Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 25, 2013: “children who were not proficient at reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out”

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.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 25, 2013:
“children who were not proficient at reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out”

The PA House currently has voting session days scheduled for Monday, June 24 through Friday, June 28.

The PA Senate has voting session days scheduled for Monday, June 24 through Sunday, June 30.

Send an email to Harrisburg on school funding
Education Voters PA
As the budget process continues please consider contacting the legislative leadership listed below regarding the education budget ; 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
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman
Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai
House Appropriation Committee Chairman William Adolph
House Speaker Sam Smith
Governor Tom Corbett 
717-787-2500, Fax: 717-772-8284

New Poll: School Funding Cuts Are Top Concern for Pa. Voters; They Believe New Revenue from Individuals and Corporations Is Part of the Solution
PA Budget and Policy Center June 24, 2013
HARRISBURG, PA (June 24, 2013) — Education and funding for public schools is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters, outpacing other issues like transportation, taxes and jobs that have dominated debate in Harrisburg, according to a new poll of Pennsylvania voters commissioned by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

Poll: Voters would pay higher taxes to avert school cuts
Amid widespread concern over school-funding cuts, a majority of Pennsylvania voters would be willing to pay higher taxes to reverse them, a poll released Monday said.
The statewide poll said 78 percent of those questioned were concerned about public school funding, 48 percent "very concerned." The rates were higher for women, with 85 percent expressing concern for schools and 55 percent saying they were "very concerned."
Overall, 55 percent of respondents said that they believed the schools were in crisis and that Gov. Corbett and the Republican-controlled legislature should act to prevent staff from being laid off, programs ended, and class sizes increased.

 “…children who were not proficient at reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out than those who are proficient readers by that point.   …..children who live in poverty and aren't proficient readers are at even more risk of dropping out of high school.   …The numbers are worse for poor African-American and Hispanic students.”
Experts hope Pennsylvania pays heed to third-grade reading key
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 23, 2013 12:17 am
It's a well-known concept in education circles: Children learn to read from preschool through third grade. After third grade, they read to learn.
In recent years, the focus on third-grade reading proficiency has intensified to the point where more than 30 states have policies targeting third-grade reading, with about a dozen of those states allowing school districts to retain students in third grade, rather than promoting them to fourth grade, if they do not hit reading proficiency targets. Pennsylvania is not among them.
That information comes from a report on third-grade reading released earlier this month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Pennsylvania Drops to 17th in National Rankings for Children's Overall Well-Being
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children June 24, 2013
KIDS COUNT® Data Book Underscores Impact of Deferred Investments in Kids
Pennsylvania’s children are not making any measurable gains in areas like health care, early learning or economic security, a lack of progress that has caused the commonwealth to slip three spots in the latest national rankings of child well-being.  The 2013 KIDS COUNT® Data Book ranks Pennsylvania 17th in the nation for its overall child well-being, down from 14th a year ago. Pennsylvania was among only five states to fall three or more spots in the rankings. The report underscores the continued toll the sluggish economy and deferred state investments in children have taken on the commonwealth’s nearly 2.8 million kids.

It's crunch time for Corbett and his 'big three' agenda: column
By Robert J. Vickers | rvickers@pennlive.com  on June 24, 2013 at 6:58 PM\
It wouldn't ensure his re-election, but if Gov. Tom Corbett were to pull one, two or an improbable three rabbits from his legislative hat by the end of the week, it would go some way toward shoring up his wobbly political standing.
One day into the final week of budget negotiations, the only Corbett target close to a sure thing is passing a third straight balanced budget on-time.
Beyond that, it remains highly speculative whether the governor can coerce the House and Senate to pass some incarnation of a transportation bill, liquor privatization, and/or state workers' pension reform by Sunday's budget deadline.

Pale reform: Senators shortchange the public on fixing pensions
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial June 25, 2013 12:10 am
If a state Senate committee vote last week on pension reform is a gauge, state and public school employees can relax -- the measure that squeaked past the Senate Finance Committee doesn't touch the publicly funded retirement benefits of any current employees.  That may be good news for them, but the watered-down version of Senate Bill 922 that cleared the panel on a 6-5 vote isn't good news for taxpayers.

Aliquippa is not alone.  Last year, Chester Upland, Duquesne City, York City and Harrisburg were dubbed “financially distressed” as Reading, Steelton-Highspire and Wilkinsburg Borough joined the watch list.”
Schools’ financial struggles unending
The Tribune-Review By Megan Harris  Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Pennsylvania students this fall should expect more crowded classrooms and less help for struggling students, according to a survey by two statewide groups that found two-thirds of districts surveyed plan to cut instructional programs to cope with lean times.
Covering 187 of the state's 501 districts, the survey blamed flat revenue growth and accelerating pension demands for driving up financial pressure on schools. More than half of districts surveyed predicted their financial position would deteriorate next school year.
Pa. House Budget Locks in Most School Funding Cuts
PA Budget and Policy Center - Updated: June 21, 2013
Funding public education is a core responsibility of state government. Over the past two years, Pennsylvania has stepped back from this responsibility, resulting in a shifting of costs to local taxpayers and the loss of educational opportunities for Pennsylvania children. The current 2013-14 budget plan promises more of the same, as it falls well short of filling the funding gap created in 2011-12. Students in poorer districts are bearing a larger share of the cuts that remain, which will make it harder for students with the greatest challenges to achieve.

Guess who pays for the proposed Philly school funding deal?
WHYY Newsworks Off Mic Blog By Dave Davies @DaveDaviesWHYY June 24, 2013
These are days of miracle and wonderSuddenly, there's hope that Philadelphia's school system won't crash and burn.
Word emerged last week that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett – yes, Republican we-don't-need-no-stinking-Medicaid-expansion Tom Corbett - is working to craft a funding solution for the Philadelphia School District, which is headed toward a September meltdown without one.
I'm told Corbett said in committing to the effort that he doesn't want a one-year fix. He wants a solution that will last. Philadelphia City Council members are crossing their fingers and looking to the heavens, hoping it happens.
The deal is a long way from done and may fall apart, but there's a point to be made about the funding package under consideration: This "solution" relies mostly on Philadelphia taxpayers and school district employees, and requires no serious funding commitment from the state – despite the legislature's constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and efficient system of public education" for the state's children.

Philadelphia schools hunger strike hits 8th day
AP State Wire by KATHY MATHESON Published: 47 minutes ago
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Ten thousand unused musical instruments. No sports or art programs. No assistant principals, counselors, cafeteria aides or secretaries.
That's what the Philadelphia public schools will look like in September without a major cash infusion. And while the devastating consequences of the district's $304 million deficit have been widely reported for weeks, parent Mike Mullins thought people still didn't get it.
So for the past eight days, he's been on a hunger strike.

In Pa., it's 6 days until change or 6 days to sameness
This week determines the fate of the governor, Philly schools, state stores, pension reform, the state budget, SEPTA, whether Pennsylvania bridges will collapse under the weight of their own decrepitude and, by implication, life as we know it.
Maybe.  It's the rush to the annual June 30 deadline, when Harrisburg decides how and where tax dollars are spent, what policies progress and what issues go back down the ever-munching maw of the Legislature for redigestion.

Stop School Funding Ignorance Now! A Philadelphia Story
School Finance 101 Blog by Bruce Baker Posted on June 20, 2013
On a daily basis, I continue to be befuddled by the ignorant bluster, intellectual laziness and mathematical and financial ineptitude of those who most loudly opine on how to fix America’s supposed dreadful public education system.  Common examples that irk me include taking numbers out context to make them seem shocking, like this Newark example (some additional context), or the repeated misrepresentation of per pupil spending in New York State.

Uncertainty as new teacher-evaluation systems near
POSTED: Monday, June 24, 2013, 3:01 AM
Upper Darby High School Principal Christopher Dormer sat in the back of Joe Niagara's humanities class, tapping out notes on his laptop. But if having the boss sit in and observe made the first-year teacher nervous, he wasn't letting it show.
"What we're going to do today is create presentations on figures from the Enlightenment," Niagara said, breaking the classes into work groups, coaching the students on what they needed to be looking for, moving around the room, and making sure they were on task.
Later, teacher and principal discussed Niagara's instructional strengths, including extra efforts he makes with students outside class, as well as areas in need of improvement. Dormer then assigned Niagara a rating based on what he saw and what they talked about.
And soon, Niagara will also be held accountable for how well - or not - his students perform.

“a windfall for consultants”; Here’s a longer version of the above Inky article….
Lack of time and money as educators launch new teacher evaluations
The Hechinger Report By Sarah Garland and Rita Giordano JUNE 24, 2013
…..This fall, under a 2012 state law that requires tougher standards for teacher evaluations, Pennsylvania teachers will be under scrutiny like never before. Using a 104-page guide designed by teaching expert Charlotte Danielson, a former teacher turned consultant, school administrators will analyze how teachers plan lessons and present them, how they interact with and question their students, and even how they communicate with parents.
This year and last, the state budgeted about $6 million per year in state and federal funds to cover software, consultant fees, and trainings for the rest of the districts in the state. The new evaluations could mean a windfall for consultants. Among the companies that have benefited is Teachscape, a partner of Charlotte Danielson’s, which received a state contract for $259,000 to provide online evaluation system; Pittsburgh spent more than two thirds of the first half of its Gates grant on consultants, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Reduced busing radius for private, charter schools could save districts money, Parkland officials say
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times  on June 25, 2013 at 5:30 AM
Pennsylvania school districts are required by state law to provide transportation for students who live within their boundaries, but attend private or charter schools up to 10 miles outside them.
Parkland School Districtofficials want to change that. They advocate changing the busing radius to 5 miles in a proposal submitted for inclusion on the Pennsylvania School Boards Association 2014 Legislative Platform.  Superintendent Richard Sniscak says reducing the radius could save Parkland nearly $500,000 annually. Bethlehem Area and East Penn school district officials say the change could save money for their school districts, too, though not as much.

Pennsylvania Signals Departure From Test Consortia
Education Week Curriculum Matters Blog By Catherine Gewertz on June 24, 2013 11:55 AM
Those of you who are wonky enough to like keeping super-close track of who's dating whom in the assessment-consortium world will be interested to know that Pennsylvania has decided to withdraw from both groups.
We heard this news last week while attending the Council of Chief State School Officers' annual assessment conference. Senior officials in both the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, told me that Pennsylvania has notified them by email that it plans to withdraw. Assessment folks attending another gathering recently also reported that top Keystone State officials had mentioned the state's withdrawal there, as well.

Getting in touch with PennLive's Opinion staff
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on June 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM
So you've read the stories, columns and editorials. Maybe you've even posted an online comment, but you still feel like you have more to say. We want to hear from you. 
Here's who we are, what we do and how to get in touch with us:

Teacher Layoffs Are Bad; Aide Layoffs Might Be Worse
A social worker familiar with Philadelphia's often violent schools says cuts to support staff could be disastrous.
The Atlantic by JEFF DEENEYJUN 18 2013, 12:44 PM ET
I'll never forget the first day of the 2008 school year, when I showed up for work at Philadelphia's Bartram High School. Everything I needed to know about what I was walking into was graphically spelled out in black, painted graffiti scrawled along one wall: "This school don't get no money." There was nothing surprising to me about that. Bartram serves Southwest Philly, a predominantly black and extremely poor section of the city that vies each year for the lead on lists of neighborhoods with the worst violent crime rates. Back in 2002, the state of Pennsylvania took over the school district in part due to chronic money woes. When I arrived, the building, built in 1939, looked its age: Everywhere were clocks that didn't run, walls with unpatched holes, and cracked floor tiles. What little audio-visual equipment existed looked like it was shipped in a time machine from 1982.

Yong Zhao - Green Evaluation: China’s Latest Reform to Deemphasize Testing
Yong Zhao’s Blog 24 JUNE 2013 710 ONE COMMENT
Last week the Chinese Ministry of Education launched another major reform effort to reduce the importance of testing in education. In a document sent to all provincial education authorities on June 19th, the Ministry of Education unveiled guidelines and a new framework for evaluating schools.
China has engaged in numerous systemic reforms over the last few decades, with the goal to minimize the impact of testing on teaching and learning. “However, due to internal and external factors, the tendency to evaluate education quality based simply on student test scores and school admissions rate has not been fundamentally changed,” says the document. “These problems [of evaluation] severely hamper student development as a whole person, stunt their healthy growth, and limit opportunities to cultivate social responsibilities, creative spirit, and practical abilities in students.” To solve these problems, the Ministry of Education realizes that more serious reforms are needed to change how schools are evaluated.

“Twenty years after the start of the charter school movement, even with all the private energy and public policy cheerleading it has engendered, students in charter schools roughly perform the same as students in the rest of public education — not the leaps and bounds that were promised”
Charter Schools Are Improving, updated Stanford CREDO Study Says
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: June 24, 2013
An updated version of a widely cited study that found many students in charter schools were not performing as well as those in neighborhood public schools now shows that in a few states, charter schools are improving in some areas.

Where U.S. stands in education internationally — new OECD report
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: June 25, 2013 at 5:01 am
A new report that analyzes education trends in several dozen countries says that the United States is behind in early childhood education even though it spends more and that American teachers spend more time in class than their international peers.

NSBA Action Center June 24, 2013 by Staff
NSBA Support Acknowledged at House Mark-up of ESEA Reauthorization
The House Education & Workforce Committee approved The Student Success Act, H.R. 5 to reauthorize the ESEA on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.  Many thanks to the state associations and school board members who responded to NSBA’s call to action prior to the mark-up.  Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) named NSBA as the first supporter of HR 5 during the Committee’s deliberations.  NSBA supported the bill because it eliminates unnecessary and overwhelming administrative requirements and restores flexibility and governance to local school boards who are in the best position to address the needs of students in our local communities.  However, NSBA raised strong concerns about federal funding caps and lowered state support requirements in the bill.  

Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm.  Details to come.

Friday June 28th is the deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2014 Legislative Platform
There is one week remaining to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2014 Legislative Platform.The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, June 28.  Guidelines for platform submissions and submission forms are posted on PSBA’s Web site. Boards may submit new proposals as well as revisions to the current platform and should include a brief statement (about 50 words) of rationale for each proposal submitted.  The rationale should include a summary of the reasons why your board believes this issue should be addressed in the platform, any specific problems your district has encountered, and how your board believes the problem could be resolved.  In addition, your board is encouraged to submit any data related to the issue as it affects your district, or any draft language that could be crafted into proposed legislation. This information will be shared with the PSBA Platform Committee. All submissions should be directed to PSBA’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations. All items submitted must be verified by the board secretary. The PSBA Platform Committee under the direction of Chairman Mark B. Miller will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 10. 
The items recommended by the Platform Committee will be presented to the new PSBA Delegate Assembly for final determination by the voting delegates present. Next week, PSBA will be mailing to all school board secretaries a memo and response form for the appointment of their voting delegates to the Delegate Assembly. Selection of voting delegates for the Delegate Assembly meeting is the same as it was for the Legislative Policy Council.  Each PSBA member entity has the opportunity to participate in the meeting the debate and vote on all of the agenda items.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

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.

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 Prior Posting
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

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