Friday, December 31, 2010

Transition OP/EDs from the Post Gazette, York Dispatch and Patriot News; Blueprint/Recommendations from Florida Governor-elect Scott's Education Transition team


Transition OP/EDs from the Post Gazette, York Dispatch and Patriot News
Blueprint/Recommendations from Florida Governor-elect Scott’s Education Transition team

Op/ed Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday, December 30, 2010
Dr. Bart Rocco: Where are the educators?
Corbett's transition team doesn't include all of the stakeholders

York Dispatch 12/30/10

EDITORIAL: A reward in itself

He hasn't even taken the oath of office yet, and already Tom Corbett is making us nervous.
The governor-elect has stacked his transition team with campaign donors -- lobbyists and industry leaders who, together with their companies, co-workers and political action committees, contributed 19 percent of the $24 million Corbett spent to get elected.

Global warning: A mandate for all -- education must improve
Published: Thursday, December 30, 2010, 5:20 AM
A global report card was issued recently and U.S. students didn’t come close to making the honor roll.

Education Week’s State EdWatch Blog

December 28, 2010

Rick Scott's Plan for Florida: Choice, Charters, Early College and More

Florida school districts would be given a lot more power to hire and fire teachers, and parents would be given access to a lot more taxpayer money to pay for private schools, if the proposals put forward by advisers to governor-in-waiting Rick Scott become reality. 

Take a look at the recommendations made by Florida Governor-elect Scott’s Education Transition team:
The newly elected Republican's education transition team recently released its recommendations for school policy, which are chocked full of far-reaching proposals.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

U.S. Department of Defense takes a dim view of cyberschool diplomas/ Lebanon Daily News Series on Charters, Cybers and Vouchers


U.S. Department of Defense takes a dim view of cyberschool diplomas

Published: Sunday, November 28, 2010, 5:09 PM
All diplomas awarded to Pennsylvania public school students are not equal in the eyes of the military. Students attending any of the state’s dozen public cyberschools are learning that the hard way.

The New Schools I: Charter, cyber-charter schools provide options

By BRAD RHEN Staff Writer 12/26/10
Updated: 12/29/2010 01:57:14 PM EST
This is the first story in a four-part series about the new charter and cyber-charter schools and how they affect local education.

The New Schools II: Cyber-charter funding draws controversy

By BRAD RHEN Staff Writer 12/27/10
Updated: 12/29/2010 01:53:52 PM EST
This is part two in a series about how charter and cyber-charter schools affect local education.
While charter and cyber-charter schools have been hailed by some as wonderful alternatives to traditional schools, there is also some controversy about how cyber-charter schools are funded.

The New Schools III: Northern Lebanon offers alternative to traditional schooling

By BRAD RHEN Staff Writer 12/28/10
Updated: 12/29/2010 01:54:25 PM EST
This is part three in a series about how charter and cyber-charter schools affect local education.
FREDERICKSBURG - Since Pennsylvania passed a law establishing charter and cyber-charter schools in 1997, more than 130 such schools have sprung up across the state.
One may soon be coming to Lebanon County.

The New Schools IV: Senator vouches for vouchers

By JOHN LATIMER Staff Writer 12/29/10
Updated: 12/29/2010 01:50:48 PM EST
This is part four in a four-part series about how charter and cyber-charter schools affect local education.
With a new Republican governor and the GOP controlling both the state House and Senate, a leading lawmaker believes the political climate in Harrisburg will be favorable for proponents of school choice in the coming year.
Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has announced that school choice and charter-school reform will be his top priority, and he is planning on holding hearings soon after the Legislature convenes in January.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Senator Piccola: Key Legislative Priorities /NPR: Chinese Top In Tests, But Still Have Lots To Learn/Inky: Student journalism project / Blog Feeds added

PA Senate Education Committee website
Accomplishments & Activity of the PA Senate Education Committee 2008-09 and 2009-10 Legislative Session
Includes these Key Legislative Priorities for the Future:
• School choice options in the form of opportunity scholarships;
• Reform and strengthening Pennsylvania’s charter and cyber charter school laws;
• Parent petitions and empowering parents of 51 percent of students in failing schools to force closure or restructuring or to convert to a charter school;
• Mandate relief to assist districts with local costs;
• School safety particularly as it relates to background checks; and
• Teacher and principal evaluations and effectiveness.

NPR: Chinese Top in Tests, But Still Have Lots to Learn
This year, for the first time, schools from China took part in international standardized tests, and Chinese students came out on top. But the Chinese realize their educational system -- which stresses memorization and largely ignores critical thinking -- is in need of reform.


Here’s coverage of what sounds like a successful school program that is not directly related to test scores or the result of new regulations passed down by the State Board of Education

Inky, 12/27/10

Student journalism project fosters a healthy curiosity

The student reporters at Marshall Street Elementary School in West Norriton peppered school nurse Trudy Rodgers with questions during a news conference in Room 41.

Washington Post Valerie Strauss Answer Sheet
Education Week Bridging Differences: Diane Ravitch/Deborah Meier
NSBA’s BoardBuzz
PSBA’s LeadingPAschools
Schools Matter

Monday, December 27, 2010

NYT: Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers/WSJ: 10 Things Charter Schools Won't Tell You/PDE: 2010 Keystone Achievement Awards

NY Times 12/26/10
Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers
By SHARON OTTERMAN Published: December 26, 2010

WSJ SmartMoney 12/06/10
10 Things Charter Schools Won't Tell You

You might want to take a look at these and send them along to your local press:
PA Department of Education News Release 12-21-2010
2010 Keystone Achievement Awards Recognize Pennsylvania Schools for
Academic Achievement
More than 2,100 Pennsylvania schools are being honored with
Keystone Achievement Awards for demonstrating sustained academic achievement
over two school years, acting Education Secretary Thomas E. Gluck said today.
“Just as schools proudly display trophies for athletic and extracurricular
accomplishments, displaying a Keystone Achievement Award is a way to
acknowledge the school’s academic accomplishments,” Gluck said. “These awards
reinforce the hard work our schools are doing and the success their students are
achieving. Keystones reflect the commitment of students, families, teachers and the
entire education community.”
Keystone Achievement Awards 2010 Listing  (PDF) - Listing of Schools Making AYP 2 or More Consecutive Years

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inky:Follow the Money/PN:Keystone Exams

Posted on Sun, Dec. 26, 2010

Inquirer Editorial: Follow the money

Elections have consequences, so it's hardly shocking that Republican Gov.-elect Tom Corbett is loading up his transition team with business leaders.
But Corbett's reliance on advisers who contributed bundles of cash to his campaign is another deflating example of money buying access in Harrisburg. It's a strong argument for campaign-finance limits in Pennsylvania.
Teachers, students wonder about new Keystone Exams meant to assess learning
Published: Saturday, December 25, 2010, 4:39 PM

About the Keystone State Education Coalition – now 300+
The Keystone State Education Coalition was originally established in 2006 as the Southeastern Pennsylvania School Districts’ Education Coalition (SPSDEC). It is a growing grass roots public education advocacy group comprised of over 300 locally elected, volunteer school board members (no salaries, no benefits, no pensions) and administrators from 127 Pennsylvania school districts in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Indiana, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lehigh, Mercer, Montgomery, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington Counties.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Economist's Plan to Improve Schools Begins Before Kindergarten/Meet the New GOP Members of the House Education Committee

NY Times 12/23  Chicago News Cooperative

Economist’s Plan to Improve Schools Begins Before Kindergarten


J. B. Pritzker, a prominent Chicago businessman, says he wakes up each day mulling the best way to get a return on his investments. The most valuable resource he can find is “smart people with character.”

Education Week 12/23

Meet the New GOP Members of the House Education Committee

The House Education Committee is getting a makeover in the new Congress.
“New GOP members of the committee include Rep.-elect Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, who has a national profile on opposing illegal immigration.  Other new GOP members include: Rep.-elect Mike Kelley, of Pennsylvania

12/24 - Upper Darby School Board plans response to ‘Waiting For Superman’ film

News Of Delaware County
Upper Darby School Board plans response to ‘Waiting For Superman’ film
Thursday, December 23, 2010
By Meghan Arrell
UPPER DARBY – During the December meeting of the Upper Darby School Board members discussed district successes and plans.
Superintendent Louis DeVlieger announced the plans of the district to work with Emmy- and Academy Award-winning documentary film makers Susan and Alan Raymond to produce a film within the district.
“Tentatively entitled, ‘Closing the Gap,’ our film will focus on the district’s work in grades [kindergarten through third] in successfully employing our data driven system of programs including Response to Instruction and intervention in ensuring academic success for all children,” DeVlieger said.

Upper Darby School District Statistics

The Upper Darby School District is located in Drexel HillPA, just outside of Philadelphia and includes 14 schools that serve 11,763 students in grades KG through 12.  
Nearly 50% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches.
More than 50 native languages are spoken

District Spending

The Upper Darby School District spends $10,337 per pupil in current expenditures.  The district spends 66% on instruction, 31% on support services, and 3% on other elementary and secondary expenditures.

District Student-Teacher Ratio

The Upper Darby School District has 14 students for every full-time equivalent teacher, with the PA state average being 14 students per full-time equivalent teacher.  

District Student Information

The Upper Darby School District had a grades 9-12 dropout rate of 3% in 2008.  The national grades 9-12 dropout rate in 2007 was 4.4%.  
In the Upper Darby School District, 18% of students have an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  An IEP is a written plan for students eligible for special needs services.  
The Upper Darby School District serves 7% English Language Learners (ELL).  ELL students are in the process of acquiring and learning English Language skills.  
Source: NCES, 2007

Thursday, December 23, 2010



According to an article in the Patriot News, Charles Zogby, a former secretary of the state Department of Education, will head Gov.-elect Tom Corbett's Office of the Budget. Zogby, 48, of Fairview Twp., headed the education department under Govs. Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker from 2001-03.  Before that, he served as Ridge's director of policy from 1995-2001. Since 2003 he's served as senior vice president of education and policy for K12 Inc., an online school curriculum developer and provider.  A member of Corbett’s Education Transition Team , Mr. Zogby is also a Board Member of the REACH Foundation, a leading advocate for vouchers and school choice in Pennsylvania.

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog
Posted at 10:11 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010
How poverty affected U.S. PISA scores
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, wrote the following, which was posted on the Schools Matter blog.
 “American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development country. Those in schools with 10% to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.  In contrast, American students in schools with 75% or more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There's no 'Superman,' but there are school heroes/Cybers not making AYP/Some former PA lawmakers are set to collect generous retirement packages/School Heroes

Detroit Free Press 12/14
There's no ‘Superman,’ but there are school heroes
Earl C. Rickman III is the president of the National School Boards Association and president of the Board of Education of Mount Clemens Community School District.
Everywhere I go these days, people ask if I have seen “Waiting for Superman,” the documentary that chronicles five families who have entered lotteries to seek admission to charter schools.

Got the following link through the Education Law Center’s PA SchoolTalk website a good place to visit and sign-up if you have not already been there.
Most cyber schools not making AYP 9 of 10 used by local students failing; 'supers' question accountability
Shamokin News-Item 12/19
Just one of 10 cyber schools met the state's Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, which frustrates local school district administrators, who already are not happy with the funding formula nor the accountability standards for those web-based institutions.

Some former Pennsylvania lawmakers are set to collect generous retirement packages
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 12:00 AM

Speaking of school heroes and generous benefits (no salaries, no benefits, no pensions), special year-end thanks to those school board members who have served as officers at PSBA this year:
Roberta M. Marcus, Parkland SD
Marianne L. Neel, West Jefferson Hills SD
First Vice President
Robert Lumley-Sapanski, Bellefonte Area SD
Second Vice President
Marcela Diaz Myers, Lower Dauphin SD
Past President
Frederick E. Botterbusch II, Dallastown Area SD

Monday, December 20, 2010

Inky: Teacher salaries issue sharpens across region/NSBA New Data Website/WP:Will firing 5-10 percent of teachers make us Finland?


Posted on Mon, Dec. 20, 2010

Teacher salaries issue sharpens across region

When Neshaminy High School biology teacher Louise Boyd looks at her paycheck – with yearly pay of $97,652 and fully provided health insurance - she sees the fruits of a long campaign to pay educators what they believe they're worth.

NSBA’s Daily Weblog: BoardBuzz 12/17
Show Me the Data
Funded in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NSBA has launched a new website,  to show how different types of education data can be used to help guide decision making.

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog 12/18
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/18/2010
Will firing 5-10 percent of teachers make us Finland?
By Valerie Strauss
“Instead of trying to fire our way to the high performance of Finland or anywhere else, why not try to emulate the policies that these nations actually employ?
It seems very strange to shoot for the achievement levels of these nations by doing the exact opposite of what they do.”

Washington Post 12/17 Jay Matthews’ Class Struggle Education Blog
Posted at 5:30 AM ET, 12/17/2010
A plea for peace among petulant pundits
By Jay Mathews

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday 12/19 Pittsburgh Post Gazette coverage of Transition Team

Corbett's team jingles with donors
Two-thirds of members have financial ties to campaign
Sunday, December 19, 2010
HARRISBURG -- Gov.-elect Tom Corbett's transition team has a lot more to offer than expertise on energy policy, welfare reform and education programs.

Nearly 19 percent of the $24.5 million the Shaler Republican’s gubernatorial campaign spent on the primary and general elections was contributed by members of his transition team. Transition team members who contributed the most to Gov.-elect Tom Corbett’s campaign:

Corbett transition committees
Post-Gazette, Sunday, December 19, 2010
A look at the composition of key Corbett transition committee membership indicates a tilt toward insiders -- lobbyists, lawyers and industry types.  Transition team members were told not to talk to the media, so their take on the direction of the committees was not available.

(Here's the Education section from the above article)

Tom Corbett for the most part bypassed the traditional K-12 education community and turned to charter school and voucher supporters, attorneys, former Ridge administration workers and others for his education transition committee.

The panel is co-chaired by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Joel Greenberg of Susquehanna International Group.

The committee includes three top postsecondary executives and several college trustees, as well as one member of the library community, Cynthia Richey, director of the Mt. Lebanon Public Library.

The list of 34 members does not include a single active teacher, district school board member, district administrator or staff member of the state's two major teacher unions and Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

The list does, however, includes two who are former school district superintendents -- one of whom had a top post at the Pennsylvania State Education Association -- and another who has past K-12 teaching experience out-of-state.

Charter school advocates dominate the committee. Charter schools, including cyber charter schools, are public schools. Students do not pay tuition, but school districts pay a fee set by the state for each resident who attends.

The REACH Foundation, which advocates for school vouchers, tax credits, charter schools and home schooling. has a strong presence -- of the 12 members of the REACH executive committee and board, five are on the committee.

The panel has four other charter school advocates, including three charter school operators and a prominent national figure in the charter school movement, Jeanne Allen, who founded the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C. The charter school operators include Vahan Gureghian, a wealthy campaign contributor who started the Chester County Charter School and is also a co-chair on the transportation committee.

The list, counting some of the members of various boards, includes at least six attorneys as well as several employees of lobbying firms.

Two legislators were named to the committee, state Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, Republican chair of the House Education Committee; and state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Mr. Corbett has taken some criticism for naming Ana Puig, co-chair of the Kitchen Table Patriots, to the committee. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party accused her of hate speech.

Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, declined to comment on the selections.

"The new governor elect has the right to talk to whomever he wants to talk to in transitioning to his new administration," Mr. Keever said.

Tim Allwein, assistant executive director of governmental relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said, "I don't think it was a surprise that the composition of that team leans heavily toward cyber charter school operators and those who undoubtedly support the voucher issue." But, he said, "just under 90 percent of school-age children in Pennsylvania attend a public school. To totally ignore them, I thought was not the best decision."

Chart: Big Donors: Governor-Elect's Transition Teams
Post-Gazette, Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

AP Stanford Poll: Should it be easier to fire poorly performing princIpals and teachers?/ Senator Piccola's Weekly Column

NSBA’S Board Buzz December 14th
Should it be easier to fire poorly performing principals and teachers?
The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 78 percent think it should be easier for school administrators to fire poorly performing teachers. Yet overall, the public wants to reward teachers — 57 percent say they are paid too little, with just 7 percent believing they are overpaid and most of the rest saying they're paid about right.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeff Piccola’s Weekly Column 12/16/10:
Parents Are Behind the New Educational Reform Sweeping the Nation

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teacher, Principal, Superintendent, IU Director added to Corbett Education Transition Team

OK, so they are all the same person.

Dr. Linda Hippert, Executive Director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit was apparently added to Governor-elect Corbett's Education Transition Team some time after the initial announcement and press release by the incoming administration.

Dr. Hippert began her career in education by serving as a high school mathematics teacher for 14 years.  She then served as a high school principal for six years and superintendent of schools in the South Fayette School District for 13 years prior to accepting her position as IU 3 Executive Director on July 1, 2009.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WP and WWC on Vouchers/New CEP Report Analyzes Achievement Gaps on State Tests/Following Senate Education Committee Chairman Piccola's Press

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog - Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 12/14/2010
Where education reform is heading: From extreme to extremum
By Valerie Strauss
If you want to understand where public education reform is heading, look south and east to Florida, where the governor-elect, Rick Scott, is talking about a new funding student formula that is more likely to destroy the public school system than accomplish anything else.
Scott wants to expand a voucher program that allows low-income and disabled students to use public money to go to private schools to ALL students.
One of the ironies of this whole idea is that the folks who support it are big supporters of “accountability” in education. That means grading schools and students and teachers on standardized test scores. But private schools aren’t subject to this type of accountability.

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released four updated quick reviews this week, including this one on the Milwaukee Voucher Program
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Longitudinal Educational Growth Study Third Year Report—This study examined whether students in Milwaukee who use a voucher to attend private school have greater mathematics and reading achievement than students who attend public schools. This quick review has been updated with a revised WWC study rating based on information provided by the study authors regarding baseline equivalence of the analysis samples. The WWC study rating was changed to meets WWC Evidence Standards with Reservations. The study authors found no significant differences between math and reading achievement of students who used a voucher to attend private school and comparison students from Milwaukee Public Schools.

New CEP Report Analyzes Achievement Gaps on State Tests
Today, the Center on Education Policy released a report analyzing state student achievement trend and gap data for states and the District of Columbia in math and reading for grades 4, 8, and high school.  The data is analyzed by student race, ethnicity, income, and gender from as early as 2002 through 2009 for states with three or more years of comparable testing results. The report also examines whether state-level results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) confirm the trends found on state tests.  Also available are 50 state profiles with detailed student achievement data and appendix tables showing the performance of various student groups on 2009 state tests.  In addition, short video clips of CEP’s President and CEO Jack Jennings explaining the main findings of this study are available.

The report, State Test Score Trends through 2008-09, Part 2: Slow and Uneven Progress in Narrowing Gaps, and related materials are posted on the CEP Web Site ( under “What’s New” and can be downloaded free-of-charge.

Following Senate Education Committee Chairman Piccola's Press
Last week, Mr. Piccola sat down with PA Independent for an exclusive interview on the future of education in the Keystone State, the new attempt to institute school choice and the frustration of lawmakers with the state's education unions.  The Senator also published an OP/ED on his website in support of the “parent trigger”.