Monday, March 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 18, 2013: Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1875 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 March 18, 2013: Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget

The first edition of the Network for Public Education Newsletter is Here!

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 16, 2013:
Letter to Gov. Corbett: Pennsylvania Fails Education Requirements of Its Constitution; Fails to Meet the Needs of Its Children
Here’s our weekend posting in case you missed it……

Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget
The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign is an unprecedented coalition of more than 30 statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations representing hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators, school board members, administrators, and other concerned citizens advocating for adequate and equitable funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools.

Pass reforms for charters Opinion By James Roebuck Monday, March 18, 2013, 3:01 AM
State Rep. James Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, represents the 188th District in west and southwest Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania can generate $365 million for public schools - without raising taxes. This is more than four times what Gov. Corbett proposes to restore in his recent budget proposal.
The General Assembly can produce these savings, including an estimated $175 million for Philadelphia, by passing my bipartisan charter and cyber charter school reform bill (H.B. 934).
I support charter schools as a way to produce innovations that can be duplicated in other public schools. That was the intent of the 1996 law authorizing these schools in the commonwealth.
However, I believe Pennsylvania needs major reforms in the governance, financing, and accountability of charter and cyber schools. 

Here is the PA Charter Coalition’s coverage of last week’s House Education Committee hearing; it includes links to bills and to written testimony that was submitted.  IMHO, “Devastating” is an appropriate term for the impact that inflated cyber charter tuition payments have had on high-poverty school districts that were already significantly underfunded…..
Recap: March 14 House Education Committee Hearing on Devastating Cyber Charter Legislation
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools website March 17, 2013
On Thursday, March 14, the House Education Committee held a hearing on proposed legislation that, if passed, will negatively impact the future of every Pennsylvania cyber charter school. Links to the bills and testimony follow:

Public school closings reflect our priorities. Weapons are more important.
WHYY Newsworks By Jan C. Ting March 13, 2013
Protesters outside Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting.
Thinking and reading about last week's closing of 23 public schools by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, I've concluded that the closings are necessary, though insufficient to address the fiscal crisis of the school district. Other school districts including some of the nation's largest are expected to do the same thing, including Chicago, Newark, and Washington, D.C.
But those protesting the school closings are right, too. The closings are an outrage against poor children.

Public ed heroes of the day: School closings
Media Mobilizing Project and the public education testimonials of #phillyeducation #underattack
Parents United for Public Education Posted on March 16, 2013 by HELENGYM
History is not made only by those with titles and power. It is defined and understood through the heroic actions of many. Here are a few public ed heroes who stood out for us during the school closings vote:

Court OKs church invites at Pa. school
Law still evolving on how case should affect elementary schools
Post-Gazette By Maryclaire Dale / The Associated Press March 18, 2013 12:03 am
PHILADELPHIA -- A Pennsylvania fifth-grader may distribute invitations to a church Christmas party at her public school because it won't cause a "substantial disruption," a U.S. appeals court panel ruled Tuesday.  The panel upheld a lower court's preliminary decision allowing the student -- identified only as K.A. -- to take the invitations into her Pocono Mountains school based on a free speech standard established in a Vietnam-era Supreme Court case involving a high school anti-war protest.  The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court noted the law is still evolving on how the case should affect elementary schools.

Results from Teachers Lead Philly Survey on Teacher Evaluation

NSA seeks high-school kids for cyber hacking competition
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin Begos, Associated Press March 17, 2013
Bored with classes? Carnegie Mellon University and one of the government's top spy agencies want to interest high school students in a game of computer hacking.
Their goal with "Toaster Wars" is to cultivate the nation's next generation of cyber warriors in offensive and defensive strategies. The free, online "high school hacking competition" will run from April 26 to May 6.

Music to Their Ears
Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2013
Recently, members of the Pottstown School District Music Department brought their music to our state capitol building in Harrisburg.  Students, under the direction of Brian Langdon, Ben Hayes, and Nancy Mest, performed in the Rotunda of our state capitol as part of the Music In Our Schools Month program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. 

Teach for America solicits donations, public funds, finder fees while amassing $1 billion fortune, tax records show
Louisiana Voice Blog March 5, 2013 by tomaswell
Remember when teaching was about answering to a calling—before the Jindal administration came charging onto the scene with its half-baked ideas of education reform through sweeping legislation that promoted something called Teach for America?
As noble and magnanimous as Teach for America (TFA) would have you believe its motives to be, it would be wise to keep your eye on the dollar sign.

From 2009 through 2012 the Walton Family Foundation reported $47,879,682.00 in grants to Teach for America

“While dumping problem students from your books like a subprime loan is effective business management, it’s also a deeply unethical way to operate a system of public education.”
What school choice means to parents with ‘bad’ kids
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 16, 2013 at 9:30 am
What rights do kids have in schools? This is one of the poignant questions asked in this hard-hitting post by Natalie Hopkinson,  who looks at what happens to kids in charter schools who have discipline problems. Hopkinson is a contributing editor to The RootDC. E-mail her at (and join her and The Root DC for a discussion on Saturday, March 16, from 1-3 p.m. at THEARC for “Schools and Discipline: Is it working? Is it fair?” 1901 Mississippi Ave, SE, Washington DC. This appeared on The Root D.C.

“The great challenge for a senator isn't to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It's to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don't have direct access to the corridors of power.  Senators basically never have poor kids. That's something members of Congress should think about. Especially members of Congress who know personally that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.”
Rob Portman and the Politics of Narcissism By Matthew Yglesias Posted Friday, March 15, 2013, at 12:26 PM
I'm glad that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has reconsidered his view on gay marriage upon realization that his son is gay, but I also find this particular window into moderation—memorably dubbed Miss America conservatism by Mark Schmitt—to be the most annoying form.

ALEC makes public hundreds of “model” bills
The shady lobby group has published pre-written legislation under pressure from watchdog coalition BY NATASHA LENNARD FRIDAY, MAR 15, 2013 05:25 PM EDT
It’s been public knowledge for a number of years that the American Legislative Exchange Council is responsible for writing model legislation for major industries and then pushing them, through Republican lawmakers, into statehouses nationwide. Until these model bills pop up on legislative agendas, however, little is known about the group’s legislation penning.
On Friday, following a two-year campaign by watchdog groups, ALEC published hundreds of its model bills online. The coalition of organizations pushing for greater transparency included the Center for Media and Democracy, ColorOfChange, Common Cause, Greenpeace, People for the American Way, Progress Now and a variety of labor organizations.
The full list of model bills is available here. It includes template bills pertaining to charter schools, climate (mis)education, union-busting right to work bills, workplace drug testing laws and more

Rupert Murdoch Wins Contract to Develop Common Core Tests
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 17, 2013 //
Amplify, the company owned by Rupert Murdoch, won a $12.5 million contract to develop formative assessments for Common Core tests. The award was made by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups funded by the Obama administration to create national tests, administered online. Joel Klein runs Murdoch’s Amplify division.

INTERVIEW Charlotte Danielson on Teaching and the Common Core
Education Week By Anthony Rebora Published Online: March 13, 2013
Charlotte Danielson, a former teacher and school administrator with degrees from Cornell and Oxford Universities, is one of the most recognized authorities on teaching practice in the United States. A popular speaker and trainer, she is best known as the creator of the "Framework for Teaching," a 115-page set of components for effective pedagogy that is used in many states and districts to inform teacher evaluation and professional development.
Danielson recently released a new edition of her Framework for 2013, with updates designed to reflect the Common Core State Standards. In a recent interview, we talked to her about the common standards and how they might change teachers' work.

A Tough Road for Charter Proposal
New York Times THE TEXAS TRIBUNE By MORGAN SMITH Published: March 16, 2013
When Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, told Texas lawmakers recently to “go big or go home” on education reform, the Senate education chairman, Dan Patrick, had already embraced that advice.  In his new role, Mr. Patrick, a Houston Republican, has championed the policies — robust virtual learning, unrestricted charter-school growth and private-school vouchers — advanced by national reformers like Mr. Bush.  Conservative, business-friendly Texas, where Republicans have controlled the House and Senate since 2003, would appear to be fertile ground for a philosophy based on the belief that low regulation and high competition encourage innovation. But in the state that gave birth to the accountability movement embodied by the No Child Left Behind law, other key policies linked to that philosophy have struggled to take root.

How to Join the Network for Public Education
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 13, 2013 
Several readers have contacted me asking how they can join the Network for Public Education.
Some read about it but don’t know how to find the website.
Here it is:

Teachers Lead Philly Spring Dinner/Workshop
Thu, Mar 21, 2013 ~ 5pm-7pm Franklin 1075 @ SDP/440 N. Broad Street
Register HERE!

Children with Specific Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Calls for Reforming Special Education
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia March 19, 2013, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Session will take place from 12:00-4:00pm on the listed day at the United Way Building, located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Sessions also available via webinar.
Cost: Pay What You Can! (Minimum payment of $5 Requested)
This session is designed to address the legal aspects surrounding the needs of children with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities (ADHD, non-verbal learning disabilities). An expert in dyslexia will join Sonja Kerr to explain dyslexia/learning disabilities, the research and what we can do about it.

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
PSBA website 3/15/2013
The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 21, 2013.
In 2011, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBAs Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 21, 2013. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October.

Honoring Valor: National History Day Student Competition
Letters of intent due by April 1, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Army Heritage Center Foundation, and the Pennsylvania State Museum are pleased to announce a competition for students in Middle and
High School to demonstrate how and why societies honor valor. Inspired by the valor exemplified by Soldiers at Gettysburg in 1863, citizens on September 11, 2001, and the responses of individuals battling disease or injustice, the competition will recognize students who demonstrate
excellence in identifying and describing how and why societies honor their valiant men and women.

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!
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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