"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween Ken Derstine PA Education Crisis Highlights

And this is just Philadelphia, scary stuff, I'm spooked

Pennsylvania Education Crisis Highlights - October 29th, 2013
Pennsylvania Education Crisis Highlights is available online at http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Blue text is a link to the full article.
 Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools  | Save our Schools NJ
Monday, November 4, 2013, 4 - 5:20 pm 
Princeton High School Auditorium, 151 Moore Street, Princeton NJ 
From 3:30 to 4 pm Dr. Ravitch will sign books which will be available for purchase at the event.
Save Our Schools NJ, Labyrinth Books, and Princeton Public Schools invite you to hear Dr. Diane Ravitch speak about her new book: Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools. Ravitch, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, is leading a national battle to save public education. She will put forth a plan for what we can do to protect and improve public schools, including here in NJ. 
Another event will be held a Princeton University at 8:00 pm on November 4th.
Diane Ravitch will be on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday, October 30th.
The video from Media Mobilizing Project and the Alliance for Public Schools goes national on the Network for Public Education website. It is on the Most Popular Posts list.
The PCAPS study of the 10-year abatement for real estate taxes.
Local coverage of Full Funding Friday Seven 10/25/13
The fallout from the Philadelphia School District's budget crisis continues: As of Monday, 139 teachers had been moved to new schools - seven weeks into the term, and shortly before students' first report card grades are due.
"Leveling" - moving teachers based on schools' enrollment - occurs every year.
But it has been particularly painful this year, with fiscal concerns spurring more changes than usual as schools aim to keep class sizes at or under their maximums, 30 for the lower grades and 33 in higher grades.
According to data released by the district Monday, the 139 teachers shuffled represents a 70 percent increase in transfers. The district also added 29 teachers, down from 42 last year. The number of classrooms split between two grades was reduced to 50 from 100.
The Philadelphia School District has been "leveled."
As a result, the District has reduced the number of its controversial split-grade classrooms, made up of students in different grades, from about 100 to 50.
With leveling, the District aligns staffing projections made in the summer with enrollment realities in the fall.
If more students show up at a school than the District had projected, and fewer students show up at another school, the District shuffles faculty from one to the other in an attempt to keep student-to-teacher ratios within the contracted maximums.
The District's contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers stipulates that kindergarten through 3rd-grade teachers should have no more than 30 students, and teachers in grades 4 through 12 should have no more than 33.
This year – in the wake of layoffs and turnover, which have reduced the District's staff by about 3,000 – students, parents and faculty at schools across the District expressed grievances over a host of academic issues, including split-grade classrooms and class sizes that have far exceeded contractual maximums.
"As the district prepares to allocate the $45 million recently released by Governor Corbett to Philadelphia schools, the PFT is calling for the restoration of every school employee that was laid off in June.
"Even before the layoffs, our schools were not operating with sufficient staff to provide instruction, programs and services to our children. Every student needs equal access to teachers, counselors, secretaries, school nurses and non-instructional support personnel. Every dime of that money should go toward making this happen.
"We cannot say we are doing everything we can to provide a quality public education until these positions are restored.
(Read the comments.)
In the midst of its continuing financial crisis, the School District of Philadelphia has lowered the boom on charter schools in the city.
Using new powers unleashed by the School Reform Commission's recent decision to suspend part of the state school code, the district is threatening to begin revocation proceedings against schools that have refused to sign their charters because they include enrollment caps. The district has also warned charters not to seek payment for extra students from the state.
"The SRC . . . has the responsibility to act in a fiscally responsible manner in reviewing and approving charter school enrollment growth," Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn wrote in Oct. 16 letters to charter officials. "Such growth can be responsibly managed only in accordance with a planning process that gives the SRC and the School District the ability to avoid financial disaster, which is a certainty in the absence of managed enrollment growth.”
It is a curious asset for a nearly broke school system: more than 1,000 paintings and other works of art worth millions, with the priciest pieces hidden away for the last decade in an undisclosed location.
Some have wanted the works sold to help a Philadelphia School District financial situation so dire many schools lack full-time counselors, nurses, and other essentials.
But retired teacher Marilyn Krupnick has made it her business to get the art out of storage and into a venue where students can appreciate it.
"Selling the artwork cannot cure the ills of the Philadelphia School District," Krupnick told the School Reform Commission last week. The replacement value of the work is about $8 million, but the district thought it could get much less - about $600,000 - for a select group of paintings.
But the bottom line is not about dollars and cents, said Arlene Holtz, a former district principal who had supported the quest to get the work out of storage and back in front of students.
"Art matters," Holtz said.
Radnor Township School District School Board Passes Resolution Opposing Keystone Exams as High School Graduation Requirement
Taking a stand against "regulations or legislation that usurp the authority of local school districts to determine whether their students have earned high school diplomas," the Radnor Township School District Board of According to the resolution: “The Keystone Exams graduation requirement will cause an increase in remediation courses which will have economic impact on districts operating under Act 1 fiscal constraints and on taxpayers across the Commonwealth, and these required expenditures have no proof of cost effectiveness and represent an unfunded mandate.” Should the requirement be enacted, it will first affect the Class of 2017. 
The resolution also states that the necessity for remediation courses reduces a student’s ability to select elective courses, which conflicts with the district’s board-approved mission of empowering students to pursue their individual passions with knowledge and confidence to shape the future. 
The resolution calls on other school boards, local legislators and members of the Senate and House Education Committees to petition the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) to amend Chapter 4, which specifies the mandate and has already been advanced by the State Board of Education. The IRRC is set to review the regulation on Thurs., Nov. 21.
New state evaluation standards for students, teachers and schools might have districts scrambling to figure out how to set their budgets next year.
That's the fear Joseph Kovalchik, superintendent of the Northampton Area School District, relayed to the school board Monday during a presentation of the new standards being passed down from the state Department of Education.
With Adequate Yearly Progress measurements being replaced by the School Performance Profile system, students must now take remedial classes if they don't receive a passing grade in assessment testing such as the PSSA and Keystone exams.
That amounts to a need for more teachers and classroom space, Kovalchik said.
Currently the district has a contingency fund of $200,000 to allow wiggle room for any additional staff that may be required. Kovalchik said that amount will probably have to increase when the 2014-15 budget is finalized next year.
"Staff drives your budget," he said.
The changes are intended to rate teachers' effectiveness with respect to planning and preparation, classroom environment, professional responsibilities and instruction. They are also designed to provide parents with performance measurements for the schools within their district, and to compare how their schools are performing in relation to other districts.
The measurements are then used to set goals, plan curriculums and determine how resources are allocated.
The future of Pennsylvania schools — and the quality of education every child receives — is at stake in the latest property tax proposal in Harrisburg.
The plan to swap property taxes for higher state levies will drain billions from Pennsylvania classrooms within a few years. Over time, it increases funding inequities across districts and makes it harder for future graduates to compete in a 21st century job market.
There is a better way. Watch our new whiteboard video to see how we can strengthen our schools, make funding more equitable, and address property tax concerns.
Is your family ready for a tax increase of nearly $900 per year? Are you prepared to see 33,000 public school teachers in Pennsylvania—nearly one out of every three—lose their jobs? Those are the realities facing taxpayers and educators if we don’t get a handle on our public pension costs.
The state's two pension systems—for state government workers (SERS) and public school employees (PSERS)—together have more than $47 billion in debt.
 It's a shortfall that taxpayers must cover. Recent legislation delayed the day of reckoning, giving lawmakers time to find a real solution, but the bill is quickly coming due.
Current projections show that state and school district contributions will increase from $2.5 billion in 2012-13 to $6.2 billion in 2016-17, representing $877 per Pennsylvania household or the salary of 33,000 teachers (based on average statewide salary). We can’t afford to simply sit by and do nothing.
Deep poverty - income of 50 percent of the federal poverty level or below - appears to have grown 19 percent in Camden County and 5 percent in Delaware County between 2011 and 2012, according to data from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey (ACS), released last month.
As an example, families of five making $27,570 a year or less are living in poverty. Same-size families making half that or less are in deep poverty.
Overall, deep poverty appeared to rise 17 percent in South Jersey - the counties of Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington combined, while it fell 3 percent in the Pennsylvania suburbs. In Philadelphia, numbers suggest that deep poverty dipped 6 percent.
Experts on both sides of the river were at a loss to explain such widely divergent data, and they caution that margins of error in the numbers can render the percentages less than precise.
Still, the data are considered the best available, and ACS trends depicting increases in deep poverty dovetail with what those who help the poor see every day.
Just like over in reformy John King's New York, MacCormack is setting up an expectation that scores in Montclair are going to drop like a stone. Why? To justify a radical change in schooling that has no evidence to back it up, nor any support from the community.
What I wouldn't give to be able to see one of these "assessments." Something tells me that if the public in Montclair ever gets a look at the testing regime their kids are being put through, the parents will take up pitchforks and torches.
Selected national links related to corporate education reform and  the fight against it.
Links Are Working on All Three Segments of Melissa Harris-Perry Show on Poverty and Privatization | Diane Ravitch’s blog - All three segments of this important interview about Obama’s education speech on Friday, which were down for three days, are now working.
Obama comes to Brooklyn. Warns students, 'the Chinese, Indians, Russians... are coming.’ | Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog - More details about Brookly P-Tech were Obama made Friday’s education speech.
Political Cowardice Is Political Courage | @ The Chalk Face - Paul Thomas examines Obama’s Friday speech.
Sarah Darer Littman among renowned authors to call out Obama on failure of corporate education reform laws | Wait What? - A statement from one of the authors who sent a letter to President Obama about the inappropriate use of standardized testing and the failings of the corporate education reform movement.
Steve Perry’s “Big Lie” about Capital Prep Magnet School | Wait What? - Connecticut is considering giving Steve Perry another charter school despite his record.
Steve Perry…People get fired or worse for the illegal things you are doing… | Wait What? - An examination of Steve Perry record even as he attacks teachers and public education.
NEA and AFT Offer Appeasements; Locals Prefer Democratic Response | @ The Chalk Face - Kris Nielsen questions why the leadership of the AFT and NEA are supporting high-stakes testing and the Common Core.
Is This Why AFT Leadership Sold Its Members Up The Common Core River? | @ The Chalk Face - Educationalcemy looks closer at why the AFT leadership may be selling out the rank and file.
Ed Reform Bill: Walton Foundation and NEA are BFF’s? NJ Left Behind - A NJ blog which supports corporate ed reform reports on NEA and AFT leaders support of corporate education reform in Colorado.
The BATS and the Teachers Unions | With A Brooklyn Accent - Mark Naison clarifies the position of BAT when it disagrees with the teachers’ union leadership.
Bullying by Numbers: Value-Added Measures | @ The Chalk Face - Kris Nielsen examines why the focus of corporate education reform has moved from students to the teachers and the schools.
Top state education official criticizes city’s school networks | Gotham Schools - NYC’s network system of schools is even being criticized by supporters of corporate education reform.
The doubts of a school choice supporter | The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post - Author Sam Chaltain, a corporate education supporter, has increasing reservations.
The Charlotte Danielson Who Is Getting Rich on the Misuse of Her Intellectual Property | Schools Matter - A reprint of an article about the fraud that is the Danielson teacher evaluations.

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