Monday, November 10, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 10: NYT: States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F

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 November 10, 2014:
NYT: States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F

"Thorough and Efficient" -The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia will be holding a press conference in the Capitol Main Rotunda at 11:00 a.m. today

"Where once these frustrations were voiced in murmurs, this year not only parents but also educators across Florida are rebelling. They have joined a national protest in which states have repealed their graduation test requirements, postponed the consequences of testing for the Common Core — national standards in more than 40 states — and rolled back the number of required exams."
NYT: States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F
New York Times By LIZETTE ALVARE ZNOV. 9, 2014
ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla.Florida embraced the school accountability movement early and enthusiastically, but that was hard to remember at a parent meeting in a high school auditorium here not long ago.  Parents railed at a system that they said was overrun by new tests coming from all levels — district, state and federal. Some wept as they described teenagers who take Xanax to cope with test stress, children who refuse to go to school and teachers who retire rather than promote a culture that seems to value testing over learning.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: October 29 - November 4, 2014
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on November 4, 2014 - 12:42pm 
It's Election Day, and public school testing policy is a hot issue in many races. After you vote, check out the latest news from across the country -- this week's update includes stories from 20 states and several analyses of the testing resistance and reform movement's growing national impact!

From 1989 to 1999 most of my life was taken up with a suit that our organization, Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) entered against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The actual submission of the suit really occurred in January of 1991. The results of that suit ended with the Supreme Court telling us that it was not a justiciable issue. That meant that it was none of their business. Funny, since the constitution of Pennsylvania calls for a “thorough and efficient “system, who then would interpret the constitution. No one, I guess.
On Monday November 10, 2014, we will once again be plaintiffs against the Commonwealth, especially, the legislature and the Governor. This time, we will not be the protagonists. We will be among a number of school district plaintiffs and actual parents and children. Although this sounds like the same kind of case pointing out that children are being unfairly treated in property and income poor places, it is somewhat different.
We claim that there is a claim that there is unequal protection under the law (in PA’s constitution) and that we now have a definition of “thorough and efficient.” We have had standards created by the State Board of Education (people refer to it as Common Core, but it really is Pennsylvania Standards) and testing done to see if these standards are met. It is given to all school districts in Pennsylvania. That means that we can compare schools and school districts across the state.

The number couldn't possibly be right.
Kristen A. Graham / Inquirer Staff Writer November 8, 2014
The number couldn’t possibly be right, Marc Gosselin thought: $160.
That was the total discretionary budget he was handed as the brand-new principal of Anna Lane Lingelbach Elementary, a public school in Germantown.  That’s all he’d have to pay for a whole year’s books, supplies, staff training, after-school activities, and incidentals — small but important items like postage and pizza parties.  “You can’t even buy groceries for $160, let alone run a school for 400 kids for a year,” Gosselin said.  Principal Marc Gosselin takes a cell phone photo of a missing ceiling panel and leak as he walks the hall at Lingelbach School
For many, Tom Wolf’s election as governor is a turning point, a change that could finally address years of Philadelphia School District cuts so deep that a school has just 40 cents to spend on each needy student.  And though Lingelbach’s situation is the extreme, public schools around the city grapple with similar problems.

Delco schools score among best in the state
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 11/09/14, 4:59 PM EST |
Six Delaware County public schools rank among the top 50 schools in Pennsylvania, as determined by the state’s School Performance Profiles.
Garnet Valley High School scored the highest among Delaware County schools, posting a 99.1 score that ranked 11th statewide. That edged Haverford Senior High School, which scored 99.0 and ranked 12th.  The School Performance Profiles, released Thursday, incorporate various achievement measures, including standardized testing, year-to-year academic growth, graduation rates and attendance records.

Movement afoot to create fair school funding
Posted: Saturday, November 8, 2014 7:00 am
The Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter | 0 comments
When it’s budget time, school district officials have to estimate how much funding will come from the state government.  But a movement afoot — called the Pennsylvania Campaign for Fair Education Funding — is an attempt to erase the guesswork, and at least some school officials in the four-county region appear to support the effort.
“I think we all recognize, as well as school board members recognize, that it is very difficult every year to enact a budget when we don’t know what the state budget is going to be,” said circuit rider Pamela Lenz, who spoke to officials at Bradford, Otto-Eldred, St. Marys and Northern Potter school districts this week. She is leading the campaign in the four-county region.

Let's get started.
Wolf Transition Website November 06, 2014
We have big challenges facing us, and in the coming weeks, we need you to be part of the conversation about how to move Pennsylvania forward.   We're taking the first step in the transition process by launching the Wolf Administration Transition website.
During the transition, we will work to bring together people from diverse backgrounds who have new and innovative ideas for Pennsylvania. And we want to hear from you. Take some time to reach out. Sign up for email alerts so you can be the first to hear about exciting announcements. And if you're interested in joining the team, you can submit your resume.
There are big challenges ahead. Tom wants to reestablish education as a priority in Pennsylvania by implementing a five percent severance tax to fund Pennsylvania's schools, make Pennsylvania's economy work for everyone, and level the playing field for all Pennsylvanians.

But it turned out Wolf didn't need the Philadelphia vote to win.
He won the cumulative vote from the state's other 66 counties by just under 45,000 votes.
Did Philly fizzle in Wolf election?
There was considerable interest in the Philadelphia vote in Tuesday's gubernatorial election for a couple of reasons. First, Democrat Tom Wolf had declined to give "street money" to help fund city ward leaders Election Day field effort, and there was some grumbling in the ranks about it.
Second, many expected a robust turnout from Philadelphia anyway because of anger at incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett over education spending. So did Philly deliver?
Not really. About 44,000 fewer Philadelphians showed up to vote Tuesday than cast votes four years ago when western Pennsylvania Democrat Dan Onorato lost to Corbett.
Those who did vote gave Wolf a big margin of course, because it's such a heavily Democratic city. In  fact, the margin for Wolf was higher than it was for Onorato because Corbett fared so poorly.

Inky Editorial: Back to schools: Wolf's mandate
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Sunday, November 9, 2014, 1:10 AM
Education funding may have been the crucial issue that united Pennsylvania voters in deciding to elect a new governor. A statewide coalition promoting more money for schools had been struggling to get traction, but it found its strength on Election Day.
Parents, students, and teachers will have to keep up the pressure on the legislature if Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is to deliver on his plan to impose a 5 percent tax on natural-gas extraction and spend most of the revenue on education. The defeat of Gov. Corbett, who opposed a gas tax, should help push the legislature in that direction. But nothing in Harrisburg is ever guaranteed.
Wolf is likely to face the same difficulties Corbett did as a tenderfoot governor trying to press his agenda with legislators who have other allegiances, not all of them political. Corbett never did find his groove. Here's hoping Wolf can do better.

No coups in Pennsylvania House leadership races, but several contests
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  on November 08, 2014 at 8:00 AM, updated November 08, 2014 at 11:02 PM
This story was updated at 11:02 p.m. Saturday to fix some typographical errors.
While it doesn't necessarily have the high drama of the bloodless coup attempt playing out in the state Senate, due to the retirement of Speaker of the House Sam Smith, Pennsylvania's House Republicans will have a new set of floor leaders when the legislative session resumes in January.  As in the Senate, the caucus leadership elections are important because these become the players who set the legislative agenda and do most of the direct negotiating with Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.  So the leaders' positions and priorities become very important.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, 'a people person,' should select aides who can compromise, insiders say
Penn Live By The Associated Press on November 08, 2014 at 1:03 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa.  — Tom Wolf's business background, education and low-key style will aid him as the state's chief executive, but to succeed the governor-elect must be judicious in choosing the senior aides who will be his diplomats in the Legislature and quickly establish rapport with key lawmakers, statehouse insiders believe.  "I think he's going to do just fine," said former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. "Because he's an outsider and a fresh face, he will have success in attracting good people" to work in the new administration.
John Hanger, the former state environmental protection secretary who dropped out of the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary race that Wolf ultimately won, said Wolf will reach out to legislators early in the transition because it's in his nature.
"Tom Wolf is a people person," Hanger said. "He treats every person with dignity and grace and that will be true in the Legislature, whether (they are) in leadership or not."
Former GOP state Sen. Robert Jubelierer, a long-time party leader, said much hinges on the relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
"The Republicans are in charge of the Legislature and you can't get anything done without them, so compromise is going to be the order of the day and the people who negotiate those compromises need to be the right people," he said.

"Mr. Scaife’s will divided his trust fund assets between the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Allegheny Foundation. As a result, the Sarah Scaife Foundation is expected to roughly double in size to have assets of about $800 million, and the Allegheny Foundation will have about half that amount."
Scaife children seek details on drained trust
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 9, 2014 12:00 AM
The two children of Richard Mellon Scaife have demanded, in court filings last week, an accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars that they said was drained from a trust to cover the losses of the Tribune-Review newspapers, despite the trustees’ duty to preserve funds for them.
Jennie Scaife, of Palm Beach, Fla., and David N. Scaife, of Shadyside, filed similar petitions in Orphans Court of Allegheny County. They claimed that three trustees who controlled $210 million in 2005 let that dwindle to nothing by the time of their father’s death, four months ago.
Their grandmother, the trust’s creator and namesake Sarah Mellon Scaife, included language in its 1935 deed suggesting that the trustees should have saved some of its principal for them, according to the petitions.

Scaife and Allegheny Foundations have been major funders of Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Foundation, which advocates for privatization of democratically governed public education via vouchers, charter schools and tax credit programs.
Sourcewatch: Commonwealth Foundation
The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives is a right-wing pressure group based in Pennsylvania that calls itself a "think tank." Commonwealth says that it "crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty."[1] The Commonwealth Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). An August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian lists Commonwealth as a "former SPN member,"[2] but the SPN website still lists Commonwealth as a full member as of July 2014,[3] and a July 2013 Commonwealth fundraising proposal to Searle Freedom Trust was included in a packet of SPN proposals in August 2013.

"On average, charter schools in Arizona do no better, and sometimes worse, than the traditional public schools."
Mixed Results for Arizona’s Charter Schools
Brookings By: Matthew M. Chingos and Martin R. West November 6, 2014
Charter schools are more popular in Arizona than in any other state. In the 2012-13 school year, 13.3 percent of Arizona students attended charter schools, almost three times the national average of 4.6 percent. That same year, Arizona’s 530 charter schools accounted for nearly a quarter of all public schools in the state. But student-level data on Arizona’s schools have not been made widely available, so the state’s charters have not been subject to the kinds of impact evaluations that have been completed in states such as Florida and North Carolina and cities such as Boston andNew York.
We provide the first recent, comprehensive look at Arizona’s charter schools in a new paperreleased today, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the peer-reviewed journalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Our analysis is based on statewide, student-level longitudinal data obtained from the Arizona Department of Education (AZDOE) that contains information on test scores, school enrollment, and student characteristics for the 2005-06 through 2011-12 school years.

Education, Inc.
Jacobin Magazine by George Joseph November 2014
A Jacobin investigation finds widespread corruption at one of the nation’s largest charter school networks.
Over the summer, FBI agents stormed nineteen charter schools as part of an ongoing investigation into Concept Charter Schools. They raided the buildings seeking information about companies the prominent Midwestern charter operator had contracted with under the federal E-Rate program.  The federal investigation points to possible corruption at the Gulen charter network, with which Concept is affiliated and which takes its name from the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. And a Jacobin investigation found that malfeasance in the Gulen network, the second largest in the country, is more widespread than previously thought. Federal contracting documents suggest that the conflict-of-interest transactions occurring at Concept are a routine practice at other Gulen-affiliated charter school operators.

Philadelphia City Council Hearings on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Councilman Mark Squilla and The Opt-Out Committee of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools urge all who care about the future of education to attend:  Parents, students and educators will testify on the effects of over-testing on students and teaching, including the crisis of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Information:  Alison McDowell or Lisa Haver at:

DelCo Rising: Winning for Education Nov18 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Delaware County students and taxpayers have sacrificed enough. The state is not paying its fair share.  Rising property taxes and school budget cuts are not acceptable–help us change that.
Join your neighbors for a community workshop: Delco Rising:  Winning for Education
Learn about Pre-K for PA and the Statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding and how they can  help your community
Practice winning strategies to advocate for your community
Create an advocacy plan that works for you—whether you have 5 minutes or 5 days per month
This non-partisan event is free and open to the public.
Click here to download a PDF flyer to share.

Webinar: Arts Education - Research Shows Arts Education Boosts Learning, So Where's the Rush to Teach Arts?
Education Writers Association NOVEMBER 12, 2014 - 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Decades of research suggest that some types of arts education can lead to academic improvements. But even though No Child Left Behind designated arts a core subject, student access to dance, theater and visual arts declined between 2000 and 2010. What are the challenges educators face in teaching a discipline many researchers say spurs student achievement, reduces absences and boosts graduation rates? This webinar will look at state-level arts education policy and student access to arts programs, the arts education research landscape, and offer a spotlight on city programs that are galvanizing arts education.
            James Catterall, Centers for Research on Creativity, Professor Emeritus, UCLA
            Sandra Ruppert, Director, Arts Education Partnership
            Mary Plummer, Southern California Public Radio

Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann (Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).

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

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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