Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 9, 2013: Pennsylvania’s NCLB Waiver Request finally available to the public

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.

The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Education Voters PA – Statewide Call to Action day April 10th

Download 1 page pdf with information about the April 10th call-in day.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 9, 2013:

Pennsylvania’s NCLB Waiver Request finally available to the public
Tweet from Education Week Politics K-12 Blog on April 8, 2013
On the last day records law allowed PA hands over NCLB waiver plan sent 2 @usedgov a month ago. Now all can read:

Tomorrow: Take 5 minutes and join Education Voters PA for the Statewide Call to Action Wednesday April 10th!
Education Voters PA

PA Advocacy groups set goals in fight for education funding
The notebook by Charlotte Pope April 8, 2013
Education Voters PA executive director Susan Gobreski (top right) meets with Lenfest Center staff members to provide background for work on local education issues.
For Philadelphia advocacy organizations aiming to influence Gov. Corbett’s education budget, the fight continues.  The governor’s proposed state budget for 2013-14 puts $90 million back into basic education. That’s a 1.7 percent increase, coming after a $900 million cut in 2011-12. Some advocates said what Corbett has put on the table is hardly enough. 
“What they are restoring to the budget is less than one-tenth of what was cut,” said Brett Schaeffer, communications director of the Education Law Center (ELC).
“That money is not being distributed using any kind of real formula, so it is not doing anything to close the funding gaps between wealthier and poorer districts. What it does is sustains the wealthier districts at a higher level while hurting the poorer districts with the greater need for resources,” he said.

Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Numbers - Education Fact Sheets
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) December 2012
This overview of school districts in Southeastern Pennsylvania is designed to be a resource for basic information as we all work to provide all children with a world-class education. The fact sheets provide the most current statistical information available for each school district in Southeastern Pennsylvania. You will find the basics such as student enrollment, kindergarten availability, per pupil expenditures and newly-released cohort graduation rates.

Pennsylvania parents take stand against standardized tests
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Kari Andren  Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
As students prepare to take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams this week, a growing number of parents are refusing to let their children take the high-stakes standardized exams aimed at showing which schools are excelling or failing.
It's part of a national groundswell of opposition by parents who cite design flaws in standardized tests, increasing anxiety in students and teachers, and unrealistic performance standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Skipping the PSSA: Number of students opting out by subject and county during the 2011-12 school year
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Kari Andren  Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Math: 29, Reading: 29, Science: 16
Math: 1, Reading 1, Science: 0
Math: 19, Reading 19, Science: 11
Math: 2, Reading: 2, Science: 2
Math: 6, Reading: 6, Science: 3
Math: 2, Reading: 2, Science: 0
Math: 2, Reading: 2, Science: 0
Math: 8, Reading: 8, Science: 4
Math: 260, Reading: 261, Science: 142
Math: 214, Reading: 215, Science: 104
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education
NY State: How to handle test opt-out requests
By the New York State Association of School Attorneys April 15, 2013
School districts in New York are likely to face increasing numbers of requests from parents that children be allowed to “opt-out” of state standardized tests. However, neither the law nor commissioner’s regulations provide any legal right or mechanism for students – or districts – to opt-out of required state assessments. Moreover, the state’s accountability system requires districts to have a 95 percent participation rate in these assessments.
What should districts do when they receive an opt-out request? How should a student’s refusal to
participate in a state-required examination or absence on test day be handled? This article discusses the requirements of both federal law and the State Education Department (SED), and outlines options for districts.

Opting Out of PA Keystone Exams
PA School Talk Blog Discussion

“Whenever you see a billboard or an Internet ad for a cyber school, please know that your school tax dollars paid for it. Please also know that for-profit cyber school management companies use your school tax dollars to pay seven-figure CEO salaries and shareholder profits.”
Cyber charter schools a pox on public education (ESSAY)
Chambersburg Public Opinion By ERICA BURG April 8, 2013
State Reps. Rob Kauffman and Todd Rock and state Sen. Rich Alloway claim to support public education and the taxpayers in their districts who struggle with their property tax bills.
Unfortunately, their actions tell a very different story.
The Waynesboro and Greencastle-Antrim school districts recently announced massive budget deficits for the 2013-2014 school year. These school districts will likely cut educational programs and raise taxes to cover the shortfall. We can expect similar announcements from other Franklin County school districts in the coming weeks.  With the stroke of a pen, our area legislators could save Franklin County school districts millions of dollars each year by fixing a broken funding formula and eliminating wasteful spending on cyber charter schools.
A recent audit by former Auditor General Jack Wagner found that Pennsylvanians are paying cyber charter schools far more than it costs them to educate children: $365 million per year, to be exact. Franklin County school districts will spend more than $5.3 million in tuition payments so that about 600 children in Franklin County may attend cyber schools in 2012-2013.

Parents plead to keep 2 Philly schools open
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
POSTED: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 3:01 AM
PARENTS, STUDENTS and staff from two schools slated for closure pleaded their cases Monday night to the School Reform Commission in an effort to keep the schools open.
Superintendent William R. Hite resubmitted a school-closure plan in February that reduced the number of closings from 37 to 29, but added two new ones: Beeber Middle School in Overbrook and M. Hall Stanton School in North Philadelphia. The vote on the plan is scheduled for April 18.

“In the last decade, as school-minded parents streamed into the neighborhood, housing prices skyrocketed. By many standards, Penn's influence and partnership with the school, which includes a substantial per-pupil contribution, have led to a rejuvenation of the neighborhood – although it came at a cost to many lower-income residents who were subsequently priced out of the area.  Given the program's success, what lessons can be learned, and could it be replicated in other neighborhoods?”
Can the success of Penn Alexander be replicated?
by thenotebook on Apr 08 2013 Posted in Commentary by Ken Steif
In deciding to close 23 Philadelphia schools, the District cited as one of its rationales an unprecedented number of empty seats. In one part of West Philadelphia, however, the opposite is true: Demand for entrance into the Penn Alexander School has exceeded the supply.
Penn Alexander has consistently been one of the city's top-performing elementary schools. Attendance was once guaranteed to any student residing in the school's catchment boundary, but Penn Alexander has proven so popular that residing in the catchment zone no longer ensures you a seat in the classroom, just entry into a lottery.  
Founded in 2001 as part of the University of Pennsylvania's West Philadelphia Initiatives program -- an urban revitalization project focusing on public safety, economic development, and partnering in the development of a new neighborhood school -- Penn Alexander is now one of the most coveted elementary schools in the city.

EITC: Norwin foundation pushes tax credit program
Tribune-Review By Rossilynne Skena Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Norwin School District Community Foundation, a nonprofit associated with the district, will encourage local businesses to participate in a state tax credit program that would benefit Norwin students.  “(The Educational Improvement Tax Credit) allows businesses to receive tax credits for making contributions to educational improvement organizations,” said Jon Szish, executive director of the foundation and district spokesman.
EITC: Tax credit program will allow Mt. Airy businesses to redirect dollars to public schools
WHYY Newsworks By Neema Roshania, @MtAiryChestnut April 4, 2013
With the help of a state tax credit program, Mt. Airy's civic associations are teaming up to create a fund  designed to assist local elementary schools get projects off the ground. The tax program, dubbed Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), allows business owners to direct their state tax dollars to area schools.  East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN), West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN) and Mt. Airy USA have applied to the Pennsylvania EITC program to fill funding gaps at each of the elementary schools that lie within Mt. Airy's borders: Anna B. Day Elementary School, Emlen Elementary School, C.W. Henry Elementary School, Henry H. Houston Elementary School and Anna Lane Lingelbach Elementary School

PDE Press Release April 05, 2013
Governor Corbett, Carnegie Mellon University Announce Acceptance of Students into the Governor’s School for Sciences Summer 2013 Program
Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett and Carnegie Mellon University today announced that 56 Pennsylvania high school juniors have been selected to attend the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences (PGSS) summer program.  “Pennsylvania’s economic future is dependent upon today’s students training in high-quality educational programs in the sciences,” Corbett said.  “The Governor’s School for the Sciences will ensure that these students are provided with hands-on, intensive learning that will pave the way for their future success.”
The accepted students, selected from 515 applicants, represent 48 high schools, with at least one student from 28 of Pennsylvania’s 29 intermediate units.

Funding for charter school students irks officials
Luzerne County Citizens Voice BY PETER CAMERON (STAFF WRITER) April 7, 2013
Despite the academic success of Bear Creek Community Charter School, local school officials aren't exactly thrilled with the charter system.  "They're bankrupting school districts," said Michael Garzella, superintendent of the Pittston Area School District, which pays about $800,000 of its $42 million budget to charter schools.
When a student in Pennsylvania goes to a charter, their home school district has to pick up the tab. One big problem with that, school officials say, is that tab is based on the cost of providing an education to a kid in the original school, not at the one they are actually attending.
That funding structure especially irks school officials when it has to pay its own prices for kids that leave for cyber schools, educational entities that provide classes to children on a computer in their home rather than in a building with lights, heat and a roof that requires upkeep.

East Penn School District parents call for action against school director
By Katrina Wehr, Special to The Morning Call 11:18 p.m. EDT, April 8, 2013
East Penn School District parents and community members called for disciplinary action against School Director Julian Stolz as a result of comments posted on Twitter and on his blog.

Schwartz launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign
By Thomas Fitzgerald / Philadelphia Inquirer April 8, 2013 11:49 pm
U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz launched her campaign for the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor Monday, declaring that Gov. Tom Corbett's "failed leadership" has crippled the Pennsylvania economy in a competitive world.  "He's just missing in action most of the time," Ms. Schwartz, of Montgomery County, said in an interview. She noted that the state's unemployment rate has been well above the national average during Mr. Corbett's term. "What I'm hearing from people around the state is that they know we need a fresh perspective about the economy and growth."

The Pitfalls of Evaluating Teachers
New York Times Letters to the Editor Published: April 7, 2013
Re “Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass” (front page, March 31):

The School Closure Movement
Huffington Post by Jason Duchin Posted: 04/05/2013 3:56 pm
Jason Duchin is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, DreamYard Project
For the past ten years Mayor Bloomberg has been telling us that New York City is at the forefront of education reform -- but what do we have to show for it? One-hundred forty schools closed, communities in disarray and test scores flatlined.  At the same time politicians across the spectrum have decided that education is the foremost long-term challenge facing our country, and is one of the few areas where right and left can sometimes find common ground.
In New York City, as we prepare for a new mayor, we need to take another look at what works and what doesn't -- and why.

“Among Ohio’s 612 public school districts, 60 percent would score an “A” on proficiency tests because their children would have at least a 75 percent pass rate. On the other hand, 72 percent of charter schools would receive an “F” for the same measure.  For graduation rates, only 7 percent of public school districts would receive an F, but 89 percent of the more than 300 charter schools would receive the state’s worst academic rating.”
Academic ratings for Ohio charter schools likely to tank in new scoring system
By Doug Livingston Beacon Journal education writer Published: April 4, 2013 - 12:25 AM
When the Ohio Department of Education implements its new grading standards for schools next year, traditional public schools may not be the ones to suffer the biggest shock.  Publicly funded, privately run charter schools will pretty much line the bottom of the tank.
The department recently ran simulations replacing today’s grading system, which ranges from “academic emergency” to “excellent with distinction,” with a new system of F through A. The grades take into account such things as student grades on tests, annual progress and graduation rates.  ….The projections were provided to an Ohio House committee as it considers testimony on the state budget bill. Gov. John Kasich proposes reducing the basic aid to public schools and providing new forms of aid to charter schools, which often are run by for-profit managers.

Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading
New York Times By DAVID STREITFELD Published: April 8, 2013
SAN ANTONIO — Several Texas A&M professors know something that generations of teachers could only hope to guess: whether students are reading their textbooks.
They know when students are skipping pages, failing to highlight significant passages, not bothering to take notes — or simply not opening the book at all.  “It’s Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent,” said Tracy Hurley, the dean of the school of business.
The faculty members here are neither clairvoyant nor peering over shoulders. They, along with colleagues at eight other colleges, are testing technology from a Silicon Valley start-up, CourseSmart, that allows them to track their students’ progress with digital textbooks.

Public Schools, Billionaire Agendas: The Threat of the 'Parent Revolution' Campaign
The "parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest anti-union organizations.
AlterNet by Gary Cohn April 4, 2013 
At first glance, it is one of the nation’s hottest new education-reform movements, a seemingly populist crusade to empower poor parents and fix failing public schools. But a closer examination reveals that the “parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most strident anti-union organizations, a Frying Pan News investigation has shown.  Since 2009, the foundation has poured more than $6.3 million into Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles advocacy group that is in the forefront of the parent-trigger campaign in California and the nation. Its heavy reliance on Walton money, critics say, raises questions about the independence of Parent Revolution and the intentions of the Walton Family Foundation.

Why There’s a Backlash against Common Core 
Decisions about standards should be made at the state and local level.
The federal government has spent billions to move Common Core forward, and it has put billions more on the line. Unfortunately, parents, teachers, tea-party activists, and governors have every reason to believe Common Core represents major, unprecedented federal intervention into education. In a speech to the National Governor’s Association in 2010, President Obama stated:
“I want to commend all of you for acting collectively through the National Governors Association to develop common standards that will better position our students for success. And today, I’m announcing steps to encourage and support all states to transition to college and career-ready standards on behalf of America’s students. First, as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds, we will ask all states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college and career-ready in reading and math.”
In addition to the rhetorical support, Education Secretary Arne Duncan famously chastised South Carolinians for even considering withdrawing, calling the Palmetto State’s concerns “a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy.”   Washington is financing the two national testing consortia that are creating the Common Core assessments. Lawmakers have tied $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants to the adoption of standards similar to those found in a significant number of states, and they’ve made the adoption of Common Core a major factor in securing a No Child Left Behind waiver. And now, they have established a technical-review panel to work with the testing consortia on item design and validation.  For an undertaking that claims to be largely free of federal involvement, Common Core has quite a few federal fingerprints on it.

Missouri Lawmakers debate Common Core funding
What role will outsiders have in standards for Missouri?
Joplin Globe By Eli Yokley Globe Staff Writer April 6, 2013
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly have proposed legislation that could limit or bar the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing Common Core State Standards in the state. 
The Missouri Republican Party’s official opposition to the plan began last June, when at their convention the delegates passed a resolution opposing Common Core Standards.
State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Joplin, said while he sees education as a priority of state government, he does not want to accept some national standards.

Common Core: Proposed Pennsylvania education standards to be debated in Mount Gretna
By Barbara Miller | bmiller@pennlive.com  on April 08, 2013 at 2:30 PM
“Should Pennsylvania Adopt Core Curricula?” is the topic that will be explored during a debate at 8 a.m. April 13 in Mount Gretna sponsored by the Citizens’ Caucus, a non-partisan issues studies group.  The Common Core State Standards initiative to ensure students are prepared for college and the workplace is a state-led effort coordinated by The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of State School Officers. Speaking in favor of the Common Core standards will be David C. Patti, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council. Speaking against will be Cheryl Boise, director of the Commonwealth Education Organization, a Pittsburgh-based education non-profit.

PCN Focus on Education: PA School Boards Wed April 10 at 9:00 pm
School Boards Discussion - EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN
This Wednesday, April 10, tune in to the next episode of EPLC's "Focus on Education" series, which will cover School Boards and the Work of Board Members and air at 9:00 p.m. on PCN television.  EPLC President Ron Cowell and PCN Host Corinna Vecsey Wilson will be joined by Marcela Diaz Myers, President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA); Pamela M. Price, Director of Board Development Services, PSBA; and Roberta M. Marcus, Master School Board Member, Parkland School District.
EPLC and PA Cable Network (PCN) have partnered for a monthly program focusing on education issues in Pennsylvania.  The first episodes aired during February and March and covered school safety issues and student testing topics.   "Focus on Education" will be broadcast on PCN at 9:00 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, now through June, and then again this fall in September through December.
To learn more, visit PCN's "Focus on Education" web page.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting from Monday, May 21, 2012
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

PBPC Launches New Policy Webinar Series
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center April 3, 2013
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is launching a new webinar series that will connect you — direct from your computer — to the latest policy debates in Harrisburg. From education funding to expanding health care coverage to constructing a fair tax system, our webinar series will provide you information you need to know and show you how you can shape the debate in the State Capitol.

Here’s the first one in the PBPC webinar series:
Webinar: Selling Snake Oil to the States: ALEC’s State Tax and Budget Agenda at Work in Pennsylvania Tuesday April 9, 2013, 4-5 p.m.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC — a leading voice for state Voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws — is a driving force behind state budget and tax policies that benefit the wealthy and corporations at the expense of public investments. ALEC’s hand is evident in legislative proposals in Pennsylvania to cut taxes for profitable corporations at the expense of schools, health care and human service programs.
Join Greg Leroy, Director of Good Jobs First, and Dr. Peter Fisher of the University of Iowa for a webinar that will debunk ALEC’s myths about taxes, employment policies and economic growth. Learn about new efforts in Pennsylvania to divert state resources to pay for a new round of tax cuts to profitable corporations.

Network for Public Education
Webinar: How to Organize a Grassroots Group; Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 pm EDT
Many of those who have joined our network want to get involved in grassroots work to change the direction of education in our communities. We are now planning a series of web forums to share concrete ways to do just that. The first will focus on how to organize grassroots groups.
Phyllis Bush and members of the North East Indiana Friends of Public Education will share their experiences in getting organized. Formed just two years ago, this group helped elect teacher Glenda Ritz as state superintendent of education.
The webinar will take place on Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 pm Eastern time, 11:30 am Pacific time. You can register here. You will be emailed a link to the webinar a day or two before the event.

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