Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 8, 2013: PA School report card: Charter and Vo-Tech schools

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 8, 2013:
PA School report card: Charter and Vo-Tech schools

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.

School report card: Charter and Vo-Tech schools
By Nick Malawskey | nmalawskey@pennlive.com  on October 07, 2013 at 12:51 PM
On Friday the state Department of Education has released the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile on each individual public school, including charter and vocational-technical schools. 
PennLive tried to help parents navigate the deluge of information available on Friday by breaking down each district's schools and assigning them an overall letter grade. Below is a similar breakdown of the information about the midstate's charter and vo-tech schools as well as cyber charter schools.
Think of it as a district's report card.

Pa. releases new rating system for schools
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 04 2013
The state started to unveil its new system for rating schools on Friday, using awebsite containing school performance profiles that will ultimately provide a wealth of data for each school in the state and give a numerical performance rating to each.  However, it is ending the practice of comparing absolute proficiency rates on state tests from one year to the next, either for individual schools and districts or for the state as a whole.
The Philadelphia School District did not make that change, once again providing a comparison of this year's PSSA results to last year's, even though the news wasn't good.

Keystone Exam forms are blamed for incomplete profile woes
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Megan Harris Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 11:55 p.m.
Educators and state officials agree Keystone Exams were the culprit in Friday's incomplete online release of the Department of Education's new school assessment system.
Thousands of students, proctors and administrators statewide failed to check the correct box that would indicate whether a student took the test for course credit or to meet federal requirements.
Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq said the state shares the blame for those errors by failing to more clearly outline how to fill out test forms.

A comment posted to the story below reads: “The private sector will solve the problems that government bureaucrats couldn't.”
...or at least they'll make a few bucks from taxpayer money without any better results for the kids:
Documenting the impact of Philly school closings
The notebook by Wendy Harris October 7, 2013
Videographer Amy Yeboah worked this summer with the Notebook to complete a 30-minute documentary about this year’s wave of school closings. It’s calledGoodbye to City Schools
The project took her inside four of the 24 schools that closed for good in June: Germantown High School, Bok Technical High School, Fairhill Elementary School, and University City High School. The project was made possible through a graduate fellowship position at the Notebook sponsored by the Samuel S. Fels Fund.  At 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, the documentary will be screened at an event hosted by theNotebook and the nonprofit Scribe Video Center, 4212 Chestnut St., as part of Scribe’s Storyville series.

State, educators hold opposing views on funding policies
Valley News Dispatch  By Tom Yerace Published: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 12:21 a.m.
A major disconnect exists between Harrisburg policy -makers and people who must live with their policies on funding education.  One side — legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett administration officials — claims public education funding by the state has increased.  The other side — teachers, school administrators and school board members — argues that not only has public education funding decreased, the proportionate distribution of what remains is tilted away from poor school districts and toward wealthy ones.
Pennsylvania legislators seek change in charter school funding
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Tony LaRussa Published: Oct. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Local school officials have complained for years that charter schools siphon money from public school districts when students leave them to attend the alternative public schools.
State lawmakers expect to enact changes this fall in the funding formula for charter schools, along with measures to add greater accountability.
Proposals for revamping Pa. property tax system fail to gain traction
A statewide approach to property tax changes was defeated in the Pennsylvania House last week, but the Senate is still working on a plan to get rid of the unpopular levy.  Last year, a proposal to replace property taxes with higher sales and income taxes got a thumbs-down from the state's Independent Fiscal Office.  The IFO analyzed a second, reworked plan and found, again, it wouldn't come up with enough money for schools.

We must ensure our schools provide kindergarten: As I See It
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  on October 07, 2013 at 9:00 AM
State Rep. Pat Harkins, a Democrat, represents the 1st House District in Erie.
In the past decade, states across the country, including Pennsylvania, launched efforts to improve access to early childhood education. 
Studies indicate that access to quality programs like pre-kindergarten are a proven investment for states and families by helping to create a level playing field for all students when they enter grade school, through better academic performance and by returning an estimated $16 for every dollar spent in reduced spending on crime, remedial education and welfare.
However, even as we aim to improve access to pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year olds, in Pennsylvania under a law passed in 1949, a child is not legally required to start school until age eight. As technology, the economy and family dynamics have changed substantially over the past 60 years, I believe it is time to revisit this outdated law.

Republicans will try to solve Pa. public pension problem
Published: October 5, 2013
WEST HAZLETON - State Rep. Mike Tobash said Friday morning that Republicans are prepared to issue a proposal to try to solve Pennsylvania's public pension problem.  "This ... is the number one financial problem the commonwealth faces," Tobash said of the deficit Pennsylvania has in its pension obligations to employees, police officer and other employees. "We need to make shifts to defined contribution plans."  Tobash, R-125, spoke at the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers & Employers Association's Annual Legislative Roundtable at the Top of the 80's Restaurant.  He said the proposal, which will be unveiled next week, will be actuarially sound and direct new employees into plans other than traditional pensions that pay a defined weekly or monthly benefit.

Proposed Allentown elementary charter school seeks major focus on the arts
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on October 07, 2013 at 9:03 PM
The fate of a proposed arts-focused charter school for elementary students is now in the hands of the Allentown School Board.  The board held a public hearing tonight on the proposed Arts Academy Elementary Charter School, and will determine within two months whether to accept or reject it.  The applicants explained their vision for a school that would not train students for careers in the arts, but rather provide a traditional academic program enhanced by regular, intensive artistic offerings.

PA Cyber shells out half a million in legal fees
Founder could have to repay school amid investigation
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 8, 2013 12:05 am
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School paid attorneys more than half a million dollars to protect its interests and those of current and former employees during a federal grand jury probe of the online educator's subcontractors.  The school could eventually demand nearly half of that money back from its founder, Nick Trombetta, according to documents the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette got through a right-to-know request.

The Push for Universal Pre-K
New York Times By NANCY FOLBRE September 30, 2013, 12:01 am
Nancy Folbre is professor emerita of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The labor is going to be long and difficult, but this baby is on its way in most affluent countries. Japan and Germany, two countries long considered laggards in the child care area, are now increasing their spending. In the United States, President Obama is keeping the issue atop his domestic agenda, where it is gaining traction despite slim chances of Congressional approval. Many states and several big cities have developed innovative and successful pre-K programs.
I’ve touched on some of the reasons forresistance to increased public investment in children in earlier posts. Sometimes the issue is framed as one of disagreement over social cost-benefit analysis, but many economists, most famously James Heckmanof the University of Chicago, offer powerful evidence of a high social rate of return in the form of improved outcomes for children. The net benefits loom even larger when the value of increased work flexibility for parents is added in.

Interested in keeping the “public” in public education?  Sign up for text grassroots alerts from the Network for Public Education.
Join NPE's NIXLE Group by texting "4NPE" to 888777.  After sending the initial text, NIXLE will ask for a "zipcode" - providing a zipcode will limit messages to local interest of each subscriber. Leave the zipcode blank if you want to receive all grassroot alerts from NPE.

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. BuildingOnePa.org

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

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at www.psba.org. More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at http://www.psba.org/elections/.

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.

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