Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 23, 2013: Fix Broken PA Charter School Funding

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 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 23, 2013

Pennsylvanians for Charter School Reform
Fix Broken Charter School Funding - Reform PA Charter Schools

Resources from the Pennsylvania Budget Summit
PA Budget and Policy Center February 22, 2013
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center hosted its annual Budget Summit in Harrisburg on February 21, providing an in-depth look at the state and federal budgets and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania.

EPLC Education Notebook- Friday, February 22, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

School District of Philadelphia School Closings: An Analysis of Student Achievement
Prepared by Research for Action February 21, 2013

9 Philly schools to undergo Renaissance overhaul
The notebook by David Limm on Feb 22 2013
Nine struggling schools in Philadelphia will be remodeled as Renaissance Schools this year, the District has announced, with three of them facing conversion to charter status.  
Two high schools and seven elementary schools will be transformed under the now three-year-old initiative, a signature program of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman that seeks to turn around the District's worst-performing schools. 

Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report  February 2012
Prepared for the Accountability Review Council by Research for Action
Authors Eva Gold, Ph.D., Michael H. Norton, Deborah Good, M.S.W., Stephanie Levin, Ph.D.

Harrisburg school officials detailing plan to address $11.7M deficit
By Emily Previti |  on February 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM
HARRISBURG — City school officials Thursday night are presenting a five-year financial forecast for the struggling district to an audience of about 60 people, a turnout that struck state Sen. Rob Teplitz as low.  “This room should be packed tonight,” Teplitz, D-Dauphin County, said to the crowd sitting in the auditorium inside Camp Curtin School, 2900 N. Sixth St.
School officials are expected to address the very academic and financial issues that prompted the state Department of Education to deem Harrisburg’s public schools in moderate distress. 

“Herr attributed the dramatic turnaround to the district’s $31 million settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Education last August. That settlement emanated from the district suing PDE when it ran out of funding in January 2012.”
Chester Upland Receiver approves 2011-12 audit for school district
Delco Times by John Kopp Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
CHESTER — The Chester Upland School District had a surplus in its accumulated fund balance at the conclusion of the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to its annual audit.  Receiver Joseph Watkins approved the district’s 2011-12 audit at his public meeting Thursday. The audit was prepared by Maillie, Falconiero and Co. It will be available on the district’s website today.
Chris Herr, an accountant for Maillie, Falconiero and Co, said the district the district’s accumulated fund balance showed about a $2 million surplus. According to its last audit, Herr said, Chester Upland had about a $15.5 million deficit in its accumulated fund balance at the end of the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Chester Upland Receiver Joe Watkins denies charter applications
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp
CHESTER — Chester Upland School District Receiver Joseph Watkins denied a pair of charter school applications at his monthly public meeting Thursday.  Watkins said the applications of Choices Charter School of Chester and Chester Hospitality Service Charter High School contained “excellent ideas,” but were not consistent with the recovery plan he developed for Chester Upland under the Act 141 distressed schools legislation.

Perkiomen Valley School Board OKs $94.6M prelim budget, eyes 5.4 percent tax hike
Montgomery News By Mark D. Marotta Journal Register News Service February 21, 2013
In an 8-0 vote Feb. 11, the Perkiomen Valley School Board approved a preliminary general fund budget for 2013-14 that would see spending rise to $94.6 million, an increase of $4.4 million, or 4.9 percent, over the current year’s budget.  It would be “one of our higher growths” in recent years, district Business Administrator Jim Weaver told the board.  Revenues under the budget proposal were projected to be just shy of $91.4 million, up $2.1 million, or about 2.45 percent, over 2012-13, Weaver said.

Haverford School District raising taxes
Delco Times By LOIS PUGLIONESI Times Correspondent February 21, 2013
HAVERFORD — School directors voted unanimously to adopt a $97 million preliminary budget for 2013-14, which includes a 3.49 percent property tax rate increase, raising millage from 26.7306 to 27.664 mills.  The increase would add $2.94 million to local revenue sources, for a total $80.77 million.  It would also cost residents an additional $150 in annual taxes on a property assessed at $160,000, for a total of about $4,426.

Fleetwood School District plays waiting game for state reimbursement
Fleetwood owed $238,000 since '09 for construction project
Reading Eagle by David Mekeel Originally Published: 2/21/2013
Fleetwood School District officials thought they were being fiscally responsible and doing the smart thing.  When they started building Willow Creek Elementary School and renovating the high school stadium about six years ago, they decided to borrow money for the projects in two parts.
The idea was to avoid accruing interest until the borrowed money was needed, said Dr. Paul B. Eaken, superintendent.

Equity and Excellence
Yinzercation Blog February 22, 2013
Equity and excellence: those are two words you hear thrown around by education reformers of all stripes these days. Even the U.S. Department of Education just released the report of its “Equity and Excellence Commission,” with recommendations for improving public schools. So let’s consider those two words for a moment.
When I teach women’s history, we talk a lot about equity versus equality. And my students often struggle with the distinction. We’re accustomed to thinking about equality as the gold standard of liberty: equal pay, equal access, equal rights. But often it’s equity that we are after. In women and girls’ sports, for instance, Title IV protections have helped to level the playing field by providing more equitable access to sports opportunities and coaches, not by mandating equal spots on the football team. Equality implies sameness or equivalence. Equity, on the other hand, implies fairness and a sense of justice. There is an ethical consideration to the term.
The government’s new report acknowledges this point by emphasizing equitable funding for public education. Equitable, not equal. That means sometimes the poorest students need to get more. They deserve their fair share, not the same share.

Clout: Williams declares 'affectionate' feeling for undeclared Schwartz by Chris Brennan Friday, February 22, 2013, 3:01 AM
STATE SEN. Anthony Hardy Williams stopped just short this week of endorsing U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz if she challenges Gov. Corbett next year.
After all, Schwartz isn't even a declared candidate yet.
"I told her she could use my name in a fond and affectionate way," Williams told us.

Pennsylvania state lawmakers who look to ALEC for guidance on economic policy should stand up and take notice.”
Third and State Blog Posted by Sharon Ward on February 19, 2013 9:35 am
Three national organizations offered a scathing criticism of policies endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in a conference call with reporters last week. Their findings strike a stake in the heart of ALEC claims that its view of the world — lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments — is good for the public. 

With baby boomers retiring, tests, tests and more tests and the terrible public perception of teachers fostered by the Obama administration, privatizers, profiteers and reformers, we are losing an entire generation of teachers.  You’d have to be nuts to want to go into teaching these days, and that is a disaster….JMHO
“Unfortunately, current federal policy focuses on identifying teacher deficits, rather than building up a vibrant, highly qualified and competent teaching corps.”
Next steps toward achieving equity in education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 22, 2013 at 6:00 am
I reported earlier this week on a new report on equity in education that was released by a congressionally mandated commission, and noted that it had some important points as well as some flaws. Here is a piece by two people who were involved with the commission in different ways, Rep. Michael Honda of California and Stanford University Professor and education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond.

Why Would Teacher Satisfaction Be Falling?
Schools Matter Blog by Jim Horn Thursday, February 21, 2013
It is hard to understand why teachers’ satisfaction has dropped to an all-time low during the Obama Administration.  Yes, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has doubled-down on the bubble-in madness of NCLB.  Duncan has pushed the agenda of the “Billionaires Boys Club” which threatens to kill the principle of public education.  The administration has dumped “innovation” after “innovation” risky gamble after risky gamble on teachers, and set us up as scapegoats when they fail.

Better Charter Schools in New York City
New York Times Editorial Published: February 22, 2013 3 Comments
From a national standpoint, the 20-year-oldcharter school movement has been a disappointment. More than a third of these independently run, publicly funded schools are actually worse than the traditional public schools they were meant to replace. Abysmal charter schools remain open for years, even though the original deal was that they would be shut down when they failed to perform. New York City’s experience, however, continues to be an exception.

Indiana Senate Votes To Halt Common Core Standards
Indiana Public Media By BRANDON SMITH, IPBS Posted February 22, 2013
The bill targeting education standards in 45 states has been temporarily put aside.
The bill's author, Sen. Scott Schneider halts implementation of Common Core standards until public hearings are conducted.  Indiana is a step closer to taking a momentary break from implementation of the Common Core educational standards. The state Senate Thursday passed legislation halting the nationally-developed set of academic standards adopted in 45 states.
The bill’s author, Indianapolis Republican Senator Scott Schneider, says he was initially approached by two parents concerned about the Common Core. His legislation originally eliminated the education standards; now, it halts implementation until the state Board of Education conducts public hearings in each of the state’s nine congressional districts.

“Given that standardized tests provide only one indicator of student achievement, and that their high-stakes uses produce ever-increasing incentives to teach to the test, narrow the curriculum, or even to cheat, we call on the BESE [Board of Elementary and Secondary Education] to stop using standardized tests in high-stakes decisions affecting students, teachers, and schools.”
Massachusetts professors protest high-stakes standardized tests
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on February 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm
coalition of more than 130 Massachusetts professors and researchers from some 20 schools —  including Harvard, Tufts, Boston and Brandeis universities — signed a new public statement that urges officials to stop overusing high-stakes standardized tests to assess students, teachers and schools.  The statement — also signed by academics from the University of Massachusetts, Clark University, Boston College, Lesley College and other schools — is the latest effort in a revolt against high-stakes testing that has spread from coast to coast. Students are opting out of taking standardized tests, teachers are refusing to administer them and some superintendents are criticizing the standardized test-based accountability systems passed in various states with the support of school reformers.

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.

NSBA’s Center for Public Education The Edifier by Patti Barth February 22, 2013
Understanding the president’s pre-k plan
A jaw-dropping moment in President Obama’s state of the union address was his call for universal pre-k. It was a welcome surprise to us at CPE because we — along with many, many school and child advocates — have long promoted the short- and long-term benefits of high-quality pre-k.  But the SOTU raises the profile of pre-k to levels we could only dream of, which also brings out the skeptics.
By now, nearly everyone has read or heard the president’s pre-k argument:
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children — like Georgia or Oklahoma — studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.”
The fact-checkers have been all over this statement. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler gave it 2 Pinocchios which on his accuracy scales translates to “significant omissions and/or exaggerations.” The analysts at likewise characterized the president’s claims as “misleading.”

Annenberg Institute for Social Reform
DAILY NEWS DIGEST February 22, 2013
The Daily News Digest presents highlights of education and education reform news, chosen from a wide variety of media outlets and differing perspectives to reflect potentially high-impact events and ideas. The inclusion of any news item should not be construed as an implied endorsement by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Ensuring Safe Schools for LGBT Youth
US Department of Education Homeroom Blog
Michael Yudin is acting assistant secretary for ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Safe schools are not only free from overt forms of physical violence or substance abuse, but work proactively to support, engage, and include all students. Unfortunately, too many schools are not safe for LGBT youth. According to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, nearly 8 out of 10 LGBT youth were harassed at school.

Dan Rather's interview with Linda Darling-Hammond on Finland
StanfordSCOPE·YouTube video runtime 9:55 Uploaded on Jan 30, 2012
In just 30 years, Finland transformed its school system from one that was mediocre and inequitable, to one that consistently produces some of the world's best students, while virtually eliminating an achievement gap. And they do it without standardized testing.  This interview with Linda-Darling Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, is excerpted from Dan Rather Reports' show on Finland's education system, Finnish First. Part One looks inside Finnish schools to examine the practices behind the so-called "Finnish miracle." Part Two asks, What can the United States learn from Finland's success?
More information about Linda Darling-Hammond is available at The full episodes of Finnish First are available for download from iTunes at

PSBA officer applications due April 30
PSBA’s website 2/15/2013
Candidates seeking election to PSBA officer posts in 2014 must file an expression of interest for the office desired to be interviewed by the PSBA Leadership Development Committee.
This new committee replaces the former Nominations Committee. Deadline for filing is April 30. The application shall be marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by the deadline to be considered timely filed. Expression of interest forms can be found online at

Edcamp Philly 2013 at UPENN May 18th, 2013
For those of you who have never gone to an Edcamp before, please make a note of the unusual part of the morning where we will build the schedule. Edcamp doesn’t believe in paying fancy people to come and talk at you about teaching! At an Edcamp, the people attending – the participants - facilitate sessions on teaching and learning! So Edcamp won’t succeed without a whole bunch of you wanting to run a session of some kind! What kinds of sessions might you run?
What: Edcamp Philly is an"unconference" devoted to K-12 Education issues and ideas.
Where: University of Pennsylvania  When: May 18, 2013  Cost: FREE!

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.

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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