Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 30: A study done in Philadelphia found a total of 33 books in a community of 10,000 children

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 30, 2014:
A study done in Philadelphia found a total of 33 books in a community of 10,000 children.

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Appeal stalls state takeover of York City schools
ERIN JAMES / The York Dispatch 505-5439 / @ydcity POSTED: 2/29/2014 07:46:55 PM EST
A judge's ruling last week gave David Meckley nearly all authority over the York City School District.  But the Spring Garden Township man said Monday that he will wait until an appeal of the ruling is settled in Commonwealth Court before taking any decisive actions as the district's receiver.  For example, Meckley said he's not entirely sure what might occur at the next school board meeting on Monday, Jan. 12.  "My understanding, until there's a clear path, we would have business as usual," he said.  Margie Orr, president of the district's school board, said she's been told Meckley is "receiver in name only" until the appeal is resolved.  "We're told that that appeal has to be settled before he can move in as receiver," she said. "I don't know how it works. We'll find out more, I'm hoping, in the near future."

"The community clearly opposes the plan. Yet while they have no say in the matter, city property owners' tax dollars now will be used not only for education but to boost the profits of Charter Schools USA.  Since the district is struggling financially, how can anyone justify diverting even a penny away from the students?"
EDITORIAL: York City schools fight isn't over
York Dispatch Editorial POSTED:   12/29/2014 01:02:34 PM EST
York is now in uncharted territory after Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh's ruling Friday granted a state petition for receivership of the city's school district.  The ruling hands almost complete control — all but taxing authority — of the city's struggling schools to state-appointed chief recovery officer (and now receiver) David Meckley.  Meckley, a Spring Garden Township businessman who has led the district's financial recovery process for two years now, intends to convert all eight schools to charters operated by a for-profit company, Charter Schools USA.
Such a conversion has never been tried in Pennsylvania, and the company's plan for York City appears half-baked.  For instance, in response to questions submitted by The York Dispatch, a company representative showed limited knowledge of the district's student population and couldn't even describe plans for the 21 percent of students with special needs.

"The possibility of turning the 7,500-student district over to a charter operator also raises the question of whether it could serve as a model for other districts in receivership, including the Duquesne City and Chester Upland school districts."
York charter school ruling might impact Duquesne’s recovery plan
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 30, 2014 12:00 AM
York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh’s decision to appoint a receiver in the York City School District could pave the way for the district, which has struggled academically and financially, to be the first in the state to have a charter school organization operate it.
It’s a scenario that has raised a multitude of legal, educational and political issues, including whether an appointee of the administration of outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett could, or should, make the change before Gov.-elect Tom Wolf takes office Jan. 20.  “Governor-elect Wolf has made it very clear that he wants this process to wait until he is governor so he can analyze the issue,” said Mr. Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan.  Officials with the state Department of Education maintain that David Meckley, who was appointed receiver on Friday, is free to move forward if he so chooses unless a court stay is ordered.  “Mr. Meckley can now implement the much-needed financial recovery plan that will improve the district’s educational programs, increase student achievement and restore financial stability to the district,” said acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq in a statement.

NPR: First Book Gets Reading Material Into The Hands Of Low-Income Students
NPR Morning Edition by LYNN NEARY DECEMBER 29, 2014 5:06 AM ET
A study done in Philadelphia found a total of 33 books in a community of 10,000 children. A group is solving that problem by partnering with the publishing industry to get books to kids in need.

Report: Gap Widens Between Rich, Poor Pa. Schools
In fact, the disparity doubled during Tom Corbett’s administration.
Philadelphia Magazine BY JOEL MATHIS  |  DECEMBER 29, 2014 AT 7:13 AM
AP reports that the funding gap between the state’s richest and poorest schools is widening — and in fact has doubled during the Corbett Administration.  This school year, districts in the top half of average resident income are budgeted to spend nearly $1,800 more per student than the poorest half of districts. That’s a 140 percent increase in the size of the gap, or about $1,060 more per student, since the 2010-11 school year, according to the AP’s analysis.
Districts in the top 20 percent of average resident income are budgeted to spend slightly more than $4,000 more per student this year than the poorest 20 percent of districts. That's a 130 percent increase, or about $2,300 more per student, in the past four years.
Incoming Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed imposing a tax on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and using the funds to increase ed funding; the Pennsylvania Legislature is waiting to hear the report of a Basic Education Funding Commission it put to work earlier this year. Its report is due in 2015.

"This report fortifies the perception of a flawed state education system that has “one of the smallest roles in school funding of any state, leaving poorer school districts too reliant on an inadequate and often-shrinking local tax bases,” as one critic put it."
Report: Education Spending Gap “Exploded” Under Corbett’s Tenure
PoliticsPA Written by Eddie deSciora, Contributing Writer December 29, 2014
Recent analysis of education funding shows a large disparity in funds budgeted to spend per student in the wealthiest and poorest districts.  Figures released by the Associated Press on state spending, income and attendance has yielded a stark and growing disparity.
“Districts in the top 20 percent of average resident income are budgeted to spend slightly more than $4,000 more per student this year than the poorest 20 percent of districts,” according to the analysis. “That’s a 130 percent increase, or about $2,300 more per student, in the past four years.”  Jim Buckheit of The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators noted that less privileged districts “can’t make up the difference” from tax revenues. “As these cuts went into place, the only options the (poorer) districts had was to cut.”

Walter Palmer charter closes leaving hundreds of Philly students in the lurch
This year brought the Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School to the end of its rope.  In April, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to revoke Palmers' charter based on the schools' subpar academic output and worrisome fiscal health.   
In October, facing an insurmountable budget crunch, Palmer shuttered its 286-student high school campus in Wissinoming and held a lottery to whittle the enrollment of another 250 students at its elementary schools there and in Northern Liberties.  Last week, in a move that's making some parents furious, Palmer's school board voted to permanently close the financially embattled school on New Year's Eve.  Parents were notified in a letter dated Dec. 26.

Shuttered charter school leaves students, staff scrambling
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 1:08 AM  POSTED: Monday, December 29, 2014, 6:53 PM
The fallout from the abrupt closing of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School is spreading.  Teachers say they fear they won't be paid for working in December. And amid rumors that the charter's flagship building in Northern Liberties would be liquidated to pay creditors, several teachers decided to retrieve personal items Monday - but were initially thwarted by security.

Palmer Charter parents make last-ditch plea to state
FRUSTRATED PARENTS and guardians from Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School said they have asked the state for an emergency charter to keep the K-8 school open just days after the founder announced it would close tomorrow.
Huddled outside the school's Northern Liberties campus last night, about 10 adults said they were baffled by the short notice of the closing - families received a letter on Friday - and skeptical about the Philadelphia School District's transition process for the roughly 600 displaced pupils.

"Bottom line? Mary chooses to pay for union politics by choosing to be a union member. Unless she lives her life in a cave and is blind to what PSEA are doing, it means she chooses to pay for lobbyists to oppose a Right to Work law and to oppose strike-free education for children. Therefore she's no victim. If she doesn't like the union's politics she should quit the union. And the promoters of "Mary's Law" should quit insulting the intelligence of the public by hoisting a fake martyr onto us."
So-called 'Mary's Law' is deceptive marketing that hurts the cause: Simon Campbell
PennLive Op-Ed  By Simon Campbell on December 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Conservatives shoot themselves in the foot when they promote legislation using deceptive marketing practices. Case in point: legislation known as "Paycheck Protection" now being promoted as "Mary's Law" after a PSEA teacher union member was unhappy with a political campaign mailer sent by the teachers' union.  We're supposed to feel sorry for Mary because she doesn't support the union's political activity. She's being set up as some kind of a martyr. Only you won't find an ounce of sympathy for her from Pennsylvanians for Union Reform and we're not exactly fans of the teachers' union.   The truth is that Mary is being used by our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation and by legislators as part of a dishonest marketing strategy.

Most kids no longer live in 'traditional' family, Pew says
Deseret News Compiled by Lois M. Collins Sunday, December 28, 2014
Pew Research Center says 46 percent of kids live in a traditional, two-parent household with their parents, who are in their first marriage. The majority live in other types of family structures.
As Christopher Ingraham writes for The Washington Post, "For the majority of U.S. children, the traditional nuclear family is an ideal that doesn't reflect reality."  He also noted some of the challenges that come to children raised in different situations. "Researchers are in general agreement that children of unmarried parents tend to have a tougher time in life: more poverty, more instability, and more problems at school, among other things. But it's less clear what type of policy measures we might take to address these issues."

Massachusetts: Boston to Extend School Day
New York Times By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DEC. 26, 2014
Mayor Martin Walsh of Boston said that public school officials and teachers’ union leaders had agreed to add 40 minutes to the school day. The agreement announced Friday would affect nearly 23,000 elementary and middle school students. Mr. Walsh said students have a better chance at success with more learning time. The teachers’ union president said the proposal would benefit art, music, drama, foreign language and other underserved subject areas. The proposal still requires approval by the union’s full membership and the city school committee. Elementary students currently have six hours of class time in Boston public schools, while middle school students have six hours and 10 minutes of class time.

Yinzercation: Top 10 Education Justice Wins of 2014
Yinzercation Blog December 29, 2014
It’s almost the New Year and time for making lists. As we say goodbye to 2014, here is our list of the top ten education justice victories of the year:

Before Accepting the Portfolio Model, Shouldn’t We Check to See if It Works?
EducareNow Blog by Bill Boyle Posted on December 28, 2014 | 2 Comments
It is commonly expected that Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, will be announcing that some version of the “portfolio model” will be put in place somewhere in Michigan.  It likely that this model will be imposed on our most marginalized communities, because that’s essentially how colonialism tends to spread.  Before accepting this model, it would have been really nice if Snyder and friends would check into the evidence that shows whether or not the portfolio model does indeed work.  Part of this assumes, of course, that we know what we mean by saying something “works.” And within this assumed understanding are obscured questions: How does a system function?  Who does the system benefit? Who is hurt? Who are the winners? And who are the losers?  In this particular case, when determining whether or not it works, the question becomes, how does the portfolio model function as a system?
And, if we look at the portfolio model in this way, we find that it does work!
It works to dispossess communities from their commonly held social capital.  It works to provide much profit for those that own charters, publishing companies and those that produce educational software.  It works to benefit those who already hold power and are looking to extend that power.  So yes, it works.  However, there is little to no evidence that it works to benefit the students it purportedly is designed to benefit.

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

PSBA Master School Board Director Recognition: Applications begin in January
PSBA website December 23, 2014
The Master School Board Director (MSBD) Recognition is for individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions as members of their governance teams. It is one way PSBA salutes your hard work and exceptional dedication to ethics and standards, student success and achievement, professional development, community engagement, communications, stewardship of resources, and advocacy for public education.
School directors who are consistently dedicated to the aforementioned characteristics should apply or be encouraged to apply by fellow school directors. The MSBD Recognition demonstrates your commitment to excellence and serves to encourage best practices by all school directors.
The application will be posted Jan. 15, 2015, with a deadline to apply of June 30. Recipients will be notified by the MSBD Recognition Committee by Aug. 31 and will be honored at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October.
If you are interested in learning more about the MSBD Recognition, contact Janel Biery, conference/events coordinator, at (800) 932-0588, ext. 3332.

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