Monday, August 4, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 4: When will we see/hear "This ad paid for by your school tax dollars" with every cyber charter advertisement?

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 4, 2014:
When will we see/hear "This ad paid for by your school tax dollars" with every cyber charter advertisement?

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Saturday, August 2, 2014
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 2: How about a "nameplate" for the School District of Philadelphia that says "Owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"?

Vote delayed, kids denied
I CALLED Pittsburgh pediatrician Lidia Turzai after the state House of Representatives canceled the vote on a new cigarette tax for Philly.  "The office is now closed," went the recorded message for Dr. Turzai's large Pittsburgh practice. "If this is an emergency, hang up and call 9-1-1."
Hell, yeah, it was an emergency, except the cops wouldn't be of any help. Because it would be illegal for them to knock sense into the heads of Dr. Turzai's husband, state House Majority Leader Michael Turzai, and House Speaker Sam Smith.  On Thursday, Turzai and Smith announced that the Republican-controlled House will not meet next week to vote on the $2-per-pack cigarette-tax bill. Even though they had promised they would.
If passed, the bill would've ensured that Philly's public schools open safely and on time. Now, with the vote postponed until Sept. 15, the Philadelphia School District faces the prospect - for the second year in a row - of laying off more than a thousand employees.

How Philly Families Will Pay for Harrisburg’s Sins
And why the coming schools disaster didn’t have to happen.
Philly Mag BY JOEL MATHIS  |  AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 5:30 AM
Here’s something I’m not sure members of the Pennsylvania House of Representativeshave considered as they goof around on vacation and play games with the future of Philly schools: They’re about to hurt a lot of families in very tangible ways.  The equation goes like this:
• The House’s decision to stay on vacation next week instead of coming back to Harrisburg for a vote on a cigarette tax proposal makes it increasingly likely that Philly schools won’t start on time.
• If schools don’t open on time, tens of thousands of schoolchildren are going to need something to do.
•  Parents of many of those kids will pay to put their children in child care for the duration. But child care isn’t cheap — it can cost upward of hundreds of dollars a week, and thousands of dollars a month, to keep kids somewhere safe and occupied. This is no small concern.
• So there’s that huge expense for families that didn’t expect to bear it. But it’s also true that many of those tens of thousands of family can’t afford the daycare, or can barely afford it. Those that can’t might rely on families … or they’ll make unorthodox arrangements that please no one.
Which is to say nothing of the thousands of teachers, administrators, and classified staffers who will sit home without getting paid. Or the impact on the education of every student stuck in limbo. Philly is about to pay a terrible price.

Basic education funding group can't start work soon enough
Pocono Record By Pennsylvania's Education Leadership Associations August 03, 2014
Earlier this month, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a budget that will invest about $10.5 billion in state funding for pre-K to 12 education.The budget includes $100 million in additional state funding for the newly established Ready-to-Learn Block Grant program.
Additional investments in targeted initiatives such as STEM programs (science, technology, math and engineering) will prepare our students for in-demand jobs and to be the innovators our economy needs. Lawmakers also invested $20 million to support for students with special needs, increased school construction funding by $10 million and lifted the moratorium on reimbursements during this legislative session.
However, the state's primary support for education is still distributed according to the whim of the Legislature, leaving each school district wondering annually if it will receive more, less or the same amount of state support as the previous year.
The work of the Basic Education Funding Commission cannot begin soon enough, and Pennsylvania cannot afford to simply study a situation that has been well documented. Some communities have been lucky enough to receive funding increases, while their neighbors have received less since the state's last public school funding formula was eliminated in 2011.

When will we see/hear "This ad paid for by your school tax dollars" with every cyber charter advertisement?
In Pa., a caveat emptor with your Cabernet
A state House proposal would add a disclaimer to Pennsylvania's sales pitches for wine and liquor.  "This ad paid for by you, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania," would be tagged onto things like newspaper inserts and billboards for products sold in the state stores operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland, has been collecting co-sponsors for his measure since announcing in December that he would introduce the legislation. He said the LCB ad spending takes money that would otherwise go to the commonwealth – $5.8 million was spent on advertising in the 2012-13 budget year.  "Taxpayers may not be aware that the PLCB is currently spending on the order of close to $6 million a year of state funds, taxpayer funds, on the promotion and advertising of liquor sales," Bloom said.

"Profiles completed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education show that every one of the 16 cyber schools  chartered by the state scored below the 70 percent threshold set by acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, Potts said, adding that not one of the cyber schools scored as high as the lowest-scoring Carlisle school."
Cyber debate: Taking aim at school performance
Joseph Cress Carlisle Sentinel Reporter August 3, 2014
Carlisle school board member Tim Potts says cyber charter schools that fail to make the grade should be closed, and the flow of public money that goes with each student should be shut off.
“We are wasting a lot of money on schools that are total failures,” Tim Potts said. “They have had a lot of chances to improve their scores and they have not done that. Taxpayers should not be paying a dime.”  But cyber school advocates say School Performance Profiles (SPP) are just one measure of achievement and that an online K-12 education is on par with that provided by the traditional brick-and-mortar method.  Profiles completed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education show that every one of the 16 cyber schools  chartered by the state scored below the 70 percent threshold set by acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, Potts said, adding that not one of the cyber schools scored as high as the lowest-scoring Carlisle school.

At the liberal blog Keystone Politics, Jon Geeting notes: "During the Rendell administration, the state’s share of education funding got up to a high of 44%, and under Tom Corbett, it went down to 32%."
Wolf: Raise Taxes on Rich to Fund Schools
His plan would reduce local reliance on property taxes.
Philly Mag BY JOEL MATHIS  |  JULY 28, 2014 AT 10:56 AM
AP reports that Tom Wolf, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, wants to raise taxes on “high earners” to fund schools across the state.  While ed funding would be improved, he said, local reliance on property taxes would be reduced  — giving homeowners a break. AP reports: “Wolf’s goal would be to raise the state’s share of public school costs to 50 percent; it currently pays about one-third, while property taxes shoulder more than 40 percent.”

"Children of refugees account for nearly 10 percent of the school's student body."
Refugee center to open in Pa.
A central Pennsylvania service organization is raising money to open a community center for refugees.  The Rotary Club of Lancaster hopes to raise $100,000 to renovate three first-floor rooms at Reynolds Middle School in Lancaster. Children of refugees account for nearly 10 percent of the school's student body.  Lancaster Newspapers reports a total of 318 refugees were resettled in Lancaster County in the first six months of 2014, more than a third of them from Burma. Large numbers also came from Cuba, Somalia and Bhutan.

Four school districts surpass most state averages
Pottsville Republican Herald BY MARK GILGER JR. Published: August 3, 2014
Four school districts scored better than the rest in the Times-Shamrock newspapers’ annual analysis of local academic performance.
Blue Mountain, Hamburg Area, Schuylkill Haven Area and Tri-Valley each topped state averages in 14 of 17 available scores of PSSA tests and Keystone Exams for the 2012-13 school year.
Tamaqua Area and Upper Dauphin were the only other school districts at least partially falling within Schuylkill County to reach or surpass state averages in 10 or more categories. Tamaqua Area had 11, while Upper Dauphin had 10.
The newspaper analyzed 2012-13 PSSA math, reading and science test scores, Keystone Exams scores and SAT scores for 500 districts and more than 3,000 schools statewide as well as a dozen other key educational factors as part of its annual Grading Our Schools special report. State averages on PSSA writing tests were not available as of press time Saturday.
Districts were also ranked in categories against others in the state. Test results for the 2013-14 school year will not be available until next year’s report.
Grading Our Schools includes charts on the region’s 16 public school districts as well as comprehensive online databases with searchable information on all 500 school districts in the state available at

"Over the last two years, at least 90 schools have seen new principals at the start of the school year."
Changes in leadership: Which Philly schools have new principals?
the notebook By David Limm on Aug 1, 2014 04:05 PM
Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, also known as CAPA, will have a new principal for the second year in a row.    About one-fifth of all Philadelphia District schools will have a new principal in charge when classes begin this fall.  Forty-two schools will see new leadership this year, according to a current list of principal appointments provided by the District. Twelve of the principals are new to the School District of Philadelphia, said Raven Hill, a District spokesperson.  Schools with new incoming leaders include magnet schools such as Masterman, Academy at Palumbo, CAPA, and Bodine, and neighborhood schools like Lamberton, Beeber, and Bartram.  Cayuga Elementary also has a new principal, Jason Carrion. Earlier this year, five former educators at the school, including the principal, were charged with crimes related to blatant cheating on the state's standardized tests.   Three of the new leaders will be founding principals for the District's new, innovative citywide-admission high schools opening this fall. 

"Lehmann, who received the Rising Star award, is founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy. Located in Philadelphia, the academy was launched in 2006 as a partnership between the Philadelphia school system and the Franklin Institute. With an inquiry-driven, project based curriculum, and a focus on 21st century learning, the school seeks to tackle the achievement gap in STEM fields for highly qualified minority students."
International Testing Official, Philly School Principal Among Winners of Innovation Award
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Sam Atkeson on August 1, 2014 3:06 PM
An international testing official, a nonprofit leader focused on improving math and science achievement, and a Philadelphia schools principal—whose work has been chronicled by Education Week—have been named the winners of the 2014 Harold W. McGraw, JR. Prize in Education.  The McGraw Hill Financial Research Foundation this week announced the winners of the award, which focuses on efforts to identify and narrow achievement gaps across the educational spectrum.  The 2014 recipients are Andres Schleicher, Sara Martinez Tucker, and Chris Lehmann. 

Pa. ranks second in teacher sex crimes
West Chester Daily Local By MEGAN HARRIS, Associated Press POSTED: 08/03/14, 6:40 PM EDT |
Claims of inappropriate relationships, sex abuse and misconduct filed against Pennsylvania school teachers are on track to double in less than a year, state officials say.  Second only to Texas, Pennsylvania and California each logged at least 24 cases of teacher sex crimes this year, according to news reports tracked by Terry Abbott, chairman of Houston-based Drive West Communications.  Nationally, “we’ve followed 416 (sex abuse) cases just since January,” Abbott said. “It’s an enormous problem all across the country, and Pennsylvania’s at the top of it. This isn’t a list you want to lead.”

“It’s just completely an overreaction for state legislatures to believe they can develop and manage and implement academic standards,” said Reggie Felton of the National School Boards Association, which represents school boards around the country and opposed the changes in Oklahoma. “They don’t have the technical capacity to do that.”  Politicians shouldn’t set academic standards, Felton said.  “The greater concern is that various organizations, through their own lobbying efforts or simply because they have the right money behind them, will influence these members,” he said."
Legislatures taking state education into their own hands
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton August 2 at 9:52 PM  
The backlash against the Common Core has prompted lawmakers in at least 12 states to get more involved in setting their own K-12 academic standards, injecting politics into a process usually conducted in obscurity by bureaucrats.  In several states, legislators have placed new restrictions on state boards of education, which typically write and update academic standards. In others, lawmakers have opened up the development of standards to greater scrutiny, requiring that proposals receive public vetting.  And in Oklahoma, which has embarked on an extreme makeover of its standards process, lawmakers passed a law that lets them rewrite any standards they don’t like.

K12 Hopes to Open Virtual School in North Carolina, Despite Record of Failure Elswhere
Lindsay Wagner of NC Policy Watch reports that the virtual charter corporation K12 is hoping to open an online school in North Carolina.  K12 was founded by Michael and Lloyd Milken and  has turned out to be a highly profitable corporation that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
It academic results are unimpressive, to say the least. Its students have a high dropout rate, low graduation rates, and low test scores. A study by the Walton-funded group at Stanford found that virtual charter schools in Pennsylvania, including K12, get worse results than either public schools or brick-and-mortar charter schools. A study by the National Education Policy Center criticized K12’s poor academic results and high administration costs; students at K12 actually fall behind real public schools. Stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post showedK12 to be one of the worst of all possible choices.

Six Years Under the Masthead: Farewell to Ed Week
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on August 3, 2014 1:33 PM
This post marks my last appearance at Education Week, after six eventful years. The summer of 2008 was the beginning of Living in Dialogue, launched with the help of John Norton. In that first year, I wrote about the presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, and once President Obama was elected, suggested he select either Linda Darling Hammond or Pedro Noguera to serve as Secretary of Education.
In the summer of 2009, I wrote about the process underway to write Common Core standards, in a post called "The Secret 60 Prepare to Write Standards for Fifty Million."   That fall, after seeing the launch of the misguided Race to the Top contest for billions, I wrote an open letter to President Obama, and invited others to do the same. We wrote of the continuation of the worst aspects of No Child Left Behind, the overemphasis on test scores and school closures. I used Living in Dialogue as a place to collect letters, and started a Facebook group as well, to discuss the issues, and galvanize action. Living in Dialogue ran dozens of letters, and a collection of more than a hundred was sent to the president and his Secretary of Education. In the spring of 2010, arepresentative group had the chance for a phone call with Secretary Duncan. We worked hard to develop the points we wanted to make, but when the call came, we were disappointed. We did not feel heard, and our concerns were never seriously addressed by the administration.

Upcoming meetings on Philly District's school redesign initiative
the notebook By Marilyn Vaccaro on Jul 30, 2014 05:14 PM
The School District is planning a series of meetings and discussions about its new school redesign initiative, which was announced last week.  Two informational sessions will be held, one tomorrow evening and the second on Aug. 12. Those who participate will be able to learn more about the application process and the specifics of the initiative itself.   Through the initiative, the District is calling on teams of educators, parents, community groups, and other outside organizations to propose their own school turnaround plans. Ten winning design teams will be chosen in October and will receive grants of $30,000 to support planning costs.

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.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference 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)

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