘F’, Vermont, relax.  You are still a high-achieving state.

Meet Adell Cothorne
Taking Note Blog by JOHN MERROW on 09. JAN, 2013
Michelle Rhee is, of course, the central character in our Frontline film, “The Education of Michelle Rhee,” but I want to tell you more about Adell Cothorne, the former DC principal who appears at the end of our film. She was one of a small handful of DC educators willing to speak on the record about the widespread erasures that occurred during Michelle Rhee’s tenure in Washington–and I think what she has to say is important.

The 2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings

EducationNext By Frederick Hess 01/09/2013
Here are the 2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence rankings. The metrics, as explained here are designed to recognize those university-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about K-12 and higher education. The rankings offer a useful, if imperfect, gauge of the public impact edu-scholars had in 2012, both due to short-term activity and longer-term contributions. The rubric reflects both a scholar’s body of academic work — encompassing books, articles, and the degree to which these are cited — and their 2012 footprint on the public discourse.

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.

2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues
April 6, 2013 The Penn Stater Convention Center Hotel; State College, PA
Strategic leadership, school budgeting and advocacy are key issues facing today's school district leaders. For your school district to truly thrive, leaders must maintain a solid understanding of these three functions. Attend the 2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues to ensure you have the skills you need to take your district to the next level.

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