Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For January 31, 2013: In the past 4 years the Walton Foundation has invested well over half a billion dollars to dismantle democratically run American public schools.


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1850 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 31, 2013


Thanks Dan!
Long time Inquirer reporter Dan Hardy announced his retirement yesterday in an email.  He covered statewide education issues for many years and will be sorely missed.  Here is a quote from his email:
“I’ve been in it for one reason all along: because I fervently believe that bringing  to light information that is often obscured by bureaucratic jargon or buried in plain sight by those who spin the facts to serve their purposes would actually make a difference in the lives of our readers. I hope that at least sometimes, it did.”
BTW Dan, it did.


School Choice Week 2013: How taxpayers lose.... A collection of articles following money, politics and academic performance

An Outbreak of Common Sense in the Commonwealth?
Evan Brandt Digital Notebook Blog WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2013
So apparently all hope for sanity in Pennsylvania, hanging by the thinnest of threads, is not lost.
It was announced in Tuesday's papers that Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis Monday rejected all eight applications for new cyber-charter schools.

Governor Corbett Announces Liquor Privatization Plan Highlighting Consumer Choice and Convenience; $1 Billion Proceeds to Education
Press Release (Thanks John Micek!)

Corbett injects school aid into debate over state stores
How to raise $1 billion Governor's plan for privatization gets mixed reviews, dismissed by union
January 31, 2013 12:01 am
By James O'Toole, Karen Langley and Tim McNulty / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pursuing a goal that has eluded Republican governors for decades, Gov. Tom Corbett outlined a sweeping proposal Wednesday to privatize liquor sales and expand beer and wine outlets in the state while using the proceeds to fund $1 billion in school block grants.

Corbett: $1 billion to schools from sale of state stores
Angela Couloumbis and Rita Giordano, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 2:52 PM
HARRISBURG - Call it liquor privatization with a twist. Like others before him, Gov. Corbett wants to auction off Pennsylvania's wine and liquor stores - but he wants to use the projected $1 billion in proceeds to help public schools.

"I don't believe future education funding should only be predicated on whether we do this," said Scarnati
Senate GOP leader Scarnati says liquor linkage to schools not a problem for him
By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com 
on January 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM, updated January 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM
One day after warning Gov. Tom Corbett against taking policy "hostages" by linking budget issues, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, said the governor's new bid to augment school funding with proceeds from liquor store sales doesn't break his rules.

Mandate relief, he said, could be the keystone of the administration’s new education emphasis.
State education secretary says Corbett’s budget has good news for schools
Philly Burbs Intelligencer By Mark Shade Staff Writer Posted on January 30, 2013
LANDISVILLE — With state revenues exceeding expectations, Pennsylvania’s education secretary on Tuesday said that Gov. Tom Corbett will propose an increase in public education funding when he unveils his 2013-14 spending plan next week.  “I think that many people will be pleased to see some of the things … in the budget address,” Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said following a visit to the Hempfield School District in Lancaster County.
Tomalis wouldn’t say how much of an increase Corbett will propose during his address to the General Assembly Tuesday. Corbett allocated $11.4 billion for early, basic and higher education for the current budget year.  “This is a transformative time in education and we do need to invest in our students in a way that’s a little bit different,” Tomalis said.
Some of that investment will come in the form of local relief from some mandates; increased emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math; and investments in a new educator evaluation system.

City Controller Butkovitz said Wednesday: "There's a lot of unfinished business on charter accountability."
Former official of Philly charter school network reportedly will plead guilty
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 3:01 AM
The former business manager of Dorothy June Brown's charter school network has signaled that he intends to change his plea and admit that he played a role in Brown's alleged scheme to defraud the schools of $6.7 million.

One in Six Philadelphia Public Schools Is Targeted For Closure
The Nation by Allison Kilkenny on January 28, 2013 - 9:29 AM ET
During one of many anti-austerity protests last summer, more than 1,000 people rallied to oppose the Philadelphia District’s plans to “transform schools,” a pleasant euphemism generally meaning school closures and mass layoffs. The Philly district planned to lay off 2,700 blue-collar workers, including every member of the SEIU 32BJ Local 1201, the city school union representing bus assistants, cleaners, mechanics, and other workers.
In late July, the School Reform Commission scrapped those plans and approved a contract that avoided layoffs, but led to worker salary reductions (employees had between $5 and $45 deducted each week from their pay). Additionally, the union nixed two planned wage increases—a 3 percent jump set for earlier in the year and another raise that would have kicked in the first of this year.  Despite the union’s concession, the district still has a $282 million deficit, and the Philadelphia School District’s plan to save money is closing one in six public schools in the area, a move that activists, clergy and some officials saywill disproportionately affect students of colors, as well as poor and disabled students.

Pennsylvania wants to add 9,300 kids to CHIP program
Bucks County Courier Times by Mark Shade January 30, 2013 2:50 pm
HARRISBURG -- Standing in front of a giant clown face which had mucus dripping from its right nostril, Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner announced Wednesday that Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask lawmakers next week for an additional $8.5 million to grow the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP is 20 years old this year and is now providing free or low-cost health insurance for 188,000 kids.
“The additional funding will be used for enrollment services and also to provide health care coverage to an additional 9,300 new enrollees expected through the additional outreach,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine, who made the announcement in front of “Icky the Infectious Clown” at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg.

How Low Can He Go?
Yinzercation Blog January 30, 2013
Just how low will our Governor go? Gov. Corbett’s approval ratings are in the tank, the lowest they’ve ever been. And he seems to be trying very hard not to talk about cuts to the state’s education budget, which he will formally propose next week. Yet he appears prepared to hold students hostage in negotiations over the looming pension crisis.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charters Under the Microscope (Updated)
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Sean Cavanagh on January 28, 2013 9:16 AM

“If you learn how to read, you can learn all your life,” the former English teacher told the children. “If you know how to read, you can learn to do anything. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Pa. First Lady visits Carlisle school, emphasizes benefits of reading
By Joseph Kress, The Sentinel January 29, 2013
First Lady Susan Corbett, wife of Pennslvania Governor Tom Corbett, reads a book to a group of students from North Dickinson Elementary School on Tuesday morning as she lends her support for the Buck A Book Literacy Campaign.  Children normally are discouraged from snoring in class, but Tuesday was not a typical day for students at North Dickinson Elementary School.
Getting some Z’s was just the response Susan Corbett was hoping for from her audience of kindergartners and first-graders.
The First Lady of Pennsylvania was a guest reader lending her support to the 2013 Buck a Book Literacy Campaign to raise funds and awareness for programs benefiting adult learners in Cumberland County.  Corbett read the book “Stop Snoring, Bernard!” about an otter whose sleeping disorder left him feeling unwanted among his zoo peers. She had the children practice snoring on cue with the story.

“The task force will be made up of roughly 25 public officials and violent crime experts. The panel's findings will be due by the end of the year.”
Task force to study violence in schools OK'd by Pa. lawmakers
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson January 30, 2013
The call for additional security in schools in Pennsylvania is likely to get a lot more attention in the coming months.  But top state officials and lawmakers say the emphasis should be on measures such as better door locks rather than armed guards and teachers.
The state Senate has approved creating a task force to study how to prevent mass shootings at schools in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut last month.  Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says he would stop short of pushing for arming school teachers.

“There is currently an assumption within the charter sector that even if "the first few years are rocky" at a school, charters can eventually rise to higher performance over time, the authors say. But the study casts doubt on that assumption.”
Charters' Path to Success or Failure Set Early, new CREDO Study Finds
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Sean Cavanagh on January 30, 2013
Charter schools' academic success or failure during their first year is a strong predictor of whether they will excel or struggle in later years, a new, far-reaching study finds.
The study, released Wednesday by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which has conducted extensive research on charters across the nation, also concludes that significant improvements in charter school performance over time is rare among middle and high schools, though it occurs more often in elementary schools.
The analysis seeks to test a number of the most pressing questions about charter schools. Those include the extent to which they can improve over time, or whether the academic strategies and other policies they put in place out of the gate determine their success as they reach maturity; as well as whether charters can expand beyond their original, flagship schools to form networks of successful charters.

In the past four years the Walton Family Foundation has invested well over half a billion dollars to dismantle democratically run American public schools.
Are you still shopping at Walmart?
Click on the following links for detailed lists of recipients and amounts for each year:
2012  $ 158,142,809 (Just released)
Total: $ 608,532,310

FEE is one small example of the Walton’s funding: 2009 $600,000; 2010 $1,692,000; 2011 $1,550,000; 2012 $1,000,000
E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog  by Valerie Strauss on January 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm
A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.  A call to the foundation has not been returned.
The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

The Sunk-Cost Effect on Standardized Testing
Education Week Reality Check Blog By Walt Gardner on January 30, 2013 7:27 AM
I know why you're reading today's column: What in the world is the sunk-cost effect and what does it have to do with standardized testing? The sunk-cost effect is a classic economic dilemma ("That Sunk-Cost Feeling," The New Yorker, Jan. 21). In short, it means that once lots of money and energy have been expended, the costs are simply too great to ignore. "This means that we often end up sticking with something when we'd be better off cutting our losses." In fact, it frequently follows that we invest even more money and energy because we can't bring ourselves to acknowledge we were wrong. It's throwing good money after bad on a grand scale.
Standardized testing, in my view, is a perfect example. The cost of tests, testing services and test-prep materials is estimated to be more than $2.3 billion a year and rapidly growing, according to Eduventures Inc. But we refuse to admit that the evidence does not support our fanatical commitment to these tests ("Problems With The Use of Student Test Scores To Evaluate Teachers," Economic Policy Institute, Aug. 2010). Instead, we blindly continue to spend more money on them in the delusion that by doing so our original decision will somehow be vindicated.
It won't.

Deep spending cuts are likely, lawmakers say, with no deal on sequester in sight
Washington Post By Lori MontgomeryPublished: January 29
Less than a month after averting one fiscal crisis, Washington began bracing Tuesday for another, as lawmakers in both parties predicted that deep, across-the-board spending cuts would probably hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies on March 1.
An array of proposals are in the works to delay or replace the cuts. But party leaders say they see no clear path to compromise, particularly given a growing sentiment among Republicans to pocket the cuts and move on to larger battles over health and retirement spending.

“For the first time ever, there are more varsity robotics teams than there are boys' varsity hockey teams in the state.”
Robotics on a roll in Minnesota schools
Minneapolis StarTribune by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA , January 27, 2013 - 7:40 AM
Varsity teams outnumber boys' hockey as students' interest in the robot-building sport soars across Minnesota.
An explosion in the popularity of high school robotics teams has suddenly made it chic to be geek.  Robotics team members are getting varsity letters and patches, being paraded before school assemblies like other sports stars and seeing trophies in the same lobby display cases as their football, basketball or baseball counterparts.
"It's the new kid on the block," said Dawn Nichols, head of school at Convent of the Visitation Catholic School in Mendota Heights, which has the only all-girls robotics team in the state.
A telling statistic: For the first time ever, there are more varsity robotics teams than there are boys' varsity hockey teams in the state. There are 156 high school boys' hockey teams and 180 robotics teams, up from 153 last year, according to the Minnesota State High School League.


Pittsburgh Feb. 10th Rally for Public Education!
Yinzercation Blog January 28, 2013
Come RALLY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION on Sunday, February 10, 20133PM at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty (5941 Penn AvenuePittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206). This is about equity, social justice, and a great public education for all our children.

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.
REGISTER TO ATTEND

EPLC 2013 REGIONAL WORKSHOPS FOR SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

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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