Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 7, 2013: Accuracy, Fairness, Transparency - funding formula on the left; funding formula on the right; how about a funding formula?


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.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 7, 2013: Accuracy, Fairness, Transparency - funding formula on the left; funding formula on the right; how about a funding formula?


“because the closings would create education deserts in areas of the city with the highest concentration of minority and low-income residents….Who would stay or move into a neighborhood that doesn’t even have a school in which parents and community members can invest their energies?” 
thenotebook by Elaine Simon on Mar 04 2013


PA House Education Committee Public Hearing:
Cyber Charter Funding Reform
Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:00 AM Room 140 Main Capitol
HB 618 (Emrick) and HB 759 (Reese)
Here’s some background on these two bills:
Charter and Cyber Charter Funding Reforms Proposed
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s website 1/25/2013
HARRISBURG – The House Republican Caucus today unveiled a legislative package aimed at reforming charter and cyber charter school funding.

“If the SRC endorses even most of the proposals, the result would be among the largest mass school closings in the country, with one in eight city schools shutting its doors permanently in June.”
Philly SRC set to vote on 27 planned school closings
Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Thursday, March 7, 2013, 3:01 AM
The Philadelphia school system is broke, with 53,000 empty seats and a huge stable of buildings it cannot afford to maintain.  A well-organized, ardent group of citizens - supported by the powerful teachers union - is pushing back hard against the 29 proposed school closings.
Thursday is decision day, as the five members of the School Reform Commission will meet to vote on 27 of the proposed closures and dozens more program shifts and grade changes. (Votes for two closures, proposed more recently, will be taken later.)
How high are the stakes? The president of the American Federation of Teachers is expected to be in town for a pre-vote, anti-closing rally that could draw hundreds outside the School District's headquarters on North Broad Street.

Philly officials vote tonight on controversial plan to close 27 schools
By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press Published: Thursday, March 07, 2013
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Education officials in the city will vote Thursday on whether to close more than 10 percent of the district's schools, a potentially money-saving move that opponents contend will irreparably damage dozens of neighborhoods.  Many of the 27 buildings are in poor condition and have too many empty seats because of the district's 23 percent enrollment drop over the past decade. The downsizing would save the cash-strapped system about $24.5 million per year, officials said.
But activists have held countless rallies and demonstrations against the plan, even camping outside Mayor Michael Nutter's office for several hours Tuesday. They contend that the closures will harm already struggling neighborhoods by fueling the exodus from the district.  "(Schools) are hubs of community life," said Ron Whitehorne, a retired middle-school science teacher. "We ought to be ... investing in these schools and developing them, not only for improved educational outcomes but for the whole community."

Dungee Glenn: The real issue is equity
by thenotebook on Mar 06 2013 Posted in Commentary
Thursday's School Reform Commission vote on the recommended closure of nearly 30 schools will undoubtedly have a major impact on the future of the city's public school system.  In advance of the vote, the Notebook asked prominent Philadelphians to offer their thoughts, using new data and maps on school attendance patterns in the city as a starting point.
by Sandra Dungee Glenn
At the heart of school closings and school choice in Philadelphia is the question of equity -- or lack of it. For the past three decades, parents have been migrating to what they perceive as better options for their children, largely as a result of neglect of schools in neighborhoods of color.
As urban districts around the country, including Philadelphia, have gone through major shifts and changes in population, we have seen large disparities among different schools, depending on where they’re located and who attends them. As various neighborhoods in Philadelphia became majority African-American, and later Latino, their schools received less attention, support, and investment from “downtown.” Across the country, 70 percent of African American children still attend schools with high teacher turnover and a disproportionate number of inexperienced teachers. Their schools are more likely to have outdated facilities, constant principal churn, more safety issues and inadequate access to technology, libraries, counselors, and extracurricular activities.
Why wouldn’t parents seek alternatives?

Debate over school closings asks the wrong questions
by thenotebook on Mar 06 2013 Posted in Commentary
Thursday's School Reform Commission vote on the recommended closure of nearly 30 schools will undoubtedly have a major impact on the future of the city's public school system. In advance of the vote, the Notebook asked prominent Philadelphians to offer their thoughts, using new data and maps on school attendance patterns in the city as a starting point.
by Mark Gleason and Mike Wang
Far more important than the question of whether schools should close is why some neighborhood schools work -- even when serving the same students with the same funding -- and others don’t. We don’t need to look far to answer this question and don’t need to engage in some hypothetical debate over models, governance, theories, or systems. We need only to look at the dozens of successful neighborhood schools in Philadelphia and find the common threads: focused leaders, resourceful and committed teachers, and the conditions that enable these educators to thrive.

Funding formula on the left…
Fix PA State Education Funding Formula
Keystone Politics Posted on March 6, 2013 by Jon #
We’ve covered how the current state funding distribution perpetuates racial inequality, and how Tom Corbett made a conscious choice to go back to distributing the money this way, quietly rolling back Rendell-era reforms.  I would also add that the “hold harmless” law leads to perverse land use and development choices. Growing districts are punished by the current approach and shrinking districts are rewarded. Consequently, any time local politicians are inclined to make pro-growth land use and development choices that would grow the local population, there’s inevitable pushback from people understandably worried that more growth will lead to more families moving in, sending their school taxes soaring.
This is nuts. The state needs to reward local governments who want to grow their populations, not punish them.

and funding formula on the right…..
Report: Find better way to fund education
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent March 5, 2013
HARRISBURGPennsylvania will spend nearly $5.5 billion on subsidies to school districts this year, but an education reform group says in a new report that the distribution of those funds is out of whack.  The Education Law Center, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that advocates for more equitable education funding, published a report on Tuesday calling for the restoration of a state-level educational funding formula along the lines of the one discontinued by the Corbett administration. The group said Pennsylvania is one of only three states that does not use a formula to determine basic education funding.
The new report calls for Pennsylvania to adopt an education funding formula that reflects accuracy, fairness, and transparency and takes into account student enrollment totals.

So how about a funding formula?
Law Center Report: PA One of Only Three States without Education Funding Formula
No accuracy, fairness, or transparency possible without sound formula
Education Law Center February 28, 2013
Pennsylvania is a national outlier when it comes to following basic budgeting principles -- accuracy, fairness, and transparency -- that most states use when it comes to public school funding, according to a new report from the Education Law Center.
The statewide, non-profit organization examined how each of the 50 states calculates and distributes education dollars. The report shows that Pennsylvania is in the minority when it comes to basic budgeting practices used by most states.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wants to expand access to preschool through a state-federal partnership
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  on March 06, 2013 at 2:02 PM
Hearing President Obama call for expanding access to high-quality preschool education in his State of the Union address was music to the ears of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Casey has been pushing that idea since arriving in the Senate in 2007. In fact, legislation to accomplish that goal was one of the first bills he introduced after taking office that year.

"It's an interesting choice ... more booze, less school," the Philadelphia lawmaker said.
Senators call for scrutiny of Pa. charter schools, blast Corbett LCB plan
Delco Times By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press Published: Tuesday, March 05, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Some lawmakers on Monday called for stronger state regulation of Pennsylvania's charter and cyber-charter schools, while others derided Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to finance new school grants by privatizing liquor and wine sales as a political gimmick.
Senators took turns quizzing state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis on wide-ranging topics at an Appropriations Committee hearing that focused mostly on his department's programs and its $11.3 billion budget request for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

As I See It: State government should honor pension promises
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Rick Bloomingdale on March 07, 2013 at 12:00 AM,
Rick Bloomingdale is the president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Public pensions recently have been unfairly attacked by Gov. Tom Corbett and his right-wing conservative friends in Harrisburg. The Corbett administration has conducted a statewide publicity campaign to try to convince people and state legislators that the unfunded liability created by the Wall Street collapse in 2008 and a decade of pension holidays in contributions by the State has risen to crisis proportions.  If we don’t accept their solutions our Commonwealth will sink into fiscal and economic chaos. Even some local elected officials and school boards have jumped on this political bandwagon. They are using it for their own political cover and to advance a narrow political agenda, favoring Wall Street over Main Street.

Proposals for a new Philadelphia Federation of Teachers contract
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane March 5, 2013
GUESTS:  WILLIAM HITE, RON WHITESTONE, ANDREW ROTHERHAM
Philadelphia School District leaders say that in order to prevent a deficit of $1 billion over the next five years, they will be asking teachers to make major concessions that would amount to $180 million in savings.  Included in the District proposals for a new union contract with sweeping changes is a lengthening of the school day, a 13% cut in salary for teachers earning over $55,000, a restructuring of the way retiring teachers are paid out, and more authority to principals when it comes to hiring and firing teachers.  In this hour of Radio Times, we'll start off talking with Philadelphia School Superintendent WILLIAM HITE about the proposals, which he says are intended save the district and benefit both teachers and students.  Then, we'll get reactions from former teacher and activist RON WHITEHORNE and education policy analyst and EduWonk blogger ANDREW ROTHERHAM.

A threatened school gets a good report
Notebook by Paul Socolar on Mar 06 2013 Posted in Latest news
In a just-released list of graduation rates for District high schools, there is a new name among the leaders: Paul Robeson High School for Human Services.  Robeson's graduation rate of 90 percent places it among the top ten District high schools in four-year graduation rates for freshman who started in 2008.  That may seem like good news -- except that the District wants to close Robeson next year and send its students to Sayre, with a graduation rate of 53 percent.

"Is it fair for a small number of really rich people to take over educational policy-making?" said Kenneth Saltman, an education professor at DePaul University in Chicago. "Who are the lobbyists really working for? Who's funding them?"
Parents United for Public Education Files Ethics Complaints Against William Penn Foundation And Boston Consulting Group
Huffington Post By KATHY MATHESON, AP 03/06/13 11:42 AM ET EST
PHILADELPHIA -- School activists are using unusual tactics to fight a contested proposal to overhaul the nearly bankrupt Philadelphia school district: They've gone to the city ethics board.
Their ethics complaint says the two private groups that helped fund and develop the plan should have registered as lobbyists, which would have compelled public disclosure of donors and meetings with public officials.
And while nothing illegal is alleged, the complaint highlights an issue that has become increasingly relevant as cash-strapped schools nationwide seek money from nonpublic sources to offset budget cuts. Supporters say private money funds badly needed innovations, yet critics say there is not enough transparency.

School Boards Matter
Yinzercation Blog March 6, 2013
Pittsburgh’s school board is about to get a major shake up. Four of its eleven spots are open this year, and several districts have multiple candidates. Because of the nature of city politics, many of these seats are likely to be decided in the May primary, so we just have a couple months to get to know those who are running.  ….. Here’s the perfect chance to ask questions and learn where your future school board members stand on privatization, school closures, charter reform, high-stakes-testing, and sticking up for adequate state funding: on Monday, March 11, 2013, PIIN will host a town hall meeting with all the school board candidates at University Prep 6-12 at Milliones, in the Hill District (3117 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219).

Schools shift from textbooks to tablets

Philly.com by PHILIP ELLIOTT , The Associated Press Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:49 PM
WASHINGTON - Well before the cleanup from Superstorm Sandy was in full swing, students could read about the weather system that slammed the East Coast in their textbooks.
Welcome to the new digital bookcase, where traditional ink-and-paper textbooks have given way to iPads and book bags are getting lighter. Publishers update students' books almost instantly with the latest events or research. Schools are increasingly looking to the hand-held tablets as a way to sustain students' interest, reward their achievements and, in some cases, actually keep per-student costs down.

ANNOUNCING THE LAUNCH OF THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
NATIONAL GROUP LED BY DIANE RAVITCH LAUNCHES; WILL SUPPORT CANDIDATES WORKING TO PRESERVE AND STRENGTHEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS MARCH 6, 2013
Today marks the public launch of a new network devoted to the defense and improvement of public education in the US. Led by renowned education historian, Diane Ravitch, the Network for Public Education will bring together grassroots activists and organizations from around the country, and endorse candidates for office, with the common goal of protecting and strengthening our public schools.

L.A. Upset!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 6, 2013 //
According to the results posted in the Los Angeles Times, with 100% of the vote counted but not certified, Steve Zimmer won by 52-48%!  Assuming that no one discovers a precinct with thousands of uncounted votes, this is a stunning upset!
Zimmer faced the combined opposition of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, billionaire Eli Broad, billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Michelle Rhee’s teacher-bashing StudentsFirst, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, and an assortment of Hollywood elite executives.
Millions of dollars were amassed to knock Zimmer off the school board.

Voters send mixed signals to school reformers in L.A.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm
Voters keep sending signals that they have very mixed feelings about corporate-based school reform. The latest signs come from Los Angeles, where Tuesday’s races for three Board of Education seats resulted in one defeat, one win, and one runoff for supporters of school reform.
The reason it matters is that Los Angeles is the second largest public school district in the country, and people around the country were watching the elections as a kind of bellwether of public support for controversial reforms.

Broad Prize 2012: Houston’s Yes Academy Top Charter in US
America’s Top Urban Public Charter School System Eradicates Achievement Gaps, Sends All Students to College
Broad Foundation releases research on best practices of Houston’s YES Prep Public Schools, winner of Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools
LOS ANGELES – A report detailing the practices behind the 2012 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools winner’s success in eliminating achievement gaps and reaching 100 percent college admission for all its students was released today by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
Among the strategies researchers found likely to be contributing to YES Prep’s outstanding results with low-income and minority students:
  1. Challenging curriculum back-mapped from objectives measured by Advanced Placement exams
  2. Longer school days and a longer school year
  3. Talented teachers and administrators carefully selected based on qualities exhibited by YES Prep’s most successful teachers and administrators
  4. Regular teacher professional development, coaching and individualized support
  5. Character building and community service integrated into the academic curriculum
  6. Preparation for students to thrive in a “college culture,” including travel opportunities to colleges and other trips, as well as assistance with college and financial aid applications, so students can envision themselves as successful college students
  7. Critical academic and social-emotional support for students even after high school on their college campuses
  8. Continuous improvement loops built into strategies

Music: Just for Rich Kids?

Huffington Post by Ben Niles, Documentary Filmmaker Posted: 03/06/2013 1:03 pm
Today, thanks to state-by-state budget cuts, music education is rapidly disappearing -- down about 20 percent since 2001, according to MENC (the National Association for Music Education). No longer able to provide all the "perks" of a liberal arts education, our public schools are abandoning arts education, starting with music. Music is expensive (instruments aren't free). Music is non-essential (they can listen at home, right?). And most of all, music isn't on "the test" to which we teach.  This alarming trend ignores the immense value of music training on a child's development. Children who study music consistently perform better on standardized tests in both math and reading and earn higher grades. Through music study they learn vital life skills: problem solving, self-discipline, frustration tolerance, creativity, empathy, compassion, and the value of hard work.


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 www.psba.org/about/psba/board-of-directors/officers/electing-officers.asp.

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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