Friday, August 2, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 2, 2013: No, they’re not on drugs: Business leaders who embrace early childhood education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, 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 August 2, 2013:
No, they’re not on drugs: Business leaders who embrace early childhood education

Congratulations to Mark B Miller, school director in Centennial School District, Co-Chair of Keystone State Education Coalition and Vice President of Pennsylvania School Boards Association on his appointment to the Board of Directors of the Network for Public Education

No, they’re not on drugs: Business leaders who embrace early childhood education
Washington Post By Brigid Schulte, Published: August 1 at 7:00 am
The United States spends less and has fewer children attend preschool than many other industrialized countries, according to the Center for American Progress.
Brian Maher stood at a podium in front of a sold-out crowd at the august U.S. Chamber of Commerce building across from the White House Wednesday morning and started in on a big speech on: early childhood education.  That’s right. In front of the nation’s most powerful business group, the retired chairman and CEO of Maher Terminals, one of the biggest port terminals on the East Coast, and former chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce wanted to talk about embracing preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. And high quality “Birth to Five” learning — in other words, good child care.

70% Of Americans Support Universal Preschool
Fox News Radio from
And half strongly support it, according to Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research.
The proposal, which as described to those surveyed would spend $10 billion a year for a decade to help states and local communities provide preschool through an increase on the cigarette tax, also gets bipartisan support. More than 80 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans were in favor. The plan also gets support from those who might not immediately be impacted by it: nearly 70 percent of those without children (and three-quarters of parents) and 65 percent of seniors (with nearly 80 percent support from those under 35).

The disturbing shift underway in early childhood classrooms
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 2 at 4:00 am
Increasingly we hear that academic work, including test prep, is reaching down into the lowest grades, even preschool. Here’s a post with teacher concerns on the issue, written by Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and Diane E. Levin. They run the nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which seeks to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children. DEY is a non-profit project of the Survival Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization based in Watertown, Massachusetts. You can read more stories from teachers at the DEY website, on the “Voices from the Field” page.

“PERC recently advised lawmakers that forcing new public workers into a 401(k)-type retirement plan would cost the taxpayers the additional $42.4 billion. Cheiron also reviewed the work submitted by the Corbett administration's actuary to develop the governor's proposal. Cheiron's conclusion: The actuary did not use a proper measure of the pension systems' liquidity and inappropriately deferred costs associated with closing the pension funds.”
Pa. pension changes will cost taxpayers money
Morning Call Letter to the Editor by Timothy Kearney July 31, 2013
Although the Commonwealth Foundation promotes itself as an advocate for fiscal conservatism, its president, Matthew Brouillette, in a Your View actually promotes changes to public employee pensions that would increase costs to Pennsylvania taxpayers by at least $42.4 billion over the next 30 or so years.  That's according to two major national actuarial consulting firms. These numbers were then reviewed and determined to be reasonable by Cheiron, a Virginia firm with no ties to either of the state's two public employee pension systems. Cheiron was consulting actuary for the independent Public Employee Retirement Commission responsible for analyzing fiscal impact of pension legislation.

Philly Countdown, Day 39: Hite says staffing levels 'nowhere near sufficient'
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 01 2013 Posted in Countdown to calamity?
Superintendent William Hite said that his voice might stay calm, but he is definitely not calm about whether he will be able to open schools on time. He was expecting at least to have access by now to $50 million in new funds from the city -- and he still doesn't have it as Mayor Nutter and Council are still at odds over the best way to make it available.
"I will not be irresponsible in putting students into environments that are not able to serve their needs," Hite said in an interview Wednesday. "At the moment, a principal and a secretary in a 3,000-student high school is not sufficient to serve the needs of students there."  Northeast High School has 3,000 students.

When does Philly schools crisis become A CRISIS?!!!
Philly daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch POSTED: Thursday, August 1, 2013, 3:47 PM The head of Philadelphia schools just said he may not have enough money to open the school doors in early September...39 days from now.

On The Latest Report Card Scheme, the District Gets an “F” for Fairness
Taking away resources and programs from schools, then grading them? That's a recipe for failure.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers 8/1/2013
Faced with an unprecedented financial crisis that has led to the closing of 27 schools, the evisceration of school programs and the layoff of over 3,859 school employees, the school district has picked now to explore re-instating a “school report card” to measure the quality of our neighborhood schools. These report cards, of course, would be used to determine which schools are recommended for closure or conversion to charter schools in the future.
You don’t have to be psychic or an expert on education policy to know how most schools will perform under these conditions—you only need to be awake. Anyone who has been paying attention can see that the SRC is no longer even pretending to want to improve public education in Philadelphia.

"We're using consultants to grade schools instead of spending more time fixing them," said school activist Helen Gym.  Several saw the report card as little more than a thinly veiled effort to use consultants to justify closing more schools or turning them over to charter operators.”
Parents angered, frustrated over new school report card
by thenotebook by Paul Jablow on Jul 30 2013 Posted in Latest news
The folded-paper signs sprouted on tables across the meeting room, and the messages were anything but subtle:
"Resources for classrooms before report cards." "Report cards are a distraction from real efforts to improve." "Data can be shaped to any political purpose." "Support schools, don't shame them." "Evaluating climate minus counselors and aides? Crazy." "Invest in teachers, not tallies."
About 75 people came Monday night to the first of six District meetings seeking public input on a new school report card to replace both the School Performance Index (SPI) and the school annual reports. The District has used theseperformance measures in decisions such as which schools to close and which to convert into charters. 
But the sentiment in the meeting room at District headquarters was overwhelming: Please. Just forget about it.

Appeals panel backs Coatesville in closing charter
Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: Friday, August 2, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, August 1, 2013, 6:24 PM The state Charter Appeals Board has upheld the Coatesville Area School District's decision to close Graystone Academy - a 200-student charter school that has had an acrimonious relationship with the district. Officials at Graystone say they are preparing to appeal the decision in Commonwealth Court - and insist their doors will be open for the first day of school at the end of the month.

Pittsburgh Public Schools launches online forum to solicit ideas to improve
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 2, 2013 12:35 am
An online forum provided by the Pittsburgh Public Schools is giving parents, community members and teachers a chance to offer their ideas on how to create high quality schools.
The Voices Ideas Vision Action (VIVA) Idea Exchange was created as part of the district's "envisioning" process that was announced in January, with a goal of creating a 21st century educational delivery model.

Penn State students help children learn engineering through origami
Centre Daily By Britney Milazzo — Published: August 1, 2013
STATE COLLEGE — Eight-year-old Brooke Bagwell’s origami sailboat took wind the first time it set sail Wednesday morning at Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania.
But the second time, the mast wasn’t sturdy enough, and it tipped, filling the sailboat with water on a man-made race course.  Though a trial-and-error process to consistently get their sailboats to float, about eight summer campers, ages 6 to 9, worked with Penn State students to combine arts and engineering.  Penn State engineering students introduced children at Discovery Space to a program called “Design it, Build it, Use it: Discover Origami and Engineering” — a one-day event designed to show children how artists and engineers can come together to solve problems and create specific designs.

“The recently, and temporarily, restored staff positions within Philadelphia schools should be the call to action for all of us. It has been indicated that Superintendent William Hite sited student protests as a major influence for continuing to find funding for the school district, but these children should not have to take to the streets to defend their right to an education.”
Philadelphia School District failing to protect the rights of students with autism
WHYY Newsworks By Aja Beech August 1, 2013
The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.
Nearly 90 percent of all disabled children in any major metropolitan area require public schooling. The number of children being labeled as 'disabled' is increasing, but the Philadelphia School District has flat lined funding to the Special Education programs, despite not meeting annual yearly progress last year.  Why is the Philadelphia local education authority failing to fulfill their obligation to those with special education needs?

Network for Public Education Newsletter Volume 1, Issue #7  August 1, 2013
Bennett resignation; Chicago ALEC protest; InBloom Privacy Issues; Welcome new NPE Board Members, Ravitch book tour

Florida’s Education Chief Quits Amid Report That He Changed a School’s Rating
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: August 1, 2013
Florida’s commissioner of education, a rising star in a national movement pushing for test-based accountability in public schools, resigned on Thursday after just seven months in office, after news reports surfaced that he had changed the grade of an Indiana charter school founded by a prominent campaign donor while he was the superintendent of schools there.

Charter Schools USA earlier this year hired Tony Bennett’s wife, Tina, as a regional director based in Florida, where Tony Bennett was hired late last year as commissioner of education. And, so, the bottom line is this: Tina Bennett is now earning a paycheck from the company her husband hand-picked to take over schools in Indiana, a decision that was very good for the company’s financial fortunes.”
Matthew Tully: Tony Bennett's wife now works at for-profit corporation he picked to run IPS schools Written by Matthew Tully Aug. 1, 2013 11:35 AM   |  
In June of 2011, Tony Bennett, then Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, picked a for-profit education company in Florida to run a group of Indianapolis public schools.
The company, Charter Schools USA, set up operations in Indianapolis soon after the announcement and officially began running Manual High School, T.C. Howe High School and Emma Donnan middle school in the late summer of 2012. Millions of Indiana tax dollars have since flowed to the company, which has received many good reviews for its work in Indianapolis.
But a recent hiring decision by Charter Schools USA is sure to raise eyebrows and questions about conflicts of interest, particularly now that Bennett is embroiled in a massive controversy centering on special treatment given to certain Indiana schools during his tenure.

In Missouri, Race Complicates a Transfer to Better Schools
New York Times By JOHN ELIGON  Published: July 31, 2013 65 Comments
ST. CHARLES, Mo. — When the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a law in June allowing students from failing school districts to transfer to good ones, Harriett Gladney saw a path to a better education for her 9-year-old daughter.  But then she watched television news clips from a town hall meeting for the Francis Howell School District, the predominantly white district here that her daughter’s mostly black district, Normandy, had chosen as a transfer site. Normandy, in neighboring St. Louis County, has one of the worst disciplinary rates in the state, and Francis Howell parents angrily protested the transfer of Normandy students across the county line, some yelling that their children could be stabbed and that the district’s academic standards would slip.

No moon: Perseid meteor shower set to put on a great show before dawn August 12
You can expect to see up to 100 “shooting stars” per hour when 2013’s best meteor shower peaks before dawn August 12.
Astronomy By Richard Talcott — Published: May 27, 2013

(Cost Categories in Special Education Funding)
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 9:30 AM
William Pitt Union Ballroom, University of Pittsburgh

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..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here at 10:00 a.m. on August 23, 2013

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

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
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 is accepting applications to fill vacancies in NSBA's grassroots advocacy program. Deadline to apply is Sept. 6.
PSBA members: Influence public education policy at the federal level; join NSBA's Federal Relations Network
The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in filling vacancies for the remainder of the 2013-14 term of the Federal Relations Network. The FRN is NSBA's grassroots advocacy program that provides the opportunity for school board members from every congressional district in the country who are committed to public education to get involved in federal advocacy. For more than 40 years, school board members have been lobbying for public education on Capitol Hill as one unified voice through this program. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start!

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:

2014 PSBA Officer Slate of Candidates
PSBA website 7/24/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. More details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video will be available soon online.

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

"They don't feel they should be subject to this law, or, candidly, subject to you," Mutchler told senators on the state government committee, which is considering legislation to amend the five-year-old law. "They are a cancer on the otherwise healthy right-to- know-law."
Pa. official: Charter schools flout public-records law
By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau POSTED: May 15, 2013
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's 180 charter schools routinely ignore the state's Right-To-Know Law even though as publicly funded institutions they are bound to comply with it, the chief of the state's Office of Open Records told a Senate committee on Monday.  Executive director Terry Mutchler said her office had received 239 appeals in cases in which charter schools either rejected or failed to answer requests from the public for information such as budgets, payrolls, or student rosters. She said her office ruled in favor of the schools on just six of those appeals.

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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