Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For January 29, 2013: PA Secretary of Education Denies Charters to Eight Cyber Charter School Applicants for 2013-14 School Year

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For January 29, 2013

PDE Press Release Date: 01/28/2013
PA Secretary of Education Denies Charters to Eight Cyber Charter School Applicants for 2013-14 School Year
Harrisburg – Citing significant deficiencies in curriculum, finance and overall operations, Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today denied eight cyber charter school applications for the 2013-14 school year.

Pa. education secretary rejects all 8 proposed cyber charters
by thenotebook on Jan 28 2013 by Benjamin Herold of NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis rejected on Monday all eight cyber charter school applications pending before the state Department of Education.
The schools had hoped to serve a total of almost 10,000 Pennsylvania students at a projected cost to taxpayers of roughly $350 million over the next five years.

PDE 2013-14 School Year Cyber Charter School Applications and Decisions

“Ron Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center, said, "In addition to the specific comments and reasons cited by the secretary, it's important to note that currently there are significant questions being raised by state policy-makers about the efficacy of cyber charter schools generally and certainly about the way they are funded."
Pennsylvania withholds OK for 8 cyber charter schools
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  January 29, 2013 12:16 am
All eight statewide cyber charter school applications have been rejected, a decision that comes as legislators debate charter school funding and existing cyber schools have taken a hit for missing state academic goals.

Cyber charter school applications denied including two based in the midstate
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  January 28, 2013 at 4:33 PM
On the second day of National School Choice Week, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis announced he rejected the applications for eight cyber charter schools, including one based in Dauphin County and one in Lebanon County.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis rejected eight cyber charter school applications, citing significant deficiencies in them.  In announcing his decision to reject the proposals for the independent public schools that offer education over the Internet, Tomalis said all the applications “lack adequate evidence and sufficient information of how prospective students would be offered quality academic programs.”

Pennsylvania Cyber Charters Under the Microscope
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Sean Cavanagh on January 28, 2013 9:16 AM
Pennsylvania officials are considering whether to approve a group of new cyber charter schools, even as the performance of the state's existing network of online providers is coming under scrutiny and criticism.  A decision is expected today from the state's department of education on whether to allow eight cyber charters seeking the right to open.

“This year, Pennsylvania taxpayers will spend about $400 million so that roughly 35,000 students can be taught through cyber charters instead of traditional public schools.”
Pennsylvania Embracing Failure
Digital Notebook by Evan Brandt  JANUARY 27, 2013
Lately, I have begun to espouse a new philosophy which is distinctly non-philosophical -- "show me that it works."  Both liberalism and conservatism are replete with theories about the way we should live and run our governments and our societies.

“Since the bulk of pension cost increases this year – about 70 percent of the $511 million increase due in the new fiscal year that begins July 1 – are in the public school teacher’s pension system, Zogby said it makes sense to tie savings in those pension costs to higher funding for school districts.”
Pension reform will likely target future benefits, PA budget chief says (Video)
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent  January 28, 2013
HARRISBURG — Facing nearly $1 billion in new pension costs in the next two years, Pennsylvania appears to be inching toward reforming retirement benefits for state employees and public school teachers.  Monday, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby offered a preview of how the Corbett administration plans to deal with Pennsylvania’s $40 billion unfunded pension debt and rising annual costs. Part of the plan would target future benefits of current employees while keeping previously earned benefits and benefits for retirees in place, Zogby said during an appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

Rhode Island Treasurer Defies Conventional Pension Wisdom
Institutional Investor January 7, 2013 by Imogen Rose-Smith
Gina Raimondo shows how tough pension reforms can pay fiscal and political dividends.

Public schools remain safe haven, school board association official says 
TribLive By Paul Peirce  January 28, 2013, 9:13 a.m.
Despite the massacre in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six adults inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, the new executive director of the National School Boards Association maintains that public schools remain among the safest places for children.
Thomas J. G entzel, 61, began his new job in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3 after working 32 years with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Universal is one laggard among first batch of 'Renaissance' charters in Philly
WHYY Newsworks January 28, 2013 By Benjamin Herold
Philadelphia's independent Renaissance school operators are bringing families back to struggling neighborhood public schools that they have "turned around" – with one notable exception.
Universal Companies, the city's second largest manager of Renaissance charter schools, is lagging behind its targets for serving students from the surrounding community at the majority of its schools.

Shakeup at Philly SRC: Former city bus aide appointed
Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2013, 1:53 PM
A shakeup is coming to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, the Inquirer has learned. 
Commissioner Lorene Cary, who had taken a leave of absence for medical reasons, will not be reappointed.  Her term is up at the end of the month" .  In her place, Mayor Nutter will appoint Sylvia P. Simms, a parent advocate.  Wendell Pritchett, whose term is also up this month, will be reappointed to the SRC.  Both Simms and Pritchett will serve four-year terms. Mark McDonald, a spokesman for the mayor, confirmed the appointments.
Until recently, Simms, 52, was a bus aide working with special needs children for the district.  She is a North Philadelphia resident, graduate of Simon Gratz High School, and the mother of two children who graduated from Dobbins and University City High Schools.  Her granddaughter currently attends T.M. Peirce Elementary, a North Philadelphia school slated for closure.
Simms is the founder of Parent Power, a parent empowerment organization. 

Pittsburgh Feb. 10th Rally for Public Education!
Yinzercation Blog January 28, 2013
One year ago over 250 people Rallied for Public Education in the middle of a February snowstorm. This year we will do it again — even bigger, but inside where it’s warmer. Remember these fabulous students who spoke about the effects of budget cuts on their schools? They helped spark an entire grassroots movement.
Our public schools are still staggering under massive state budget cuts. Students in Pennsylvania have lost almost 20,000 of their teachers in the past two years. Our kids have lost music, art, library, languages, tutoring programs, full-day Kindergarten and more. Here in Southwest PA, our children are sitting in classes with 35 and even 39 students. And this year they will take even more high-stakes, standardized tests, spending several months of the school year on nothing but test prep and test taking. Enough is enough!
Come RALLY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION on Sunday, February 10, 20133PM at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty (5941 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206). This is about equity, social justice, and a great public education for all our children.

US Education Dept. to Hear School Closing Complaints
New York Times By JON HURDLE Published: January 28, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — The United States Department of Education is investigating complaints that plans to close or reorganize public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark discriminate against black and Hispanic students, as well as those with disabilities, a department official confirmed on Monday.  The Philadelphia school system plans to close 37 schools, including University City High School, over five years.
Community activists from those cities and 15 others are scheduled to meet Tuesday with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to urge a moratorium on school-closing plans until agreements can be reached on alternatives.

Secretary Duncan addresses school board members at NSBA meeting
NSBA School Board News Today by Lawrence Hardy January 28th, 2013
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged school board members Monday at NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C., to “stay the course” through a tumultuous time in public education, predicting that in a few years the nation will see big results from programs such as Race to the Top (RTTT) and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

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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