Sunday, September 21, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 21: US Chamber gives Louisiana an A for having school choice, an F for educating kids

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 21, 2014:
US Chamber gives Louisiana an A for having school choice, an F for educating kids

SB76: Yes, property taxes need to be fixed. But the Senate bill isn't the answer: As I See It
PennLive Op-Ed  By Nathan Mains, Jim Buckheit, Jay Himes and Joseph Bard on May 08, 2014 at 2:00 PM, updated May 08, 2014 at 2:03 PM
No one likes property taxes – or any tax for that matter. No superintendent or school business official enjoys the time spent crunching the numbers to balance the budgets, and no school director enjoys the task of taxing his or her neighbors.   However, no matter how unpleasant they may seem, we can’t forget that taxes do a lot of good by providing resources to build and maintain our transportation system, make public parks available, defend our country through the military, keep us safe with police and fire service, and yes, educate our children in our locally governed public schools.  Few will disagree that in Pennsylvania we rely too heavily on school property taxes to fund our children’s education. 
However, legislation before the state Senate which would eliminate this tax, is not the answer for either schools or the taxpayers who foot the bill. 

SB76: Delco Times Editorial: Don't hold your breath waiting for property tax reform
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 09/21/14, 5:06 AM EDT |
Senate Bill 76, The Property Independence Act that would eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania, has passed the Senate Finance Committee. Commence celebration!
That’s enough.  We are acting the role of party-poopers because the 6-5 committee vote this week is merely one step in the process of getting the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk. If it arrives, he’s on record saying that he’ll sign it. We suggest he not uncap his pen anytime soon.

Pre-K: It helps kids, fights crime, and strengthens the military, so let's have more of it: Penn Live Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on September 21, 2014 at 5:21 AM
Nearly everybody in this country thinks government should do what it can to reduce crime.
Nearly everybody thinks our country should have a strong military whose ranks are well-trained and professional.  And absolutely everybody believes all children should be able to get a good education.  If government could do one thing that would help advance all three of those goals, it should be a no-brainer.  And that explains why there is such widespread support for making more children have access to a high-quality pre-kindergarten education — especially disadvantaged children.  A mountain of studies over many years shows that high-quality pre-K programs help children learn better and behave better. They save society money by cutting crime and reducing the need for special education and repeating grades. (A handful of studies question the benefits of some pre-K education, but other experts have noted flaws or limits in that research.)

"The two candidates will meet again over the next two weeks for the remaining debates — Oct. 1 in Philadelphia and Oct. 8 in Pittsburgh."
Corbett and Wolf to meet in first debate of governor's race Monday
By James P. O'Toole / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 21, 2014 12:00 AM
The candidates for governor will meet in the first of three debates Monday night in a forum that could give Gov. Tom Corbett a much-needed opportunity to shift the dynamics of a race in which he is a distinct underdog.  Mr. Corbett and Democratic nominee Tom Wolf will exchange views at the Hershey Lodge before the annual dinner of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. The chamber is reliably friendly to Republican candidates, but Mr. Wolf is sure to remind them of his background as a York County businessman.

"Amid this backdrop, Corbett and Wolf will square off Monday for the first of three debates, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Hershey and air on PCN."
Morning Call/Muhlenberg Poll shows Wolf with 21-point lead
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau September 20, 2014
HARRISBURG — On the eve of the state's first gubernatorial debate, a new poll shows Democrat Tom Wolf still coasting with a double-digit lead over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll released Sunday shows 52 percent of likely voters backing Wolf and 31 percent voting for Corbett.  The 21-point difference is in line with other recent polls that have put the gap between 11 percentage points and 31 percentage points.
The bit of support Corbett has mustered — despite running hundreds of television commercials since February — has pundits and insiders carving the governor's political epitaph well before voters go to the polls on Nov. 4.

In suburban Philly, Wolf promises fracking tax revenue for schools: Friday Morning Coffee
PennLive By John L. Micek |  on September 19, 2014 at 8:11 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
This week's fight over who'd be nicer to Pennsylvania's school kids -- Democrat Tom Wolf or incumbent GOP Gov. Tom Corbett -- made its way down to suburban Philly on Thursday, where adorable moppets played the role of Greek chorus in the ongoinghandbags-at-20-paces duel between the two candidates.  Campaiging at the STEM Academy in Chester, students asked Wolf how he'd help the financially troubled Chester-Upland school district, CBS-Philly reports.  According to the station, Wolf repeated his pledge to use a 5 percent tax on shale drillers to underwrite school funding -- among other causes.  “Five percent (tax) would raise a billion dollars,” Wolf said, according to CBS-Philly. “Some of that would go back to the localities, some of that would go to the Department of Environmental Protection, some of that would be used to build a bridge to a sustainable energy future. But hundreds of millions of dollars of that new money would go to support public education.”

Green: SRC will dissolve when job is done
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Saturday, September 20, 2014, 1:08 AM
Eliminate the School Reform Commission?
Not so fast, says its chairman, Bill Green.
Responding to a City Council vote Thursday to place on the November ballot a nonbinding question asking Philadelphia voters whether they want schools returned to local control, Green was emphatic: The SRC isn't going away yet, and he's not threatened by Council's move.
"I view it as symbolic," Green said of the referendum. "There's no substance there."
The SRC was created in 2001 by an act of the legislature, and the only way for it to go away is to vote itself out of existence.  That will happen, Green said - eventually.
"The SRC will eliminate itself when our academic and fiscal houses are in order," he said.

A look back at the first two weeks of Philly classes [photos + audio]
The resource-starved Philadelphia School District has now finished its second full week of classes.  In the above link, WHYY education reporter Kevin McCorry speaks with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller about a variety of issues facing Philadelphia Schools, including:

Charters Will Blitz Philadelphia with PR Campaign
Diane Ravtich's Blog By dianeravitch September 20, 2014 //
It is not bad enough that Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania legislature are starving the Philadelphia public schools of basic necessities. Here comes the charter lobby to launch an expensive media campaign to persuade parents to pull their kids out of the public schools and put them into charters.

State profile ranks Haverford school district 8th out of 500 in performance
News of Delaware County By Lois Puglionesi CORRESPONDENT September 18, 2014
HAVERFORD TWP.---The school district began the year on a high note with news that Haverford achieved a School Performance Profile score of 97.7 in 2013, tying with Downingtown School District to rank eighth in the state, out of a total of 500 school districts.
Addressing school directors last week, Superintendent William Keilbaugh showed a list of school districts with the 50 highest scores. Radnor Township School District led with a score of 100. Also in the top 50 were Delaware County’s Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, ranking 12th at 96.4, and Garnet Valley School District, ranking 41 with a score of 91.7.
Keilbaugh noted that the Profile measures a variety of factors including graduation rate, promotion, academic growth, and attendance as well as standardized test scores.

"Louisiana earned an A in only one category, parental options, for having "one of the nation's largest statewide school choice programs," including charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private school. "
U.S. Chamber flunks Louisiana public school system on workforce preparation
By Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune  on September 11, 2014 at 11:37 AM, updated September 11, 2014 at 5:22 PM
A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce reportgives Louisiana's public education system very low marks on academic achievement, international competitiveness, workforce preparation and bang for the buck. It flunked Louisiana in five of 11 categories, with a D+ in the sixth.  The state's low academic standing has been widely documented. However, the chamber says its report has a particular focus on the 21stcentury workforce.  Louisiana did see some gains. Scores went up on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2013, especially for low-income and minority students. But compared to other states, Louisiana was still at the bottom. The state's 2013 Advanced Placement pass rate was worse than any state except Mississippi.  Pass rates were even lower in subjects that the chamber considers important for the 21stcentury economy: only 30 in 10,000 students passed a foreign language AP test, and 4 in 10,000 passed the AP computer science test.

A day in the life of a data mined kid
American Public Media Marketplace by Adriene Hill Monday, September 15, 2014 - 13:20
Education, like pretty much everything else in our lives these days, is driven by data.
Our childrens’ data. A whole lot of it.  Nearly everything they do at school can be — and often is — recorded and tracked, and parents don't always know what information is being collected, where it’s going, or how it's being used.  The story begins at the bus stop.
Your child swipes his ID card and climbs on the bus. The card may contain an RFID or  radio frequency identification chip, which lets the school know when he gets on and off the bus. In some school districts, parents will get text alerts, letting them know their child arrived safely to school. The bus technology is presented as a way to keep children safer.
“The data collection begins even before he steps into the school,” says Khaliah Barnes, director of the Student Privacy Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

EdWeek: Introducing Julian Vasquez Heilig
Education Week Beyond the Rhetoric Blog By Jack Schneider on September 18, 2014
This blog began as a dialogue with Michelle Rhee—an outspoken advocate for school reform. Despite our many disagreements, Michelle and I agreed to write about educational change together, believing that a more substantive and nuanced dialogue would serve the public interest. And for ten weeks we blogged together about pressing K-12 policy issues.  The experiment, as I later wrote, wasn't perfect. As I noted in the aftermath, it felt at times like the title of the blog should be changed. Still, it was a good faith effort, encouraging enough to warrant further exploration. And I still believe in the mission statement that Michelle and I wrote at the onset of our discussion.

Policy Brief: The Potential Effects of Opting Out of State Tests in Pennsylvania
Research for Action September 2014
Anti-testing sentiment has ratcheted up significantly over the past five years, with many arguing that standardized tests are overly burdensome, anxiety-provoking, and take time away from classroom instruction. Even those in high-ranking policy positions seem to agree. In a recent statement, Education Secretary Arne Duncan lamented that standardized testing was "sucking the oxygen out of the room."   Some parents have become so frustrated that they are requesting their children be exempt from state tests altogether. In Pennsylvania, the "opt-out" process is governed by state regulations that require parents to inspect state assessment materials and submit a written request for a religious exemption. The request is automatically granted, with no consequences for the student or parent.  However, there may be significant impacts for individual schools, teachers, and principals. 
RFA's latest policy brief--available now on our website--explores the impact that opting-out could have on Pennsylvania's new school rating system, the School Performance Profiles (SPP),which relies heavily on standardized test scores. 

Why You Can Boycott Standardized Tests Without Fear of Federal Penalties to Your School
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on September 15, 2014 - 9:35pm 
Schools and districts that receive federal Title I funds sometimes claim they will lose funds if parents, students or teachers boycott standardized tests required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As far as we know, no school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students. Parents, students and teachers generally should not fear harmful consequences to their schools due to federal law if parents boycott standardized tests. Here is why:

Why ‘no excuses’ charter schools mold ‘very submissive’ students — starting in kindergarten
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 19 at 6:00 AM  
If you have heard the phrase “no excuses” charter schools but don’t really know what they mean, here is an informative post about  them and the controversial philosophy under which they approach student discipline and achievement.  Joan Goodman, a professor in the Graduate School of Education University of Pennsylvania and director of the school’s Teach For America program, explains her research on these charter schools to freelance journalist and public education advocate Jennifer Berkshire, who worked for six years editing a newspaper for the American Federation of Teachers in Massachusetts and who authors the EduShyster blog, where this Q * Aoriginally appeared. Goodman is a former school psychologist whose article “Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price?“ appeared in the March 2013 issue of Educational Researcher.

"Few consistent tools are available to measure the quality of U.S. education over time; the best we have is probably the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, first administered in 1971. And believe it or not, NAEP scores have been steadily improving, with most national measures now at or around all-time highs. The biggest gains have generally gone to nonwhite students, helping narrow — though not eliminate — the achievement gap. Other metrics, too, suggest that schools are improving.Dropout rates are at record lows, and the share of high school students who take higher-level courses such as calculus has risen."
Actually, public education is getting better, not worse
Washington Post By Catherine Rampell Opinion writer September 18 
Have America’s public schools gotten worse over time?
Americans seem to think so. Every time I write about why attending college is so crucial for moving up the income ladder — or, these days, for landing any job at all — I’m inundated with e-mails blaming the country’s K-12 system. Today’s workers have to go to college, readers argue, because our increasingly broken public schools have ceded responsibility for educating them.
Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist at The Washington Post. View Archive
Data from the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, a survey about education, reflect similar views. Over the past four decades, respondents have become increasingly likely to say that today’s students receive a “worse education” than they themselves did.
But it’s not clear that any of this is true, at least at the national level.

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

Save the date: Bob Herbert book event! Pittsburgh October 9th
Yinzercation Blog September 17, 2014
Save the date – you don’t want to miss this! We are hosting the national launch of Bob Herbert’s new book, Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled AmericaYou might remember Mr. Herbert as the award winning and longtime columnist for the New York Times. This book is especially exciting for us because Bob came to Pittsburgh several times to interview parents and teachers in our local grassroots movement and wound up writing three chapters on our fight for public education!
Date:    Thursday, October 9, 2014  Time:    5:30 – 6:30PM, moderated discussion and Q&A.
Doors will open at 5 with student performances.  Followed by book signing.
Location:    McConomy Auditorium, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15213.  Free parking in the garage.
Hosted by:    Yinzercation (we are profiled in the book!)
Moderator:    Tony Norman, columnist and associate editor,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PUBLIC Education Nation October 11
The Network for Public Education will hold a historic event in one month's time
PUBLIC Education Nation will deliver the conversation the country has been waiting for. Rather than featuring billionaires and pop singers, this event will be built around intense conversations featuring leading educators, parents, students and community activists. We have waited too long for that seat at someone else's table. This time, the tables are turned, and we are the ones setting the agenda.   This event will be livestreamed on the web on the afternoon of Saturday, October 11, from the auditorium of Brooklyn New School, a public school. There will be four panels focusing on the most critical issues we face in our schools. The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.  

Please join us for a symposium on:
“Funding Pennsylvania's Public Schools: A Look Ahead”
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics and the Temple University Center on Regional Politics.
When: Friday, October 3, 2014, 8:30 am to 12 pm
Where: Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh in Green Tree, PA
Session I:  "Forecasting the Fiscal Future of Pennsylvania's Public Schools"
A panel of legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Penn State Professor William Hartman and Tim Shrom projecting the fiscal trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts over the next five years and by University of Pittsburgh Professor Maureen McClure discussing the implications for school finance of an aging tax base.
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
Following an address by Eva Tansky Blum, Chairwoman and President of the PNC Foundation, a panel of business and labor leaders will discuss the importance of public school funding reform to the competitiveness of regional and state economies. 
We look forward to your participation!

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)

Voting for PSBA officers and at-large representatives opens Sept. 9
PSBA Website 9/8/2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for candidates. 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 open Sept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register 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 received an email on Aug. 13 and a test ballot was sent to them on Aug. 28. In addition, a memo from PSBA President Richard Frerichs will be mailed in the coming days to all board secretaries and copied to school board presidents and chief school administrators.

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