Monday, November 4, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 4, 2013: With more than 270 tests at Pittsburgh schools this year, when is enough enough?

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 4, 2013:
With more than 270 tests at Pittsburgh schools this year, when is enough enough?

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow, November 5th

EPLC Education Notebook Friday, November 1, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

A broken system: Law governing PA charter schools needs reworking
By Jenna Ebersole Pocono Record Writer November 03, 2013
The tension at the meeting reached a peak when one mother got to her feet.
"We have to accept that what was done was wrong," Gisela Vasquez said with frustration about the history of Pocono Mountain Charter School.  Several other parents rose in anger to counter her words. The clash between Vasquez and other parents underlined a night of anxiety in August as charter school administrators met to explain the revocation of the school's charter.
Vasquez said she wants the school to survive, but its troubled past continued to be divisive even among supporters.  But the contentious history at PMCS is just one example of how, experts say, flawed state legislation for charter schools has played out in practice.
Officials say the system, which is borne by taxpayers, needs review to fix problems with funding, accountability and the unfunded mandate that public school districts must provide oversight.

Acting Ed Sec’y Dumaresq: Praise for Hite, SRC and their reform efforts Opinion POSTED: Sunday, November 3, 2013, 2:02 AM
Carolyn C. Dumaresq is Pennsylvania's acting secretary of education
When Gov. Corbett recently announced the release of $45 million in one-time state funding to the city for the School District of Philadelphia for this school year, he cautioned that additional funding was only part of the solution. He stated that true reform requires the will and hard work of all parties to accomplish the goals we all want for Philadelphia's students.
Nowhere is this more evident than in what Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and the School Reform Commission are seeking to achieve in the collective bargaining process with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Pa.'s revenue collections continue to come in better than expected
By Jan Murphy |  on November 01, 2013 at 5:14 PM
Pennsylvania took in $2.1 billion last month with all three of the major taxes – sales, personal income and corporation taxes – generating more than was anticipated for October.
The state Department of Revenue's monthly revenue report shows overall collections for the fourth month of the fiscal year came in $29 million, or 1.4 percent, more than anticipated, to support the state’s $28.4 billion budget bill that Gov. Tom Corbett signed on June 30.
That brings the fiscal year-to-date collections to  $8.2 billion, which is $41.8 million, or 0.5 percent, above estimate.

With more than 270 tests at Pittsburgh schools this year, when is enough enough?
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 2, 2013 11:08 PM
Get those No. 2 pencils ready.
In the Pittsburgh Public Schools this school year, a total of more than 270 tests -- required by the state or district -- will be given to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
In fourth grade alone, there are 33 required tests, just shy of one a week on average and the most of any grade level. That's still about 10 fewer tests than fourth-graders took last year.
The district has no choice for some of them; the state mandates them.

Pittsburgh, board of education seek end to revenue strain
By Moriah Balingit / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 3, 2013 11:25 PM
In 2004, as part of a raft of legislation to rescue Pittsburgh from near bankruptcy, the state Legislature transferred a portion of a tax levied by the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education to the city.  At the time, the school district seemed to be on firm financial footing with a healthy reserve fund of around $90 million. The city, on the other hand, was sinking into financial distress and facing a $77 million hole in its budget.  But now the financial portrait of both bodies has changed -- even reversed, some say. While the city has boasted balanced budgets and bond upgrades for several years running, the school district is facing the possibility of being placed on a financial watch list by the state within the next few years if it continues down its current path.

Pennsylvania’s Education Funding Formula Redistributes Wealth
Mediatrackers By: Jim Panyard | November 01, 2013
Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding (BEF) formula is a complicated system developed over years of political in-fighting, social awareness, and local sensitivities.  Few understand it, but while it might not take a village to raise a child, it certainly takes all kinds of tax dollars to provide for one in a public school.  The current debate over the possibility of ending school property taxes statewide leads to the question of which of the state’s 500 school districts receive the most money per student (including all local, state, and federal tax dollars).
The following numbers are based on figures from the state Department of Education.

About that $45m..$10m to charters?
Inquirer Philly School Files by Kristen Graham SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2013, 10:00 AM
So how is the Philadelphia School District spending the $45 million released by the governor last month?  Some of the money is going to restore employees. District spokesman Fernando Gallard said that 80 counselors will be recalled on Monday. An unspecified number of assistant principals, secretaries, school support aides, and school operations officers will also be recalled.
Some of the money will go for school programming - things like fees for AP exams, IB programs and credit recovery.  Some of the money guarantees that the district's instrumental music program can run all school year. Some pays for a full year of sports.
And some - $10 million - is being set aside for charter schools, a hot button issue. Many groups fighting for district funds say that all of the $45 million should go directly into district-run schools, with not a penny spent on charters.

Phila. schools rehire 80 laid-off counselors
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Monday, November 4, 2013, 2:01 AM
Eighty counselors laid off in a brutal budget crunch will return to Philadelphia schools Monday - not enough help, officials said, but good news nonetheless.  Now, every high school will have at least one or the equivalent of one full-time counselor. Some schools will divide the counselor position between two people. Overall, 169 schools will have counseling services five days a week, and 46 will have one counselor shared between two schools. Sixty-three counselors remain laid off.

If enough of the missing students turn up in charters, District budget worries would grow
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 01 2013 Posted in Latest news
The School District is trying to find 4,000 students that it expected to enroll in September who didn't show up.  Many of those may have switched to charter schools. Superintendent William Hite has said that of the $45 million that the state released last month, about $10 million has been set aside in anticipation of higher charter payments, which are mandated based on enrollment.
If it turns out that more than 1,000 or so of the missing students turn up in charters, that $10 million figure could go higher and create a new budget hole. District officials say they still don't have a definitive count of charter enrollment citywide.

City woman addresses Philly school crisis by opening her own
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Monday, November 4, 2013, 2:01 AM
Katharine Savage is a devoted city dweller, a believer in public education who joined a civic group devoted to improving the neighborhood school she imagined her three children would someday attend.  But as she watched budget battles erode programs in the Philadelphia School District, Savage balked and began to explore different paths.  "I didn't want to base my children's education on a politician's whims, and I didn't have much faith that public schools would sustain my kids over the long haul," she said.  The city's elite private schools were too pricey. There was no guarantee her children would get into charters. And Savage dreamed of a curriculum rooted in the classics, much like her own education.

PA Governor’s School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University Accepting Applications for Summer 2014 Program
PDE Press Release October 29, 2013
Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University is now accepting applications from talented high school juniors for the summer 2014 program, scheduled for June 29 through Aug. 2, 2014.  With the support of Governor Tom Corbett, the state Department of Education, Carnegie Mellon University and the school’s alumni, the program offers an enrichment experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and encourages Pennsylvania’s youth to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. It is open to students who attend a public, nonpublic and private school, or are homeschooled.The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences is an intensive, five-week summer residential program that emphasizes cooperative learning and hands-on laboratory research for 56 high school juniors pursuing careers in science and mathematics.

Daily EDition to replace PSBA School Leader News
PSBA’s website 11/1/2013
Since 1963, PSBA has been informing its members on key legislative items and other issues affecting public education through its weekly Information Legislative Service and more recently School Leader News. The last printed issue of School Leader News will be published Nov. 15. A new School Leader News Daily EDition will replace the current version and be distributed electronically every day.  We are confident that this change from a printed bimonthly version to a daily version will not only provide a more timely update, but also address the growing concern among our members about the constant influx of printed materials we send. In short, SLN Daily EDition means faster information in a more environmentally friendly format.
The new School Leader News Daily EDition provides a snapshot on news, professional development and issues impacting public education and allows members to get on with their day. Many times the brief information will have links to more in-depth articles that can be read as time allows or special issues may focus on topics such as the state budget.

Can America’s Kids Succeed? Critical Investments Should Target the First Eight Years of Life, Report Finds
Only 36 percent of third graders on track in cognitive development; low-income and minority children faring even worse.
Press Release Annie E. Casey Foundation November 4, 2013
BALTIMORE — The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT® policy report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, presents a strong case for investing in the early years of a child's life. Decades of brain and child development research show that kids who enter kindergarten with below-average language and cognitive skills can catch up — but only if they are physically healthy and have strong social and emotional skills.
“All children need nurturing and plentiful opportunities to develop during their crucial first eight years,” said  Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Today's complicated world can strain families' ability to ensure their children are receiving all the stimulation and care they need to develop to their full potential.”

Koch group, unions battle over Colorado schools race
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 11/2/13 4:16 PM EST
It isn’t often that the Koch brothers’ political advocacy group gets involved in a local school board race.  But this fall, Americans for Prosperity is spending big in the wealthy suburbs south of Denver to influence voters in the Douglas County School District, which has gone further than any district in the nation to reshape public education into a competitive, free-market enterprise.
The conservatives who control the board have neutered the teachers union, prodded neighborhood elementary schools to compete with one another for market share, directed tax money to pay for religious education and imposed a novel pay scale that values teachers by their subjects, so a young man teaching algebra to eighth graders can make $20,000 a year more than a colleague teaching world history down the hall.

Colorado Is Asking Taxpayers for $1 Billion to Help Schools
New York Times By JACK HEALY Published: November 3, 2013 124 Comments
DENVER — In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull.
For decades, schools like these have struggled to keep pace with their bigger and wealthier neighbors. On Tuesday, Colorado will try to address those problems with one of the most ambitious and sweeping education overhauls in the country, asking voters to approve a $1 billion tax increase in exchange for more school funding and an educator’s wish-list of measures.

Public schools aren't broken. So why are we trying so hard to break them?
Sensible Talk Blog By Robert Niles Published: October 31, 2013 at 9:54 AM (MST)
If a group of wealthy children of college-education parents — kids who get homework help at home and tutoring on the weekends — score better on a test than a group of poor children of non-English speaking immigrants who can't provide help at home, what does that tell us? Does that tell us anything about the kids' schools, or their teachers? Or do those scores just tell us something about those kids themselves?  Is a school attended exclusively by the first group of kids a "better" school than one attended by the second group? What would happen if both groups switched schools for a year? Would the first group score worse on tests, and the second group better? Or would the results look pretty much the same? What if both groups went to the same school? Would that school be "good," or "bad"?
For too long, politicians and the public have judged schools — and our American public education system — simplistically, by looking at top-line test scores. We've looked at where students end up — completely ignoring where they started, and far they have come to get there. Then we give assign credit or blame to students, teachers, and schools with no consideration for where those students began when they first stepped into their schools.
I'm reminded of the late Molly Ivins' devastating line about George W. Bush: "He was born on third base, and thought he'd hit a triple."

“He concluded there are nine important courses for math teachers-to-be to take (such as observation, analysis and reflection on mathematical teaching and multivariate calculus, for instance), but only a third of U.S. middle school teachers who participated in the study had enrolled in at least eight of them.  When Schmidt followed up with these teachers two years later, he found that they were teaching in high-poverty schools.”
Research suggests poor quality of teacher training programs in U.S. compared to other countries
Hechinger Ed POSTED BY Aisha Asif ON October 30, 2013
The United States has some of the best university-based math teacher training programs in the world. But we also have some of the worst – and those poor performing programs produce 60 percent of the country’s teachers in schools with the highest percentage of students living in poverty, according toresearch released earlier this month from William Schmidt, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University. The United States was the only country in his study to have such a wide range of performance by math teachers in teacher preparation programs.  Improving teacher quality has emerged as a key strategy to increasing America’s global competitiveness, but teacher preparation programs are often criticized for being too easy to get into and too easy to complete.  Schmidt’s research argues that the programs also aren’t teaching what they need to be.

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:

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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