Sunday, January 6, 2013

KEYSEC PA Education Policy Weekend Update

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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

The Education Reform Dichotomy: Big Choices Ahead

 Anthony Cody  
In recent weeks, some commenters on my blog have suggested that there is a "false dichotomy" at work in the debate over education reform. We are told we should "tone down" our views in order that we be might be better heard.  Last fall, scholar Paul Thomas offered a powerful framework for understanding the two camps of reformers currently contending for public support.

 “During the 2011-12 school year, when charters enrolled 41 percent of the city’s students, they removed 227 children for discipline violations and had an expulsion rate of 72 per 10,000 students; the District school system removed three and had an expulsion rate of less than 1 per 10,000 students.”

D.C. charter schools expel students at far higher rates than traditional public schools

Washington Post By Emma Brown, Published: January 5

The District’s public charter schools have expelled students at a far higher rate than the city’s traditional public schools in recent years, according to school data, highlighting a key difference between two sectors that compete for the District’s students and taxpayer dollars.
D.C. charter schools expelled 676 students in the past three years, while the city’s traditional public schools expelled 24, according to a Washington Post review of school data. During the 2011-12 school year, when charters enrolled 41 percent of the city’s students, they removed 227 children for discipline violations and had an expulsion rate of 72 per 10,000 students; the District school system removed three and had an expulsion rate of less than 1 per 10,000 students.
The discrepancy underscores the freedom that charters — publicly funded schools that operate independently of the traditional school system — have from school system policies. That autonomy defines the charter movement and gives its schools considerable latitude to decide what student behavior they will — and won’t — tolerate.

Courts and NLRB: Charters Are Not Public Schools

Diane Ravitch’s Blog January 4, 2013 //
Courts have repeatedly ruled that charter schools are not public schools. These rulings have been sought not by charter critics, but by the charters themselves, to enable them to avoid complying with state laws.

Charter school ruled private entity for labor relations

The question of just how public charter schools really are has been further muddied by a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board in a case involving a Chicago charter school.
Critics of charter schools have long contended that private companies that run publicly funded charters don’t act like public organizations and that charter schools represent the privatization of public education in the United States. I recently published this post about whether judges are increasingly viewing charters as private.
Now we have a decision by the board, made last month and just publicized, involving   efforts by teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy to form a union.

Best, worst of area's SATs
Of Pa.'s top 25 schools, 16 are local. Phila. had the No. 1 and most of the lowest.
Rita Giordano and Dylan Purcell, Inquirer Staff Writers, January 6, 2013, 5:42 AM
Sixteen of Pennsylvania's 25 top public schools for average 2012 SAT scores were in the five-county area, with the top-ranked school - and almost all the lowest - in Philadelphia, according to a state study.

For a complete list of Philadelphia schools' SAT scores, visit
For all statewide SAT scores, visit

David T. Shulick, an attorney, is Delaware Valley High School's chief executive and was a member of Governor Corbett’s education transition team
School firm faces loss of Pa. approval
Delaware Valley High School's alternative-education site in Reading is accused of violating state and U.S. laws.
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer  January 6, 2013, 6:12 AM
A Bala Cynwyd alternative-education company under federal investigation has been warned it could lose its approval for a disciplinary school in Reading because it allegedly is not complying with state and federal laws.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education has told the for-profit Delaware Valley High School it has begun proceedings to revoke its approval because the school did not provide required academic and counseling programs and failed to address violent incidents that endanger students and staff.
According to documents obtained by The Inquirer, state officials sent a letter, reports, and an order Dec. 21 to Delaware Valley's owner - lawyer David T. Shulick - that said its approval to operate a private alternative-education school in Reading should be revoked.

School integration redux

Philadelphia Inquirer By Jay Mathews Friday, January 4, 2013, 3:01 AM
Few education experts have been as true to a seemingly unworkable idea as Richard D. Kahlenberg, an author and senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Since the 1990s, he has been the nation's leading exponent of socio-economic integration. That means he wants as many low-income students as possible to attend schools with a middle-class majority.

Pa. gives funds to districts for ‘Safe Schools’
Philadelphia Tribune by  Damon C. Williams  Thursday, 03 January 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently granted nearly half a million dollars to 37 school districts throughout the commonwealth via its Safe Schools Targeted Grants program, which is designed to establish and implement programs and projects that reduce violent incidences in schools and neighboring communities.

Here’s the PDE press release which included a list of recipient school districts:
PDE Press Release December 14, 2012
Secretary of Education Announces $479,513 in Safe Schools Targeted Grants
Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today announced that $479,513 has been awarded to 37 public schools through the Safe Schools Targeted Grant to establish and implement programs to prevent and reduce incidents of violence.
“Ensuring the safety of Pennsylvania’s students is of the utmost importance,” Tomalis said. “Students, parents and teachers expect schools to be a safe environment in which to learn. These funds will provide the necessary resources for schools to put programs into place that will enhance safety in our schools.”

STEM Initiative Aims to Broaden Minority Student Access to AP Science, Math Courses by Ronald Roach on January 4, 2013

…to create the AP STEM Access Program has been a “student-driven” effort with the College Board working with Google to identify the public high schools

College Board president David Coleman’s group and will help participating schools secure the classroom resources and professional development necessary to begin the new courses.  With the aim of increasing underrepresented minority and female participation in Advanced Placement (AP) STEM courses, the College Board has announced the launch of the AP® STEM Access program.
The initiative is targeting more than 800 public U.S. high schools to start new AP science and math courses while encouraging “traditionally underrepresented minority (Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native) and female students who demonstrate strong academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers,” according to the College Board, which administers the SAT and the AP course and exam program.  The AP® STEM Access Program is being funded by a $5 million grant from Google to as part of the search engine company’s Global impact Awards. and the College Board will be collaborating to work with AP teachers in participating schools to enable them to secure the classroom resources and professional development necessary to begin the new courses.

For Many Kids, Winter Break Means Hungry Holidays

 January 3, 2013
Holidays are typically a festive time, with breaks from the routine, meals with loved ones, maybe even some gifts. But for many families across the U.S., the season comes with intense stress: Roughly 1 in 5 families with children are not getting enough food.
For some, free or reduced-price school meals have become a major source of basic nutrition. When schools close for the holidays, many of those families struggle to fill the gap.

Better Basics
Our programs provide literacy intervention and enrichment to elementary- and middle- school students throughout  central Alabama. These programs ultimately increase confidence levels in children, infuse literature into children’s homes, and expose children to multi-cultural arts and enrichment programs.  Through these early intervention programs, Better Basics hopes to increase the high s chool graduation rate in Alabama, create a well-educated workforce and decrease both the both the number of innmates in Alabama prisons and the number of welfare recipients.

New U.S. Senate Ed Committee members bode well for students, educators, schools

EducationVotes/NEA Posted January 4, 2013
The 113th Congress was sworn in yesterday, and when it comes to public education it’s a fool’s errand to try to predict what actions and policies Congress might pursue. Nevertheless, knowing who the new members of the House and Senate education committees are can serve as a useful guidepost.  Education committees oversee programs that affect millions of students and educators from pre-K to higher education. Among the issues they address are teacher quality and training, early childhood education, education for students with disabilities, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unpopularly known as No Child Left Behind, vocational and technical education, and the Higher Education Act. The committees’ actions often set the direction for what happens at the state, county and local levels.
Here then are three new lawmakers who are likely to play pivotal roles on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions this year

‘Frontline’ raises questions about test-score tampering under Rhee
The “Frontline” examines Rhee’s record in Washington, where her aggressive reforms between 2007 and 2010 turned her from a relative unknown into a polarizing edu-celebrity.
The Washington Post By Emma BrownPublished: January 4, 2013
Student standardized-test scores at an award-winning D.C. school dropped dramatically in 2011 after the principal tightened security out of concern about possible cheating, according to a new “Frontline” television documentary to be broadcast Tuesday.
The hour-long program raises questions about whether District officials have adequately investigated persistent suspicions that public school employees may have tampered with tests during the tenure of former schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

FreedomWorks has been a strong proponent of school choice in Pennsylvania……
Powerful Tea Party Group's Internal Docs Leak—Read Them Here
FreedomWorks bills itself as a grassroots outfit, but it's bankrolled mostly by big-money donors.
MotherJones By Andy Kroll | Fri Jan. 4, 2013 3:02 AM PST
FreedomWorks, the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, sells itself as a genuine grassroots operation, and for years, it has battled accusations of  "astroturfing"—posing as a populist organization while doing the bidding of big-money donors. Yet internal documents obtained by Mother Jones show that FreedomWorks has indeed become dependent on wealthy individual donors to finance its growing operation.

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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