Monday, January 14, 2013

PA House Gets Ready for Action: Committees to Organize This Week to Start Reviewing Legislation

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?

KSEC Weekend Update: Seattle Testing Boycott Spreads; Corbett talks pension/budget
Postings from Saturday January 12, 2013

What's Happening in the PA House - Week of January 14, 2013
by Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 10:43am ·
PA House Gets Ready for Action: Committees to Organize This Week to Start Reviewing Legislation
Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives return to Harrisburg on Monday, Jan. 14, to continue the organization process for the 2013-14 legislative session. Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Indiana) will announce the composition of each of the House’s 23 standing committees and brief meetings will then be held off the floor for each committee to organize.

Union supports Garfield teachers’ refusal to give district test
Seattle Times Posted by Linda Shaw January 11, 2013
The Seattle teachers union said Friday that it shares concerns the faculty at Garfield High has raised about district-required tests known as the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP.
Garfield teachers announced Thursday that no teachers at the school would be giving the MAP tests this winter, even though the district requires them to do so.  Nearly all the faculty signed a letter to the district saying they’re not against testing, but they think the MAP exams fail to help them or their students and waste valuable class time.

“…for pension reform to work, the state needs to get the unions and groups representing public employees on board, as well as the lawmakers.  One way to start might be to enlist the ideas and help of those groups in writing the reforms. Get buy-in first and soften the sell.”

Editorial: Pa.'s pension ‘tapeworm’ getting hungrier

Gov. Tom Corbett likens Pennsylvania’s public pension problem to a tapeworm, a parasite that devours new revenue as fast as an improving economy can create it.  “We have to consider everything,” in fixing the problem; it’s the “tapeworm of the budget,” he told a Digital First Media editorial board meeting last week.
Corbett called pension reform the one thing he seeks to accomplish this year. Property tax reform, he says, will have to wait.

“Meanwhile, taxpayers will pay more than $1 million in 2012-13 to fund the Medical Academy Charter School, according to budget figures.
More than $200,000 of that will go to Atiyeh, who is leasing the bottom floor of the former Lincoln Middle School building on Howertown Road to the school. In five years, the rent will rise to $500,091, according to the charter school's application.”
Catasauqua board says Medical Academy doesn't deliver, but charter school says give us time
Given time, school's administrators say, charter will help students get medical jobs
By Bill Landauer, Of The Morning Call 8:31 p.m. EST, January 12, 2013
The Medical Academy Charter school began with two guys on a fishing trip.
The fishermen — developer Abe Atiyeh and his friend Dr. Craig Haytmanek — had cast their lines into Atiyeh's pond in Moore Township when Haytmanek floated the idea.
Haytmanek, then Bethlehem school board president, had handed out diplomas to students who seemed directionless. Meanwhile, hospitals like St. Luke's, next to his office, had loads of job opportunities.
What the Lehigh Valley needed, Haytmanek told his friend, was a special high school that would expose students from all economic, ethnic and social backgrounds to careers in the medical field.
Could Atiyeh lease him a building?  "My bells rang," Atiyeh recalled. "I said, 'That's excellent.' "
Thus, the Medical Academy Charter School was born.

Bill Gates, have I got a deal for you!
By Danny Westneat Seattle Times staff columnist
At Lakeside, Seattle's premier school, they say the graduates know better than anyone what makes the place so special.  "Ask any alumnus what the best thing about Lakeside is," the school's brochure urges. "And they will likely mention an environment that promotes relationships between teachers and students through small class sizes."
Any alumnus? Because one in particular is now going around saying the opposite.
Bill Gates lately has been arguing that smaller-sized classes are among the biggest wastes of money in all of education.
"Perhaps the most expensive assumption embedded in school budgets — and one of the most unchallenged — is the view that reducing class size is the best way to improve student achievement," Gates said last week to a gathering of governors.
Smaller classes just haven't worked, he said.
"U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960," he said. "Yet achievement is roughly the same."
Gates called for an end to state caps on how many kids can be in each classroom.
Now let me clarify: Gates is suggesting larger classes in public schools. Not private schools such as Lakeside or the ones his own kids attend today.

More Support for Socioeconomic School Integration: Iowa City Is Close to Passing Plan
The Century Foundation, Blog of the Century Posted by Halley Potter January 09, 2013
On Tuesday, Iowa City’s school board is slated to vote on a new diversity plan that would set goals for balancing enrollment by socioeconomic status at schools throughout the district. Iowa City Community School District, which encompasses Iowa City and several surrounding communities, serves a mostly middle-class population of about 12,000 students, but concentrations of poverty currently vary widely among the district’s schools, particularly at the elementary level, where the economic makeup of schools ranges from 6 percent to 79 percent low-income.
If Iowa City’s diversity plan passes, it will be great news for supporters of school integration, in Iowa City and across the country. Sarah Swisher, a member of the Iowa City school board, ran for office on the issue of addressing economic disparities among schools and has spent the last three and a half years fighting for a new diversity plan. She says the district was in danger of avoiding the problem of low achievement in their high-poverty schools or treating it as unsolvable. “There are ways out of this dilemma,” she said. “The community can make a difference.” Under the new diversity plan, all students in the district would be guaranteed mixed-income learning environments.
Currently, over 80 districts across the nation have responded to research on student achievement by giving more students the chance to attend mixed-income schools.

New York City Ties Doctors’ Income to Quality of Care
New York Times By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS Published: January 11, 2013
In a bold experiment in performance pay, complaints from patients at New York City’s public hospitals and other measures of their care — like how long before they are discharged and how they fare afterward — will be reflected in doctors’ paychecks under a plan being negotiated by the physicians and their hospitals.
The proposal represents a broad national push away from the traditional model of rewarding doctors for the volume of services they order, a system that has been criticized for promoting unnecessary treatment. In the wake of changes laid out in the Affordable Care Act, public and private hospitals are already preparing to have their income tied partly to patient outcomes and cost containment, but the city’s plan extends that financial incentive to the front line, the doctors directly responsible for treatment. It also shows how the new law could change longstanding relationships, giving more power to some of the poorest and most vulnerable patients over doctors who run their care.

Will longer school year help or hurt US students?

JULIE CARR SMYTH , The Associated Press POSTED: Sunday, January 13, 2013, 10:43 AM
Did your kids moan that winter break was way too short as you got them ready for the first day back in school? They might get their wish of more holiday time off under proposals catching on around the country to lengthen the school year.
But there's a catch: a much shorter summer vacation.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a chief proponent of the longer school year, says American students have fallen behind the world academically.
"Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century," he said in December when five states announced they would add at least 300 hours to the academic calendar in some schools beginning this year.
The three-year pilot project will affect about 20,000 students in 40 schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee.

Top education books of 2012
NSBA School Board News Today by Kathleen Vail January 11th, 2013
If you could see my office, you’d know how much I love books. They line my window sill and shelves, and they’re stacked up in piles on my floor. One of the best things about being managing editor of American School Board Journal is that I receive lots and lots of books from publishers.
……Most school board members are not professional educators, but they know much more than the average citizen. They straddle the professional and the laymen worlds, and so the books that we choose for our list must reflect this. We choose books that tell stories, start conversations, or give you insight to help you do your job.

Committee of Seventy
PA 2013 Election Calendar

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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