Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 30, 2013: In Camden, let them eat computers; Oh Atlanta; Glenn Beck: Common Core a Chinese-Muslim Conspiracy

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1900 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.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 30, 2013:
In Camden, let them eat computers; Oh Atlanta; Glenn Beck: Common Core a Chinese-Muslim Conspiracy

Help spread the message of the PA School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget:

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

“A student receiving speech services at Washington School District for one 30-minute session per week costs $569 while, for the same time in a cyberschool, the cost is $8,461.”
Cost, outcome of cybereducation questioned by Washington administrator
By Christie Campbell Staff Writer
published mar 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm (updated mar 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm
By attaching her computer mouse to an oscillating fan, one cyberschool student was able to pretend she was working on her computer throughout the school day.  That admission, to the cyberschool coordinator for Washington School District, is just one reason why the district is questioning the effectiveness and accountability of charter and cyberschools in Pennsylvania.
In the past five years, the district has spent $1.9 million in tuition so that 60 to 65 students could enroll in cyberschools.  At the same time, there is little to show that those students were receiving a good education. In fact, attempts by administrators to get attendance and progress reports, as well as notification when a student dropped out of a cyberschool, were met with a “cease and desist” letter from an attorney for the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Beaver.

Our take: Time for charter school reform
York Daily Record Editorial 03/28/2013 07:55:28 AM EDT
The governor and state lawmakers have a pretty crowded agenda up there in Harrisburg, with pension reform, lottery and liquor store privatization and a number of other issues, but one thing state leaders really need to accomplish this year is reform of the charter school system in Pennsylvania.  From funding to authorization and accountability, lawmakers need to get a better handle on this burgeoning sector of public education.

“In Part I of this series I spelled out how Gureghian, the charter school magnate, has spread campaign money around Pennsylvania, becoming Governor Tom Corbett's biggest contributor. Undoubtedly aided by this influence, Gureghian has become a very wealthy man on the backs of the taxpayers. But Gureghian hasn't confined his political contributions to Pennsylvania.
According to New Jersey election records, Gureghian has been donating money to New Jersey politicians around the state since at least 1997.”
Jersey Jazzman Blog THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013
The Selling Out of Camden's Schools, Part II
This Monday, Governor Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf announced that they were going to disenfranchise the Camden Board of Education and take direct control of the city's schoolsOne of the most interesting aspects of the story was how little outcry there was from the region's Democratic politicians against a Republican governor taking over Camden's education system.

Here’s a link to our continuing posting on Mr. Gureghian

Philly: The District’s budget: Key facts and figures
The notebook by Paul Socolar on Mar 29 2013 Posted in Latest news
The School Reform Commission adopted a $2.66 billion “lump-sum budget” Thursday evening. The lump-sum budget provides overall projections for revenue, expenses, and any surplus or deficit, but does not include a detailed breakdown. The detailed budget typically comes in late April and must be adopted by May 31.  From the budget and Thursday's presentation by District staff, here are some key numbers on this year and how officials propose to close a huge gap for next year.

Top of Form
Have you heard the one about the Finnish extrovert? Part I
Have you heard the one about the Finnish extrovert?  He looks down at the other person’s shoes when he speaks.  I first heard that joke told about physicists some years ago.  I just heard it again on Wednesday from a Finnish education expert during our visit at the Helsinki Normal Lyceum.
What does this have to do with our group inquiry into Finnish education?

Education Policy and Leadership Center Education Notebook – Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pottstown Mercury Thursday, March 28, 2013
How much is your child's teacher paid?
Wondering what the average salary is for a teacher in your school district? Wondering how much your child's teacher gets paid? You can find out using the search option below.  Enter information in any of the fields to carry out a search. You do not have to fill out all the fields in order to search.

Updated: 7:55 p.m. Friday, March 29, 2013 | Posted: 9:56 a.m. Friday, March 29, 2013
Former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall indicted
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution By Rhonda Cook and Mark Niesse
Former Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall was the leader of a corrupt organization that used students’ test scores to earn bonuses if they rose, or intimidation and termination if they fell, according to a 65-count indictment returned Friday.  Grand jurors have been meeting for months, sorting out the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, and on Friday they made clear their outrage at what they had been hearing by setting a bond of $7.5 million for Hall. She and the other 34 indicted — all for racketeering — have until Tuesday to surrender. They reached a decision after 45 minutes of deliberation.

Ex-Schools Chief in Atlanta Is Indicted in Testing Scandal
New York Times By MICHAEL WINERIP  Published: March 29, 2013
During his 35 years as a Georgia state investigator, Richard Hyde has persuaded all sorts of criminals — corrupt judges, drug dealers, money launderers, racketeers — to turn state’s evidence, but until Jackie Parks, he had never tried to flip an elementary school teacher.
It worked.  In the fall of 2010, Ms. Parks, a third-grade teacher at Venetian Hills Elementary School in southwest Atlanta, agreed to become Witness No. 1 for Mr. Hyde, in what would develop into the most widespread public school cheating scandal in memory.

Atlanta’s former schools chief charged under law used against Mafia
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog  by Valerie Strauss on March 30, 2013 at 11:09 am
In 2009, Beverly Hall was tapped as the National Superintendent of the Year, hailed for driving up standardized test scores in the Atlanta Public Schools and turning the system “into a model of urban school reform.  But the scores were illusory, and Hall was just indicted under a law used against Mafia leaders, charged with leading a “corrupt” organization in which students’ standardized test scores were used to reward or punish teachers.  Yes, a law used against members of the Gambino crime family is being used against educators and school administrators in a test-cheating scandal.

School board legislation gains new support in the U.S. Congress
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min March 29th, 2013
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has signed on to the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, a measure proposed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The bill, H.R. 1386, is designed to protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.
The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21 by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) It is now cosponsored by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.).
NSBA is now seeking an original sponsor for the legislation in the Senate, and it is urging school board members to contact their members of Congress to support the bill while the lawmakers are in their home districts next week.

National School Board group seeks curbs on U.S. Ed Secretary
SI&A Cabinet Report By Tom Chorneau Thursday, March 28, 2013
The National School Boards Association and its 90,000 members are sponsoring legislation aimed at curbing the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Education – an outgrowth likely stemming from the group’s chilly relationship with the Obama administration during the president’s first term.
HR 1386 by Congressmen Aaron Schock, R-Illinois and Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from adopting any new regulations, rules or grant requirements without first offering the education community 60 days to provide written comments.
The bill would also restrict the education secretary from taking any new regulatory action that would conflict with the “power and authority” of local educational agencies or would add additional costs not supported by federal funding.
“A lot of the policies of the department have just been stepping over the authority of a locally-elected school board to make decisions that are in the best interest of their community and students,” said Erika Hoffman, legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association.

Key education activists protesting in D.C. next week
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 29, 2013 at 6:00 am
Education activists opposed to corporate-based school reform are converging on Washington D.C. next week for the second annual United Opt Out National event on the grounds of the U.S. Education Department. Among those who will be speaking at the event are education historian Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, veteran educator Deborah Meier, and early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige.
The four-day event — to be attended by teachers, students, parents and others — will start on April 4th and include a march to the White House in an effort to get the attention of President Obama, who has been a big disappointment to people who thought he would push progressive school reform policies. Instead, his Education Department has pushed a corporate-based reform agenda that includes an accountability system based on standardized tests — against the advice of assessment experts — and initiatives that have fueled the privatization of public education and attacks on teachers.

Vouchers Don’t Work: Evidence from Milwaukee
Diane Ravitch’s Blog by Diane Ravitch March 29, 2013
Now that 17 states have authorized vouchers to “save kids from failing schools,” it is time to review the evidence from Milwaukee, which has had vouchers for 22 years.
The “independent evaluator” of the Milwaukee and D.C. voucher programs is Patrick J. Wolf of the University of Arkansas. As we learned during school choice week earlier this year, Wolf is a strong supporter of school choice and he even wrote an editorial saying that his home state of Minnesota needs more school choice because it was in danger of falling behind Arkansas in doing so. How much more independent can an evaluator be? It is perhaps also noteworthy that the University of Arkansas is generously funded by Arkansas’s biggest philanthropy, the Walton Foundation, which pours millions every year into charters and vouchers and anything that has the possibility of undermining public schools.

Dirksen Congressional Center's COMMUNICATOR UPDATE: March 2013
Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center's “reformatted” Communicator–a web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas to improve the understanding of Congress:
  1. Highlights from The Center’s Web Suite
  2. New at Congress for Kids
  3. Highlights from The Dirksen Congressional Center
  4. More Information About Congress
  5. Congressional Humor

From the “you can’t make this stuff up” department…….
“It’s all going to happen, Beck said, thanks to a devious indoctrination program operating in America today, by which he means the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCS). “
Glenn Beck: Education standards are a Chinese-Muslim conspiracy
By Stephen C. Webster Friday, March 29, 2013 13:10 EDT
Conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck warned viewers of his Internet channel Thursday night that a set of public education standards encouraging math and language development is actually a massive global conspiracy designed to help the Chinese and, somehow, Muslims, take over the United States.  “I believe that you are… then going to be co-ruled by a thugocracy of this part of the world, and I think it’s going to be, at least in our case, I think it’s going to be China,” Beck said as he randomly placed colored dots on a chalkboard with a drawing of a world map. “China will be the balance of our power. They will use Muslam– Islam, as the real enforcers that they will then help us, and whoever is in power will be ruled by an American. But uh, it will be a technocrat that will answer to China, and they will stomp things out and use Islam as much as they have to to get rid of anybody who’s, uh, standing up, I think.”

Education Voters PA ACTION ALERT – Call to action day April 10th

Mark your calendar for the next Call to Action Day on Wednesday April 10th - where thousands of Pennsylvanians will take 10 minutes to call their State Senators and House members.

A group from the Penn Graduate School of Education is visiting Finland to see their education system.  Follow their blog…..

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.

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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