Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 20: PDK-Gallup: majority of public oppose Common Core; have more trust in their local school board than federal govt when it comes to deciding what students should learn

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 20, 2014:
PDK-Gallup: majority of public oppose Common Core; have more trust in their local school board than federal govt when it comes to deciding what students should learn

(public hearing on Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania)
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:00 AM Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg.

Taney's Mo'ne Davis on cover of Sports Illustrated
By Michael Feeley | on August 19, 2014 at 1:05 PM, updated August 19, 2014 at 3:11 PM
Little League World Series sensation Mo'ne Davis, who plays for Philadelphia's Taney Dragons, will grace the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.  Sports Illustrated explained why:
"Last week, this week, maybe next week, she's owned the sports conversation," Sports Illustrated manager editor Chris Stone said. "How often do you get to say this about a 13-year-old girl? It's the easiest type of story to identify as a cover story.

The PA  Basic Education Funding Commission will meet on Wednesday, August 20
From PASAnet Update for August 18, 2014
Focus of the meeting will be the current basic education funding system. Representatives from the PDE and the Senate and House appropriations committees will offer presentations. In addition, PASA and PASBO will brief commission members on the composition, demographic trends and cost-drivers of the basic education system. Created by passage of HB 1738 (now Act 51 of 2014), the commission is charged with examining current basic education funding and making recommendations on a new formula for the distribution of basic education funding. The Commission’s recommendations must be provided by June 2015.

PDK-Gallup: Obama losing public support on education issues, new poll finds
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 20 at 12:07 AM  
Anybody paying attention to the roiling education reform debate won’t be especially surprised by the results of a well-regarded annual poll: Support for President Obama on education issues is waning — with only 27 percent giving him an A or B — and a majority of the public saying they oppose the Common Core State Standards and have more trust in their local school board than in the federal government when it comes to deciding what students should learn.
Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, came into office in 2009 with reform agenda that included using standardized test scores to evaluate educations, promoting common standards across states and increasing the number of charter schools. According to the poll, support for Obama in education has fallen every year since 2011.

"A majority of those surveyed, 54 percent, do not think standardized tests are helpful to teachers; many do not understand how charter schools work, and the number of Americans saying they are familiar with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has skyrocketed in just one year, with a majority saying they oppose the standards."
46TH Annual PDK/Gallup Poll Also Shows Big Swing On Issue of Higher Common Education Standards
PDK Press Release August 20, 2014
ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 20, 2014 – The American public has sharpened its belief that the federal government should not play a dominant role in public education, with a majority saying they simply do not support initiatives that they believe were created or promoted by federal policymakers, a new survey shows.   Moreover, only 27 percent of respondents give President Barack Obama a grade of “A” or “B” for his performance in support of public schools – down from 41 percent in 2011. A majority of those surveyed, 54 percent, do not think standardized tests are helpful to teachers; many do not understand how charter schools work, and the number of Americans saying they are familiar with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has skyrocketed in just one year, with a majority saying they oppose the standards.
Those and other findings are contained in the 46th edition of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the
Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

46th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools
·         About the poll
·         What people are saying

Support Slipping for Common Core, Especially Among Teachers, EdNext Poll Finds
Education Week Curriculum Matters Blog By Catherine Gewertz on August 19, 2014 6:11 AM
Results of a poll released on Tuesday show strong public support for the idea of shared academic standards, but much weaker support for the standards that have been put in place by 43 states and the District of Columbia: the Common Core State Standards.  The poll of 5,000 adults, conducted this past spring by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, shows that more than two-thirds of adults support the idea of shared academic standards. But when they were asked about the "common core" specifically, support dropped by 15 percentage points.  "The words 'Common Core' elicits greater antagonism than does the concept of common standards itself," the report said.

Stagnant ACT Scores Show Test-Driven U.S. School Policies Have Not Improved College Readiness, Even When Measured By Other Tests
FairTest News Release August 19, 2014
Another year of flat scores on the ACT, the nation’s most widely administered college admissions exam, provides further evidence that a decade of test-driven public school policies has not improved educational quality.   Reacting to ACT scores released today, Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) said, “Proponents of 'No Child Left Behind,' 'Race to the Top,' ‘waivers,’ and similar state-level programs promised that focusing on testing would boost college readiness while narrowing score gaps between racial groups. The data show a total failure according to their own measures. Doubling down on unsuccessful policies with more high-stakes, K-12 testing, as Common Core exam proponents propose, is an exercise in stubbornness, not meaningful school improvement.” (see   
Stagnant scores and racial gaps have also been reported on the federal government’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the SAT college admissions test.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: August 13 - 19, 2014
Submitted by fairtest on August 19, 2014 - 1:04pm 
Across the U.S., students are returning to classrooms where even more time will be devoted to standardized exam preparation and administration. Over the summer, some districts developed hundreds of new tests to comply with mandates from federal and state politicians who are still not listening to their constituents (  Not surprisingly, the escalating testing frenzy is additional motivation for the nation's growing assessment reform movement.

New ed. leadership corps deploying statewide to communicate importance of school funding formula
PSBA website NEWS RELEASE 8/19/2014
Supported by William Penn Foundation, 11 "Circuit Riders" to Carry Message to Communities
HARRISBURG (AUGUST 19, 2014) -- Pennsylvania's major education leadership associations have recruited nearly a dozen veteran educators to serve as "regional circuit riders," traveling throughout the state to communicate directly with school districts. Their mission is to galvanize support for a basic education funding formula as a means to provide predictability in budgeting and begin to erase disparities in the way the state supports schools.
"Strong public schools are critical to a strong economy and the investments our state makes should strengthen every community," said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA).
Five associations -- including 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 (PAIU) -- are spearheading this initiative with support from the William Penn Foundation.

New research consortium to focus on Philly's schools in quest for best practices
A first-of-its-kind research partnership that could prove highly influential on Philadelphia's public schools was announced Tuesday.  The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) – funded by a three-year $900,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation – will "provide research and analyses on some of the city's most pressing education issues" for the city's district and charter sectors.  The nonprofit Research For Action will act as the consortium's home base.
"Up until now, any research that was done in the district was done on a piecemeal basis, project-by-project," said RFA's executive director Kate Shaw. And it was often in the interest of "whatever researcher was doing the research."  By contrast, PERC's researchers will serve at the self-identified needs of the city district and charter schools.

School district reserves for more than pensions
Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: August 19, 2014
Many Pennsylvania school districts have begun to cannibalize their long-term reserve funds to balance their operating budgets — a short-term fix that can only lead to more long-term problems. The situation illustrates further than the state government pays an inadequate share of public school funding.  State law properly precludes local school districts from hoarding money, and properly allows districts to keep modest reserves to deal with emergencies, bolster their credit-worthiness and prepare for known impending expenses.
Some of the funding emergencies are the result of the state government’s failures. For example, many districts have begun to use reserve funds to meet their exponentially increasing pension expenses, which large are the result of the Legislature’s refusal to correct its own incompetence relative to pension policy. Some districts must use reserve funds to pay debt costs resulting from new construction, because the state has imposed long delays on required reimbursements from Harrisburg.  Some lawmakers have noted that the state’s 500 school districts collectively have $4.3 billion in reserve funds, and that the money should be used for operations before the state government increases its contributions.

Corbett lauds ‘Pennsylvania Learns' in visit to Garnet Valley
Delco Times By SUSAN L. SERBIN, Times Correspondent POSTED: 08/19/14, 9:14 PM EDT
CONCORD — The Garnet Valley School District got help introducing a custom-made, technology-driven program designed to enhance what students learn when Gov. Tom Corbett visited the district Tuesday to roll out Pennsylvania Learns on iTunes U. The program offers content in several disciplines at no cost.  “This technology is how students learn. It is a game-changing resource,” Corbett said. “Pennsylvania is taking advantage of the digital world for teachers, students and parents.”  Although available to virtually anyone with an Internet connection, Pennsylvania Learns was created for and by educators across the commonwealth. Anthony Gabriele, supervisor of curriculum instruction, took the lead for the district.

Apple to provide Pa. educational program
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 3:59 AM POSTED: Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 12:35 AM
Gov. Corbett announced Tuesday that Apple Inc. would provide a free online educational resource through iTunes that features courses and other programs, such as algebra 1, biology, and English language arts, the core-curriculum subjects that students must pass in order to graduate from high school.  In an appearance at Concord Elementary School in Garnet Valley, Corbett called Pennsylvania Learns on iTunes U a "virtual one-stop shop of high quality information ... all at the fingertips of Pennsylvania students."  "To me, this is a game-changer," he said before a roomful of students and educators, as well as acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, who witnessed a quick demonstration of the program.

Delco County Democrats lambaste Gov. Corbett on education
Delco Times  By SUSAN L. SERBIN, Times Correspondent POSTED: 08/19/14, 9:20 PM EDT |
As Gov. Tom Corbett visited the Garnet Valley School District for the launch of Pennsylvania Learns on iTunes U, a group of individuals representing Delaware County Democrats gathered outside Concord Elementary School. They maintained that “Corbett continues to mislead voters on failed educational leadership.” Although in the district to launch a new web-based, free program called Pennsylvania Learns on iTunes U, Corbett was accused by the group of refusing to address why former Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis was being paid a $140,000 salary “to do no work.”

Philadelphia’s moral arc is bent toward justice
the notebook commentary By Judy Robbins on Aug 19, 2014 12:07 PM
We Philadelphians have a special kind of love for this old city. It is a love rooted in family, food, neighborhoods, and, yes, our schools. As a “lifer” in the Philadelphia School District, from 1999 to 2012, I have a vested interest in its future.  Over the last two years, I’ve observed the District’s budget crisis from the comfort of my computer screen in my dorm room at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But this past May I traveled 400 miles back home and took action alongside hundreds of other Philadelphians who refuse to accept the meager hand being dealt to Philly students.  The sounds of young, hopeful voices echoed through municipal halls during City Council sessions this spring. Philly’s children understand that the state is depriving them of a high-quality education and they are eager to do their part.

Federal prosecutors in Trombetta case seek to keep documents secret
TribLive By Jason Cato Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 4:03 p.m.
Federal prosecutors on Monday asked a judge for permission to keep their response secret from the public over claims that they recorded conversations between a former cyber school head and his attorneys.  The U.S. Attorney's office in Pittsburgh last year charged PA Cyber founder Nicholas Trombetta with 11 counts of mail fraud, bribery, tax conspiracy and filing false tax returns related to accusations he siphoned at least $1 million in tax dollars paid to the online school. No trial date has been scheduled.
State Open Records Chief Says E-mail a Blind Spot in PA Transparency Laws
WESA Pittsburgh NPR By MARY WILSON AUGUST 18, 2014
The head of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records says state transparency laws are out of step with modern communication technology and are long overdue for an update.  The call to action comes after Gov. Tom Corbett shared his own technique for evading certain record requests from the public.  Corbett recently told reporters that he tries to avoid using e-mail, and deletes his e-mails about once a week. Otherwise, he said, reporters would be able to see e-mails requested under the state's Right-to-Know law.  The law is enforced by the state's Office of Open Records. Executive Director Terry Mutchler said retention policies probably require such messages to be kept for more than a week. On average, she said, public records must be kept for one to three years.

“The scale of recent funding cuts in Philadelphia and other low-income districts has been unprecedented. Since 2011 Philadelphia has experienced a $294 million drop in state school funding. Philadelphia educates 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s school students but experienced 35-percent of statewide school funding cuts,” read a portion of that report’s executive summary."
Gov. Corbett’s education, budget plans criticized in reports
PhillyTrib Written by Damon C. Williams August 15, 2014
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) has released a pair of reports critical of Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget forecasts and school funding efforts.
One study evaluates how states come up with revenue estimates for their annual budgets. Pennsylvania scored a two on a scale of one to five due to its failure to employ basic best practices that create strong, reliable revenue estimates to guide state spending, the report said.
Thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia scored higher than Pennsylvania, only five states scored lower. Six states scored the same. While the first report deals more with technical changes the Corbett administration could make in better calculating budget forecasts, the second report called Corbett to task for his part in the ongoing saga of public education funding.

Philadelphia tax for schools is justified
Post-Gazette Letter to the Editor by STATE REP. JAMES ROEBUCK August 19, 2014
The writer, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, represents the 188th Legislative District A recent letter to the editor questioned the need for adequate school funding in Philadelphia and recycled anti-worker talking points (“Philadelphia Schools,” Aug. 11).
The root of the problem in Philadelphia is the same as the main cause of school property tax hikes in Allegheny County: Gov. Tom Corbett’s roughly $3 billion in K-12 education cuts over four years. To make matters worse, those cuts have had a higher percentage impact in lower-income school districts.  Philadelphia teachers have already made concessions and done their part. The city of Philadelphia has also done its part by significantly increasing local funding for the schools in recent years.  The current controversy does not even center around state funding — Philadelphians are simply seeking the authority to tax ourselves. The question is whether the state will allow Philadelphia to raise more local revenue through an increase in the cigarette tax in our one county only, to plug an $81 million hole in an already inadequate school budget. Allowing this local self-help is the very least the state can do.

Saucon Valley board, teachers to meet ahead of strike deadline
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on August 19, 2014 at 6:24 PM
Saucon Valley teachers have set a Thursday deadline for the school board to approve their final contract offer to avoid a likely strike, but it seems the two sides might return to the table. 
District solicitor Jeffrey Sultanik said the school board will meet with the union Sunday at the request of union chief negotiator Rick Simononis. But that doesn't mean the school board has accepted the union's latest offer, he said.

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

Register Now – 2014 PAESSP State Conference – October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen
This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online -- bios/videos now live
PSBA Website August 5, 2014

The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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