Friday, April 4, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 4, 2014: Thousands of parents pull kids from New York tests

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 4, 2014:
Thousands of parents pull kids from New York tests


"Advocacy groups estimate that more than 28,000 of the state's 1.2 million third- through eighth-graders are skipping this week's three-day English language arts assessments. That's more than double last year's number."
Thousands of parents pull kids from New York tests
San Francisco Chronicle By CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press Updated 4:16 pm, Wednesday, April 2, 2014
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — As most of New York's elementary students take state tests meant to show how they are faring under a heavier academic load, thousands of kids are sitting the tests out under instructions from their parents, who say the state relies so heavily on testing that it's interfering with learning.

Entire Faculty Of NYC School Says Standardized Testing Has Taken Over Education
The Huffington Post  | by  Rebecca Klein Posted: 04/03/2014 6:49 pm
The entire faculty at a New York City public school is taking a stand against standardized testing.
The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit education news outlet, on Wednesday published an op-ed written by the entire faculty at P.S. 167 in Queensdecrying standardized testing's impact on their school. The teachers wrote that the tests have made students incredibly stressed and have detracted from students’ educational experiences:

IMHO, we already know that poor performance on SAT's, PSSA's and Keystone Exams correlates very strongly with poverty level.  Why not spend the millions and millions of dollars we give to Data Recognition Corporation for testing, and the countless hours of classroom time devoted to test-prep, pre-testing, testing, security, and re-testing, on actual interventions for high-poverty school populations (and leave our well-funded, high-performing districts alone)?
“We have graduated far too many kids from Pennsylvania who are not ready for the next part of their life,” says Joan Benso, CEO of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. She praises the state’s “rigorous academic standards” for preparing students for college and the workforce, and says that tests allow schools to identify those who need remediation.  But critics say that the tests have only highlighted what was already known: Students in well-funded districts score better, and those in poorly funded districts score worse."
Rebellion against standardized testing spreads to Philly
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 04/03/2014
The No. 2 pencils have been sharpened, but teaching has stopped: It is standardized-testing time again in Philadelphia public schools. But, this year, some local parents are rebelling against the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams and opting their kids out of the tests.
“There’s just no way that I can allow the School District to not educate my child effectively and then tie this albatross around her neck,” LaTonia Lee, the mother of a seventh-grade special-education student at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, says of the standardized test. Lee was distressed to learn that no accommodations would be made for her daughter’s language-based disability.  Lee and other parents echo widespread complaints by teachers that the high-stakes tests distort the curriculum and stress out students — at a time when schools have suffered mass layoffs.

Charter schools urge Phila. City Council to extend 1 percent sales tax
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: Thursday, April 3, 2014, 3:20 PM
Leaders from the city's charter school community on Thursday rallied outside City Hall to urge City Council to extend the extra 1 percent sales tax and use all the proceeds for schools.
"I want City Council to think about this 1 percent set aside as an investment to keep families in Philadelphia," said Jurate Krokys, chief executive of American Paradigm Schools, a charter management company that runs three city charters.  "Last week, principals from the district schools were here to point out the impact the budget cuts have had on their schools," said David Hardy, CEO of Boys' Latin of Philadelphia in West Philadelphia. "This week we come to stress that all public schools need additional funding."  A dozen charter CEOs and representatives from charter groups and education advocates said the sales tax extension was the most viable option for a new, stable funding stream for schools. They also support a new state funding formula.

Roebuck $50M tax credit bill focuses on Pa.'s 406 lowest-achieving schools
Rep. Roebuck's website PHILADELPHIA, April 3 – 
State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced bipartisan legislation that would partner business with 406 low-achieving public schools statewide to help improve those schools’ academic performance and meet state academic standards. The bill, which will be H.B. 2147, already has 19 co-sponsors.  Roebuck's bill would establish a new Educational Improvement Opportunity Tax Credit program, which would authorize $50 million in tax credits for businesses. The credits would be available for contributions to an education improvement organization that provides grants to public school districts with low-achieving schools to improve their academic performance in meeting state academic standards. A low-achieving school is a public school that is ranked in the lowest 15 percent based on combined mathematics and reading scores from the annual state assessments.

The District's court petition and the uncertain future of collective bargaining
by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 02 2014 Posted in Latest news
In its petition filed last week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Philadelphia School District is asserting its right to make changes that could have the effect of casting aside nearly 50 years of collective bargaining history, during which its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has grown to govern not just salaries and benefits but minute details of daily life in schools.  To the PFT, the contract codifies protections for its members and guarantees them everything from functional water fountains to the right of senior teachers to claim positions in preferred schools. The union has long argued that its working conditions are student learning conditions and that some provisions, like limiting class size and specifying when schools must have counselors and librarians, have acted as a bulwark against the steady erosion of services while also preserving jobs.  But 13 years after the state took over the District – and after negotiating two contracts with the PFT – the School Reform Commission is now trying to invoke special powers it received through the law that declared the District “fiscally distressed” and changed its governance. That law, Act 46, “remade the collective bargaining landscape” by stripping the union of its right to strike and “cut back sharply on the scope of the School District’s duty to bargain,” according to the petition. 

"PCCY is one of nine organizations behind the Pre-K for PA campaign, which advocates for investing in high quality pre-kindergarten education for every three-year-old and four-year-old in the state.  “For us it’s a key pathway out of poverty. It’s a key pathway to increasing high school graduation. It’s a key pathway to ensuring that children are more likely to have decent jobs, stay out of jail, have productive lives,” Cooper said. “So given that we have limited resources and the research says that the cheapest place to invest is early childhood, it makes a lot of sense to do so.”
On the outside looking in: Donna Cooper
Axis Philly by Julia Bergman, Apr. 1, 2014
It’s hard to imagine conversations about education in Pennsylvania without Donna Cooper at the table.  Cooper was the architect of the run-up in state spending on public education under Gov. Ed Rendell, serving inside government as his secretary of policy and planning for eight years.
Now, she is on the outside looking in. As executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Philadelphia-based advocacy group, she is on a mission to increase funding for public education, especially at the Pre-K level.  Going forward, she also is likely to be at the center of the debate on finding a fair way for Pennsylvania to dole out the $10 billion a year it distributes to local school districts in various subsidies.


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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