Friday, January 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For January 18, 2013: Elimination of the PA charter school pension “double dip” could save school districts and taxpayers $50 million per year

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For January 18, 2013

Corbett's coming pension fight: altering benefits for current teachers and state employees
Patriot News By Donald Gilliland |  on January 17, 2013
Pension reform isn't the high-profile, headline-grabbing kind of initiative that most politicians would stake their re-election on, but Gov. Tom Corbett isn't most politicians.  Corbett, who came into office promising to right the commonwealth's fiscal ship, is not only making pension reform his signature policy going into re-election, he's betting this year's budget on it.
The political danger is two-fold: Real reform risks the considerable ire of nearly 300,000 current state employees and school teachers as well as the unions that represent them. And the details of pensions, generally, make the average taxpayer's eyes glaze over.

PASBO: “Eliminating this windfall would save Pennsylvania taxpayers from paying more than a half billion dollars over the next six years to charter and cyber charter schools simply due to projected pension rate increases.  The flawed charter school funding formula produces a windfall to charters and overinflates the tuition payments paid by school districts to charter and cyber charter schools. The formula requires school districts to include 100% of state mandated retirement costs in the tuition calculation, not a district's real cost. The flawed tuition calculation means that the real cost is twice the actual net expense to school districts, while section 22 P.S. Section 8535 also provides that the state shall reimburse charters and cyber charter schools 50% of their pension costs.”
Elimination of the PA charter school pension “double dip” could save school districts and taxpayers $50 million per year
Letter to Secretary Tomalis with cc to Governor Corbett, June 15, 2012 from PASBO, PARSS, PSBA, PLUS and PASA
The tuition calculation contained in the Charter School Law includes the expenditures for employee pensions incurred by school districts. As you aware, school districts are reimbursed for 50% (or up to the aid ratio percentage for poorer districts) of the cost of providing state mandated pensions. However, school districts are currently required to use 100% of the pension cost in the charter school calculation. There is a double-dip in the charter school funding formula since charter schools are also provided 50% reimbursement for their pension costs.

Philly SRC faces a loud, angry crowd over school closings

Kristen A. Graham, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  January 17, 2013, 10:01 PM
Shouting, waving signs, and drowning out officials, hundreds of students, parents, and community members angry at plans to shut 37 Philadelphia schools lashed out Thursday night at the School Reform Commission.
"I have never been more disappointed in this city as a whole," said Naeemah Felder, parent of a daughter at Pepper Middle School, one of the schools slated for closure in June.
"I want to stay in my neighborhood, because McCloskey is closest to where I live," fourth grader Lamar Robinson said. McCloskey School is also on the closure list.
"AMY is a unique school. You will destroy it," said Dennis Dorfman, longtime counselor at Alternative for Middle Years Program at James Martin School. AMY at James Martin is slated to move to the Penn Treaty Middle School building.
"We know what you want. Stop privatizing our schools," an audience member yelled.
District officials have said they must close dozens of schools to save the nearly bankrupt school system, which has 53,000 empty seats.

Ramos: 'I'd be lying if I said a moratorium was in any way feasible'
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 17 2013
Hundreds of parents, students and teachers came directly to the School Reform Commission Thursday night to noisily challenge the District's plans to close 37 schools and reconfigure dozens more.
Carrying signs, chanting, shouting and interrupting, the overflow crowd made it difficult for the SRC to conduct business. More than 80 people signed up to speak, almost all to argue on behalf of individual schools and many to demand a one-year moratorium on any closings.

Philadelphia School Reform Commission votes not to renew city's oldest charter school

Martha Woodall and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers January 18, 2013
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission said Thursday night that the district's oldest charter school did not deserve to be renewed because of low test scores and financial problems.
By a vote of 4-0, the commission began the process of pulling the charter of Community Academy of Philadelphia in Kensington, established in 1997. A nonrenewal hearing was set for Feb. 25.

Pittsburgh school board OKs 'envisioning' spending

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 17, 2013 12:11 am
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board Wednesday night approved spending up to $2.4 million in grant money for consultants to help it "envision" the future.  The Fund for Excellence, a local consortium of foundations, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will each pay $1.2 million to hire FSG, a Seattle firm, to provide "expertise and technical assistance" as the district works on "envisioning a 21st century educational delivery model."

Duquesne charter school has 'appeal,' says state-appointed official
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Rachel Weaver  January 16, 2013, 10:32 p.m.
The state-appointed financial recovery officer for the embattled Duquesne City School District said Wednesday that opening a charter school in the community has “a lot of appeal.”
“People have said they really need a school in town,” Paul Long said. “They want a centerpiece of the community and to be proud of the education. This is the most helpful way of doing that.” Long said he is exploring “how to make that work financially.”

Obama Evaluating Early Childhood Education Push In Second Term

Huffington Post by Joy Resmovits 01/18/2013
Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama's education secretary, has a slogan that summarizes his tenure and the view of his mission that he shares with his boss. "Education is the civil rights issue of our generation," Duncan says.  Maybe so, but if Duncan is right, the country remains very far from being "free at last" -- and the president faces mighty challenges in leading us to the mountaintop in his second term. 
….To address these and other issues, the White House is considering a major step to boost early childhood education. According to sources close to the administration, Duncan and the Department of Health and Human Services are outlining a plan to create universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds from low- and some middle-income families -- approximately 1.85 million children. The plan, which is projected to cost as much as $10 billion to implement in full, is still under review by the White House, but sources said that last Tuesday, Linda Smith, an HHS official, discussed the proposal at a meeting of early childhood advocates.

Tweet Thine Enemy
How “narrowcast” is the education policy debate?
Education Next By Michael Petrilli January 17, 2013
People today are awash in news, commentary, analysis, and opinion. Whereas newspapers used to have a lock on the “public debate,” the field of play has now expanded infinitely, to incorporate blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and on and on. Anyone with a good idea, a flair for writing, and an Internet connection has a shot at influencing public opinion.
Yet amidst the flood of words and images, we information consumers are adapting in a predictable, if unsettling, way: migrating toward sources that share our underlying biases and prejudices, which is leading to less real dialogue and inevitably to greater polarization.

Seattle High School's Teachers Toss District's Test
From KUOW NPR by ANN DORNFELD January 17, 201312:54 PM
An entire school of teachers in Seattle is refusing to give students a standardized test that's required by the district. The teachers say the test is useless and wastes valuable instructional time.  Meanwhile, individual teacher protests of standardized tests are popping up nationwide, and the Seattle case may make bigger waves.

Who’s next?

Gregory Michie is a teacher at a Chicago public school who returned to the classroom this past fall after a dozen years working as a teacher educator. Here is what he has found in regards to standardized testing. Michie is also a senior researchassociate at the Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice at Concordia University Chicago. His latest book is “We Don’t Need Another Hero: Struggle, Hope, and Possibility in the Age of High-Stakes Schooling.”

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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