Monday, June 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 10, 2013: Take action today for public education; ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.

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

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 10, 2013:
Take action today for public education; ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.


Monday: Education Voters PA Statewide Call to Action for Public Education
Pennsylvania’s 1.76 million public school kids don’t care whether Rendell backfilled or Corbett cut stimulus money; they now have 20,000 fewer adults trying to maintain their constitutionally mandated “thorough and efficient system of public education” than they did a couple years ago.
Monday, June 10th – remember it just takes 10 minutes to do three things to make a difference!



Send an email to Harrisburg on school funding
Education Voters PA

In the event that you have a few minutes more to spare, please consider contacting the legislative leadership listed below; here’s part of their job description:

PA Constitution - Public School System Section 14.

“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
PA Legislature Republican Leadership 2013
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi
717-787-4712
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman
717-787-1377
Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati
717-787-7084
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai
717-772-9943
House Appropriation Committee Chairman William Adolph
717-787-1248
House Speaker Sam Smith
717-787-6564
Governor Tom Corbett 
717-787-2500, Fax: 717-772-8284

Missed our weekend postings?
Keystone State Education Coalition Saturday, June 8, 2013
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 8, 2013: Philly to layoff 3800 more; Three of four school districts in state say they'll cut programs to help balance budgets; Madonna poll says only 1% give Corbett Admin. an “A” for improving public education; Q Poll says 52% don’t think Gov should be reelected…. Think these items are related?

Corbett focusing on 3 key pieces of legislation
Along with budget, sets sights on transit, pension, liquor laws
By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 8, 2013 12:04 am
Gov. Tom Corbett has been steadfast that he wants the state Legislature to finish three important pieces of legislation along with a new budget by June 30: transportation funding, liquor privatization and pension reform.  But in response to a question at a news conference in Pittsburgh Friday, the governor said for the first time he would be willing to sign a budget after June 30 if it meant finishing the legislation. That would be a major philosophical move for Mr. Corbett, who campaigned on a promise of passing budgets on time after eight years of late budgets under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

“After approving 97 percent of the 368 alteration/curtailment requests received over the past five years, according to information provided by the Department of Education, the state decided to make the process easier for school districts this budget season. As long as a district can list one of four allowable reasons for program cuts, it can lay off teachers without any state review.
Approved by the state Legislature last summer, the change was among Gov. Tom Corbett's recommendations to update the Public School Code, said Tim Eller, Department of Education spokesman.”
Districts have more freedom to cut teachers
The state says the change eliminates a burdensome layer of bureaucracy.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 12:06 a.m. EDT, June 10, 2013
When Superintendent Susan McGinley was asked last spring to explain Easton Area School District's plan for eliminating 49 teachers, she picked up a stack of paper and started reading.
Over the next six minutes, McGinley read to the school board word for word from a document the district planned to send to the state secretary of education to gain approval for making the cuts.
Instead of telling the state what she told the community — that the district was forced to make painful layoffs because of financial woes — McGinley said slashing the jobs was part of an "alteration or curtailment of programs."  Laying off teachers just to save money is a violation of Pennsylvania School Code, but laying them off because the district is eliminating its middle school team-teaching model, for example, is fair.

“These are just the latest issues facing a district that has struggled for more than 20 years. In 1994, it brought in a private, for-profit company to run Turner Elementary, making it the first school district in the nation to privatize a public school. The teacher union objected and the case drew national attention. In 1997, the program was defeated in the courts. The issues that made headlines then -- low test scores, high millage rates and poverty -- haven't gone away.”
For at least 20 years, interlocking problems have plagued Wilkinsburg schools
By Alex Zimmerman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 10, 2013 12:13 am
In the Wilkinsburg School District, almost half of students don't graduate.
A third of students have been involved in incidents that threatened school safety. On state tests, 86.4 percent of 11th graders aren't proficient in math and 68.3 percent aren't proficient in reading.
The district is hemorrhaging students to charter schools. It borrowed $3 million for general operating expenses and has furloughed about 80 teachers in the past three years.

School nurses are an essential part of a student's life
WHYY Newsworks Opinion by By Nancy Henry June 7, 2013
I've been a school nurse for 14 years, and I have developed long-term relationships with my students and their families. Some former students now have children of their own who come to my school. School nurses do so much more than provide basic first aid or vision, hearing, weight and height screenings.

To keep young, fix schools
The city has drawn new people. They can leave.
Philly.com opinion by Jim Saksa POSTED: Sunday, June 9, 2013, 3:01 AM
Jim Saksa is a board member of Young Involved Philadelphia
We chose Philadelphia. We have bought homes here, started businesses, created nonprofits, paid our taxes, and fallen in love.  Some of us came for school or a job and now can't imagine living anywhere else. Others grew up here and don't ever want to leave.  We want to raise our families here. We want to send them to diverse public schools where they will be well educated in safe surroundings. But we face the threat of schools with no art or music, no sports or clubs, no guidance counselors or vice principals. We want to stay, but have $304 million reasons to go.

Magnet schools in Pittsburgh lose their racial balance
Choice now drives the city's program
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 9, 2013 12:22 am
While magnet schools in Pittsburgh Public Schools historically ensured racial balance, city magnet schools now operate as schools of choice without any guarantees or deliberate measures racially balancing them.
Some magnets have become less racially balanced than they were two decades ago. Some essentially are feeder schools where as many as 95 percent of students are black.
Most of the city's magnet programs started in the late 1970s and 1980s as a way to desegregate schools by offering attractive, specialized programs and allotting spaces by race.

"In Philadelphia, we don't even know whether the schools will have the money to open, and the state is more concerned about graduation tests when there might not be any students to take the test," he said.
Common Core: Standardized testing to change for Pennsylvania students
MEGAN ROGERS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Published Saturday, June 8, 2013, 3:01 AM
HARRISBURG - New standards that would require high school seniors to pass multiple exams in order to graduate could be coming to a school district near you.  The administration recently delayed implementing the controversial "Common Core" standards, which specify what students should be expected to learn by certain grades, but education officials say Gov. Corbett wants to have them in place by fall.

Philadelphia: Denying Educational Opportunity
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 9, 2013 //
Public officials in Pennsylvania are trying to starve public education until it dies. They have a constitutional obligation under the state and possibly the federal constitution to provide equal treatment to all. The students hurt most by state budget cuts are disproportionately black and Hispanic. Someone should sue to compel the state to provide education to all students.

“But the work that would ensure that students can read well by the third grade must start long before a child steps into a classroom, panel members said.”
Governors, state education chiefs discuss improving child literacy
Washington Post By Lynh Bui, June 04, 2013
Governors and education chiefs from nine states said Tuesday that a focus on early-childhood education, the changing dynamic of families and supporting low-income students could help improve literacy across the country.  Discussing the nation’s literacy crisis at a Washington Post policy forum in the District, the panel of political and education leaders said states need to do more to help children learn to read by the third grade, a key educational milestone at which children shift to “reading to learn.” Those who can’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to struggle in later grades.

Who’s Minding the Schools?
New York Times By ANDREW HACKER and CLAUDIA DREIFUS Published: June 8, 2013
IN April, some 1.2 million New York students took their first Common Core State Standards tests, which are supposed to assess their knowledge and thinking on topics such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and a single matrix equation in a vector variable.
Students were charged with analyzing both fiction and nonfiction, not only through multiple-choice answers but also short essays. The mathematics portion of the test included complex equations and word problems not always included in students’ classroom curriculums. Indeed, the first wave of exams was so overwhelming for these young New Yorkers that some parents refused to let their children take the test.

Protecting children from poverty a better investment than the common core.
Stephen Krashen’s Blog Sunday, June 9, 2013
Letter Submitted to the New York Times
Re: Who's minding the schools? June 9. (Andrew Hacker and Claudia Drefus)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/the-common-core-whos-minding-the-schools.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Hacker and Drefus' statement that attacks on the Common Core come "mainly from the right" ignores or dismisses serious criticisms from well-respected experts.

“You have a role to play in getting more of our babies prepared for school and life. Right now, email or call your representative. Tell them what it's like to be a teacher, when kids show up for kindergarten not knowing how to sit in a chair. Tell them what it's like to be a mom, when your choices are to pay an exorbitant sum for private preschool or to quit your own job to teach and care for your young children. Tell them what it's like to be a taxpayer, and to see your money go into the criminal justice system and high school dropout prevention instead of into far cheaper early intervention. Contact your Congressperson and senators today.”
The Pressing Need for Preschool
Huffington Post by Jonah Edelman Co-founder and CEO, Stand for Children  06/03/2013 3:28 pm
I've written about the need for universal early childhood education before and I'll write about it again. This time I'll assume that you, like 70 percent of Americans, support increasing access to high quality preschool. My goal, then, is to arm you with the facts so you can contact your Congressperson and senators about supporting President Obama's preschool plan today.

Haverford 7th grade students just published their annual eZine.
Everything in this online literary magazine is created by the students: the writing, music, photography and artwork.  Everything.
The product and the process of the eZine showcases many skills we as educators wish for our students: high intellect, probing insights, and varied communication skills, along with a lot of grit.
This year's is entitled The Paths We Take: www.tinyurl.com/pathshtown.

PCAPS Forum on Community Schools Saturday June 15, 9 am1:30 pm
Kensington CAPA High School, Front & Berks Streets, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS)
Over the past year, in forums, workshops, listening sessions, and through surveys, thousands of students, parents, community members and school staff voiced their desire for an educational system that provides a well-rounded education parallel to what affluent districts offer, but that also addresses the challenges that come with poverty. We understand that all of our schools must provide:
  •  A rigorous academic curriculum
  •  Enrichment activities such as sports, art, music, drama
  •  Coordinated supports and services that address the social-emotional as well as the academic needs of students and their families.
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) has done our research! After meeting with experts from around the country, we have concluded that the most equitable, effective, financially sound strategy for our city is one that embraces community schools for all children.
Please join us on Saturday, June 15th for the Community Schools Conference (9am-2pm) at Kensington CAPA High School (Front & Berks St.) to learn more from national experts and work with others on a strategy to make this a reality for our city.
Please encourage your networks to attend and feel free to bring a friend! Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/event/6815949689

EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program – Apply Now
Applications are available now for the 2013-2014 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 350 graduates in its first fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation in June 2014.

Turning the Page for Change celebration, June 11, 2013
Please join us for the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change celebration on June 11, 2013, from 4:30 - 7 p.m. at the University of The Arts, Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad Street. We will be honoring a member of the Notebook community for years of service to our mission as well as honoring several local high school journalists. Help us celebrate another year of achievement that included two awards from the Education Writers Association and coverage of other critical stories like the budget crisis and the school closing process.

Building One America 2013 National Summit July 18-19, 2013 Washington, DC
Brookings Institution to present findings of their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of the Obama Administration and Congress.  The summit will identify comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote sustainable, economically competitive regions.


Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight Keystone State Education Coalition (updated May 2, 2013)
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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