Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 17, 2013: Philly students run SRC meeting

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 17, 2013:
Philly students run SRC meeting

Based on a scale of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 77.1, brick and mortar charter schools was 66.4 and cyber charters was 46.8.

With bottom line tightening, Corbett and lawmakers search for cash: Monday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on December 16, 2013 at 8:02 AM,
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With a little more than two months to go before Gov. Tom Corbett gives his annual budget address, state lawmakers and the Republican administration are looking for ways to fill a roughly $1.4 billion year-endl deficit.  State officials and the press will get a clearer picture of the state's fiscal health this week when Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby gives his midyear briefing. But officials are already settling on a likely menu of pension cuts, expanded Lottery gambling and the auctioning off of utility customers to help fill the gap.

Teach for America plan opposed for Pittsburgh schools
Post-Gazette December 16, 2013 8:18 PM
The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools heard from a dozen people Monday -- most of them teachers -- who oppose the district's plan to bring in Teach for America teachers to take hard-to-fill jobs at its most challenging schools.  The outgoing school board voted 6-3 in November to approve a contract with Teach for America, despite a petition that asked them to defer the decision to the new board -- with four new members -- that took office early this month.
During a presentation last week by a Teach for America representative, several board members challenged the rationale for bringing in the organization. Board members have hinted they may bring the issue up for a vote again.  At Monday's public hearing, speakers urged that the contract approval be reversed.

Scranton School District still faces $5.2 million deficit; Shrive resigns for city job
Times-Tribune by Sarah Hofius-Hall December 17, 2013
The Scranton School District has one week to erase a $5.2 million deficit. During a series of committee and special meetings Monday, school directors discussed how to close the deficit, more than 100 union members protested outside.

SB1085: Williams stands by charter-reform bill in meeting with parents
STATE SEN. Anthony H. Williams reiterated his support for controversial legislation that would remove caps for charter-school enrollment yesterday in a private meeting with parents.
Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat, is the lone Democratic co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1085, which could come up for a full Senate vote in the next month. Critics say the bill, introduced by Lancaster County Republican Lloyd Smucker, would financially handcuff school districts by exponentially increasing the amount they pay to charter operators.

At this SRC meeting, the students were in charge
LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 2:01 AM
POSTED: Monday, December 16, 2013, 8:14 PM
PHILADELPHIA Nabriah Copeland has a few things she wants the School Reform Commission to know.  First, the Dobbins High student said, "We need more activities. Some students live in bad neighborhoods, and they need reasons to come to school. We lost a lot, and that's why kids are going to charters or leaving school, dropping out."  Also, the senior added, "We need more school books. We don't have enough. And more counselors."
Copeland and more than 100 students packed the Philadelphia School District headquarters auditorium Monday night for a unique experience - they essentially ran an SRC meeting. The commission's nonvoting strategy meeting was given over to teenagers, who asked their peers: Why are students disengaged? What is the role of adults? How can students help reconstruct the district?  They had plenty to say.

Students say respect and relevance lead to better engagement in school
The notebook by David Limm on Dec 16 2013 Posted in Latest news
Call it the three Rs of student engagement: respect, rigor, and relevance. 
At a School Reform Commission meeting Monday night, a group of high school students led more than 150 of their peers in a series of roundtable discussions intended to gather thoughts on what the District can do to keep its students motivated, challenged, and in school. 
After the two-hour session, an upbeat Superintendent William Hite said that he had observed three demands consistently throughout the evening’s discussions: Respect the students. Provide them with rigorous experiences. Make learning relevant.  Many students expressed frustration with schools that failed to prepare them for the challenges that come after high school or in the working world.

“Despite the final ruling, we believe this was an investigation of critical importance to the public interest. The William Penn Foundation is not the only entity seeking to exercise influence through the power of their purse. Locally and nationally, education reform is increasingly being defined by a host of venture philanthropists hovering about and crawling through school districts, using their dollars to demand enormous access and circumvent public process.  The purpose of the lobbying law is to allow the public to know when private money is attempting to influence public policy. The Ethics Board agreed with us that, on the face of it, there appeared to have been lobbying.  That is not a transparent process any public entity should engage in.”
Ethics Board responds to Parents United lobbying complaint
Parents United for Public Education Posted on December 16, 2013 by HELENGYM
One year after Parents United for Public Education and our partners submitted the very first challenge to the city’s new lobbying law, we received a response from the City Ethics Board last week.  In December 2012, Parents United and our partners – the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the NAACP – filed a complaint with the City Ethics Board requesting an investigation as to whether an independent contract between the William Penn Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to create a “blueprint” to re-make Philadelphia’s schools constituted lobbying. The BCG-William Penn Foundation blueprint promoted charter expansion, third party management networks, the privatization of certain labor contract, and identified 60 schools for closing.

Pa. State Police issue report on school safety
Education Week Published Online: December 16, 2013
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Drawing on security evaluations of more than 300 schools since 2004, Pennsylvania State Police have released a report aimed at helping public and private schools boost security.  The report, available on the state police website, sounded a note of caution about the schools' vulnerability to attack.

PSBA applauds passage of Child Protection Package
PSBA STATEMENT by Steve Robinson, Director of Communications 12/16/2013
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association applauds the passage of the first pieces of a legislative package being sent to Gov. Tom Corbett that provides new and strengthened protections regarding child abuse.  These bills reflect the recommendations issued in November 2012 by the Task Force on Child Protection. As the bills moved through the chambers, PSBA worked with the General Assembly to address issues to several areas of the proposals in order to provide clarity and consistency to definitions and procedures that are applicable to school employees and serve to better protect children.
"Schools are among the critical responders, spotting and handling the signs that students might be at risk of harm. These bills help to close the gaps in law and establish clearer policies and procedures to safeguard children regarding suspected abuse," said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains. "PSBA is grateful to the bills' sponsors and staff in the Senate and House of Representatives for the many opportunities to raise and address concerns on provisions impacting school officials and employees."

“Using results from the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the Lubienskis compared scores from more than 13,000 public, private and charter schools. The private schools did have higher raw scores. But once they controlled for factors like family income, race, and location, they found that public schools were overall getting better results from their students.”
Public schools beat private schools
A pair of education researchers have a new take on which schools work — and why
The Boston Globe By Amy Crawford  DECEMBER 15, 2013
LIKE MANY IN THEIR field, Christopher and Sarah Lubienski, education professors at the University of Illinois, had long taken it as a given that private schools generally outperform public schools. Why would parents shell out thousands of dollars a year in tuition if they weren’t getting more for their money? Moreover, studies in the 1980s and ’90s had apparently settled the matter, showing that private schools produced higher test scores even when accounting for the demographic differences between public and private.
But more recently, when she was working on a study of math instruction, Sarah Lubienski came across a result she didn’t expect. When she divided the schools she was looking at into public and private categories and controlled for demographics, the schools stacked up quite differently. Public schools seemed to be producing better test scores than private. They were also doing better than charter schools.

“….it is the rare film that sympathetically conveys how hard it is to be a teacher in an inner-city school. “The New Public” not only shows what goes on in the classroom — which can be rough if the teacher can’t manage the classroom — but she also goes into the homes of the students she has focused on. There, the odds that the students are trying to overcome are made abundantly clear.”
‘What Is Good Teaching?’
New York Times Opinion By JOE NOCERA Published: December 16, 2013
In 2006, an idealistic New York public schoolteacher named Kevin Greer joined the faculty of an idealistic new high school, Brooklyn Community Arts and Media. Greer had previously taught English to 12th grade honors students at Dewitt Clinton, a huge high school in the Bronx. At B.C.A.M., which hoped to inspire students with an arts-driven curriculum, he would be teaching ninth graders. Most of the students had not chosen B.C.A.M., but had simply been assigned to the school. They weren’t nearly as self-motivated as Greer’s former students. Many if not most of them read below grade level.

Should U.S. schools offer I.B. programs?
Finding Classroom Rigor in a Global Curriculum
New York Times Room for Debate Home UPDATED DECEMBER 16, 2013 9:29 PM
The latest in a series of editorials on improvingmath and science education in the United States called for better nourishing gifted students and accelerating their instruction. Some educators say the best way to do this is by offering the rigorous global curriculum known as the International Baccalaureate.  Should U.S. schools offer these baccalaureate programs, either exclusively or in addition to traditional high school diplomas?

Unequal Progress on Standardized Tests
New York Times Graphic Published: November 7, 2013
Average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have been rising but large disparities among races and economic classes remain.

Diane Ravitch and the Angry Rebellion against Common Core
Wielding her influential blog as a weapon, this 75-year-old activist has created a powerful network united by revulsion against top-down, elite policymaking.
Governing.com BY MARK FUNKHOUSER | DECEMBER 16, 2013
Since the Common Core State Standards for education were first proposed in 2009, 45 states have adopted them. As major public-policy initiatives go, this has been a hurtling train, backed by powerful people and institutions, that has been roaring down the track a breakneck speed.
Now, however, comes the backlash. In at least 17 states there is some kind of serious movement against the Common Core standards. The media have largely portrayed the push to scrap them as the product of a Republican repudiation of any and all things related to a federal government headed by Barack Obama. This is not true. The antipathy to Common Core is part of a much larger rejection of the dominant education-reform paradigm, supported by leaders of both political parties, that embraces charter schools, vouchers, more testing of students, increased accountability for teachers and hostility to teachers' unions.

They Shall Overcome
Meet the K–12 reform donors who strategically balance charitable giving, legislative advocacy, and direct political engagement.
Cover Story from Spring 2013 issue of Philanthropy magazine By Christopher Levenick
John Kirtley smiled. It was March in Tallahassee, and the morning sun was already warming the immense crowd before him. Some 5,600 people had gathered in front of the Leon County Civic Center—more than 1,000 of whom were arriving after a 14-hour overnight bus ride from Miami. Still, the energy in the air was palpable. Excited schoolchildren clutched hand-lettered signs: “Don’t Take Away My Dreams,” “Education Through Choice.” Parents chatted with teachers as clergymen greeted newcomers. It was a diverse crowd, predominantly black and Hispanic. Kirtley knew it had gathered for a single purpose: to convince the 2010 Florida legislature to strengthen the state’s school choice program.

PISA Results Mislead Taxpayers
Education Week Reality Check Blog By Walt Gardner on December 16, 2013 7:27 AM
The results of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment are being seized on by reformers as further evidence that schools in the U.S. are hopelessly failing. The closely watched test of about 510,000 15-year-olds from 65 countries and locales shows that scores of our students have been essentially flat ever since the early 2000s, despite the sharp increase in spending on education.  Yet there is another side to the story that is given short shrift  ("Even Gifted Students Can't Keep Up," The New York Times, Dec. 15).  It has little to do with the admittedly stepchild status of gifted students in this country.  Instead, it's about the role that poverty plays in outcomes.  About 6,000 randomly selected students from 161 public and private schools from the U.S. participated in the latest test.   When their performance is scrutinized, it shows a clear and disturbing pattern.  Schools with less than a 10 percent poverty rate ranked the U.S. near the top of the pile in reading.  In contrast, schools with a poverty rate of between 50 and 75 percent dropped the U.S. toward the bottom in reading. 

What Happens to Kids Who Don’t Graduate?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch December 15, 2013 //
In Kentucky and New York, the Common Core tests caused test scores to tumble by 30 points or more.  State officials assume–with no evidence–that the scores will go up every year. What if they don’t? What if they go up only by a small increment? What if 50-60% of students don’t pass?
In New York, the “passing” rate on the Common Core tests was 30% statewide. Only 3% of English learners passed, and only 5% of students with disabilities. The pass rate for African American and Hispanic students was 15-18%.
If the state continues to insist upon a wildly unrealistic passing mark, the percentage of students who do not graduate will soar.

“In a study of nearly 1,400 eighth-graders in the Boston public school system, the researchers found that some schools have successfully raised their students’ scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). However, those schools had almost no effect on students’ performance on tests of fluid intelligence skills, such as working memory capacity, speed of information processing, and ability to solve abstract problems.”
Even when test scores go up, some cognitive abilities don’t
MIT neuroscientists find even high-performing schools don’t influence their students’ abstract reasoning.
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office December 11, 2013
To evaluate school quality, states require students to take standardized tests; in many cases, passing those tests is necessary to receive a high-school diploma. These high-stakes tests have also been shown to predict students’ future educational attainment and adult employment and income.  Such tests are designed to measure the knowledge and skills that students have acquired in school — what psychologists call “crystallized intelligence.” However, schools whose students have the highest gains on test scores do not produce similar gains in “fluid intelligence” — the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically — according to a new study from MIT neuroscientists working with education researchers at Harvard University and Brown University.

Expanding Access to Quality Pre-K is Sound Public Policy
National Institute for Early Education Research December 2013
In 2013, preschool education received more attention in the media and public policy circles than it has for some time, in part because of a series of high-profile proposals to expand access to quality pre-K.  The scientific basis for these proposed expansions of quality pre-K is impressive.  This paper brings to bear the full weight of the evidence to address the following questions:
  • What does all the evidence say about effective preschool education and long-term cognitive benefits?
  • What are the estimated effects of state and local pre-K programs in more recent years?
  • Is Head Start ineffective? 
  • Can government improve the quality of public preschool education? 
  • If states expand pre-K with temporary federal matching funds, what happens to state education budgets when that federal money is not available?
NIEER projects that in 2030 all but 1 state would spend less on education from pre-K through grade 12 under federal proposals that incentivize states to raise pre-K quality standards, offer a full school day, and serve all children under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 

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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