Friday, January 3, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 3, 2014: Have you discussed charter reform with your state legislators?

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
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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?

During the holidays more than 300 listeners heard this audio. SB1085 is expected to be back in the news very soon.  Have you discussed charter reform with your state legislators?
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 January 3, 2014:
Have you discussed charter reform with your state legislators?

STEM initiative introduces high-tech careers to minority students
ZULIESUIVIE Ball was a senior at Central High School with excellent grades, a strong feminist attitude and a passion for writing.  One thing the 18-year-old Olney student didn't have was an interest in computer science. That changed, however, when a classmate invited her to a Saturday workshop on Java programming.
"I actually ended up growing to like it and what they were teaching, and became a part of it," said the soft-spoken, bubbly teen, now a freshman at Temple University.
Last summer, Ball completed a paid apprenticeship with the U.S. Navy in a research laboratory, which she hopes to do again this summer. "It was always interesting to me about what was produced, but I never considered being one to produce it," she said.

New report finds gains at Philly Renaissance Schools - but not across the board
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 02 2014 Posted in Latest news
Schools turned over to charter operators -- and to a lesser extent, District-run Promise Academies -- have shown improvements in academics and climate under the three-year-old Renaissance Schools turnaround initiative, a new report has found, although big first- and second-year gains have started to slow down or reverse. 
According to the study, conducted by the District's Office of Research and Evaluation, despite the leveling off of earlier gains, most Renaissance charters continue to have higher proficiency rates than those schools did pre-turnaround.
The reported improvements occurred during a time when overall proficiency rates for District-run schools were declining after years of increases; the downslide began after strict test protocols were put in place in District schools in the wake of a statewide cheating scandal.
As a group, the seven schools in the first cohort, those converted starting in 2010, posted the most dramatic gains. The academic results for the most recent cohort studied -- the four schools converted to Renaissance charters in 2012 -- were decidedly mixed.

 “This is the year for the governor and the Legislature to address this issue, certainly before they take measures such as expanding charters. It could be done by injecting more state money into education or a change in the school funding formula or both. But it must be done. In previous years, doing nothing was an act of neglect of public education. Now, it is an act of destruction.”
DN Editorial: Lest we forget
Philly daily News Thursday, January 2, 2014, 3:01 AM
WITH THE new year just beginning, we hope these items of unfinished business from 2013 get the attention they deserve.
Money for Education: Despite all that was said and written about the financial plight of Philadelphia's public schools, little was actually done to solve the district's fundamental problem: it lacks the necessary money to do even the basics.  The district started the year hundreds of millions of dollars in the red. Despite thousands of layoffs and wrenching cutbacks in staff and programs in every school, it will end it the school year hundreds of millions in the red.
In Philadelphia, the situation is desperate. In the rest of the state, it is miserable. Many districts have had to trim their budgets, staff and programs due to a slump in funding. The main cause - Gov. Corbett's claim to the contrary - is the retreat of the state from its traditional role of funding basic education.

Keystone exams, construction two hot education issues for 2014
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English Staff Writer January 2, 2014 12:00 am
Pennsylvania's new Keystone Exams and ongoing construction will be two of the major issues confronting local education officials in 2014.
Officials of the Bristol Township, Central Bucks, Council Rock and Pennsbury school districts are among those expressing concerns about the Keystone Exams. Starting with this year's freshman class, Pennsylvania students will be required to pass Algebra 1, literature and biology Keystone Exams to graduate from high school.  "Our superintendent, Dr. Kevin McHugh, recently joined more than 50 school leaders from Southeastern Pennsylvania in endorsing a letter to state legislators about shared concerns with regard to the Keystone Exams," said Pennsbury spokeswoman Ann Langtry.

Teacher Action Group - Philadelphia
TAG Philadelphia works to strengthen the influence of educators within schools and over policy decisions.  While partnering with parent, student, and community groups, TAG is committed to fostering positive school transformation, environments where students and teachers can thrive, and community ownership and influence within education.

Critics Say Schools Common Core Standards Roll Out Is Rushed
NPR by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ January 02, 2014 5:17 AM audio runtime 5 min 11 sec
As the new Common Core State Standards are rolled out across the country, a growing number of educators and parents say they're worried about the tests being developed and tied to the new, more rigorous standards in reading and math. The test results after all won't just be used to gauge kids progress but to evaluate teachers, rate schools and rank states.

The Common Core Is Tough on Kids Who Are Still Learning English
How one school is adapting to the new standards
The Atlantic by PAT WINGERTJAN 2 2014, 7:32 AM ET
COMPTON, CALIFORNIA—Remarkable things are happening at Laurel Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. Ninety percent of its 580 students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. More than 60 percent of its students are classified as English learners. And yet the school has established a stellar record of success: a national Title I Distinguished School Award in 2012 in recognition of its high academic achievement, a Golden Bell Award for its innovative writing program, and a Dispelling the Myth award from the nonprofit Education Trust. Despite years of state funding cuts and classes that average 30 or more kids apiece, an amazing 83 percent of Laurel Street’s students scored at proficient or higher on a recent state language-arts exam, and 91 percent scored that high on the math test.
Laurel Street kids tend to do better on math because it’s a kind of transitional language for students still learning to read and speak English fluently, said fourth-grade math teacher Angel Chavarin. He learned English himself while attending a Los Angeles public school years ago. Laurel Street students rarely express a typical lament of American students: “I’m not a math person.” Instead, teachers say they’re more likely to hear the opposite. “We have kids who say they’re good in math, but not in language arts,” said Chavarin. “We tell them they can be good in both.” 
But this year, teachers at Laurel Street are a bit more anxious about their achievement levels than usual. That’s because they, like most schools in the country, are in the midst of transitioning to the new Common Core standards. 

Showdown Brews as Congress Turns Focus to K-12 Spending
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: January 2, 2014
Premium article access courtesy of
Big questions loom about just how much money Congress will steer to individual programs—including the Obama administration’s marquee competitive-grant initiatives—with lawmakers on House and Senate appropriations committees facing a Jan. 15 deadline to fill in details on the current year’s spending plan or face another government shutdown.
School districts that have been chafing under across-the-board federal cuts known as sequestration for nearly a year got a two-year reprieve under the agreement approved last month that effectively scales back the sequestration cuts to education by 87 percent over that period, according to an analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition in Washington.

Department Of Agriculture Permanently Relaxes Rules On Healthier School Meals
Huffington Post by Reuters Posted: 01/02/2014 8:11 pm EST
WASHINGTON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators said on Thursday they were permanently relaxing school meal rules that were designed to combat childhood obesity by reining in calories and portion sizes but aroused complaints the policies caused students to go hungry.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture had initially loosened the rules in late 2012, suspending daily and weekly maximum amounts for grains and meat or meal alternatives. That allowed school districts to service larger portions without penalty.

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.

January 24th – 26th, 2014 at The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

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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