Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 21, 2013: Pa. took $8.7 million from Philadelphia School District, gave it to charters

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1850 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 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 21, 2013

“While some young Americans — most of them white and affluent — are getting a truly world-class education, those who attend schools in high poverty neighborhoods are getting an education that more closely approximates school in developing nations. In reading, for example, although U.S. children in low-poverty schools rank at the top of the world, those in our highest-poverty schools are performing on a par with children in the world’s lowest-achieving countries. With the highest poverty rate in the developed world, amplified by the inadequate education received by many children in low-income schools, the United States is threatening its own future.”
Introduction to “For Each and Every Child” a report issued by The Equity and Excellence Commission for the US Department of Education, February 2, 2013

Pa. took $8.7 million from Philadelphia School District, gave it to charters
WHYY Newsworks  By Benjamin Herold February 20, 2013
The Philadelphia School District's losing fight to limit enrollments at individual charter schools has a new price tag: $8.7 million and counting.  Over the past 18 months, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has withheld that amount from the district, redirecting the money to six area charter schools that enrolled more students than the district called for in their contracts.
The state's policy is to send the money to the charters first, then allow traditional school districts to ask questions later.
This makes Philadelphia school officials furious.

"This year our state lawmakers have a chance to eliminate wasteful spending in public schools and save Franklin County taxpayers $2 million annually, simply by fixing the broken formula they use to pay cyber charter schools," Spicka said.
Group: Districts overpay for cyber schools
Chambersburg Public Opinion By LAUREN CAPPUCCIO, @LCappuccioPO
Local school districts pay too much under state law to fund cyber charter schools, according to a new organization dedicated to reform.
Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, a group of parents and advocates from Chambersburg, Big Spring, Shippensburg and Carlisle, aims to save taxpayers and school districts millions of dollars by changing the funding formula.

Muncy School Board supports charter school funding reform
By JOSH BROKAW - , Williamsport Sun-Gazette February 19, 2013
MUNCY - The Muncy School Board unanimously passed a resolution Monday night in support of reforming the state's cyber charter school funding formula.
The resolution, recommended by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, asks legislators to "support any legislation that corrects the tuition and pension overpayments to cyber charter schools."


“It's time for parents of charter children to be more discerning and demanding. It's great that their children are in schools that are safer, cleaner, and more involved with parents. But the data so far, in particular in Camden, show the charters are not doing any better than regular public schools academically.”

Inquirer Editorial: High pay for Camden charter school 'chef' an unappetizing move

POSTED: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 3:01 AM
Remember when school cafeterias were run by the "lunchroom lady" or a male counterpart? No doubt many still are. And in most cases, that term likely falls far short of describing the nutritionist responsible for what students eat. But how many schools do you know with an executive chef?

Under charter proposal, what happens to the York City School District
YorkCounts reps say in their vision, district and board would exist but be different.
By ANGIE MASON  York Daily Record/Sunday News 02/16/2013 10:05:33 PM EST
The advisory committee looking at the future of the York City School District has yet to really evaluate a radical proposal to convert to an all-charter school system, but questions raised about the idea include what would happen to the school district.  YorkCounts representatives say that in their vision, a city district and board would still exist -- but they would function differently.

Ethics Board reassures Philadelphia on non-profit grants
WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies February 20, 2013
The Philadelphia Ethics Board has assured Mayor Nutter that standard philanthropic grants to city agencies won't  trigger reporting requirements under the city's lobbyist registration law.  Nutter hopes that will chill out the William Penn Foundation and get it back into funding city parks, recreation and library improvements.
As we reported last week, several city projects were threatened when the foundation froze new grants to city-related agencies in response to an education group's ethics complaint.  
Parents United for Public Schools argued that when William Penn hired the Boston Consulting Group to advise the district on school closings and other issues, that amounted to lobbying. The parents sought to force the foundation to file reports under the lobbying disclosure law.

PPS: Planning a Privatization Scheme?
Yinzercation Blog February 20, 2013
Around here, the acronym PPS usually means “Pittsburgh Public Schools,” but now it might mean “Planning a Privatization Scheme.” The district has hired two consulting companies to help it craft an education plan that addresses equity issues for students and its looming financial crisis. But it turns out those two companies – Bellwether and FSG – support privatization of public schools. Hello? Who invited them to the party?

Dr. Finn is a middle school language arts teacher in my school district.  He taught both of my kids.  Both of them will remember him as one of those teachers who lit the fire in their bellies to love learning.  Not something that gets measured on standardized tests…..LAF
Paradigm Magazine February 20, 2013
Hey, Teach !!! — An Open Letter to America Written by Jason Finn
Jason Finn, Ed.D., is a former U.S. Fulbright recipient, an author and English teacher of adolescent youth where he crafts lessons full of sublime stupidity with whimsical abandon since 1994.

Pa. investigating alternative education school in Bucks
Martha Woodall, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER February 19, 2013, 8:47 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is investigating a Bala Cynwyd company's alternative-education program in Bucks County after finding a series of problems in the company's program in Reading. Department spokesman Timothy Eller confirmed Tuesday that state authorities were gathering and examining information about Delaware Valley High School's operations in Warminster. The program serves students with academic and disciplinary problems from school districts in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Capitol Watch – An Update on state and federal policies affecting Pennsylvania’s children - February 2013

Corporate Greed Targets Public Schools in Philadelphia
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 18, 2013
Abetted by the example of Race to the Top, as well as encouragement from the Gates Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, and the rightwing Corbett administration in Harrisburg, the state-appointed School Reform Commission in Philadelphia is poised to close an unprecedented number of Philadelphia public schools. The schools are under enrolled, says the commission, but the commission created the under-enrollment by opening charter schools.  Now Philadelphia will run a dual system, like many other cities, even though the charters are no better than the public schools.
Cui bono?

"For the first time in a few decades, the report has put the issue of school funding equity front and center on the federal agenda," Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor and commission member told The Huffington Post. "The last major report on this was in the Nixon era, and the situation has gotten much worse in recent decades."
Equity And Excellence Commission Report Warns Of Failure To Right Unfair U.S. Schools
Posted: 02/19/2013 7:10 pm EST  |  Updated: 02/20/2013 10:00 am EST
Advocates have shouted about inequalities in the U.S. education system for decades, with issues ranging from the availability of good teachers to the amount of money spent on schools with poor students. The gaps in standardized test scores between minorities and white students, and between rich and poor children, are longstanding and well-known facts.
Today, a diverse group of 27 education experts, economists and civil-rights leaders convened by the U.S. Education Department and with the support of the White House released a report recommending how to help remedy these problems. The report was commissioned by a congressional appropriation written by Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.). The Tuesday release comes one year after the report was initially expected, and follows months of torturous meetings and squabbling between union representatives and budget hawks.

“How long has this been going on? The Post notes a commission called for by President Nixon concluded as long as property taxes fund local schools poor kids are condemned to an education achievement gap. That was in 1972.”
Same Old School Woes
By John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist February 20, 2013, 8:51 AM
A new report on the long-standing education achievement gap in public schools released Tuesday in Washington underscores the problem but offers few real solutions.
The Equity and Excellence Commission, a 27-member panel created by Congress, says there's an urgent need for change in the financing and management of urban schools such as Philadelphia's.  The Washington Post reports in detail.

Federal Commission Urges Bold Steps to Boost Education Equity
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Michele McNeil on February 19, 2013 3:02 PM
A federally appointed education-equity commission is proposing a five-pronged agenda for states and the federal government to help the 22 percent of children living in poverty and eliminate what the commission calls a "staggering" achievement gap.  Three years in the making, the new report released today stems from a 2010 congressional directive to the U.S. Department of Education, which created the Equity and Excellence Commission. The report, called "For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence", makes recommendations in a number of areas:

Are countries moving towards more equitable education systems?
OECD PISA In Focus February 2013
Ideally, school systems provide high-quality educational opportunities for all students, irrespective of the students’ backgrounds. students from socio-economically advantaged families and those from disadvantaged families should be equally likely to succeed in school. That is the ideal, anyway.  In most countries, the reality looks a lot different. PisA results have consistently shown that socio-economic disadvantage is linked to poor performance in school. in fact, on average across OECD countries, disadvantaged students are twice as likely to be among the poorest performers in reading compared to advantaged students.  On average, a socio-economically advantaged student scores 88 points higher on the PisA reading test than a socio-economically disadvantaged student, a difference that is equivalent to more than two years of schooling.

“The chance of a child ending up poor declines by 82 percent when raised in a two-parent family.”
Obama's Pre-School Plan Fails When Parents Fail
By LIZ PEEK, The Fiscal Times February 19, 2013
Right-minded Americans agree: every child, regardless of race or circumstance, deserves a shot at success. The question is, how best to further that goal?  President Obama thinks the answer is universal pre-school. In his State of the Union address, he argued that investment in early schooling pays off, boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even cutting down on violent crime.” If only it were that simple.

Reducing School Tests Draws Support in Texas Hearing
The Texas Tribune by Morgan Smith and Elena Schneider February 19, 2013
More than 100 witnesses signed up to testify before the House Public Education Committee Tuesday in a hearing on student testing and graduation requirements expected to go into the evening.  Students, parents and educators overwhelmingly spoke in support of state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock's House Bill 5, arguing that the current system forces teachers to teach to the test and stifles flexibility to provide career-orientated courses.
"It is my opinion, and perhaps mine alone — I don't think so but maybe — that our present system is overemphasizing testing," said Aycock, the Killeen Republican who chairs the committee. "That it now interrupts more education than it benefits."

“Only 17 percent of teachers and 22 percent of principals are very confident that the Common Core State Standards, an initiative supported by the Obama administration that is being implemented in most states,  will actually improve student achievement.”
U.S. teachers’ job satisfaction craters — report
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 21, 2013 at 12:16 am
Half of America’s public school teachers say they feel great stress several days a week and are so demoralized that their level of satisfaction has dropped 23 percentage points since 2008 and is at its lowest in 25 years, according to an annual survey of educators.  The 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which is being released today, has more bad news about the effects of modern school reform:

Soda, candy out under USDA's proposed school snack rules
The Hill By Elise Viebeck - 02/01/13 01:45 PM ET
The Obama administration proposed regulations Friday that would prohibit U.S. schools from selling unhealthy snacks.   The 160-page regulation from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) would enact nutrition standards for "competitive" foods not included in the official school meal. 
In practice, the proposed rules would replace traditional potato chips with baked versions and candy with granola. Regular soda is out, though high-schoolers may have access to diet versions.
Whoo-Hoo! Occupy the Schools
Daily Censored By Susan Ohanian on February 19, 2013 9:29 pm
In response to a poverty rate that tops 90% in many urban and rural schools –and 1.6 million homeless children—many in schools with no libraries–education reformers at the White House, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Governors Association call for a radical, untried curriculum overhaul and two versions of nonstop national testing to measure whether teachers are producing workers for the Global Economy.
They call this upheaval the Common Core State (sic) Standards (CCSS) and there are two things to remember: The Common Core did not originate with the states and it is speculative and experimental–in a word, cuckoo. I use the (sic) in its title because putting the word “state” in there is a political move, a public relations ploy. Learning from President Bill Clinton’s failure to get the national test he wanted, corporate leaders and their political allies try to keep this school remake as distant from the White House as possible, insisting over and over that it’s a “grassroots initiative” –what the people asked for. Every time they say this, the press repeats it. The Common Core reality is about as far from Mom and apple pie as a zombie invasion.

Sal Kahn on his famous online academy
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 20, 2013 at 7:29 am
If you listen to folks such as Bill Gates and Al Gore and Carlos Slim Helu talk about Salman Khan, it would be understandable if you thought that the founder of the online Khan Academy is an education miracle worker.

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.


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.

Edcamp Philly 2013 at UPENN May 18th, 2013
For those of you who have never gone to an Edcamp before, please make a note of the unusual part of the morning where we will build the schedule. Edcamp doesn’t believe in paying fancy people to come and talk at you about teaching! At an Edcamp, the people attending – the participants - facilitate sessions on teaching and learning! So Edcamp won’t succeed without a whole bunch of you wanting to run a session of some kind! What kinds of sessions might you run?
What: Edcamp Philly is an"unconference" devoted to K-12 Education issues and ideas.
Where: University of Pennsylvania  When: May 18, 2013  Cost: FREE!

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