Thursday, April 10, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 10, 2014: What are community schools?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 10, 2014:
What are community schools?

PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties - save the date
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.

"More than 600 partners now support Cincinnati’s community learning centers, greatly leveraging the resources our district can provide for students, especially supports that are indirect to classroom instruction. Examples include health services, counseling, after-school programs, nutrition classes, parent/family engagement programs, early childhood education, career and college-access services, youth development activities, tutoring, mentoring and arts programming."
What Works: What are community schools?
Post Gazette Opinion by JULIE DOPPLER April 10, 2014 12:00 AM
Julie Doppler is coordinator of community learning centers for Cincinnati Public Schools (
Thirty people from Pittsburgh — school, union and civic leaders, among others — are attending a national community-schools conference in Cincinnati this week to gather ideas that might work in Pittsburgh. The Post-Gazette asked the coordinator of Cincinnati’s program, one of the most extensive, to explain what’s happening there.
……A reinvention of an old idea — schools as hubs of their communities — Cincinnati’s community learning centers got a boost in the early 2000s as Cincinnati Public Schools embarked on a $1 billion, 10-year facilities master plan to rebuild or fully renovate schools for all students. When voters were asked to approve a local bond issue to support the plan, they were told it would be about more than bricks and mortar — it also would be an opportunity to engage communities in a way that would transform their schools and revitalize their neighborhoods. The idea resonated, and the bond issue was approved.  Today, a community-by-community engagement and visioning process remains central to assembling partners for each school’s community learning center. Also central is the position of school resource coordinator, whose role it is to attract and manage partners and ensure they are aligned to a school’s goals and improvement strategies. At this point, 36 of Cincinnati’s 55 schools have full-time resource coordinators, funded by private donations and some of the district’s federal Title I funding.

Interested in more info on Community Schools?
"School Reform" that does NOT involve vouchers, charters, tax credits, closing schools and firing staff?  Here are links to several articles including an excellent series done on American Public Media's Marketplace radio program with Kai Ryssdal.

Allentown School District wants to open new career-focused high school
District's Professional Careers Institute would borrow from charter concepts.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 9:21 p.m. EDT, April 9, 2014
If you can't stop kids from going to charter schools, you can always open up your own version of one.  Using concepts touted by various groups that had hoped to start charter schools, Allentown School District plans to open a new career-focused high school emphasizing a smaller learning environment, project-based learning, internships and 21st-century skills, according to the agenda for Thursday's school board Education Committee meeting.  The district will formally present plans for the Professional Careers Institute during a presentation at 6:30 p.m., according to the meeting agenda, a public document posted online Wednesday.  The new school would open in fall 2015 with 150-300 students and expand to as many as 600 students by 2017-18, according to information in the agenda. The district would lease a building, use teachers from its existing faculty and cover the new school's expenses through grants and the district's general fund.
Debate by the Numbers
Yinzercation Blog April 9th, 2014
Here’s a re-cap of last night’s Education Debate in numbers, news, and photographs. First the numbers:
·         4 -  Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf.
·         2 -  Co-hosts for the evening: PA Interfaith Impact Network and Yinzercation.
·         10 -  Community organizations co-sponorsing: Action United, A+ Schools, Black Political Empowerment Project, Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, Greater Park Place Neighborhood Association, League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, YMCA Youth and Government Club at Pittsburgh Obama 6-12.
·         21 -  Members of the planning team. Thank you to all the volunteers who made the debate possible.
·         500 -  People in the audience!
·         17 -  Questions asked by moderator (Lisa Sylvester from WPXI) and our community panel (Rev. Richard Freeman, PIIN President; Cassi Schaffer, Pittsburgh Public School parent and community activist; and Joel Macklin, Pittsburgh Obama junior).
·         1,000 -  Number of times the candidates pledged to restore the budget cuts and implement a fair funding formula (OK, that was an exaggeration, but it was certainly a main point of agreement among them).

Toomey plans push on teacher sex bill
Scranton Times-Tribune BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK (STAFF WRITER) Published: April 8, 2014
The U.S. Senate might soon pass a bill that forces schools to check more thoroughly the backgrounds of teachers, bus drivers, janitors and others who work in schools and might come in contact with students, Sen. Pat Toomey said Monday.  "I am going to be pepping up my efforts to get this over the goal line," the Republican said during a conference call with reporters. "We've been laying the groundwork. I am hopeful that we will get this done this month. It's just really important."  Mr. Toomey, whose bill has two co-sponsors, introduced his Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act last Oct. 29, a week after an identical version passed the House with no opposition and with the help of U.S. Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Meehan, two congressmen from suburban Philadelphia, according to the Congressional Record.

What’s behind the opt-out from school testing movement
WHYY Radio TImes with Marty Moss-Coane April 9, 2014 (audio runtime 52:01)
Guests: Robin Roberts, Lisa Guisbond and Mike Petrilli
It’s testing season in public schools around the country, but an increasing number of parents are refusing to allow their children to take those assessment tests. They’re concerned that too much time is spent preparing for tests and that state assessment tests are unnecessary and even unfair. Proponents of testing point to their usefulness in measuring teacher performance and student achievement. In this hour of Radio Times, we’ll talk about the “opting-out of testing movement,” what’s behind the increase in testing, and whether or not testing benefits children, teacher’s and education systems. We’ll start off with Philadelphia school parent ROBIN ROBERTS who opted-out of testing for her three children. Then we’ll hear from LISA GUISBOND of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) and MICHAEL PETRILLI, executive vice-president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Pennsylvania Dept. of Ed. won't add new Keystone Exams
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 4:23 pm
The state isn't planning additional Keystone Exams for high school students, according to the Acting Secretary of Education.  State law allows for up to 10 Keystones, but Carolyn Dumaresq said in a March 14 letter to two state senators that there's not funding for more tests.  "In addition, I believe the Commonwealth's current focus should instead be on assuring success on the existing three Keystone Exams and the other assessments we already have in place ..." Dumaresq wrote.

'Dump the losers': Where do city and District leaders really stand?
the notebook by Helen Gym on Apr 09 2014 Posted in Commentary
How shocked should we be really?
On Friday, Philadelphia School Partnership’s Mark Gleason embraced a stunningly blunt description of the District’s “portfolio model” at a session of the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting. Gleason was attempting to explain why the portfolio model depends on school closings in a system where multiple operators run schools.
“So that’s what portfolio is fundamentally. ... you keep dumping the losers, and over time you create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools,” he said.
The audience of researchers, according to attendees I spoke with, expressed visible dissent. A group confronted Gleason afterward about everything from the “losers” framework to his dismissal of funding as a major source of the District's struggles. The crude phrasing even made Superintendent William Hite recoil, and Hite quickly distanced himself from Gleason’s remarks.
But no matter how uncomfortable Hite and others felt about Gleason’s words, they aptly characterize the portfolio model mentality. More important, they describe what is actually happening in the District. If District and city leaders take issue, they need to explain how their policies – and the impact of them –  are so much different.
Let’s take a look at the facts.

New co-principal at Bartram speaks about changing school climate
After a staffer at Bartram High School was knocked unconscious by a student last month, the Southwest Philadelphia school has faced increased public scrutiny, becoming the flashpoint for the district's under-resourced schools this year.  The district has responded to the outcry by bringing in one of its veteran school climate specialists: retired district principal Ozzie Wright.
Since retiring from the district in the mid-2000s, Wright has been called back multiple times to help the district deal with emergencies at Germantown, South Philly and West Philly High schools.  He arrived at Bartram to become co-principal at the beginning of this week.  "Within the last week or so, what we've seen is a reduction of students in the hallways because we've started hall sweeps," he said in a telephone interview. "We're seeing a reduction of latenesses. We've also had an increase in personnel who helps us to move students into our classes."

Interview with Linda Darling-Hammond……
Charter-mania, high-stakes testing and teacher-bashing: Can Rhee’s approach be stopped?
As a new lawsuit seeks to radically transform teaching conditions, an expert warns of our nation's education shift by JOSH EIDELSON April 2, 2014
Final briefs are due next week in Vergara v. California, an under-the-radar billionaire-backed lawsuit that could transform teaching conditions in the largest state. Citing the constitutional rights of its public school student plaintiffs, the suit seeks to overturn state laws that schedule tenure consideration after two years of teaching, dictate the use of seniority when budget cuts force layoffs, and impose due process rules on teachers’ terminations. It very well may succeed; the president of one of the statewide unions fighting the suit warned L.A. Weekly that Judge Rolf Treu’s more aggressive questioning of his side “unfortunately … may be quite telling about where he’s going.” And it could inspire copycat efforts across the United States.
“It’s certainly not going to improve education,” said Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who co-directed the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, directed President Obama’s 2008/2009 education transition team, and last month testified for the Vergara defense. In a Monday interview, Darling-Hammond disputed Students First’s claim to the mantle of Brown v. Board; argued for “another War on Poverty” to transform “apartheid schools”; and said Obama has offered “a continuation” of the George W. Bush approach to “high-stakes testing without investing.” A condensed version of our conversation follows.

Charter School Fight Flares Up in Illinois
The Illinois legislature is considering 11 bills that would, among other things, limit where charter schools can be located, ban them from marketing themselves to students, and abolish a commission that has the power to overrule local school boards and grant charter licenses. The skirmish follows recent charter flare-ups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got into a standoff over the schools.
Original article (WSJ paywall)

Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Agricultural Sciences
Deadline to Apply: April 25, 2014
When: July 13 to August 9, 2014 Penn State University
PGSAS provides a broad overview of the diverse fields of agriculture and natural resources. Interested high school students and their parents should review this website to learn more about requirements and the application process.

Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Engineering and Technology
Application must be postmarked by April 18, 2014.
July 20, 2014 - August 2, 2014 Lehigh University | Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Engineering and Technology (PGSE&T) is a two-week summer residential program for talented high school students of science and mathematics. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and hosted by the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh University, PGSE&T offers an enrichment experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and emphasizes cooperative learning and hands-on laboratory experiences.

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill
May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6. Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State Capitol. Space is limited so register early. Click here for more details and to register online.

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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