Friday, November 1, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 1, 2013: Vouchers? We don’t need no stinking vouchers.

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 November 1, 2013:
Vouchers? We don’t need no stinking vouchers.

“Democrats in the Legislature have pounded the governor for what they see as too little investment in education, and Democratic primary campaigns -- including those of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord -- are talking up their support for public schools. It's the issue voters name more than any other as the most important problem facing Pennsylvania, the Franklin & Marshall poll found, followed closely by two others: unemployment and personal finances, and government and politicians.”
Gov. Corbett to announce re-election bid next week
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau October 31, 2013 9:44 PM
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett will return to Pittsburgh next week to kick off a formidable task: a bid for re-election in the face of approval ratings that have energized Democrats and prompted some Republicans to question if he is the best candidate to lead their ticket.
The governor, a Republican, will announce his campaign for a second term Wednesday morning at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District before heading out on a statewide tour, according to three people with knowledge of the plan. The tour will start in Pittsburgh and hit the major cities in Pennsylvania, said Jim Roddey, the county Republican chairman and former Allegheny County executive. The history center, where Mr. Corbett announced his campaign in 2009, confirmed the governor has an event scheduled that morning.

PCCY, Shapiro call for greater state funding for Montgomery County school districts
By Jenny DeHuff, The Times Herald POSTED: 10/31/13, 5:55 PM EDT |
NORRISTOWN — Calling state budget cuts in public school funding handed down “draconian,” representatives from the Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) assembled on the Montgomery County Courthouse steps Thursday afternoon to push for a new formula for financing county school districts.  Joined by Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro, Donna Cooper, executive director of PCCY, said that findings in a new PCCY report revealed that approximately 15,700 Montgomery County students are not reading, writing or doing mathematics at grade level.

Group calls for more school funding in Montco
LAST UPDATED: Friday, November 1, 2013, 2:01 AM
A child-advocacy organization said Thursday that Montgomery County's public schools have the greatest per-classroom spending disparity among the four suburban Pennsylvania counties.
It also called on Harrisburg legislators to help close that gap by increasing state funding for education.  On the steps of the county courthouse in Norristown, the Philadelphia-based Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) released "The Bottom Line Is Children: Public Education in Montgomery County," a report examining various aspects of education for the 104,876 students in the county's 21 public school districts.

Montgomery County Schools Face Changing Economic Landscape
PCCY Press Release October 31, 2013
(PHILADELPHIA) October, 31 2013 – The number of low-income children in Montgomery County school districts have increased by nearly 50% in the last four years, and without adequate funding for schools, many of these students are falling behind.
Montgomery County districts have less to invest and we are seeing the results.
  • Only half of children attend full day kindergarten.
  • 93.3% graduation rate, highest among suburban Philadelphia counties.
  • Despite high graduation rate, 15% of students perform below grade level. A majority of those students are in the Norristown and Pottstown School Districts.
  • Montgomery County school districts would receive $34 million in additional funding if Pennsylvania still followed the school funding formula adopted in 2008.
Montgomery County has some of the best school districts in southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “But even the highest performing districts have felt the effects of the state’s lack of investment in public schools.”

Letters: It's time Pa. gave schools their fair share opinion by KENYATTA JOHNSON Friday, November 1, 2013, 3:01 AM
GOV. CORBETT and the General Assembly have a legal and moral obligation to fully fund an education system that provides a quality learning experience for all children throughout the commonwealth. In order to make this a reality, the state must adopt a school-funding formula that ensures that individual school districts receive the resources they need to properly educate our children.  According to a report by the Education Law Center, in 2010 Pennsylvania contributed only 35.8 percent of the funding for our education system, ranking our commonwealth as the 10th-lowest state in the country in this regard. The report highlights Pennsylvania as one of the only states in the nation that does not use an education-funding formula designed to meet the different needs of individual school districts.

Blogger’s Commentary:
Vouchers? We don’t need no stinking vouchers…...
These are the same folks who pushed for vouchers in PA.  There are easier ways to take the “public” out of public schools; to use tax dollars for private and religious schools; to remove the “impediment” of democratic governance from what should be a public good; to take transparency and accountability away from taxpayers/voters.

Its not just a parent’s choice – those “backpacks of money that follow the child” are full of taxpayer’s money.  Should a gang of rich folks with agendas get to decide where the money goes?  Members of PSP’s board are neither elected nor appointed.

Keep in mind that Pennsylvania’s “successful EITC program” permits scholarship organizations to keep 20% of the funds for administration; similar programs in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia cap administrative costs at 3 percent to 10 percent.
How universal enrollment highlights expanded role for Philadelphia School Partnership
Notebook by Helen Gym on Oct 31 2013 Posted in Commentary
The Philadelphia School Partnership’s role in a controversial Council briefing on universal enrollment last month highlights the organization’s role in lobbying for controversial education policies and initiatives – even as it promotes itself as a philanthropy.
Last week, I wrote about PSP’s plan to create a private entity that would “outsource the enrollment and placement” of students into District, charter, and parochial schools. “PhillySchoolApp,” as the entity is being dubbed, would take the concept of “common enrollment” beyond what any other city has done. First, it would include parochial schools and coordinate the availability of tax-subsidized scholarships in the matching process. And second, it would take the crucial function of student placement out of the hands of the School District.

Letter: Explaining Education Law Center's role in the universal enrollment effort
thenotebook letter by David Lapp of The Education Law Center on Oct 31 2013
The following letter from a staff attorney at the Education Law Center was sent in response to a commentary by Helen Gym that appeared last week regarding the creation of a universal enrollment system being spearheaded by the Philadelphia School Partnership. The Education Law Center is a member of the working group involved in developing the universal enrollment system.
Dear Helen,
Thank you for offering the chance to explain our role on the universal enrollment working group of the Great Schools Compact. As you know, before the District, various charter schools, the Mayor’s Office, and Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Archdiocese entered into the Great Schools Compact in 2011, there was very little chance for public comment. ELC supported the general notion of a Compact as a space to collaborate, particularly for the District and charter operators. We also supported the intent to pursue a system of universal public school enrollment, as reflected in the Compact agreement.

Shrinking schools: Pittsburgh must study why enrollment is slipping
PIttsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial October 31, 2013 5:51 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools district didn't need more disappointment, but that's what it got in its 2013-14 enrollment figures.  The system has 324 fewer students than it had a year ago, which may not sound like a lot, but the drop represents the continuation of a decade-long descent for a system that now has 24,525 students in kindergarten through senior high school.
The who and where of the story is discouraging.

Proposed Allentown charter school calls for 'video game-like' instruction
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on October 31, 2013 at 8:48 PM
Imagine a classroom with every student carrying an iPad instead of a book bag, learning with software that resembles a video game.  That is the vision described by a computer technology company seeking to establish the Computer Aid Inc. Learning Academy Charter School in Allentown.  "It will be an entirely different and innovative style," said Tony Salvaggio, president of Computer Aid Inc. "... It's a whole different world."  The Allentown School Board met today to consider the proposed charter for the K-8 school, which would operate at 1033 W. Washington St. if approved.

Hazleton Area school benefiting from hybrid learning program
Hazelton Standard Speaker BY MIA LIGHT (STAFF WRITER) Published: October 30, 2013
Teaching in today's classroom doesn't always involve textbooks and black boards. For tech-savvy students of the 21st Century, a new hybrid learning system is the freshest way to learn.
The hybrid learning system, which the state Department of Education recently tested in 15 public schools across the state including Hazleton Area, combines three teaching methods - instruction from the teacher, collaborative learning in small groups, and independent study using digital instruction - in one classroom, which, experts say, helps students absorb a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

“In God We Trust.”  “The phrase appears on our money, which happens to be what our schools actually require. Maybe someone from Rep. Saccone’s home township of Elizabeth Forward can remind him that students in that district alone are missing over $825,000 lost to budget cuts in the past two years. [Partners for Public Education Budget Calculator] I’m sure if Rep. Saccone wants to send Elizabeth Forward 825,000 one-dollar bills, they would be happy to display a few of them on the walls of their school buildings.”
Trick or Treat
Yinzercation Blog October 31, 2013
State Representative Rick Saccone put on his Halloween costume a week early and went trick-or-treating in the Pennsylvania House. It’s just not clear what his costume was supposed to be and if he was trying to pull a trick on our schools – or perhaps looking for a treat to appeal to those voters who don’t believe in the separation of church and state. Rep. Saccone, a Republican from right here in Allegheny County, introduced legislation that would require every public school to display the words “In God We Trust.”  This is what Rep. Saccone and his colleagues think our schools need? The words themselves weren’t adopted as our national motto until 1956 at the height of the Cold War and McCarthyism, under the Red Scare of communism.

"It showed if kids can't read at grade level by third grade, the student thinks about dropping out in fifth grade, and by seventh or eighth grade, they start to disengage."
Corbett’s wife talks dropout program
Pa.’s first lady says matter is personal as former teacher
By Russ O’Reilly ( , The Altoona Mirror October 31, 2013
During a visit to Altoona Wednesday, Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett visited the Mirror to talk about her high school dropout prevention initiative, Opening Doors.  The dropout crisis, she said, has been a personal concern of hers since she was a 22-year-old English teacher at North Lebanon High School.  Currently, 17.4 percent - or nearly one in five - Pennsylvania students does not make it to high school graduation with their classmates, the Opening Doors website states.

How to Fight Poverty--and Win
Education Week Bridging Differences Blog By Mike Petrilli on October 31, 2013 9:42 AM
Dear Deborah,
Thanks for the opportunity to debate the critical issues in education and social policy with you. You are an icon and a hero, and it's been a true honor.  Someday I'd like to write a book on anti-poverty efforts, and I hope it might have the title above. Understanding that my knowledge about this vast topic is still limited, here's a first cut at the basic outline. I think you'll agree that there are quite a few items on the list about which we can agree.

Video: John Stewart’s Two-Part Interview With Diane Ravitch
October 31, 2013 by Larry Ferlazzo Video runtime part 1: 5:59; part 2: 7:14
Diane Ravitch was on The Daily Show last night. Here’s her two-part interview, which includes an “extended” portion that only appeared on the Web.

Ravitch: Michelle Rhee and I Will Debate on Feb 6 at Lehigh University
Last March, Lehigh University invited Michelle Rhee and me to debate on its campus in Pennsylvania. We both accepted. After agreeing, Michelle said we should both have a second on our team, not a 1:1 debate. I agreed. Months went by, and she said she preferred to have a third on both teams, and I agreed.  I think we have finally reached an agreement. I have my second and third lined up. I assume she does as well.  The debate will be February 6 at Lehigh University.  All are welcome! More details to follow.

School Improvement Model Shows Promise in First i3 Evaluation
Education Week By Sarah D. Sparks Published Online: October 30, 2013
One of the biggest early bets in the U.S. Department of Education's Investing in Innovation program seems to be paying off: Success for All, a literacy-related, whole-school improvement model, shows signs of changing teaching practice and boosting students' early-literacy skills after a year in schools.  The findings come from a new study by the New York City-based research group MDRC, the first of three installments in an ongoing $6.7 million evaluation of Success for All, a popular school-improvement model used in 1,000 schools representing 300,000 students nationwide. The program, which includes schoolwide curriculum, tutors, bimonthly student assessments, and teacher training, received $49.3 million from the federal i3 program in 2009 to expand its school improvement model and increase training for teachers and staff.

China’s 10 new and surprising school reform rules
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS October 30 at 12:00 pm
Earlier this year China began a major education reform initiative designed to increase student engagement and end student boredom and anxiety. Curbing standardized testing was one aim. Scholar Yong Zhao wrote about it first in this post, and, now, below, gives us the latest developments.  Yong Zhao is the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, and is a fellow of the International Academy for Education. This is an updated version of a piece that appeared on his blog.

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:

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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