Friday, February 15, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 15, 2013: No state store sell-off, no education grant, Corbett says; Fed Pre-K reactions

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 15, 2013: No state store sell-off, no education grant, Corbett says;  Fed Pre-K reactions

SPECIAL EDITION EPLC Education Notebook Monday, February 11, 2013
EPLC: Summary of Governor Corbett's Proposed 2013-2014 Education Budget

"There's no grant (program) if it doesn't pass," the governor said.
But he did not suggest any alternative financing for the block grants.
The Republican governor also had no ready answer when asked where he would cut spending if lawmakers reject his strategy for overhauling the state pension plans covering more than 800,000 active and retired state workers and school employees.
"I'm not going to go into that right now," he said.”
No state store sell-off, no education grant, Corbett says
The Associated Press  Reading Eagle Press Originally Published: 2/13/2013                     
HARRISBURG - Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday that a proposed block grant program that would funnel a projected $1 billion to state schools over four years would disappear if lawmakers don't approve his liquor privatization initiative.  Corbett singled out his proposed Passport for Learning initiative as he lobbied for his $28.4 billion state budget plan at a Capitol news conference and a separate economic summit sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association.

“….a sound funding formula would take into account the "extraordinary needs of kids who are poor, are English language learners" or have learning disabilities.  The objective, he said, is to put students from the entire spectrum of economic backgrounds on a level playing field.”
After cuts, poor schools hit again
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era By Jeff Hawkes Staff Writer Feb 14, 2013
About a third of the way into his budget address last week, Gov. Tom Corbett had stirring words for those who believe one of our greatest obligations is to teach our children well.  The Republican governor stood before the Legislature and declared that every child "deserves an equal start in life." What's more, Corbett added, "I intend to see that promise kept."
It was a notable shift in tone for a governor who only a couple of years ago took the dogmatic stand that it was better to cut nearly a billion dollars from schools than to raise taxes by a single dollar.  But lofty rhetoric without deeds is watery soup. And advocates of strong schools are making the case that Corbett's promise of an "equal start" for every child falls flat.

Pennsylvania education experts dissect Corbett's proposed schools budget
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 14, 2013 3:11 pm
The Education Policy and Leadership Center today held a forum to help school leaders understand Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed education budget that was released last week.

Numbers Game 
Latest Corbett budget has some good news ... especially if you're a CEO
by Chris Potter Pittsburgh City Paper February 13, 2013
Since Gov. Tom Corbett released his proposed 2013-2014 budget earlier this month, it's been touted as being a kinder, gentler budget than his first two efforts. It includes modest-but-real  increases in social-service spending like education and mental health. Even budgetary whipping boys, like state-supported universities, are spared further cuts, as they are flat-funded.
But there's a catch. Corbett's increases depend on the legislature passing controversial reforms like raffling off the state store system, or forcing pension concessions from the teachers who educate students. And Corbett's previous austerity measures are part of the reason social services are in such dire straits to begin with. Call it the Schlock Doctrine: Enact a budget that will create a future crisis ... and then use the resulting crisis to justify future budgets. And it's not the only way in which Corbett promises less than it seems.

YorkCounts: Convert city school district to charter schools
By ANGIE MASON York Daily Record/Sunday News Updated:   02/14/2013 07:49:45 AM EST
A YorkCounts education work group has suggested that turning the York City School District into a 100 percent community charter school system could be one of the "sweeping institutional changes" needed to transform the district.  YorkCounts, an initiative of the York County Community Foundation, formed the group over the summer to look at ways to improve education in York. The group presented its recommendations to the advisory committee working on the York City School District's financial recovery process on Wednesday.

Judge allowing Wilkinsburg schools to take out $3M loan
By Annie Siebert / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 15, 2013 12:19 am
An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge has granted the Wilkinsburg School District permission to borrow up to $3 million to get the financially struggling district through the rest of the school year.
The district petitioned the court to approve the loan last month, saying it would "not be able to meet its payroll or debt service obligations" beginning in March. The petition cited a significant hike in payments to charter schools as one source of its financial woes.

Closing Arguments
Parents and the school district fight over the future of Philly public education.
Daniel Denvir Philadelphia City Paper Posted: Thu, Feb. 14, 2013, 12:00 AM
As a sixth-grade student and the student-body president at Jay Cooke Elementary in Logan, Jenna Lee has a hard time not taking the proposed closing of her school personally. “I was, like, where is this coming from? Because we just got … a new computer lab,” she says, adding that Cooke also has extracurricular programs, including instrumental music and a soccer team.  “And now they’re trying to shut us down,” she says. “I was very upset with the decision.”
It may feel personal, but Jenna is just one of 17,000 students set to be relocated under a plan outlined by Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite, who contends that closing 37 schools will ultimately save $28 million a year for a school district that projects a $1.1 billion deficit over five years.

As Corbett eyes cuts, investment boss out at Pa.'s $49B teacher pension fund PhillyDeals Blog by Joseph N. DiStefano February 14, 2013, 11:14 AM
The Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) says Alan Van Noord plans to retire as chief investment officer in June, as Gov. Tom Corbett presses to reduce the state's relatively generous retirement guarantees for more than 200,000 retirees and around 275,000 current school employees.
Lehigh County officials seek answers about special education funding changes in Harrisburg
LehighValleyLive By Precious Petty | The Express-Times  on February 13, 2013 at 8:40 AM
A new company recently took over the Pennsylvania Special Education School-Based ACCESS Program and the switch is causing headaches for Lehigh Valley school districts.
Districts must enroll in the program to get federal reimbursements for medical services provided to some special education students. The statewide vendor, Boston-based Public Consulting Group, hasn't made that process easy, district officials said.

PDE Press Release February 14, 2013
Corbett Administration Announces $3.7 Million in Grants to Public Libraries
Harrisburg – The Corbett administration today announced that more than $3.7 million has been awarded to 15 public libraries across the commonwealth through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.  These awards will assist local communities in financing repairs and upgrades to library facilities.  “Public libraries play an important role in communities across Pennsylvania,” Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said.  “This financial assistance provides the much-needed resources to ensure that citizens continue to have access to programs and services at their local library as well as makes each location accessible to all residents.”

Tennessee legislative committee kills bill to close Tennessee Virtual Academy operated by K12, Inc.
Memphis Tn Commerical Appeal By Richard Locker Posted February 12, 2013 at 8 p.m.,  NASHVILLE — A state legislative committee blocked discussion Tuesday of leaked internal e-mail from the only taxpayer-funded, for-profit online school operating in Tennessee that told its teachers to delete students' bad grades.
The committee then killed a bill that would have closed the two-year-old Tennessee Virtual Academy, operated by Virginia-based K-12 Inc., at the end of the school year. Moments earlier, the panel approved a Haslam administration bill that is the state's first attempt to reign in the virtual school — but only after stripping out of the bill a proposed enrollment cap in the school.

Obama pushes preschool plan, won't discuss cost
Philadelphia Inquirer by JOSH LEDERMAN and PHILIP ELLIOTT , The Associated Press
POSTED: Thursday, February 14, 2013, 5:42 PM
DECATUR, Ga. - Raising hopes among parents who want preschool for all, President Barack Obama on Thursday rolled out a plan to vastly expand government-funded early childhood while keeping the price tag a secret. Republicans, wary of high costs and questionable outcomes, made clear they have no intention of signing a blank check.

Conservatives Skeptical of Expanding Preschool
New York Times By MICHAEL D. SHEAR Published: February 14, 2013
ATLANTA — President Obama’s plan to expand preschool for the nation’s children faces deep skepticism among Republicans, who fear the creation of another federal entitlement program that they say could add to the nation’s deficit and swell the ranks of the teachers’ unions.

The State of the 4-Year-Olds
New York Times Opinion By GAIL COLLINS Published: February 13, 2013
One of the big moments of the State of the Union address was President Obama’s call for “high-quality preschool” for 4-year-olds.
Nobody was happier at the idea than Walter Mondale, the former vice president. “This is going to be wonderful,” he said in a phone conversation. His delight was sort of inspiring. If I had been down the road Mondale has traveled, my mood would have been a little darker.
In 1971, when he was a senator, Mondale led the Congressional drive to make quality preschool education available to every family in the United States that wanted it. Everybody. The federal government would set standards and provide backup services like meals and medical and dental checkups. Tuition would depend on the family’s ability to pay.
And it passed! Then Richard Nixon vetoed it, claiming Congress was proposing “communal approaches to child rearing.” 

Watch John Merrow’s reports on early childhood development on PBS
Advancing New Hampshire Public Education Blog by Bill Duncan February 14, 2013
In case you missed it, on the occasion of President Obama’s State of the Union commitment to early childhood development, the PBS Newshour reran a 2011 report from John Merrow, the ultimate education reporter, on pre-K efforts in Chicago.  I don’t seem to be able to embed in here, but click below to see it on the PBS site.  It’s a very useful presentation of the challenges of access and quality in  public pre-K programs.  The transcript is here if you want to scan it quickly.
And here is John Merrow’s 2002, hour-long report on “The Promise of Preschool.”  It is not at all out-dated.

Four Reasons Pre-K Faces An Uphill Climb
Bellweather Education Partners’ Eduwonk Blog by Andrew Rotherham February 13, 2013
President Obama made a big call for a federal – state partnership on early-childhood education in his State of the Union speech. As education initiatives go, pre-K has substantial research behind it. The mixed results that are observed in many pre-K initiatives, and Head Start, owe more to execution shortcomings than the underlying value of quality pre-K education.  And it’s also common- sense that preparing students for school, and closing the gaps that exist before they start school, is a smart way to get kids off to a good start in school.  The issue is also ripe for a federal-state partnership.  Still, it’s a long way from here to there.  Doesn’t mean the President can’t get something done, but here are four reasons the President’s pre-K initiative faces a tough ride in Congress:

Fact Sheet: Kids Lose Billions With Sequester
First Focus Campaign for Children By Jared Solomon February 11, 2013
In a matter of weeks on March 1, 2013, if across the board cuts known as sequestration take effect federal funding for kids will be cut by an additional $4.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2013. With the recently passed American Tax Relief Act, this fact sheet explores the updated impact of sequestration on America’s Children.

Duncan warns Congress on impact of ‘sequestration’ on education programs
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm
Here is the testimony Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee on what could happen to education programs if Congress takes no steps to avert a March 1 deadline for automatic spending cuts, known as the “sequestration.” This testimony was provided by the Education Department.

At Long Last, We Are Treating Doctors Like We Treat Teachers
Huffington Post by Shaun Johnson February 14, 2013
Almost two years ago to this very day, I wrote a couple of largely hypothetical pieces that toyed with the idea of performance pay for physicians, similar to what's being forced on educators. The first hammered out some specific proposals for doctors, such as the use of a few fundamental metrics, like BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure, to evaluate doctors and hospitals . I doubled down the second time by suggesting that our health care workforce is failing and that our continued decline in overall wellness is ruining our economic competitiveness. If you follow the education reform debate, you'll read suspiciously similar sounding aspersions cast against our public schools and its teachers.  The New York Times published a piece in January of this year about a new program in New York City attaching quality of care to physician income. We would have, at long last, a health care system accountable to patients. 

NSBA’s Center for Public Education The Edifier by Jim Hull February 14, 2013
What is the economic benefit of vouchers?
A recent study of the Washington, DC voucher program purports to show that the voucher program yields a whopping 162 percent rate of return because more students graduate due to the voucher program than would have without the program in place. Not too shabby. However, a closer look at how they came to this number raises some serious questions about such large rates of returns.

Education Policy and Leadership Center
SUBJECT: Governor Corbett's Proposed Education Budget for 2013-2014
"Southeastern Region Breakfast Series" Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel - 201 North 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
SPEAKERS: An Overview of the Proposed 2013-2014 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Sharon Ward, The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
State and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
 Mark B. Miller, School Director, Centennial School District
Joe Otto, Chief Operations Officer, William Penn School District
Michael Churchill, Of Counsel, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Dr. Stephen D. Butz
, Superintendent, Southeast Delco School District
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.

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.  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.  
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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