Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Had 2nd kid share anxiety over test-me"C'mon what's worst that can happen?" Him"They can fail me, fire my teacher & close my school." Well.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 16, 2013:
Had 2nd kid share anxiety over test-me"C'mon what's worst that can happen?" Him"They can fail me, fire my teacher & close my school." Well.

Had 2nd kid share anxiety over test-me"C'mon what's worst that can happen?" Him"They can fail me, fire my teacher & close my school." Well.

Cybers emerge as a 2nd-chance option for students
With over 5,000 students in Philadelphia and 32,000 statewide, the sector is drawing more scrutiny.
The notebook by Connie Langland April 2013
…..As of February, the providers serving the largest numbers of Philadelphia students in grades K-12 were Agora Cyber with 2,857; Commonwealth Connections Academy, 915; Pennsylvania Cyber, 446; and Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School, 417.   Superintendent William Hite has announced plans for the District to open its own online-only charter for Philadelphia students to minimize the amount of funds it pays out to the other cybers, which last year approached $48 million for nearly 5,000 students. The number of students now tops 5,600.
The state has 16 cyber charter schools serving more than 32,000 students this year. One of the newest, Solomon Charter School Inc., of Philadelphia, is facing revocation by the state for several violations of charter school law.  The online schools have come under fire for poor performance, including low graduation rates. None of the 12 cybers in operation a year ago met federal academic performance targets for the year.

Cyber charter graduation rates (chart)
The notebook April 2013
This chart shows how the most popular cybers serving the city (besides ASPIRA, for which numbers were not available), are doing with their economically disadvantaged students. 
For comparison, the School District’s graduation rate in 2012 was 57% for economically disadvantaged students, as measured by the state. More than three-fourths of Philadelphia high school students are classified as economically disadvantaged.

Philly SRC to vote this week on $15 million for new cyber school
by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 15 2013 Posted in Latest news
On the agenda for Thursday's School Reform Commission meeting is a resolution to approve $15 million to establish a District-run virtual school.  The District plans to release more details later this week, but Superintendent William Hite has spoken in the past of starting a cyber school in an effort to retain some of the nearly $50 million that the District now pays for more than 6,000 city students who have headed to cybers. Some of that growth has happened amongstudents who struggled in traditional high schools.

“Eighty-four charter schools operate in the district, enrolling more than 55,000 students.”
Crowd urges SRC to approve charter renewals, expansions
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Monday, April 15, 2013, 9:16 PM
Waving placards and chanting, more than 250 charter school students, supporters, and parents urged the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Monday to approve pending charter renewals and expansion requests.  "Hold up your posters. Make some noise!" Naomi Booker, president of the Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, exhorted the crowd massed for the upbeat after-school rally outside district headquarters at 440 N. Broad St.
Booker, also the chief executive of Global Leadership Academy Charter School in Parkside, said the city's charter community was tired of the SRC's repeated delays in acting on expansion requests when 40,000 students are on waiting lists.
Charter school officials said they had been told that the SRC would act on their pending requests this month, but the action has been postponed.  The district said in a statement Monday that it was reviewing charter applications but was not sure when the SRC would consider them.

Proceed With Caution When Closing Schools
Districts must address school closures comprehensively
Education Week COMMENTARY By Kate Shaw & Adam Schott April 15, 2013
Kate Shaw is the executive director of Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit educational research and policy organization. Adam Schott is the senior policy analyst at Research for Action.
Philadelphia's state-appointed School Reform Commission last month approved the closure of 23 district buildings—an unprecedented action for our region that is expected to affect roughly 14,000 students and hundreds of staff members. In New York City, which has already closed nearly 140 schoolsRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader over the past decade, another 23 closures are on the horizon. The District of Columbia is bracing for as many as 15 closures after shuttering two dozen sites in 2008. The Chicago public school system—the nation's third-largest district—recently announced plans to close 54 schools and consolidate 11 more before the 2013-14 school year begins.
Nationwide, the implications of these policies are difficult to comprehend. Yet federal and state policies that incentivize closures, continued growth in the charter school sector, and the lingering effects of the national recession are driving more districts to embrace school closure as a reform strategy and to move aggressively to downsize on a broad scale.
The rationale for these plans centers on two major assumptions that remain unproven.

PSBA, Local Government Leaders Demand Prevailing Wage Reform
PSBA website 4/15/2013
This week PSBA joined local government leaders at the Capitol to ask the General Assembly to enact meaningful reforms to the Prevailing Wage Act, which was enacted in 1961 and has been unchanged since that time.  The event was hosted by the Local Government Conference and attended by elected officials from across the state.  Speaking at the event on behalf of PSBA was Kathy Swope, president of the Lewisburg Area School Board. 

PA State Representatives Tallman, Metcalfe and Saylor discuss using liquor store privatization revenue for transportation infrastructure improvements instead of education block grants proposed by Governor Corbett.

Republicans: Spending liquor store privatization revenues on school districts would be a mistake

PAindependent·YouTube video runtime 1:37

Lawmaker calls for directing liquor privatization dollars to transportation
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com 
on April 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM, updated April 15, 2013 at 9:50 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal that uses money from the sale of the state's liquor system for educational programs isn't a bad idea, but Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill, said his is better.
Knowles has introduced legislation that would direct the liquor money toward the state’s $3.2 billion annual transportation funding needs. He said he would like to see that happen before he would support any proposal that would drive up fees or taxes on motorists.

EDITORIAL: Pressure of PSSAs failing students
Delco Times Editorial Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
It’s PSSA time!
If you’re a teacher, student or parent, you’re probably sick of hearing about the state assessment tests, what with all the pep rallies, study sessions and such.  But the tests are important. Even if we’re tired of hearing about them, no one can afford to take them lightly.  State and federal funding, educators’ careers, communities’ reputations and even housing prices hinge at least partially on how well students do on the standardized achievement tests.
Is that unfair?  To a certain extent, yes.

More opt out of standardized tests
Lancaster Online By BRIAN WALLACE Staff Writer Apr 14, 2013 06:00
While their peers at Schaeffer Elementary School began the annual ritual of standardized testing this past week, pupils Campbell and Reece Heller didn't have to sharpen their No. 2 pencils or fill out a single box in a test booklet.  Instead of tackling the first of eight days of Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams in math and reading, they served as classroom helpers for younger students at their school and completed independent academic work.
The Hellers are skipping the exams this year through a little-known provision of the state education law that allows parents to opt their children out of PSSAs and Keystone Exams for religious reasons.  Their mother, Renee Heller, is part of a small but growing group of parents fed up with the emphasis at their schools on state-mandated high-stakes, high-stress tests

NSBA seeks to stop erosion of local control
NSBA 2013 Conference Daily by Del Stover April 15th, 2013
The erosion of local school board authority is on the minds of many board members these days, and NSBA has responded with the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, which seeks to rein in the U.S. Department of Education’s use of rules and regulations to intrude on the role of local school policymakers.
“What local school boards need is the flexibility and freedom to govern education in a way that reflects the needs and values of their own local community,” Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy, told attendees at Saturday’s National Network Luncheon at NSBA’s annual conference.
The federal government has engaged in “significant overreach” in the past decade, he said. No longer content to administer federal legislation, federal officials are attempting to implement their own policy agenda.  One strategy to accomplish this has been to write grant rules and regulations so officials can use the promise of federal funding to encourage states and school districts to experiment with charter schools, close so-called failing schools, and adopt unproven teacher evaluation systems.

Florida lawsuit: Stop evaluating teachers on test scores of students they never taught
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm
A group of teachers and their unions are filing a lawsuit against Florida officials that challenges the state’s educator evaluation system, under which many teachers are evaluated on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach.  The seven teachers filing the lawsuit include Kim Cook, who, as this post explains, was evaluated at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school where she works and was named Teacher of the Year last December. But 40 percent of that evaluation was based on test scores of students at Alachua Elementary, a school into which Irby feeds, whom she never taught. Really.

Bush, Obama focus on standardized testing leads to ‘opt-out’ parents’ movement
Washington Post By Lyndsey LaytonPublished: April 14
A decade into the school accountability movement, pockets of resistance to standardized testing are sprouting up around the country, with parents and students opting out of the high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and teachers.  From Seattle, where 600 high school students refused to take a standardized test in January, to Texas, where 86 percent of school districts say the tests are “strangling our public schools,” anti-testing groups argue that bubble exams have proliferated beyond reason, delivering more angst than benefits.   “Over the last couple of years, they’ve turned this one test into the all and everything,” said Cindy Hamilton, a 50-year-old mother of three in Florida who founded Opt Out Orlando in response to the annual Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which starts again Monday. Her group is one of dozens of new organizations opposed to such testing.

School Board Member Opts Son Out of State Tests
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 15, 2013 
Willa Powell, a member of the school board in Rochester, New York, willkeep her child home on testing day.  Buried in this story is a very strange comment by State Commissioner John King.

Superintendents, Business Managers, School Board Members, Union Leaders, Any Others interested in PSERS and wanting to learn more about Pension Reform . . .
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Registration: 6:30 p.m.  Presentation: 7:00 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit  475 East Waterfront Drive  Homestead, PA  15120  McGuffey/Sullivan Rooms
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Schools Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.  Mr. Clay’s presentation will review the increases in retirement contributions and the Governor’s proposal on pension reform.  As one concerned about public education, we are sure that you will find this meeting enlightening and a valuable investment of your time.
In order to accommodate those attending and prepare the necessary materials for the meeting, please register using the following link:  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6252177431  by May 7, 2013.
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Janet Galaski at 412.394.5753 or janet.galaski@aiu3.net.

NAACP 2013 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania
A Call for Equitable and Adequate Funding for Pennsylvania's Schools
Media Area Branch NAACP
Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00 am2:30 pm (8:30 am registration)
Marcus Foster Student Union 2nd floor, Cheyney University of PA, Delaware County Campus

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

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