Monday, August 25, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 25: Ed Leaders Twitter Chat, Tue 8/26 8pm, on PA Basic Education Funding Commission’s work! Use #PAEdFunding

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, business 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 25, 2014:
Ed Leaders Twitter Chat, Tue 8/26 8pm, on PA Basic Education Funding Commission’s work! Use #PAEdFunding

Ed Leaders Twitter Chat, Tue 8/26 8pm, on PA Basic Education Funding Commission’s work! Use #PAEdFunding

Our View: Looking for school funding ideas
Carlisle Sentinel August 23, 2014
Maybe the folks just over the state line — or even a few states away — have a better idea when it comes to providing adequate funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools.  Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, thinks its time the state take a look.  He’s spot on with that suggestion. Pennsylvania is in sour company when it comes to states unable to provide a formula for stable education funding — we’re one of three, according to the nonpartisan Education Law Center.

This PA Senate site lists commission members and includes news releases, audio/video
PA Basic Education Funding Commission Website

"Districts have the next week to report any inaccuracies before contractors start updating the content online.  Results from 2013 show nearly 73 percent of public schools received a 70 or higher on a 100-point scale."
State tries to improve its rollout of school profiles
By Megan Harris Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Almost a year since the state bungled its disclosure of school performance profiles, Pennsylvania lacks an official release date for its latest batch, Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said on Friday.  “We're thinking late September, but we won't have anything set in stone for at least another week,” he said.  Last year, Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq twice delayed the debut of the state's reporting website — — because 20 percent of the state's 3,000 schools complained data were incorrect or incomplete and could reflect poorly on students and the schools they attend.
Email practices for Pennsylvania government offices limit public records
By Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 24, 2014 12:00 AM
State agency employees in Pennsylvania — from the governor’s office staff to front-line workers — routinely are encouraged to pare the numbers of emails they keep, and by doing so, they effectively decide on their own which are public records.  They have that power because deleted emails within the executive branch are backed up by state servers only for five days, the state says.  After that, they are permanently deleted, said Dan Egan, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Office of Administration. The result is that an untold number of emails by thousands of public employees are excluded from legal review by a Right-to-Know officer whenever the public seeks release of materials that might illuminate how government works.

"Allentown School District Superintendent Russ Mayo wasn't surprised to hear the state won't delay using test scores to assess teachers. But he was pleased to hear Duncan's comments about testing.  "I'm surprised that he seems to be modifying his one-time rigid position about testing," Mayo said. "And I'm glad to hear that he realizes that kids are more than the sum of their test scores."  Roy is hopeful that Duncan's comments prompt more long-term reflection about testing."

Pennsylvania won't delay using student scores to evaluate teachers

U.S. education secretary held out the option, but here it's the law.

By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:32 p.m. EDT, August 22, 2014
Pennsylvania won't delay using student test scores to evaluate teachers, despite U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's surprise announcement Thursday that states can do so.
This fall, for the first time, teachers across the state are set to receive evaluation scores that are based partially on their students' performance on standardized tests taken in the 2013-14 school year.  The state has no plans to delay using test scores for teacher evaluations because it's included in a 2012 state law, Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said.
Submitted by fairtest on August 21, 2014 
Today's announcement that the U.S. Department of Education will consider proposals from states to delay test-based teacher evaluation reflects belated recognition of the growing movement against standardized exam overuse and misuse.  It is a sign that national politicians are starting to pay attention to constituents who are saying "Enough is enough" to testing overkill.
Unfortunately, the Obama-Duncan proposal fails to address the real problems. It only offers to suspend testing consequences for educators, not for students and schools, even though all education stakeholders are scheduled to be evaluated by the same, unproven new exams.  And, it offers a delay of only one year, when even the Gates Foundation proposed two years.  

DeLissio, students to rally for additional funding for Philadelphia school district
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 22 – On Thursday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. a rally will be held at Cook Wissahickon School. The purpose of the rally is to continue to focus on the need for new revenue for the School District of Philadelphia – and to demand that the state legislature put in place a statewide fair funding formula and identify a sustainable funding stream for public education. 
Organized by Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., the rally will be held in the school yard of Cook Wissahickon at 201 E. Salaignac St. in Philadelphia. If weather does not cooperate, the rally will move into the school cafeteria.  Speakers at the rally will include students who live in or attend schools in the 194th Legislative District.

Schools facing more restrictions on snack foods
Students will find healthy snacks when they go back to school, thanks to new rules.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 10:03 p.m. EDT, August 23, 2014
There's nothing yummier than a carton of veggie juice to wash down your whole grain Rice Krispies Treat, right?  Students are about to find out as tighter federal regulations kick in on snack foods in school cafeterias. Sweetened teas and greasy chips have gone the way of the one-room schoolhouse, and in their place, students will find healthier beverages and lower-calorie snacks when they return to classes.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smart Snacks in School rules limit snacks to 200 calories and 230 milligrams of sodium. Total fat must be less than 35 percent of the snack's calories.  The snack restrictions come after most schools already have made significant changes to lunches, such as serving grilled cheese on whole wheat bread and making a fruit or vegetable mandatory for the flat meal price.
Now, students in grades K-12 will see tweaks to a la carte and vending machine offerings in districts that hadn't already met the new requirements.
Pittsburgh schools to accentuate reading fluency for youngest students
By Madeline R. Conway / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 25, 2014 12:00 AM
Julie King, a second-grade teacher at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8, is returning to the classroom this year with new goals in mind for her students.  After the students arrive today, Ms. King will focus on helping them read more fluently out loud. She’ll incorporate songs, poetry and partner reading into her daily instruction and monitor her students’ progress along the way.  Teaching her students to read is just one part of Ms. King’s job, but according to Brian Smith, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ executive director of strategic priorities, it’s critical. A child’s third-grade reading level is a key predictor of later academic success, and as the school district strives for more of its students to read proficiently by third grade, it’s refocusing efforts on the literacy of its youngest students.

Experts urge later start times for students in higher grades
Hormonal changes, sleep cycle affect teens’ performance
By Stephanie McFeeters / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 25, 2014 12:00 AM
Sipping a java chip Frappuccino en route to her first day of ninth grade Friday, Ahmani Johnson said she was excited to begin high school but annoyed that she had to wake up so early. Pediatricians feel her pain about the sleep loss.  The American Academy of Pediatrics announced today that it is recommending that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later, drawing on research that points to teenagers’ need for 8½ to 9½ hours of sleep and evidence that delaying school start times is an effective way to mitigate the detrimental effects of chronic sleep loss.

Delco district at ground zero in state Senate battle
TOM FITZGERALD, INQUIRER POLITICS WRITER LAST UPDATED: Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:09 AM POSTED: Sunday, August 24, 2014, 12:11 AM
John Kane, a plumbers' union leader and Democrat running for state Senate, was knocking on doors on both sides of Thorndale Road in Aldan, Delaware County, hustling on a hot Sunday afternoon.  "How you makin' out?" he'd begin when someone answered.  "Do you have a death wish?" one man joked as he took the proffered brochure, referring to the county Republican organization's century-long dominance in most local races.  This year, in little places like Aldan, big things are at stake.  Democratic strategists believe Kane can carry this Delaware County-based district in November, considering its recent voting trends and Tom Wolf's big lead over Gov. Corbett, the Republican incumbent. And if they can win here, they have a shot at re-taking the state Senate for the first time in two decades.

Saucon Valley teachers make new contract proposal, district rejects it
Some teachers would receive more than 5 percent raises each year under the union's proposal.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 8:30 p.m. EDT, August 24, 2014
The Saucon Valley Education Association made a move Sunday afternoon to try to resolve the nearly three-year impasse over a contract for teachers, but the school district didn't budge.
The union gave the district a four-year contract proposal that called for $900,000 less in salaries than the teachers' previous offer. But after a more-than-two-hour meeting at the district's offices the day before school starts, the district would "absolutely not" approve the offer, solicitor Jeff Sultanik said.  Neither side expressed optimism Sunday after the meeting that the dispute will end soon. Union representatives said the teachers have no current plans to strike.
The union's new proposal gave every teacher a raise of at least 2 to 2.75 percent each year during the contract. The union previously had sought a three-year contract that included at least 3 percent raises each year for the district's 170 teachers.
A school system’s stunning standardized test schedule for 2014-15
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 25 at 4:00 AM  
Classes for the 2014-15 year began for students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest district in the country, on Monday, Aug. 18.  And so did student standardized testing.
Yes, it’s time not only for class but also for a new slew of standardized tests in Miami and everywhere else in the country — and this year, more  of these exams are expected to be given to students than ever so that kids be assessed and so can their teachers, and their principals, and their schools and their districts.  Thanks to then Gov. Jeb Bush well over a decade ago, the state of Florida has been a national leader in the use of high-stakes standardized tests in public schools. And this year, thanks to a requirement for end-of-course exams for every subject — including music and physical ed and dance — in every grade (including kindergarten)  so that the results can be used to evaluate teachers, the school year calendar is jam-packed with tests.
Here is the published testing schedule by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. If your system has a testing calendar that boggles the mind, send it to me or publish it in the comments:

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

Register Now – 2014 PAESSP State Conference – October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen.  This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference (Oct. 21-24) registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online -- bios/videos now live
PSBA Website August 5, 2014

The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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