Friday, October 10, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 10: In Lehigh Valley, Education Voters Action Fund endorses Pat Browne and Mike Beyer

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Superintendents, 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, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 10, 2014:
In Lehigh Valley, Education Voters Action Fund endorses Pat Browne and Mike Beyer

Follow the Money: Who gave/received school privatization contributions in Pennsylvania in 2014.  Was your legislator a recipient?
Six millionaires and billionaires contributed $1,482,604 to privatize democratically-governed Pennsylvania public education.

Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie campaign for Pa. gubernatorial candidates
Penn Live By The Associated Press  on October 09, 2014 at 10:16 PM
WAYNE, Pa. — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made dueling pitches Thursday in Pennsylvania's race for governor, appealing to voters in a state that could factor into potential 2016 presidential campaigns.
Clinton implored Pennsylvania Democrats to back Tom Wolf's gubernatorial campaign in large numbers, warning against complacency despite his large lead in the polls against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. "You never know what can happen in an election," she said.
Without mentioning the polls, Christie gave a nod to the size of the task of changing voters' minds and asked the GOP faithful to volunteer an hour a day doing just that.

Wolf: Abolish SRC, make Philly school board elected
Democrat Tom Wolf said Thursday he would push as governor to abolish the School Reform Commission and transfer state control of Philadelphia schools to a locally elected school board.
Wolf took exception to the dramatic step the SRC took Monday when it canceled its contract with the teachers' union and imposed terms requiring members to pay 10 to 13 percent of the cost of their health-care benefits; currently they pay nothing.  "I'm against what they [the SRC] did," Wolf said. "What I would do is restore the funding to the Philadelphia school system that would make unpalatable choices like that unnecessary."  Wolf discussed the issue during a wide-ranging 70-minute meeting with members of The Inquirer and Daily News editorial boards.

Winners and losers in release of new District funding allotments, leveling
Citywide, the number of teaching positions was cut as enrollment dropped further. Schools may try to buy back positions.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 9, 2014 05:03 PM
The District giveth, the District taketh away -- at least for some Philadelphia schools.
Philadelphia school principals got a memo Wednesday providing additional per pupil allocations for their schools as a result of the School Reform Commission's move tocancel the teachers' contract and cut health care costs.  But for many principals, it was no windfall. At dozens of schools, the extra money was accompanied by a decrease in teacher allotment because of “leveling,” or the adjustment of staff size to match actual, instead of projected, student enrollment.
Instead of simply figuring out what to do with extra money, they were given less than 24 hours – by close of business Thursday – to provide a memo with “compelling” reasons why they shouldn’t lose staff. The principals are being forced to choose the least bad alternative for reducing staff and then explain why they don't want even to do that.

York City teachers, officials 'blindsided' by blended district option
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES and NIKELLE SNADER 505-5439/@ydcity POSTED:   10/09/2014 08:48:45 PM EDT
York City teachers and school officials are digesting the surprise alternative to complete charter conversion announced by the district's state-appointed financial recovery officer Wednesday.
The concept is interesting, said Carol Hill-Evans, a member of the Community Education Council and president of the York City Council.  But it also came with "no warning or notice or anything," she said.  Recovery officer David Meckley has also attached a mid-November deadline for the new plan to be developed and approved.
"I'm wondering, is there enough time for them to work out all the details?" Hill-Evans said.
Blended approach: On Wednesday, Meckley announced at an education council meeting that he is willing to consider a blended approach to academic and financial reform that would include both charter schools and traditional district schools — though he, personally, would prefer to see the district's eight buildings converted by July 2015 to charter schools.
However, in the interest of building consensus among skeptical school board members and other stakeholders, Meckley said he is willing to consider a compromise.

OP-ED: All Common Core, no common sense
York Dispatch By ANDY DINNIMAN Pennsylvania Senate 10/09/2014 01:07:10 PM EDT
Do you remember a teacher who changed your life? One whose patience, encouragement and passion for learning stayed with you and made a difference in who you are today?  Now, do you remember a great test that you took that had the same impact? I bet you don't, and I bet today's students won't either.  Of course testing has its role, but when days of instruction time are devoted to test-taking and entire classes are spent on teaching to high-stakes tests, this regimen eats away at the very core of learning.
All this focus on testing came to a head when Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) instituted the Keystone Graduation Exams in Pennsylvania. Starting with the Class of 2017 (current freshmen and sophomores) students will have to pass exams in three subject areas (Algebra I, Biology and Language Arts) in order to graduate.
It is important to note that while the federal government requires tests be given to students, using them to determine graduation, instead of just remediation, is the sole decision of the Corbett administration. Testing to identify problem areas and helping students overcome learning difficulties is one thing — make-or-break graduation exams are quite another.

Local legislators, law enforcement officials meet in Lower Providence to support Pre-K for PA
By Brendan Wills, The Times Herald POSTED: 10/09/14, 4:08 PM EDT |
LOWER PROVIDENCE >> During a Pre-K for PA campaign workshop Thursday morning at the Play and Learn Collegeville early childhood education center, local law enforcements officials, legislators and education specialists unanimously voiced their support for increased funding to early childhood education.  Play and Learn Program Coordinator, Melanie Godhania; Play and Learn Collegeville Center Director, Jill Law; State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Bruce Clash; Limerick Township Police Chief, William Albany; Upper Gwynedd Township Police Chief, David Duffy; District Attorney, Risa Ferman; State Rep. Mike Vereb (R – 150th Dist.); State Rep. Todd Stephens (R – 151st Dist.); and State Sen. John Rafferty (R – 44th Dist.), met to discuss how access to early childhood education not only helps children succeed in life, but also helps to lower the costs of incarcerating criminals who did not have adequate education to guide them through life.

"Education Voters Action Fund PA announce their endorsement of candidate for PA Governor Tom Wolf, candidate for PA Senate District 16 Senator Pat Brown, and candidate for PA House District 131 Mike Beyer."
Political odd couple gets education group endorsement
By Scott Kraus Of The Morning Call October 9, 2014
Education odd couple? Republican, Democrat share group's endorsement
Republican state Sen. Pat Browne and Democratic state House challenger Mike Beyer won the endorsement of a pro-public education advocacy group Thursday.
Browne is a two-term state senator and influential majority whip in the Republican controlled state Senate. Beyer is a first-time political candidate and Democratic challenger to two-term Republican state Rep. Justin Simmons in the Lehigh Valley's 131st Legislative District.
An odd couple? Not when it comes to education, said Bob Previdi, spokesman for the Education Voters Action Fund.

Site offers look at candidates’ views on education issues
Lancaster Online Political Scrapple Blog Posted on October 8, 2014 by Karen Shuey
If you’ve been paying attention to the race for the state’s top post this summer, then you know public education has emerged as one of the key issues of the campaign.
Results of recent Franklin & Marshall College polls consistently show that improving public education is the issue that matters most when respondents are considering which candidate they will support.  The Pennsylvania School Boards Association knows that so they created a new website for the public to get a closer look at where the candidates stand on education-related questions before voters head to the polls Nov. 4. The questions cover charter school reform, public pension reform and property tax reform.
The local candidates that filled out the questionnaire include: Ryan Aument in the 36th Senatorial District; Ann Schott in the 13th House District; Brian Kresge in the 37th House District; Brett Miller in the 41st House District; Steve Mentzer in the 97th House District; Charlie Hample in the 97th House District; and Bryan Sanguinito in the 99th House District.

A legislator’s Next Steps in Student Success: Lew Frederick
Yong Zhao's Blog 10 OCTOBER 2014 128 NO COMMENT
Representative Lew Frederick has served in the Oregon House for the past five years. Before that, he was a teacher, a reporter, and a district administrator Oregon. “He has witnessed how manufactured crises, extreme deprivation of resources, and radical overhaul proposals work together to repurpose public education in a way the public has not voted on.”
Next Steps in Student Success By Lew Frederick
Before we talk about “rigor” and “discipline” and “accountability” for kids, we have to insist that adults are held to that standard. When we design school programs, especially when we propose to impose some new system on the whole enterprise, we should demand a degree of certainty that the turmoil of change will be worth it. We should demand evidence that it will make things better. We should demand that when a crisis is described, it is real and correctly described, and when a solution to the crisis is prescribed, we should demand that the solution actually addresses the problem.   And somebody should be accountable, but I don’t think we currently understand that word. We say that teachers should be accountable for results, but who defines the results? Who will be accountable if the entire approach of making schools, especially those in poor neighborhoods, pressure cookers that stress kids out of their minds, turns out to be destructive of the qualities we need in the adults of the future?

Education, education, education….
“I’ve never seen this level of anger about what policymakers have done in some places to our schools,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. Weingarten thinks it’s not only underfunding that’s made education a top-tier issue but also the effect of efforts to privatize public education. “The market-based reforms, the top-down reforms, the testing and sanctioning as opposed to supporting and improving has taken hold so much and has been so wrong-headed that you’re seeing this fight back,” she said.
The Nation: This Is What Happens When Republicans Try to Destroy Public Education
The Nation Zoë Carpenter on October 8, 2014 - 1:24 PM ET
A month out from the midterm elections, Republican candidates around the country are confronting a shared, and significant, vulnerability: education.  The conservative wave of 2010 allowed Republicans to implement slash-and-burn governance in several states—what Kansas Governor Sam Brownback called a “real live experiment” in tax cuts for corporate interests and cuts to services for everyone else. One of the most devastating casualties was public schools and universities.  Now, several Republicans could fall victim to their own experiment. Conservatives are on the defensive in Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin over their records on education. The issue features prominently not only in local and gubernatorial campaigns but also in Senate races that many predicted would be referenda on Barack Obama, not on conservative governance at the state level.
Sweeping budget cuts have created “a perfect storm that’s put education at front and center at every level of every office,” said Karen White, political director for the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union. “It’s really taken a couple of years for these cuts to reach down to the individual level, but that’s now happened.”

Pedro Noguera: Why Don't We Have Real Data on Charter Schools?
The Nation Pedro Noguera on September 24, 2014 - 7:09PM ET
In several cities throughout the country, there is a fierce conflict raging over the direction of education reform. At the center of this increasingly acrimonious debate is the question of whether or not charter schools—publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules (and often the control) of traditional public-school systems—should be allowed to proliferate. Given their steady growth (from no more than a handful twenty years ago to over 6,000 today), charter schools and their advocates appear to have the upper hand. A new bipartisan bill—the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Democratic senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado—would provide new funds to launch, replicate and expand charter schools nationwide.
The concept of the charter school was originally developed in 1974 by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, who envisioned it as a way to bring innovation to schools by freeing them from the regulations that frequently limit and constrain traditional public schools. The idea was later embraced by American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker, who felt, like Budde, that there was a need for schools that could operate with greater flexibility and could serve as a laboratory for innovations that would then be applied to public schools. In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a charter-school law. Today, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for the operation of charter schools. The vast majority of charter schools are located in large cities, and their numbers are growing rapidly. However, instead of collaborating with public schools as envisioned by Shanker, charter schools have become the centerpiece of a market-based reform strategy that places greater emphasis on competition.

School districts moving to cut reliance on test scores to evaluate schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 9 at 1:00 PM  
Big school districts around the country — including in New York City — are starting to lessen their misplaced reliance on student standardized test scores to evaluate schools, as this roundup of “test reform” news shows. And some are doing it in unusual ways.  In Kentucky, for example, “accountability” reports on schools that used to rely exclusively on scores from Common Core high-stakes tests will now include an assessment by school officials “of the quality of its instruction in writing, arts, humanities and practical living — rather than relying on a test showing what students learned,” according to the Courier-Journal. That data point will count for 23 percent of a school’s grade.  The following list — with pieces from 15 states and Washington D.C. — was assembled by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest,which publishes a weekly list of education news from around the country that highlights efforts to reduce federal and state mandates for high-stakes testing.

New website offers closer look into candidate' views on public education
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has created a new website for its members and the general public to get a closer look into candidates' views on public education leading up to the 2014 election for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Following the primary elections, PSBA sent out a six-question questionnaire to all Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates competing for seats in the November election.  Candidates are listed by House, Senate seat and county. Districts can be found by visiting the 'Find My Legislator' link (
Features include:
·         Candidate images, if provided
·         Candidates are tagged by political party and seat for which they are running
·         Candidates who did not respond are indicated by "Responses not available."
Visit the site by going to or by clicking on the link tweeted out by @PSBAadvocate.
Candidates wishing to complete the questionnaire before election day may do so by contacting Sean Crampsie (717-506-2450, x-3321).

Register Now – 2014 PASCD Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess -  - Author of "Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco, Bill Sterrett - ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell. 
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for cultural change in your school or district.  Join us for PASCD 2014!  Online registration is available by visiting

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding Commission  website
Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10 AM, Perkiomen Valley
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Pittsburgh
* meeting times and locations subject to change

Health Issues in Schools: "Mom I can't find the Nurse"
October 21, 2014 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia 
Philadelphia has one of the worst childhood asthma rates in the country. We need more nurses in Philadelphia's schools to aid children suffering from this and other health issues. Join us to discuss Pennsylvania laws governing nursing services.
Tickets: Attorneys $200       General Public $100      Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available
Click here to purchase tickets

What About the Schools? A Community Forum on the Next Governor's Education Agenda Oct. 15 7:00 pm WHYY Philly
Pennsylvania's public schools, especially in Philadelphia, are in dire straits. Many hope that the upcoming gubernatorial election will help shine a light on the state's education issues. But how will Harrisburg politics and financial realities limit the next governor’s agenda for education?
Join Research for Action, WHYY, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for an interactive community forum designed to suggest an education agenda for the next administration—and to assess the politics of achieving it.  Hear from local educators about what they see as priorities for the schools, and from seasoned policy practitioners on the political realities of Harrisburg.  Then, make your voice heard. Discuss your thoughts and perspectives with other event guests and interact with the panelists. You’ll come away from this spirited discussion with a more nuanced view of the politics of education in both Philadelphia and at the state level.
This event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Questions? Call 215-351-0511 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.  

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)

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.

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