Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 24, 2013: Common Core/Keystone Exams: IRRC to act on final-form regulation “Academic Standards and Assessment" at public meeting 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

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 24, 2013:
Common Core/Keystone Exams: IRRC to act on final-form regulation “Academic Standards and Assessment" at public meeting 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

SB 1085 removes the language that charter schools were to serve as models of innovation for other public schools

Don’t Teach For America
“Education reform” that helps only your resume
The Harvard Crimson THE RED LINE Blog By SANDRA Y.L. KORN October 23. 2015
Last month, I got an email from a recruiter. An associate of Teach For America, citing a minor leadership role in a student organization as evidence that I “have distinguished [myself] as a leader here on Harvard’s campus,” asked me to meet with Harvard’s TFA representative on campus. Dropping phrases like “race and class,” “equal opportunities,” and “educational injustice,” the recruiter promised that I could have a significant impact on a classroom in an underserved community.  I have thought for many years about teaching high school history. But I stopped replying to this email after a few exchanges.
I am not interested in TFA.

“Number One Reason:  Poor and minority children need and deserve the most prepared and most experienced teachers. To give them less is malpractice.”
Top Ten Reasons Not to Contract With Teach For America
Education Week John Wilson Unleashed Blog By John Wilson on October 7, 2013 6:07 AM
Lately, I have been reading numbers of articles about Teach For America (TFA) written by former participants in the program as well as by researchers and investigative reporters. It appears that there is general consensus that TFA is not the answer to teacher shortages, closing achievement gaps, or eliminating poverty in this country. Most of the writers agree that the program is using public schools and poor children to develop a network of new leaders who will advance a corporate reform agenda. Great harm has been done in school districts and states where these new TFA leaders have emerged. Who bears the greatest portion of responsibility for what is happening?

Pittsburgh Council approves panel to study school district
By Moriah Balingit / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 23, 2013 1:48 PM
Pittsburgh City Council today took the first step in forming a 23-member public education task force that will be charged with coming up with alternatives to closing public schools in the city.
Council gave preliminary approval today to a resolution sponsored by Councilman Theresa Kail-Smith creating the task force. The resolution also calls on the Pittsburgh Board of Education to place a moratorium on shuttering schools for the 2013-14 school year and to reconsider a new teacher evaluation system. Another part of the resolution, asking the district to reconsider its new teacher evaluation system, was deleted.
The task force will include four council members, two school board members, one member of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, two members of educational advocacy groups, members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools administration and a peppering of students and community members. It will be charged with producing a report by next September.

PA Cyber wants 30-day review of Times information request
Beaver County Times Online By J.D. Prose October 22, 2013 7:30 pm
MIDLAND — In response to a right-to-know request filed by The Times, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School has said it needs 30 days to determine whether documents related to college course payments for students are public or even exist.
Roxanne Leone, PA Cyber’s right-to-know officer, responded Thursday, two days after this paper filed a request seeking records of payments to colleges for PA Cyber students.

Looking into the fog of education funding
JOHN BAER, DAILY NEWS POLITICAL COLUMNIST Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 3:01 AM
THE RESIGNATION this week of Pedro Ramos as head of the School Reform Commission and Gov. Corbett's replacement pick, whenever it comes, is bound to roil the whole issue of state funding for public schools.  It's an issue that separates most Democrats from most Republicans, is certain to play big in next year's gubernatorial election and creates something like a fog of war. It's confusing and forces facts into separate ideological corners.  The answer to whether Corbett drastically cut money for education or is funding schools at record levels (or both) depends on your definition of "education."  And the political impact of the answer depends on how you view government's role when it comes to spending tax dollars.

PA School Districts' Credit Ratings Threatened
PCCY Blog Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Thanks to the nature of Pennsylvania’s charter law and underfunding from the state, the expansion of charter schools in recent years has debilitated the finances of Pennsylvania’s school districts.  As a result, by creating more educational options for a small share of students, state policy is undermining the conditions where most students go to school.  And nowhere has been hit harder than the School District of Philadelphia.
A new report from Moody’s raises a red flag about school district credit ratings finds that the charter boom increases districts’ debt and puts their credit rating at risk, and Philadelphia is the prime example.  The report points out that in Philadelphia, charter enrollment has skyrocketed from four in 1997 to 80 in 2012; a development which has had terrible consequences for the District’s financial well being.  The report points to many bleak trends without even mentioning the complete elimination of $266 million in state aid granted to the districts with the highest levels of charter enrollment.  Of course, given high charter enrollment Philadelphia was hit hardest, losing $110 million in charter funding in 2011 and none of it’s been replaced by other state aid.

Op/Ed: Lessons from CASD: School policies can promote a culture of discrimination
The Times of Chester County October 22, 2013 By Solomon Hunter and Rhonda Brownstein, The Education Law Center
When one or two individuals in an organization blatantly act out in discriminatory ways, it’s easy to imagine that dealing with those individuals, primarily by removing them from the organization, solves the problem. The message, often, is that these individuals were outliers and in no way reflect the views of other members of the organization.
That was the approach last year in the Oxford Area School District, where a school principal was eventually ousted following the disclosure of abusive and discriminatory statements in text messages and email exchanges about students with disabilities. According to parents and advocates, though, the emails and text messages were simply the electronic manifestation of discriminatory in-person interactions occurring on a regular basis.

Frerichs honored for 16 years of service on Penn Manor school board
Penn Manor School District by Brian Wallace October 23, 2013
Sixteen years and counting — that’s how long Richard Frerichs has been serving on the Penn Manor school board. His fellow board members honored Frerichs Monday with a certificate of appreciation from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Frerichs, who served three years as Penn Manor board president, has long been involved in public education. He worked for 36 years at Millersville University, retiring in 2004 as chair of the Department of Educational Foundations. He was recently appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve on the MU Council of Trustees and also serves as board president-elect of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. His term as president begins next year.

Common Core/Keystone Exams: The PA State Board of Education (Board) has submitted the final-form regulation entitled “Academic Standards and Assessment."
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) plans to meet and act on this regulation at our public meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Regulation #6 – 326: Academic Standards and Assessment
Amends existing regulations to reflect Pennsylvania's Common Core Standards in English language arts; address test security concerns; and require students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school.
The agenda and any changes to the time or date of the meeting will be posted on IRRC’s Web site at  Please note that any comments should be submitted to the Board prior to the 48-hour blackout period, which begins at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. Please provide IRRC with a copy of any comments submitted, as well. Please note that all correspondence and documents relating to a regulation submitted to IRRC are a matter of public record and appear on IRRC’s Web site.
For a copy of the regulation or if you have any substantive questions regarding the regulation, please contact the Board at (717) 787-3787. You can also download the final-form regulation from IRRC’s Web site using the following link:

Cities Are Trying to Fix Their Schools by Luring the Middle Class: It Won't Work
These initiatives cannot substitute for reforms that address the root causes of concentrated poverty, budget shortfalls, and failing schools.
The Atlantic by MAIA BLOOMFIELD CUCCHIARA OCT 15 2013, 10:49 AM ET
For people who care about public education, the news from Philadelphia is grim. Even for a city accustomed to doomsday budget scenarios, this year’s fiscal crisis is staggering. The School District of Philadelphia, with a total budget of $2.4 billion, faces a shortfall of $300 million. In an effort to close this gap, the district has shuttered dozens of schools, laid-off thousands of employees, and made previously unimagined cuts to school-level programming and staffing.  The consequences of these cutbacks were apparent when schools opened this September: in many schools, classrooms are severely overcrowded, secretaries and assistant principals are gone, materials are in short supply, key staff (such as guidance counselors and nurses) are dividing their time between several schools, and arts and other programs have been scaled back or cut altogether.
This year’s budget crisis, like those that have preceded it and those that are likely to follow, can be traced to the vicious combination of middle-class flight to the suburbs and a school funding model that relies on declining local property taxes. The result is a cycle of underfunded schools and rising poverty. In 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the School District of Philadelphia spent $13,000 per pupil on a student population that is 77 percent poor and 76 percent African American or Latino. A few miles away, in the affluent suburb of Lower Merion, where the student population is 7 percent poor and 10 percent African American or Latino, per-pupil spending neared $27,000. Is it any surprise Philadelphia’s schools are struggling?

Summer Search Philadelphia
Summer Search is a national youth development non-profit. We work with low-income high school students to transform what they believe is possible for themselves. We help students in seven cities across the country develop the skills and character traits they need to become college-educated leaders who give back to their families and communities.  Since 1990, we’ve partnered with high schools to identify students short on opportunity and long on resilience, altruism, determination—character traits that hold the seeds for success in school and in life. We make a long-term investment in these students (at least five years, from high school through college).
Our character-based program is a unique combination of relationships and opportunities that helps them build the skills they need to thrive. We partner each student with a professional mentor and build a circle of relationships around them. Then, we offer them experiential opportunities that crack open their view of the world and ultimately reveal what they’re capable of.
Summer Search alumni, often the first in their families to earn a college degree, are beacons of change who give back to their families and communities.
— 83% of Summer Search students are on track to get a college degree; contrast that with fewer than 1 in 10 of their peers.
— 80% of surveyed alumni volunteered for social cause.

Most States Surpass Global Average in Math, Science
Education Week By Catherine Gewertz Published Online: October 24, 2013
A new analysis of how all U.S. states stack up against countries around the world shows that 8th grade students in 36 states outperformed the international average in math and those in 47 did so in science.  The federal report, released today, showcases the academic prowess of high-achieving states, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont, which outperformed all but five of 47 countries, provinces, and jurisdictions abroad in mathematics. The top performers in that subject were South Korea, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan).

Better News in New Study That Assesses U.S. Students
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: October 23, 2013
Amid growing alarm over the slipping international competitiveness of American students, a report comparing math and science test scores of eighth graders in individual states to those in other countries has found that a majority outperformed the international average.  But the report, to be released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics, an office of the Education Department, showed that even in the country’s top-performing states — which include Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota — fewer students scored at the highest levels than students in several East Asian countries.
“It’s better news than we’re used to,” said David Driscoll, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the national exams commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card. “But it’s still not anything to allow us to rest on our laurels.”

In ‘Flipped’ Classrooms, a Method for Mastery
New York Times Opinion By TINA ROSENBERG October 23, 2013, 11:15 am
Fixes looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.
In traditional schooling, time is a constant and understanding is a variable. A fifth-grade class will spend a set number of days on prime factorization and then move on to study greatest common factors — whether or not every student is ready.  If student turns in shoddy work in a ‘flipped mastery’ class, she can’t move on to the next level.  But there is another way to look at schooling — through the lens of a method called “mastery learning,” in which the student’s understanding of a subject is a constant and time is a variable; when each fifth grader masters prime factorization, for instance, he moves on to greatest common factors, each at his own pace.

Obama to Name NewSchools' Ted Mitchell to Top Higher Ed Post
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Michele McNeil on October 23, 2013 10:01 AM
In an important move for the higher education community, it looks like Ted Mitchell, the CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, will become the under secretary nominee at the U.S. Department of Education, several sources told Politics K-12. He would replace Martha Kanter as the top higher education official at the department and likely become a member of Secretary Arne Duncan's inner circle of advisers. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Mitchell, who has a major interest in reforming schools of education, wouldn't be the first NewSchools talent to come to the department. Duncan hired the fund's Joanne Weiss to launch and run Race to the Top. Weiss, who left the department in July, eventually became his chief of staff. In January, the department hired Jonathan Schorr of NewSchools for its communications team.

#2 at U.S. Department of Education Loves”No-Excuses” Charter Schools, Not Public Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav October 23, 2013 //
A reader has done research on the new Undersecretary of Education. The “no-excuses” charters are known for their emphasis on strict discipline, conformity, and obedience to all rules. They typically have high rates of suspension and attrition.
Public school parents should know who Arne Duncan and President Obama chose to run the nation’s public school system.  This is an interview with Ted Mitchell. Like all ed reformers, he makes no mention of the actual, existing public schools 90% of your kids attend. Instead, he tells of us his dream to turn all public schools into no excuses charter chains:

Can The School Change Debate, Itself, Change?
Education Week Leadership 360 Blog By Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers on October 24, 2013
The responsibility for systemic change belongs to all of us.  Some lead, others support, and others, with varying degrees of reticence, will, hopefully, follow.  We live in a time of accelerating change, in a society where most things are disposable. The old phrase "planned obsolescence" comes to mind. Debates rage about fundamental things like local control and individual choice. Amidst this we hold to our schools as representative of our neighborhood and our community. Public schooling is one of those cohering forces in this widely diverse nation. Most of us spent our childhoods there and we send our children there. In the past few years, the national curriculum called Common Core Standards has encompassed us. It is a fundamental change at the classroom level. What is today's challenge?  Is it the change itself or the manner in which we go about it? 

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.

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

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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