Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who’s Failing? One third of the 415 schools on Pennsylvania’s “Failing Schools” List made AYP (105) or were making progress (33) on the 2011 PSSAs

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
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Who’s Failing?
One third of the 415 schools on Pennsylvania’s “Failing Schools” List made AYP (105) or were making progress (33) on the 2011 PSSAs
PSBA has concerns with EITC 2.0 program 7/27/2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education yesterday published the list of low-achieving elementary and secondary schools to be used in determining eligibility for scholarships through the EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program under the new Act 85 of 2012.
This proposal would broaden the current EITC program to create a school voucher-type system making students who live in the attendance boundary of one of the schools on the list potentially eligible for scholarship under the program.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association remains concerned of the effects this voucher-lite program will have on school districts. While PSBA continues to review Act 85 and its implementation, including the list of low-achieving schools, we raise several concerns which include:
  • Despite being categorized as a low-achieving schools, several schools on the list, which was prepared using 2010-11 PSSA results, actually reached their student achievement targets and achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2010-11. Labeling these schools as low-achieving when they have met the student achievement standards set by the state and federal government functions to create two separate and conflicting measurements for student achievement. (Download PSBA's enhanced list of 15% lowest-performing schools (XL file).)


Privatization in Pennsylvania: Worth Your Attention

Diane Ravitch’s Blog July 27, 2012


“Part of the debate over school reform is about poverty itself, with the reformers taking the view that a great teacher can overcome the barriers poverty poses, while the other side says that the problems of public schools can’t be solved until poverty itself is alleviated. Cantor is suggesting an alternative way of thinking — that students in public schools can do well if the issues they face are dealt with head-on, instead of sidestepped.”

Addressing Poverty in Schools

New York Times Opinion By JOE NOCERA Published: July 27, 2012

About two years ago, Dr. Pamela Cantor gave a speech at a Congressional retreat put together by the Aspen Institute. Her talk was entitled “Innovative Designs for Persistently Low-Performing Schools.”  Cantor is a psychiatrist who specializes in childhood trauma. After 9/11, her organization, the Children’s Mental Health Alliance, was asked by New York City’s Department of Education to assess the impact of the attack on the city’s public school children. What she found were plenty of traumatized children — but less because of the terrorist attack than because of the simple fact that so many of them were growing up in poverty.


About Turnaround for Children

MISSION: To partner with the most-challenged, lowest-performing public schools to transform them into centers of teaching, learning, and achievement.

Commentary: Advocacy lessons from Upper Darby

Notebook by Nijmie Dzurinko on Jul 24 2012 Posted in Blogger commentary

A wave of “people power,” has been spreading through the Upper Darby School District. Although it’s right in our backyard, many of us may not be aware of the struggle that has much to teach us here in Philadelphia

Since the announcement of an “academic realignment plan” in  April and the school board’s vote to approve it in May, parents, students and teachers have engaged in intensive and strategic organizing. And the bottom line is that they succeeded in getting the District to back off some of the proposed changes and helped restore $2.7 million in state dollars that had been slated for elimination.


Guest Column: Pennsylvania’s Approach To Public Education Is Full of Sound and Fury But Signifies Nothing
Published: Friday, July 27, 2012
By JOE BATORY, Special to the Delco Daily Times
The latest fiasco of the Pennsylvania Department of Education in publicizing its list of “allegedly” failing schools pretends that public schools exist in some vacuum. With this list of “failing” schools,” the state’s political establishment has offered a simplistic and worthless appraisal of educational quality across the Commonwealth.
To begin, Pennsylvania government continues to ignore the sad reality it has created of tremendous funding inequities among its schools statewide. By underfunding public education, literally hundreds of the state’s schools are sorely lacking in educational resources, personnel, facilities and instructional materials. Of course, none of this matters to state officials.


Does the Public Have a Right to Know about Broad Academy?

Diane Ravitch’s Blog July 27, 2012

If the public has a right to information about teacher performance, doesn’t the public have a right to know who is training public school superintendents and what they are taught and how valid is the information and research they are given and whether they were exposed to different points of view?


EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!


Lynn Darling, Early Childhood Institute Director, On The Early Childhood Education Gap In Mississippi

Huffington Post By Jackie Mader Posted: 07/27/2012 1:11 pm 

This piece comes to us courtesy of The Hechinger Report.

The Hechinger Report is taking an extended look at why the children of Mississippi often rank near the bottom of the nation in academic achievement. With increasing attention given to the country's achievement gaps, education reformers and the government have started looking at early childhood education as part of a potential solution.


Charter School Report Card

 Walt Gardner  
It's disturbing to read an essay that claims to offer a true account about charter schools at this crucial point in the reform movement but instead presents a distorted picture. I'm referring to a piece in The Wall Street Journal by Joel Klein ("New York's Charter Schools Get an A+," Jul. 27). As readers will recall, Klein was the former chancellor of New York City's public schools who is now the CEO of News Corporation's educational division. News Corporation owns The Wall Street Journal.

NSBA and federal officials warn that sequestration will damage public schools

NSBA’s School Board News website by Joetta Sack-Min July 26th, 2012
The U.S. Department of Education says that sequestration would not affect 2012-13 school year budgets, except for districts that receive Impact Aid funds.
However, sequestration—the across-the-board budget cuts slated to occur in all federal discretionary programs in Jan. 2013—could have a profound impact on K-12 budgets beginning in the 2013-14 school year, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

Details on Act 85 of 2012, PA’s new EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit “Supervoucher” Program.

Pennsylvania’s "Failing Schools" List For the 2012-2013 school year.
Here the list of low achieving schools released by PDE this week

PSBA 2013 Officer Candidates Slated
If you are not planning to attend the October Leadership Conference and would like to vote for any of these candidates please see the absentee ballot information below and note the August 15 deadline for absentee ballot requests
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.
They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers -- President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry -- President-Elect
Richard Frerichs -- President-Elect
Mark B. Miller -- First Vice President
Larry Breech -- Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow -- Second Vice President

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
Absentee ballot requests must be received no later than August 15
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and home mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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