Friday, October 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 17, 2013: Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 17, 2013:
Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Written by Janice Bissett and Arnold Hillman Updated September 2013

When to Listen” Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane can be heard over the airwaves from 10-11 a.m. and 11-noon Eastern time weekdays on 90.9 FM in the Delaware Valley, and rebroadcast from 11-midnight as well. Radio Times is also heard live on the Sirius - XM channel NPR Now 122, weekdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern.
If there is a webcast of the show made available I will post a link to it tomorrow.
Education funding in Pennsylvania: Is it fair or not?
Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18
Hour 1 (10:00 a.m.) Guests:  Donna Cooper and Charles Zogby
It’s a fact that the Philadelphia School District is starved for cash. How it got there and how we fix it is the subject of much debate. Local education advocates and critics of Governor Corbett say it’s about massive cuts from the state and an unfair funding formula. Pennsylvania officials counter that it’s more about a union that fails to make concessions and poor district management in the past. In this hour of Radio Times, we’ll take a hard look at funding for public education in Pennsylvania. We’ve invited to guests who have been at the center of the issue. DONNA COOPER previously served as Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Education under Governor Ed Rendell and now is Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. CHARLES ZOGBY currently is Secretary of the Budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and responsible for the preparation and implementation of the state budget.

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Pete Townsend, The Who
New state school tests find results similar to old tests
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 17, 2013 4:59 am
With the release of the School Performance Profiles nearly two weeks ago, the state has a new accountability system, but it appears the same schools are as the top of the rankings and the same schools are at the bottom as under the old system.  But, under the new system, not all schools at the bottom of the list will be required to compose school improvement plans as they had in the past if they are not designated at Title I schools using federal Title I funding.
In Allegheny County, it's too soon to get a complete achievement picture because the majority of academic scores for high schools are among the 550 withheld by the state over questions about the accuracy of the data.
But based on scores released for more than 2,300 schools, including most public schools in the county, it appears the results fall along ZIP code lines, with schools in more affluent areas tending to have high academic profile scores and those in financially strapped areas earning lower scores.

Twists and turns over new Pa. standards and tests leave districts in limbo by SARA NEUFELD, HECHINGER REPORT  Friday, October 18, 2013, 2:01 AM
Last of three parts.
In the beginning, Pennsylvania was to be like most other states, following a new set of national education standards and administering new national standardized tests.  But a lot has happened since 2010, when the state signed on to participate in what's known as Common Core, an initiative designed to make the United States more globally competitive by ensuring students' ability to meet basic benchmarks.
A Democratic administration was followed by a Republican one, and Gov. Corbett took seriously conservatives' concern about the federal government infringing on states' rights. In March 2012, Pennsylvania officials released their own document, known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards, which they call a hybrid between the national Common Core and the state's own guidelines.
They halted plans to participate in one of two national assessments, keeping Pennsylvania's existing elementary tests and creating new ones for high school. The Pennsylvania standards were to have gone into effect July 1, but last spring, Corbett asked the state Board of Education to wait on a final vote. The vote finally occurred Sept. 12, when the board approved the state standards as well as "Keystone exams" in algebra, literature, and biology that will be a requirement for high school graduation.

Money for Philadelphia schools may ease way to transportation funding
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Brad Bumsted  Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 2:21 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's release of $45 million to the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district may represent a step toward an eventual deal on transportation revenue, said staff members for legislative leaders.  Corbett's spokesman, Jay Pagni, flatly denied a connection. “It is not” tied to transportation, Pagni said.
Corbett released the money, removing “what would certainly have been an obstacle, but it does not trigger a deal on transportation,” said House Democratic Caucus spokesman Bill Patton. A Republican staffer confirmed that helping Philadelphia schools may make a transportation deal more likely.
Phila. Dems link cigarette tax to transportation
POSTED: Thursday, October 17, 2013, 10:02 PM
HARRISBURG Philadelphia Democrats are trying to use their influence over a multibillion-dollar transportation funding bill to get Republican support for a cigarette tax to fund city schools.
The strategy is an eleventh-hour effort - though some say an unlikely one - to revive a plan for a $2-per-pack tax that could provide a stream of money for Philadelphia's struggling school district.
The Democrats, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said they alerted House Republicans and the Corbett administration that in return for legislative approval of the tax, they would support a pending bill to provide more than $2 billion for roads, bridges, and mass transit.

The good, the bad, and the Corbett
Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013, 4:13 PM
I try not to blog about "journalism" every day -- that would be the quickest way to put the last nail in the coffin of the blog. But since there's a lot of concern about the future of journalism specifically right here in the City of Brotherly Love these days. I thought I'd point out an example here in Philadelphia of how good journalism -- and bad journalism -- can make a difference in a very important issue.
I was on the train into work yesterday when my smartphone started buzzing -- Gov. Corbett has abruptly and unexpectedly freed up $45 million to hire back teachers and staffers in the embattled Philadelphia school district, money that he'd seemed to be holding over the head of unionized teachers to force concessions.

Closings planned for Pittsburgh public schools
Superintendent Lane cites money woes
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 18, 2013 12:16 am
With Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane planning to propose school closings next month, board member Regina Holley said some communities already have lost too many schools.  "They can't take it any more," Ms. Holley told the superintendent Thursday at a meeting of an advisory group that includes parents, educators and community members.  "Communities are really going to be looking at the equity piece here. If it's going to hurt, it's going to have to hurt somebody else now."  Exactly which schools Ms. Lane will propose for closing isn't expected to be announced until next month when a report with wide-ranging recommendations for addressing the district's financial and academic problems is released.

Allentown School District student exodus to charter schools continues
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on October 17, 2013 at 9:55 PM
The Allentown School District has been losing students to cyber and charter schools at an increasing rate for the past decade, and this year was no exception.  A total of 2,166 students are enrolled in the 19 such schools that operate in the Allentown area, including 1,761 in charter schools and 405 in cyber schools.  That means $19.6 million has been diverted away from the school district, which remains financially responsible for the students' tuition.

West Shore School Board votes to outsource buses, maintenance services
By Phyllis Zimmerman | Special to PennLive  on October 17, 2013 at 10:37 PM,
The West Shore School Board voted Thursday night to outsource the district's transportation and custodial maintenance services despite emotional comments by district service union members and others opposing the move.
Since February, the district has reviewed proposals from outside companies to determine if outsourcing services would be more cost-effective that using district employees.

Council passes bill on school building-money swap
TROY GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: Thursday, October 17, 2013, 7:58 PM
Philadelphia City Council unanimously gave Mayor Nutter the authority Thursday to transfer $50 million to the School District in exchange for a portfolio of shuttered school buildings.
The question is: What will the mayor do now?
He and his cabinet have raised repeated objections to Council's plan to swap money for empty schools.  Ultimately, the mayor may not have much choice. Late this summer, he pledged $50 million of city money so the district would have the funding to start the school year on time.

Pa. watchdog blasts Upper Perk school board for ‘excessive' superintendent retirement package
By Frank Otto, The Mercury POSTED: 10/16/13, 6:35 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
PENNSBURG — Pennsylvania’s auditor general called retirement benefits received by Upper Perkiomen School District’s former superintendent “excessive” following the completion of the school district’s latest state audit.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale based his statements on the audit of school district finances from 2009 to 2012.

CUSD launches Parent University
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 10/17/13, 10:21 PM EDT |
The Chester Upland School District is launching Parent University, a free seminar designed to give parents the resources, knowledge and skills necessary for helping their children in the classroom.  Parent University includes three half-day workshops on reading and writing, life skills, financial literacy, technology and job readiness. The first session begins Nov. 2 at the Showalter School from 8:15 a.m.- 1 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Childcare is provided.

New Hope Academy will fight to remain open
Officials said they will appeal a state decision that would cause the charter school to shut down in January.
By ANGIE MASON York Daily Record/Sunday News UPDATED:   10/16/2013 09:36:51 PM EDT
New Hope Academy Charter School vowed Wednesday to fight a state decision that the school must shut down in January.  The state Charter Appeal Board on Tuesday upheld the York City School District's decision not to renew New Hope's charter. New Hope officials said they will file an appeal with Commonwealth Court and will ask the state Charter Appeal Board to let it stay open during the appeal process.

“For each charter student, the home district pays a fee set by the state. Pittsburgh would have to pay at least $2.57 million for 200 students, growing to at least $5.1 million for 400 students if all came from the district.”
Propel gets green light to open in Hazelwood
Career Connections Charter remains in Lawrenceville
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 16, 2013 9:59 am
Two charter schools were thrown lifelines by the state Charter School Appeal Board this week.
Propel Schools won its appeal to open an elementary charter school in Hazelwood next fall.
Career Connections Charter High School in Lawrenceville won permission to stay open while appealing its charter revocation to Commonwealth Court.

Advocacy institute criticizes Pittsburgh schools
Group raps $2.4M envisioning process
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 17, 2013 12:06 am
Through its $2.4 million envisioning process, Pittsburgh Public Schools is in danger of creating a district attended by only those without other options instead of a district of first choice, according to a report from Great Public Schools-Pittsburgh.  The advocacy organization issued its report Wednesday on the day of a demonstration outside the district headquarters in Oakland criticizing the envisioning process and a lack of arts spending.  Great Public Schools was started by Action United, One Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU Healthcare PA and Yinzercation.

Trying to live up to special-ed law amid the Philly school budget crisis
The Philadelphia School District has at least 20,000 evaluated special-needs students.
Each year, the district pays millions in legal fees and lawsuit settlements based on its failure, both proven and alleged, to meet their needs.  This year, due to budget cuts, the district shed close to 3,000 staff members.  With a skeletal support staff serving the city's traditional public schools, many worry that the district has opened itself up to an onslaught of legal claims from families struggling to ensure that their children get the education that they deserve.
This is the story of one such family.

Philly groups file blanket complaint on counselor shortage
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 18 2013 Posted in Latest news
Parents United for Public Education and Philly School Counselors United filed acomplaint with the Department of Education Thursday saying that Philadelphia chidlren are being denied an adequate education due to the counselor shortage in city schools.
"The lack of counselors impedes the ability of teachers to deliver as effectively instructional services," according to the complaint, filed with the help of the Public Interest Law Center of Pennsylvania (PILCOP).  The complaint recounts instances from several schools in which students did not receive counseling services, emphasizing the insufficient help in applying to high schools and college.

“When you break down the various test scores, you find the high-income kids, high-achievers are holding their own and more,” Rebell said. “It’s when you start getting down to schools with a majority of low-income kids that you get astoundingly low scores. Our real problem regarding educational outcomes is not the U.S. overall, it’s the growing low-income population.”
Study: Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Published: October 16, 2013
A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country.  The analysis by the Southern Education Foundation, the nation’s oldest education philanthropy, is based on the number of students from preschool through 12th grade who were eligible for the federal free and reduced-price meals program in the 2010-11 school year.

“Our best schools are places where children learn about the world and begin to imagine life beyond their neighborhoods.  They are places where the arts are valued and pursued—where children learn to draw and dance and play the piano, as well as to understand a poem or a painting or a piece of music.  They are places where ideas are sought and explored—for the purpose of expanding young people’s notions of justice, broadening their visions of the possible, and welcoming them into ongoing cultural conversations.  Our best schools are places where children gain confidence in themselves, build healthy relationships, and develop values congruent with their own self-interest.  They are places of play and laughter and discovery.
Policymakers strive for something less in their work to improve our nation’s poorest schools—not because their intentions are bad, but because they see the poor differently than they see their own children.”
What poor children need in school
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS October 18 at 6:00 am
Yesterday I wrote a post about how public education’s biggest problem — poverty — keeps getting worse, with the news from a new report that a majority of students in public schools in the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades. Here’s a related piece by Jack Schneider which argues that policy makers own life circumstances affect the way they make school reform decisions for the poor. Schneider (@Edu_Historian) is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross and the author of the forthcoming book From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse: How Scholarship Becomes Common Knowledge in Education.  Heather Curl is a lecturer at Bryn Mawr College.  Both authors are former classroom teachers. Schneider also founded University Paideia, a pre-college program for under-served students in the San Francisco Bay Area. His research focuses on educational policy-making and school reform.

Is Music the Key to Success?
New York Times Opinion By JOANNE LIPMAN Published: October 12, 2013
CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.  Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?  The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

Study Finds Gains From Teacher Evaluations
New York Times By DAVID LEONHARDT October 17, 2013, 12:01 am
The education research of recent years has pointed overwhelmingly to the importance of teachers. Perhaps more than anything else – quality of principal, size of school, size of class – the strength or weakness of classroom teachers influences how much students learn and even how they fare later in life.  The great unknown is how to improve teacher quality, be it by attracting more good teachers, weeding out more bad teachers or helping teachers become better at their craft.  A new study, released on Thursday, offers powerful if still tentative evidence that teacher-evaluation programs can play an important role. 

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:

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

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