Thursday, February 14, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup For Feb.14, 2013: Work group recommends converting York City School District to 100% charters; Obama outlines early ed expansion; more K12, Inc. controversy

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 14, 2013: Work group recommends converting York City School District to 100% charters; Obama outlines early ed expansion; more K12, Inc. controversy

SPECIAL EDITION EPLC Education Notebook Monday, February 11, 2013
EPLC: Summary of Governor Corbett's Proposed 2013-2014 Education Budget

“The Workgroup concludes that the solution that meets the test is to convert the School District of the City of York to 100 percent community charter schools.”

Annotated document: YorkCounts recommends converting York City School District to charter schools

York Daily Record Updated:   02/13/2013 07:29:22 PM EST
An education work group of YorkCounts, an initiative of the York County Community Foundation, presented its findings to the advisory committee working on a financial recovery plan for the York City School District tonight.  The work group was convened over the summer to look at methods that have turned failing, high-poverty districts into high performing districts, foundation officials said. The Education Policy and Leadership Center, a Harrisburg-based nonprofit, was asked to do a fact-finding analysis.
After the work group began meeting, the city school district was declared in "financial recovery" by the state, and David Meckley was appointed as chief recovery officer to craft a plan for turning district finances around.
(includes viewer for the work group’s 18 page report “A New Education Model for York”)

At K12, Inc. Tennessee cyber, email directs teachers to delete bad grades.
The mission of a business is to make a profit.  Read the email yourself.....

Berks schools chiefs call liquor store sale benefits limited
Reading Eagle by David Mekeel Originally Published: 2/13/2013
Berks County schools could see a major financial boon in the near future, as long as the state agrees to sell its liquor stores.  Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday unveiled details about his proposed Passport for Learning block grant program. Funded by the anticipated revenue from selling off the liquor store system, the grants would provide $1 billion to school districts across the state over the next four years.

How to not close 37 Philly schools: a summary of alternate proposals
by thenotebook on Feb 13 2013 by Bill Hangley Jr.
The School District’s deadline for alternative community proposals for its closure plan has now passed, and all 38 proposals received have been posted on the District’s website.
Together, the alternative plans represent a wide range of responses to the District’s recommendations. Some are highly detailed blueprints endorsed by powerful officeholders and complex proposals citing multiple partners, while others are brief plans from community groups and individuals.  One consistent theme: Many schools propose addressing under-utilization by expanding their program offerings or grade spans. Some suggest bringing in new schools to share their buildings. In a few cases, schools offer alternative plans that they believe are cost-neutral and will meet the District’s overall goal of saving money.

RFA’s Kate Shaw Testifying before Phila. City Council
Research for Action website Posted by Alison Murawski on Feb 12, 2013
RFA’s executive director, Kate Shaw, will deliver testimony to Philadelphia City Council today. The City Council hearing focuses on the School District of Philadelphia’s proposed plan to close 37 schools throughout the city. RFA will provide Council with a critically important perspective — what rigorous, objective research on school closings nationally can teach us as District and city officials consider the plan to close schools locally.
You can read RFA’s testimony here

Dear Philadelphia: “We are above the law”
Parents United for Public Education Posted on February 14, 2013 
If there’s any question about what’s at stake regarding the lobbying complaint filed last month by Parents United, the Philadelphia Home & School Council, and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, read about this move by the William Penn Foundation. Last week, the Foundation announced the suspension of funding to all city agencies, stating that they could not move ahead until the city ethics complaint was resolved.

Recovery officer asks 11 districts to take Duquesne students

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 13, 2013 11:34 am
Superintendents of 11 area school districts have received an email from Duquesne Chief Recovery Officer Paul B. Long notifying them they will be asked to consider voluntarily taking some of the Duquesne students in grades K-6 for the 2013-14 school year and beyond.

School safety hearing focuses on needs for preparedeness training and funding
Here's where we know Pennsylvania's school safety discussions are surely not headed: letting individual classroom teachers or building principals carry a firearm to work.
That concept was roundly panned by law enforcement officials and other safety experts today in a Capitol hearing on how to make schools more secure in the wake of the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

PSBA urges General Assembly to consider initiatives to address school safety
Joseph Zupancic, a school director in the Canon-McMillan School District (Washington Co.) and a member of the Pennsylvania School Board Associations' Board of Directors, testified in front of a panel of state Senate members regarding school security.
Joseph Zupancic, a school director in the Canon-McMillan School District (Washington Co.) and a member of the Pennsylvania School Board Associations' Board of Directors, told a panel of state Senate members that PSBA firmly believes school districts are vastly different throughout Pennsylvania in their security needs and, therefore, the best approaches to school safety must often be determined at the local school district level.

What a Rally!
Yinzercation Blog February 13, 2013
Over 320 people came out to Rally for Public Education on Sunday. After last year’s rally outside in a snowstorm, this year’s event was warm and dry at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty. With rousing performances and speakers, loud chanting and singing, the crowd sent a strong message to the many legislators in attendance that public education is a public good. The media was also there and we had radio and television coverage, as well as an excellent article above the fold on the front page of the Post-Gazette local section, with two large photos. [Post-Gazette, 2-11-13


Casey appointed to Senate Finance Committee

By Tracie Mauriello / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 13, 2013 9:12 pm

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen Bob Casey, D-Pa., has been appointed to the Senate Finance Committee that John Kerry, D-Mass., vacated when he became secretary of state.  Finance is one of the Senate's more powerful and influential committees.  Mr. Casey's new assignment was announced Tuesday. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey also serves on the committee.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Mr. Casey also was given a key role on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, known by the acronym HELP. He will serve as chairman of the subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

Read more:


Chicago Public Schools chief releases list of 129 schools that could close — most on South and West sides

Chicago SunTimes By Lauren FitzPatrick Education Reporter February 13, 2013 5:32PM

And then there were 129.  Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will choose from among a pool of 129 schools when she decides this spring which ones will close in June. Most are on Chicago’s South and West sides.

READ: Obama’s pre-K plan (released at 6:00 a.m. today)
Washington Post by Dylan Matthews on February 14, 2013 at 6:00 am
President Obama used his State of the Union address to launch a push for massively expanding pre-K and other early childhood education programs. But he was pretty vague about it. Not anymore. At 6 a.m. today, the administration released its detailed plan for early childhood education. Its three main components are……

Obama Urges Big Preschool Expansion in State of the Union Speech
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 12, 2013 10:11 PM
President Barack Obama called on Congress in his State of the Union address to significantly expand access to preschool to all 4-year-olds from moderate- and low-income families, and to create a new spin-off of his Race to the Top program aimed at pushing high schools to adopt curricula that better prepare students for the jobs of the future.  He framed both proposals as part of a broader strategy to invest in the nation's economic future and bolster the middle class—the overaching theme of his first State of the Union speech since winning re-election. The president told the nation his ideas wouldn't add to the federal deficit, as Washington struggles to rein in spending.  The preschool expansion proposal would include incentives and support for states that want to substantially grow their early-childhood education offerings. And it would entice states to offer full-day kindergarten, which right now is only available in 10 states and the District of Columbia, White House aides said.


“According to W. Steven Barnett, director of the institute, which is based at Rutgers University, only five states, including Oklahoma and Georgia, have a stated objective of offering preschool slots to all 4-year-olds. “

Few States Look to Extend Preschool to All 4-Year-Olds

New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: February 13, 2013
President Obama’s call in his State of the Union address to “make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America” rallied advocates across the country who have long argued that inequity in education begins at a very young age.
Details of the president’s proposal are expected to be unveiled on Thursday when Mr. Obama visits a Head Start program in Decatur, Ga., but he indicated in his speech that the federal government would work with states to supplement preschool efforts.

The Leading Edge - American Association of School Administrators February 13, 2013
State of the Union 2013 & Education
Last night, President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address. (Full transcript here.) The President's speech centered on eight topics: reduce the debt; tax code overhaul, create jobs, climate change, immigration reform, EDUCATION, defense/foreign trade, and gun control.  The eight topics all supported the broader theme of the speech, calling to invest in the nation's economic future and bolster the middle class.
For obvious reasons, this post focuses on the education components of the speech. His education comments focused on the entire PreK-college spectrum, with a proposal for early education, K-12 and higher education.

Dan Rather Reports, "Teaching to the Test" Excerpt

HDNET Published on Feb 11, 2013 YouTube video runtime 4:18
Saying it's a waste of time, teachers in Seattle are refusing to give standardized tests to high schoolers because the tests don't effectively assess students and educators don't want their evaluations tied to a faulty test. The move is receiving widespread support across the nation. Dan Rather Reports airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET on AXS TV. "Teaching to the Test" airs February 12, 2013.

““Reform” has become the educational word of our time, and reformers like Arne Duncan are making profound changes in how schools operate, away from those that are built on relationships and genuinely challenging intellectual thinking and toward reductive multiple-choice tests as the primary measure of school effectiveness. Too much evidence is mounting, however, that reforming schools in this manner is leading to schools that truly fail. They fail kids by taking all that’s worth learning in school and reducing it to trivial assessments.”
Why is the image of public education distorted by media?
Atlanta Journal Constitution Get Schooled Blog  February 13, 2013, by Maureen Downey
Here is an interesting essay by University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky, a regular contributor to this blog.  He writes about the distance between the reality of public education and the images portrayed in the media.

N.Y. Mayor Donates $1 Million to Slate of L.A. School Board Candidates
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on February 13, 2013 10:55 AM
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has raised the stakes in an already pitched battle for control of the Los Angeles school board by giving $1 million to an education reform group that is backing a slate of three candidates in the March 5 election.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg's eye-popping contribution was brokered in part by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who, along with Los Angeles-area billionaire and philanthropist Eli Broad, is keen to ensure that the policies of Superintendent John Deasy won't be dismantled by candidates who are backed by United Teachers Los Angeles. 

Milwaukee Public Schools Outperform Voucher Schools in Program, Report Says
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Katie Ash on February 13, 2013 4:41 PM 
new report from the Public Policy Forum in Milwaukee found that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which enrolls about 25,000 students in private schools through the state's voucher program, has similar demographics and poverty levels as Milwaukee Public Schools, but students there perform slightly worse on standardized tests in math and reading.

Education Policy and Leadership Center
SUBJECT: Governor Corbett's Proposed Education Budget for 2013-2014
"Western PA Breakfast Series" Thursday, February 14, 2013
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Holiday Inn Pittsburgh University Center - 100 Lytton Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
SPEAKERS: An Overview of the Proposed 2013-2014 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Sharon Ward, The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
State and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
 Dr. Joseph Clapper, Superintendent, Quaker Valley School District
Michelle Figlar, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children
Brett Lago, Business Manager, Penn-Trafford School District
Kenneth P. Service, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.

Education Policy and Leadership Center
SUBJECT: Governor Corbett's Proposed Education Budget for 2013-2014
"Southeastern Region Breakfast Series" Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel - 201 North 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
SPEAKERS: An Overview of the Proposed 2013-2014 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Sharon Ward, The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
State and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
 Mark B. Miller, School Director, Centennial School District
Joe Otto, Chief Operations Officer, William Penn School District
Michael Churchill, Of Counsel, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Dr. Stephen D. Butz
, Superintendent, Southeast Delco School District
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.

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.  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.  
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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