Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 29, 2013: Radnor Township School Board Passes Resolution Opposing Keystone Exams as High School Graduation Requirement

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 29, 2013:
Radnor Township School Board Passes Resolution Opposing Keystone Exams as High School Graduation Requirement

SB 1085: would drop any pretense that charter schools were intended to be laboratories of innovation that might share best practices to help improve all schools

“NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of School Directors of the Radnor Township School District opposes the State Board of Education approved final-form revisions to Chapter 4 (Academic Standards and Assessment) and any other regulations or legislation that usurp the authority of local school districts to determine whether their students have earned high school diplomas. The District seeks support from other school boards, local legislators and members of the Senate and House Education Committees in petitioning the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to bifurcate approval of Chapter 4, approving language pursuant to PA Common Core and removing language requiring the unfunded mandate of passing graduation exams.”
Radnor Township School District School Board Passes Resolution Opposing Keystone Exams as High School Graduation Requirement
Radnor Township School District
October 24, 2013
Concerned Parents and Residents Can Support Cause By Sending Letters to Representatives
Taking a stand against "regulations or legislation that usurp the authority of local school districts to determine whether their students have earned high school diplomas," the Radnor Township School District Board of School Directors unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement at its Oct. 22 meeting.
Read the resolution in full. 
According to the resolution: “The Keystone Exams graduation requirement will cause an increase in remediation courses which will have economic impact on districts operating under Act 1 fiscal constraints and on taxpayers across the Commonwealth, and these required expenditures have no proof of cost effectiveness and represent an unfunded mandate.” Should the requirement be enacted, it will first affect the Class of 2017. 

New State Bill Would Allow 2 Weeks of Transparency Before Approving Salary Contracts
WESA Pittsburgh’s NPR station By HALDAN KIRSCH October 29, 2013
A state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would help taxpayers know more about what they’re paying their teachers.  State Representative Fred Keller (R - Snyder) is introducing a bill that would require a two-week period of “openness” before school boards could approve any proposed collective bargaining agreements with teachers.  The board would be required to post the proposed contract details to its publicly accessible website, as well as in a local newspaper of general circulation at least two weeks before the agreement is put to a vote.  Why the two weeks? Keller says that residents should know in advance where their tax dollars are going.

Pension inaction hurts midstate taxpayers, teachers: Nathan A. Benefield
Patriot-News Op-Ed By Nathan A. Benefield on October 28, 2013 at 5:15 AM
Is your family ready for a tax increase of nearly $900 per year? Are you prepared to see 33,000 public school teachers in Pennsylvania—nearly one out of every three—lose their jobs? Those are the realities facing taxpayers and educators if we don’t get a handle on our public pension costs.  The state's two pension systems—for state government workers (SERS) and public school employees (PSERS)—together have more than $47 billion in debt.
 It's a shortfall that taxpayers must cover. Recent legislation delayed the day of reckoning, giving lawmakers time to find a real solution, but the bill is quickly coming due.

Philly charters without signed agreements get revocation threat
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 2:01 AM
In the midst of its continuing financial crisis, the School District of Philadelphia has lowered the boom on charter schools in the city.  Using new powers unleashed by the School Reform Commission's recent decision to suspend part of the state school code, the district is threatening to begin revocation proceedings against schools that have refused to sign their charters because they include enrollment caps. The district has also warned charters not to seek payment for extra students from the state.

Pittsburgh city schools' enrollment still falling
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 29, 2013 12:01 AM
If the projections of Pittsburgh Public Schools had been right, the district this fall would have turned the corner on declining K-12 enrollment and would have seen the growth of 100 students.
But the district saw another K-12 decline this fall, this time a drop of 1.3 percent, or 324 students fewer than last fall.  That makes the official fall K-12 enrollment figure 24,525 this fall, compared to 24,849 last fall.

Northampton schools chief frets over cost of new state standards
District might have to add staff, Joseph Kovalchik says, and that means boosting budget.
By Kevin Duffy, Special to The Morning Call 10:00 p.m. EDT, October 28, 2013
New state evaluation standards for students, teachers and schools might have districts scrambling to figure out how to set their budgets next year.  That's the fear Joseph Kovalchik, superintendent of the Northampton Area School District, relayed to the school board Monday during a presentation of the new standards being passed down from the state Department of Education.  With Adequate Yearly Progress measurements being replaced by the School Performance Profile system, students must now take remedial classes if they don't receive a passing grade in assessment testing such as the PSSA and Keystone exams.  That amounts to a need for more teachers and classroom space, Kovalchik said.
Some legislators recognize the need to get serious in Harrisburg. Just not these two
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Opinion By Eric Heyl Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Two glaring omissions in Pennsylvania law obviously were eating away at a pair of state legislators.  As a result, Rep. John Maher of Upper St. Clair is trying to ensure no one makes a meal from animals that formerly were pets. Meanwhile, Rep. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township is attempting to force-feed the nation's motto to public-school students.
Both Republican lawmakers should be applauded for their efforts. Rather than address the same old problems plaguing the state (infrastructure funding, for example), they are taking aim at critical problems their detractors cynically might suggest do not exist.
After 'leveling,' Philly's split-grade classes reduced by half
The Philadelphia School District has been "leveled."
As a result, the district has reduced the number of its controversial split-grade classrooms, made up of students in different grades, from about 100 to 50.  With leveling, the district aligns staffing projections made in the summer with enrollment realities in the fall.
If more students show up at a school than the district had projected, and fewer students show up at another school, the district shuffles faculty from one to the other in an attempt to keep student-to-teacher ratios within the contracted maximums.

Haverford students conduct a drive for diapers
The students in Faith Irons' child development class at Haverford High School know a thing or two about toddlers. They even draft their own lesson plans and teach classes for preschoolers.
But when they read a recent article in The Inquirer, they learned about something new: the struggles of mothers who can't afford enough diapers, a problem that can lead to rashes and infections, child abuse, and depression for mothers.  More important, they learned they could help.  Irons' students launched a drive that collected more than 33,000 diapers.

Wendy Kopp: Do American Schools Need to Change? Depends What You Compare Them To
Compared to its own history, the U.S. education system may be doing fine. But compared to the rest of the world, it needs work—and quickly.
The Atlantic by WENDY KOPP OCT 25 2013, 9:15 AM ET
It’s no secret that America’s education debate is increasingly polarized and increasingly public. We see it every day on Twitter, in the headlines, and occasionally even on the picket line. The public discussion pits reformers who think that our education system is failing students against anti-reformers who think what’s wrong with our schools is the people trying to fix them. I've been immersed in American education for more than 20 years and have led a global education network for the last seven, and to me there’s no question that our school system must improve, and quickly. But today’s debate has become a distraction that keeps us paralyzed in old divisions and false debates, rather than uniting against common problems. 
Two recent bestselling books on education, Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error and Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World, shine light on the conflict—and why taking a step back and embracing a global perspective is necessary to move forward.

K12 Inc. Learning Hard Management, Financial Lessons
Education Week By Michele Molnar Published Online: October 22, 2013
K12 Inc. is on a remedial course of action after learning hard lessons about managing student enrollment and addressing public criticism about the academic performance of its students.
The Herndon, Va.-based company—the largest for-profit provider of precollegiate online learning and one of the few publicly traded companies in the K-12 marketplace—showed an inability to enroll as many students as anticipated for the 2013-14 school year. That sent its stock into a nose dive earlier this month—a 38 percent drop that also came three weeks after a prominent hedge fund manager, Whitney R. Tilson, took a position that the company was overvalued.

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 www.irrc.state.pa.us.  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:

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. BuildingOnePa.org

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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