Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 18, 2013: Pew Poll: With education cuts Philly is eating its own young. "Gov. Corbett's main focus is to ensure that students in the district have access to the best education possible," said Timothy Eller, a spokesman for the state Education Department.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 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

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 September 18, 2013:  Pew Poll: With education cuts Philly is eating its own young.  "Gov. Corbett's main focus is to ensure that students in the district have access to the best education possible," said Timothy Eller, a spokesman for the state Education Department.

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: 

Have you signed this petition for a fair and equitable funding formula yet?  Have your friends and colleagues?

New Keystone Exams are a passport to nowhere for many students: As I See It
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Joan Duvall-Flynn September 17, 2013 at 5:15 AM
Joan Duvall-Flynn is a retired educator. She currently serves as chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches.
Showing neither courage, concern, nor compassion; 13 members of Gov. Tom Corbett’s appointed state Board of Education, led by acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq and board Chairman Larry Wittig, voted to effectively wipe out the futures of 60 percent of the Pennsylvania’s public school children.   Contrary to the wishes of school boards across the state, and contrary to evidence-informed testimony and input that tests do not measure potential; in a 13-4  vote, the board ruled that, beginning 2017, students must achieve the arbitrary score deemed “proficient” on a set of Keystone Examinations in order to graduate from high school.. Some board members were absent, some who did not show up, sent their proxy.  So even if they've successfully met the requirements of their local school districts, graduating seniors who fail to achieve the arbitrary number on the new and “rigorous” tests in English, biology and algebra, these students will not receive their diplomas. That means no college, no technical school, no military, no job.

From Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error”, pg. 310
The issue for the future is whether a small number of very wealthy entrepreneurs, corporations, and individuals will be able to purchase educational policy in this nation, either by funding candidates for local and state school boards, for state legislatures, for governor, and for Congress or by using foundation “gifts” to advance privatization of public education.
And the problem is not “whether” this can occur, but that it is happening now.
Diane Ravitch’s new education book — an excerpt
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 18 at 5:00 am
Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch’s new book, “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,” just went on sale and it’s bound to be the biggest — and most controversial — education book of the year.
“Reign of Error” is the natural followup to her 2010 best-selling book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” which revealed that she had abandoned long-held views about how to improve public education. Since that book was published, she has emerged as the leader of the growing movement against corporate-influenced reform that has at its core standardized test-based accountability systems, charter schools and other “choice” initiatives, and the Common Core State Standards.
Once an assistant education secretary in the administration of president George H.W. Bush and a supporter of the No Child Left Behind law, Ravitch began looking at how reform was affecting schools and saw that the evidence clearly showed that the  test-based accountability movement was hurting, not helping schools, by turning them into test-prep factories.
The title of her new book leaves no doubt about where she stands in the current reform debate. She blasts the Obama administration for reform initiatives she says have abandoned the goal of educational equity, and worries that education policy is being driven by vastly wealthy private citizens, such as Bill Gates, who use their personal fortunes to fund reforms of their choosing. In Reign of Error, Ravitch argues that reformers who say that public education is in crisis have actually created that crisis with their reforms, and that the popular idea of running the public education system as if it were a business is dangerous. She offers an alternative reform program that includes early childhood education and addressing the consequences of living in poverty that many children face when they are in school.
Ravitch inspires strong feelings among both her critics and her supporters. Well before it was published this week, the book had already been attacked by critics who can’t stand her and supporters who see her as pivotal to their movement.
I will be posting a review of the book as well an interview with Ravitch this week. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2 of “Reign of Error,” with permission of Knopf, a division of Random House.

“In her Introduction, Ravitch explains her motivation for this book:  [David Denby] said to me, “Your critics say you are long on criticism but short on answers.”
I said, “You have heard me lecture, and you know that is not true.”
He suggested that I write a book to respond to the critics.
So I did, and this is that book”
REVIEW: “Reign of Error,” Ravitch 3.0
Radical Scholarship Blog by Paul Thomas Posted on September 16, 2013 by plthomasedd
When faced with the many competing narratives of the religions of the world, comparative myth/religion scholar Joseph Campbell explained to Bill Moyers that Campbell did not reject religion, as some scholars have, but instead reached this conclusion:
Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck to its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
Following the unveiling of Ravitch 2.0 in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Diane Ravitch now offers Ravitch 3.0 with her newly released Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.  Since Ravitch is a respected historian of education, a brief history seems appropriate for context.

"The public is beginning to understand, to see the pattern on the rug, and to realize that they are being fooled into giving up what belongs to them."
Diane Ravitch could awaken the sleeping giant in school reform - public school parents
By Darcie Cimarusti for WHYY Newsworks September 17, 2013
Diane Cimarusti is a former member of the Highland Park Board of Education in New Jersey. She is a member of Save our Schools NJ, which opposes charter schools. She writes the blog Mother Crusader.
It wasn't long ago that I had never heard of Diane Ravitch.
I had kids in New Jersey public schools, a teacher husband, and even worked a brief stint in the for-profit education world as the Director of two different Sylvan Learning Centers in New York City, but my depth of knowledge about public education was embarrassingly shallow.
All that changed in 2010 when an application for a charter school was submitted in my small New Jersey town. At first I was dimly aware of what a charter school would mean to the schools my daughters would attend. But the more I learned, the more concerned I became.
Then in April of 2011 I happened to catch WHYY's Terry Gross' interview Diane Ravitch on Fresh Air.  And suddenly everything made sense.

Philadelphia Graph of the Day: Revenue Structure of Advantaged & Disadvantaged PA Districts
School Finance 101 by Bruce Baker Posted on September 17, 2013
Data and thoughts on public and private school funding in the U.S.

“A new poll has found that the Philadelphia School District's unprecedented financial crisis could have long-term consequences for the city, including driving away 18- to 34-year-olds, the group that has helped fuel the city's recent growth.”
New Pew poll: Phila. residents give schools bad grades
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 9:14 PM POSTED: Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 5:00 PM
A new poll has found that the Philadelphia School District's unprecedented financial crisis could have long-term consequences for the city, including driving away 18- to 34-year-olds, the group that has helped fuel the city's recent growth. A Pew Charitable Trusts poll released Tuesday found that city residents gave district schools the lowest rating in five years. Forty-eight percent of those who participated in the telephone poll said the district's financial woes would cause families to look for other educational options and 23 percent expected families with school-age children to start to leave.

Pew Poll Finds Markedly Lower Ratings for Philadelphia's Public School District
The Pew Charitable Trusts Contact: Cindy Jobbins, 215-575-4812,
Philadelphia, PA - 09/17/2013 - A new poll commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Philadelphians have a very low opinion of their city’s financially distressed public school district and that most residents think the resulting problems will drive families to seek other educational options or leave the city.  Only 18 percent of the Philadelphians surveyed said the schools are doing a good or excellent job. Seventy-eight percent described the schools as “only fair” or poor, and 52 percent of all respondents rated them poor.
“In the five years we at Pew have polled the city, the school system’s ratings have never been high,” says Larry Eichel, a director of Pew’s Philadelphia Program. “But these are the lowest yet.”

Philly: A smooth opening or slow-brewing disaster?
by thenotebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Sep 17 2013 Posted in Latest news
While Michelle Rhee was praising Philadelphia’s efforts to restructure public education, union and community advocates gathered across town to warn of a slow-brewing disaster behind the scenes.  “We can’t sit and say this has been a great opening,” said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “We all know that the resources in our classrooms in June were not adequate. And to have them reduced even more is not acceptable.”

“The audience bristled at times, calling Rhee "disingenuous," while questioning the corporate backing behind many education reform organizations.  Many audience members also expressed displeasure with the way organizers structured the town hall. Many felt the event didn't deliver the "honest conversation"  that was billed, and felt the moderator too quickly quashed the room's dissenting voices.”
Former DC schools Chancellor Rhee says Philly is on the right track to ed-reform
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry September 16, 2013
Former Chancellor of Washington D.C. schoolsMichelle Rhee hosted a "Teacher Town Hall" event in Philadelphia Monday night. Rhee joined CNN contributor and Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Dr. Steve Perry and former Washington Teachers Union President George Parker in the hopes of engaging in "an open, honest conversation on ed reform specifically with educators."  During Michelle Rhee's three year tenure as Chancellor of the Washington DC school district, she ignored teacher-seniority provisions, implemented a generous merit-pay system and caught the attention of the national spotlight as DC's standardized test scores skyrocketed in her first few years on the job.
Soon though, reports of test cheating tainted Rhee's reputation, and by 2010, with the election of a new mayor, she resigned. Some who've followed Rhee's reign closely say she left DC schools in worse shape than when she came. Rhee disagrees, and now advocates for her brand of education reform on the national stage. 
Speaking at Temple University's student center Monday night, Rhee, Perry and Parker sought to quell fears about what they called the "misinformation" surrounding the reform conversation.

U.S. House GOP Leaders Want Answers on La. Voucher Program
By Alyson Klein on September 17, 2013 2:13 PM
Some very big-name congressional Republicans—including U.S. Rep. John A. Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives—are not very happy with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his handling of the Louisiana voucher court case.
Quick recap: Last year, Louisiana—whose GOP governor, Bobby Jindal, is considered a potential presidential contender—expanded its voucher program statewide. But the Justice Department said the voucher program ran afoul of the state's court-ordered desegregation plan. The program distributed 5,000 scholarships last year, 91 percent of which went to minority students, according to a fact sheet distributed by Boehner's office. The issue will be debated in a federal court in New Orleans soon. Everything else you could want to know about the state-of-play can be found in this great story by my colleague, Mark Walsh, of The School Law Blog.

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

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. 

Building One Pennsylvania
Fourth Annual Fundraiser and Awards Ceremony
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2013 6:00-8:00 PM
IBEW Local 380   3900 Ridge Pike  Collegeville, PA 19426
Building One Pennsylvania is an emerging statewide non-partisan organization of leaders from diverse sectors - municipal, school, faith, business, labor and civic - who are joining together to stabilize and revitalize their communities, revitalize local economies and promote regional opportunity and sustainability.

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 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

Proposed Amendments to PSBA Bylaws available online
PSBA website 9/17/2013
A special issue of the School Leader News with the notice of proposed PSBA Bylaws amendments has been mailed to all school directors and board secretaries.
This issue also is available online in the Members Only section by clicking here. Voting on PSBA Bylaws changes will take place at the new Delegate Assembly on Oct. 15, 2013, at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center from 1-4 p.m. All member school entities should have appointed their voting delegates and submitted names to PSBA. Details on selecting an entity's voting delegate can be found in previous issues of the School Leader News.


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