Sunday, December 15, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 15, 2013: Only one-third of 166 PA charter schools that were eligible for a score on new School Performance Profile received a score of 70 or higher, the Department of Education said.

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 15, 2013:
Only one-third of 166 PA charter schools that were eligible for a score on new School Performance Profile received a score of 70 or higher, the Department of Education said.


Entire PA Delegation Votes For Murray-Ryan
PoliticsPA Written by Nick Field, Contributing Writer December 13, 2013
It’s a Christmas miracle! The recent cycle of government shutdowns is over – at least for the next two years.  Every single member of Pennsylvania’s House delegation voted for the bill to fund governmental appropriations for fiscal 2014.  The budget deal, which was negotiated by Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), was announced on Tuesday. Combining sequester relief and deficit reduction, the deal would set discretionary spending levels for the next two years at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion respectively.

Senate expected to pass budget bill -- narrowly
CNN By Tedd Barrett, Senior Congressional Producer Fri December 13, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The House passed a compromise budget bill easily, sending it to the Senate
  • Bill aims to avert another government shutdown as early as mid January
  • It would also ease unpopular spending cuts to the military and other programs
  • Majority Democrats need some Republican support to get measure through Senate
(CNN) -- It was smooth sailing in the House, but things are looking much tighter in the Senate for a bipartisan budget proposal that aims to avert another government shutdown and relax sweeping forced spending cuts.  Still, despite strong opposition from Republicans to the compromise, supporters are within striking distance of rounding up the votes they need to pass it in the Senate next week.  Top aides in both parties privately expressed confidence on Friday the bill will get the necessary support, even if a couple of wary moderate Democrats end up voting "no."  At least four Republicans told CNN they are committed to backing procedural votes needed to pass the measure.

Senator Pat Toomey says he'll vote against budget deal
Staff and wire reports 4:31 p.m. EST, December 13, 2013
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said Friday he will vote against the two-year bipartisan budget deal adopted overwhelmingly by the House on Thursday.  "I have maintained that any budget deal alternative to current law must preserve the taxpayer savings of existing law," the Republican U.S. senator from Lehigh County said in a statement. "The budget agreement does not accomplish this basic goal.
At Pennsylvania Society, it's the return of Candidate Corbett: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on December 14, 2013 at 1:48 PM,
There’s no denying that being governor of a large state is a pretty good gig.
Business leaders seek your attention. Supplicants for various causes seek your support. And, every now and again, if you’re lucky, you get to have drinks and cigars with a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. More on that one later.  But in a lot of ways this Pennsylvania Society weekend, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett was no different from the Democrats who want a chance to send him packing in 2014.  Like his would-be challengers — eight at last count — Corbett made the rounds of cocktail parties, receptions and fund-raisers as he sought win over Democrats and independents, as well as shore up support among members of his own party, as he heads into what even his allies acknowledge will be a bruising re-election campaign.
“We all know where his numbers are,” Gene Barr, the president and CEO of the influential Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said in an interview on Saturday morning. “He knows he’s in for a fight. And it appears he’s ready for a fight.” 

“Of the 166 charter schools that were eligible for a score, 65 received a score of 70 or higher, the Department of Education said. That is just one-third of the schools.
Education Department officials are concerned about the charter school scores, and the agency is in the process of reviewing the performance of the traditional public schools the charter students previously attended, spokesman Tim Eller said.  A student may be coming from a low-performing school and that achievement gap is not something a charter school can erase in a year, Eller said.”
Complete statewide school grade data released
Delco Times By MARC LEVY, Of The Associated Press POSTED: 12/12/13, 7:24 PM
HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania school officials gave mixed reviews of their grades under a new system that state officials say will help parents, administrators and the public to assess and improve student achievement.
Education officials released the remaining performance scores Wednesday for all 3,200 traditional, charter, cyber and technical schools after complaints about inaccurately entered data delayed about one-fifth of them, primarily high schools, for two months. The school performance scores are also used to inform the state’s new performance ratings for teachers and principals.
Officials in districts where poverty is more prevalent suggested the results are skewed against them, while charter schools showed signs of struggle.

State has paid millions to charter schools since SRC suspended the code
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Dec 13 2013 Posted in Latest news
The Pennsylvania Department of Education revealed today that it has directly paid more than $3.7 million in disputed per pupil allotments to six Philadelphia charter schools this fall. That's $3.7 million in expected state aid that the School District won't be receiving.
The state's payments to charters appear to defy an August decison of the School Reform Commission that suspended the part of the school code requiring the state to make such payments when a charter and a district disagree about how much the district should pay them. 
The SRC action was designed to allow the District to control charter growth -- to impose enrollment caps -- so that it could plan financially. But the issue of whether the District can limit a charter's enrollment has long been the object of legal and political wrangling between the Philadelphia District and its charters.

NEIU renames, rebrands alternative education
BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) Published: December 15, 2013
ARCHBALD - At one end of the classroom, students color a mural of historic authors. More students work on computers, and a small group meets with the teacher.  There is a new way of learning - and a new name - at the Alternative Learning Center.  Not only has the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit changed the school's name to the Achievement Academy, it has changed the way students learn.  "It fills a need for students who do not learn in a traditional way," said Mary Ann Cartegna, the director of special education for the NEIU.
The hybrid model - in which the students learn online, from their teacher and in vocational opportunities - is the first of its kind in Lackawanna County.
New model - Districts had been asking the NEIU for transition opportunities for students, or a better way to prepare special education students for life after graduation. The school serves as an alternative placement for students, who eventually graduate with a diploma from their home school district. The districts pay the NEIU tuition for students to attend the school.

Top Republican bracing for rough budget season: Pennsylvania Society update
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com on December 13, 2013 at 5:25 PM,
Forget about counting the humber of shopping days until Christmas. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, is already looking ahead to the 2014-15 budget season.  Gov. Tom Corbett will roll out his spending plan on the first Tuesday in February - as mandated by law. But Adolph, who was among the attendees at this weekend's Pennsylvania Society gala in Manhattan, says he wants to hear from administration Budget Secretary Charles Zogby during next week's annual mid-year briefing.

High-risk school reform
Not until reformers ask why teachers leave the profession in droves will we accurately diagnose the problem
Post-Gazette Opinion By David Morris December 15, 2013 12:00 AM
David Morris teaches English at North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless
In case auld acquaintance be forgot, “A Nation at Risk,” the landmark Reagan commission report on America’s public schools that augured “a rising tide of mediocrity,” turned an unhappy 30 this year.  By all accounts, the three decades since the warning was sounded have done little to allay fears that we’re headed for flood stage should the status quo persist.
Practically beyond debate is the contention that public schools need reforming. Under the banner of “accountability,” a glittering generality usually digested whole, the reformers have mobilized widespread support for Big Ed’s holy trinity: standards, testing and teacher evaluations.

The letter below was a response to my Dec. 6th OP/ED in the Delco Times.  My letter was an attempt to let the public know that while charters are publicly-funded schools that offer parents and children a choice, they operate under a regulatory environment that provides little if any accountability for public tax dollars.  The current version of SB1085, pending charter reform legislation, would significantly exacerbate that situation.  Perhaps if the owner of the for-profit company that operates Mr. Clark’s school had not contributed $354,000 to Governor Corbett’s election the complaints against the school for testing irregularities might not have been “officially dismissed”; his fealty to his boss might blind him to the excesses detailed in my letter.
Letter: Charter schools offer parents a real choice
Delco Times LTE POSTED: 12/13/13, 10:01 PM EST |
By DAVE CLARK CEO, Chester Community Charter School 
To the Times:
In “Charter school bill: A disaster for education in Pennsylvania,” (Delco Times, Dec. 6, 2013) Lawrence Feinberg seems not to understand that charter schools are public schools that offer parents and their children a viable choice.  Indeed, in an effort to demonize charter education, Mr. Feinberg fails to recognize that, just like there are good and bad public schools, there are charter schools that perform well and others that are not up to the task. They are not one-size-fits-all institutions.

Demand Senator Anthony Williams Reverse Himself on SB 1085
We Want More Charter School Accountability, Not Less
Where: 2901 Island Ave, Suite 100       When:  Monday, December 15th,  3pm
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools Posted on December 13, 2013
Senate Bill 1085 is a dagger aimed at the heart of neighborhood public schools.   It would effectively remove any controls local school districts have over the monitoring of charter schools and would further aggravate Philadelphia’s fiscal crisis.   The District could not cap charter school enrollment, the period for charter renewal would be doubled, and universities, rather than the district, could approve new charters without reference to the needs of the local district.   This represents a further shift toward privatizing education.  This bill is supported by the corporate school reform lobby but opposed by virtually all other education advocacy groups.   With the exception of Senator Williams, the whole city Democratic caucus is against it.
Senator Williams wants to by Mayor of Philadelphia.   But he is leading the fight to dismantle our public schools.   Is this acceptable?  Join us at his office.   A delegation will meet with him and the rest of us will demonstrate outside.

School rooftops become solar farms under company's plan
WHYY Newsworks BY ZACK SEWARD DECEMBER 13, 2013 ONWARD BLOG
A clear, cold day on a South Kensington rooftop. Some 444 solar panels covered in snow.
"Our job today is take the snow off of every—no, I'm just kidding," Micah Gold-Markel said to the four high school students standing on the football field-sized roof. He's the founder of the local benefit corporation Solar States; they're fromYouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School.
"And our goal, with the Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative, is that next year some of these students will install [solar panels] on 20 schools throughout the city," Gold-Markel said.
He's still a ways off from achieving that goal. Gold-Markel says Philadelphia schools could be a solar goldmine — with their large, often flat roofs. But to get there, Solar States is turning to crowdfunding first.

“As researchers Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, have noted, there is no general education crisis in the United States. There is a child poverty crisis that is impacting education.
Here's one data point worth remembering. When you measure the test scores of American schools with a child poverty rate of less than 20%, our kids not only outperform the Finns, they outperform every nation in the world.”
A poverty, not education, crisis in U.S.: Column
USA Today by Oliver Thomas4:57 p.m. EST December 10, 2013
New studies show that the number of poor children is rising and the impact it has on learning.
  • One study reveals that nearly half of all American public school students live in poverty.
  • Another shows poverty and not race or national origin is best predictor of college attendance.
  • As a nation, we need to move beyond treating the symptoms to addressing root causes.
The latest results of the Program for International Student Assessment — which measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in math, reading and science — were released last week, and once again Finland is near the top. True, this time students in Asia claimed many of the top spots. But Finland's system remains one of the world's highest-performing, with itsuniversal preschool program, site-based management and dislike of standardized testing often cited for its success.
By comparison, U.S. student scores remained in the middle of the pack. But the most telling difference between Finns and Americans when it comes to education is child poverty.
Poverty is the most relevant factor in determining the outcome of a person's educational journey, and in Finland, the child poverty rate is about 5%. In the U.S.,the rate is almost five times as high. Unlike us, the Finns calculate the rate of poverty after accounting for government aid, but the differences remain substantial.

“In Texas, commercial entities cannot run public schools. But when a school’s management — including accounting, marketing and hiring decisions — is contracted out to a private company, the distinction can become artificial. Such an arrangement raises questions about how to ensure financial accountability when the boundary between public and private is blurred, and the rules of public disclosure governing expenditures of taxpayer money do not apply.”
When Private Firms Run Schools, Financial Secrecy Is Allowed
New York Times/THE TEXAS TRIBUNE By MORGAN SMITH Published: December 14, 2013
On a recently approved Texas charter school application, blacked-out paragraphs appear on almost 100 of its 393 pages.
Redactions on the publicly available online version of the application often extend for pages at a time. They include sections on the school’s plan to support students’ academic success, its extracurricular activities and the “extent to which any private entity, including any management company” will be involved in the school’s operation. The “shaded material,” according to footnotes, is confidential proprietary or financial information.
The school, part of an Arizona charter school network, opened a campus in San Antonio this year. It was technically formed under a nonprofit, but its management is handled by a private company, the Basis Educational Group, owned by the school’s founders. A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said redactions appeared on the application because the information was copyrighted.

Federal education reform is doomed
Arne Duncan and other policymakers must acknowledge that schooling alone cannot create an equity of opportunity
Salon.com by RAUL GARDEA, NEXT NEW DEAL FRIDAY, DEC 13, 2013 07:50 AM EST
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hastily walked back his comments recently after dismissing Common Core opponents as “white suburban moms”  who had suddenly realized that their kids aren’t as bright as they thought. This sparked a furor amongst parents and educators and thrust the Common Core back into the spotlight. Although the controversy over standards-based education is nothing new, it speaks volumes that the outrage doesn’t make the evening news until white suburban moms are singled out. If there is something positive to be gleaned from Duncan’s tactless comments, it is the public recognition that these federal policies have stratified education along race and class divisions—policies that Duncan presides over and advocates for as Obama’s education secretary.
Perhaps the uproar prompted by Duncan’s comments has less to do with white suburban outrage and instead signals a tipping point: a mainstream rejection of policies that are finally being exposed for their disproportionately detrimental impact on poor and minority communities. Duncan’s remarks provided a glimpse at the man behind the curtain. Race and class matter in education and Duncan simultaneously acknowledged and dismissed this.

Reading scores drop across Ohio as state changes third-grade test
By Doug Livingston  Akron Beacon Journal education writer
Published: December 12, 2013 - 11:10 PM | Updated: December 13, 2013 - 11:55 AM
Two new education initiatives for young Ohio children are colliding this year, putting thousands more students at risk of failing the third grade.
One initiative, the Common Core standards, requires schools to give more rigorous instruction and administer more difficult tests. The first round was administered two months ago, and next year the tests will be even harder as all questions will be aligned with the national Common Core.
The other mandate, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, requires schools to provide reading intervention for elementary students. If they’re not reading at a specified level by the end of third grade, they’re held back.  Figuring out how many students may be retained can be tricky.

Three voted against parent trigger legislation…
Koch brothers group targets Florida GOP state senators with attack ads
Miami Herald Blog posted by Michael Van Sickler November 13, 2013
Three Republican state senators are the target of a well-financed campaign this month that portrays them as giving subsidies to billionaires, being unresponsive to parents of children in struggling schools, and being reckless with pensions.
But it’s not Democrats taking aim at Sen. Charlie Dean of Inverness, Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice and Sen. Greg Evers of Baker. Rather, it’s Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by billionaire libertarian brothers David and Charles Koch.
“I don’t pretend to understand these people,” Detert said. “They are supposed to be Republicans. They are attacking Republicans. If they’re not happy with Republicans, they should go out and start their own party.”


2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

DELAWARE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE UNIT - GOOGLE SYMPOSIUM 2014
FEBRUARY 1ST, 2014
The DCIU Google Symposium is an opportunity for teachers, administrators, technology directors, and other school stakeholders to come together and explore the power of Google Apps for Education.  The Symposium will be held at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.  The Delaware County Intermediate Unit is one of Pennsylvania’s 29 regional educational agencies.  The day will consist of an opening keynote conducted by Rich Kiker followed by 4 concurrent sessions. 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education November 24, 2013
The Network for Public Education is pleased to announce our first National Conference. The event will take place on March 1 & 2, 2014 (the weekend prior to the world-famous South by Southwest Festival) at The University of Texas at Austin.  At the NPE National Conference 2014, there will be panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. NPE Board members – including Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, and Julian Vasquez Heilig – will lead discussions along with some of the important voices of our movement.
In the coming weeks, we will release more details. In the meantime, make your travel plans and click this link and submit your email address to receive updates about the NPE National Conference 2014.

Congratulations! Getting elected to the school board was the easy part…..
PSBA New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
November 2013-April 2014 Register Online » Print Form »
Announcing School Board Academy’s New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
You will need a wealth of information quickly as you jump out of the starting block and hit the ground running as a newly elected member of the board of school directors. New board members, as well as veterans who might like a refresher, will want to make the most of the opportunity to attend PSBA's New Board Member Training Program: Great Governance, Great Schools! .

EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns 
EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns beginning January or May of 2014 in the downtown Harrisburg offices. One intern will support education policy work including the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign. The second intern position will support the work of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. Ideal candidates have an interest/course work in political science/public policy, social studies, the arts or education and also have strong research, communications, and critical thinking skills. The internship is unpaid, but free parking is available. Weekly hours of the internship are negotiable. To apply or to suggest a candidate, please email Mattie Robinson for further information at robinson@eplc.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.
·                             Register now! – Register for both the conference and housing using our online system.
·                            Conference Information– Visit the NSBA conference website for up-to-date information
·                             Hotel List and Map - Official NSBA Housing Block
·                             Exposition Campus – View new products and services and interactive trade show floor
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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