Monday, February 4, 2013

PA Education Policy Roundup For February 4, 2013:The Other List of Pennsylvania Failing Schools for 2013-2014: Schools that fail to have any public fiscal or performance accountability and will receive $50 million in diverted tax dollars

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 February 4, 2013

Follow the Money: Walton Family Foundation Grants 2009-2012: 250 avenues to privatize democratically governed American public education
Combined Foundation reports from 2009 through 2012 sorted by grantee name.  The gang’s all here……

Missed our weekend posting?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup February 2, 2013: Budget Prognostications and Weekend Update

EITC 2.0 Pennsylvania "Failing Schools" List 2013-2014 announced by PDE on Friday Afternoon February 1, 2013

EITC 2.0 The Other List of Pennsylvania Failing Schools for 2013-2014:
Schools that fail to have any public fiscal or performance accountability and will receive $50 million in diverted tax dollars
List of PA schools (mostly religious schools) eligible to receive $50 million diverted tax dollars with virtually no fiscal or performance accountability under PA EITC 2.0 Super Voucher program.
No PSSAs, no AYP, no Keystone Exams, no common core, no state teacher evaluations, no public budgets, no public check registers, no public salary schedules, no public meetings, no sunshine laws, no right-to-know laws - just diverted tax dollars, free and clear.

Governor's Budget Address Tuesday 11:30 am on PCN
Calendar: PCN Public Affairs: Start Time: 11:30 am  End Time: 12:15 pm
(LIVE) Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-2014 Budget Address
Location: State Capitol in Harrisburg
Closed Captioning: Yes

BUDGET: Education politics will be key in Corbett's plans
By MARC LEVY, Associated Press Saturday, February 2, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The plight of Pennsylvania's public schools will dominate many of the Legislature's debates this spring as educators face even tighter budgets and the politics of education grows increasingly precarious.  It will start Tuesday when Gov. Tom Corbett releases his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Many details of the plan were being kept under wraps by the governor's office. But Corbett's top budget maker has been frank that rising costs for public employee pensions and health care for the poor will be difficult to absorb and the Legislature's political willingness to cut spending is gone.

“Education Secretary Ron Tomalis told reporters last week that he expects public school officials will be "pleased" with the amount of funding for districts. He also previewed a boost to programs focused on math and science education and an effort to reduce mandates on school districts.”
BUDGET: Gov. Corbett sees reason for optimism
Governor talking up budget he'll unveil Tuesday
By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau February 3, 2013 12:20 am
HARRISBURG -- Both Gov. Tom Corbett and the agenda he has been pushing in recent days look a little unfamiliar to those who have been watching the prosecutor-turned-politician for the past few years.  He's out in public -- and in advance of his third state budget speech Tuesday, he's talking about boosting funding.  The Republican is laying visible groundwork for his proposals, inviting reporters to the governor's residence in Harrisburg to talk about pension reform and chatting up editorial board members in Philadelphia.

BUDGET: Op-ed: Don't use students as a bargaining chip
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Mike Crossey on February 03, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Mike Crossey is president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest public school teachers' union.
Using public school students as a political bargaining chip is a bad idea. But it’s even worse when our own governor does it.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Gov. Tom Corbett is doing as he prepares to unveil his state budget proposal.  Gov. Corbett has threatened to use state funding for the public schools as leverage to get his way on other issues. In fact, he and his staff have said that legislative success on extreme ideas - like privatizing state services and attacking public employee pensions - is “inextricably linked” to increases in public school funding.

BUDGET: Corbett expected to present plan for pension changes in budget address
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson February 4, 2013
Some type of pension change package is likely to figure into Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address to Pennsylvania's General Assembly Tuesday.  In advance of that speech, lawmakers and unions have adopted a defensive stance.  Corbett has said he's looking into reducing the unearned pension benefits of current and future state and public school employees to help address the state's rising pension costs.  But the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee says changing pension benefits alone doesn't address the issue of the state's pension debt -- or its rising contributions to pay down that sum.

BUDGET: Corbett taking open policy points to budget address
February 03, 2013 By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - For the first time since he was elected, Gov. Corbett is heading into his budget address this week hiding few, if any, political cards. Unlike the first two years of his tenure, there are no guessing games. The governor has spent the last few weeks crisscrossing the state, leaving little room for interpretation: He wants to rein in the skyrocketing costs of public-employee pensions, and he wants to find money for roads, bridges, and mass transit.

BUDGET: Education Facts from The Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has compiled publicly available data on enrollment in public, private and charter education in the commonwealth as well as information about education funding and school poverty.  Click on the menu links to the left to access education one-pagers, charts and graphs, and links to more detailed data.

Inquirer Editorial: Can't avoid closing schools
POSTED: Sunday, February 3, 2013, 3:01 AM
Parents and other opponents of plans to close 37 city schools have been asking the right questions, and they deserve answers, but it shouldn't take the yearlong moratorium they want to get the answers.  Indeed, if Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. expects to get the public support he needs to make the plan he announced last month work, he must offer more assurances than he has that transferred students will be safe, both on the way to their new schools and within them, and that children won't be leaving one poorly performing school only to be dumped into one no better.

Make honest pension reform a priority in Pa.
Inquirer Letter to the Editor By Richard C. Dreyfuss February 4, 2013, 3:01 AM
As Gov. Corbett's fiscal year 2013-14 state budget proposal is finalized, the familiar challenge of balancing finite resources against ever-increasing spending requests begins. This year, expect debates over special initiatives ranging from liquor privatization to transportation funding.
But there is one recurring and unresolved challenge that only seems to become worse with each passing year - public pensions costs, specifically those of two statewide plans, the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS). It is a good sign that the governor and other elected officials seem interested in making sustainable pension reform a policy priority in 2013.

Former superintendent Ackerman dies of cancer
Inquirer Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham February 2, 2013, 9:57 AM
Arlene C. Ackerman, 66, a lifelong educator who led the Philadelphia School District for three years, died of pancreatic cancer Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., school district officials said.
Dr. Ackerman was as a colorful, controversial figure during her tenure in Philadelphia, which began in June 2008 and lasted until August 2011. She called it her "last stand for kids."
She was a firm believer that all children could achieve, and pushed an agenda that focused on funneling resources to the neediest students.
Though her superintendency ended bitterly, Dr. Ackerman won praise - even from those she publicly battled - for her strong personal commitment to children.

Districts Adopt Effective Governance Standards
PSBA website 2/2/2013
PSBA's thanks are extended to all school entities that adopted PSBA's Standards for Effective School Governance and Code of Conduct for Members of Pennsylvania School Boards. Remaining entities continue to be encouraged to notify PSBA when the standards are adopted.

“The "charter movement" has recently recognized that they are vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy if they demand that traditional public schools be closed for poor performance, but fail to enforce the same standards on charters.”
Churn for Charters is No Solution
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on February 2, 2013 2:31 PM
The latest report from the research team at CREDO could be seen as solace to some critics of charter schools. This article from the New York Times summarizes the report's message:
Despite a growing number of studies showing that charter schools are generally no better -- and often are worse -- than their traditional counterparts, the state and local agencies and organizations that grant the charters have been increasingly hesitant to shut down schools, even those that continue to perform abysmally for years on end.
If the [charter] movement is to maintain its credibility, the charter authorizers must shut down failed schools quickly and limit new charters to the most credible applicants, including operators who have a demonstrated record of success.

School turnarounds prompt community backlash
Inquirer by CHRISTINA HOAG , The Associated Press, February 3, 2013, 1:25 PM
LOS ANGELES - The federal government's push for drastic reforms at chronically low achieving schools has led to takeovers by charter operators, overhauls of staff and curriculum, and even school shutdowns across the country.
It's also generated a growing backlash among the mostly low-income, minority communities where some see the reforms as not only disruptive in struggling neighborhoods, but also as civil rights violations since turnaround efforts primarily affect black and Latino students.
"Our concern is that these reforms have further destabilized our communities," said Jitu Brown, education organizer of Chicago's Kenwood-Oakwood Community Organization. "It's clear there's a different set of rules for African-American and Latino children than for their white counterparts."

The inconvenient truth of education ‘reform’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog  by Valerie Strauss on February 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm
Several important things happened in the education world in the last week. Here’s an analysis of why what happened matters, by Jeff Bryant, a marketing and communications consultant for nonprofits. He is a marketing and creative strategist with nearly 30 years of experience – the past 20 on his own – as a freelance writer, consultant, and search engine marketing provider. He’s written extensively about public education policy. This appeared on the Campaign for America’s Future website.

Dismantling Public Accountability & Transparency in the Name of Accountability & Transparency?
SCHOOL Finance 101 Blog by Bruce Baker Posted on February 2, 2013
This post comes about as a follow up to a previous post where I critiqued the rationale of the Students First policy agenda.  It should be noted that the Students First policy agenda is anything but unique. Like DFER, SFER, ALEC or any policy advocacy organization, the SF policy agenda is little more than an aggregation of largely non-original, template policy prescriptions.
Now, I’m not one who goes all in for the lingo of “corporate reform” or one who perceives “privatization” or “market” mechanisms to be inherently evil and contrary to the public good. However, I am someone who believes we should consider carefully the multitude of tradeoffs involved in shifting between publicness and privateness in the governance and provision of schooling.

Virginia organization (Institute for Justice) joins battle over New Hampshire tax credit constitutionality
Nashua (NH) Telegraph By DANIELLE CURTIS Staff Writer Wednesday, January 30, 2013
CONCORD – A battle over the constitutionality of the state’s education tax credit gained another player Tuesday, as Virginia-based Institute for Justice filed papers to defend the program against a legal challenge filed earlier this month.
The institute aims to defend the tax credit against a legal challenge filed Jan. 9 in Strafford County Superior Court by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.

Pennsylvania connections:
Attorneys from The Institute for Justice have testified at PA school choice legislative hearings, including SB1.  Pennsylvania’s StudentsFirst PAC principal Arthur Dantchik is listed as a Director of the Institute for Justice on 990’s.
IRS 990 forms for 2008, 2009 and 2010 list total revenue of $10M, $12.9M and $18.8M respectively; the Walton Foundation’s funding for the Institute for Justice over the past four years:
2009:    $400,000
2010:    $400,000
2011:    $443,885
2012:    $525,568

IJ Seeks to Defend New Hampshire School Choice Program
Institute for Justice Moves to Intervene on Behalf of the Network for Educational Opportunity and Parents To Defend Against Lawsuit Challenging the State’s Education Tax Credit Program
WEB RELEASE: January 29, 2013 CONTACT: John Kramer: (703) 682-9320 
Institute for Justice website
Arlington, Va.—The Institute for Justice today marked National School Choice Week by filing legal papers to intervene on behalf of parents and New Hampshire’s only approved Scholarship Organization, the Network for Educational Opportunity (“NEO”).  IJ seeks to defend New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program against a state court legal challenge filed on January 9, 2013, by New Hampshire taxpayers represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the American Civil Liberties Union and its state affiliate.

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.


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.  
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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