Saturday, April 12, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 12, 2014: What's Really Causing The Chaos At Philly's Bartram High?

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 12, 2014:
What's Really Causing The Chaos At Philly's Bartram High?

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.

"PCCY’s analysis found that Bartram lost two of its three assistant principals, three of its five counselors, all four of its supportive services assistants, all three of its community relations and social services liaisons, its sole librarian, nearly all its bilingual counseling assistants, its at risk student support, one of its two school nurses, one of its six school police officers and its entire cafeteria staff.  But the move that puts students and staff most at risk might be the drop in noon time aides—the people who keep order in the school, in the cafeteria and in the halls between classes—from 64 man-hours a day down to 20.  That’s five people, working just four hours each, responsible for more than 1,000 students."
What's Really Causing The Chaos At Philly's Bartram High?
PCCY Blog Friday, April 11, 2014
While the city continues to reel from the assault on a conflict-resolution specialist by a student at Bartram High School, we must look at the conditions that allowed it to happen and what can be done about them.  Dangerous things can happen when you mix increasing enrollment with dropping staffing.  In the 2009-10 school year, Bartram employed about 166 staffers.  The school has been forced to cut staff every year since then.  This year that number is down to 97, a more than 40% drop since 2009-10.  That’s despite having more than 100 more students than last year.  But the problem isn’t just the cuts, but who got cut.  Many of the cuts have hit the already stretched support and discipline staffers.  

Are you there God? It's me, Bartram
Philly Daily News by HELEN UBINAS POSTED: Sunday, April 13, 2014, 3:01 AM
CHAIRESE HOLMAN and Patrina Anderson took seats at the end of opposite rows inside Bartram High School's auditorium.  The two mothers didn't know one another but almost as soon as Holman and I started talking about her 17-year-old son's struggles to get a good education at the violence-plagued school, Anderson chimed in.  Anderson, who lives nearby but whose daughter goes to elementary school, was there to talk about Bartram students wreaking havoc on the neighborhood. She was a student at the school in 1999, when another student shot an assistant principal trying to break up a fight.  "Nothing's changed," she said.

Questions about Renaissance charter costs from a former SRC member
notebook by David Limm on Apr 11 2014 Posted in Latest news
Former School Reform Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky penned a letter to Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn this week, nudging him with questions about the cost of converting two traditional District schools to Renaissance charters. Answers to those questions, Dworetzky says, would make clearer, and more public, information useful in deciding whether to hand management of two North Philadelphia schools over to charter school operators.
The impetus for the letter was comments that Kihn made at a recent education conference, where he expressed frustration (“nobody gets it; the media doesn’t get it") over the misunderstanding of the costs associated with the process of turning management of two elementary schools, Steel and Muñoz-Marin, over to charter operators Mastery and ASPIRA.

State bars ASD from raising school taxes higher than 5.9 percent
Allentown sought OK from state to raise levy by as much as 9 percent, but hopes to hold hike to 2.6 percent.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 9:37 p.m. EDT, April 11, 2014
Allentown School District won't be able to raise taxes more than about 5.9 percent, a drop from the 9-percent hike used to balance the district's 2014-15 preliminary budget.
Administrators had already known it was possible the district wouldn't qualify for a special exception for excessive special education costs, which would have combined with other exceptions to allow the district to exceed the 2.6 percent increase allowed by the state.
On Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Jack Clark announced that the district officially does not qualify for the special education exemption, dropping the highest possible increase to about 5.9 percent. That means the district has to find another way to account for about $2.5 million that was covered in the preliminary budget by new tax revenue.
Why education reform needs to focus less on schools and more on students: Christopher Moraff
PennLive Op-Ed  By Christopher Moraff on April 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Pennsylvania is in the midst of a heated debate over the direction of public education in the state.  Last week, as lawmakers in Harrisburg prepared to revisit a controversial bill that would give more autonomy to charter schools, Philadelphia played host to thousands of social scientists and policy experts at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.
These are heady days for education researchers, who together with politicians and advocates from the private-sector comprise the "Holy Trinity" of modern American school reform.

"I think it poses an important question to the Senate as to whether we want to constitute ourselves as a national school board, which is what we would be doing if we pass this law," Alexander said, suggesting the federal government should help schools background employees, but not require it."
Setback for Toomey bill mandating school employee background checks
Legislation calling for periodic background checks of school employees is snagged by panel.
By Scott Kraus, Of The Morning Call 9:13 p.m. EDT, April 11, 2014
A law requiring teachers and other school employees to undergo periodic background checks doesn't seem like something that would be difficult to get passed.  But in today's Congress, nothing is easy.  Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was reminded of that this week when the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, which he is co-sponsoring with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joseph Manchin, was pulled from the floor and detoured into the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee.  Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and top Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said they wanted to route the bill through their panel to allow amendments and additional time to review the bill and ferret out unintended consequences.  Alexander went further, saying the legislation amounts to a federal mandate and undermines state and local decision-making and responsibility in education.
The new school reform model: ‘dumping the losers’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS April 11 at 12:00 pm
Since 2011, the state-run Philadelphia public school district has adopted what is called the “portfolio model” of school reform as its “theory of change.”  The model is a move away from the traditional school district, in which a centralized administration controls a set of public schools, to an arrangement in which a group of different kinds of schools, which could include traditional public as well as charter and privately run schools, are overseen by a central entity. Supporters think it gives parents more choice; opponents think that the choice most parents get is phony and that the portfolio model is a step toward the privatization of public education.
Several districts have followed the portfolio model, including New Orleans, but what makes Philadelphia distinctive is the extent to which it has pursued this effort without regard to cost (the District is $400+ million in the hole today) or consequence. Around 35 percent of Philadelphia students are now in one of the district’s 86 charter schools. City and district officials – at the urging of education reformers like the Philadelphia School Partnership – have also welcomed private religious schools into the portfolio and downplayed the distinctions between public and private.

In September the Recovery School District will close its remaining noncharter schools, and other cities are watching
Al Jazeera America by  @DexterMullins April 4, 2014 8:00AM ET Updated April 9, 2014 12:28PM ET
As the fight over charter schools continues across the country, the Big Easy is taking a unique approach — New Orleans will begin the next school year with America’s first all-charter school district.  In September, Louisiana’s Recovery School District (RSD) will close the last of its public schools that have not been turned into charters, leaving it a 100 percent charter school district not just in New Orleans, but across the state. This is most significant for New Orleans because it houses the vast maority of Louisiana's charter schools.  Run by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in Baton Rouge, the RSD was created after Hurricane Katrina and tasked with improving standards at underperforming schools. More than 60 New Orleans institutions were moved out of the existing Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), and nearly all were converted to charter schools.

How Will Early Childhood Education Play Out in the U.S. Senate?
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 10, 2014 4:05 PM
Can the Senate education committee produce a bipartisan bill to expand pre-kindergarten? Probably not, but it sounds like Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the panel wants to give it a shot.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing today on legislationput forth by Harkin, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., that would offer matching grants to states that want to offer pre-kindergarten to a significantly larger group of low income children. The bill—called the Strong Start for America's Children Act—is based on a proposal put forth by President Barack Obama in back-to-back budget requests. The legislation has a small smattering of GOP support in the House, with two GOP co-sponsors, Reps. Richard Hanna and Michael Grimm.  "The bill enjoys bipartisan support in the House of Representatives but, unfortunately, is supported on only one side of the aisle here in the Senate. I am hopeful that situation will change," Harkin said.  500Also cranking up the pressure for bipartisanship: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a big early childhood education fan who may well be heading up the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee next year, when Harkin retires. She noted that governors in red states across the country have been moving the needle on early childhood education.

NPE Call for Congressional Hearings on Testing
Network for Public Education April 10, 2014 NPE Call for Hearings
On March 2, 2014, The Network for Public Education issued a call for congressional hearings on the overuse and misuse of testing in our public schools.
Together, we have managed to catch the attention of members of Congress. We created a Twitter Storm that sent out over 20K tweets and reached 400K people via social media while trending #1. We flooded the offices of Congress with phone calls from concerned constituents. We continue to bring attention to the plague of over-testing and the media has taken notice!
For the next part of our campaign, we are asking our Friends & Allies to print out and mail a copy of this letter to the offices of our friends at Institute for America’s Future in Washington D.C.. In the coming weeks, we will hand deliver our letters to Congress. Keep an eye out for details!

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.  Just added -- How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.   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.

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 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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