Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 16, 2013: Budget/Charters/Preschool

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 16, 2013: Budget/Charters/Preschool

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

Midstate school officials eye Governor Tom Corbett's 'Passport for Learning' block grants with caution
Patriot News By Barbara Miller |  on February 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM
While hesitant to look a gift horse in the mouth, area school leaders express cautious enthusiasm for Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to use the $1 billion proceeds from liquor store sales for education block grants.  The governor said this week that if districts used thePassport for Learning block grant funds for recurring expenses, it would be up to them to pick up the tab after the four-year grant program expired.  That’s reminiscent of the federal stimulus money that disappeared after 2010-11, school leaders say.

PA Education Secretary reflects on proposed budget, school changes
WITF Written by Megan Lello | Feb 16, 2013 7:39 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- The state Education Secretary is pushing education officials, teachers, and the state to get creative when it comes to educating students in the next couple of years.
Secretary Ron Tomalis says he's interested in hearing more about a recent task force's recommendation to convert all schools in the struggling York City School District to charters. "Intriguing proposal. You know, one of the things we have to understand is that the way we've been delivering education in this nation hasn't really changed in the last 150 years. And charters are one option to look at. For some places, charters may not be a viable option, and in other places, charters may be something to look at."

Debating PA Gov. Corbett's budget proposal
WHYY RadioTimes with Marty Moss-Coane February 15, 2013
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett unveiled a budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1st, and launched an annual battle over dollars and priorities across the commonwealth. The $28.4 billion budget would grow 2.4 percent overall, and increases for K through 12 education hinge on a controversial proposal to privatize state liquor stores. Corbett rejected a Medicaid expansion authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act, and easing a cap on wholesale gas prices to help fund transportation infrastructure projects. Joining guest-host TRACEY MATISAK to discuss and debate Corbett’s budget and Pennsylvania’s priorities are MATTHEW BROUILLETTE, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives; and DONNA COOPER, a key aide to former Governor Rendell who recently took over the Philadelphia-based youth advocacy nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

EPLC Education Notebook Friday, February 15, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

House Education Panel OKs Special Education Funding Bill
By Kevin Zwick Staff Reporter Capitolwire
HARRISBURG (Feb. 11) – The House Education Committee on Monday approved a bill to set up a special education funding commission, a proposal identical to a measure last year prior to divisive charter school language was added to it that stalled the bill.
House Bill 2, sponsored by Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, was reported out of committee unanimously, with bi-partisan calls for the bill to move cleanly through the Legislature.

Philadelphia School Partnership Creates New Educational Leadership Fund
$250,000 fund will make grants to any type of school operator for assistance in recruiting top administrative talent.
PSP website February 2013
The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) announced today that it has created a $250,000 Philadelphia School Talent Fund to support school operators in recruiting top administrative talent. City-based school operators of all types - including district, private and charter - can apply for a grant from the new fund.

Special Report: Class Struggle - How charter schools get students they want
Reuters By Stephanie Simon Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:42am EST
(Reuters) - Getting in can be grueling.
Students may be asked to submit a 15-page typed research paper, an original short story, or a handwritten essay on the historical figure they would most like to meet. There are interviews. Exams. And pages of questions for parents to answer, including: How do you intend to help this school if we admit your son or daughter?
These aren't college applications. They're applications for seats at charter schools.
Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.

Charter schools put parents to the test
Reuters By Stephanie Simon Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:08am EST
(Reuters) - Charter schools pride themselves on asking a lot of their students. Many ask a great deal of parents, too.
Nearly 40 percent of charters nationwide do not participate in the federal subsidized lunch program, often because they don't have space for a kitchen or don't want to deal with the paperwork, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.
That can leave low-income parents scrambling to find a way to feed their children. Nearly half of American school kids are eligible for subsidized meals, and more than 90 percent of traditional public schools provide them.
Most states don't require charter schools to offer transportation, so that's often up to parents, too.
And then there's the forced volunteerism. Traditional public schools can and sometimes do ask parents to help out, but they can't force the issue. Scores of charter schools, however, require parents to work up to 40 hours a year - or forfeit their child's seat. To meet the mandate, parents might chaperone field trips, keep order at lunch or direct traffic in the parking lot.

Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit – as much as 39% -- to help offset their expenditure in such projects.
….And it’s not just U.S. investors who see the upside of investing in charters. Rich donors throughout the world are now sending money to fund our charter schools. Why? Because if they invest at least $500,000 to charters under a federal program called EB-5, they’re allowed to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members -- yet another mechanism in place to ensure that the money keeps rolling in.
Corporations Advise School Closings, While Private Charters Suck Public Schools Away
As charter proponents aim to cash in on major investment returns, Philly braces for a massive schools shakeup.
AlterNet / By Kristin Rawls February 15, 2013
On Dec. 13, 2012, Philadelphia became the latest major American city to recommend sweeping school closures for the next academic year. Under this new proposal, a total of 37, or about 16 percent, of the district’s 237 public schools will be shuttered this June. That’s down from the 40 schools the city designated for closure back in May, but still represents an unprecedented move in Philadelphia’s history. The School Commission Reform, an outside body appointed to govern Philadelphia schools, has scheduled its final vote for March 7.

Why wealthy foreigners invest in U.S. charter schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 15, 2013 at 11:10 am
Wealthy Americans have been funding U.S. charter schools for years now through their hedge funds, private foundations or personal fortunes, but it turns out that super-rich foreigners are forking over big money to American charters too.
Do you think it’s for the kids?  Guess again.
A federal program known as EB-5 allows foreigners to invest at least $1 million in certain job-producing projects — or  $500,000 if the project is in a rural area or one with high unemployment — to win immigration visas for their families.

So why do hedge funds so favor charter schools?
Daily Kos By teacherken FRI FEB 15, 2013 AT 06:19 AM PST
Allow me to quote Deep Throat, as played by Hal Holbrook in "All the President's Men" -
"Just follow the money"   Embedded in the middle of an Alternet story by Kristin Rawls titled Corporations Advise School Closings, While Private Charters Suck Public Schools Away are several paragraphs that help explain why hedge funds and other corporate interests are so enamored of charter schools.   Please continue to see what I mean.

Harrisburg Online Email from Greenlee Partners LLC February 15, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that they launched their annual 24-hour live webcast of a nesting pair of peregrine falcons that live on the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.  This year, the camera includes a new high definition camera and a personal-computer-operated zoom and pan capability. Once the first egg is laid, an additional camera will be placed near the nest for an intimate view.  According to the DEP, there is a new territorial dispute between the falcon that has called this ledge home since 2005 and a new male. To view the cameras, go to: 

The State of Public Education
Yinzercation Blog February 15, 2013
Earlier this week we heard the president’s State of the Union address, but what about the State of Public Education? Fortunately for us, Rev. David Thornton of Grace Memorial Church in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, delivered just that at the Rally for Public Education. His passionate defense of public schools and plea for equity as a social justice issue was one of the highlights of the event and had the crowd on its feet.

Parkway, library projects threatened by lobbying complaint against William Penn Foundation
WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies February 15, 2013
Planned improvements to Philadelphia libraries, the Ben Franklin Parkway and Fairmount Park could be delayed or undermined by the William Penn Foundation's response to an ethics complaint by an education activist group.

Automatic cuts getting big yawn from Washington
With impact of the sequester weeks away, Obama goes golfing; Congress takes a break
Post-Gazette By Lori Montgomery / The Washington Post February 16, 2013 12:20 am
WASHINGTON -- As deadlines go, the March 1 sequester lacks punch. Nobody's taxes will go up; the U.S. Treasury won't run out of cash. Government offices won't immediately turn out the lights and lock the doors. No federal worker will be furloughed for at least 30 days.
So Washington felt little need to cancel the Presidents' Day break. On Friday, President Barack Obama flew to Florida for a long weekend of golf. And Congress left town for nine days, with scant hope of averting deep cuts to the Pentagon and other agencies in the short time remaining when lawmakers return.

States Struggle To Keep Online Schools Accountable
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline By Ben Wieder, Staff Writer February 15, 2013
Online classes have exploded in popularity, with more than six times as many students enrolled in electronic K-12 courses now as compared to a decade ago,according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Advocates say online classes offer a more flexible and personalized form of education, allowing students to progress at their own pace and on their own time. Supporters also tout online education as a way to dramatically expand course offerings, particularly at rural schools.
But the rapid growth of online education is raising concerns—especially as more for-profit companies launch online programs. While unscrupulous or incompetent online educators may be rare, there are enough of them that many states are considering ratcheting up their oversight.

When Families Fail
New York Times Opinion by DAVID BROOKS February 14, 2013
Today millions of American children grow up in homes where they don’t learn the skills they need to succeed in life. Their vocabularies are tiny. They can’t regulate their emotions. When they get to kindergarten they’ve never been read a book, so they don’t know the difference between the front cover and the back cover.
But, starting a few decades ago, we learned that preschool intervention programs could help. 

Getting Preschool Education Right
New York Times Editorial Published: February 15, 2013
Even before the cost estimates and program details have been made public, President Obama’s proposal for expanding high-quality preschool education has encountered criticism from House Republicans. Yet decades of research has shown that well-designed preschool programs more than pay for themselves by giving young children the skills they need to move ahead. The challenge at the federal level will be to make sure that taxpayer dollars flow to proven, high-quality programs instead of being wasted on subsidies for glorified day care.

Can Obama Sell Universal Preschool to the GOP?
The Atlantic Wire by ELSPETH REEVE FEB 14, 2013
In a speech to promote his plan for universal pre-kindergarten Thursday, President Obama tellingly highlighted the education policies in two red states: Georgia and Oklahoma. The policy would guarantee preschool for 4-year-olds whose families earn 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less, and Obama framed it in a way to appeal to Republicans: It saves money. But as with all of Obama's proposals from the State of the Union that weren't executive orders, the question is not whether it's a good idea so much as whether it can pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Senator Rubio’s website Press Release Feb 13 2013
Senator Rubio Introduces Federal Tax Credit Legislation To Expand School Choice
Washington, D.C. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation today to help families pay for more school options through a new tax credit. The Educational Opportunities Act creates a federal corporate and individual tax credit to promote school choice by allowing contributions to go to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that will distribute scholarships to a student to be used toward private school tuition or expenses related to attending a private school. 

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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