Saturday, November 8, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 8: A long-planned lawsuit faulting the state's funding system will be announced Monday.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 8, 2014:
A long-planned lawsuit faulting the state's funding system will be announced Monday.

Next Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 1 PM & Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 10 AM in Philadelphia

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, November 9 at 3:00 p.m. 
Education Policy and Leadership Center 
Guest 1: Kathy Manderino, Campaign Manager of the new Campaign for Fair Education Funding and Former Pennsylvania State Representative
Guest 2: Pennsylvania State Representative and House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer who is planning to retire on November 30, at the end of the current legislative session
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to school funding, adequacy and equity issues.

What Happens in Good Schools
Taking Note Blog by JOHN MERROW on 07. NOV, 2014 in 2014 BLOGS
After 40+ years of reporting about education, I am absolutely convinced that, in the very best schools, thestudents are the workers and the work they are doing is meaningful. What they do–their product–depends upon their ages and stages, but the concept doesn’t change.
In these schools, teachers are conductors, directors, supervisors, guides or docents.
This observation flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which holds that teachers are workers whose job is to produce capable students. That gets further bastardized when ‘capable’ is defined by test scores until we end up thinking, “The work of teachers is to add value, which is measured by higher test scores.”
If you had been traveling with me the past few weeks, you would have seen three examples of outstanding education: My 3-year-old granddaughter’s pre-school, a 12th grade science class in a public high school in Philadelphia, and a journalism class at Palo Alto High School in California.

Hite and others see racial disparities in funding as alarming
A long-planned lawsuit faulting the state's funding system will be announced Monday.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 7, 2014 05:14 PM
"Stark" and "alarming" are words that were used Friday to describe the results of arecently published analysis of state education aid. It shows that Pennsylvania districts with similar rates of poverty that are almost all White get higher per-pupil amounts of basic education funding than districts that are more racially diverse.  "I think that it’s stark, breathtaking when you look at it," said Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters PA, a statewide advocacy organization. "We think we know these things. But it’s one thing to talk about it in generalities, it is another to see it so vividly."

Education advocates poised to take Philly SRC to court over lack of transparency
When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to unilaterally cancel the district teachers union contract last month, it did so in way designed to attract the least immediate pushback.  Education advocates believe the SRC's action violated the state's government transparency laws.  The SRC scheduled its vote for a Monday morning, when teachers were in class. The only public advertisements were a back-page notice in the Sunday Inquirer and a legal notice on Reporters were alerted only about an hour before the event. The SRC members heard public testimony, but only after they voted to kill the contract.  "We do believe that a judge will say, 'When you don't allow comment before you pass a resolution, you've violated the Sunshine Act. When you don't deliberate on this type of resolution, you're violating the Sunshine Act,'" said Lisa Haver, a retired teacher and co-founder of the advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.  Haver's group filed a writ of summons in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas this week. The move preserves the group's right to file suit if the SRC doesn't offer a further explanation of its action.

York Dispatch EDITORIAL: Will Wolf save York City schools?
York Dispatch POSTED:   11/07/2014 10:32:57 AM EST
The York City teachers union rejected a state fact finder's report this week, ensuring a lengthy contract negotiation will drag on even longer.  The union and school board have been at it for more than a year now, and it's safe to say they're farther apart than ever — especially since we were led to believe, in the beginning, the deal was all but signed.  The proposal calls for major wage and benefit concessions, but the teachers reportedly agreed to those terms last year to avert a charter conversion of all district schools.  The charter plan was being considered by the state-appointed financial recovery officer when the union and administration presented an "internal transformation" option.  That model was supposed to reverse a trend of poor academic performance and financial distress by creating themed magnet schools and academies, adding pre-K classes and assigning advisory committees to each school building.  It also called for major concessions from the union beginning with the 2014-15 school year.  That was in April 2013, and the union has yet to sign the new contract.
Without the concessions, other key components of the transformation model couldn't be implement, according to the recovery officer, David Meckley. He's now exploring other options, which once again include a full charter conversion.

Lancaster Online Editorial: Wolf has a mandate on education funding; Republican-controlled Legislature should work with him
The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014 6:00 am
The Issue
A key plank of Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's campaign was increased state funding of public education, with a tax on natural gas extraction, the end of unproductive business tax credits and an increased income tax rate. Republicans -- whose majorities in the state House and Senate supported Gov. Tom Corbett's no-tax agenda won even bigger majorities Tuesday.
Tom Wolf has a big job ahead of him and he deserves the support of all Pennsylvanians — including the Republican majorities in the General Assembly — to get moving on the key issues of his campaign.  “This is not just about the honor of getting votes,” Wolf said in his acceptance speech in York. “It’s about the necessity of doing things for Pennsylvania.”  That’s what voters expect, of both Wolf and the winners of Tuesday’s state House and Senate races.

Focus narrowing for Basic Education Funding Commission
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, November 6, 2014 News and Views
Thursday, the Basic Education Funding Commission held its seventh hearing aimed to help in its mission to provide the legislature with a new basic education funding formula for consideration.
According to Commission Co-Chairman Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), the focus of the commission is starting to narrow to common themes of concerns expressed at the hearings.
“We’ve talked about your starting point for funding and how you adjust for certain student-based factors,” he said. “The one that we really need to work on to qualify what that would be are both the poverty of the student and the concentration of poverty in the district.”
He said the challenge in this area is not necessarily in knowing that this factor in school funding has to be weighted, but rather how that should occur.  It was this topic that permeated many of the questions of Thursday’s hearing, which focused on factors relevant to school funding.

Video: Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing of Thursday, November 6, 2014 in Harrisburg
Consider relevant factors in school funding
Basic Education Funding Commission website (video runtime: 116:39)

"Allison Still of the district’s multicultural office said that dual language programs don’t require many additional funds because teachers are still hired based on enrollment numbers. In fact, Still said, the language and cultural diversity in Philadelphia schools should be highlighted as a way to sustain public education by remaining competitive.  “To be able to learn a second language with peers that speak that language is an opportunity that a lot of private, charter and suburban schools don’t have. We think it’s a huge draw and it’s a way to see language and culture as an asset instead of a deficit,” Still said. “Being taught to be bilingual and biliterate is going to set these students apart."
Using language to help save Philly schools
“I’m not a Spanish boy.”
That’s what 6-year-old Sebastian told his bilingual American mother and Costa Rican father when they read him a Spanish-language book or prompted him to practice speaking. Sebastian’s mother, Jessica Esquivel, had enrolled him in a Catholic school where he received 30 minutes of Spanish-language instruction every week.
“We were hoping for him to become bilingual,” Esquivel said. She and her husband speak Spanish at home and while their son understood, he refused to speak. That’s why they decided to increase Sebastian’s formal learning in Spanish from less than an hour each week to more than six hours every day.  It started with a tweet. The Passyunk Post published an article on Southwark Elementary School’s new dual language program where Spanish, English and bilingual kindergarteners sat in one classroom to learn in both languages what every Philadelphia public school kindergartener learns in one. Esquivel crossed the city from her Northwest Philadelphia home to attend the school’s parents’ night, hear the research, meet the principal and take a tour. She was sold.
“He'd be getting Spanish all day long and getting it for free,” Esquivel said. “We are really impressed because he is definitely speaking Spanish now. He is initiating conversations with us in Spanish and he never did that before.”

Amanda Ripley at the PSBA conference
School Board Blogger by David Hutchinson Friday, November 7, 2014
Tuesday’s keynote speaker at last month’s PSBA conference was the highly respected education researcher and writer, Amanda Ripley.  She recently spent a year looking at education policy and practice around the world, particularly through the eyes of students. With the large caveat that education policy is extremely complex and difficult to compare across national and cultural boundaries, her research suggests:
·         ·        The need for coherent national standards. (See “Common Core”)
·         ·        We should wait as long as possible before ‘tracking’ students.
·         ·        A need to improve teacher and principal training
·         ·        Parental involvement in their child’s education should be primarily in the home.

WSJ: Why Corbett Lost
Wall Street Journal Opinion By ALLYSIA FINLEY Nov. 6, 2014 4:50 p.m. ET
Liberals are seeking small solace from their Tuesday drubbing by flogging Pennsylvania Gov.Jord Tom Corbett’s 10-point defeat, the only governorship Democrats picked up amid losses in Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland. Democrats ought to give credit where credit is due: Mr. Corbett.  The lesson the teachers union and liberals have gleaned—or rather, the narrative they’re spinning—is that Democrat Tom Wolf won because Mr. Corbett’s conservative policies were out of step with voters. The rout, they say, is a harbinger for the 2016 presidential election when Republican Sen. Pat Toomey will face re-election among an even more liberal electorate. In 2010 Mr. Corbett led Mr. Toomey by 150,000 votes statewide.
But as even Mr. Wolf acknowledged, “the people of Pennsylvania voted for me not thinking about any national trend, but what was going on in Pennsylvania.” The state’s economy has continued to lag both the nation and region during the governor’s tenure. Pennsylvania’s 0.7% real GDP growth last year trailed neighboring Ohio (1.8%), West Virginia (5.1%), Delaware (1.6%), and even New Jersey (1.1%).

GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
Education Week By Lauren Camera Published Online: November 7, 2014
After easily capturing the number of seats they needed take control of the U.S. Senate—and padding their majority in the House of Representatives—congressional Republicans have laid out an aggressive education policy agenda that includes overhauling the long-stalled No Child Left Behind law and the mammoth Higher Education Act.  While divided government will remain, as the White House is in Democratic hands at least until President Barack Obama finishes his second term, the new political calculation in Congress will likely spur movement on education bills. Lawmakers who play major roles on the chamber’s education committees were quick to outline their priorities, which also include school choice measures, funding issues, and generally scaling back the federal footprint on K-12.

North Carolina Tells Charter-School Chain It Can’t Keep Administrator Salaries Secret

The schools’ management company, which receives millions in public funds each year from the schools, says that the salaries paid to school administrators should be considered a trade secret.
The North Carolina State Board of Education has issued a warning to a charter-school chain for failing to comply with an agency order to disclose the salaries of school administrators. The schools have been put on "financial probationary status," which could lead to sanctions if their board does not comply within 10 business days.  This is the same charter-school chain, Charter Day School, Inc., that ProPublica wrote about last month. As we reported, the four charter schools channel millions in public education dollars each year to for-profit companies owned by the schools' founder, businessman Baker Mitchell. One of the for-profit companies, Roger Bacon Academy, is paid to run all the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Writing with the Master
For Princeton journalists, praise from John McPhee was — and is — the ultimate reward
PRinceton Alumni Weekly By Joel Achenbach ’82 Published in the November 12, 2014, issue
John McPhee ’53 has many moves as a writer, one of which he calls a “gossip ladder” — nothing more than a stack of quotations, each its own paragraph, unencumbered by attribution or context. You are eavesdropping in a crowd. You take these scraps of conversation and put them in a pile. Like this:
“A piece of writing needs to start somewhere, go somewhere, and sit down when it gets there.”
“Taking things from one source is plagiarism; taking things from several sources is research.”
“A thousand details add up to one impression.”
“You cannot interview the dead.” 
“Readers are not supposed to see structure. It should be as invisible as living bones. It shouldn’t be imposed; structure arises within the story.”
“Don’t start off with the most intense, scary part, or it will all be anticlimactic from there.”
“You can get away with things in fact that would be tacky in fiction — and stuck on TV at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes the scene is carried by the binding force of fact.”
The speaker in every instance is John McPhee. I assembled this particular ladder from the class notes of Amanda Wood Kingsley ’84, an illustrator and writer who, like me, took McPhee’s nonfiction writing class, “The Literature of Fact,” in the spring of 1982. In February, McPhee will mark 40 years as a Princeton professor, which he has pulled off in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of more than two dozen books.

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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