Monday, April 7, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 7: Majority of Ivy League’s recent classes have come from public high schools.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 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 April 7, 2014:
Majority of Ivy League’s recent classes have come from public high schools.

"Under legislation that Christiana, R-15, Beaver, could introduce as early as Monday, the state -- through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) -- would directly pay students' tuition to cyber schools instead of having school districts make those payments."
Christiana bill would alter PA cyber school funding model
Beaver County TImes Online By J.D. Prose April 5, 2014 11:00 pm
State Rep. Jim Christiana plans to introduce legislation this week that would drastically change the way Pennsylvania cyber charter schools receive tuition payments.  Under legislation that Christiana, R-15, Beaver, could introduce as early as Monday, the state -- through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) -- would directly pay students' tuition to cyber schools instead of having school districts make those payments.  This change, Christiana said, would remove the burden of paying tuition from school districts and keep district property tax revenue at the local level instead of being used to pay cyber tuition to schools that could be nowhere near the district.

March 14th Letter from Acting PA Ed Sec'y Dumaresq: PDE not developing additional Keystone Exams

Charter School Reform and SB 1085Authorizer and Funding Issues Must Be Resolved 
March 31 Letter to Members of PA Senate from PASBO, PASA, PSBA, PARSS and PSEA
While the members served by our collective associations listed above encourage you to enact needed reform of the current charter school law, we urge you to oppose Senate Bill 1085 as currently drafted.  The bill does contain some positive reforms to the charter school law, however, these provisions are outweighed by the negative consequences of expanding the list of charter school authorizers and limiting the financial relief to school districts from the elimination of the pension double dip. 
Our associations oppose Senate Bill 1085 due to the inclusion of the language permitting institutions of higher education to authorize charter schools.  This expansion of authority beyond local school districts effectively undermines local control and disenfranchises local taxpayers.  Such a proposal permits critical financial decisions to be made by entities with no connection to or understanding of the needs of the local community, thereby eliminating all accountability for decisions that will have a significant and negative financial impact on a school district and its local taxpayers.  Our associations also believe that the elimination of the pension double dip is critical and that such relief must accrue to school districts, not to the state.

F&M Poll: Education Most Important Issue
PoliiticsPA Written by Brittany Foster, Managing Editor April 3, 2014
Education and schools lead the concerns of Pennsylvanians by a wide margin, according to a new poll out from Franklin and Marshall.  32% of respondents said that education was the biggest issue facing Pennsylvania today, followed by unemployment and personal finances at 23%.
There’s a major drop off after these issues: 10% say government, 6% say taxes, 5% say energy issues, 5% say economy, 3% say health care, 3% say crime, 2% say roads, 2% say social issues, 1% say senior issues, 1% say environment and 9% say other or don’t know.

City’s New “Portfolio Model” Of School Governance Comes In For Harsh Criticism
By Pat Loeb April 5, 2014 8:20 AM
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s new “portfolio model” of school governance came in for some harsh criticism at the American Educational' class="itxtrst itxtrstimg itxthookicon" v:shapes="itxthook0icon">  Research Association’s annual conference being held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Opponents of the model far outnumbered its supporters.  The term “portfolio' class="itxtrst itxtrstimg itxthookicon" v:shapes="itxthook1icon"> ” comes from the investment world, where it refers to a group of stocks. The model’s biggest proponent, Mark Gleason of the Philadelphia School Partnership, says it translates to keeping high-performing schools and closing low-performers.  “Schools shouldn’t have a right to exist,” Gleason says. “The right in America should be that students have a right to an education' class="itxtrst itxtrstimg itxthookicon" v:shapes="itxthook2icon"> .”

Gleason's call to close 'loser' schools infuriates public ed advocates
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 04/06/2014 | 0 Comments Posted
Philadelphia School Partnership CEO Mark Gleason set off a deluge of criticism after he called for the School District to close "loser" schools.  "You keep dumping the losers and over time you create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools," Gleason said Friday while speaking on a panel at the American Educational Research Association conference, which has been held in Philadelphia over the last week.  Last year, Philadelphia closed 24 schools in the wake of massive state budget cuts and the rapid expansion of charter schools.  Parents United for Public Education leader Helen Gym said that Gleason held "extremist" views on public education.
"Mark Gleason is not an educator, and I think that's one thing that should be pretty clear. He has been a relentless promoter of questionable reform models that have really wreaked havoc in other places. And he has unprecedented access to the Mayor's Office of Education, to the School District, to push his agenda," she told City Paper.

Philadelphia School Partnership Board of Directors

Pa. Education Department sides with SRC on work-rule changes
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Sunday, April 6, 2014, 1:09 AM POSTED: Saturday, April 5, 2014, 7:33 PM
The state is backing the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's request for a court ruling that would allow it to impose work-rule changes, including disregarding seniority for teacher assignments, transfers, layoffs, and recalls.  In documents filed with the state Supreme Court late Thursday, the Department of Education said such changes were "essential to the SRC's mission of stabilizing the district's finances."  Jerry Jordan, president of the 10,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which has challenged the SRC's position, said Saturday he was stunned by the Education Department's filing.

House Bill 2124, Amendments to Public School Code - Planning and Construction.  Testimony to the House Education Committee, March 31, 2014
Good morning. My name is John Callahan, senior director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is a nonprofit statewide association representing the 4,500 elected officials who govern the commonwealth's public school districts. PSBA is a membership-driven organization, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for public schools and working to support reform for the betterment of public education that prepares students to be productive citizens, and promote the achievements of public schools, students and local school boards.
On behalf of the 4,500 elected officials we commend Representative Seth Grove for addressing the fiscal and process challenges of the School Construction Reimbursement Program (PlanCon). Representative Seth Grove's legislation amends the Public School Code to provide for a more modern, simplified, and financially sustainable process of reimbursement. This legislation along with an additional appropriation of State money will begin to address the backlog of school district construction projects awaiting reimbursement.

Lawmakers need to work with school districts to move issues forward: PSBA director
By Jim T. Ryan | Special to PennLive on April 03, 2014 at 11:58 PM
State politicians need to communicate better with school boards in order to understand how poorly written legislation can throw a monkey wrench into school operations. That was the message Pennsylvania School Boards Association officials brought Thursday night to Carlisle Area School Board's committee meetings.  John Callahan, director of government affairs with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said that's even more pertinent when the state legislature is trying to tackle complex problems such as suicide prevention, or pension and charter school reforms.

Papenfuse support for Key Charter school is perplexing: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board on April 04, 2014 at 12:49 PM
Calling for Harrisburg school recovery officer Gene Veno to be fired wasn’t the only strange and poorly-justified move Mayor Papenfuse made this week.  He also endorsed opening a huge new charter school in Harrisburg, even though the school’s initial application was roundly rejected as woefully sketchy and incomplete.  The mayor’s enthusiasm for the Key Charter proposal is perplexing, because he is so uninformed about it. Asked at a press conference Thursday, he admitted he had not read through all the findings that led the Harrisburg school board to reject the application.

Controversy still dogs Philadelphia Academy Charter School
PHILADELPHIA Six years after a Northeast Philadelphia charter school was roiled by allegations of financial mismanagement and nepotism, it is in turmoil again.  Five board members at Philadelphia Academy Charter School have resigned since three new parent-members joined last summer.  Reports that new board members do not plan to renew the contract of chief executive Larry Sperling - whom many credit with helping save the school in 2008 - prompted supporters to create a "Keep Larry Sperling" Facebook page and distribute fliers, and stirred high school students at the K-12 school to circulate petitions on his behalf.  There are complaints of stagnating academics at the high school, questions over whether the previous board had too many members, and allegations that the current board violated the state's Open Meeting Law by choosing officers in private.

Philly Trib Written by Wilford Shamlin III April 3, 2014
For the first time, parents will have a say in whether their neighborhood school is converted to a charter school under the Renaissance school improvement initiative, a district spokeswoman said on Wednesday.  Two charter school operators, Mastery Charter Schools and ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, have been selected to run Edward T. Steel Elementary School, 4301 Wayne Ave., and the Hon. Luis Munoz Marin Elementary School, 3300 N. 3rd St., respectively, starting in September.  The competitive process considered Mastery and ASPIRA’s track record in producing dramatic turnaround in as little as one year in a number of targeted areas, from improved student scores on standardized tests in reading and math proficiency, higher attendance rates and maintaining a school climate conducive to learning.  In a new action plan guiding decision-making in 2014, the public school district noted progress in turning around the district’s lowest performing schools, but acknowledged room for improvement.

From AERA: Are the schools in Philadelphia trending in the right direction?
notebook by Paul Socolar on Apr 04 2014 Posted in Commentary
The American Educational Research Association conference is April 3-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the downtown Philadelphia Marriott hotel. This excerpt is from a presentation on Friday by Notebook editor and publisher Paul Socolar in a session about "The Landscape of Education Reform in Philadelphia." The topic was whether there are positive trends in school performance in Philadelphia.  Yes, since the state takeover in 2002, the trends are positive on a number of indicators … and not just test scores. Graduation rates are up – now, finally, two-thirds of students are graduating high school within six years. And more of the graduates are going to college.  But the story of how Philadelphia schools are doing is complicated and much murkier.

"Although matriculating data was provided on only four of the college’s admissions websites, that information, along with other secondary sources indicate the majority of Ivy League’s recent classes have come from public high schools.
Public school grads make up 55% of incoming freshman at Dartmouth and Yale, 58.7% at Princeton and 66% a tCornell UniversityBrown doesn’t have figures for its undergrad program, but it does reveal that 67% of students accepted into its medical school in 2013 hailed from public high schools. In a 2009 New York Times piece, William R. Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, noted that public schools provided almost 70 percent of the incoming freshmen class that fall."
The EDifier - Center for Public Education April 4, 2014
By now, you’ve all read about Kwasi Enin, the Long Island high school student who applied and gained admission to all eight Ivy League schools.  Scattered along the East Coast, the universities— Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell— are among the most selective in the country, admitting less than 9 percent of its collective applicants this year. Harvard’s admit rate was the lowest at 5.9 percent, while Cornell was the highest at 14 percent.  Acceptance into one Ivy League college is difficult enough, let alone all eight which is why Enin’s feat has rightly garnered widespread media attention. And small wonder all eight welcomed him. Besides participating in student government and playing three instruments in the chamber orchestra, Enin throws discus and shot put for the track and field team, acts in school plays and volunteers at a local hospital. An extraordinarily gifted student from— can I point out— a public high school.  Fluke? Far from.

"Facing a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that funding disparities between school districts violated the State Constitution, Kansas lawmakers agreed late Sunday to direct more money to poorer districts."
Kansas Legislature Passes Education Finance Bill
New York Times By MONICA DAVEY APRIL 7, 2014
Facing a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that funding disparities between school districts violated the State Constitution, Kansas lawmakers agreed late Sunday to direct more money to poorer districts.  But the decision to resolve funding gaps across the state was complicated by days of intense battling in Topeka, the capital, over an array of other educational policy questions — whether to finance Common Core academic standards, whether to ease the process for dismissing teachers, and whether to offer tax breaks for families with children in private schools.
In the end, as scores of public-school teachers who had gathered at the State Capitol voiced objections, the Legislature agreed to spend more than $120 million to solve disparities as an answer to the courts, while also putting an end to a hearing process granted to most teachers if they are to be fired. Lawmakers also decided to allow tax breaks for corporations that donate to private school scholarship funds aimed at low-income students.

Standing Up to Testing
New York Times By GINIA BELLAFANTE MARCH 28, 2014
In the coming weeks, children in New York City and across the state will begin taking annual standardized tests in math and language that will run over the course of many hours and days, assuming a kind of onerousness once exclusive to the bar exam. Last year, the first in which the tests were aligned with the Common Core, a set of standards intended to determine whether a child is on track to becoming prepared for college, a number of parents, here and nationally, maintained an activist stance against them. About 270 children in the city’s public school system did not sit for the tests, their parents believing that the burdens imposed were hardly offset by the tests’ highly debatable value.  This movement of refusal does not evolve out of antipathy toward rigor and seriousness, as critics enjoy suggesting, but rather out of advocacy for more comprehensive forms of assessment and a depth of intellectual experience that test-driven pedagogy rarely allows. In the past year, the movement has grown considerably among parents and educators, across political classifications and demographics.

NPE is going old-school - April mail-in campaign; write your letter to Congress now
On March 2, 2014, The Network for Public Education issued a call for congressional hearings into the overuse and abuse of tests in our schools.
Together, we have managed to catch the attention of Congress, we created a Twitter Storm that sent out over 20K tweets and reached 400K people via social media while trending #1, and the offices of Congress members were flooded with phone calls from concerned constituents. We continue to bring attention to the plague of over-testing and the media is beginning to take notice!
For the next part of our campaign, we’re going old school. During the month of April, we are asking our Friends & Allies to print out and mail a copy of this letter to the offices of our friends at Campaign for America’s Future in Washington D.C.. We will deliver our letters to Congress. Keep an eye out for a date and press conference details!

Education Debate - Pittsburgh, April 8
by Yinzercation March 20, 2014
Please mark your calendars now and plan to be a part of this event:
Democratic candidates for Governor of Pennsylvania
Tuesday, April 8th  at Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 515 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206

PSBA nominations for offices now open!  Deadline April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.
How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

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.

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