Saturday, January 24, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 24: Dworetzky: Approve quality charters or reject them all? Which is the irresponsible move?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 24, 2015:
Dworetzky: Approve quality charters or reject them all? Which is the irresponsible move?



Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, location TBA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA



Pa. needs a basic education funding formula for fairness and quality
Post Gazette Letter by JANET M. SARDON, Superintendent of Schools Yough School District
January 24, 2015 12:00 AM
On Jan. 21, the Yough school board passed a resolution urging the General Assembly to establish a new funding formula for basic education. The Yough School District works diligently to provide our students an education that allows them to be successful, while maintaining our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, the current distribution of basic education dollars is unfair and inequitable.
Without a basic education funding formula, funds are allocated according to the wishes of the Legislature, which has resulted in broad and unfair disparities among schools. The last school funding formula, which was eliminated in 2011, calculated state aid based on a district’s actual cost, creating a more level playing field and providing a state commitment to the total cost of educating our students.
The new system should be transparent, sustainable, equitable and a long-range plan for public education in Pennsylvania. Anything less is unacceptable and will continue to put an unnecessary strain on public education that is detrimental to our schools, our communities and, most important, our students.
Our mission as a school district is to provide all students with a learning experience in a collaborative and supportive environment. We believe that a quality education is a shared responsibility among local communities, the school and the state. Yough School District will continue to do our part, but we are begging the Legislature to do its part in providing for our future — our schools and our children.

Dworetzky: Approve quality charters for Philly or reject them all? Which is the irresponsible move?
the notebook By Joseph Dworetzky on Jan 23, 2015 01:05 PM
Note: Joseph Dworetzky served as a member of the School Reform Commission from 2010 to 2014. The opinions expressed here are his own and are not to be read as the views of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, the law firm where he is a shareholder, or of the SRC or the School District of Philadelphia.
Last week, I received an email from the Philadelphia School Partnership expressing outrage over a recent report by Public Citizens for Children and Youth that recommended the SRC not approve any of the 40 pending charter school applications. The group said PCCY’s recommendation was deeply flawed.  Thirteen of the 40 applicants – representing 13,000 new charter seats -- deserve approval, PSP said. The reason? These 13 schools are being proposed by high-quality charter school operators, with many of their existing schools serving a similar cohort of low-income students as District-run schools but receive better school ratings. According to PSP, to reject these applications wouldn’t just be mistaken, it would be "outrageous."
After reading the email, I clicked through to a public statement released by an entity called Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners – an advocacy affiliate created by PSP – and read a similar analysis. According to PSAP’s spokesperson, Mike Wang, rejecting these quality applications would be “irresponsible.”
PSP’s email and its sister’s statement move me to several observations.

Turzai pushes for many new Phila. charters
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM AND MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 10:43 PM POSTED: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 6:24 PM
On the same day that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission was told it could not scrap the teachers' contract to save money, the state House speaker urged the commission to approve more charter schools.  Twenty-seven of the 40 applicants for new charters "are doing a bang-up job," Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said at a roundtable meeting Thursday with parents at Mastery Charter School's Shoemaker campus in West Philadelphia.

Schreiber, Bracey say it's time to talk with Wolf, others about York City schools
WITF Written by Angie Mason, York Daily Record | Jan 23, 2015 8:50 AM
State Rep. Kevin Schreiber and York Mayor Kim Bracey have asked for a meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf and several state and local education officials to discuss the York City School District.  
In a letter, shared with the York Daily Record, Schreiber and Bracey asked to meet with Wolf, his pick for education secretary, Pedro Rivera, school district Supt. Eric Holmes, Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley and a York City School Board representative to develop a "forward-looking plan" for the district.  

Schreiber, Bracey advocate for York City schools
ERIN JAMES / The York Dispatch 505-5439 / @ydcity
POSTED:   01/23/2015 05:47:55 PM EST | UPDATED:   ABOUT 13 HOURS AGO0 COMMENTS
York City's state representative said Friday that he's encouraged by quick responses from state and local officials to a request for a meeting about the future of the York City School District.
State Rep. Kevin Schreiber and York City Mayor Kim Bracey co-authored the letter sent Thursday to Gov. Tom Wolf, who took office Tuesday.  Schreiber and Bracey requested a meeting with the governor, Wolf's nominee for education secretary, the district's chief recovery officer David
Meckley, Superintendent Eric Holmes and a school board member "to develop a forward-looking plan for the future of our school district."  While a meeting has not yet been scheduled, "We heard very quickly back from the Wolf team," Schreiber said.

Forum, rally planned in York to answer questions, unite community in fight against state takeover of public school district
By Candy Woodall | cwoodall@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 22, 2015 at 3:35 PM, updated January 22, 2015 at 3:37 PM
Though a new governor has been sworn into office and can possibly reverse the previous administration's push for a state takeover of the York City School District, local parents are still concerned.  "There is fear," said school board President Margie Orr.  To mitigate that fear, the York branch of the NAACP is hosting a forum at 6 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 29 at Crispus Attucks, 605 S. Duke St., York.  "It's a chance for parents to ask questions and know exactly just what's going on," Orr said.

Blogger's note: Previous articles on the Philly cheating scandal have cited the odds of erasure patterns being random at 1 in 100 million.  By comparison, published reports cited the odds of random erasure patterns for the Chester Community Charter School (run by Governor Corbett's largest individual campaign donor) to be between one in a quadrillion and one in a quintillion.  The charter school was "left to investigate itself".
Former Philly Locke Elementary principal held for trial on tampering charges
JULIE SHAW, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER SHAWJ@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-2592  POSTED: Sunday, January 25, 2015, 3:01 AM
A FORMER Philadelphia School District principal accused of changing test scores in an alleged widespread cheating scandal yesterday had her case held for trial after a preliminary hearing.  Lolamarie Davis-O'Rourke, 43, principal at Alain Locke Elementary School on Haverford Avenue near 46th Street in West Philly from 2009 to 2012, faces charges of forgery, tampering with public records and related offenses.  She is the fourth principal and eighth educator overall to be charged in connection with an ongoing probe by the state Attorney General's Office into alleged cheating on standardized tests.

Too tough? Revised GED test creates hurdle for many
State reports nearly 90-percent decline in diplomas awarded
Lancaster Online By TIM STUHLDREHER | Business Writer Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2015 5:49 am | Updated: 5:57 am, Sat Jan 24, 2015.
Randolph “Ran” Speller is frustrated, to put it mildly.
In November 2013, the 37-year-old city man started studying for his GED. He knew a new version of the four-part test was coming out in January 2014, but he decided not to rush things by taking the existing version. He didn’t think he was ready yet.  In March 2014, he passed the social studies component. In May he passed the reading/writing and science sections. That left math.
Between May and October, Speller failed it four times.  The first couple of times, he blamed himself. Now he’s not so sure.

'EduCon,' an ed-tech conference without vendors, set to begin
the notebook By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Jan 23, 2015 11:05 AM
Friday marks the opening of EduCon 2.7, an unorthodox ed-tech conference that stands apart from other such gatherings because of its approach (a strident commitment to progressive, inquiry-driven teaching), its location (a high school, Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy), and especially for the way it is funded (no vendor sponsorships, product exhibition spaces, or sales pitches allowed, instark contrast to other large events in the sector).
"We want this conversation to be about pedagogy and what that can look like in a modern environment," said Christopher Lehmann, who founded and leads both EduCon and SLA.
What Lehmann doesn't want to see at EduCon are educators who think vendors can solve their problems with products. What he does want are "schools, teachers, parents, and students coming together to define a vision and figure out what tools are needed to get us there."

Five key questions to ask now about charter schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss January 23 at 9:19 AM  
You can tell that National School Choice Week is nearly upon us — it runs from Jan. 25- 31 — by the number of announcements coming forth hailing the greatness of school choice.
Jeb Bush’s Florida-based Foundation for Excellence in Education put out an announcement that it would participate in a march next week in Texas to support school choice (with one of the speakers being Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Jeb’s son). There’s a new poll by the pro-choice American Federation for Children showing (I bet you can guess) that most Americans support school choice.  Etc., etc.
There is other school choice news too, but you won’t hear it from the pro-choice folks. This comes from 10th Period blog, by Steven Dyer, a lawyer who is the education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio and who once served as a state representative and was the chief legislative architect for Ohio’s Evidence Based Model of school funding:  In a disturbing new report from State Auditor David Yost, officials found that at one Ohio charter school, the state was paying the school to educate about 160 students, yet none, that’s right, zero, were actually at the school. And that’s just the worst of a really chilling report, which, if the results are extrapolated across the life of the Ohio charter school program, means taxpayers have paid more than $2 billion for kids to be educated in charter schools who weren’t even there.  Here are the takeaways:
·         Seven of 30 schools had headcounts more than two standard deviations below the amount the school told the state it had.
·         Nine of 30 schools that had headcounts at least 10% below what the charter told the state it had, though it was less than two standard deviations.
·         The remaining 14 had headcounts that weren’t off by as much.
·         However, 27 of 30 schools had fewer students at the school than they were being paid to educate by the state
This means that more than 1/2 of all the charter schools chosen at random had significantly fewer students attending their schools than the state was paying them to educate, while 90% had at least some fewer amount.  So in honor of National School Choice Week, here are five questions that should be asked about charter schools, which today enroll about 2.57 million students  in more than 6,000 charter schools nationwide.  The questions, and supporting material, come from the  Center for Popular Democracy, which has exposed over $100 million public tax funds stolen in the charter school industry in a report titled, “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”  Here are the center’s questions:

"Once children enter the public school system—which about 90% of them do—the advantages of living in a well-off neighbourhood kick in. America is unusual in funding its public schools through property taxes. States have a floor price for the education of each child, but parents can vote to pay more local tax in order to top this up, and frequently do. Funding levels per pupil can vary by up to 50% across a state, says Mike McShane of the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank."
An hereditary meritocracy
The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem
The Economist Jan 24th 2015 | WASHINGTON, DC
 “MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.

Smart, Low-Income Students Who Shun Good Colleges
High sticker prices and unfamiliar terminology tend to scare them away, but a potential low-cost solution simply involves giving them access to better information.
The Atlantic by MAX NISEN JAN 23 2015, 12:00 PM ET
When asked in a research survey why he didn’t apply to a selective U.S. college, one high-achieving, low-income student showed his misunderstanding of the commonly used term "liberal arts," which refers to schools that offer a broad range of arts and sciences:
"I am not liberal," he wrote.
Many bright, economically disadvantaged U.S. students end up at colleges with poor graduation track records and limited resources—even if they could attend better institutions and pay less money after receiving financial aid, according toresearch from economics professors Caroline Hoxby, of Stanford, and Christopher Avery, of Harvard. Many of these students neglect to apply to selective schools altogether, even though such schools often seek diversity in their student bodies. It’s a waste of academic talent, a contributor to inequality, and a drag on economic mobility.

New Yorker Reviews Jeb’s Record on Education: A Must-Read
Diane Ravitch's Blog by dianeravitch January 23, 2015
The Néw Yorker has a long article about Jeb Bush's passionate interest in reforming public education by high-stakes testing, report cards, and privatization. Since his own children attend private schools, they are not affected by his grand redesign of public education.  To boil down his approach, regular public schools get loaded down with mandates and regulations. Charter schools ate free of mandates and regulations, and many are run for profit. As public schools are squeezed by the competition with charters, they get larger classes and fewer programs. Meanwhile, Bush's friends and allies get very rich.  It is a thorough story about Jeb Bush's mission to turn public education into an industry.. One conclusion: If he were elected President, it would be the end of public education as we have known it for more than 150 years.


Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

INVITATION: Twitter Chat on Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.
The first monthly Twitter chat of 2015 with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. The January chat will focus on a fair, predictable public school funding formula and the ongoing work of the state’s basic education funding commission. Use hashtag#PAEdFunding to participate and follow the conversation.
On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public’s responses:
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
·         The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS); and
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

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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