What little difference four years can make. Students at Kenderton Elementary have seen five principals and heard countless broken promises in less years. The school sits in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and after being kicked back and forth between different managers, it’s in the same sorry state that it was in 2012. Kenderton’s story may seem extreme, but it illuminates much about how Pennsylvania’s education system treats its most vulnerable children. Could there be another way? In nearby Ontario, Canada, the school system is internationally heralded, and our series found a few key differences compared to Pennsylvania.
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Molly Hensley-Clancy covers business for Buzzfeed (yes, that's apparently a real job) and she reports that since election day, investors have been expressing some exuberance about K12, the infamous major player in the cyber-school arena. The stock has shown a steady climb since November 8, working its way from 11.19 up to 17.24, hitting a two-year high for the embattled manufacturer of education-flavored cyber-product. You may recall that times have been tough for cyber-charters. This summer they were slammed by actual bricks-and-mortar charter operators on the heels of a report from CREDO that showed that students lost a full 180 days by being cyber-charter... well, students hardly seems like the word.
K12 itself has had a host of other problems, including the loss of major contracts in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Tennessee. The NCAA decided that it wouldn't accept any credits from any cyber charter using K12 materials. California just hit K12 with a $169 million settlement over false advertising allegations. This is not even close to the first time that the cyber-charter giant has been in trouble for shenanigans involving not-quite-truth-telling and general financial misbehavior.
What could possibly cause this creaking cyber-disaster-area to come bouncing back?
Blogger note: this is a paid “advertorial” placed in the Beaver County Times by a PR firm on behalf of the school choice organization previously known as the Friedman Foundation.
ADVERTORIAL: K-12 Education Savings Accounts And How They're Changing Kids' Lives
Beaver County Times By NAPS, North American Precis Syndicate December 20, 2016
(NAPSI)—If you’re like many American parents, you may not be aware of a way to give your children a better education at little or no cost to you.
How It Works - A program known as education savings accounts (ESAs) lets parents withdraw their children from a public district or charter school that’s not working for them and get a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted but multiple uses. Those funds—often distributed via debit card—can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses and other approved customized learning services and materials. Some ESAs can even be used to pay for a combination of public school courses and private services.
Democracy Endangered When ‘Philanthro-Barons’ Try to Tip Courts
Chronicle of Philanthropy By Joanne Barkan DECEMBER 16, 2016
Charles Wiggins, running for re-election to the Washington State Supreme Court this year, did what state judicial candidates do nowadays: He raised campaign funds, about $200,000 in 10 months. This looked substantial — until Bill Gates and Paul Bill Gates and Paul Allen swamped his effort in a single day. The Microsoft founders-turned-multibillionaire philanthropists gave $200,000 and $300,000, respectively, to Wiggins’s opponent on October 17. In so doing, Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen joined the corps of superrich donors who pour money into state supreme-court races, usually through outside interest groups. They used Citizens for Working Courts — Enterprise Washington. Enterprise Washington sets up political-action committees for the state’s business community, pledging in its online mission statement to help members "get the best return on their political investments." This trend is growing and worrisome. Judicial races attract only modest public attention and even less grass-roots money. When the megawealthy write checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to a single candidate, they can overwhelm opponents’ campaigns and sway the vote. According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, spending on television ads by outside interest groups in state supreme-court elections surpassed all previous records this cycle. The flood of money "raises troubling questions about whether crucial judicial decisions on issues such as voting rights and equality in education are on the docket, on the ballot, or up for sale," the center said. Big-time donors rule American politics as never before, but among the most problematic of them are philanthropist barons. They can combine outsize political contributions with the glow of their reputations as selfless doers-of-good and the nonstop advocacy of their tightly held, tax-exempt foundations, which fund large swaths of the nation’s immense nonprofit machinery. The result is excessive influence over public policy, far outstripping that available to most citizens or organizations. Philanthro-barons exert this sway without public input or accountability.
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
Did you know that quality early childhood education sets our children up for success? It reduces the need for special education, raises graduation rates, and narrows the achievement gap. These benefits ripple throughout our schools, neighborhoods, and local economy.
That’s why the City of Philadelphia is expanding free, quality pre-K for 6,500 three- and four-year-olds over the next five years. In fact, the first 2,000 pre-K seats are available now. Families should act fast because classes begin on January 4th at more than 80 locations.
Please help us spread the word. Parents/caregivers can call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735) to speak with a trained professional who will help them apply and locate quality pre-K programs nearby. For more information, visit www.PHLprek.org
Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
The Department of Education (PDE) is holding a series of public events to engage the public on important education topics in Pennsylvania. The primary focus of these events will be the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in late 2015. A senior leader from the department will provide background on the law, and discuss the ongoing
development of Pennsylvania’s State Plan for its implementation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017. Feedback is important to PDE; to provide the best avenue for public comment as well as provide an opportunity for those who cannot attend an event, members of the community are encouraged to review materials and offer comments at http://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/tour.aspx#tab-1
Upcoming Public Events:
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA 18951
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA 18508
PSBA Virtual New School Director Training, Part 1
JAN 4, 2017 • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
The job of a school board director is challenging. Changing laws, policies, and pressures from your community make serving on your school board demanding, yet rewarding at the same time. Most school directors – even those with many years of experience – say that PSBA training is one of the most important and valuable things they have done in order to understand their roles and responsibilities. If you are a new school board director and didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of PSBA’s live New School Director Training events, you can now attend via your computer, either by yourself from your home or office, or with a group of other school directors.
This is the same New School Director Training content we offer in a live classroom format, but adjusted for virtual training.
Fee: $149 per person includes all three programs. Materials may be downloaded free, or $25 for materials to be mailed to your home (log in to the Members Area and purchase through the Store/Registration link).
Register online: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6607237329490796034
PSBA Third Annual Board Presidents Day
JAN 28, 2017 • 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Nine Locations Statewide
Jan. 28, 2017 (Snow date: Feb. 11, 2017)
Calling all school board presidents, vice-presidents, and superintendents — Join us for the 3rd Annual PSBA Board Presidents Day held at nine convenient locations around the state.
This is a day of meeting fellow board members from your area and taking part in thought-provoking dialogue about the issues every board faces. PSBA Past President Kathy Swope will start things off with an engaging presentation based on her years as board president at the Lewistown Area School District. Bring your own scenarios to this event to gain perspective from other districts. Cost: $109 per person – includes registration, lunch and materials. All-Access Package applies. Register online by logging in to the Members Area (see the Store/Registration link to view open event registrations, https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/)
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
- NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
- Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
- Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.