Monday, July 22, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 22, 2013

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2250 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

These daily emails are archived at
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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?

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 22, 2013

School Choices: Are your PA tax dollars, intended for the classrooms of Chester Upland, funding this 20,000 sq.ft. mansion on the beach instead?

Did you miss our weekend postings?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 20, 2013: Trombetta cyber school probe nearing an end
Keystone State Education Coalition Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pa. has new teacher, principal evaluation system by SARA K. SATULLO, The Associated Press POSTED: Saturday, July 20, 2013, 2:13 AM EASTON, Pa. (AP) - School may be out for summer, but across Pennsylvania districts are gearing up for a new teacher evaluation system that takes student performance into account. This fall begins a three-year roll out of the system, which was passed into law in 2012. Principals and specialists will be subject to the evaluations in 2014-15.

Pittsburgh schools make student data accessible from smartphones
Apps allow parents to monitor grades, lunch money, more
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 21, 2013 12:15 am
Imagine being able to access your child's grades, add money to a school lunch account or get directions to an away high school basketball game with a touch of your smartphone.
Those capabilities are available or on the horizon in a handful of local school districts where cell phone apps are being created.

Charters: The New Face of American Greed
AJE FORUM  by Jason Engerman – JULY 18, 2013 POSTED IN: OPINION
Charter schools are public schools operated by nongovernmental organizations. Although the law varies by state, in Pennsylvania, charter school operators are granted financial, curricular, and operational autonomy. This opinion piece argues that the financial autonomy of charter schools should be severely curtailed, as there are multiple examples of charter schools abusing public money. When public money is given to large private agencies with minimal oversight, these businesses often fill their pockets at the public expense. Non-profits have also shown suspicious activity in their dealings with charter school funds. Although charter schools’ financial autonomy can provide benefits, the cons outweigh the pros.

“Evaluating teachers on the basis of standardized test scores is highly popular with both Republican and Democrat school reformers, who ignore the advice of psychometricians and other researchers who say it is neither a valid nor a reliable method.”
What House Republicans did right with the education bill
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 20 at 1:16 pm
There are many things to oppose in the legislation that the Republican-led House of Representatives just approved to rewrite the much-maligned 2002 No Child Left Behind bill.
The bill, passed on Friday without a single Democratic vote in support, would, if it were to become law, dramatically alter the public education landscape as we have come to know it over the past dozen years.

The NCLB Reauthorization Edition of the Friday Reading List (Better on Monday Morning)
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 21, 2013 10:22 PM
Still recovering from No Child Left Behind on the House floor? So are we. But before you put your copy of H.R. 5, aka "the Student Success Act" on the shelf, check out these good reads:

Paul Vallas: Change Agent in Education Collects Critics in Connecticut Town
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: July 21, 2013
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Paul G. Vallas, a leader in the effort to shake up American education, has wrestled with unions in Chicago, taken on hurricane-ravaged schools in New Orleans and confronted a crumbling educational system in Haiti.
Now he faces what may be his most vexing challenge yet: Fending off a small but spirited crowd of advocates working to unseat him as superintendent of one of Connecticut’s lowest-performing and highest-poverty school districts.

Finally, a film that celebrates public education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 21 at 9:15 am
We’ve seen a stream of films promoting the school reform agenda, but here’s a piece about a different kind of movie, one that actually celebrates public education. This was written by Peter Dreier, professor of politics and chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book, “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame,” was published last year. He is also co-author of “Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century,” and “The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City.” His children attended the Pasadena public schools, the focus of the film “Go Public” about which he writes. He wrote at greater length on this subject in this post at

Preschool for All: childhood's end
MinnPost Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles | 07/17/13
MinnPost is clearly enthusiastic about increased federal funding for preschool ("Arne Duncan promotes Preschool for All to close 'opportunity gap'," July 16). Not mentioned, however, is the fact that to be funded, preschool programs have to include standards in language and literacy, and math and science, and that 4-year old children will be tested regularly on their progress.
In other words, preschool is now school, with a curriculum and tests. In other words, Preschool for All is simply an extension of the common-core standards and tests. There is no evidence supporting the common core for older students and there is no reason to impose it on 4-year olds.

National School Boards Action Center July 2013
Join the Friends of Public Education and participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren.  Federal legislation has direct policy and financial impact on your local public schools and students, and federal legislators need to hear the local impact – directly from you, their constituent.  By becoming a part of the Friends of Public Education, you are joining a national campaign to support a strong public education for all students.  When you sign up, you will receive information on critical education legislation and NSBAC will ask you to contact your members of Congress at key strategic times during the legislative process.  NSBAC will notify you through calls to action and provide sample letters that you can personalize so you can easily communicate with your elected federal leaders.
So, join today.  (…And recruit your friends and family to do the same).
Thank you for your support for America’s schoolchildren.

Yinzers - Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm.  Location and details to come.

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

Know Your Child’s Rights! 2013-2014 Special Education Seminars
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia July 9, 2013
The Law Center’s year-long Know Your Child’s Rights! seminar series on special education law continues in 2013-2014 with day and evening trainings focused on securing special education rights and services.  These seminars are intended for parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and others who are in a position to help children with disabilities receive an appropriate education. Every session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability and is co-led by a Law Center staff attorney and a guest speaker.
This year’s topics include Tips for Going Back to School; Psychological Testing, IEEs and Evaluations; School Records; Children with Autism; Transition Services; Children with Emotional Needs; Discipline and Bullying; Charter Schools; Children with Dyslexia; Extended School Year; Assistive Technology; Discrimination and Compensatory Education; and, Settlements. See below for descriptions and schedules of each session.

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
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.

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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