Students First – Pennsylvania Report Card

Yesterday Students First published a State-by-State analysis and report card that looks solely at education policy environments and provides a road map for schools’ success. From the press release.

Sacramento, CA. – Today, national education reform advocacy organization StudentsFirst published its first-ever State Policy Report Card, a new tool for improving student achievement that doesn’t look at individual or school-wide test scores or teacher effectiveness, but instead gauges how well each state’s education policies are serving students and schools.

“The most powerful way to improve student achievement from outside the classroom is to shape policy and implement laws at the state level that govern education,” said StudentsFirst CEO and Founder Michelle Rhee. “That is why our report card focuses singularly on the education policies in place in each of our states. And when we look solely at policy, it’s clear that we have a long way to go toward improving our education system in America.”

The report raises serious questions about whether states’ education laws and practices are contributing to student success. Nearly ninety percent of states received less than a “C” grade on the State Policy Report Card, and no state earned higher than a “B-“.

Pennsylvania scored a D and currently ranks 19th among the other states. Click on the image to view the full report.

Pennsylvania has made great strides when it comes to considering and enacting policies that will impact the success of the education system and increase student achievement. Pennsylvania has adopted meaningful educator evaluations that will identify excellent teachers and principals. Pennsylvania has always tied consistent ineffectiveness to potential dismissal and with new evaluations that measure an educator’s impact on student achievement, the state can develop and maintain an effective workforce that will have the greatest impact on students. Pennsylvania has also recently enacted the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program aimed at helping low-income students attending low-performing schools. The Commonwealth has also embarked on a mission to update the state’s antiquated charter school law and should consider including better authorizing and accountability structures for all charters. These policies will all have meaningful impacts on students, and the state should continue enacting policies that put students first.

The report card from Students First has bipartisan support from PA Lawmakers. The Patriot News reported these comments from Rep Aument and Rep Boyle.

Two lawmakers who have been briefed in advance about the group’s report card saw value to it. Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, who authored the educator evaluation system legislation, said he thinks the report card should be used as a map for education reform.

Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, called it “a thoughtful, well-researched tool” that should help lawmakers “work toward creating policies that give parents more information, reward good teachers, and force government to spend tax dollars wisely.”

It’s good to see student focused organizations such as Students First and Pennsylvania lawmakers who are willing to talk about the issues facing Pennsylvania students and put ideas for real reform on the table.

iPads and Blogging

Blogging has changed over the years, 7 years ago when i started blogging it was still new. In college, blogging was social networking and xanga was all the rage. Since then blogging went mainstream and a whole new world of social networking was discovered. As a result blogging became less popular but more important.

With the ease and connectivity of new sites like facebook and Twitter traditional blogging has become the realm of those passionate about a topic who are wiling to put in the time to blog about it. In essence social networking scraped off the short form content creators and left blogging to the medium and long form creators.

All that to say that I’m experimenting with my iPad and medium form content. Many years ago this blog was titled “ruminations” meaning half digested thoughts and that is what I intend to post more of.

Let me know what you think?

Hiking Lancaster’s Conservancy Land

Yesterday Anna and I spent the afternoon hiking on Steinman’s run and Trout run, two beautiful tracts of land owned by the Lancaster County Conservancy.

If you are not familiar with the Lancaster county conservancy check out their website. or become a fan on facebook.

The mission of the Lancaster County Conservancy is to save and steward the ecosystems and landscapes upon which we depend for food, clean water and air, economic and public health, and the restoration of soul and spirit.

Steinman’s run has several miles of trails and is quite hilly. Trout run has several miles of trails which are pretty flat and run along the creek. Here is the google map link of you want to visit.

It was a perfect day for a hike and here are a few pictures. It will be even prettier once the leaves start popping out.

Trout Run
Climbing the Rocks
Railroad Overpass

In talking with people I’ve found out that most people don’t know about all the great hiking in Lancaster county. I’ve found that Lancaster has some of the best hiking around and you don’t have to go very far to find it.

So get out there and enjoy your own backyard.

Tech Predictions for 2010

Continuing my yearly prognostications for the coming year.

Link to my top two websites in 2007

My 2008 favorite websites and predictions for 2009

Favorite websites of 2009

These three sites have continued to change and add new and cool things. People keep waiting for the next shiny toy but there really haven’t been that many lately. I added YouTube to the list this year because they are doing some cool things and Netflix/Hulu because they sound the sweet bell of liberty from cable television.

In 2010 it will be: Local Content, HD video (again) and Facebook (again).

The reason this years prediction is similar to last is because the economy took a nosedive and IMHO there weren’t as many innovations as companies hunkered down, improved their services and hoped for better times ahead.

Think back to the old days of the internet when blinky text and midi files playing music wasn’t annoying, rather it was considered to be edgy and cool. Think back to the first big name companies to start putting their web URL in advertising. I remember the first time I saw during breakfast. That afternoon I visited the site and it wasn’t that great so I left and went to one of those blinky text sites.

It is the nature of people to crave information but once they can’t get their minds around it they move on to a smaller subset of information.

In the old days of the internet there weren’t a lot of websites so it didn’t matter if the site was crappy. Now there is an infinite amount and if it’s crappy you just move on to a less crappy site. The same will happen with video, video online is going nuts but with the glut of video people will start only watching higher quality video and the only way to automatically separate out poor quality video is by size. The content will still wildly vary but the HD video will be on the top of the pile.

The same goes for websites in general, local information and local websites are much more important than other websites.  This is not because the content is better, it is because it’s an easy way for people to think. Also with the deluge of GPS enabled devices you will start seeing people really trying to tie GPS into their websites, webapps, iphone apps but it really won’t catch on for a few more years. The reason it won’t take off is most people over the age of 25 will be afraid and raise “privacy concerns”. But once the next generation (which doesn’t have any privacy concerns) comes along GPS will be in everything.

Smart websites realize this so as they grow they increase the number of subsets to their information.

Facebook in continually adding ways to prioritize and segment the information you see when you log in, friend lists are merely a way for your mind to not get completely overwhelmed every time you login. They also do this with the applications.

Twitter is doing the same thing with lists but it’s only a small way of dealing with the information overload and facebook will beat twitter in the end.

As more and more people jump into the pool you have to find a way to put blinders on them so they don’t leave.

Because of this phenomenon I believe the trends in 2010 will be Local Content, HD Video and Facebook.


Is E-mail Social Networking?

Here is a little debate that took place on twitter between Inkling Media, Ben Craddock, Steve O’Donnell and myself. For those of you who don’t use twitter the @ sign followed by the persons name is a reply to them. I’ve attempted to show this in reverse reverse chronological order so it makes sense.

It all began with this tweet…

Inkling Media

RT @andreacecil: Just blogged: “Is e-mail dead?” –


@Inkling_Media No email is not dead and still has many years of vibrant life. It’s still the largest social network.

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