Friday, April 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 18, 2014: David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?


Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 18, 2014:
David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K



PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.



David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K
By David L. Cohen Friday, April 18, 2014, 1:08 AM
David L. Cohen is executive vice president of Comcast Corp.
It's not always the case that the business and education sectors are in full agreement on what's needed to improve the quality of education and skills of our students. But when it comes to prekindergarten, the stars are fully aligned.  One of our nation's most respected business leaders, John Pepper of Procter & Gamble, says it best: "Being ready for kindergarten affects everything that follows. The connections from preschool to third-grade reading proficiency to high-school completion - a bare-minimum requirement in today's economy - could not be clearer."  He's so right. Consider the following two simple examples that prove his point:
In Maryland, children who were assessed as not "fully ready" for kindergarten were five times more likely to fail third-grade reading and math standards.
Children in Cincinnati who weren't ready for kindergarten were half as likely as those who were ready to later meet third-grade reading standards.

The haves vs. the have nots
Axis Philly by Julia Bergman, Apr. 15, 2014
Ask the average Philadelphian what their top concern is and they’re likely to say education.
The city has become a battleground for debates over fair and sufficient funding for public schools. At the forefront of that debate is what many consider debilitating cuts to education made by Gov. Tom Corbett.  In 2011, Corbett’s first year in office, the governor cut $1 billion from state aid to public education. In Philadelphia, the result was fewer teachers, counselors and aides, increased class sizes and schools stripped of extracurricular programs like music and art.
But, education is a statewide issue as well.

More 'amicus' briefs: Activists and gubernatorial candidate back union's stance
the notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 17 2014 Posted in Latest news
Two friend-of-the-court briefs filed this week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court support the position of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that the School Reform Commission does not have the power to impose contract terms in areas that traditionally have been negotiated.
One was filed by the advocacy group the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS) and the other by Rob McCord, a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. McCord's brief was written by the PFT's attorneys.  The SRC has asked the court to rule quickly and affirm its right to impose work-rule changes on the union as negotiations have stalled. With the teacher-hiring and transfer process already underway, Superintendent William Hite has announced his intention to weaken the role that seniority plays in making assignments and deciding on layoffs.
The APPS brief, written by attorney and former District teacher and administrator Rich Migliore, says that parents and other advocates -- the District's primary stakeholders -- have not been heard in this issue.

DN Editorial: Help wanted
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014, 3:01 AM
THOUGH it's hard to believe, the Philadelphia School District's financial situation is about to get worse.  Despite slashing its budget, closing schools and shedding nearly 8,000 jobs in recent years, the district still faces a deficit in the range of $210 million in the next school year.  And it doesn't have much time to come up with the additional money. The School Reform Commission must approve a budget for the 2014-15 school year by May 30. Without assured funding from state and local sources, the SRC will have no choice but to once again cut jobs and programs.  Not much is left to cut. The administration has been decimated. The ranks of counselors, librarians and school nurses have been thinned. Money for supplies and books is scant. We shudder to think what's next.

Charter schools targeted by PIAA
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 17, 2014 11:10 PM
Bob Lombardi has nothing against charter schools, but as the executive director of the PIAA, he says his job is to be the voice of many schools around the commonwealth of Pennsylvania that are screaming foul against the charter school effect on athletics, particularly basketball.
"There are loud and clear complaints from our membership," Lombardi said.
That's why Lombardi is pushing an idea that would effectively eliminate sports at charter schools.
"We have asked at our annual meetings [with school representatives] if there are any issues," Lombardi said. "They say, 'Yes, charter schools.' Our schools are not happy."
In the past few weeks, Lombardi has met twice with the PIAA Legislative Oversight Committee in the Legislature and asked the committee to craft a proposal that would force charter-school students to play sports for the public school district in which they live, and not the charter school.


The Poorest, Most Charter-Rich Cities in the U.S.
BY BILL BRADLEY | NEXT CITY   |   APRIL 17, 2014
tudents at Alice Harte Elementary Charter in New Orleans. Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Charter schools are a lightning rod in education circles. Are they bastions of achievement-for-all-oriented reform or a symbol of inching towards the privatization of education? One thing that is agreed upon: Their DNA is largely rooted in cities.  While charter school students are still a miniscule percentage of America’s student body at 4.2 percent, the numbers in our cities are much larger. Fifty-five percent of the nation’s roughly 5,700 charter schools are in cities, where they make up 12 percent of public schools. And when you look at some of America’s most troubled urban enclaves, the percentage of students in public charter schools increases dramatically from that 4.2 percent. Take, for example, New Orleans, which has the highest percentage of charter school students in the country at 79 percent. Detroit clocks in second at 51 percent. Cleveland (29 percent) and Philadelphia (28 percent) are also in the top 10. Starting to see the trend here?

The Common Core – Why Isn't Public Support More Robust?
Public Agenda Blog by Jean Johnson THURSDAY, APRIL 17TH, 2014 
Bill Gates and the U.S. Army back it, along with a whole slew of educational associationsbusiness leaders and think tanks. And despite the partisanship we often see in politics today, the development and adoption of the new, voluntary Common Core learning standards in literacy and math got off to an amazing start. Set in motion in 2009 by an alliance of Republican and Democratic governors, Common Core standards were quickly adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.  So how did an idea that started off with such impressive support become so controversial?  A wide range of critics, including some parentsteachers, education experts, Tea Party activists and liberal groups have begun pushing back against the Common Core — or at least the way it’s being implemented. One state, Indiana, has already dropped the standards, and other states are considering doing so as well.


Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
People keep asking us what they can do to help with the public education funding crisis. Next Thursday, Philadelphia attorneys can help by simply taking their lunch break at City Hall.
Philadelphia City Hall, 4th Floor  11:45 a.m. Press Conference; 12:15 - 1:00 p.m. Meet with City Council Members RSVP at philalawyersfored.eventbrite.com
co-hosted with the Education Law Center  
Join your fellow attorneys at City Hall on Thursday, April 24 to tell City Council that Philadelphia cannot function without good public schools, and high-quality public schools require adequate funding. We will ask City Council to extend the sales tax to provide $120 million in recurring annual revenue to Philadelphia's public schools.
We will hold an optional webinar on Wednesday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. to prepare you with talking points and more background information. RSVP for the webinar or day of action here.
Please RSVP, forward this email to your colleagues and join us on the 24th in sending a unified message to City Council members that the legal community supports public education.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will Host an Education Funding Forum in Delaware County on May 7th
On May 7th,  PCCY will host a forum that discusses the state of school funding  in Delaware County. As many of you all know, state budget cuts have impacted districts beyond Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Upper Darby Municipal Branch Library, 501 Bywood Avenue, Upper Darby PA 19082 from 6:30pm-8pm.  Attendees will get a budget update from Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, hear from School Board members representing Upper Darby, William Penn, and Haverford School Districts and learn how they can get  involved.  Contact Devon Miner at devonm@pccy.org for any questions or concerns.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill
May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6. Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.  How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.  At noon, Rep. Dave Reed, Majority Policy Chairman, will address participants.
On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley as guest speaker  and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State CapitolSpace is limited so register early. Click here for more details and to register online.
Registration fee of $50 includes lunch and dinner on May 5 and breakfast on May 6. 

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA nominations for offices now open!  Deadline April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.
How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 17: SB76: Protests could doom action on property tax reform legislation

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?


Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 17, 2014:
SB76: Protests could doom action on property tax reform legislation



PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.



SB76: Protests could doom action on property tax reform legislation
West Chester Daily Local Editorial  04/16/14, 8:15 AM EDT |
The property tax reform movement is picking up steam in Harrisburg, as Senate Bill 76 gets increased attention.  Last week, that attention translated into protest, as 41 organizations joined forces to speak out against the legislation, known as the Property Tax Independence Act.
“We’re getting wind that this is getting legs,” said Sam Denisco, vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, reported Andrew Staub of PA Independent.  According to the PA Independent report, the coalition of business groups is voicing concerns about Senate Bill 76, “arguing it could hamstring retailers, hurt poor people and leave schools with a volatile funding stream.”

"It's also true that when Corbett claims higher spending on education, he includes larger pension contributions, which past governors didn't count in their calculations of education spending. The Corbett team says those contributions are real money and will contribute to the long-term stability of schools.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center calculated that Corbett's first budget left schools with $860 million less than the year before. You can read their analysis here. You can read the Corbett administration's explanation for its claim of a $1.5 billion overall education spending increase here."
Pa.'s Tom Corbett runs like a Democrat
WHYY Newsworks A BLOG BY DAVE DAVIES APRIL 16, 2014
Is Tom Corbett still a Republican?  No doubt, but his latest campaign ad would play well if he were competing in the Democratic primary.  It's a soft and warm 60-second spot which casts Pennsylvania's governor is a big booster of education and education spending. The ad places the governor among an ethnically diverse mix of schoolchildren and pictures him and his wife, Susan, with the African-American child their daughter adopted.  Maybe I shouldn't bring that up, but pros well tell you none of the images in political commercials are left to chance. This is an ad that seems designed to play well among Philadelphia Democrats and independents.  "Tom and I were both teachers, and so education is really important," Susan Corbett says in the ad, "and we know that's the key to success. He's increased spending in the education department $1.5 billion over what it was when he came into office."

PILCOP Analysis: Half of PA’s Schools Fail to Meet State Proficiency Targets
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia April 16, 2014
A Law Center analysis of the 2013 state proficiency exam testing results shows a widespread and growing inability of public schools to prepare a significant portion of their students to meet the state’s educational standards in reading and math.  The analysis includes all public schools, including those that are district run, charters, and a few other non-district schools reporting results on the PSSA and Keystone proficiency exams. The results are significant because these failures are not confined to a relatively few “ineffective” districts and because the number and percentage of schools unable to meet the current state standards for proficiency has increased over the last three years.  This analysis shows Pennsylvania has a long way to go before it is able to provide an adequate education in all schools so that students can meet state standards.

Bartram's troubles: Not about funds?
thenotebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Apr 16 2014 Posted in Latest news
As news of violence and disarray at Bartram High School dominated Philadelphia headlines, national education researchers were downtown at the Convention Center, discussing the theory and practice of a “portfolio” school reform strategy that relies on management changes – converting low-performing schools to charters or closing them.  And while many have tied Bartram’s troubles to the budget cuts that sharply reduced staff levels at the school, Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason does not agree.  “It’s not about funds,” said Gleason, whose organization controls millions in private dollars that it distributes to replicate, improve, or expand well-performing schools. He made his remarks as he talked informally with a group of educators at the American Educational Research Association convention earlier this month.

'Election season' in North Philly: parents hear pitches on charter conversion
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY APRIL 16, 2014
The stump speeches have begun, and with them, the partisan divide.  Parents at two North Philly elementary schools are fast approaching an election that could forever alter the academic trajectory of their children.  Here the distinction is not Democratic or Republican, but "district-run" or "charter."  Nestled in the bright, beautiful auditorium at Luis Muñoz-Marín elementary school in Fairhill, parents heard the first round of pitches Tuesday night from both the existing school leadership and ASPIRA — a charter organization with roots in Muñoz-Marín's heavily Latino section of North Philly.

Teachers at Mt. Airy charter vote to allow strike
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, April 17, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 6:25 PM
MOUNT AIRY After 18 months of frustration over their inability to obtain a new contract, teachers at Khepera Charter School in Mount Airy have unanimously voted to authorize negotiators to call a strike if necessary.  Teachers said they hope they won't go on strike. If they do, it would be a first. None of the handful of charter schools that are unionized in Pennsylvania has had one.
The 26 teachers and counselors at Khepera represented by the Alliance of Charter School Employees, Local 6056, voted April 2 to give negotiators the power to call a strike.

Pocono Mountain Charter School seeks advisory members
Criteria for the volunteers includes being free of any conflicts of interest
By Jenna Ebersole Pocono Record Writer April 14, 2014
The Pocono Mountain Charter School is in the early stages of reconstituting its board, but those with conflicts of interest need not apply.  The charter school, under the court-appointed custodianship of Alan Price Young, is circulating a draft of new bylaws for comment. Young said the school is also accepting applications for volunteer advisory positions. People selected will be trained and could possibly become part of a future new board.  The embattled school remains locked in a fight for survival with Pocono Mountain School District. The state's Charter Appeal Board voted once to keep it open and once to shut it down, citing entanglement between the school and its landlord, the Shawnee Tabernacle Church.  The school's founder, the church's Rev. Dennis Bloom, is imprisoned on separate tax fraud charges.

Easton Area School District looking at 29 to 100 staff reductions
District to raise taxes by at least 2.7 percent, see class sizes increase.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 5:32 a.m. EDT, April 17, 2014
The Easton Area School District could see staff reductions as high as 100 or as low as 29 over the next two school years.  But one thing is certain: Class sizes will increase in the district, with as many as 35 students in some middle and high school classes.  Superintendent John Reinhart presented the school board with four budget scenarios Tuesday night. He also held a news conference Wednesday morning to discuss the options. Each scenario involves staff reductions and at least a 2.7 percent property tax hike.  Reinhart said he prefers an option that would eliminate — through attrition — nine staff positions in 2014-15 and 20 in 2015-16. And over the course of the next two school years, taxpayers would see a 2.7 percent tax increase each year.
Conestoga Valley laptop initiative gets high marks from students
Lancaster Online by DONNA WALKER/Correspondent Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:18 pm
Even though it means lugging a couple of extra pounds in an already loaded backpack, the one-to-one laptop initiative is receiving high marks from students at Conestoga Valley High School.
Members of the superintendent's student advisory committee gave school board members an update at on Monday, April 15, on the educational technology program, which is in its first year of implementation.


Revised SAT Won’t Include Obscure Vocabulary Words
New York Times By TAMAR LEWIN APRIL 16, 2014
The College Board on Wednesday will release many details of its revised SAT, including sample questions and explanations of the research, goals and specifications behind them.  “We are committed to a clear and open SAT, and today is the first step in that commitment,” said Cyndie Schmeiser, the College Board’s chief of assessment, in a conference call on Monday, previewing the changes to be introduced in the spring of 2016.  She said the 211-page test specifications and supporting materials being shared publicly include “everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised.”

SAT Changes Include Fewer Answer Choices, Shorter Mandatory Test Time
Huffington Popst by Joy Resmovits and Rebecca Klein Posted: 04/16/2014 12:01 am EDT Updated: 04/16/2014 10:59 am EDT
The College Board on Wednesday released blueprints for a redesigned SAT test, giving an early ffirst look at what's in store for many students with college aspirations. Among the changes: Multiple choice questions will have four possible answer choices, instead of five, and reading passages will contain significantly more nonfiction than fiction.  The roughly 250 pages of test blueprints -- which the College Board stressed are a draft and "not a full reflection of what will be tested" -- offered new details about the redesigned test, slated for 2016, which the not-for-profit company announced in March.

States' Rollout of Common Core Goes Under the Microscope
State strengths, challenges eyed from various angles
Education Week State Ed Watch Blog by Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: April 15, 2014
Organizations tracking implementation of the Common Core State Standards praise state education agencies for collaborating well with local officials and across state borders, and for developing a strong base of materials to help with the transition to the standards.
But states still face hurdles, analysts find, including finding adequate funding to make the common core a reality at the classroom level and assuring that the rollout goes smoothly amid other significant policy shifts.


Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will Host an Education Funding Forum in Delaware County on May 7th
On May 7th,  PCCY will host a forum that discusses the state of school funding  in Delaware County. As many of you all know, state budget cuts have impacted districts beyond Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Upper Darby Municipal Branch Library, 501 Bywood Avenue, Upper Darby PA 19082 from 6:30pm-8pm.  Attendees will get a budget update from Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, hear from School Board members representing Upper Darby, William Penn, and Haverford School Districts and learn how they can get  involved.  Contact Devon Miner at devonm@pccy.org for any questions or concerns.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill
May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6. Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.  How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.  At noon, Rep. Dave Reed, Majority Policy Chairman, will address participants.
On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley as guest speaker  and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State CapitolSpace is limited so register early. Click here for more details and to register online.
Registration fee of $50 includes lunch and dinner on May 5 and breakfast on May 6. 

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA nominations for offices now open!  Deadline April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.
How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 16, 2014: Money Talks: Are the wealthy entitled to "more speech" in politics?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?


Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 16, 2014:
Money Talks: Are the wealthy entitled to "more speech" in politics?


PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties - save the date
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.



"The state Department of Education has not said when it will distribute the money it owes to districts, but that doesn't let the districts or their local property-tax payers of the hook for the construction financing. Unless the state government meets its obligations, the districts will have to get the money somewhere else - from taxpayers through higher property taxes, or from students through reduced programs and services."
State should pay districts what it owes
Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial Published: April 15, 2014
State lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett already have demonstrated that they have scant interest in helping distressed cities such as Scranton, unless tightening recovery deadlines and limiting options can be considered to be helpful.  Why should school districts be any different?
Three local school districts - Carbondale Area, Mid Valley and Western Wayne - are among many statewide awaiting promised reimbursements from the state government for construction projects that the state government approved. The local districts alone are due $2.6 million for projects, including several that were completed as long as three years ago.  All of those districts established budgets to pay down the debt resulting from those projects, with guaranteed state reimbursements figured into the repayment schedules. 

PA-Gov: Corbett Releases New Education-Focused Ad (Video)
PoliticsPA Written by Jordan Krom, Contributing Writer April 15, 2014
Governor Tom Corbett, fighting to keep his gubernatorial position, released a new ad in his Corbett-Cawley campaign touting the increase in education funding under Corbett’s leadership.
The video, which stars his wife Susan Corbett, focuses on the $1.5 billion in education spending that Corbett signed off during his time as governor. Both Corbett and his wife are former public school teachers.

A Good Start
Politically Uncorrected Column by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L.Young April 15, 2014
Still more than a month away, the hotly contested Democratic primary is finally moving into high gear. Over the next several weeks, Pennsylvania voters will be treated (if that’s the word) to a veritable barrage of political ads, press releases, debates and other assorted arcana of political campaigns heading for the wire.  So far, it’s been a set piece campaign. Although it has turned a bit negative, the four surviving candidates have mostly agreed on the big issues. They all advocate ambitious agendas in education and economic development as well as protection of the environment and job creation.  As challengers, they’ve mostly avoided dealing with the precarious fiscal situation faced by the state. None favor, for example, increases to the currently structured sales tax or the income tax or in fact any broad based revenue measures, except for a severance tax on the natural gas industry.  Abundantly clear is that whichever Democrat wins the nomination he or she is going to wage a vigorous and energetic campaign in the fall. The Democrats intend to win in 2014, and they intend to govern aggressively, if they do win. 

A prior KEYSEC posting noted below details how a handful of wealthy individuals funded PA's Students First PAC which advocates for vouchers, charters and tax credits.
Supreme Court campaign finance case silenced the voices of average Americans: Kyle L. Kreider
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com on April 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM
By Kyle L. Kreider
On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in an important campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, that will have profound negative consequences for the participatory democracy that our framers envisioned.  This decision will hamper the voice and power of average Americans in the political process, perhaps even leading to a further decline in participation and interest in voting and politics.

Blogger 's note: PSP also has a strong link to the Students First PAC via board member Janine Yass
When Ed Reformers speak: “Schools shouldn’t have a right to exist”
Parents United for Public Education Posted on April 14, 2014 by PARENTSUNITEDPHILA
The Philadelphia School Partnership was founded with a mission “to accelerate” the pace of education reform in Philadelphia and to raise $100 million to wield its agenda. So why has PSP in its short tenure here become such a polarizing institution? Hmm . .  could it be the fact that they:
In addition to all that, let’s not forget that the Philadelphia School Partnership convenes and is fiscal agent for and staff to the Great Schools Compact which brings together top level Distirct, SRC and City officials in regular private meetings with assorted school operators to press its ideas.

"State Rep. Brendan Boyle, who is running against Leach, also received $11,300 from PSEA in 2012, and nearly five times that amount from Students First, a group that advocates for expanded school choice, including charter and magnet schools."
Largest teachers union endorses Leach in primary
LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 1:08 AM
ELKINS PARK Pennsylvania's largest teachers union has endorsed state Sen. Daylin Leach in the Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District.  The Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association are backing Leach over three other Democrats vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz.  The district straddles southern Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia. In a poll this summer, education topped the list of concerns for Philadelphia voters.

Here are prior Keystone State Education Coalition postings on Pennsylvania's Students First PAC money trail:

School advocates file brief to support teachers union
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER MEDINAR@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 3:01 AM
THE ALLIANCE for Philadelphia Public Schools has filed a brief in support of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' legal fight to block the district from eliminating teacher seniority.
The advocacy group said that as citizens of Philadelphia, they "will be most affected and impacted by any decisions of the School Reform Commission to unilaterally impose working conditions and work rule changes upon the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers," according to the filing.  "Simply stated - the working conditions of Philadelphia's teachers are the learning conditions of our schoolchildren," the filing read.

Philly poll indicates unhappiness with SRC, Corbett's positions on education
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 1:07 AM POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 11:59 PM
Most Philadelphia voters disagree with the way the School Reform Commission is handling its responsibilities.  They're dissatisfied with Gov. Corbett's positions on public education.  And they side with teachers in an ongoing contract dispute with the Philadelphia School District by a ratio of 4-1 - or so says a poll commissioned by the teachers union.  The findings come from a new survey of 554 registered voters commissioned by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and conducted by a Democratic polling firm, Washington-based Hart Research Associates.  Philadelphia School District officials had no comment on the results.  PFT president Jerry Jordan said he was not surprised at the large margins by which city voters appeared to support the union, and disapprove of the governor and SRC's performance.

High and low points from the AERA education conference
the notebook by James H. Lytle on Apr 14 2014 Posted in Commentary
I had to go to a national conference to find out what was happening in my own city’s schools. Conveniently, the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia this year, the first time this gathering of 15,000 academics and policy folks has met in our city.  The conference lasted for five days, and at any time there may have been as many as 50 different sessions going on. In deference to the host city and in recognition of how much experimentation is going on in our public schools, a number of the sessions focused on Philadelphia, covering such topics as portfolio management and parent engagement. There were also planned visits to local schools and communities to meet with locals and plan or share research.  My own highlights and "low" lights:

Easton Area School District looking at 29 to 100 staff reductions
District will raise taxes by at least 2.7 percent.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 11:19 p.m. EDT, April 15, 2014
The Easton Area School District could see staff reductions as high as 100 or as low as 29 over the next two school years.  Superintendent John Reinhart presented the school board with four budget scenarios Tuesday night. Each involved staff reductions and at least a 2.7 percent property tax hike.  Reinhart said he prefers an option that would cut nine staff positions in 2014-15 and 20 in 2015-16. Those cuts would be made through attrition, and taxpayers would see a 2.7 percent increase every year. The district is waiting to hear from the teachers union on that option.
'What they did before didn't work,' new Saucon Valley teachers' negotiator says as meeting set
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  April 15, 2014 at 6:28 PM
Saucon Valley teachers and the school board will sit down May 19 and start negotiations anew.
The Saucon Valley Education Association will have a new chief negotiator, attorney Andrew Muir, and a new team of association members representing the union's interests.  It will be a fresh start with new proposals, said Muir, who has been hired to represent the association during negotiations.  "What they did before didn't work," he said.  Teachers have been working under an expired contract for almost two years. It seemed a settlement was near in January when the two negotiating teams announced they'd reached a tentative deal.

Exeter school board plans vote on possible merger with Antietam
Reading Eagle By Becca Y. Gregg  Tuesday April 15, 2014 12:01 AM
If Exeter School Board President Robert H. Quinter Jr. had his way, a decision on a merger with the Antietam School District would be held off until after the numbers come in for next year's state budget.  Then, he said, district officials would have a better idea of how much funding each district stands to receive, and what, if any, the state would contribute to the formation of a new district.  With pressure looming, though, from a growing opposition movement of Exeter residents against the merger, the school board has moved up the vote.

Duquesne school fact-finder rejects achievement as a salary measure
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A state fact-finder's report shows that Duquesne City School District teachers are being asked to agree to something no other district has: salary increases based on an improvement of 10 percentage points in student achievement.  The report by fact-finder Thomas L. Hewitt, made public Tuesday, sided with the teachers and threw out the requirement for the 10 percent achievement increase in his proposal to end the 2-year-old contract dispute.  "Salary based upon test scores is an issue which has been approached in contract negotiations statewide without any acceptance in any of the school districts in the state," the report said. Instead, Mr. Hewitt proposed a wage freeze retroactive to the 2012-13 school year along with a $900 "off-scale" bonus for all teachers, and step increases and $500 off-scale bonuses for teachers at the top of the scale for 2013-14 and 2014-15. The previous contract expired in June 2012.

SAT exam undergoes an intense makeover
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
To use a sample word offered by the College Board, interest in the redesigned SAT college entrance exam -- coming in spring 2016 -- is likely to be intense.  The word "intense" shows up in a sample test question illustrating the idea of understanding words in context, with a passage using intense in a sentence referring to "more intense clusterings of jobs, innovation and productivity."  The correct answer for the nearest meaning of intense is b. concentrated, but the other three choices -- emotional, brilliant and determined -- might describe some students preparing for the new exam.  While the College Board announced the new test in March, it released today more detailed explanations and test specifications, including sample test questions in a draft form. The test is still under development.

Federal Charter Measure Clears Hurdle in House
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: April 15, 2014
States and districts would be encouraged to help grow high-quality charter schools—and ensure that they enroll and retain English-language learners and students in special education—under a bipartisan bill approved overwhelmingly by the House Education and the Workforce Committee last week.  The measure, which was sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel, was approved by a vote of 36 to 3 on April 8.  During debate on the bill, a number of committee Democrats lambasted charter schools for siphoning off resources from other public schools—before voting for the legislation anyway.

"This is why “no excuses” policies and demands that students be tougher or grittier ring false to me. My students are already tremendously tough, unbelievably gritty. The problem is not that they need to be tougher or that I need to make fewer excuses. The problem is that they already have too many reasons to be tough — lack of food, relatives in prison, threats of eviction or deportation, parents sick or addicted, caring for younger siblings — and that adults at school rarely see the full picture. I spend fifty hours a week at school and I still don’t always see the full picture. It’s hard to imagine how policymakers, who are so distant from my students’ day-to-day realities, can claim to see them better than I can."
No Excuse for Hungry Students
Moyers & Company by Elaine Weiss and Kathleen Melville April 12, 2014
It’s easy for me to forget the hardships my students face every day. I maintain an almost fanatically upbeat presence in the classroom and most of my ninth graders oblige me by joining in. We sing, dance, tell stories, make jokes. It’s my way of avoiding the tedium that can so easily overtake a school day. But every once in a while, a crack opens and I get a glimpse into my students’ realities.  Recently, students were dismissed early so faculty could meet for professional development. One of my students, Carina, went to the cafeteria for lunch and found that it was not being served. She went home hungry — and angry. Later, she did something rare and brave. She proclaimed her hunger by venting on social media. She railed against the cafeteria staff for not serving lunch (which they are indeed supposed to do on half days) and against our school and district in general. Another student, Chris, responded with a comment: “What do you expect? They all make 50K and go home to a fridge full of food.”

FYI….K12, Inc. runs Pennsylvania's Agora Cyber Charter school.  Prior to assuming the role of PA Budget Director, Charles Zogby was a senior executive with K12, Inc.
Investor Lawsuit Targets K12 Inc. and Stock Sales of Former CEO
Education Week Marketplace K12 blog By Sean Cavanagh on April 14, 2014 3:00 PM
A recently filed federal lawsuit accuses the publicly traded company K12 Inc. of misleading investors by putting forward overly positive public statements during much of last year, only later to reveal that it had missed key operational and financial targets.  The lawsuit also alleges that former K12 CEO Ronald J. Packard "reaped the rewards" of the bullish company projections by selling millions of dollars worth of stock in the months before an October announcement of disappointing news sent its stock price plummeting.  The legal action, filed in January in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is seeking class-action status. It says that Packard sold 43 percent of his personally held K12 common stock, for gross proceeds of $6.4 million, during those months, when the plaintiffs contend that the stock price was "artificially inflated."


Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will Host an Education Funding Forum in Delaware County on May 7th
On May 7th,  PCCY will host a forum that discusses the state of school funding  in Delaware County. As many of you all know, state budget cuts have impacted districts beyond Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Upper Darby Municipal Branch Library, 501 Bywood Avenue, Upper Darby PA 19082 from 6:30pm-8pm.  Attendees will get a budget update from Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, hear from School Board members representing Upper Darby, William Penn, and Haverford School Districts and learn how they can get  involved.  Contact Devon Miner at devonm@pccy.org for any questions or concerns.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill
May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6. Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.  Just added -- How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.   On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State Capitol. Space is limited so register early. Click here for more details and to register online.

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA nominations for offices now open!  Deadline April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.
How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.