Saturday, January 19, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup 01/19/13: Pure PA Political Poetry

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1800 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For January 19, 2013

Did you appreciate the political process portrayed in the movie “Lincoln”?  In a case of pure Pennsylvania political poetry, Harrisburg old-timers tell me that the increase in pension benefits, including teachers, was part and parcel of a deal to get the charter school bill passed.
There is also another interesting tidbit in this opinion piece; I’m not sure whether I’ve ever seen the Commonwealth Foundation use/acknowledge the term “corporate welfare” before.  Maybe there’s hope for you yet, Nathan.
Have a great weekend…..
Letter: Pa. lawmakers must defuse pension crisis
Delco Times Published: Saturday, January 19, 2013
By NATHAN A. BENEFIELD, Director of Policy Analysis, Commonwealth Foundation
To the Times:
Are you ready to pay an additional $1,000 in state and local taxes alone? Prepared to see your child’s teacher laid off? Thanks to bad promises politicians made to good people, a pension crisis facing Pennsylvania threatens our American way of life, homes, cities and schools.
Already, more than 200 classroom teachers in Delaware County public schools received pink slips over the past two school years. This unprecedented trend, following years in staff growth, will likely worsen due to skyrocketing pension costs with no financial safety net built in to protect good teachers.
What’s more, homeowners will get socked with the pension bomb too—for benefits that were promised by politicians but never paid for. School districts’ pension payments (which only cover half the required payments) will rise substantially over the next four years. For Chester-Upland families, that cost increase comes to approximately $626 per homeowner. Homeowners in other Delaware County school districts will see local pension costs increase from between $244 and $558 per homeowner by 2017.

PA Senate Majority Policy Committee to Hold Hearing on Special Education Challenges Facing School Districts
Harrisburg - The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26), will hold a public hearing Wednesday Jan 23rd on special education and the challenges faced by school districts. Testifiers, including superintendents and education advocates, will speak about specific cost drivers in special education, how to address these cost drivers in the current fiscal environment, and the inequities in the state funding formula.  Among the school districts testifying are the Upper Darby School District (Delaware County), the Lewisburg Area School District (Union County), and the North Allegheny School District (Allegheny County).
The hearing will be held Wednesday, January 23 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Hearing Room 1 of the Capitol's North Office Building.
NOTE: The hearing can be viewed live on Senator Erickson's website,, at the Senate Majority Policy Committee link.

Pennsylvania Newsmakers: Terry Madonna talks Common Core and Keystone Exams with Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis and President of the Pennsylvania Business Council Dave Patti; followed by Outgoing Auditor General Wagner (includes interest rate swaps and charter funding formula)
Video originally airing on January 20th, 2013 Runtime 23:51 (education segment first 10:46)
This week’s Pennsylvania Newsmakers hosts Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis and President of the Pennsylvania Business Council Dave Patti for a discussion of Common Core standards and education reform. Then, joining host Terry Madonna is outgoing Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, for some parting thoughts on his tenure.

In Philly, Penn Alexander parents scramble to join four-day-long kindergarten-registration line

Citypaper Naked City Blog Posted by Samantha Melamed  JANUARY 18, 2013, 3:32 PM
Don't blame Robert Tucker; blame the system. Last year, the line for registration at Penn Alexander involved a nearly 24-hour wait outside West Philly's most sought-after neighborhood elementary school. Rumor was, this year, the line for Tuesday registration would be starting the Friday before. So, this morning, Tucker enlisted his mom (his wife is 37 weeks pregnant) to bring a chair out and start things off, hopefully ensuring a kindergarten slot for his daughter. By 2 p.m., nearly 70 parents (after a tense period of detente) had joined him.
It's the longest-ever wait for registration at the school, run via a partnership between the Philadelphia School District and Penn Alexander.

Admission to coveted Penn Alexander now by lottery
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 18 2013
After dozens of parents had already camped out in the freezing cold for the better part of a day outside the Penn Alexander school, District officials decided to change the process and conduct a lottery to determine who would get a coveted spot in September's kindergarten class.
"We're making the change for equity and safety," said Karyn Lynch, the District's chief of student services. She said that a lottery would "bring fairness to the process," and that officials had "great concern about people remaining outside for three days in cold weather."
By Friday afternoon, 68 people were lined up outside the school in freezing weather, hoping for one of the 72 kindergarten seats. The first parent arrived early Friday morning, setting off a scramble. Registration starts Tuesday morning and was on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Penn Alexander -- the result of a partnership among the School District, the University of Pennsylvania, and the teachers' union that began in 1999 -- is not big enough to accommodate all the families in its catchment area.
Penn contributes an extra $1,300 per student and works closely with the school on innovative teaching strategies. It has extended its partnership with the school through 2021.

Your schools: Budget cuts, safety among top concerns for East Shore districts
PennLive By Barbara Miller |  on January 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM
What will 2013 bring for area school districts? Concerns about budgets, pension costs, school safety and implementing a new teacher evaluation system are at the top of the list of area East Shore superintendents.

Your schools: Pension costs, school safety among top concerns for West Shore districts
By Barbara Miller |  on January 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM
What does 2013 have in store for area school districts? Concerns about budgets, pension costs, school safety and implementing a new teacher evaluation system are at the top of the list of area west shore school officials.

At mid-term, Corbett faces economic and political headwinds

HARRISBURG - Midway into his first term, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has pursued a pro-business agenda, refusing to hike taxes or impose new levies while cutting spending for human services even as demand has increased in an anemic economy.
One key to finding more money for human services in the fiscal 2013-14 budget is reducing public pension costs, Corbett said during a Thursday meeting with the Sunday Times Tribune, Scranton, editorial board at the Governor's Residence.
Corbett is scheduled to present his third budget proposal Feb. 5.

“I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I have a deep and abiding faith in our elected officials and the good that government can do to improve people's lives when it functions correctly. And while there are good and decent people in this building who are trying to do that, the fact that this institution so often falls short drives me to absolute distraction.”
Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek January 18, 2013
Friday Morning Coffee: One last fill-up before I go.
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So this is it. After more than seven years, roughly 7,280 posts (give or take a couple), at least two one-act plays, and more bad jokes than even I care to recall, it's time to say goodbye. 
If you've been paying attention to the Twitters over the last 10 days or so, then the chance are probably pretty good that you already know that, come Tuesday morning, I'll be starting a new adventure as Editorial Page Editor of the Patriot-News/PennLive which is away over there on the other side of the Susquehanna River near the Wegmans where they sell beer.

Education Policy and Leadership Center
EPLC Education Notebook Friday, January 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Capitol Watch for Children January 2013
An update on state and federal policies affecting Pennsylvania’s children

Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Education November 26, 2012
Testimony of Kate M. Shaw, Executive Director, Research for Action
Philadelphia’s Diverse Provider Model/ Renaissance Schools Initiative
Portfolio Management: What Does the Research Say?

Related prior report…..
Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report
Research for Action: Authors Eva Gold, Ph.D., Michael H. Norton, Deborah Good, M.S.W., Stephanie Levin, Ph.D. February 2012

Senior Mentors, Not Bonuses, Boost College Enrollment, Study Finds

 Sarah D. Sparks 
When it comes to helping students make the jump from high school to college, every little bit helps. New research presented at the American Economic Association conference suggests mentoring, even in the closing months of high school, can push students to continue their academic careers.  In the study, "Late Interventions Matter Too," Dartmouth College economics professor Bruce Sacerdote and Scott Carrell, associate economics professor at the University of California-Davis paired high school seniors with Dartmouth students, who met weekly with the 12th graders until their college applications and financial aid had been completed and filed. Each participating 12th grader was also given $100 for taking part, and all their college application fees were paid.
"We start working with kids in senior year, often as late as March," Sacerdote said. "Even at that late date, it turns out you can have an enormous impact on their college going."

Magnet schools still growing on school choice landscape
Redefine ED online By SHERRI ACKERMAN On JANUARY 18, 2013
……That’s what magnet schools are all about, Thomas said: Getting kids excited about learning by giving them something they love to learn. And with choice the mantra of public education today, it’s an approach that’s resonating with students and parents – and, in Thomas’ view, fueling a revival for magnets.  Students can choose a magnet instead of their neighborhood school, usually by applying through the district and/or participating in a lottery, depending on the program. The magnets offer specialized tracks – arts, robotics, culinary trades, medical and health tracks, and many more.

Is School Value-Added Indicative of Principal Quality? Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research November 2012
Author Info: Hanley Chiang, Stephen Lipscomb, Brian Gill
Abstract: Using data on elementary and middle school math and reading outcomes for Pennsylvania students, this working paper found that school value-added provides little useful information for comparing the general leadership skills of different principals when these comparisons include some principals who are in their first three years at their current positions.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
SAVE THE DATE: 2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit Feb. 21st
Many Pennsylvanians have sent a clear message to Harrisburg in recent months: The state budget cuts of the past two years were too deep. It is time to once again invest in classrooms and communities.  Next month, Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his 2013-14 budget proposal. Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for an in-depth look at the Governor's proposal and an update on the federal budget -- and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania.
2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hilton Harrisburg, 1 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA
Registration is free and lunch is included.


The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2013 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Registration is $45 and includes coffee/donuts, lunch, and materials.  
Philadelphia Region Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 1605 W. Main Street, Norristown, PA 19403
Harrisburg Region Saturday, February 9, 2013– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 23, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh/Monroeville, 101 Mall Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146
To register, please click here.

2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues
April 6, 2013 The Penn Stater Convention Center Hotel; State College, PA
Strategic leadership, school budgeting and advocacy are key issues facing today's school district leaders. For your school district to truly thrive, leaders must maintain a solid understanding of these three functions. Attend the 2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues to ensure you have the skills you need to take your district to the next level.

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