Friday, February 22, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 22, 2013: Chicago Public Schools proposes closing 2 charter high schools

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 22, 2013

For the latest on the PA State Budget follow the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:

Chicago Public Schools proposes closing 2 charter high schools
By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune reporter February 22, 2013
Chicago Public Schools officials will recommend that two charter high schools be closed this year because of poor performance, officials said Thursday.
Critics have complained that some privately run, publicly funded charter schools don't perform any better than neighborhood schools, and yet neighborhood schools are the ones being targeted as the district makes plans to close buildings in an effort to address a $1 billion budget deficit.
In light of those complaints, CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has vowed to get tough with privately run charter schools this year, holding them accountable for poor academic performance.

Protesters decry proposed Philadelphia school closings
POSTED: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 10:44 PM
As the march toward the largest mass school closing in Philadelphia history continues, the voices of detractors grow louder.  Thursday night, the voices were very loud indeed.

“The passion among neighbors over Penn Alexander - officially the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, a joint venture between Penn and the school district - begs the question: Why hasn't the district done more to replicate Penn Alexander's success around the city?”
What Works: W. Phila. school is all the rage: Why aren't all the others?
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5985
POSTED: Friday, February 22, 2013, 3:01 AM
THE CHANTS from families whose children attend Penn Alexander School were simple and blunt.  "Ten more in! Ten more in!" the 60 adults and children yelled Wednesday outside a University Council meeting at the University of Pennsylvania.
The group braved the chilly temperatures to demand that 10 students, wait-listed to attend the prestigious K-to-8 school under a new district-imposed lottery system, be allowed to enroll.
"Broken Compact, Broken Families, Broken Community" read one sign. Another protester, Lani Shade, carried a sign with a drawing of a pair of dice next to "PAS is not a casino."
The passion among neighbors over Penn Alexander - officially the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, a joint venture between Penn and the school district - begs the question: Why hasn't the district done more to replicate Penn Alexander's success around the city?

Pennsylvanians for Charter School Reform February 20, 2013
Fix Broken Charter School Funding - Reform PA Charter Schools
Pennsylvanians for Charter School Reform is a non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advocating for the commonsense reform of charter school legislation.
We believe that
  • high-quality charter  and cyber charter schools are an important part of Pennsylvania’s educational landscape;
  • all parents have a right to send their children to a high-quality public school whether it is a traditional public school, a brick and mortar charter school, or a cyber charter school;
  • all schools that receive public money should be held to the same financial and academic accountability requirements;
  • locally elected school boards, parents, and community members should retain local control over their school districts; and
  • our state legislators have an obligation to ensure that tax dollars allocated for public education are being spent for the sole purpose of educating the children of Pennsylvania.

Distressed Districts: Duquesne board rejects recovery plan
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 21, 2013 9:01 pm
The Duquesne City school board voted down a recommended financial recovery plan that called for requesting 11 surrounding districts to take Duquesne's K-6 students starting as early as the 2013-14 school year.  The vote, taken Thursday, means the matter will head to Common Pleas Court, where a receiver will be named to operate the district to carry out the plan, which was developed by chief recovery officer Paul B. Long. Mr. Long was appointed by state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis in November under new state legislation aimed at bringing financial stability and academic improvement to the state's poorest school districts.

Editorial: U.D. schools seek public's help to tame budget deficit
Delco Times Editorial Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Vince Lombardi would have loved Upper Darby.  The legendary football coach used to describe his sport thusly: “Football isn’t a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.”
He should have checked out Upper Darby School District budget hearings. Looking for the school of hard knocks? This is your place.
The usually contentious process of balancing the books amid a lousy economy, state funding cuts and a gaping deficit is a challenge most years.  Last year, faced with another sea of red ink and lacking the usual lifeboat from Harrisburg, the school board and administration decided to cut bait.  The $13 million deficit could no longer be avoided. Cuts would have to be made. Painful cuts.  The kind of cuts that slice through skin and bone into the very marrow of a school district. The administration indicated it would ax more than 50 teachers. Almost as important, it rolled out curriculum changes that would eliminate much of the district’s calling card -- arts and music, at the elementary levels.
The reaction was about what you would expect. Think gasoline and a lighted match.

You know K12, Inc. as a provider of online curriculum services and through their involvement with Pennsylvania’s Agora cyber charter, but they are now also involved with “Flex” charter schools – brick and mortar charters where kids take online courses
K12, Inc.
New York Times Business February 22, 2013

An application for a K-12 affiliated flex charter, the “Greater Philadelphia Flex Academy Charter School” is now pending in Pennsylvania’s Southeast Delco and Upper Darby School Districts.  
According to the application, the leader of the founding/management team is Erica D. Atwood, who currently serves as Specialist of External Affairs and Community Engagement for the Office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Here are links to that application:
Greater Philadelphia Flex Academy Charter School Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Depart,ment of Education Charter School Application

Greater Philadelphia Flex Academy Charter School Appendix H – Letter of Intent

Survey Finds Rising Job Frustration Among Principals
Education Week By Liana Heitin Published Online: February 21, 2013
A new national survey finds that three out of four K-12 public school principals, regardless of the types of schools they work in, believe the job has become “too complex,” and about a third say they are likely to go into a different occupation within next five years.  The 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American TeacherRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, based on telephone interviews with 1,000 K-12 public school teachers and 500 principals, tells a story of enduring budget problems in schools and declining morale among both teachers and school leaders.

Education Secretary Duncan considering district-by-district waivers
PHILIP ELLIOTT , The Associated Press Thursday, February 21, 2013, 4:21 PM
WASHINGTON - Education Secretary Arne Duncan is talking with school districts about how to free them from unworkable parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law, signaling he is open to an approach he long tried to avoid.
The Education Department has given 34 states and the District of Columbia permission to ignore parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Law and eight others have waiver applications pending ahead of next week's application deadline. But that still leaves eight states , giants California and Texas among them , operating under the law and set to fall short of its requirements, such as all students being proficient in math and reading by 2014.
The next step could be allowing school districts themselves to petition for exemptions from national requirements that states are all but certain to fail to meet.
"I'm not saying we are going to go down that path," Duncan said Thursday before trailing off, "but if we go down that path ..."
It seems as though his department is already setting that in motion, however.

“The exposure that our urban children have to high levels of learning versus typical suburban students — there are marked differences,” Mr. Slentz said. “Whether it’s access to public libraries, to well-developed after-school programs, there is a difference between what the suburban kids have at their fingertips versus what urban kids have.”
NAEP Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: February 21, 2013
Of all the changes sweeping through the American public education system, one of the most significant is simply demographic: the growing population of Hispanic students.  A new analysis released Thursday of nationwide test results in the five most populous states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas — shows that depending on where they live, Hispanic students’ academic performance varies widely.
According to the report, which examines data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often cited as the most reliable standard in academic testing, Hispanic students accounted for more than half of all eighth graders in California in 2011, the highest proportion in the country. But only 14 percent of those students were proficient on eighth-grade reading tests administered by the United States Department of Education.

Conservative Think Tank: Why Standardized Tests Are Great
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 21, 2013 //
Kathleen Porter-Magee of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute explains here why the anti-testing movement is wrong. She describes what she calls four “myths.”

White House: Stop-gap Measure Only Way to Avoid Sequestration Deadline
ABC News by Mather Larotonda @mattlarotonda Feb 19, 2013 3:34pm
The  White House says that a short-term resolution may be the only workable option to avoid triggering the sweeping package of federal budget cuts known as “the sequester,” unless Congress can reach a broader deficit-reduction agreement.  Lawmakers have a legally mandated deadline of March 1 to select $85 billion in cuts from the nation’s $3.8 trillion budget. But with little indication of progress and Congress in recess this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that the chances of such agreement were slim.

White House changes course on sequester
Politico By DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 2/22/13 4:34 AM EST
For the last six months, the White House told the groups that will suffer the biggest blow if domestic cuts go through one thing: We’ve got this.  But a week before the sequester deadline, they’ve decided to change course, summoning cops, teachers, nurses and first responders to the White House for meetings on how to pitch their case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill reluctant to cut a deal.

During a Thursday visit to Philadelphia, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey essentially said, "Bring it on."
Toomey says sequester won't be that bad
WHYY Newsworks By Emma Jacobs February 21, 2013
Congress designed the "sequester" -- the set of across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect in March -- to be so drastic it would force legislators to come up with a compromise.  That hasn't happened. With a week to go, President Barack Obama continues to roll out previews of the unhappy consequences and unhappy managers of federal agencies to pressure lawmakers.

Oklahoma 'Creationism Bill': State's House Education Committee Passes Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act
The Huffington Post  |  By Sara Gates Posted: 02/21/2013 2:30 pm
Oklahoma's most recent creationism measure has made it over its latest hurdle.  The Oklahoma Common Education committee passed the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act Tuesday in a close 9-8 vote, Mother Jones reports.  Introduced by Republican state Rep. Gus Blackwell, the legislation would "permit teachers, schools, and students to explore alternative theories without repercussions," the Week columnist Dana Liebelson writes.
In layman's terms, students would be able to challenge universally accepted scientific theories, such as evolution and climate change. Teachers would also be required to find more effective ways to address such controversies in their teachings.

PSBA officer applications due April 30
PSBA’s website 2/15/2013
Candidates seeking election to PSBA officer posts in 2014 must file an expression of interest for the office desired to be interviewed by the PSBA Leadership Development Committee.
This new committee replaces the former Nominations Committee. Deadline for filing is April 30. The application shall be marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by the deadline to be considered timely filed. Expression of interest forms can be found online at

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!

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.

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