Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 4, 2013: PISA: “The U.S. has NEVER been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests.”

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 4, 2013:
PISA: “The U.S. has NEVER been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests.”

Pa. House debates economic furloughs at schools
Delco Times By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press POSTED: 12/03/13, 3:26 PM EST |
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania public schools would have wider latitude to furlough employees during tough economic times and would not have to start with the least senior workers under proposals that were debated Tuesday in the state Capitol.
The House Education Committee gathered input from the school boards’ association, the state’s largest teacher union and others about three legislative proposals. A committee vote could occur as early as next month.

PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies
By Maura Pennington | December 3, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — With school districts like Philadelphia facing critical budget deficits, Pennsylvanialawmakers could make an effort to loosen teacher furlough policies.
Current regulations allow furloughs based on student population drops, school consolidation or program elimination, but districts are limited in their ability to suspend employees due to economic necessity.

Economic Furloughs for School District Employees, 
PSBA Testimony presented to the House Education Committee by Tina Viletto, board president in the School District of Cheltenham Township (Dec. 3, 2013)

Pennsylvania: Stop Charter Expansion Now!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch December 3, 2013 //
Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s most unscrupulous charter operators, some of whom are under criminal investigation or on trial for fraud and misappropriation of public funds. But say this for some of the sleaziest: they give generously to political campaigns. That is why the Legislature is considering SB 1085, which would allow new charters to open without local approval.  If you want to protect public schools in Pennsylvania from reckless privatization, if you want to maintain local control, take action now to oppose SB 1085.

Stop This Bill
Yinzercation Blog December 3, 2013
The charter school reform bill SB1085 is on the PA Senate’s calendar today. This bill does not provide the reform that we need and will actually cause more harm to public schools. [Please see “Killer Weeds” for all the gory details.] Have you called your state senator yet about this legislation? Did you just mutter “no” to yourself? Would it help if I begged?
Pleeeeeease????? Seriously, we need you to call your state senator and urge them to vote no on SB1085, which will remove local control over your tax dollars. Click here now to find contact information for your state senator. Here’s what SB1085 would do [from Keystone State Education Coalition]:

Southeastern Pa. children's advocates seek united front in Harrisburg
WHYY Newsworks by Holly Otterbein DECEMBER 3, 2013
Would children's advocates in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs be better off if they joined forces?  The Philly-based nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth will soon find out.  PCCY executive director Donna Cooper said the group is expanding its outreach into the suburbs. She argues that the recession, as well as cutbacks in statewide education funding, have shown that Philly and the suburbs are intimately connected.

How about a similar bill for cyber charter ads?  According to minutes from 12/18/12 Agora Cyber Board meeting, your PA tax $$$ paid for 19,298 local TV commercials.  BTW, Agora has never made AYP under No Child Left Behind, but the CEO of its management company, K12, Inc. has been paid over $19 million from 2009 through 2013.
Bill would require disclaimer on Liquor Control Board ads
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette By Kari Andren Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A central Pennsylvania lawmaker wants consumers to know their tax dollars pay for the wine and spirits ads they see for products sold in state liquor stores.
State Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Carlisle, circulated a memorandum to his House colleagues on Monday asking them to sign on as cosponsors to his proposal to require LCB advertising to prominently state: “THIS AD PAID FOR BY YOU, THE TAXPAYERS OF PA.”
Bloom said he was inspired to draft the legislation after learning from a Tribune-Review story that the LCB spent $5.8 million last year on advertising.
Operation Clean Sweep Commonwealth Confidential Blog by Angela Coulombis TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2013, 5:29 PM
The Corbett administration is certainly not afraid of turnover. Since taking office in January 2011, for instance, the governor has shaken up his inner circle twice, and has seen a half dozen cabinet secretaries take leave.  So it should come as little surprise that the governor's press office has quietly gone through an extreme makeover of its own over the last few months.

Illinois pension vote today could be Pa. omen: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  on December 03, 2013 at 7:53 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With the state Senate scheduled to return to session today at 1 p.m., we shift our gaze to the great Midwest (where, according to one former Alaska half-term governor turned political personality, the Real 'Murica resides).  There, in the proud state of Illinois, lawmakers will convene in a special session today to try to fix The Land of Lincoln's $100 billion (*Corrected, 11:41 a.m.) public pension problem.

Phoenixville School District seizes golf course
Phoenixville's Meadow Brook Golf Club will close in days. But the 80-year-old business hasn't scheduled an auction or liquidation sale.  Last week, lawn mowers were still parked in the barn. Liquor bottles filled a shelf behind the bar. Pressed polo shirts hung in the pro shop.
The family that has owned the property for more than a century says there is no time for a sale. On Nov. 14, the Phoenixville Area School District voted to invoke eminent domain and seize the property for a new school - without informing its owners beforehand.
The move was unpopular, unusual - and legal. State law only requires notice after eminent domain has been approved.

Pennsylvania Core Standards clear a final hurdle
Main Line Media News By Jennifer Lawson December 02, 2013
Regulations that will set tougher graduation requirements for students in Pennsylvania cleared one of its final hurdles with the approval from a state panel that decides whether such rules are in the public’s interest.  In a 3-2 vote, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the Pennsylvania Core Standards on Nov. 19, which are the state’s version of the Common Standards, which says what students should be learning at each grade level. The commission also approved the tests used to assess these new standards, the Keystone Exams.

Voice of experience: The city school board picks a seasoned leader
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial December 3, 2013 7:14 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board, with four new members, is undergoing its biggest change in decades so it is reassuring that the panel voted for stability by electing Thomas Sumpter as its president.  Mr. Sumpter, 63, of Schenley Heights has been on the board for eight years and has served as first vice president and second vice president. His selection as president, which required five votes, took three ballots because two of the newcomers — Cynthia Falls of Overbrook and Terry Kennedy of Greenfield — did not vote in the first two rounds. Three other members voted for Regina Holley, 61, of Highland Park, who joined the board two years ago.

School closings, classroom changes looming in Pittsburgh Public Schools
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Bill Zlatos Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
City schools Superintendent Linda Lane recommended closing, consolidating or reconfiguring five to 10 schools as part of her plan to close the district's financial gap.
“We're sensitive to the communities that have borne the brunt of school closures,” she said on Tuesday during a preview of her state of the district address before the school board. Lane will make a full report Wednesday morning at Pittsburgh CAPA.
Inquirer Editorial: Would Green mimic Vallas?
POSTED: Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 2:01 AM
Some intriguing questions have been raised by the floating of Councilman Bill Green's name as a possible successor to Pedro Ramos, who quit as chairman of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission in October, three months before the end of his term.

“It is completely unacceptable that that is the new baseline,” said Petrie, who teaches and does administrative work at the University of Pennsylvania. “I want a nurse. I want a librarian. I want a guidance counselor. These are the things that every school should have.”
Unstable District funding puts city’s growth at risk
In neighborhoods across Philadelphia, schools’ budget woes have people thinking about other options.
The notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. December 2013 Print Edition
Ian Petrie is not too worried about his daughter’s school – yet.
“She’s having a great year – the art teacher she loves is back, there’s music instruction,” he said. “The school seems to be weathering the circumstances.”  But ask him how strong West Philadelphia’s Lea Elementary will be a few years from now, when his young son is ready to start, and he’s not quite so confident.  “That is not because of the staff,” Petrie said. “I have great confidence in the people that work in this building. That’s because of the District, that’s because of Harrisburg.”   Petrie says he’s encouraged by the volunteer efforts and community partnerships underway at Lea. But he’s “gobsmacked” by the staff cuts and other privations that have come with the current “doomsday” budget. 

Easton Area School District files arguments for U.S. Supreme Court review in 'boobies' case
Easton district argues appeals court misapplied landmark rulings on student speech.
By Peter Hall, Of The Morning Call 12:17 a.m. EST, December 4, 2013
The Easton Area School District on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether a ban on the phrase "I ♥ boobies!" violates the First Amendment.  In a 217-page filing, district solicitor John E. Freund contends a federal appeals court overstepped its bounds in deciding that the popular rubber wristbands worn by two middle-school girls are appropriate for school.
"Because lewdness is a value judgment, based on the morals of the community … the determination of lewdness is best left to the reasonable judgment of elected school boards and school officials," the district says in its petition asking the high court to hear its appeal.

Duncan Calls for Higher Standards and Expectations Following PISA Results
US Department of Education Homeroom Blog Posted on December 3, 2013 by Cameron Brenchley
Do schools in the United States ask enough of students?
Based on the results of a major new international report, and conversations surrounding its release today, the answer is no.
Every three years, hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds in more than 65 global economies take the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The results provide a snapshot of how students in the U.S. compare to students around the globe. Earlier today, the 2012 PISA results were announced and Secretary Arne Duncan was on hand with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria to discuss the results and what it means for education in America.

“The U.S. has NEVER been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests.  Over the past half century, our students have typically scored at or near the median, or even in the bottom quartile.”
My View of the PISA Scores
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch December 3, 2013 //
The news reports say that the test scores of American students on the latest PISA test are “stagnant,” “lagging,” “flat,” etc.  The U.S. Department of Education would have us believe–yet again–that we are in an unprecedented crisis and that we must double down on the test-and-punish strategies of the past dozen years.
The myth persists that once our nation led the world on international tests, but we have fallen from that exalted position in recent years.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Here is the background history that you need to know to interpret the PISA score release, as well as Secretary Duncan’s calculated effort to whip up national hysteria about our standing in the international league tables.

Basically Everyone Wants To Expand Preschool Options Now... Except For One Group Of People
The Huffington Post  |  By Rebecca Klein Posted: 12/02/2013 10:23 am EST
Who would want to deny children the opportunity to attend preschool and get a head start on their education? No one, really.
Most people think it’s a good idea for kids from low- and moderate-income families to have access to subsidized or free early education programs. In fact, they think it should happen soon. But Republicans serving in Congress don't seem interested in enacting a plan that does as much, at least not in the immediate future.  Below we have compiled a list of the types of people who not only want there to be expanded access to preschool around the country, but want it now.

Teachers Were Never The Problem
Poverty still lies at the root of the U.S. ‘education crisis.’
In These Times BY DAVID SIROTA  NOVEMBER 8, 2013
Social science research over the last few decades has shown that two thirds of student achievement is a product of out-of-school factors - and among the most powerful of those is economic status.
Google the phrase “education crisis” and you'll be hit with a glut of articles, blog posts and think tank reports claiming the entire American school system is facing an emergency. Much of this agitprop additionally asserts that teachers unions are the primary cause of the alleged problem. Not surprisingly, the fabulists pushing these narratives are often backed by anti-public school conservatives and anti-union plutocrats. But a little-noticed study released last week provides yet more confirmation that neither the “education crisis” meme or the “evil teachers' union” narrative is accurate.  

Public Meeting, 12/11/2013, 10:00 AM  Hearing Room 1, North Office Building
Public hearing to consider final recommendations and release final report)

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

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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