Friday, November 8, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 8, 2013: “In all, Brown is accused of defrauding the four charters she founded of $6.7 million.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 8, 2013:
“In all, Brown is accused of defrauding the four charters she founded of $6.7 million.”

NAEP: Pa. scores slightly higher on education report
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pennsylvania's fourth- and eighth-graders are doing slightly better than the national average in math and reading, according to a new report.  The scores haven't changed much over the past few years, and in some cases have declined slightly, according to the 2013 Nation's Report Card released Thursday. But they have risen significantly compared to the scores of 20 years ago.  The results come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which is given every two years to a sample of fourth- and eighth-graders.

NAEP: U.S. Math, Reading Achievement Edges Up, But Gaps Remain
Education Week By Catherine Gewertz Published Online: November 7, 2013
Premium article access courtesy of
The reading and mathematics achievement of the country’s 8th grade students improved in the last two years, but the performance of 4th graders remains stubbornly mixed, with progress in math, but not in reading, according to national test data released Thursday.
The results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as “the nation’s report card,” show that 8th graders’ average score in math rose 1 point since 2011, the last time the test was given, and 3 points in reading on NAEP’s 500-point scale. Fourth graders gained 1 point in math; there was no statistically significant gain in reading.

National Assessment of Educational Progress:

Saucon Valley School Board accepts fact finder's report, but teachers union rejects it
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on November 07, 2013 at 9:17 PM
Shortly after the Saucon Valley School Board agreed to settle its outstanding teachers contract tonight, teachers said they had rejected the deal Oct. 31.  Details of the deal should be made public Friday by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in accordance with state law.
The two sides entered into fact finding earlier this fall at the urging of the Saucon Valley Education Association. The school board announced Oct. 30 it planned to accept the independent fact finder's recommendations at its meeting tonight.
Saucon Valley Education Association President Theresa Andreucci said on Oct. 31 the union had met the night before to review the findings but had not taken a vote. Just before 1 p.m. Oct. 31, Andreucci said no vote had yet been taken but the teachers would meet the Nov. 7 deadline.

“The trial is the largest of six federal fraud cases the U.S. Attorney's Office has brought against city charter schools and is the first to go to trial. Defendants in the other cases pleaded guilty”
Charter school founder's fraud trial gets underway
PHILADELPHIA As the $6.7 million fraud trial of Philadelphia charter school founder Dorothy June Brown got underway in federal court Wednesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys painted vivid - but radically different - portraits of the longtime educator and two former administrators.  "This is not a case about kids and schools and test scores," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Burnes told jurors. "This is a case about cheating and lying. This is a case about adults and money."

“In all, Brown is accused of defrauding the four charters she founded of $6.7 million.”
Phantom board members testify in charter founder's trial
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Friday, November 8, 2013, 2:01 AM
Jurors in the federal wire-fraud trial of charter school founder Dorothy June Brown on Thursday heard from three phantom board members who purportedly approved management contracts that enriched companies Brown controlled.  Lynn Bull, a reading specialist in Luzerne County, said Brown asked her in 2007 to serve on a charter board. But she said she expressed concerns about getting to board meetings because she lived in Williamsport. Also, she was never told the name of the school.  Bull said she never attended any board meetings and - until federal investigators contacted her - had no idea her name appeared in meeting minutes and other documents indicating she had served on the boards of two of Brown's four charter schools between 2005 and 2008 and was an active member.

Turnover plagues District's charter office as state considers changes to law
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 07 2013
The School District's charter schools office, faced with the task of monitoring and managing renewals for more than 80 charter schools, has been without a permanent executive director since the spring, when Doresah Ford-Bey left to take a job in Chicago
Meanwhile, the District has been tussling with charter schools over renewals, and the General Assembly has been considering an overhaul of the charter school law. 
Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn is overseeing the office while the District conducts a national search. Kihn said that despite the lack of an executive director, he thinks that, with six people, the office is adequately staffed.

 “What of the state constitution’s requirement of a “thorough and efficient system of public education?” Lower Merion’s average class size is 21. Philly’s “target” class size is 30 to 33. Lower Merion’s student body is 8 percent black, while Philly’s is just 14 percent white. Many Philly high schools are more than 90 percent black — 99 percent at Strawberry Mansion. In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that “segregation of white and Negro children in the public schools of a State solely on the basis of race, pursuant to state laws permitting or requiring such segregation” is unconstitutional. No matter.”
Why the new SRC chair will be more of the same profound disappointment
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 11/07/2013
Gov. Tom Corbett will soon choose a new chairperson of the School Reform Commission (SRC). Angry teachers, students and parents will likely (and probably rightfully) eventually find themselves screaming at this person. If Corbett makes a patently outrageous choice, the screaming will come sooner. Otherwise, it will come later, when that person assumes management of the decade-long and state-led dismantling of Philly public schools. 

“Unlike many Texas charters, particularly KIPP and IDEA public schools — which both formed with a mission to reach economically disadvantaged communities — Basis and Great Hearts tend to end up with student bodies that are disproportionately affluent and white.”
Debating New Charter Schools, Their Policies and Their Effects
New York Times/Texas Tribune By MORGAN SMITH Published: November 7, 2013
On an evening in late October, several hundred parents crowded into a Temple Beth-El auditorium near downtown San Antonio to learn about a new school opening next fall.
They were told of a campus culture that makes the cultivation of “wisdom and virtue” a top priority, instead of standardized test scores, but still sends most students to top colleges and universities. There would be a strict uniform policy and an atmosphere in which parents could feel safe dropping off their children for the day.

Gates Foundation Places Big Bet on Teacher Agenda
Critics fear outsized influence of philanthropy
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk Published Online: November 5, 2013
When Harvard professor Thomas Kane co-wrote a paper in 2006 on teacher quality, he did not expect that it would carry an import far beyond the insular world of Washington policy wonks.
Mr. Kane later got a big surprise: a summons to meet with one of the richest men in the world to talk about the paper, which showed that teachers' on-the-job performance varied widely and had little to do with their credentials. At that 2007 meeting in New York City's posh Pierre Hotel, he got still another surprise: Almost every inch of Bill Gates' copy was covered with handwritten notes.  "Bill got really excited," Mr. Kane said. "He was really interested in figuring out what these great teachers were doing, and in the idea that one of the most powerful things he could do would be to provide school districts with better ways of identifying their best teachers."
It would prove a decisive moment for the $38 billion private philanthropy that bears the Gates name. Six years later, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent nearly $700 million on its teacher-quality agenda, according to an Education Week analysis.

“In short, if we were serious about education, then our education discussion wouldn’t be focused on demonizing teachers and coming up with radical schemes to undermine traditional public schools. It would instead be focused on mounting a new war on poverty and thus directly addressing the biggest education problem of all.”
We need a war on poverty, not teachers
The right loves to demonize unions, but economic factors are much more important to success in the classroom by DAVID SIROTA, CREATORS SYNDICATE NOV 7, 2013 06:58 PM EST
Google the phrase “education crisis” and you’ll be hit with a glut of articles, blog posts and think tank reports claiming the entire American school system is facing an emergency. Much of this agitprop additionally asserts that teachers unions are the primary cause of the alleged problem. Not surprisingly, the fabulists pushing these narratives are often backed by anti-public school conservatives and anti-union plutocrats. But a little-noticed study released last week provides yet more confirmation that neither the “education crisis” meme nor the “evil teachers union” narrative is accurate.

Name-calling turns nasty in education world 
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 11/8/13 5:02 AM EST
When major figures in the education world debate policy, they usually start out with a gauzy declaration that it’s all about the children.
Then they begin hurling insults.
High-profile activists including union leaders and at least one member of Congress have tarred one another with choice epithets including slave master, murderer, bitch, charlatan, roach and bully bound for hell. And that’s just in the past six months.
Behind the nasty rhetoric are substantive disagreements over important issues like charter schools, teacher evaluations and private school vouchers. But the substance tends to get lost in all the smack talk.

NSBA promotes new vision statement for future of public schools
School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min November 7, 2013
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has unveiled a new vision statement, “elevator speech,” and guiding principles, important tools that will help public school advocates speak on key topics and boost NSBA’s presence as a leading advocate for public education and school board governance.  The documents were written by NSBA’s Board of Directors as part of NSBA’s mission to expand its legislative, legal, and public advocacy agendas.
These are an important step to build NSBA’s ‘army of advocates’ and influence key federal legislative issues, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said in a video showcasing the new documents.

When the IRRC considered the Keystone Exams in 2009, school districts all over PA passed resolutions in opposition; was your district one of them?
School Board Resolutions Opposing Keystone Exams Submitted to IRRC - 2009

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 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:

Mark B. Miller to speak at Nov. 12th conference on school violence
Congratulations to PSBA First Vice President Mark B. Miller for presenting at an upcoming conference related to school violence. Miller will offer a presentation titled “Breaking the Circle of Violence: Bullying, Duty of Care, and Deliberate Indifference” in Linthicum Heights, MD on Nov. 12. For more details, click here

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education Center for Urban Education presents  “Building the Capacity of Schools to Meet Students’ Needs”
Pedro A. Noguera, PhD; Friday, November 15, 2013; 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
David Lawrence Hall, Room 121; 3942 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh
The event is free and open to the public

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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