Thursday, July 24, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 24: Community Schools model gaining traction as other reforms addressing achievement gaps & income inequality have sputtered

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 24, 2014:
Community Schools model gaining traction as other reforms addressing achievement gaps & income inequality have sputtered

Basic Education Funding Commission to Hold Organizational Meeting
Senator Pat Browne's website July 23, 2014
WHAT:      The Basic Education Funding Commission will hold its inaugural and organizational meeting. Created by Act 51 of 2014, the 15-member commission is tasked with developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts.
WHO:        Members of the Basic Education Funding Commission.
WHEN:      Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE:   East Wing, Room 8 E-B State Capitol, Harrisburg
Note: We invite the media to attend and cover this event.
Vicki Wilken (Senator Browne) – 717-787-1349
Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) – 610-349-2879
Brian Kadunc (Representative Vereb) – 717-705-7164
Tim Eller (Secretary Dumaresq) – 717-783-9802

Thursday at 1:30 pm on PCN+: Basic Education Funding Commission Meeting
PCN TV website By broller on Jul 23, 2014
Basic Education Funding Commission Meeting
The Basic Education Funding Commission will hold its inaugural and organizational meeting. Created by Act 51 of 2014, the 15-member commission is tasked with developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts.

New Law Aims to Improve Basic Education Funding Formula
A Conversation with Senator Brubaker On July 23, 2014
While education funding is often a point of serious debate in the state Capitol, there is broad bipartisan agreement that each school district should receive its fair share of state funding based on the actual needs of students. I recently supported passage of a new law that will help ensure each of the Commonwealth’s 501 school districts has the resources necessary in order to ensure a quality educational experience for young people.
The new law, Act 51 of 2014, will create a bipartisan commission to study the current method for distributing education funding to school districts. The Basic Education Funding Commission will be responsible for reviewing factors such as a school district’s enrollment, market value/personal income aid ratio, geographic price differences, equalized millage rate, number of students below the poverty rate, and local support. After completing a thorough review of current practices, the Commission will make recommendations for the creation of a new statewide funding formula.

The path forward: A Q&A with civil rights lawyer Michael Churchill of PILCOP
the notebook By Bill Hangley Jr. on Jul 23, 2014 04:24 PM
Michael Churchill has worked as an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia for almost four decades, winning widespread recognition as one of the region’s most effective education advocates.  Twenty years ago, he helped bring a landmark desegregation case to what he thought was a successful conclusion, when Commonwealth Court Judge Doris Smith ordered the Philadelphia School District to step funding for struggling schools citywide.
But what followed was a state takeover and a host of experiments in private management and school choice, and system-wide inequities persist to this day. We asked Churchill to reflect on the current budget proposal, its potential impact on schools, and the legal strategies that could be used to stabilize the District’s finances for the long term.

The path forward: A Q&A with Larry Jones of Richard Allen Prep Charter
the notebook By Bill Hangley Jr. on Jul 22, 2014 09:41 AM
For more than a decade, Larry Jones has been a prominent supporter of Philadelphia’s charter schools, particularly the smaller, community-based variety that proliferated in the wake of the 2001 state takeover.  He has run the 350-student Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School since it opened in 2001; since 2006, he has also served as president of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.  Jones’ advocacy frequently highlights the distinctions between the interests of small schools like his and those of the larger providers now running networks of schools. We asked him to reflect on the potential impact of the current budget proposals on the kinds of schools he represents and the ways that charter supporters could collaborate with traditional public school advocates to advance their mutual interest in adequate, sustained funding for schools of all kinds. 

"At public hearings last month and this week, some parents of district-operated schools opposed the expansion, including Pamela Harbin, whose two children attend Pittsburgh Liberty K-5 in Shadyside. Ms. Harbin said that the current ECS serves fewer students living in poverty, have disabilities or are English language learners that the district schools do overall.
About 28 percent of ECS students are eligible for subsidized lunch, compared to 71 percent in district schools. About 21 percent of students are black, compared to 54 percent in district schools. A state profile indicates zero percent are English language learners, compared to about 3 percent in district schools."
Pittsburgh school board rejects charter school expansion at Frick Park
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Public Schools board has unanimously rejected expansion plans by the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park that would have cost the district as much as $11 million a year and unanimously approved changes proposed by Manchester Academic Charter School and Academy Charter School.  "It's a missed opportunity for the city of Pittsburgh," said Jon McCann, CEO of ECS, in an interview after the vote. He vowed an appeal to the state Charter School Appeal Board.

House Democratic Policy Committee meets in Monessen
Trib Live By Chris Buckley Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
Members of the state House Democratic Policy Committee on Tuesday blamed Gov. Tom Corbett's administration for cuts in education funding they claim are hurting local school districts.
It was an opinion shared by local educational leaders who attended a meeting the committee conducted at Monessen High School.  However, some economic development leaders said problems with workforce development in the region extend beyond recent state budget decisions.
State Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, said the focus Tuesday was “education as an economic engine.”  “Our goal today at this hearing – which focuses on the symbiotic relationship between education and economic development – is to show how our area and other regions of Pennsylvania have been adversely impacted by inadequate education funding as we strive to spur economic development,” Harhai said

The politics of pensions = annoyance
KNOW WHAT'S annoying about the politics of pensions?  Everything.
Gov. Corbett is in week two of a race around the state - scheduled in Trevose, Bucks County, today; Dresher, Montco, tomorrow - browbeating the Legislature for not passing pension "reform."
Everywhere he goes he cites "a pension crisis" causing property taxes to rise.  And he pretends his mostly small-town tour has nothing to do with his re-election effort because, after all, that would be wrong since he put people in prison for using taxpayer resources for political campaigns.

About that $4 billion in PA school district reserves……
For you accountants out there, you know what an unencumbered fund balance is. For those of you are bolloxed by those words, here‘s the scoop. After you’ve gotten all the dough and paid all of the bills, if there is money left over, that’s the unencumbered (or unassigned) fund balance.
In Pennsylvania, schools are not allowed to have a fund balance more than 8%-12% depending on the size of their budgets. The smaller the budget the higher the percent. So, those with higher expenditures have a lower percent they are allowed to keep for their fund balance.

Community Schools: Reps. Steny Hoyer, Aaron Schock Seek Bipartisan Support for Bill to Fund Full-Service Community Schools: 'America Must Compete Better'
Real Clear Education By Emmeline Zhao July 23, 2014
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) are slated to introduce legislation today that will authorize funding for public K-12 schools that bring together various educational and social service programs.
The Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2014 seeks to offer five-year grants from the Department of Education to localities that implement the collaborative schooling model. It’s a model that’s been around for decades but has only recently gained traction as other reforms to address achievement gaps and income inequality have sputtered.
Full-service community schools seek to help students learn and succeed while strengthening family and community involvement. They are public schools that integrate in-house health and social services for children in efforts to better prepare them for learning by improving their physical, emotional, and social well-being, and include partnerships with community organizations and services that offer programs for parental education and participation in student learning. Full-service community schools tend to also serve as community centers that provide after-school and early childhood education. There are 21 community schools in New York City, 64 in and around Portland, Ore., and 31 in Tulsa, Okla.among many others.

Community Schools: Bipartisan House Bill Would Boost Community Schools
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog  By Lauren Camera on July 23, 2014 1:41 PM
Coming on the heels of several bipartisan, education-related bills making their way through the House, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., hopped on the bandwagon Wednesday and unveiled a co-sponsored measure to boost community schools.
The bill would provide grants to school districts to fund what's known as "full-service community school models," public elementary or secondary schools that partner with non-profit organizations to provide wraparound services, such health care, job training, counseling and nutrition services. Priority for the grants would be given to high-poverty schools and rural districts.
It's unclear how much funding the duo plans to seek for its community-school proposal, an important detail if they plan to round up support from additional GOP members.  
"Full-service community schools are a critical tool in the effort to close the achievement gap and ensure that we are graduating students who are college- and career-ready," said Hoyer in a statement.

Want more info on Community Schools?

The University of Arkansas issued a study claiming that charter schools get a higher “return on investment” than public schools, yet are underfunded especially given their great “productivity” and “ROI.” (I admit I stumble over the idea of applying ROI when we are talking about education and children, but that’s just me.)  Bruce Baker of Rutgers University analyzes the University of Arkansas study and takes it apart.  Baker shows that the Arkansas study “shamelessly” and “knowingly” uses bogus data. The Arkansas study is meant to refute an earlier critique of their work by Baker.

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
New York Times By ELIZABETH GREEN JULY 23, 2014
When Akihiko Takahashi was a junior in college in 1978, he was like most of the other students at his university in suburban Tokyo. He had a vague sense of wanting to accomplish something but no clue what that something should be. But that spring he met a man who would become his mentor, and this relationship set the course of his entire career.
Takeshi Matsuyama was an elementary-school teacher, but like a small number of instructors in Japan, he taught not just young children but also college students who wanted to become teachers. At the university-affiliated elementary school where Matsuyama taught, he turned his classroom into a kind of laboratory, concocting and trying out new teaching ideas. When Takahashi met him, Matsuyama was in the middle of his boldest experiment yet — revolutionizing the way students learned math by radically changing the way teachers taught it.

"And in case we forget, Mathematica’s Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K reminds us. This study is interesting because it does not look just at the usual race/ethnicity and income factors. Instead, it focuses on four specific “risk factors”: “the child lives in a single-parent household, the child’s mother has less than a high school education, the child’s household income is below the federal poverty line, and the primary language spoken in the home is not English.”  You may be surprised to see that nearly half—44%—of entering kindergartners face at least one of these risk factors:"
Houston, we have a problem”
Core Knowledge Blog by Lisa Hansel July 23rd, 2014
We do indeed have a crisis on our hands, but year after year we fail to diagnose and address it. With 21st century skills, learning styles, comprehension strategies, blame-the-teacher “reforms,” and dozens of other fads clouding our thinking, research-driven common sense improvements get little attention.  It’s frustrating, but our Core Knowledge community is dedicated to spreading the word on rigorous academics. For anyone out there who needs yet more evidence of the desperate need for building broad knowledge and skills, two new reports are worth examining.
“Just the facts, ma’am”
Cold, hard facts are what we get from ACT and Mathematica Policy Research. We learn (yet again) that there are massive disparities in preparation for college and kindergarten.
ACT’s The Condition of College & Career Readiness tackles the high school problem with stark graphics. The one below, showing the massive gaps among youth by race and ethnicity, is especially striking:

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Research to Practice
The National Writing Project's resources for teachers\Inspiring Students to Write
The Philadelphia Writing project (PhilWP), a renowned local site of the National Writing Project, teaches writing and literacy as critical tools for learning. Penn GSE professor Dianne Waff works with teachers to move them and their students toward writing-intensive lives that connect learning, high student achievement, and personal growth.  The following tips come from experienced PhilWP Teacher Consultants (TCs), who offer ideas to encourage students to write and develop a love for words and creative expression.

BATS DC Rally July 28 10 am
BATS PRESS RELEASE Sunday, July 20, 2014
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs), an activist organization of over 50,000 teachers will be holding a rally in Washington D.C. to protest the devastating educational policies of the United States Department of Education and Arne Duncan.   The Rally will be held on July 28, 2014 at the USDOE Plaza beginning at 10 a.m. and will draw thousands of teachers, parents, students, and educational activists from around the country.  BATs will demand such things as ending federal incentives to close and privatize schools, promote equity and adequate funding for all public schools, and ban all data sharing of children’s private information.

Bucks Lehigh EduSummit Monday Aug 11th and Tuesday Aug 12th
Location: Southern Lehigh High School 5800 Main Street, Center Valley, PA 18034
Time: 8 AM - 3 PM Each Day(Registration starts at 7:30 AM. Keynote starts at 8:00 AM.)
The Bucks Lehigh EduSummit is a collaboratively organized and facilitated two day professional learning experience coordinated by educators in the Quakertown Community School District , Palisades School DistrictSalisbury Township School DistrictSouthern Lehigh School DistrictBucks County IU, and Carbon Lehigh IU, which are all located in northern Bucks county and southern Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Teachers in other neighboring districts are welcome to attend as well! The purpose of the EduSummit is to collaborate, connect, share, and learn together for the benefit of our kids. Focus areas include: Educational Technology, PA Core, Social Media, Best Practices, etc.

Educational Collaborators Pennsylvania Summit Aug. 13-14
The Educational Collaborators, in partnership with the Wilson School District, is pleased to announce a unique event,  the Pennsylvania Summit featuring Google for Education on August 13th and 14th, 2014!  This summit is an open event primarily focused on Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, Google Earth, YouTube, and many other effective and efficient technology integration solutions to help digitally convert a school district.  These events are organized by members of the Google Apps for Education community.

Pre-K for PA has supporters all over the greater Philadelphia region who want to help ensure all three and four year-old children can access quality pre-K.
We need your help -- join an upcoming phone bank. Join a fun gathering of like minds in Philadelphia and Conshohocken on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. We are calling fellow Pre-K for PA supporters to build local volunteer teams.
Call a Pre-K Friend in Philly:
United Way Building, 6th Floor 1709 Ben Franklin Parkway 19107 
Wed July 30, 5-7 PM
Call a Pre-K Friend in Mont Co:
Anne's House 242 Barren Hill Road Conshohocken PA 19428
Wed July 30, 5-7pm

EPLC Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters - Harrisburg July 31

Register Now!  EPLC will again be hosting an Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters. This nonpartisan, one-day program will take place on Thursday, July 31 in Harrisburg. Space is limited. Click here to learn more about workshop and to register. 

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