Saturday, November 22, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 22: How do Pennsylvania cyber charter schools stack up on state scores?

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 22, 2014:
How do Pennsylvania cyber charter schools stack up on state scores?

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Public Hearings
Monday, November 24, 2014 at 10 AM IU#13 Lancaster
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 10 AM East Stroudsburg
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10 AM - 12:00 PM Lancaster
* meeting times and locations subject to change

"Statewide enrollment in cyber charters increased 5.5 percent between 2012-13 and 2013-14, reaching a total of about 36,500 students, according to Research for Action.  And three new proposals for cyber charter schools are under review by the state Department of Education, which has authority over cyber charters.  Regular charters are authorized by local districts, but in either case, local districts must pay charters a state-determined amount for each of its students that enrolls there."
How do Pennsylvania cyber charter schools stack up on state scores?
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer  Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014 2:23 pm | Updated: 6:17 pm, Fri Nov 21, 2014.

Cyber charter performance
Here's how Pennsylvania's cyber charter schools fared on the 2014 School Performance Profiles. A score of 70 or better is considered passing.

2014 Score
Local Enrollment
ACT Academy Cyber CS
Achievement House CS
ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber CS
Agora Cyber CS
Susq-Cyber CS
Esperanza Cyber CS
Central PA Digital Learning Foundation CS
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS
Pennsylvania Cyber CS
Pennsylvania Leadership CS
Pennsylvania Virtual CS
21st Century Cyber CS

The numbers are low.
Some of the lowest.
And it's not golf, so that's not a good thing.
Pennsylvania's 14 cyber charter schools scored "among the very lowest performing schools" on the School Performance Profiles released by the state earlier this month, according to an independent research group.  Research for Action, a Philadelphia nonprofit that studies education policies and reforms, published a policy brief this week, showing that cyber charters scored an average of 48.7 on the 100-point School Performance Profiles.
Traditional public schools across the state got an average of 76.9, and regular charters got an average of 65.1.  In Lancaster County, the average school score was 79.6.

'No final decision' yet on York City receivership
ERIN JAMES The York Dispatch 505-5439 / @ydcity POSTED:   11/21/2014 04:18:47 PM EST
The state officials steering the York City School District's financial recovery process met today to discuss recent developments.  Carolyn Dumaresq, the state's acting secretary of education, has asked chief recovery officer David Meckley for more information about a new labor contract with the district's teachers union, according to department spokesman Tim Eller.
"She's looking for data of how that meets with what the recovery plan has called for," Eller said.
Members of the district's school board voted 6-2 Wednesday to approve a two-year contract with teachers, ending a negotiating process that had dragged on for more than a year.

New Senate leader draws flak after hinting at lame duck session
Inquirer Commonwealth Confidential by Amy Worden  FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2014, 1:44 PM
Newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) hasn't even been in office a week but he touched nerves with a suggestion that the Senate might meet before Gov.-elect Tom Wolf takes office on January 20.  Corman - elected  in a conservative-led coup that sent eight-year leader Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) to the back bench -.told the Inquirer that he has "not ruled out" holding session days in January.  In other words, Corman raised the prospect of a New Year's lame duck session - with newly sworn-in lawmakers voting and outgoing Gov. Corbett still in office  -  the likes of which has not been seen in Harrisburg in recent memory.
Those were fighting words to Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Jay Costa (D., Allegheny).

"It is both a matter of good etiquette and good public policy. Even if conducted in the full light of day, lame duck votes convey the impression that lawmakers and the outgoing administration are trying to pull a fast one on the way out the door.  While there is no doubt that Pennsylvania faces huge challenges and a yawning budget deficit, the best thing for lawmakers to do until Corbett leaves office and Wolf takes over is nothing at all."
Penn Live Editorial: The best thing for lawmakers to do until there's a new governor? How about 'Nothing?': Opinion Quick Take
By PennLive Editorial Board on November 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM
There's a growing tide of speculation in Harrisburg's political circles that strengthened Republican majorities in the state House and Senate might try to hand Gov. Tom Corbett some political victories before he leaves office in mid-January.
In an interview taped for broadcast Sunday on CBS-21's "Face the State" program, incoming Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said the chamber's ruling Republicans were taking a look at the schedule to see if they could squeeze in a few session days before Corbett leaves office and Gov.-elect Tom Wolf,a Democrat, takes the oath of office.

Teachers union leader has the wrong answers: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by  Chad Schweighart on November 21, 2014 at 1:45 PM
Reading PSEA President Michael Crossey's commentary, I have to ask him and the rest of the members of his union: When is enough enough? We are spending more today on education than anytime in history.   I will agree that a larger portion of that spending is to fund the pensions, but this is a cost of business and that amount has to be included. Crossey decries the loss of the federal one time stimulus money as a cut by the state, yet everyone was aware that this was temporary and was not to be used to plug operational deficits. 

Saucon Valley district, union to go before state's labor board
By Jacqueline Palochko,Of The Morning Call November 21, 2014
Could hearing end three-year contract impasse in Saucon Valley School District?
The nearly three-year contract impasse in the Saucon Valley School District will enter another phase Monday, when the district and teachers union go before the state's Labor Relations Board.
The hearing stems from charges the district filed against the Saucon Valley Education Association in June. The district accused the union of unfair bargaining practices, saying the teachers asked for more money than was first talked about when contract discussions started.  The union's attorney, Andrew Muir, filed a motion seeking to have the hearing dismissed, but his request was denied.  If the state rules in favor of the district, the union will have to agree to a contract that fits within how much the district has in its budget, Jeff Sultanik said.

Philly speaks out about testing
Examiner by Tamara Anderson November 21, 201412:30 PM MST
On Wednesday, November 19 at 3 pm, the City Council of Philadelphia Committee on Education met in regard to Resolution 140666, to conduct hearings about standardized testing. The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools organized and scheduled the hearing around growing concern of the time, detriment, and costs of standardized testing in Philadelphia public schools. The following committee members were present for most of the testimonies: Jannie L. Blackwell (Chair), Blondell Reynolds-Brown (Vice-Chair), Maria D.Quionones-Sanchez, Brian J. O’Neill, Mark Squilla, W. Wilson Goode, and David Oh.  The first panel consisted of State Representative Mike Tobash, Jerry Jordan (PFT President) and Donna Copper, Executive Director for Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). Jerry Jordan agreed that the presence and increase of testing encourages teachers to “teach to the test.” State Representative Tobash, R-Berks, confirmed that the testing and not the graduation requirement are federally mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The graduation requirement should be decided by the local districts. Later an education attorney explained that the law itself includes 3 options for graduations with the Keystone being one of them. He also stated that the lack of accommodations for children with 504’s and not IEP's may lead to an increase in services and costs.  Throughout the room signs reading “Invest in learning not Testing” plastered on pencils and erasers symbolized the mood of the packed audience. The majority was there in support of eradicating unfair tests and testing policies. Four out of the originally seven scheduled panels spoke before dismissing.

DN Editorial: The charter-school lie
Philly Daily News POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2014, 3:01 AM
A RATIONAL school-funding formula for Pennsylvania to ensure that all children - no matter what their ZIP code - can be assured a quality education should be a priority for the new Wolf administration. That's likely to be a heavy lift.
But we hope, even before that complicated process begins, that lawmakers in Harrisburg acknowledge that they must first fix the way charter schools are funded.
Lawmakers are in love with charters, an ardor that has only grown since passage of the original state law in 1997. Philadelphia has the bulk of the state's charters - 86 schools enrolling about a third of the district's total student population. Many succeed. Many don't, and the weaknesses throughout the charter system are barely addressed or acknowledged by lawmakers.
One of the key reasons for those weaker-performing schools includes the lack of a strong organizational structure for overseeing them.

Why not elect the school board? Opinion by TODD WOLFSON POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2014, 12:16 AM
PHILADELPHIANS should elect the people who run their schools.
Recently, this simple democratic ideal has gained traction and support from Tom Wolf, newly elected governor, and since then there has been a chorus of anti-democratic op-eds, most recently from former District CEO Phil Goldsmith ("dumb idea") and veteran reporter Dave Davies ("bad idea"). The substance of both these editorials is that we are better off with a school board chosen by the city's elites rather than entrusting decisions to the electorate, because in an election the choices will be made by party bosses and union leaders.
As many have pointed out, the implications of this position, if drawn to its logical conclusion, is that we would be better off without an elected City Council and elected state representatives, because these elections would be shaped by the Democratic Party organization and influenced by unions, among others. Even if we grant that the political process as it currently functions is seriously flawed, there are numerous problems with this anti-democratic argument.

“Circuit Rider” Lawrence Feinberg to visit LMSD on 11/25 to speak about PA school funding
Lower Merion School District Announcements Posted: November 18, 2014
With school funding a hot issue in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, an alliance of state education leaders is engaged in a campaign to build support for changing the way the state pays its school bills. During the yearlong campaign, 11 "circuit riders" will attempt to build support among current superintendents, business managers, and school board members for a movement for education-funding changes.  Please join us on Tuesday, November 25 at 8:30 AM as "circuit rider" Lawrence Feinberg will speak at the District's Legislative Committee meeting in the District Administration Building Board Room.
Click here for a recent article on about the circuit riders.

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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