Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 23, 2013: Ravitch Reprise: Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 23, 2013:
Ravitch Reprise: Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards

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

Shippensburg schools' preliminary budget includes tax hike, staff cuts
By BRIAN HALL @bkhallpo
SHIPPENSBURG - The Shippensburg Area school board passed a preliminary budget Monday night that will reportedly result in a half-million dollars in cuts and real estate tax increases.
By a 9-0 vote, the board approved a preliminary $42.883 million budget.
Board President Herb Cassidy said the budget included about $500,000 in budget cuts that are mostly of a personnel nature. Cassidy said those cuts will be announced once personnel affected by the changes are notified.

The educational testing challenge
Children opting out of PSSA tests may create funding problem but won’t change school culture. Parents should opt out of voting for lawmakers who ignore educational problems.
Lancaster Online Sunday News Editorial Apr 21, 2013 06:00
Public schools may be failing by teaching to the test — focusing on coaching students to score well on standardized exams. But savvy parents think they've found a way around test culture.
As a Lancaster Newspapers story reported last Sunday, growing numbers of parents are claiming an obscure exemption from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, or PSSAs. They're opting their children out of taking the PSSAs for reasons of religion.
Word of the religious exemption has been spreading virally this year through social media. While only 260 students statewide were exempted in 2012, that number could grow.

“Home school districts pay a fee set by the state for each resident enrolled in a charter school. Pittsburgh pays $13,058 for each regular student and $28,330 for each special education student, significantly more than for the district to provide the service itself.
In 2011-12, district payments to cyber charter schools totaled $11 million.”
Pittsburgh School District cyberschool making tweaks amid turnover
District set to expand grade offerings
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 22, 2013 12:10 am
In their first year of operating their own online school, Pittsburgh Public Schools officials learned what many cyber charter school operators already know: There is lots of student turnover.
While the Pittsburgh Online Academy has had 144 students in grades 6-12 since it opened last fall, only 47 are still enrolled. That includes only 17 of the original 55.
"I think it has to do with fit," said Mark McClinchie, district coordinator of virtual learning. "I think in Pennsylvania we're in an environment where we've oversold the idea of online learning, and this is coming from someone who runs one."
He said those who fare best are independent learners with home support.

Philadelphia School District Seeks to Open Its Own Online School
Education Week Marketplace K-12 Blog By Sean Cavanagh on April 19, 2013 5:09 PM 
The Philadelphia school district, which has been plagued by budget woes and declining enrollment, has announced plans to open a virtual academy in an effort to lure students and families back to the system.  Superintendent William Hite predicted this week that the district could offer a "superior online educational experience."
The goal is to make the Philadelphia Virtual Academy the "preferred choice for parents and students who want a quality online education," Hite said in a statement.

Despite grim district budget, Philadelphia charters seek 15,000 new seats
thenotebook on Apr 22 2013 by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Twenty-one city charter schools are seeking to add over 15,000 new students during the next five years. If granted by the School Reform Commission, the charters' requests would eventually mean a new $110 million annual hit to the District's already fragile bottom line.
District officials say a vote on the expansion requests, originally scheduled for April 18, is now expected to take place on May 16. The District's charter schools office has not yet made its formal recommendations to the SRC.
Some of the charters' seat requests are staggering.

Hite vows to work with faith-based organizing group to improve schools
thenotebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Apr 22 2013
At a rousing interfaith rally of thousands, Superintendent William Hite vowed to support the community organizing group POWER’s newly-launched campaign to organize public school parents into an effective citywide force.  At the rally, held Sunday in the massive Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia, Hite agreed to meet regularly with POWER and encourage principals to let it to organize in their schools. In return, Hite asked POWER’s members to help lobby for education funding in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

Penn leads the way in helping Philly schools
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
POSTED: Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 3:01 AM
IN THE LATE 1990s, the kids at Henry C. Lea Elementary School at 47th and Locust streets lacked a library. A few years later, the University of Pennsylvania built them one.
The university, which had a relationship with Lea dating to 1960, secured donors to fund construction of a space and procure books, computers and audiovisual equipment for the K-to-8 school.  The Lea affiliation is one of seven that Penn has with district schools, including its best-known partnership with the Penn Alexander School on Spruce Street near 42nd.
Penn's program of helping schools in West Philly is by far the most extensive of any of the city's large universities. The others - Temple, Drexel, La Salle, Saint Joseph's - also work with schools in their neighborhoods, but their levels of engagement vary.
All of which raises a couple of important questions: Are the city's universities doing enough as tax-exempt citizens? Can they do more to help out the city's schools, which are in financial crisis?

Founder of two area arts charter schools creating autism charter facility
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on April 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM
After being told their 2-year-old autistic son could never be potty-trained, Annette Hickey and her husband refused to accept that as his future.  The couple spent $160,000 a year on early intervention treatment and moved their family from Chicago to Minnesota so they were closer to his school.  Today, he is in second grade at The Swain School and doesn't realize he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, Hickey said today as she announced plans to open the Pennsylvania Autism Charter School.
Charter schools are free, public schools funded by taxpayer dollars funneled from a student's home district.  Hickey is partnering with her stepfather, Tom Lubben, who is experienced at creating charter schools. Lubben is the founder and former superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts in Bethlehem and he recently helped create the Arts Academy Charter School in Salisbury Township.

East Penn School Board hears prediction of no tax hike, won't censure Stolz over tweet
He thanks fellow board members for their 'character and respect for the First Amendment,' pledges to be 'more circumspect.'
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call 12:41 a.m. EDT, April 23, 2013
Thanks in part to some good news on revenue, East Penn School District Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger predicted the district's proposed final 2013-14 budget will contain no tax increase.  "At this point it is our intent to submit to you a budget that includes no tax increase for next year," Seidenberger told the school board Monday night. "We've done, I think, a marvelous job of arresting spending in our district."
School Director Julian Stolz said, "Thank you for finally giving me a budget I can vote for," and also thanked board members for not voting to censure him for a comment he made on Twitter.

Lawmaker: Pa. schools should have injectors
Beaver County Times Online by Associated Press April 21, 2013 1:41 pm
A state lawmaker wants every school in the commonwealth required to stock pre-filled injections designed to treat severe allergic reactions.  Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, told The (Easton) Express-Times (http://bit.ly/ZdB61D ) that such reactions can be life-threatening, and having such devices on hand would allow school officials to act quickly in an emergency.
The devices such as EpiPens are used to inject epinephrine into someone showing signs of a serious allergic reaction such as hives, throat tightening and decreased blood pressure.
The proposal would build on a 2010 law that allows students to carry such devices with parental and doctor approval. Freeman said the shots would ideally be administered by a school nurse, although he acknowledges that not all schools have full-time nurses.
The Bethlehem Area School District voluntarily stocks all of its 22 buildings with EpiPens, but Liberty High nurse Kathy Halkins said that can be expensive since each adult set costs about $325 and must be discarded once it expires.

Meetings in Antietam, Exeter school districts to air results of merger study
Reading Eagle by Becca Y. Gregg Originally Published: 4/22/2013
Results of a study on a possible merger between the Antietam and Exeter school districts will be released to the public during a special meeting at Antietam this week.
"The main document is almost 300 pages long," Dr. Larry W. Mayes, Antietam superintendent, said of the study and its findings, conducted by Civic Research Alliance and set to be presented Wednesday night. "We really feel they've taken a very intense look at all of our various options."

This article includes several Pennsylvania references….
Ed. Companies Exert Public-Policy Influence
Some observers are alarmed at what they see as increasingly aggressive moves by companies
Education Week By Michelle R. Davis April 22, 2013
The online education provider K12 Inc.—a publicly traded company with $708 million in revenue in 2012—had 39 lobbyists around the country on the payroll last year to work for state and local policies that would help expand the use of virtual learning.  Pearson Education—an offshoot of the publishing giant Pearson—has spent more than $6 million over the past decade lobbying at the federal level.  And the charter school operator White Hat Management and its employees contributed more than $2 million in campaign support between 2004 and 2012 to mostly Republican politicians in Ohio, where the company, which runs 33 schools in three states, is the largest for-profit charter operator and has been under fire for poor performance.

Ravitch Reprise: Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 26, 2013 //
I have thought long and hard about the Common Core standards.
I have decided that I cannot support them.  In this post, I will explain why.

Parent trigger: Who’s for it and who’s against it tells the story
Washington Post  Answer Sheet Blog  by Valerie Strauss on April 23, 2013 at 5:00 am
You can learn pretty much everything you need to know about the controversial  “parent trigger” legislation now before the Florida Legislature by looking at who is for it and who is against it.

American Teens Doing Better On Science Tests Than Public Realizes: Pew Research Center Survey
Huffington Post By PHILIP ELLIOTT 04/22/13 04:25 PM ET EDT
WASHINGTON -- American teenagers aren't doing as poorly on international science tests as adults think. Despite the misconception, people don't think the subject should get greater emphasis in schools, a survey released Monday found.  More Americans than not wrongly think that U.S. 15-year-olds rank near the bottom on international science tests, according to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll. U.S. students actually rank in the middle among developed countries.

Is School Funding Fair?  A National Report Card
Rutgers Graduate School of Education and Education Law Center June 2012

US News and World Report Best High Schools In Pennsylvania April 2013

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.

Sign Up Today for PILCOP Special Ed CLE Trainings
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Spots are filling up for the final three trainings in our 2012-2013 Know Your Child’s Rights series with seminars on ADAAA, Pro Se Parents and Settlement Agreements.
April 30, 2013: ADAAA, 504 and Chapter 15: Services Needed, Discrimination Avoided
May 29, 2013: PRO SE Parents: Doing It on Your Own
May 30, 2013: Settlements: Signing on the Dotted Line (OR NOT)

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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