Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 23, 2013: Have You Yelled At A School Board Member Yet Today?

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, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, 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 October 23, 2013:
Have You Yelled At A School Board Member Yet Today?

SB1085 would give institutions of higher education unfettered authority to authorize and provide oversight of new charter schools without any input by the taxpayers footing the bill.

Zogby - We never cut $1b from public education: Politics as Usual
By John L. Micek |  audio runtime 21:53
on October 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM, updated October 22, 2013 at 12:14 PM
It's one of the enduring narratives of the Corbett administration: Gov. Tom Corbett slashed $1 billion from state support for public education during his first year in office, prompting school districts to cut staff and programs in return.  The administration has spent the last three years pushing back against this narrative, insisting that its actions came in response to the loss of federal stimulus money that the schools never should have used to pay for long-term costs in the first place.
In this week's edition of "Politics as Usual," Corbett administration Budget Secretary Charles Zogby puts this political urban myth to rest once and for all.

It’s not just the PA Basic Education Subsidy…….
Since FY 2008-2009 (before the federal ARRA stimulus money):
$226.9 million in Charter School Reimbursement budget line have been eliminated
Accountability Block Grant has been reduced by $171 million
$65 million in tutoring budget line has been eliminated
$22.8 million in school improvement grants eliminated
$13 million in Science: It’s Elementary line eliminated
$10 million in high school reform line eliminated
$10 million in dual enrollment line eliminated

 “This year was no testament to state oversight. The schools opened with gaping holes - without nurses, counselors and other essential support. There are no music or art classes, no athletics, although $45 million finally being released by the governor - far short of what the district needed - could restore some of those essentials. But for years the schools have continued to lurch from crisis to crisis. Under state supervision, the district has seen a rise in charters, a cut in funding (especially driven by charter expansion, and an elimination of the reimbursement for charter students) and falling achievement.
The question remains, though, whether schools would fare better under city oversight.”
Goodbye to Pedro Ramos ... and to state oversight, too?
POSTED: Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 3:01 AM
PUBLIC service takes on many stripes in this city - whether you're talking about workers punching the clock at City Hall, or the social butterflies of high-culture volunteers who go to black-tie galas, or block captains who monitor their neighborhoods.
Pedro Ramos, who announced yesterday that he'll be leaving his post as the chairman of the School Reform Commission, was a public servant who spent countless, and thankless, hours overseeing public education in the city at one of its more contentious points in history.

Committee of Seventy: Governor should form panel to fill SRC seats
the notebook by Wendy Harris on Oct 22 2013
The sudden resignation of School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos has many asking who his replacement will be. For others, his departure raises the question of how the five-member panel should be selected, especially because the term of another commissioner is set to expire in about three months.  Joseph Dworetzky, who was named to the SRC by former Gov. Ed Rendell, will reach the end of his term in January 2014. Dworetzky has been an outspoken commissioner, unafraid to challenge his fellow SRC members and the District. Back in May, he voted against a stripped-down budget that eliminated nearly everything from schools except a principal and small number of classroom teachers. He also objected to a number of Superintendent William Hite’s proposals to close schools.
At the news of Ramos’ resignation – his term was also set to expire in January 2014 – the Committee of Seventy, a government watchdog group, promptly sent a letter to Gov. Corbett urging him to appoint a nominating panel that would help fill the chairman’s post and replace Dworetzky.

On eve of federal fraud trial, charter school guilty plea
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6:25 PM
PHILADELPHIA As jury selection was getting underway in the federal fraud trial of charter-school founder Dorothy June Brown and three former administrators, one of the administrators decided to plead guilty.  Joan Woods Chalker, 75, a top lieutenant in Brown's school network who worked with Brown for more than 20 years and served as a chief executive at one of her charters, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of obstruction of justice.
She stood accused of conspiring with Brown and the others in a scheme to defraud four charter schools of $6.7 million, then staging a cover-up.

What Pittsburghers are Really Saying about School Closures
Yinzercation Blog October 22, 2013
It seems like everyone is talking about the Pittsburgh Public School district’s plan to close more schools. City Council. The Post-Gazette editorial board. The region’s leaders. But what about ordinary Pittsburghers? Where are their voices? What do they have to say?
It turns out, local people have a lot to say. But you have to ask them. And if you really want to learn something, you have to listen.  Now to be fair, the PPS administration has made some attempts to engage the public in its “Envisioning” strategic planning process, which we now know will include a list of proposed school closures. The district had a few parents meet one-on-one with their consultants and there was a handful of parents (and one student that I met) on the Envisioning advisory board. The district also held a few open houses for the public to see presentations on the Envisioning process; conducted an on-line survey (largely focused on “school choice”); and deployed a new on-line tool to solicit feedback.

Request causes Dover board member to turn over emails from personal account
York Blog Posted on October 22, 2013 by Angie Mason
Dover Area School Board member was ordered to turn over any personal emails that would amount to district records, after a Right to Know request was filed by some other current and former board members.
According to an appeal decision from the state Office of Open Records, Bryan Rehm, Bernadette Reinking and Phillip Herman filed Right to Know requests asking for emails that are public records involving the district sent or received by board member Dan Sindlinger since Dec. 5, 2011. Rehm and Reinking are also board members and Herman is a former member.
The district gave access to the emails on district accounts, but denied the request for emails on Sindlinger’s personal account, saying the district didn’t have the opportunity to review those, according to the decision.
The requesters appealed. Sindlinger argued the request was not specific and that he had 6,200 emails that would have to be reviewed, saying it would be a “gross misuse of time and cost” to the district.
The open records office said that since the request was limited to one official and the time frame was only a year and a half, the request is sufficient. The office also noted that the number of records to be reviewed can’t be the basis for denial.

Saucon Valley School Board switches meeting in anticipation of report
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on October 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM
The Saucon Valley School Board has moved its next meeting up in anticipation of a forthcoming independent fact-finder's report weighing in on its teacher contract dispute.
The Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting will be moved to Thursday, Nov. 7, in anticipation of the issuance of the recommendations by the neutral, appointed fact-finder, district solicitor Mark Fitzgerald said.  The two sides jointly agreed to enter the fact-finding process in September, despite initial reservations by the district. The report will be sent to both parties and then they have 10 days to accept or reject the findings.

Constituents can come express their concerns at any school board meeting or in line at the supermarket or the bank.  If they so choose, they can vote us out of office.
Who do we yell at when Agora Cyber/K12, Inc. spends our tax dollars on more than 19,000 local TV commercials?
Who do we yell at when it appears that tax dollars intended for the state’s poorest school district are being spent building a beachfront mansion? 
Who do we yell at when tax dollars from 500 school districts appear to be laundered through a maze of companies?
T-Shirts: "Have You Yelled At A School Board Member Yet Today?"
Scholastic Administrator This Week in Education by Alexander Russo October 22, 2013
Given the raucous school board meetings we've been reading about lately, my first thought seeing Larry Feinberg's t-shirt was that he must be a #CCSS critic or some other type who was encouraging others to make things loud.  But @lfeinberg says it's not that at all - that he's actually an elected school board member himself and that it "encourages taxpayers/voters not to be bashful." See the full image below.

“Findings show that students from City Connects schools significantly outperform their Boston peers in standardized tests and report card scores in elementary school. After they leave City Connects, in middle school, students significantly outperform peers who were never in City Connects and achieve close to state proficiency levels in both English language arts and math on the statewide tests. They also have significantly lower rates of chronic absenteeism. In high school, former City Connects students were 46 percent less likely to drop out than their Boston peers. Annual surveys demonstrate high satisfaction among teachers and principals (more than 90 percent for both).”
Community Schools: Closing the opportunity gap with data, systems, and support at City Connects
Boston College Lynch School of Education by William Bole October 21, 2013
 “Teachers cannot do the work of counselors and social workers,” educators told Mary Walsh when she inquired many years ago about how schools were addressing the out-of-school challenges of students living in poverty. Along with these educators, Walsh recognized that factors such as homelessness, inadequate health care, and community violence may seriously affect academic achievement. Over the past 15 years, Boston College Professor Mary Walsh has led the development of an organized approach to addressing these and other barriers that interfere with students’ ability to learn and succeed in school.
Collaborating with Boston Public Schools and community agencies, Walsh and her colleagues developed City Connects, a systematic approach to the work often done by counselors, social workers, and other support staff. Grounded in evidence, the practice reviews the individual strengths and needs of each student and links them to a tailored set of critical support services and enrichment opportunities in the community. Teachers and families partner in the decision making about service referrals.

Why community schools are a no-brainer
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS October 23 at 4:00 am
This seems so obvious that it shouldn’t have to be said, but with standardized testing being the focus of school reform, here goes anyway: Children can’t become high achievers in school if they arrive in class hungry, sick, exhausted, traumatized. That’s why community schools  should be a bigger part of the school reform movement than they are.
Community schools focus not only on academics but also, through partnerships with outside organizations, child and youth development, family support, health and social services, and community development.  By aligning with non-profits, businesses, and public agencies, community schools can streamline services to their students while avoiding costly redundancies and gaps in delivery.

More info on community schools:

Pre-K education gets seat — in political center
Politico By CAITLIN EMMA | 10/22/13 5:10 AM EDT
Expanding access to high-quality preschool has joined government dysfunction as a familiar campaign talking point — with a twist.
Though it’s an issue traditionally loved by the left, pre-K has recently planted itself solidly in the center with more federal, statewide and local Republican and Democratic candidates extolling its benefits and calling for more on the campaign trail.  The issue has permeated races across the country, and it is likely to have at least some kind of role in the 2016 presidential race.

THIS IS HUGE!!! No Testing at This School! Parents Say NO!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav October 22, 2013 //
Almost everyone agrees that high-stakes testing for little children is a huge mistake. The parents not only wrote their elected officials, they took direct action.  More than 80% of the parents of the children at the Castle Bridge Elementary School in New York City refused to allow their children to be tested.
They opted out.  The tests were canceled.

Forget teaching to the test — at this Washington Heights elementary school, parents canceled it! 
More than 80% of parents voted to skip an exam that the state says helps evaluate teachers. Move is believed to be unprecedented.
A Washington Heights elementary school has canceled the new standardized multiple-choice tests for the youngest public school students — after more than 80% of parents opted to have their kids sit out the exam.  In an apparently unprecedented move, Castle Bridge School parents — representing 83 of the 97 students — rejected the new city requirement that affects 36 schools that serve only K through second grade.

“But this is about so much more than lunch. It’s about millions of dollars in school funding. That’s because Maryland, like many states, determines how much money school districts receive for disadvantaged students based on the number of kids who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.”
How free lunches pay off for schools
At Rognel Heights Elementary/Middle School on the west side of Baltimore, seventh-grader Brianna McClain loads up on veggies at the salad bar.
“I love the salad,” she says. “I get almost everything that’s on there.”
This is not just any salad bar. It’s a trophy. Rognel Heights won it from the district, because last year every family in the school returned the application form for free and reduced-price lunch.
“I remember the first time I saw it,” Brianna says. “I was so, like, impressed.”
The salad bar sweepstakes is part of a big push in Baltimore to sign up every family in the city's public schools who qualifies for free meals.  To receive benefits, a family must earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level -- about $43,500 a year for a family of four. In Baltimore, that's a lot of families.

EWA/Hechinger Report Common Core Project: Stories From Around the U.S.
National Education Writers Association EdMedia Commons Posted by Glen Baity on October 16, 2013 at 11:05am
The new Common Core State Standards, fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are poised to remake the business of schooling from Massachusetts to California
The Hechinger Report, in partnership with the Education Writers Association, sent reporters to states around the country to examine the ways that Common Core is shifting how students learn and teachers teach. Those stories, exploring what's working and what's not as the standards roll out, are all available on the Hechinger site.    News outlets were free to customize and localize the stories as they saw fit. EWA is collecting links on this page from news outlets who partnered with us to publish the stories, often tailored to their own audiences. Check back for regular updates.

Can We Reverse the Wrong Course on Data and Accountability?
New NEPC report and model legislation offer a positive alternative to today’s poor uses of student data and punitive approaches to accountability
National Education Policy Center Press Release October 22, 2013
BOULDER, CO (October 22, 2013) – A new report by two professors at Boston College urges American schools to use data and accountability policies in the more successful ways now seen in high-performing countries and in other sectors of U.S. society.
In their report, Data-Driven Improvement and Accountability, authors Andy Hargreaves, the Thomas More Brennan Professor of Education in the Lynch school of Education, and Henry Braun, the Boisi Professor of Education and Public Policy in the Lynch School of Education, find that the use of data in the U.S. is too often limited to simply measuring short-term gains or placing blame, rather than focusing on achieving the primary goals of education. The report is published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), which is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder.
URL for this press release:

US CEOs break pay record as top 10 earners take home at least $100m each
Pay gaps within companies widen as top two earners, led by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, earn billion-dollar paychecks
Zuckerberg's total compensation topped $2.27bn – more than $6m a day.
For the first time ever, the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the US all received more than $100m in compensation and two took home billion-dollar paychecks, according to a leading annual survey of executive pay.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder, was the US's highest paid boss last year, according to GMI Ratings annual poll of executive compensation, released on Tuesday. Zuckerberg's total compensation topped $2.27bn – more than $6m a day. His base salary was $503,205 but the vast majority of his enormous payday came from exercising 60m Facebook share options when the company went public last year.
…All told, the top 10 CEOs in this year's poll took home over $4.7bn between them and for the first time ever none earned less than $100m. "I have never seen anything like that," said Greg Ruel, GMI's senior research consultant and author of the report. "Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level but never the entire top 10."

“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.

Building Common Ground Summit Saturday October 26, 2013
Dickinson/PSU School of Law, Carlisle, PA, 333 W. South Street
Interactive Panel Discussions
Senator Pat Vance, Senator Rob Teplitz, Molly Hunter of Education Law Center, Richard Fry, Superintendent of Big Spring School District
For info and registration please email:

PCCY hosting a funding formula event in Philly October 28, 5:00 pm
On Monday, October 28th 2013, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is hosting a funding formula event starting at 5pm.  Pennsylvania is one of three states without a funding formula. We invite parents, community leaders, and other stakeholders to come and help develop strategies that push for a fair and well-funded school funding formula.  The event will take place at the United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia, PA 19103.  You can RSVP by visiting the following link:

Register TODAY for the 2013 Arts and Education Symposium Wednesday, October 30, 2013
PA Arts Education Network
The State Museum of Pennsylvania 300 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Registration, Networking, and Refreshments-8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Program-8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; Lunch-12:00 p.m.; $40 Per Person
Details and registration:

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. 

Where: Abington Senior High School
When  November 5, 2013 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Contact Lynn Murphy, Delaware Valley College

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, 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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