Monday, April 1, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 1, 2013: Sorry, this is not an April Fools joke: speech services at Washington SD for 1 30-min session per week costs $569; in a cyberschool, the cost to taxpayers is $8,461.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 1, 2013:
Sorry, this is not an April Fools joke: speech services at Washington SD for 1 30-min session per week costs $569; in a cyberschool, the cost to taxpayers is $8,461.

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

Did you miss our weekend postings?
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

Why I won't let my son take the PSSA
The opt-out movement is growing because high-stakes tests are wrecking our schools
Post-Gazette Opinion By Kathy M. Newman March 31, 2013 12:10 am
I am an English professor. So you can imagine how my pride was hurt when my 9-year-old son Jacob started bringing home low scores on his practice reading tests for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.  My husband and I have been helping Jacob with his test-prep reading homework every weeknight this year, and it has been a grim slog. At times I have found myself getting angry when Jacob has fidgeted, or when he has had trouble focusing. Sometimes I have gotten angry when he simply hasn't been able to answer the questions.
Then one day this March it dawned on me. I am getting angry at my son about a test. A test that I do not like. A "high-stakes" test that will put so much pressure on Jacob that it probably will not reflect his true abilities. I also realized something else: Jacob does not love to read.
After doing some research and talking with other parents, my husband and I decided to "opt out" Jacob from the PSSA tests. We are opting him out because we do not like what high-stakes tests are doing to Jacob, to our family, to his teachers, to his school and, ultimately, to our entire education system.

“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.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will reconvene on Monday, April 8, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center Education Notebook – Thursday, March 28, 2013

Editorial: School funding is a lesson never learned
Delco Times Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Delaware County taxpayers have heard it all before. Burdened with the bane of the homeowner - property taxes - they listen to politicians talk about fixing the system. And every year they grit their teeth as they write out those checks, still waiting for someone to fix this hopelessly unfair system of funding education.  If it seems like every year that some lawmakers introduce a bill to eliminate school property taxes and establish a modern method to fund public schools, that’s because it is. And just as happens every year, the critics will complain that the proposal is simply a tax shift.
Well, of course it is a tax shift. So is the current system, under which state lawmakers shift to local school districts what should be their state-level responsibility to pay for education.

NLRB to oversee union-organizing vote at Philadelphia charter school
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Monday, April 1, 2013, 3:01 AM
And, in what union officials said will be a first for a charter school in Pennsylvania, New Media's union election will be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) instead of Pennsylvania's state labor board.  At the request of the charter school, the national board took jurisdiction of New Media's election as a result of a recent NLRB decision that said the Chicago Mathematics & Science Academy Charter School was not a public school.
The NLRB ruled in December that although the Chicago charter was funded mostly by taxpayers, it was founded by a nonprofit organization, was overseen by its own board, and was not part of state or local government.  Instead, the NLRB decided the Chicago charter school was essentially a government subcontractor and should be covered by the same union process as private businesses under the national board's jurisdiction.

The Philadelphia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics community has been hard at work collaborating on events for the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival!   All of the events for the Festival are immersive and interactive. Registration is open, so reserve your seats today!

Event Calendar for PIFA Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts March 28 – April 27, 2013

Atlanta test cheating: Tip of the iceberg?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 1, 2013 at 4:00 am
It would be easy to think that the Atlanta cheating scandal by adults on standardized tests is the worst we have seen, given last week’s startling indictment against former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others under a law used against mobsters.
But you shouldn’t.  In the past four academic years, test cheating has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington D.C.

Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass
New York Times By JENNY ANDERSON Published: March 30, 2013
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind.
More than half the states now require new teacher evaluation systems and, thanks to a deal announced last week in Albany, New York City will soon have one, too.
The changes, already under way in some cities and states, are intended to provide meaningful feedback and, critically, to weed out weak performers. And here are some of the early results:
In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations. In Tennessee, 98 percent of teachers were judged to be “at expectations.”
In Michigan, 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.

Vouchers Don’t Work: Evidence from Milwaukee
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav 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 Selling Out of Camden's Schools: Part I
NEPC’s Best of the Ed Blogs Jersey Jazzman March 28, 2013

The Selling Out of Camden's Schools, Part II
NEPC’s Best of the Ed Blogs Jersey Jazzman March 29, 2013

What is it about Finland?
Center for Public Education The Edifier March 22, 2013
American education is suffering from Finn envy.  While the U.S. has been steadily but slowly climbing its way out of the mid-rankings on PISA — the international assessment of 15-year-olds — little Finland has been knocking the academic socks off of its OECD peers in math, reading and science.  So what do the Finns have that we don’t?
A lot has been made about the differences in culture. As many observers point out Finland is smallish, fairly homogenous and has a low poverty rate, slightly over three percent compared to our approximately 20 percent, and so they question how much of the Finnish way would transfer to our massive and massively complex system.  Even so, American educators and policymakers are so eager to uncover the Finn’s secret, they have created a new tourist industry for this off-the-beaten-track Scandinavian country. Interestingly, what they find both validates and contradicts reform policies advocated here in the U.S.

Pedro Noguera on Atlanta Cheating Scandal
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 30, 2013 //
Pedro Noguera, my colleague at New York University, said the following in an email this morning:
“How ironic.  Not one banker in jail for ruining the economy but a superintendent is under indictment for cheating.  Says a lot about our nation’s priorities. – pedro”

AP Engineering May Be on the Horizon
Education Week Curriculum Matters Blog By Erik Robelen on March 29, 2013 2:15 PM
With 10 STEM-focused Advanced Placement programs, from calculus and chemistry to computer science and even Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, you might imagine there would be one for engineering. Nope. Doesn't exist. Not yet, that is.
I recently learned that the College Board and advocates for engineering education are actively exploring the creation of a new AP program in engineering design. What's more, the idea is not to create a traditional AP assessment. Instead, the idea being bandied about is a portfolio assessment for the topic, akin to the AP Studio Art program.

Chinese funding Florida charter schools
Miami Today By Meisha Perrin October 4, 2012
Investment money is pouring into Florida from wealthy Chinese who find that Florida has exactly what they are looking for — and what they need to secure US green cards.  Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called "green card via red carpet," by putting millions into Florida's charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.   Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for "targeted employment areas" — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs.
A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state's charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week. 

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.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

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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