Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 23: Law firms question special-ed plans in proposal to charter York schools
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PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 23, 2014:
Law firms question special-ed plans in proposal to charter
But a company representative's responses to questions from The York Dispatch indicate that Charter Schools USA currently has limited knowledge of the district's student population.
For example, The York Dispatch asked the for-profit company to describe its plans for the 21 percent of district students with special needs. The company's director of development and government responded with a single sentence. "CSUSA will evaluate the needs of every student and will provide all necessary services to help every child reach his or her highest potential," Paula Jackson wrote.
"The law requires the parents of students with disabilities be notified of a proposed placement, and there would have to be an IEP meeting to discuss that, including parent input, the filings say. The proposed charter contract didn't address how students with disabilities would be served by the charter schools or how those who didn't want to attend a charter would be provided for.
The plans would also violate a student's right to be placed in the least restrictive environment, meaning the right to be educated alongside students without disabilities, the documents claim. If a student with a disability were relegated to cyber schooling from home, that would be the most restrictive option, they say. The filings also point out that while both district and charter schools in
high percentage of students with special needs, the existing charter schools
serve disproportionately fewer. In 2013, about 22 percent of the district's
students had disabilities." York
Law firms question special-ed plans in proposal to charter
Court documents say the-all-charter plan would violate students' rights
York Daily Record By Angie Mason firstname.lastname@example.org @angiemason1 on Twitter 12/22/2014 10:08:11 PM EST
Two law firms that do work in the area of education want to weigh in on the York City schools receivership case, saying the proposed plans for turning district schools into charters would violate the rights of special-education students. The Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, on behalf of the York NAACP and the Arc of Pennsylvania, requested to file a "friend of the court" brief urging a judge not to approve receivership in York City School District. The state education department has petitioned the court asking that David Meckley, now recovery officer, be appointed receiver. The state contends the school board is not following its recovery plan, for reasons including that the board did not approve an agreement to convert district schools to charters as Meckley directed. The board tabled that action, saying there were unanswered questions on the agreement.
Michael Churchill, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Firm, said the motion filed Monday is an attempt to brief the judge on issues they feel are relevant. It will be up to Judge Stephen Linebaugh whether to allow the brief in the record.
the notebook Commentary By Ron Whitehorne on Dec 22, 2014 01:05 PM
In spite of opposition from
City’s elected school board, York's school district is
on the verge of being turned over lock, stock, and barrel to a for-profit
charter operator with ties to Florida Republicans Gov. Rick Scott and former
Gov. Jeb Bush. The has been under state
control since 2012, when Gov. Corbett's administration put the district in
receivership, appointing David Meckley, a local businessman, as chief recovery
officer. Meckley has pressed an austerity program, which includes cutbacks to
school budgets, teacher layoffs, and union concessions. York City School District York's
school board drew the line at his proposal to privatize the entire district.
The board tabled this measure, citing a lack of evidence that the proposed
charter operator, , would
do better than the existing administration. The Pennsylvania Department of
Education has gone to court to compel the local school board to implement the
charter takeover. A decision is expected next week. Charter Schools
What would be your alternative if you were in
York and did not choose to attend one of the
proposed schools? Cyber charters….. Charter Schools USA
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY NOVEMBER 17, 2014
A new study by Research for Action has found that
Pennsylvania's cyber-charter sector
continues to yield subpar results on the state's standardized tests. Using the state's recently released
school performance profile data for 2013-14, RFA found the average School
Performance Profile score for the cyber-charter sector was 48.9 – well below
the averages for the state's brick and mortar charters and traditional public
schools. To date, no cyber charter has
earned a SPP of 70 or higher, the state Department of Education's quality
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY DECEMBER 22, 2014
Under Gov. Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania Department of Education hasdownplayed year-to-year standardized test score comparisons — instead favoring the School Performance Profile index, which accounts for enrollment growth and graduation rates among other factors.
The SPP website allows the public to access achievement data on a school or district-wide basis, but the department of education has made it difficult to see the aggregated results of all of its schools. Federal filings, though, require this information.
Disparities still remain among the races
By Mary Niederberger /
Post-Gazette December 20, 2014 12:00 AM
The release of Pennsylvania test scores for 2013-14 by the state Department of Education shows that scores among
schools for the
most part hovered close to where they were a year ago. While there were changes in some districts or
schools, the highest scoring districts were predictably in more affluent areas
and the lower-scoring districts in the poor neighborhoods. Allegheny
Based on district overall results, which include students in grades 3-8 who took the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment Exams and 11th-graders who took the Keystone exams in biology, algebra and literature, the highest-scoring district was South Fayette with 95 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in math and 93 percent in reading.
Blogger uses an adequacy supplement to fix basic education funding formula.
Capitolwire.com Under The Dome™ Monday, December 22, 2014 (paywall)
Valerie Strauss, an education writer for the Answer Sheet Blog, offered her own version of a new, improved basic education funding formula for
Pennsylvania in a
Washington Post column published December 11. In her formula, Strauss proposes
a system of tax caps that would, for example, limit local contributions in 150
districts by at least $800 million to ease the burden on property owners, while
forcing the General Assembly to boost state funding to fill the gap. She argues
lawmakers should determine a base amount per-student that it must fund in order
to meet state-mandated academic standards, which she calls adequacy. The
formula for the new state allocation would be, quite simply, adequacy minus the
local tax contribution (with familiar weights for poverty added in). But don't
expect to find any suggestions on how the state should generate this extra
money, except for a vague reference to the General Assembly's ability to raise
taxes — and thereby putting the onus back onto taxpayers — quoted below: “Will
this proposal halt Pennsylvania’s long history of burdening local taxpayers and
low state appropriations? No guarantee, but by bringing the structure in
conformity with taxing reality — only the state has the tax base necessary to
fund the vast majority of districts with weak tax bases — and with budgeting
reality — the state sets proficiency standards and therefore sets the costs
which must be met, there is a much better chance.” To read Strauss's look into
the state's basic education funding formula, CLICK HERE. There's also the thorny legal ramifications
of codifying a dollar amount to define “adequacy,” though it hasn't stopped
education advocates from challenging the courts to force the General Assembly
to do so. To read more about the problems abound when it comes to defining
adequacy, CLICK HERE and HERE.
Here's Valerie Strauss' December 11th column referred to in the Capitolwire posting:
An eye-opening description of one state’s failed school funding system
Many school reformers today like to say that “money doesn’t matter” in making schools work and that holding students and teachers more “accountable” — largely through standardized test scores — is what is needed. Certainly a great deal of money can be used poorly but that is not the same thing as money doesn’t matter. It is, however, a good mantra for people who want to ignore the severe and consequential funding inequitiesthat persist in the
U.S. public education system across the United States. According to this 2013
report on school funding by the Education Law Center: In fiscal year
2010, the most recent year for which data is available, state governments, on
average, funded 43.5 percent, or $259.8 billion, of the total amount spent on
public education. School districts and other local sources were responsible, on
average, for almost 44 percent of all public school spending or $261.6 billion.
The federal government, on average, provided almost 13 percent of the total
revenue received by public schools, or $75.9 billion. With most of the money coming from state and
local sources, disparities are inevitable, especially because in most places
local sources are dependent on property taxes, meaning that poor areas have
less money to spend on schools. Federal money given to low-income areas doesn’t
close the gap.
So how inequitable can school funding be within a single state? Let’s look at one of the most troubled in this respect,
"Our main drivers right now for budget increases have been pensions and charter schools"
With budgets come tax questions for Erie-area school districts
administration has only
just started crafting what eventually will become its 2015-16 budget, but
familiar challenges are already surfacing.
"Our main drivers right now for budget increases have been pensions
and charter schools" and, to some degree, rising health-care costs,
district Business Administrator Rick D'Andrea said. While the budget process is still in its
earliest stages, the district expects to need an additional $1.3 million to
cover mandated increases to pension contributions, which are up to about $17.1
million in 2015-16, D'Andrea said Friday. The district expects to pay about $20
million in charter school costs for students living in the district but
attending either brick-and-mortar or cyber charter schools, an increase of
about $3.5 million over 2014-15, D'Andrea said.
"Those are some pretty big challenges, just those two alone,"
he said. Erie School District
Expanding learning time generates results
Post Gazette LTE December 23, 2014 12:00 AM
By DAVID W. PATTI, President and CEO,
Pennsylvania Business Council
Regarding “Pittsburgh Summer Learning Programs Boost Math Scores, Not Other Outcomes” (Dec. 16): It’s encouraging to see the results of this research by the Rand Corp. and good to know that voluntary summer learning programs are producing meaningful improvements in
students’ math skills. Such programs are clearly a worthy investment.
Summer learning programs integrate fun learning activities with core academic subjects such as science, technology and math. The extra hours of instruction help students build foundational skills they can expand upon during the school year.
"A grassroots consortium of teachers and curriculum specialists from Environmental Charter School, Pittsburgh Public, South Fayette, Quaker Valley and Fort Cherry are meeting on Twitter and in each other's teaching spaces, asking questions and collaborating to bring innovative programming to schools. Their third meeting should happen when school resumes in January, teachers said."
Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
Trib Live By Megan Harris Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, 8:57 p.m.
From hydroponics in
to urban gardens at Pittsburgh Arsenal, teachers pushing environmental literacy
are skirting traditional alliances in favor of what works: networking.
Scarce resources make for unique alliances, said Butch Reffert, math teacher at
Pittsburgh's . “Everyone always has questions about ECS,” he
said. “We're new and get a lot of publicity. Some people think our presence
threatens Pittsburgh Public's pool of potential students, but that's not what
good charter schools are about. “We get
to try new and innovative approaches to education, with the idea that we give
back what works.” Environmental Charter
Advocates Cheer White House Spending on Early-Ed.
Education Week By Christina A. Samuels Published Online: December 22, 2014
The White House closed out 2014 by turning its powerful spotlight on the cause of early learning, announcing the results of two federal grant programs and unveiling a new philanthropic effort aimed at infants, toddlers, and young children. The overall investment—some $1 billion in new federal early-education money filtering out to the states—is still far short of the $75 billion, 10-year investment in preschool that President Barack Obama has been urging lawmakers to adopt. And the new, Republican-controlled 114th Congress may be just as unlikely to follow that call as the Congress that just ended. But the grants and commitments rolled out at the Dec. 10 White House summit on early education got a warm welcome from advocates. “By launching this all in one day, getting that energy going, it gives us a second wind to gather ourselves and go through one more year fighting for that one big investment,” said Kris Perry, the executive director of the First Five Years Fund, which is an establishing partner of the Invest in US advocacy campaign.
Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year:
Future by JEFF BRYANT DECEMBER 19, 2014
Since it’s the time of the year when newspapers, websites, and television talk shows scan their archives to pick the person, place, or thing that sums up the year in entertainment, business, sports, or every other venue, why not do that for education, too?
In 2014 education news, lots of personalities came and went.
Michelle Rhee gave way to Campbell Brown as a torchbearer for “reform.” The comedian Louis C. K. had a turn at becoming an education wonk with his commentary on the Common Core standards. Numerous “Chiefs for Change” toppled from the ranks of chiefdom. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett went down in defeat due in part to his gutting of public schools, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker remained resilient while spreading the cancerous voucher program from
Milwaukee to the rest of
the state. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio rose to turn
back the failed education reforms of ex-mayor Bloomberg, only to have
his populist agenda blocked by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo who
insisted on imposing
policies favored by Wall Street. Progressives formed Democrats for Public
Education to counter the neoliberal,
big money clout of Democrats for Education Reform. And Kentucky
Senator Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush emerged as rival
voices in the ongoing debate about the Common Core among potential
Republican presidential candidates.
But hogging the camera throughout the year was another notable character: charter school scandals.
January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The
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.