Thursday, January 10, 2013

PA Education Secretary Tomalis in talks about NCLB waiver

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

PA Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis in talks about NCLB waiver
By Jan Murphy |  on January 09, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Signaling his doubt that Congress plans to tackle a rewrite of the 11-year-old No Child Left Behind Act anytime soon, state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis has begun talking about a Plan B for Pennsylvania.  Tomalis said in an interview this week, department officials have been talking with the U.S. Department of Education about what the state's waiver request from the federal law might look like.

A conversation with Philadelphia school chief William Hite

WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane January 8, 2013
On Monday, after four months on the job, Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite, Jr. made public his blueprint for turning around the city’s public schools. Its two broad goals are to improve academics on all levels — from early childhood through high school — and to provide some sort of financial stability for the troubled school district which faces an increasing outflow of students to charter schools and a budget shortfall of $1 billion dollars in the next five years.  In an effort to conserve dwindling resources, several weeks ago Hite announced the closure of 37 elementary, middle school and high schools which will save the district $37 million a year.  And while his vision is ambitious, the District faces overwhelming challenges in its implementation including a complicated relationship with Harrisburg and future labor negotiations with the teachers' union that may require concessions in terms of compensation and work rules.  We've invited Philadelphia School Superintendent WILLIAM HITE, JR. to our studio this morning to talk about his goals for public education and his ideas about how we might achieve them.

Bucks Culinary Students to Give Lawmakers a Taste for Investing in Career Training
Better Choices for Pennsylvania – a Coalition for a Responsible Budget, January 9, 2012
Culinary arts students at the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology (MBIT) will serve up a five-star lunch to Bucks County area elected officials and community leaders to underscore the importance of state and federal investments in technical education and career training.

Opt Out FAQs
Yinzercation Blog January 9,2013
Our post about opting out of high-stakes-testing prompted a great deal of discussion on social media this week. [See “National Opt Out Day.”] Folks in this grassroots movement raised lots of good, thoughtful questions. And in the spirit of the best of our civil rights movements, we will work through those questions and learn together. We might not have all the answers and we might not all agree, but having this conversation is probably the most important thing we can be doing right now for public education. So please continue to be a part of this discussion, on the blog, on the Facebook page, at school meetings, and among your friends and colleagues.

Richard Rothstein at EPI: "...two years ago, EPI assembled a group of prominent testing experts and education policy experts to assess the research evidence on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. It concluded that holding teacher accountable for growth in the test scores (called value-added) of their students is more harmful than helpful to children's educations. Placing serious consequences for teachers on the results of their students’ tests creates rational incentives for teachers and schools to narrow the curriculum to tested subjects, and to tested areas within those subjects. Students lose instruction in history, the sciences, the arts, music, and physical education, and teachers focus less on development of children’s non-cognitive behaviors—cooperative activities, character, social skills—that are among the most important aims of a solid education."

Data King Nate Silver Isn't Sold on Evaluating Teachers With Test Scores

Over the past few years one of the most controversial topics in education reform has been measuring teacher effectiveness with standardized tests. Well, on Tuesday, the Jon Stewart-dubbed "Lord and God of the Algorithm," Nate Silver, participated in a Reddit AMA and the top question tackled the issue head-on.

NC School Project Blurs Line Between Public, Private

Education Week by Jaclyn Zubrzycki Published Online: January 9, 2013
An unusual public-private school improvement partnership in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system is raising hopes about its potential for improving the lives of some of Charlotte’s neediest students and generating concerns about its nontraditional funding and governance structure.
Project Leadership and Investment for Transformation, or Project LIFT, is a $55 million investment from corporate and family foundations aimed at improving the academic outcomes for a cluster of public schools in west Charlotte that serve some of the city’s most disadvantaged students. The goal is to provide resources and boost the academic performance of the 7,400 students who attend West Charlotte High School and the eight schools that feed into it. Project LIFT, which is led by a foundation-sponsored area superintendent who reports to both the private foundations and the chief academic officer of the 141,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school district, was officially launched in 2011 and entered into a formal agreement with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school boardRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader in early 2012. Its schools are in their first year of implementation. More than 22 organizations have partnered with Project LIFT, whose 13-member governing board funneled donations into the Foundation for the Carolinas, a community foundation based in Charlotte.

Project LIFT – Leadership and Investment for Transformation

Americans United, ACLU Challenge New Hampshire State Funding Of Religious Schools
Schools Organizations Say Tuition Tax-Credit Program Violates New Hampshire Constitution
Americans United Jan 9, 2013
Three civil liberties organizations filed suit today in Strafford County, N.H., Superior Court to challenge a statewide tuition tax-credit program that would subsidize private religious schools.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of eight plaintiffs, including clergy, public education advocates, and parents of public school children. They assert that the Education Tax Credit Program would divert taxpayer funds to religious schools in violation of the state constitution.
The program allows businesses to reduce their tax liability by receiving an 85 percent tax credit in exchange for donations made to K-12 scholarship organizations, which will pay for tuition at religious and other private schools.  Since there will be no state oversight of the schools receiving scholarship monies, religious schools will be able to use the funds for religious instruction, indoctrination and discrimination.

School Choice Won't Mean All Choices Are Equal
Huffington Post by Patte Barth, Director, Center for Public Education
Posted: 01/08/2013 6:22 pm
To many in the pundit and policy class, education reform comes down to one idea -- school choice.
It leads the education agendas from such high-profile advocates as former-DC superintendent Michelle Rhee to the U.S. Department of Education. On January 2, not one but two blog posts were published on HuffPost advocating for more choice (here and here).
And what's not to like? As Americans, the demand for choices is encoded in our collective DNA. Competition among suppliers to attract our choice is the engine for continuous improvement in the marketplace. Why not in education? "Choice" also strikes us as simply more democratic. Shouldn't all parents have the same options affluent parents enjoy to send their child to a school that best meets his or her needs? Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stated it bluntly: "To oppose school choice is to oppose equal opportunity for poor and disadvantaged kids in America."

“When StudentsFirst, her education reform advocacy and lobbying group, released its “report cards” grading each state’s school systems based on how many of Rhee’s policies the state had agreed to adopt, news organizations across the country reported on the findings as if they came from an objective think tank and not an ideological group pushing a set of controversial policies. 

Michelle Rhee to actually be held accountable by press for once

"Frontline" examines the face of "education reform" and the cheating she refused to investigate in Washington

 TUESDAY, JAN 8, 2013 04:51 PM EST
Michelle Rhee is the subject of tonight’s “Frontline” on PBS. Considering that Rhee, the former head of Washington, D.C.’s schools, is one of the most deified figures in contemporary American politics, you’d be forgiven for predicting another gauzy follow-up to “Waiting for Superman,” the pro-”education reform” propaganda picture that made Rhee a national figure. But this interview with the episode’s lead reporter, John Merrow (via Dana Goldstein), suggests a much more critical take than Rhee is used to. Because unlike so many other outlets, “Frontline” is going to report on all the cheating.

“I don’t think people know how strongly she resisted the investigation of the erasures. That might give some people pause. In Atlanta, the lead investigator told me that they considered three or more standard deviations from the norm to be a strong indication that cheating took place. In the district, there were classrooms that were five, six, seven deviations from the norm. That’s staggering. This is of course the evidence that was presented to Michelle Rhee.”
Five Questions For ... PBS NewsHour Correspondent John Merrow on Frontline's New Michelle Rhee Documentary
National Education Writiers Association EdMedia Commons Posted by Emily Richmond on January 8, 2013 at 9:40am
For the new Frontline documentary, veteran education journalist John Merrow (Learning Matters) was granted unprecedented access to Michelle Rhee during her turbulent three-year tenure as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.“The Education of Michelle Rhee” airs Tuesday on PBS, following her as she implemented sweeping changes, closed schools and fired staff. (Amid accusations that student test score gains were tainted and complaints about her heavy-handed management style, Rhee resigned her post in 2010 and has since launched the StudentsFirst advocacy organization.) Merrow spoke with EWA.

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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