Monday, December 30, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 30, 2013: Advocating for policies that support quality public education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3060 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?



Debating charter school reform in Pennsylvania
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane - Audio runtime 52:01


Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 30, 2013:
Advocating for policies that support quality public education


Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 29, 2013: Busting Early Childhood Education Myths – The Fadeout Myth

Advocating for policies that support quality public education
Here are links to grass-roots organizations that see public education as a public good and a public responsibility.  Are you and your colleagues involved with any of them?
Yinzercation Blog
Public Education is a Public Good – Help Save Our Schools!
Yinzers care about public education. We know that public schools are a public good. But Pennsylvania schools are now missing $2.3 BILLION due to historic state budget cuts in 2011. Those cuts continue to have a devastating impact on our schools in Southwestern PA since they were carried forward in the 2012 and 2013 budgets as well. The de-funding of our public schools has gone hand in hand with a national “corporate-style-reform” movement that pushes a damaging agenda of privatization, competition, choice, high-stakes-testing, and school closures – all disproportionately affecting our poorest students and communities of color.

Great Public Schools Pittsburgh
Strong public schools make strong communities. We are a coalition of community, faith, and labor organizations working together for great public schools in Pittsburgh.

Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley
School districts across Pennsylvania are struggling to cope with devastating state budget cuts and crippling cyber charter school tuition bills. Now, more than ever before, Pennsylvanians need to speak out loudly and together in support of our public schools.  Join parents and community members from across Pennsylvania to advocate for policies that support public education.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Education Voters Pennsylvania is dedicated to informing the public about the needs and importance of our public schools, ensuring our political leaders adopt and implement a pro public education agenda, and holding those leaders accountable if they fail to do so.

Helen Gym: The Agitator
Fiery Helen Gym has been the bane of school reformers. Is she eyeing the mayor’s office next?
Philadelphia Magazine BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  DECEMBER 27, 2013
Helen Gym advances, and Mayor Nutter inches warily back. She waves a thick stack of papers at him, each sheath a complaint lodged by parents lamenting the calamitous conditions in Philadelphia’s reeling public schools. There’s the kid with dangerous asthma at the school without a nurse on hand. The dyslexic, orphaned high-school senior applying for colleges with no counselor to lean on. The bullying victim who fled Overbrook High only to find it impossible to enroll at another school.  “This is what we’re fighting against,” Gym tells Nutter. The Mayor is just a few yards from his office door, but he’s the one shifting his feet, looking to get away.

Parents United for Public Education
Parents United for Public Education is a citywide group of Philadelphia parents that focuses on budgeting and accountability in order to ensure resources get to the classroom level. We got started in Spring 2006 when a budget crisis forced parents from multiple schools out to school board meetings. We shared common concerns around supporting academically rich environments, equity across populations, and accountability for money spent. Since then, we have engaged an active and diverse group of parents across neighborhoods to successfully advocate for classroom-focused budget priorities and improved funding from local and state agencies, as well as the broader Philadelphia community. Today, the work of Parents United is more important than ever. An independent, organized and engaged parent body has proven we can clarify budget priorities to keep a focus on children and classrooms. We invite all people concerned about Philadelphia’s future to join us in this effort for our public schools.

Save Our Schools NJ
Save Our Schools NJ is a nonpartisan, grassroots, volunteer led and powered organization of parents and other concerned residents who believe that all New Jersey children should have access to a high quality public education.  Save Our Schools NJ began as a successful effort to pass a local school budget. It quickly became clear that it will take many voices across the entire state to ensure that our children’s education is not compromised to political or ideological objectives. Thus, what was an ad hoc movement has grown into Save Our Schools NJ, and our membership has grown to include almost 12,000 public school supporters, across all of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts.

The Network for Public Education

Our Mission: The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. 

Keystone State Education Coalition
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3060 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
These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg


School districts face uphill battle in reversing declines
Tribune-Review  By Richard Gazarik Published: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, 10:30 p.m.
The Wilkinsburg School District struggles in just about every way that matters — financially, academically and with enrollment.  Superintendent Lee McFerren knows that merging with another district could help, but no district is willing to take on the challenge, he said.
It's a common cry from distressed districts that essentially have “lost their right to exist,” said Maureen McClure, associate professor of administration and policy studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  “There's no tax base to hold them,” said McClure, a school director in Riverview School District. “They just don't have enough of a tax base to do the basic things it needs to do, and those are the districts nobody wants.”
New version of GED comes in with the New Year
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY DECEMBER 30, 2013
Starting Jan. 1, earning a GED in Pennsylvania will become a whole lot harder.
The Graduate Equivalency Diploma -- now administered by the for-profit group Pearson -- is being revamped in ways proponents say will give the test greater credibility and better prepare students for work and college.  But for high school dropouts hoping to claw their way back into the job market, the New Year is bringing about not happiness, but anxiety.
The new GED test, to be aligned with the new Common Core state standards, will be purely computer-based. It will also cost 60 percent more, jumping from $75 to $120.
"It's a disaster," said Bonnie Kaye. "They're holding high school dropouts to an educational standard that high school students aren't being held to."

“Although the narrow impact of this ruling is very important, and could lead to more sensible fracking practices across the state, the court's broader reasoning seems to open other. just-as-important legal doors. Many have argued that the other defining policy legacy of the Corbett era -- the relentless undermining of public schools in a push for more charters and voucher-like benefits -- is also fundamentally unconstitutional.  Just as Pennsylvania's bedrock document promises a clean environment, it also mandates "the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth." The state Constitution also bars using public dollars to support "sectarian schools," yet the Corbett-backed "voucher lite" program known as EITC does exactly that. It would be great to see the high court rule on these matters, too.”
The fracklash
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2013, 8:19 PM
Gov. Corbett may have taken a shuffle-step to his left on gay rights this week, but he continues to pay the price for his past sins. Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court smacked down -- or maybe fracked down -- a key section of the 2012 law on gas-drilling that was signed by Corbett after it was pushed through the legislature by his GOP allies.  In a 4-2 vote, with Republican Justice Ronald Castille, the former Philadelphia DA, crossing over to vote with the three Democratic state Supremes, the state's highest court rulled that Act 13's key provision, preventing local governments from using their zoning laws to prevent or regulate fracking activities, is unconstitutional.


Jon Stewart’s greatest education hits ’13
Washington Post The Answer Sheet BY VALERIE STRAUSS December 29 at 12:45 pm
From 2013, in no particular order, with a bonus at the end.

First Book – Access to New Books for Children in Need
Donate Today –Your gift today will provide three times as many new books to children in need thanks to a generous grant from Random House Children’s Books.  Offer expires December 31

‘Five things I did not expect from my Teach For America experience’
Washington Post The Answer Sheet BY VALERIE STRAUSS December 30 at 4:00 am
Here is part of a post that Julian Vasquez Heilig, an award-winning researcher and associate professor of educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote on his Cloaking Inquality blog. The piece, entitled “Tell-All From A TFA and KIPP Teacher: Unprepared, Isolation, Shame, and Burnout,” is largely about a former student of Heilig’s who came to him to tell him about her experience in TFA. The student is still teaching at a KIPP school as a TFA corps member so asked not to be identified.
You can see the whole piece here; following is the part of the piece that is in her words:


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.

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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