Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feds shoot down PA Ed Sec'y Tomalis' unilateral PSSA rule change that made it easier for charter schools to meet AYP

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1700 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Accountability:  Seeing your neighbors, who elect you and whose local property taxes you are responsible for, at the supermarket, the bank and the barbershop, 365 days per year.

Lincoln’s historic Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863

Here is the first page of the Thanksgiving proclamation that Abraham Lincoln issued on Oct. 3, 1863, setting the precedent for the national holiday we celebrate today.

Feds: Pennsylvania cannot treat charter schools like school districts for yearly progress scores

Measuring progress on standardized test scores at issue.

   9:31 p.m. EST, November 21, 2012
The federal government has shot down state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis' unilateral PSSA rule change that made it easier for charter schools to meet federal testing benchmarks than traditional public schools.
Tomalis had said the state could treat charter schools the same way it treats school districts in calculating student test scores to come up with so-called Adequate Yearly Progress grades.
But The U.S. Department of Education said because charter schools are individual school buildings, they must have their own separate AYP grades under the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal order, dated Nov. 19, was released by the state Wednesday

Pennsylvania asked to halt cyber charter school approvals

Philadelphia-based nonprofit says state Education Department lacks manpower to oversee more cyber charter schools.

 9:31 p.m. EST, November 21, 2012
A legal advocacy group is calling on the state Department of Education to temporarily stop approving more cyber charter schools, saying there is little evidence the schools improve student learning, but a lot of evidence they drain tax dollars.
The Education Law Center, headquartered in Philadelphia, requested Wednesday a one-year moratorium on approvals. The move came five days before the state agency starts reviewing applications for eight more cyber charter schools, including one in Allentown.
The state does an inadequate job of reviewing the academic and financial performance of the 16 existing cyber charter schools, said Marnie Kaplan, a lawyer for center, which advocates for student and parental education rights.
If the new applications are approved, she said, the agency would be in jeopardy of violating the state charter school law because it would not have the manpower to oversee 24 cyber charter schools, many of which are run by for-profit companies and overcharge taxpayers for services.

Education Law Center November 21, 2012
Education Law Center: Moratorium Needed on New Cyber Charters
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is in jeopardy of violating state law if it approves eight new cyber charter schools in the coming weeks, according to the Education Law Center.

Want to privatize schools? You might want to buy up an election cycle or two first.
"If people follow the money trail, they'd learn a lot about what's really going on."
Pittsburgh City Paper by Chris Potter November 21, 2012
State Rep. James Roebuck has been in politics for a quarter-century, but he'd never before faced the kind of primary fight he had this spring. His challenger, Fatimah Muhammad, was a political upstart with little history in the district. Yet she was able to raise more than $230,000 for her campaign, seemingly overnight. 
"I felt like the money was being poured on my head," recalls Roebuck, a Philadelphia Democrat. Muhammad "put up billboards all across the district, and had six or seven people working at every polling place."
And then there were the mailings……

Charter Advocates Lobby to Restore New Markets Tax Credit for Facilities

 Sean Cavanagh  
A coalition of nearly 60 charter school organizations is urging members of Congress to revive a recently expired federal tax credit, one that the advocates say has proved critical to helping the independent public schools secure funding for building space.
In a letter to Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Sander Levin, the panel's ranking Democrat, who is from the same state, the organizations argue in favor of re-establishing the New Markets Tax Credit, which expired at the end of last year.

Here’s a 2010 piece from the NY Daily News on the New Markets Tax Credit…

Albany charter cash cow: Big banks making a bundle on new construction as schools bear the cost

New York Daily News BY JUAN GONZALEZ - Friday, May 07, 2010
Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.
The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.

A distorted reality
An ex-principal says inflated test scores skewed decision-making and hurt students. The problem isn’t fixed.
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner, December 2012 Issue
In 2010, math scores at Communications Technology High in Southwest Philadelphia jumped an astonishing 40 points and reading scores rose 22 points. Adult cheating is suspected. While a state-led investigation goes on, the questionable test results continue to have an impact.
In July 2010, when Saliyah Cruz was named principal of Communications Technology High, state test scores said the small citywide admission school in Southwest Philadelphia was one of the best in the city.
Everything else said something different.

Pa. charter schools have no accountability
Pottstown Mercury Letter to the Editor by George Bonekemper 11/21/12
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has failed again in its attempt to provide financial and academic accountability to charter schools. The 11th hour attempt to pass charter school reform failed on June 30 and the General Assembly struck out again on October 17 as both chambers adjourned without passing legislation. The June 30 failure was due to a controversial portion that would have excluded charter school management and vendors from the Right-To-Know Law, which would have allowed charter schools to conceal their expenditures from the public that funds them.

Building One Pennsylvania – Fundraiser November 29th
Join us at our first fundraiser and awards ceremony to celebrate our progress in promoting inclusive, sustainable and economically prosperous communities.
Austin Room at IBEW Electrical Union 654
3729 Chichester Avenue, Boothwyn PA 19061

Thursday, November 29th from 6:00 – 8:00 PM
$100 per person • $75 for Building One Pennsylvania Member
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan
Estelle Richman, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Isaac Dotson, Yeadon Economic Development Corporation
Tom Gemmill, St. James Episcopal Church, Lancaster
Rev. Marlon Millner, Norristown Municipal Council and McKinley Memorial Baptist Church


CELEBRATE Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s 5th Anniversary!
Friday November 30th 12 pm1:30 pm
Join us in celebrating 5 years of providing a strong, independent voice for working Pennsylvanians and their families in the halls of the state Capitol and beyond.
Friday~November 30th, 12 pm - 1:30 pm
Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel
201 N. 17th Street | Philadelphia PA 19103
Registration begins at 11:30
Hon. Gene DiGirolamo & Hon. Thomas Murt
Voter ID Plaintiff Legal Team
The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP)
The ACLU of Pennsylvania
The Advancement Project
Arnold and Porter
Hon. Edward G. Rendell | Hon. Vincent Hughes
Hon. Blondell Reynolds Brown | Hon. Maria Quiñones Sánchez | Hon. W. Wilson Goode II
Hon. Diane Ellis-Marseglia | Willig, Williams, & Davidson | Dianne & Ted Reed | Donna Cooper
Public Citizens for Children and Youth | Women Against Abuse
Education Policy and Leadership Center | Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Project H.O.M.E | Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Education Law Center invites you to a special evening December 5th
Honoring Len Rieser
Welcoming Rhonda Brownstein
And celebrating public education champions
Mary Gay Scanlon, Harold Jordan, Arc of PA, The Bridges Collaborative and School Discipline Advocacy Services
Food, Drink and Silent Auction
December 5, 2012 , 5:30 PM
Crystal Tea Room The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

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