Wednesday, December 18, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 18, 2013: Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science (The Onion)

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3050 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 December 18, 2013:
Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science (The Onion)

SB1085: On Monday December 23rd 10-11 am, WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane will be featuring a conversation on SB1085, the charter school reform bill.  Scheduled guests are school choice advocate State Senator Anthony Williams and school board member/public education advocate Lawrence Feinberg.

EPLC Education Notebook
Education Policy and Leadership Center Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do 26 state senators really support property tax elimination bill?: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  on December 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM,
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
This will likely shock you, we know, but we were never much good at algebra in school. Quadratic equations and solving for X frankly paled alongside the lure of literature, the study of history and deciphering the lyrics to the third R.E.M. album.  But after 14 or so years covering Pennsylvania politics, there is one equation that's been drummed into our heads and that's 26 + 102 + 1 = Law.   That's the legislative shorthand for how many state Senate and House votes, along with one gubernatorial signature, it takes for a humble bill to become law in our Fair Commonwealth.
Thus we were surprised to metaphorically open the pages of The Citizens-Voice of Wilkes-Barre this morning and see an anti-property tax advocate claim that legislation calling for the elimination of all property taxes had the support of the magic number of 26 state senators.

“The two bills now move to the Senate, where a source close to the body said that the bills have nearly no chance of passage and will likely not leave committee.
Attempts to reduce the size of the General Assembly have persisted since the late 1960s, but all have failed.”
PA House Passes Bills to Reduce Legislature
Politics PA Written by Brittany Foster, Deputy Editor, December 17.2013
After lengthy floor debate, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed bills that would reduce both the size of the House and the Senate.
House Bill 1234 reduces the size of the House from 203 to 153 members, and House Bill 1716 reduces the Senate from 50 to 38 members. Both are sponsored by Speaker Sam Smith (R-Armstrong).
HB 1234 passed with 148 yea’s to 50 nay’s; HB 1716 passed with 150 yea’s and 48 nay’s.

Audiotapes could roll on school buses
House wiretap bill, which Senate must approve, would let school boards use audio recordings.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 7:33 p.m. EST, December 16, 2013
HARRISBURG — The audiotape on the school bus would go 'round and 'round.
That would happen under a two-part wiretap bill state House members approved Monday to stop physical bouts and nasty shouts.  But school officials think the idea may not be that sound.
The 193-4 House vote amends the state's wiretap law, considered one of the most restrictive in the country, to give school boards the ability to use audio recordings on school buses, which are already equipped with soundless video cameras.  Before audiotapes start rolling, school boards would have to vote on a local policy outlining audiotaping rules, send parents written warnings at the beginning of each school year about audio bus recordings, and post warning placards on buses that audiotaping is in process, according to the bill.
However, the bill is a long way from becoming law because of the way the legislative process goes 'round and 'round with amendments before a final bill is sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.
Letter: Judge all metrics of schools' success
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Dec 17, 2013 08:58
By Dr. Stacey Marten, School Board President and Pedro A. Rivera, Superintendent, School District of Lancaster
In sorting public schools into categories of "best" and "worst," the Intelligencer/New Era painted an incomplete picture of school performance in the School District of Lancaster (Dec.13.)
To be clear, we believe all students can learn and achieve at high levels. It is also true that SDL possesses characteristics that are unique among the 500 school districts statewide. Our district includes nearly 1,900 English Language Learners -- over 600 of whom are new to this country. More than 400 of these students come with a refugee status, and many have had no formal schooling.  Our students come from 71 countries and speak 38 languages. Eighty-three percent of families fall below the poverty line, and we provide education and vital services to more than 900 homeless children. Our rigorous special education offerings serve nearly 2,000 IEP students, including many who require specific life skills services.
We are privileged to serve these students -- many of whom will require additional time and support to reach the ambitious academic targets that guide our work.

Its not just test scores: Upper Darby serves a population similar to Lancaster described above…
Letter: Upper Darby music program is one of best in the nation
By JOSEPH BATORY, Former Superintendent of Schools Upper Darby School District
Delco Times POSTED: 12/17/13, 11:37 PM EST |
To the Times:
I have been privileged to attend more than 30 consecutive annual Winter Concerts at Upper Darby High School.  And what continues to amaze me is that the quality of the vocal and instrumental student performances is always so high.  On Sunday, three music instructors — Barbara Benglian, Victor Cummings and Charles Hunter — -and accompanist Dan Matarazzo led many hundreds of the school’s students in outstanding performances of holiday music. Upper Darby High’s Encore Singers, Concert Choir, Concert Band, String Ensemble, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Combined Ensembles delivered an array of classical and popular favorites with incredible musical precision and discipline.

Central Dauphin School Board approves contract to outsource substitute teachers
By Marijon Shearer | Special to PennLive  on December 16, 2013 at 11:40 PM,
Central Dauphin School Board unanimously approved a 2 1/2-year contract Dec. 16 with a New Jersey educational staffing firm to supply substitute teachers to the district's schools.
The contract with Source 4 Teachers includes two one-year renewal options when the initial contract period ends on June 23, 2016.  Karen McConnell, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative operations, said cost was not the main reason for the administration's recommendation to outsource, although she estimated the change will save Central Dauphin School District about $35,000 per year.

Coming full circle: Lessons of a Promise Academy teacher
thenotebook by Sydney Coffin on Dec 17 2013 Posted in Commentary
Seven years ago, I began teaching at a high school that was dangerous, chaotic, and, some said, “failing.” By the time I left, it had become a welcoming, effective school, where I was pleased to teach and honored to be friends with students and staff.  That school closed, so this year I started at another, and I feel I’ve come full circle. Crowded classrooms, disruptive behavior, chaos in the hallways, low academic achievement, a lack of sufficient counselors and other supports – the very same things I found when I walked into University City High in 2006 were present in Edison High in 2013. 

Ethics panel clears foundation in lobbying probe
POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 2:02 AM
The city's Board of Ethics has rejected a claim that William Penn Foundation-funded work that a consulting firm completed for the Philadelphia School District constituted lobbying.
A 2012 complaint alleged that William Penn - which paid the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) more than $1 million to study district operations and recommend cost-cutting measures - essentially hired BCG to lobby the district on a pro-charter school agenda and target dozens of schools for closure.  The complaint was filed by Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council, and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, and suggested that a foundation official overtly tried to influence district officials.

School directors: superintendents need to be paid to attract 'quality'
By CHERYL R. CLARKE Williamsport Sun-Gazette December 15, 2013
Superintendents of school districts are like the CEOs of businesses and, as such, need to be paid well for districts to attract the kind of "quality" people needed for the job, say school board members in the three districts in Tioga County.

U.S. Senate Vote 279 - Ends Debate on Budget Measure
New York Times Roll Call Vote December 17, 2013

School boards urge the U.S. Senate to act on the Bipartisan Budget Act
NSBA School Board News Today December 17,2013 posted by Alexis Rice
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel urged the U.S. Senate to pass the plan known as the Bipartisan Budget Act that would restore many of the cuts to prek-12 education in this statement:

Why Other Countries Teach Better
Why Students Do Better Overseas
The New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: December 17, 2013
Millions of laid-off American factory workers were the first to realize that they were competing against job seekers around the globe with comparable skills but far smaller paychecks. But a similar fate also awaits workers who aspire to high-skilled, high-paying jobs in engineering and technical fields unless this country learns to prepare them to compete for the challenging work that the new global economy requires.  The American work force has some of weakest mathematical and problem-solving skills in the developed world. In a recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global policy organization, adults in the United States scored far below average and better than only two of 12 other developed comparison countries, Italy and Spain. Worse still, the United States is losing ground in worker training to countries in Europe and Asia whose schools are not just superior to ours but getting steadily better.  The lessons from those high-performing countries can no longer be ignored by the United States if it hopes to remain competitive.

Rupert Murdoch: “When it comes to K-12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.”
The dangerous rise of for-profit public education Dec 17, 2013 by Staff
The Pearson Foundation has agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle allegations that the nonprofit broke New York state law while attempting to profit from Common Core-aligned products. An investigation by New York state Attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman revealed the charitable side of Pearson spent years wooing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in hopes the two would partner in creating Common Core courses. The Pearson Foundation and Gates Foundation joined together in 2011, creating 24 online courses that were then sold to the for-profit side of Pearson for $15.1 million.  As for the $7.7 million settlement, the Pearson Foundation has announced it will donate the money to 100kin10, a company that focuses on developing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Interestingly, the Gates Foundation has also pledged $7 million to 100kin10 over the next six years along with several other partners Pearson works with. Clearly, the new standards mean big business and big profits.

This XMAS, save more, live better, dismantle democratically-governed American public education.  Where do you shop?
Walton Family Foundation Invests to Double the Number of Students Enrolled in Private School with Public Scholarships by 2017
Walton Family Foundation Press Release December 17,2013
Bipartisan support fuels private school choice expansion; former Republican Governor and
Democratic U.S. Senator validate efforts
BENTONVILLE, ARK.December 17, 2013 – Today the Walton Family Foundation announced plans to invest $6 million in the Alliance for School Choice in support of an effort to double the number of students nationwide who attend private schools with the support of publicly funded scholarships. There are now nearly 300,000 students attending private schools with the support of public funding. The Alliance for School Choice is a leading national organization promoting, defending and implementing school choice programs around the country. The Walton Family Foundation invests in programs and organizations that expand parental choice and promote
equal opportunity in education and is ASC’s largest donor.

“To date, the foundation has invested more than $1 billion in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education, according to the announcement.”
Walton Foundation Invests to Double Number of Voucher Students
Education Week Marketplace K-12 Blog By Michele Molnar on December 17, 2013 2:43 PM
The Walton Family Foundation, based in Bentonville, Ark., today announced a $6 million grant that it says is aimed at doubling the number of students attending private schools with public funds by 2017.  The Alliance for School Choice, which advocates for private school vouchers across the U.S., was named as recipient of the grant.

Study: 4 in 10 finish college where they start
New York Post By Associated Press December 17, 2013 | 4:46am
WASHINGTON — Fewer than half of all students who entered college in 2007 finished school where they started, and almost a third are no longer taking classes toward a degree anywhere, according to review released Monday.
The dire numbers underscore the challenges that colleges confront as they look to bring in more students and send them out into the world as graduates. The numbers also could complicate matters for students at schools with low graduation rates; the U.S. Department of Education’s still-emerging college rating system is considering linking colleges’ performances with federal financial aid.

Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science
The Onion NEWS • High School • ISSUE 49•09 • Feb 27, 2013
CHESTNUT HILL, MA—According to an alarming new report published Wednesday by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, third-graders in China are beginning to lag behind U.S. high school students in math and science.
The study, based on exam scores from thousands of students in 63 participating countries, confirmed that in mathematical and scientific literacy, American students from the ages of 14 to 18 have now actually pulled slightly ahead of their 8-year-old Chinese counterparts.

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.

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.

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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