Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 12, 2013: “The lack of staffing due to a deliberate withholding of funding is not just a disgrace. It is dangerous and it is unsustainable.”

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
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 October 12, 2013:
“The lack of staffing due to a deliberate withholding of funding is not just a disgrace. It is dangerous and it is unsustainable.”

Standardized test scores have long been strongly correlated with students’ household incomeIn 1979, 300 of Pennsylvania’s school districts were above the average for personal income and 201 were below.  In 2011, 122 school districts were above the average with 378 school districts below.

PA Senate Finance Committee to publicly review IFO report about property tax reform proposal. Under the Dome October 11, 2013 (links may be subject to paywall)
The Independent Fiscal Office has issued a report looking at the costs and benefits of a proposal to eliminate school property taxes. And that report focusing on House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76 will be the subject of a public hearing to be held next Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee. The state House of Representatives recently sent to the Senate legislation – House Bill 1189 – that would give school districts greater flexibility to replace school property taxes with other taxes. The House did not consider House Bill 76, but did defeat an amendment to HB1189 that would have replaced the bill’s language with that of HB76. While the Senate has not indicated if it will consider HB1189, or SB 76 (similar to HB76), Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, has said he’d at least like to do something to address the impact of property taxes on senior citizens. Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in Hearing Room #1 of the state Capitol Complex’s North Office Building. For more about the IFO’s report on HB76 and SB76, CLICK HERE to read the report and HERE to read a story from the Pennsylvania Independent.

Tom Corbett Pressured By Civil Rights Groups On Philadelphia School Funding
Huffington Post by Joy Resmovits Posted: 10/11/2013 12:01 am EDT
Ten high-profile civil rights leaders are pressuring Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) to intervene in the sorry state of school funding in Philadelphia.
The national and local leaders -- including the NAACP's Ben Jealous and the Leadership Conference's Wade Henderson -- are asking Corbett to "take immediate action to address the budget crisis in the School District of Philadelphia," according to a letter the group sent to Corbett this week and provided to The Huffington Post. "The crisis has become an embarrassment to the entire nation," they wrote, accusing the state of "knowingly jeopardizing" students' futures.
The civil rights leaders warn that Philadelphia's school system has become "a cautionary tale for the rest of the country, illustrating the harm that occurs when political posturing and irresponsible budget decisions trump the educational needs of students, families, and communities."
The group is also asking the governor for a meeting.

Outrage grows over sixth grader's death due to asthma
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Friday, October 11, 2013, 10:18 PM
The death of a West Philadelphia sixth grader last month from asthma complications continued to spark outrage Friday even as the Philadelphia School District clarified actions staff at Bryant Elementary School took the day the girl became ill.  Much of the anger stems from the lack of a nurse on duty on Sept. 25 who could have recognized Laporcha Massey's distress. Bryant has a nurse only two days a week.

“The lack of staffing due to a deliberate withholding of funding is not just a disgrace. It is dangerous and it is unsustainable.”
Girl dies after getting sick at school without nurse
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS October 12 at 9:45 am
A 12-year-old girl got sick late last month while she was at her Philadelphia school — a school without a full-time nurse. She died later that day. Here’s a piece on what happened to Laporshia Massey from the website of the nonprofit Parents United for Public Education in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia school district has been in a state of crisis for years in large part because of under-funding by the state. Drastic budget cuts this year led to what was referred to as a “grim new normal” that included the closure of two dozens schools, layoffs of more than 3,800 personnel and other cuts that left some schools without money for paper and new books.

“Above Philadelphia is Lower Merion School District. One of its two high schools is Harriton HS. Harriton HS has 1188 kids and four full-time nurses. Science Leadership Academy has 490 kids, and we have a nurse two days a week. This year, the average per pupil expenditure in Philadelphia hovers just under $10,000 per child while Lower Merion is able to spend over $25,000 per child. The way we fund schools in this state is criminal, and it has to change.”
Dear Gov. Corbett – How Many Kids Must Die?
Practical Theory Blog by Chris Lehmann Posted on October 10, 2013
Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA.
You aren’t allowed to be surprised by this.
Laporshia Massey died on September 25th after having an asthma attack at school. According to the article in City Paper, it was close to the end of the day, the school called home for advice, and dad told his daughter that they’d deal with it when she got home. She got home, and Dad realized how serious the problem was, and rushed her to the hospital. It wasn’t enough, and Laporshia died later that day.
You aren’t allowed to be surprised by this.
Bryant Elementary doesn’t have a full-time nurse, and the 25th wasn’t one of the days their nurse was staffed at their school. The school called home, a teacher drove her home at the end of the day, so it is not as if the school did nothing. And in case anyone thinks they could have / should have seen this tragedy coming, you should know how hard it is as a lay-person to make the call to call 911.

City slashes pre-K, Head Start programs
Philly Trib Written by  Wilford Shamlin III Friday, 11 October 2013 10:10
President Barack Obama has placed early childhood education high on his agenda, but the School District of Philadelphia has scaled back on the number of seats that serve students in pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs for a third straight year.
The school district reduced the number of slots available for pre-K and Head Start programs due to cutbacks in federal Title I funding, said Fernando Gallard, chief information officer for Pennsylvania’s largest K-12 school district with an enrollment of 204,000.
Leaders of model day-care providers and a community watchdog organizations say the loss of more than 1,300 seats would have far reaching implications on children who come from low-income households and more likely than their peers to start kindergarten without the foundation needed to succeed in school. Research shows that students who lag behind their classmates continue to do so throughout school and later in life.

Teacher contract talks stall in West Chester
The school board and the teachers' union in the West Chester Area School District remain at odds a month after the union's membership rejected what the board called a tentative agreement and some union members described as simply part of the fact-finding process.
In a statement released Thursday night, the board said it wanted the community to know it had gone "above and beyond" in negotiations and that the teachers have to make the next move.

Embattled Solomon cyber charter to close
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Friday, October 11, 2013, 8:26 PM
Faced with concerns about student safety, finances, and other issues, an embattled Philadelphia cyber charter school will fold at the end of the month.  Solomon Charter School's board voted Friday to surrender the school's operating agreement to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and close Oct. 30, in part because the school's program for seventh- through 11th-grade students was housed in a building that shared space with a sex-offender clinic.

Solomon Charter closes abruptly
The notebook by David Limm on Oct 11 2013
Solomon Charter School abruptly announced that it would be closing, having opened only in September 2012. A letter, written by the school's CEO and principal David Weathington, was posted on the school's website making the announcement to parents.
The Philadelphia-based cyber school had been the subject of an effort by the state Department of Education to revoke its charter. In March, Ronald Tomalis, then the education secretary, said that Solomon had been operating as a traditional brick-and-mortar school, failing to provide the necessary virtual education required by the state's charter school laws. The school fought the state's bid to shut the school down, filing a court complaint challenging the constitutionality of the charter law's application.

Pottstown following a path toward fitness on Walk to School Day
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 10/09/13, 12:28 PM EDT |
POTTSTOWN — When it comes to walking to school, the folks at Lincoln Elementary School really “walk the walk.”  That’s what they were doing Wednesday morning when they celebrated International Walk to School Day by meeting up at the Memorial Park spray park and walking the eight blocks to their school together.  Of course, they had company, including parents, teachers, Principal Calista Boyer and Pottstown Police Capt. Robert Thomas.
“I think it’s good and I don’t see why they shouldn’t,” Thomas said. “When I was their age, we walked to school every day. There were crossing guards, we paid attention, the parents went with you. It was good, that was the culture. We didn’t have a bus to ride.”

“Though there are a lot of school superintendents and educators across the commonwealth complaining about this, my complaint is that the reflection of a quality school district is not based upon one set of metrics,” Sichel said. “[The profile] is not a robust assessment of the good things we do here. It does not talk about what percentage of [our] children go to college, and what percentage of [our] students stay in college, or the percentage of the students that are doing wonderful things in service. With that said … we are very proud of our scores … we have done very well.”
Abington School District sees high scores on School Performance Profile
By Jarreau Freeman Thursday, October 10, 2013
The results are in, and Abington School District obtained scores in the 80s and 90s in the School Performance Profile, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s School Performance Profile website.  Abington Superintendent Amy Sichel and her administration presented the results from the district’s performance profile at the school board’s Oct. 8 meeting.
The SPP is an online resource that shows the academic performance of nearly 2,400 of the state’s 3,000 public schools and enables educators, parents and taxpayers the ability to review the quality of the public schools in their district — including technological and cyber charter schools, according to a press release issued by the Department of Education.
The profile includes the results for the district’s Pennsylvania System of School Assessments and end-of-course Keystone Exams, evaluates student academic growth, shows the graduation rate and how a school works to increase the achievement of all its students, the release said.

Pa. Cyber Charter School board head resigns amid scrutiny
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Tom Fontaine  Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 3:21 p.m.
The former president of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School's board of trustees said he resigned Thursday because his daughter no longer attends the school, not because he is being investigated by the state Department of Education.  “I just felt there was no reason for me to stay on there. It was time to move on,” David W. Jaskiewicz, 57, of Marshall said, noting he was one of three parents of PA Cyber students appointed to the nine-member board six years ago.
 “It’s a terrible problem in Philadelphia, but it’s a problem in so many schools across the country. Teachers are getting laid off, counselors are getting laid off, coaches are getting laid off. I’ve come to the conclusion we’re cutting the wrong things in this country,” Pelley said by phone from New York City. “This is an emergency. We’re losing kids every day.”
News anchor urges CEOs to fund education
Peter Van Allen Reporter-Philadelphia Business Journal Oct 11, 2013, 2:02pm EDT
A CBS news anchor urged Philadelphia CEOs to open their checkbooks to help out city schools.
“CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley made the remarks Thursday before 1,400 people at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Budget Tensions Cloud Hopes for End to 'Sequester'
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: October 10, 2013
Sequestration—the across-the-board budget cuts that represent the biggest slash in federal education spending in recent history—may continue for the foreseeable future, education advocates fear, a consequence of the budget deadlock that shuttered the U.S. government and congressional brinkmanship over the debt ceiling.
With those twin fiscal crises having consumed lawmakers’ attention for weeks, stopping the sequestration cuts has been shoved to the side, leaving school districts likely to cope with yet another round of reductions to programs that serve the neediest children and students in special education.

State Assessments Tell Schools, Students and Parents Nothing
Education Week Finding Common Ground Blog Peter DeWitt on October 11, 2013 6:24 AM
Assessment is not bad. When done properly, assessment can tell students, parents and teachers a great deal about learning. But state assessments, at least in New York State, focus solely on achievement and accountability.
When international educational leadership expert Michael Fullan wrote about the drivers that create school improvement, he focused on the right drivers and the wrong ones. He referred to accountability, which includes testing, as one of the wrong drivers. In this article he wrote that accountability was the wrong driver. "Accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs. capacity building."
John Hattie understands it as well. In Visible Learning Hattie noted that using standardized tests to show student achievement offered a very low effect because in most cases teachers and students do not see an itemized report with a breakdown of where the student did well and where they did not. And he wrote, "We require much more, however, from our schools than mere achievement. Overly concentrating on achievement can miss much about what students know, can do, and care about."

Raising the G.E.D. Bar Stirs Concern for Students
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: October 11, 2013
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The high school equivalency exams taken by people who dropped out of school and immigrants seeking a foothold in the American education system are about to get harder and potentially more expensive, causing concern that fewer will take and pass the exams.
Maria Balvin standing on a makeshift "soapbox" as she made her case to be a group leader at Youth Build Just-a-Start.  At a time when a high school diploma — much less an equivalency certificate — is losing currency in the labor market, exams being introduced in January will start to be aligned with the Common Core, a set of rigorous academic standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted.

Shelf space for books at home predicts educational outcomes
Education by the Numbers blog by Jill Barshay October 10, 2013
A fascinating blog post, “Does Poverty Cause Low Achievement?“, by Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute cautions researchers against using poverty or family income when crunching numbers to come up with education policies. He argues that poverty in and of itself doesn’t cause low achievement. And flawed educational research conclusions have been made by using poverty in data analyses. For example, a famous Heritage Foundation No Excuses study, found that low income kids can do extraordinarily well at school. But these low-income children were mostly the kids of Harvard and MIT grad students who just happened to qualify for free lunches while their parents were getting PhDs.

Online Provider K12 Inc.'s Stock Sinks on Poor Numbers
Education Week Marketplace K-12 blog By Sean Cavanagh on October 10, 2013 3:17 PM
 [Update (5:30): In a conference call with investors and analysts today, K12 Inc.'s executive chairman, Nate Davis, said the company took "full responsibility" for not reaching its student-enrollment goals. The company projected operating losses in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 of between $8 million and $10 million. See more details from the call at the end of this post.]
The stock of online provider K12 Inc. took a steep plunge this week following its release of information showing more modest projections for revenue and student enrollment than analysts had anticipated.

In Ohio, State kicks in preschool money
The Columbus Dispatch By  Alex Felser Friday October 11, 2013 4:08 AM
More than 2,000 preschool-age children in Ohio will get an early start to their education this year thanks to new funding.  With the signing of House Bill 59, Gov. John Kasich approved an additional $10 million for the Early Childhood Education program for fiscal year 2014 that will fund 2,450 children’s preschool education. In fiscal year 2015, $12 million will be allocated.  “The problem was, students are starting kindergarten behind in class and were not prepared,” said Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton. “Clearly, if a child starts behind in kindergarten, it’s hard to catch up.”
The money will be distributed through Early Childhood Education expansion grants to 144 preschool programs in Ohio and will now serve 8,150 children through its $33.3 million budget.

Monarch butterflies have faced tough year
Post Gazette By Sandy Feather October 12, 2013 12:09 am
Q. I planted a pollinator garden several years ago and specifically included different types of butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.) for monarch butterfly larvae. But I haven't had any takers this year. Where are they?
A. You are not alone. Monarch-loving residents of the northeastern United States have been asking the same thing. A number of factors have conspired to reduce the monarch population to record lows this year.

PA Budget and Policy Center Fall Webinar Series to Tackle Property Taxes, Marcellus Shale, Health Care, Education
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on October 9, 2013
Pack your brown bag lunch and join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for a great series of noontime webinars this fall — starting Friday, October 18 from noon to 1 p.m. Learn more about the problems with legislative proposals to fully eliminate property taxes and proven strategies to provide property tax relief where it is needed. Other topics include the countdown to new health care options in 2014, the latest on jobs in the Marcellus Shale, and what we can do to restore needed education funding in Pennsylvania. Each webinar is designed to provide you with the information you need to shape the debate in the State Capitol.
More info and registration here:

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. 

Philadelphia Education Fund 2013 EDDY Awards November 19, 2013
Join us as we celebrate their accomplishments!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm WHYY, 150 North 6th Street, Philadelphia
Invitations coming soon!

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

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my website. Progressive Property Network (PPN)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.