Sunday, January 18, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 18, 2015: Smucker will use new post in Senate to push for funding reform

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 18, 2015:
Smucker will use new post in Senate to push for funding reform

*** We are not planning to publish on Monday January 19th ***

PA Statewide Call-to-Action Day for Public Education Jan 21

Save the date/heads-up; details/confirmation on this as they become available...
The next Basic Education Funding Commission hearing will be held on January 29 in Greenville, Mercer County.#FairFundingPA
Tweet from Circuit Rider Pam Lenz January 16, 2015

Did you catch our Saturday posting?
For the first time in at least 50 years, majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

"What is the biggest problem facing public education?
“On the top of the list is an updated basic education formula that would be used to dole out funding.  “The Basic Education Funding Commission, on which I serve, has been holding hearings throughout the state for almost a year now and we’ve been getting a lot of input from the stakeholders. It’s a tough one because there are going to be winners and losers, but I’m hopeful we’ll have a proposal later this year.”
Smucker will use new post in Senate to push for funding reform
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, January 18, 2015 7:00 am
Lloyd Smucker is ready for change.  The West Lampeter Township lawmaker wants to replace the state’s outdated school funding formula with one that is fair and equitable.  And he thinks he has the muscle to do it.  The Republican state senator was appointed earlier this month to lead the high-profile Education Committee for the two-year legislative session.  As chairman of the committee, Smucker has been assigned to help oversee a public education system that has been strained in part by the underfunded Public School Employees’ Retirement System and a funding formula that is widely criticized as inadequate and discriminatory.

School superintendents talk about financial challenges
Waynesboro Record Herald  By Megan Herr/The Record Herald Jan. 16, 2015 @ 12:00 pm
Chambersburg, Pa.
Superintendents from six school districts participated in a Franklin County education forum and discussed both individual and shared problems due to lack of state funding for education.
The forum was sponsored by Education Voters of Pennsylvania and Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley and held at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chambersburg.

Former Charleston Supt. McGinley contender for top educator in Pennsylvania
Charleston Post and Courier Amanda Kerr  Email  @PCAmandaKerr Jan 16 2015 6:19 pm
Former Charleston Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley is up for consideration as the top educator in her home state of Pennsylvania.  McGinley confirmed Friday that she met with Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s transition committee on Monday to discuss her candidacy for Secretary of Education. A spokesman for Wolf did not respond to an email seeking comment. McGinley said she wasn’t sure how many candidates there may be for the appointment.

York City School District questions await Wolf team
Some have said new administration could try to change receiver role, review plan
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   01/18/2015 12:09:31 AM EST
With the appointment of a York City School District receiver put on hold, many are now looking at how Gov.-elect Tom Wolf could intervene when he takes office next week.  At the state education department's request, a judge appointed David Meckley as the school district's receiver, a move that would give him the school board's powers except taxation. But the district appealed, and an automatic stay of receivership has been left in place while that moves through court.  Wolf previously said he opposed a proposal to turn all schools into charters, which Meckley had urged the board to approve, and Wolf had supported calls for the education department to postpone action until he took office.  Meckley, who remains the district's chief recovery officer, referred questions about what could change to the Wolf transition team.

Pa. Fact Finder: Would York residents get tax cut if charters are approved?
Three legislators said city residents will see tax cut if charters are put in place.
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   01/17/2015 02:47:20 PM EST
Would a conversion of all York City School District buildings into charter schools result in a tax cut?  In November, district chief recovery officer David Meckley had presented the York City School Board with a draft agreement to turn all schools into charter schools run by the Florida-based company Charter Schools USA.  Three legislators — Rep. Seth Grove, Rep. Stan Saylor and Sen. Scott Wagner — supported Meckley's appointment as receiver and the all-charter plan in a recent opinion piece, saying the move will result in a tax cut for city residents.
We're fact-checking that statement.

Dallastown teachers, school board reach new five-year agreement
York Dispatch By JOSHUA VAUGHN 505-5438/@ydbiz POSTED: 01/17/2015 11:12:07 AM EST
The Dallastown Area School Board and the Dallastown Area Education Association have approved a new five-year agreement.  The new contract was approved by the Dallastown Area School Board and ratified by the Dallastown Area Education Association Thursday and includes pay increases to be offset by concessions to health care.  The 428 teachers, guidance counselors and other professional staff in the district will see a 1.25 percent pay increase during the 2015-16 school year. During the following four years of the contract, salaries will increase by 1.5 percent each year.  Increases to employee contributions to health insurance premiums and increases in deductibles are also part of the deal. The low deductible PPO plan will rise from $100 for individuals and $200 for families to $200 and $400 respectively, with premium contributions going from 13 percent during the first year of the contract to 15 percent in the fifth.

Four-year high school graduation rate rises to 81% for 2012-13 school year, most states show increases
National Center for Education Statistics January 16, 2015
A new Web Table reports the national high school graduation rate for 2012-13 at 81%, up from 80% in 2011-12. The adjusted cohort graduation rate measures the percent of high school students in public schools who graduate with a regular high school diploma in four or fewer years from their first time in Ninth Grade. The table includes the overall rate for the nation, each state and the District of Columbia for 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13.

WSJ: Test Finds College Graduates Lack Skills for White-Collar Jobs
Forty Percent of Students Seen Ill-Prepared to Enter Work Force; Critical Thinking Key
Wall Street Journal By DOUGLAS BELKIN Updated Jan. 16, 2015 3:24 p.m. ET
Four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work, according to the results of a test of nearly 32,000 students.  The test, which was administered at 169 colleges and universities in 2013 and 2014 and released Thursday, reveals broad variation in the intellectual development of the nation’s students depending on the type and even location of the school they attend.  On average, students make strides in their ability to reason, but because so many start at such a deficit, many still graduate without the ability to read a scatterplot, construct a cohesive argument or identify a logical fallacy.

Data and thoughts on public and private school funding in the U.S.
Cutting through the Stupid in the Debate over Annual Testing
School Finance 101 Blog by Bruce Baker Posted on January 14, 2015
I’ve hesitated thus far to enter into the big debate over the usefulness or not of annual testing. It continues to blow my mind that many engaged on the pro-annual testing side of the debate see the annual testing of all children in all grades as the one and only method of achieving all of the things testing, in their view, is intended to achieve, including:
·         school and local education agency accountability (e.g. imposing “death penalties” on those“failure factories”!)
·         individual student accountability (e.g. making sure that kid who missed on additional question on the state test doesn’t graduate)
·         teacher accountability (e.g. firing those teachers who don’t show year over year gains on test scores, as estimated with value-added models)
·         school level “data driven” leadership (e.g. leveraging “cage busting” leadership to achieve the pinnacle of awesomeness)
The presumption is that a single method of testing – testing everyone every year in every subject – is the appropriate – the only method to accomplish all of these tasks, simultaneously.

Pennsylvania: Stop Using Standardized Test as Graduation Requirement
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch January 17, 2015 //
The minority leader of the state Senate Education Committee is proposing legislation to stop using a standardized test as a graduation test. Standardized tests are designed to produce a bell curve. A set proportion of students will fail, by design.
“WEST CHESTER (January 16) – State Senator Andy Dinniman said the lack of resources in Pennsylvania’s financially distressed public schools is so stark that the use of the Keystone Exams as graduate requirements must be stopped before they exacerbate an already dire situation. “It’s clear to me that there are two systems of public education in Pennsylvania: separate and unequal,” said Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Until we resolve that discrepancy, how can we, in good conscience, stamp ‘failure’ on the backs of kids who lack the teachers, resources and classes to pass such standardized tests? To continue down this path without addressing such basic issues is beyond the pale. It’s downright shameful.” Dinniman announced that he will introduce legislation to end passage of the Keystone Exams as high school graduation requirements because they will only widen the growing gap between financially distressed and more affluent high schools.”

"Can nudges help younger children? Susanna Loeb and Benjamin N. York, both also at Stanford, developed a literacy program for preschool children in San Francisco. They sent parents texts describing simple activities that develop literacy skills, such as pointing out words that rhyme or start with the same sound. The parents receiving the texts spent more time with their children on these activities and their children were more likely to know the alphabet and the sounds of letters. It cost just a few dollars per family.  Researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Toronto are also working on methods to develop literacy. Ariel Kalil, Susan E. Mayer and Philip Oreopoulos sent families texts with tips about how to read with their preschoolers. The result was that parents spent substantially more time reading with their children."
Helping the Poor in Education: The Power of a Simple Nudge
New York Tiimes By SUSAN DYNARSKI JAN. 17, 2015
There are enormous inequalities in education in the United States. A child born into a poor family has only a 9 percent chance of getting a college degree, but the odds are 54 percent for a child in a high-income family. These gaps open early, with poor children less prepared than their kindergarten classmates.  How can we close these gaps? Contentious, ambitious reforms of the education system crowd the headlines: the Common Core, the elimination of teacher tenure, charter schools. The debate is heated and sometimes impolite (a recent book about education is called “The Teacher Wars”).  Yet as these debates rage, researchers have been quietly finding small, effective ways to improve education. They have identified behavioral “nudges” that prod students and their families to take small steps that can make big differences in learning. These measures are cheap, so schools or nonprofits could use them immediately.

A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation's Public Schools
Southern Education Foundation 2015
Low income students are now a majority of the schoolchildren attending the nation’s public schools, according to this research bulletin. The latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), show that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were low income in 2013.  In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.  Most of the states with a majority of low income students are found in the South and the West. Thirteen of the 21 states with a majority of low income students in 2013 were located in the South, and six of the other 21 states were in the West.  Mississippi led the nation with the highest rate: ­71 percent, almost three out of every four public school children in Mississippi, were low-income. The nation’s second highest rate was found in New Mexico, where 68 percent of all public school students were low income in 2013.

The key factor driving academic performance is poverty…
Wait What? Blog by Jonathan Pelto Jan 17, 2015
And a new study from the Southern Education Foundation reports that low income students are now a majority of the schoolchildren attending the nation’s public schools.
Using data from the 2012-2013 school year, the study determined that 51 percent of all students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were eligible under the federal program for free and reduced-price lunch, a standard measure of the number of children living in poverty.  The Southern Education Foundation also reported that, “In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.”  According to the report, even in Connecticut, the state with the highest per capita income in the nation, more than one in three public school students come from homes in poverty.  That number of public school students coming from poor households skyrockets in many of Connecticut’s poorer cities and towns where more than 8 in 10 students qualifying for free or reduced school lunches.

"In 1989, fewer than 32 percent of students were low-income using the report's definition. By 2000, the rate climbed to 38 percent. But the organization, which has tracked the pattern for years, is sounding the alarm now that poor students are in the majority."
New Milestone: Majority of Public School Students Now Considered Low-Income
Education Week By Evie Blad on January 16, 2015 12:44 PM | 1 Comment
For the first time in recent history, a majority of students in U.S. public schools are low-income, according to an analysis of federal data by the Southern Education Foundation released Friday.  In 2013, 51 percent of public school students qualified for free and reduced-price meals, a common indicator of poverty in education, according to the most recent data from The National Center for Education Statistics.  It's a continuation of a trend that's been building for years and a "defining moment" for the U.S. education system, which must find ways to confront the barriers poverty creates for academic achievement in order to thrive, the analysis says. 
"No longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness," the report said, quoting from a previous analysis. "Their success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future."

Building a Better School Day
A new report focuses on how schools are using federal incentives to add more learning time.
The Atlantic by EMILY RICHMOND JAN 17 2015, 9:00 AM ET
In a union vote Wednesday, Boston teachers approved the school district’s plan to add 40 minutes to each instructional day for kids in grades kindergarten through eight at more than 50 campuses. It's a move experts say could help improve the quality of classroom teaching, boost student learning, and yield long-term benefits to the wider community.  But the plan, which goes next to the Boston school board for approval, isn’t without controversy. Earlier in the week The Boston Globe published its own review of a pilot program in the city that expanded learning time at about 40 campuses, finding mixed results. From the Globe’s story:
For many schools, a longer day has failed to dramatically boost academic achievement or did so only temporarily. The uneven results prompted school district officials to scrap the extra minutes at some schools and the state to pull funding or pursue receiverships at others.
But other schools have successfully used an extended day to boost MCAS scores or expand offerings in the arts and other electives. "I think there are lessons to be learned," said John McDonough, interim superintendent. "We know time matters, but it only matters if it is used well."

Education Voters Statewide Call to Action for Public Education Day, Wed. Jan 21st
Education Voters of PA Facebook page
We want to kick off this legislative session right and make sure the phones in the Capitol are ringing off the hook all day with calls from voters throughout the Commonwealth!  Join thousands of Pennsylvanians as we take 5-10 minutes on January 21st to call our new governor and our legislators to send a message that Harrisburg’s top priority this year must be implementing a fair and adequate education funding formula for our public schools that provides all children with an opportunity to learn.

Mark Your Calendars.  The next Twitter Chat on PA School Funding is Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.  Join us #paedfunding
Tweet from Circuit Rider Kathleen Kelley

PILCOP Special Education Seminar: Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities
Philadelphia Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 1:00 - 4:00 P.M.
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Tickets: Attorneys $200  General Public $100   Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available    
Speakers: Sonja Kerr; Kathleen Carlsen (Children’s Dyslexia Center of Philadelphia) 
This session is designed to provide the audience with information about how to address 1) eligibility issues for children with learning disabilities, including dyslexia and ADHD, 2) encourage self-advocacy and 3) write and implement meaningful IEPS (what does Orton-Gillingham really look like?)   This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice is a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers. 
Questions? Email or call 267-546-1316.

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.

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

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