Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 17, 2013: “Anyone want to see the “crisis in American education”? Come see how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is denying a thorough and efficient education to the children of Pittsburgh.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 17, 2013:  “Anyone want to see the “crisis in American education”? Come see how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is denying a thorough and efficient education to the children of Pittsburgh.”

Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Press Event Monday September 23rd, 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Every child in Pennsylvania deserves an opportunity to learn, whether they are from large or small, rich or not-so-rich, urban, suburban or rural school districts, charter schools or cyber schools; whether their legislator is a freshman state representative or a senate officer.
Grassroots Advocacy by Education Voters PA; Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley and the Keystone State Education Coalition
Sign up here if you may be able to join us to represent your schools and community: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/104e0endYpVYcPxSyfG9V_DOIVAB0J3AVI0-20Q8Yylw/viewform 

Have you signed this petition yet?  Have your friends and colleagues?
One thing that all sides in the education debate in PA seem to agree upon is the need for a fair and adequate funding formula

“In her latest book, she tries to dispel myths that maintain American public schools and their students are failing. She said high school graduation rates are at an all-time high, high school dropouts are at an all-time low and test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are at their highest point.”
Education expert: Tide is turning
New York University professor and author counters the testing and privatization movement
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 17, 2013 12:03 am
New York University professor Diane Ravitch -- once a supporter of the education overhaul movement and now an outspoken critic of testing and privatization of public schools -- believes the tide is turning against a culture reliant on test scores and corporate profit.
Ms. Ravitch spoke Monday to more than 600 people at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill where her appearance was hosted by Great Schools Pittsburgh, which includes Action United, One Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union and Yinzercation. The event took on the air of a pep rally, with student musicians performing and a group sing.
The visit was co-sponsored by the education schools or departments at Carlow, Chatham, Duquesne, Robert Morris and Slippery Rock universities, University of Pittsburgh and Westminster College as well as Temple Sinai, First Unitarian Church Social Justice Endowment and Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Her speech came on the eve of the release of her latest book, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools."

“Anyone want to see the “crisis in American education”? Come see how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is denying a thorough and efficient education to the children of Pittsburgh. Especially the children of color.”
Lessons from Pittsburgh
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav September 17, 2013 //
I had a wonderful inaugural event in my book tour in Pittsburgh. It was organized by parent activist Jessie Ramey, who writes the blog Yinzercation, and union activist Kipp Dawson. It was co-sponsored by seven local universities, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, and a galaxy of educational justice groups, including GPS (Great Pittsburgh Schools).
The audience included many elected officials, including the newly elected mayor, school board members, and Superintendent Linda Lane.

“Neither he nor school chief executive officer Michael Conti knew precisely what the school spent on Mr. Trombetta's legal representation, led by former U.S. attorney J. Alan Johnson, but they said it was in excess of $200,000.”
Pa. Cyber board cuts off legal fees for Trombetta
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 16, 2013 11:50 pm
The board of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School voted Monday night to stop footing the bill for founder and former CEO Nick Trombetta's legal defense, in light of his indictment last month.
Board president Dave Jaskiewicz said the school's leaders decided in July 2012 to cover Mr. Trombetta's defense bills, though he had resigned the month before, because he had not then been accused of wrongdoing. The federal indictment, Mr. Jaskiewicz told the board, indicates that Mr. Trombetta "had reasonable cause to believe that his conduct was unlawful."

Philadelphia Graph of the Day
School Finance 101 by Bruce Baker Posted on September 16, 2013
I just can’t drop the Philly issue, because of the complete absurdity of the reformy rhetoric about Philly schools and persistent willful ignorance regarding the role of equitable and adequate funding for Philly schools and the Commonwealth’s failure to provide any reasonable level of support.  For what it’s worth – and I’ve spent a great deal of time critiquing this and similar studies – the Commonwealth in the mid-2000s took on the task of determining the “costs” per pupil of what Pennsylvania school districts needed to get the job done. This cost analysis was then used to guide development of a new formula intended to drive appropriate levels of state aid to districts facing substantive gaps between current spending (2006-07) at the time, and cost estimates developed under state supervision, by independent consultants.
At the time, state officials found that districts including Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading faced funding (relative to cost) gaps between $4,000 and $6,000+ per pupil.

Nazareth Area School District saves more than $60,000 by powering down, superintendent says
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times on September 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM
The Nazareth Area School District has saved more than $60,000 since contracting last year with a private power supplier, Superintendent Dennis Rikerannounced tonight.
Riker said the district contracted during the 2012-13 school year with EnerNOC, an energy company that works in conjunction with PJM Interconnection, the grid operator spanning about 13 states.   When there is a high demand for energy across the states, Riker said PJM typically contacts EnerNOC and requests a shutdown in electricity. All schools with the exception of Nazareth Area Intermediate School, which runs on solar power, were shut down for the first time this school year on Sept. 9. There were two shutdowns over the summer.

Huge crowd turns out for property tax forum
Bucks County Intelligencer by Gary Weckselblatt staff writer September 13, 2013 11:00 am
About 350 showed up Thursday night to hear about the merits of legislation to fund schools in ways other than property taxes.  State Rep. Tina Davis, D-141, Bristol, set up the town hall to help inform constituents who have complained to her that the taxes on their homes have escalated to a point they can no longer afford.
“Most of the problems I deal with almost daily are with someone who can’t pay their property taxes,” Davis said. “People are being forced to forgo their prescriptions to pay their tax bill. I don’t believe anyone deserves to have that worry at this time of life.”

Diane Ravitch Focuses on the Reign of Error
Education Week Finding Common Ground Blog By Peter DeWitt on September 17, 2013 5:44 AM
"One of the most disheartening aspects of the current reform movement is its disdain for the education profession. In many states, governors and mayors have sought out non-educators, or people with meager experience in education, for positions of leadership."Diane Ravitch
A few years ago I happened to turn on CSpan's Book Talk on a Saturday morning. It was not a show I watched regularly but it is a program I value. That morning Diane Ravitch was a guest and she was discussing her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
…..Her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools is released today (Tuesday, September 17th). I was fortunate enough to be given an advanced copy. I brought it to school to show my teachers with the same excitement that only JK Rowling fans can display when a new Harry Potter book comes out.
It is often said that lightning doesn't always strike twice, meaning that a writer who writes a best seller may never write a best seller again. In Diane's case, lightning has very much struck twice, and her critics don't have the intelligence nor the energy to keep up with her.

“Follow the money, Ravitch counsels. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent over a hundred million dollars to create and promote the Common Core. Joanne Weiss, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's chief of staff, says that the initiative "means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets." America spends over 500 billion dollars a year educating children between the ages of 5 and 18. The Common Core, like charter schools or vouchers, helps privatize America's public schools, in this case, by empowering educational vendors such as Pearson to "enjoy national markets."
Schools, Ravitch argues, follow a different logic than businesses. Businesses control their inputs and discard elements that don't produce. Public schools, to the contrary, must accept and educate all children.”
Ravitch to the Rescue
Huffington Post by Nicholas Tampio Assistant Professor of Political Science, Fordham University Posted: 09/16/2013 5:06 pm
…. How did parents lose the right to educate our own children or, at least, have a meaningful role to play in our school districts? How can we reclaim this right?
Enter Diane Ravitch, America's foremost historian and theorist of education policy. In her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools (2013), Ravitch explains how foundations, venture capitalists, and politicians have seized control of America's schools. She also highlights how parents and citizens may fight back against the corporate reform movement.

Ravitch’s Reign of Error: My Review (for teachers)
Deutsch29 Mercedes Schneider’s Edublog September 16, 2013
In considering my review of education historian Diane Ravitch’s latest book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, I decided to write with traditional public school teachers in mind as my audience.
For one, I am a genuine public school teacher, the kind that makes a career of classroom teaching for love of the students and the profession.
Second, I began to directly experience the results of corporate reform when in November 2011 our state board of education (BESE) was officially bought and privatization officially reigned there and, in spring 2012, in the state legislature, so I am keenly aware of the pain privatization brings to my profession.
Third, I find that traditional public school teachers in general know that something is happening “to” them, some war has been declared upon them, but they are unaware of the details.
Fourth, once traditional public school teachers become aware of the details of this war, they will need some concrete advice on the courses of action to follow in order to take back their profession from those who have grabbed it and are systematically handing it over to corporations.
These are the reasons I advise all traditional public school teachers to read Ravitch’s book.
And now, I write expressly to my traditional public school teaching colleagues nationwide:

In D.C., Where Universal Free Preschool Is Becoming the Norm
New York Times By LAURA MOSER September 16, 2013, 2:02 pm 16 Comments
Last winter, my husband and I almost moved back to Brooklyn with our only child. We got as far as hiring movers and boxing up our home. Instead, we stayed in Washington, D.C., and achieved my long-nagged-at dream of having child No. 2. A big reason for this turnaround? Universal preschool.  Not just pre-K for 4-year-olds, as in Oklahoma’s widely praised program, or for poor children, as President Obama has proposed. Preschool that is (at least theoretically) for everyone, starting at age 3. That’s what we get in D.C.: five days a week, for nearly 10 months a year, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., my taxes pay for my toddler’s education.

Daring Arlington County public school requires AP or IB courses for all students
Washington Post By Jay Mathews, Published: September 15
Two Arlington County ninth-graders told Washington-Lee High School Principal Gregg Robertson they had made a mistake. Advanced Placement world history, a college-level course, was too much for them. They wanted to switch to the regular world history course.
Robertson pointed to a banner in his office: “The only way out is through,” it said, inspired by an Alanis Morissette song. He made a deal with the students. If they stuck with AP through the end of the first semester, they could switch if they still wanted to. When the time came, they had adjusted to the heavy writing and reading load. They stayed and did well in the course.
With such stories in mind, Washington-Lee teachers, counselors and administrators are attempting something never done in any non-magnet suburban Washington school. If they succeed in their efforts, next spring every Washington-Lee graduating senior will have taken at least one AP or International Baccalaureate course and test.

The Constitution Day quiz: Test yourself
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 17 at 6:00 am
Today is the 226th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution — and that means it is also Constitution Day. What’s Constitution Day, you ask? It’s a congressionally mandated moment in which schools — from kindergarten through college — must  focus in some fashion on the country’s founding document. The law, which passed in 2004,  requires all schools that get federal funding to offer an “educational program” on the Constitution, but doesn’t define what that is.  Here’s a quiz about our Constitution,  which was drafted and signed during the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia from May 14 to September 17, 1787. Take it and see how much you know — or don’t, as the case may be.

Is the ‘charter school gravy train’ running ‘express to fat city’?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 17 at 12:41 am
Sometimes you find things in unexpected places, like this story, in Forbes magazine. The story, headlined “Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City,” was written by a financial publisher and writer, not exactly the first person you’d think would take a hit at charter schools.
The author is Addison Wiggin, executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, described in his biography as “a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm based in Baltimore, Md.” Wiggin is also the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial’s daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of Agora’s flagship publication The Daily Reckoning. He is the founder of Agora Entertainment and a best-selling author.
So what does he have to say about charter schools and the people who invest in them? A lot.

The Colbert Report hosts Arne Duncan September 17th
Tuesday's Guest. 11:00pm / 10:00c Arne Duncan. U.S. Secretary of Education, TEACH Campaign.

Education Law Center Annual Event Sept. 18th, 2013
Featuring Morris Dees and honoring education advocates Barbara Minzenberg and the Philadelphia Student Union.  Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 5:30 p.m., Crystal Tea Room, Wanamaker Building 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Public Meeting Sept 26th at Alvernia College in Reading from 9:30 am – 3:00 p.
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

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:

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

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 www.psba.org. More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at http://www.psba.org/elections/.

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).

PASCD Annual Conference ~ A Whole Child Education Powered by Blendedschools Network November 3-4, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
We invite you to join us for the Annual Conference, held at an earlier date this year, on Sunday, November 3rd, through Monday, November 4th, 2013 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.  The Pre-Conference begins on Saturday with PIL Academies and Common Core sessions.  On Sunday and Monday, our features include keynote presentations by Chris Lehmann and ASCD Author Dr. Connie Moss, as well as numerous breakout sessions on PA’s most timely topics.
Click here for the 2013 Conference Schedule

Click here to register for the conference. 

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