Tuesday, February 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 18, 2014: Mapping poverty: Wealthiest and poorest school districts in PA

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3100 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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 18, 2014:
Mapping poverty: Wealthiest and poorest school districts in PA


Blogger’s note: PA is slated to spend about $53 million on assessments in the Governor’s proposed budget.  Anybody want to wager on how statewide School Performance Profile scores might align with the map featured below?  Would it make more sense to spend some of that $53M on interventions?
“So how does your school district compare to those in other parts of Lancaster County and Pennsylvania?  Here's a map of every Pennsylvania school district. Those with higher poverty rates are shaded in darker blue.  Note: Users can zoom in and click on any district to get detailed information including number of school-age children in poverty.”
Mapping poverty: Wealthiest and poorest school districts in Pennsylvania
LancasterOnline Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 3:16 pm
Lancaster Newspapers reporter Paula Wolf is writing about recent census estimates that show poverty rates among school-age children remain higher than they were at the end of the recession.  The new estimates are for the year 2012, and they show that poverty rates for Lancaster County school districts ranged from 7.9 percent for Warwick to 32.6 percent for Lancaster.  The census’ Small Area Income and Poverty estimates, which come out every year, count children ages 5-17 who reside in a particular school district — not just those who attend public school.

School districts find ways to fight poverty
LancasterOnline By PAULA WOLF | Staff Writer Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 2:56 pm
Robert Hollister is superintendent of one of the most rural school districts in the county.
And while the 13.1 percent poverty rate for children ages 5-17 living in Eastern Lancaster County School District in 2012 is still less than the county average of 15.2 percent, he’s seeing more and more students in need — especially since the Great Recession.
“When Mom and Dad are worried about putting food on the table or clothes on kids’ backs, education takes a back seat,” Hollister said.  While the poverty percentages seem to have stabilized here in the past few years, according to census figures released in December, they’re still noticeably higher than in 2009, at the end of the recession

Your Plan for Great Public Schools
Yinzercation Blog February 17, 2014
The community has spoken. You have spoken. Yes, you. And you’ve had some pretty amazing ideas about what our public schools can be and how we can get there.  Together we’ve asked: How do we make all the public schools in Pittsburgh into great schools, schools that any family will happily send their children to, and that students will want to attend? At the same time, how can we address the long-standing disparities in our city, with far too many families living in poverty and students of color lacking equitable access to opportunities? Well, it turns out the community has a plan.
Over the past several years, literally thousands of people have participated in town hall meetings, rallies, community forums, lectures, street demonstrations, panel presentations, vigils, meetings with policy makers, teach-ins, trips to Harrisburg, public protests, and social media actions. To create a truly community-based vision for our public schools, you gave your input through these neighborhood events, as well as post card drives, petitions, numerous on-line discussion formats, and a large community survey. Volunteers, including several parents from Yinzercation, put all this together in an exciting new report, just released by our coalition Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh.

DN Editorial: HITE OF AMBITION
Instead of retrenching, the superintendent has a bold plan for change
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 3:01 AM
CONSIDER Schools Superintendent William Hite's first year. From the time he arrived in September 2012, he presided over the closing of 23 schools and a foundation-shaking $304 million deficit that forced massive layoffs, threatened to keep schools closed on opening day and cut into fundamental education basics - a deficit that has still not been met completely, by the way. For good measure, he inherited a cheating scandal and charter-school scandals and is about to see a change in the leadership of the School Reform Commission.
Given these events, it would not be a shock that anyone in his position would have thought twice about completely unpacking his suitcases, to say nothing of simply lying down in surrender. Which makes his bold new plan for the schools, released yesterday, all the more impressive. This is clearly not a guy daunted by adversity. In fact, we suspect that he must be a member of a highly refined class of The Undead. And we mean that in a good way.

AdWatch: Corbett takes on jobs, taxes in radio ad
BY MARC LEVY Associated Press February 15
HARRISBURG, Pa. — TITLE: "Difference."
LENGTH: 60 seconds.  AIRING: Radio stations in Pennsylvania.
TRANSCRIPT: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett: "When I ran for governor, I promised you I was going to change Harrisburg, and boy, have we. Harrisburg's job-crushing $4.2 billion deficit is now gone. The ridiculous number of state cars dramatically reduced. That alone saved taxpayers $43 million. And I've kept my promise not to raise your income taxes even 1 cent and to cut taxes on small businesses. That's resulted in Pennsylvania today having 140,000 more private sector jobs than the day I took office. Best of all, by getting Harrisburg's financial house in order, we're now able to invest more on basic education than any other time in Pennsylvania's history. And we've dramatically increased spending on early childhood development programs and another $40 million to help our special-needs families. All these changes haven't necessarily made me popular in Harrisburg. But you didn't send me there to make friends. You sent me there to make a difference."

Without libraries, how will schools create avid readers?
The notebook by Eileen DiFranco on Feb 14 2014 Posted in Commentary
Eileen M. DiFranco, R.N., is a certified school nurse who has proudly served the schoolchildren of Philadelphia for 23 years. She is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia.
The books at Roxborough High's library sit untouched and unread by students. Renovated at considerable expense in 2007, the library was closed three years ago when, due to budget cuts, it became too expensive to keep open. It’s used for meetings, presentations, and small assemblies now.  When I mentioned over the dinner table the fact that in Philadelphia, almost all public school libraries were closed, my 5-year-old granddaughter, who attends a suburban elementary school, almost fell off her chair. “What, no libraries? Library is fun!” Her father, a graduate of Central, was equally upset. He spent the bulk of his lunch periods in the library, either studying, reading magazines, or shooting the breeze with friends.
In some of the city's elementary schools, libraries were closed a decade ago. It’s sad to think that some high schoolers have never attended a school with a library. Closing libraries might save the School District money, but what happens when districts cease to fund libraries?

Tony Norman: Biggest gap in black kids' learning: parents
By Tony Norman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Opinion February 17, 2014 11:19 PM
Judging by recent headlines, the education of African-American public school students in Pittsburgh has finally moved to the front burner of public policy and discussion.
The fact that local black leaders are making demands about the education of black youth is enormously heartening. Their emphasis on teacher evaluations as the key to closing the education gap and spurring black academic achievement is misplaced, but at least education is on the radar as the dominant civil rights issue of our time.

“The pattern is similar across the country. There are now about 2.8 million students attending magnet schools — more than the nearly 2.6 million enrolled in charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated.”
Magnet Schools Find a Renewed Embrace in Cities
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH FEB. 16, 2014
MIAMI — Nearly five decades ago, as racial tension raged in cities, magnet schools were introduced here and elsewhere as an alternative to court-ordered busing in the hope that specialized theme schools would slow white flight and offer options to racial minorities zoned for low-performing schools.  Magnet schools never quite delivered on that desegregation promise, and in the past couple of decades they have largely fallen off the radar. But in this multiracial city — and, increasingly, in other urban districts including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington — public school leaders are refocusing on the idea as traditional public schools come under increasing pressure from charter schools and vouchers for private schools.
The number of children in Miami-Dade County attending magnet programs — which admit students from anywhere in the district and focus on themes like art, law or technology — has grown by 35 percent in the past four years. These children now account for about one in six students in the district.

Congressional Talk Swirls Around Early-Education Proposals
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: February 14, 2014
President Barack Obama's multibillion-dollar proposal to entice states to expand their prekindergarten offerings will serve as a focal point of a broader discussion on Capitol Hill about the right role for the federal government in early-childhood education—even though the initiative is unlikely to cross the legislative finish line this year.  But, in what may be a sort of consolation prize to early-childhood advocates, the long-stalled reauthorization of another program for the youngest children, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, may see fresh momentum, thanks in part to an invigorated focus on issues of children's early years.

Google admits data mining student emails in its free education apps
SafeGov.org by Jeff Gould, Peerstone Research Friday, January 31, 2014
When it introduced a new privacy policy designed to improve its ability to target users with ads based on data mining of their online activities, Google said the policy didn’t apply to students using Google Apps for Education. But recent court filings by Google’s lawyers in a California class action lawsuit against Gmail data mining tell a different story: Google now admits that it does data mine student emails for ad-targeting purposes outside of school, even when ad serving in school is turned off, and its controversial consumer privacy policy does apply to Google Apps for Education.
At SafeGov.org our work has long focused on the risks of allowing targeted online advertising into schools. This issue has come to the fore as companies like Google and Microsoft have launched a worldwide race to introduce their web application suites into as many schools as possible. In this article we review the background of this debate and then present important new evidence regarding the practices of one of the leading players, Google.

Zhou says that investing in testing will only create good test takers, and test scores are not valid predictors of success. If we invest our resources in tests, we will get good test takers; if we spend our time celebrating and encouraging our variety of abilities, creativity, and diverse thinking we will better help our students succeed. Testing should be a tool, not the focus. Test scores are a poor reflection of what our students could be learning and distract teachers from the real work of helping students to discover, be curious, work collaboratively and interact with each other in meaningful ways.”
LETTER FROM PRINCIPAL OF THE WOODLAND HILLS MONTESSORI SCHOOL
Stop Common Core in CT by Susan Kambrich
Dear Parents,
Two weeks ago I attended the New York State Association of Independent School (NYSAIS) Heads of School conference. This conference featured Yong Zhao, an author and professor at the University of Seattle. Zhao’s message focused on the importance of developing an educational system and curriculum that cultivates key skills like creative and strategic thinking, digital learning and problem solving. He was a very funny speaker, with some serious messages. As a son of Chinese farmers, he said he was ‘a failure at being a peasant.’ He talked about how he has lived his life pursuing what we all pursue--“not failing.” He pointed out that he is not alone in that feeling; none of us like to fail, yet in U.S. schools, the focus is on student deficits rather than strengths. This in turn leads to student disengagement. He also described his goal for his daughter, age 15: not to live in his basement. This is accomplished by helping children discover and practice what they are good at, and help them to develop these skills and expertise.
He also talked about the strengths of the students in his homeland, China, and those of India. They are strong test takers. Students in the U.S. have not been strong test takers, even 50 years ago. The strength of the U.S. has to be in creativity and innovation. The U.S. has been concerned about the Chinese exceeding the U.S. in academic skills, and the Chinese have been concerned that their education system will not produce the next Steve Jobs or creative entrepreneurs until changes to the Chinese educational systems occur.


Join us February 19th for our Service-Learning As Dropout Prevention Webinar! February 19th from 3pm-4pm
Pennsylvania Dropout Prevention Network
Join Hillary Kane, Chair of the Pennsylvania Service-Learning Alliance, as she discusses service-learning as a dropout prevention strategy. Service-learning, unlike traditional community service, is a hands-on teaching strategy that can resonate with students who are disengaged from more traditional methods of instruction. Join this call to learn more about service-learning and how your school or district can take advantage of it to reach students and keep them in school.

Senate Ed Committee Chairman Folmer Holding Town Hall Meetings on Education
Senator Folmer’s Facebook Page February 10, 2014
Parents, I want to hear your thoughts on education! Join me for a parent town hall meeting Tuesday, February, 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 203 of the Neidig Garber Building, on the campus of Lebanon Valley College.
A similar meeting is planned for Monday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the Quiet Study Room of Penn State Harrisburg’s Capitol Union Building.
Seating is limited - please RSVP to (717) 787-1347 or fbinner@pasen.gov.

Have you considered signing this petition yet?
PENNSYLVANIA PROPERTY TAX PAYERS: OPPOSE PROPOSED SB1085 CHARTER SCHOOL LAW REFORM
Petition by Denise Kurnas
To be delivered to The Pennsylvania State House, The Pennsylvania State Senate, and Governor Tom Corbett
This petition is designed to keep charter school oversight in local district control instead of allowing other entities or the Pennsylvania Department of Education to spend our property tax dollars without input from our locally elected school board officials. 

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center 2014 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Harrisburg Hilton Thu, Feb 20, 2014 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Thursday, February 20th to provide an in-depth look at the Governor's spending plan and an update on the federal budget — and what it all means for communities and families across Pennsylvania.
As in previous years, the Budget Summit will be at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Harrisburg
Additional information, agendas, and workshops will be posted in the new year.

Register Now! EPLC’s Education Policy Forums on Governor Corbett’s 2014-2015 State Budget Proposal for Education
The next EPLC education policy forums will be held on the following days and in the following locations.  These forums will take place shortly after Governor Corbett’s February 4th presentation of his proposed 2014-15 state budget and will focus on his plans for education.
Monday, February 24, 2014 – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – State College, PA
Thursday, February 27, 2014Harrisburg, PA
Space is limited for each event and an RSVP is required. Anyone wishing to receive an invitation should inquire by contacting The Education Policy and Leadership Center at staff@eplc.org or 717-260-9900.

PSBA White Paper: The costs of charter and cyber charter schools
Updated January 2014
Research and policy implications for Pennsylvania school districts
White Paper by PSBA’s Education research & Policy Center
This week PSBA’s Education Research and Policy Center issued an update to its charter school funding white paper this week, originally published in October 2010. The net cost to districts for students attending charter schools increased from $434 million in 2006-07 to $1.145 billion in 2011-12. The financial analysis indicates the need for several changes to the current charter law related to funding.

Register Now! EPLC’s 2014 Education Issues Workshops for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters
EPLC’s Education Issue Workshops Register Now! – Space is Limited!
A Non-Partisan One-Day Program for Pennsylvania Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff and Interested Voters
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in Harrisburg, PA
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Monroeville, PA
Thursday, March 27, 2014 in Philadelphia,PA

Auditor General DePasquale to Hold Public Meetings on Ways to Improve Charter Schools
Seeks to find ways to improve accountability, effectiveness, transparency
The public meetings will be held:
  • Allegheny County: 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25, Commissioners Hearing Room, Ross Township Municipal Center, 1000 Ross Municipal Rd., Pittsburgh
  • Northampton County: 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, City Council Chambers, 6th Floor, City Hall, One South Third St., Easton
  • Cambria County: 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, March 6, Commissioners Meeting Room, Cambria County Court House, 200 South Center St., Ebensburg
  • Bucks County: 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, March 7, Township of Falls Administrative Building, Suite 100, 188 Lincoln Highway, Fairless Hills
  • NEW: Philadelphia: 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, March 14, City Council Chambers, Room 400, City Hall
Time is limited to two hours for each meeting. Comments can be submitted in writing by Wednesday, Feb. 19, via email to Susan Woods at: swoods@auditorgen.state.pa.us.

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.

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia February Seminars
Dear Parents and Advocates:
This month we are offering TWO great special education seminars. 
Learn about special education provisions in charter schools, 
including how one's rights differ from school to school. 
Tuesday, February 11, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Audience members will learn about the legal needs of children with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, and hear from expert presenters on the latest research and trends. 
Tuesday, February 25, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. - Full Session 
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Abbreviated Session 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education
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.

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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