Monday, January 28, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For January 28, 2013: PA, Wild West of Charter Schools

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.

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Decision anticipated today: If PA Cyber Charter Committee was elected by the taxpayers funding cybers do you think they would authorize 8 more?

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For January 28, 2013

Did you miss our weekend postings?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For January 26, 2013:
PA House GOP unveils charter/cyber funding reform package

“These numbers show that the great majority of charter schools just don't measure up. While half of the traditional public schools falling short of AYP is nothing to boast about, it is difficult to argue that charter schools as a class perform better than their conventional counterparts.
Certainly a successful charter school is a choice well-made for its students. But it's galling to know that so many subpar charters are diverting public dollars away from traditional education.”

Sub-par options: Charter schools as a class don't measure up

Editorial - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 27, 2013 12:18 am
Now that the test scores for Pennsylvania charter schools have been recalculated, parents and taxpayers will be able to make more of an apples-to-apples comparison with the performance of traditional public schools.

It's a shame Pa. chose to become a Wild West of charter schools
WHYY Newsworks By Chris Satullo January 27, 2013
The state of Pennsylvania just got caught cooking the books.
Which books? Well, this little scam didn't have to do with dollars or deficits.
It had to do with test scores.
The scores emerging from the state's charter schools, to be precise. As reported by Martha Woodall in The Inquirer, the Corbett administration – a big charter backer – fiddled with how it evaluated charters to make the picture look rosier.
The federal government slapped the state's wrist and told it to go back to the old way. In the revised picture, only 28 percent of charters met targets for annual yearly progress in academic performance, compared to 50 percent statewide for traditional schools.

“The big key is it’s a Republican-backed initiative, and with Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, that always raises any prospects of success much higher,”
PA House Republican Caucus attempts to level playing field for districts, charter schools
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Rachel Weaver Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The House Republican Caucus released a plan on Friday that it said would reform charter and cyber charter school funding.  “Our goal in developing this package was simple: to propose fair and responsible changes to charter school funding while preserving parental options for our commonwealth’s students,” said Rep. Mike Reese, R-Mt. Pleasant.
$41B Pa. pension shortfall looms over school, state budgets
By EVAN BRANDT  Saturday, 01/26/13 04:53 pm
As school districts across Pennsylvania prepare their budgets for the coming year and anxiously await Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013-14 budget proposal, one issue looms larger than all the rest combined — pensions.
Reeling under the burden of investment losses during the 2009 economic collapse and years of under-funding, the state’s two major pensions are under-funded by a combined $41 billion.
As a result, the state and school districts face a steeply climbing schedule of payments that is consuming much of the additional revenue the state has seen in the current year’s budget and even more of the small slice of discretional spending school boards have control over in their annual spending plans.

Philly SRC plans hearing on closings Feb. 21-23; vote scheduled for March 7
Notebook by Paul Socolar on Jan 25 2013
The School Reform Commission has scheduled its decisive vote on school closings for Thursday, March 7. The commission will be considering the District's 44 proposed closings and relocations.
In advance of the vote, the five-member SRC has scheduled two-and-a-half days of hearings on the closings, starting on Thursday Feb. 21 at 5 pm, and continuing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. That leaves only about a half hour average per school, but "every school community will have a chance to speak," said District spokesperson Fernando Gallard.

Cyber charter angst? See how a public school does cyber the right way #qcsd featured on Digital Learning Day
Tweet from Lisa Andrejko ‏@SuptLisa, Superintendent at Quakertown Consolidated SD
Digital Learning Day is a national campaign that celebrates teachers and shines a spotlight on successful instructional practice and effective use of technology in classrooms across the country. The inaugural Digital Learning Day boasted tens of thousands of teachers representing nearly 2 million students.

Teacher boycott of standardized test in Seattle spreads
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on January 26, 2013 at 11:39 am
A boycott of Washington state’s mandated standardized test by teachers at a Seattle school is spreading to other schools and winning support across the country, including from the two largest teachers’ unions, parents, students, researchers and educators.
The decision by teachers at Garfield High School to boycott the state’s Measures of Academy Progress because, they say, the exams don’t evaluate learning and are a waste of time is fueling a growing debate about the misuse of standardized tests in public education.

Facts on vouchers to counter National School Choice Week
NSBA School Board News Today Kathleen Vail January 26th, 2013
As the National School Choice Week begins, the Voucher Strategy Center at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends several resources to counter arguments for vouchers and the privatization of K-12 education.

“The annual FRN Conference, which runs from Jan. 27 to 29, brings more than 600 school board members, selected by their state associations, and state association staff to Washington to learn about the most current federal policies and issues that will impact their schools. This year, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) are scheduled to speak at the conference.”
Two federal meetings feature leadership and legislative advocacy for school boards
NSBA School Board News Today Kathleen Vail January 26th, 2013
Over the next four days, School Board News Today will be covering the top events and sessions at NSBA’s annual Leadership Conference and its Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference, held in Washington, D.C.

FRN meeting kicks off with rally to protect federal funds, promote school board governance
School Board News January 27, 2013 Joetta Sack-Min
Participants in the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network will focus on stopping planned budget cuts to federal K-12 programs, advocating for a bill to promote local school board governance, and pushing yet again to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  At the opening session the more than 700 attendees also learned about what NSBA leaders are calling the “New NSBA,” the organization’s plan to focus further on advocacy for school board governance and public education.

Philly pension fund closer to pulling gun company investments
WHYY Newsworks By Emma Jacobs January 25, 2013
Philadelphia's public employees union is asking gun-related companies in which it has invested pension funds to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Philadelphia joins other cities and states trying to exert pressure with their investments, with its own twist
The pension board said it will take its money out of companies that won't adopt Mayor Michael Nutter's "Sandy Hook principles," named for the horrific school shooting in December in which a gunman shot 20 children with a semi-automatic weapon.
The eight-point proposal asks companies to support federal legislation requiring background checks of every gun buyer and for them to re-evaluate their own sales practices.

Why Gloomy Pundits and Politicians Are Wrong About America's Education System
The Atlantic By Derek Thompson January 2013
A eye-opening new paper comparing U.S. students to their international peers by social class finds that the richest Americans are world-class readers, and in math, our disadvantaged kids have improved more than almost any other country
Reuters - Here's what everybody knows about education in the United States. It's broken. It's failing our poorest students and codding the richest. Americans are falling desperately behind the rest of the developed world.  But here's what a new study from the Economic Policy Institute tells us about America's education system: Every one of those common assumptions is simplistic, misguided, or downright wrong.

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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