Friday, December 6, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 6, 2013: American schools with poverty rates of less than 10% led the world on the PISA exams

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 6, 2013:
American schools with poverty rates of less than 10% led the world on the PISA exams

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. - Nelson Mandela.

Lawyers in Brown's charter school fraud case defend her multiple salaries
A compensation expert hired by the defense in Dorothy June Brown's charter school fraud trial told a federal jury Thursday that Brown was paid more than most local charter leaders when she was a chief executive.
…..Dorf's analysis found that the annual salaries paid to Brown, including $150,000 from Ad Prima in 2007-08 and $193,597 from the Laboratory Charter School that same year, were both above the market rate. The average charter CEO in Philadelphia was paid $115,800 in 2007-08, he said.  During cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Burnes pointed out that Brown actually was paid a total of $1.4 million that year from the four schools she founded.
In addition to the two CEO salaries Brown collected that year, she also received money from two management firms she controlled. Burnes said Brown's AcademicQuest L.L.C. received $257,183 from Planet Abacus, and the Agora Cyber Charter School paid her Cynwyd Group L.L.C. $848,273.

SB1085: Should Pa.'s colleges get the keys to drive the state's charter school strategy?
There's a game-changer on the horizon, a piece of legislation rumbling through the halls of Harrisburg that, if passed, promises to alter forever the landscape of public education in Pennsylvania.  It's called Senate Bill 1085, referred to by many as, "The Charter Reform Bill."
Proponents say it will raise the standards by which charters are opened and evaluated, while ensuring the creation of more high-quality educational options for all Pennsylvania's students.
Opponents say it will create a "wild, wild west" scenario in which charters be able to "grow unfettered," while bringing about the "death knell" of traditional public education.
The bill has passed a key Senate committee, but the timing of a full Senate vote is unclear.
Of the major provisions of the bill, the most contentious debate surrounds its creation of "university authorizers." This would allow institutes of higher education to authorize and oversee new charter schools without the input of local school districts.

3 area college support programs recognized
Independence Blue Cross launched a support program to help its workers without a college degree to get one.  The Philadelphia Education Fund worked with four city high schools to set a college-going culture from the day students arrive, and now more students are going to college.
And the University of Delaware's associate-degree program based at a community college offers a gateway to students who may not be quite ready for the rigor of the main campus in Newark.
All three entities were recognized Thursday morning at an award ceremony for their programs to boost college enrollment and graduation.

Saucon Valley teachers speak out following contract meeting
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on December 05, 2013 at 11:03 PM,
Saucon Valley teachers tonight described themselves as dedicated educators after the school board negotiating team presented its position in a public meeting.
It's the first time the Saucon Valley Education Association has spoken publicly sincethey twice rejected an independent fact-finder's recommendations to settle the contract impasse. The school board agreed to accept the report, which was made public after teachers didn't accept it.
The two sides are close on salary and benefits. The board says talks are stalled over graduate course work and phasing out a retirement incentive. Tonight, the board outlined its positions to a group of about 50 residents, teachers and school directors.

“Also, worth considering is that the survey didn’t cover the full population of 15-year-olds living in Shanghai. An estimated 500,000 children of migrant workers live in Shanghai. Without local hukou or household registration, most can’t attend public schools and often end up in lower-quality private schools. Their plight is shared by another 20 million or so migrant children across the country.  “Everyone should place Shanghai’s scores in proper perspective. Shanghai has an economically and culturally elite population with systems in place to make sure that students who may perform poorly are not allowed into public schools,” writes Brookings Loveless in his blog. “No one will know how well China can perform on an international test until it participates, as a nation, under the same rules as all other nations.”
PISA: Want to Look Great on Global Education Surveys? Test Only the Top Students
Bloomberg Businessweek By Dexter Roberts December 04, 2013
Once again, Shanghai students have outperformed their peers around the world, topping tests of mathematics, reading, and science in the annual OECD PISA survey of global education. And as before, U.S. students have scored well below average.
One more sign of how China is outcompeting everyone else? Time for more teeth gnashing? Keep this in mind: While the rest of the data aimed at presenting a countrywide picture of performance, that was not case with China. Instead, the PISA results covered only school children in one of China’s richest, most elite cities.

Here’s our U.S. top school’s scores:
PISA Science literacy: U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced lunch – score=556 [1st in the world]
PISA Reading literacy: U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced lunch – score=559 [1st in the world]
PISA Mathematics literacy: U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced lunch – score=540 [5th in the world]”
Daniel Wydo Disaggregates PISA Scores by Income
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch December 5, 2013 //
Daniel Wydo, a teacher in North Carolina, sent this analysis of 2012 PISA:
Here’s what the mainstream media will NOT tell you about 2012 PISA. When comparing U.S. schools with less than 10% of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch, here’s how U.S. students (of which almost 25% are considered poor by OECD standards and of which nationally on average about 50% qualify for free/reduced lunch) rank compared to all other countries including one I chose to purposely compare – Finland (of which about 5% are considered poor by OECD standards):

Predictable PISA Results
Education Week By Walt Gardner on December 4, 2013 7:55 AM
The results of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment should come as no surprise to anyone ("U.S. High-School Students Slip in Global Rankings," The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 3).  They confirm what study after study has shown about the link between performance and poverty.  Yet PISA will be used by privateers as evidence of the need to dismantle public education in this country.  That's why I think it's worthwhile taking a closer look.
PISA is widely considered the most important of all tests of international competition because it measures whether students can apply their knowledge to real-life situations.  This is all the more reason to put the results into proper context.  The U.S. has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world, according to UNICEF.  Only Mexico is worse, but I hardly consider it to be industrialized.  When more than 20 percent of children in the U.S. come from impoverished backgrounds, it's predictable that they will not perform as well as children from other countries.  

PISA: The Olympics of Smarts
Amanda Ripley’s Blog 4th Dec 2013 posted in Education
Christmas came early this year. The new PISA results are out. (PISA = a relatively sophisticated test of critical thinking administered to half a million 15 year-olds every three years in 65 countries.) This year is especially intriguing for the US because the focus is on math—our biggest weakness.  So I’ve been hunkered down, reading through the 3,000-some pages of analysis and data—which go far beyond what you read in the headlines—to see what we can learn.
The most obvious (and least interesting) result: Our teenagers remained below average in math for the developed world—and average in reading and science. No change over past 13 years, since PISA began. Could be better, could be worse.
The least obvious (and more interesting) results: Even our most affluent students, the ones with highly educated parents and tricked-out high schools, scored worse than their privileged peers in 27 other countries in math. (I’m not even counting Shanghai and other regions here--just countries.)

Massive?  The Walton Family has been spending over $150 million each year to privatize democratically governed American public education.
Teachers Union Launching Massive Campaign Against Education Reform Movement
By 12/05/2013 5:03 pm EST
The American Federation of Teachers union is unveiling a seven-figure advertisement campaign ahead of Dec. 9, a day that the group has billed as a "national day of action" against the education reform movement and push alternative solutions.  “Public education is under attack and underfunded throughout our country," the advertisements read, according to materials AFT, the nation's second-largest teachers union, provided to The Huffington Post. "Now, communities are coming together for our schools and our children to champion great public schools as the heart of our neighborhoods. … Together, we can make sure our schools are places where all kids can thrive and the voices of those closest to the classroom are heard.”

 “State education officials are particularly concerned about the number of students who didn’t show up to retake tests this summer.”
Texas students still struggling on slashed battery of state exams
The Dallas Morning News By TERRENCE STUTZ Austin Bureau 04 December 2013 10:45 PM
AUSTIN — The Legislature scuttled 10 of the state’s 15 high school end-of-course exams that students must pass to graduate. But for many students, test results from this fall indicate that might not have been enough.  Scores on the exams in English and Algebra I were abysmal for students retaking the tests after failing the first time. And at least a third of the students who were supposed to retake the exams didn’t even show up on the testing dates.
In English I writing, less than a third of the 94,000 high school sophomores retaking the tests passed the second time. That didn’t include more than 41,000 who were reported as absent. That leaves nearly 182,000 students who still haven’t passed — about 45 percent of the group.
Results were similar in English I reading. Just a quarter of students who were retested passed, while at least a third of all students needing to pass were absent on the testing dates. More than 120,000 still haven’t passed — about a third of those students.
The results indicate that the Legislature’s sweeping changes to the state’s testing regime, the STAAR, may not alleviate concerns about high-stakes tests in Texas schools. Parents, teacher groups and others pushed for the lower number of tests, warning that schools were too driven by test results. Now, students are struggling despite the fact that the required scores to pass the tests are fairly low and the students are at risk of not graduating.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95
New York Times By BILL KELLER Published: December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation ofSouth Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday night. He was 95.

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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