Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 24, 2013: Superintendent: "I don't have any problems saying this, because it's true: Poor kids are getting the shaft right now."

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 24, 2013:
Superintendent: "I don't have any problems saying this, because it's true: Poor kids are getting the shaft right now."

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?

“I don’t buy the argument that we don’t have the money, said Ronald Cowell, a former Democratic state legislator who is the president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center in Harrisburg. “The point really is you choose to do something else with the money, you spend it somewhere else, or you give it away in terms of a tax break.”.
Hite says Pa. needs fair school funding formula
thenotebook by Monika Zaleska on Jul 23 2013 Posted in Latest news
Superintendent William Hite on Tuesday publicly decried the lack of a reliable education funding formula in Pennsylvania, noting that Philadelphia, with many of the Commonwealth’s neediest students, still doesn’t know if it will have enough money to operate full-service schools this year.
Hite made his remarks at a symposium – the subject of which was “equity and excellence in education as a civil rights issue  -- convened as a warm-up to theannual conference of the national Urban League, which opens here Wednesday. 

John Sarandrea, superintendent of the New Castle Area School District, described his district in Western Pennsylvania as the seventh poorest in the state. "I don't have any problems saying this, because it's true: Poor kids are getting the shaft right now," he said to loud applause from the audience. "How can you possibly not invest in these children early, knowing what will be the outcome if you don't?" Sarandrea wondered. "It's negligence. It's criminal."
Forum looks at funding, needs of Pa. schools
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 8:33 PM While the Philadelphia School District's most pressing need is opening schools in September in the face of a massive funding shortfall, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Tuesday he believes Pennsylvania must devise a funding formula that distributes state aid fairly. "I do think as a commonwealth, we have to collectively think about how do we make sure we are meeting the needs of students regardless of where they attend school," said Hite, a panelist at a forum on equity and excellence in education at the Convention Center.

Philly Renaissance schools up for approval at special SRC meeting
thenotebook by David Limm on Jul 23 2013 Posted in Latest news
The School District plans to finalize the conversion of three elementary schools into Renaissance schools at a just-announced special meeting of the School Reform Commission that will be held on Friday morning at 8 a.m. There are more than a dozen items on the agenda.
As of now, there are no plans for the SRC to take action this week on restoring any of the 3,800 positions that were eliminated this year, said District spokesperson Fernando Gallard.

Pennsylvania Special Education Funding Commission of 2013
PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA Thursday July 25, 2013 10 a.m.
Hearing will be streamed live barring any unforeseen technical difficulties on
Buck’s County Intermediate Unit #22
705 N. Shady Retreat Road
, Doylestown
Special Education: Why Special Education Costs More to Educate
10:00 a.m.       Welcome by Commission Co-Chairs
10:05 a.m.       Introduction of Commission Members
10:10 a.m.       PA Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU)
Dr. Barry Galasso, Executive Director of Bucks IU 22
Dr. Anthony Grieco, Executive Director of Luzerne IU-18
Dr. Jacalyn Auris, Director of Student Services at Chester County IU 24
Dr. Maria Edelberg, Assistant Executive Director at Delaware County IU 25

11:40 a.m.       PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
David W. Matyas, PRSBA  Business Administrator Central Bucks School District
Dale Scafuro Director of Student Services Central Bucks School District

Listen to WITF Radio Smart Talk: School Choice & Charter Funding, Wednesday, July 24th from 9-10 am
Written by Radio Smart Talk | July 23, 2013 12:21 PM
Cyber schools are one of several options available to parents deciding where to send their children.  The number of charter schools in Pennsylvania is growing rapidly, with 173 brick-and-mortar schools and 16 cyber schools. Together they educate some 105,000 students. Parents have more choices than ever before about where to send their kids.  Public or private? Charter or cyber charter?  While funding for public schools continues to decline, the cost of sending students to independent, online charter schools continues to rise. The financial impact on public schools is big. Program cuts and layoffs loom large, while shrinking enrollment threatens to close some public schools. 
This year, the state's 16 cyber charters will receive at least $366 million in taxpayer funds.   They’ll get the funding despite the fact that none met federally mandated academic performance targets last year.  But when it comes to education, one size doesn’t fit all. Cyber charters provide options for families seeking alternatives. They foster competition among educators and innovations in technology. These are just a few of the reasons why cyber charters aren’t just a passing fad, advocates say they’re here to stay. 
Is it time to rethink how charter schools are funded? How do we support innovation while balancing the need for accountability and quality?
To help us answer these questions and more we’ll speak with Jonathan Cetel, Executive Director of PennCAN, Stuart Knade Interim Executive Director  of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and Susan Spicka, a parent and grassroots public education advocate in Shippensburg. She's also the co-founder of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley.

Daniel Denvir: Pennsylvania Covering Up Major Cheating Scandal
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav July 23, 2013 //
Daniel Denvir, crack investigative journalist in Philadelphiareports that the state has dragged its feet on an investigation of a major cheating scandal.  Despite evidence of high rates of erasures, the state has done nothing and refuses reporters’ requests for information.

Opening Doors is Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett’s initiative to increase the graduation rate and open the doors of educational opportunity to Pennsylvania students.
National Dropout Prevention Center and Network Update July 2013
Through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, an Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog tool is being developed that will help middle schools identify the students at risk of dropping out and match them with resources in their communities to address issues that cause them to disengage from school. See also Dropout Prevention Summit Report

Opening Doors – Dropout Prevention
Pennsylvania Office of the First Lady
Opening Doors is Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett’s initiative to increase the graduation rate and open the doors of educational opportunity to Pennsylvania students. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Team Pennsylvania Foundation, Opening Doors joins the national challenge to end the high school dropout epidemic, and to raise the nation’s graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. Opening Doors focuses on identifying middle school students who are likely to drop out before graduating and matching them with appropriate interventions to keep them on a path to earning a diploma.

Sarah McMahan has been an educator for 13 years. She thinks the Common Core standards are a good thing and a definite improvement over the standards they're replacing. But, she says, "My concern with it is that it's going to become a foundation for very test-driven, test-centered teaching and learning."
Common Core: Teachers Hit The Books To Master New Education Standards
NPR by CORY TURNER July 23, 2013 3:49 PM
Almost all the states and Washington, D.C., are grappling with a big challenge as the new school year nears: getting teachers up to speed on the Common Core, a sweeping set of new education standards for English language arts and math.  The Common Core will soon apply to most of America's students from kindergarten through high school. The policymakers behind the Core know that it could fail if they don't help teachers make the change. So this summer, the state of Maryland has been hosting what it calls "academies" to do just that.

Is Common Core failing the test?
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 7/23/13 3:23 PM EDT
President Barack Obama’s goal of holding all students across the U.S. to the same high academic standards may be on the verge of unraveling as states take a hard look at the more rigorous tests under development — and balk.  Backed by $360 million in federal grants, some 40-plus states have spent the past three years working with testing companies to develop math and language arts exams tied to the academic standards known as Common Core. They’re minimizing the dreary fill-in-the-bubble multiple choice in favor of more challenging tasks. Kids as young as third grade, for instance, will be asked to write essays synthesizing information from multiple nonfiction texts and to explain their reasoning on math problems.

Early-Childhood Education, Intervention Are Focus of New Report
Education Week Early Years Blog By Christina Samuels on July 23, 2013 5:30 PM
The results of dozens of research studies in early intervention and early-childhood education have been synthesized in a new report released by the federally funded Institute of Education Sciences.  Some of the instructional methods that have been connected to positive gains for students are nevertheless used infrequently, researchers have found. For example, the report says, "IES-supported investigators have found that children make substantially greater gains when they are enrolled in classrooms where teachers planned activities that they taught to groups of children and provided support to children as they were learning difficult skills. Yet in a study in an urban prekindergarten program, IES-supported researchers also found that teachers made infrequent use of group learning formats."

ESEA/NCLB Education Overhaul Faces a Test of Partisanship
By MOTOKO RICH Published: July 23, 2013
On the day that President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law in early 2002, he flew to a high school in Hamilton, Ohio, the home district of Representative John A. Boehner, a leading Republican supporter of the bill. Later that afternoon, the president appeared in Boston and praised the bill’s Democratic sponsor in the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy.
Nearly a dozen years later, that bipartisanship spirit in federal education policy has evaporated.
The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill aimed at greatly narrowing the federal role in public education that was expanded under No Child Left Behind. No Democrat voted for the bill, called the Student Success Act, and the Obama administration has threatened to veto it. During the floor debate last week in the House, Representative George Miller of California, the main Democratic supporter of the Bush-era law, labeled the bill the “Letting Students Down Act.”

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.

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

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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