Monday, February 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 25, 2013: Pennsylvania congressional delegation to have voice in budget decisions

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 25, 2013

Pennsylvanians for Charter School Reform
Reform PA Charter Schools: Pennsylvanians could save $365 million THIS YEAR if Harrisburg fixes its broken charter school funding formula.

Saturday, February 23, 2013
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 23, 2013: Fix Broken PA Charter School Funding
Missed our weekend posting?

Pennsylvania congressional delegation to have voice in budget decisions
Several congressmen, both senators on major committees
By Tracie Mauriello / Post-Gazette Washington Bureau February 24, 2013 12:15 am
WASHINGTON -- Congress is about to get serious about the federal budget, and members of the Pennsylvania delegation will be at the heart of politically charged talks likely to consume Washington this spring.  Both senators from Pennsylvania were recently named to the Finance Committee. Republican Pat Toomey also serves on the Senate Budget Committee.  On the House side, Pennsylvanians hold three seats on Ways and Means, two on the Appropriations Committee and one on Budget.

“No bills become law in Washington today without Republican votes in the House, Democratic votes in the Senate, and a Democratic president signing the bill," said Rep. Charlie Dent of Allentown, one of the Republicans who broke ranks. "On either side, right or left, no one can be that rigid in their ideology so that it prevents us from actually governing."
Area Republicans in Congress walking a tightrope
Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau  Sunday, February 24, 2013, 7:11 AM
WASHINGTON - Amid the capital's snarled politics, the Philadelphia suburbs have helped provide at least some break from partisan gridlock.  In moderate districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, President Obama and Senate Democrats found partners for compromise twice in the early days of 2013: Seven Republican members of Congress from the area voted to pass bills to avoid the fiscal cliff and approve a $60 billion package for Hurricane Sandy aid, each time going against the majority of their GOP colleagues and joining with the majority of Democrats, providing crucial "yeas" to get legislation over the finish line.

“Thus far, the outlook is not promising, and all signs indicate the cuts must first go into effect Friday before there can be any real movement toward a deal.”
Dim sequester outlook: Cuts before compromise
Politico By DAVID ROGERS | 2/24/13 7:59 PM EST
Congress returns Monday with all eyes on a last Senate attempt to forestall across-the-board spending cuts March 1 that threaten to cripple government services this spring and roll back the clock to before Barack Obama’s presidency.
Discretionary spending is slated to fall below 2008 levels for the first time in Obama’s tenure, even allowing for the recent Hurricane Sandy emergency aid bill. When adjusted for inflation, POLITICO’s calculations show that Obama will have billions less than former President George W. Bush in nondefense appropriations — so important to his second-term agenda.
Slow to see the danger, Obama is now campaigning full throttle, trying to raise the alarm at the local level to put pressure on lawmakers.

White House releases report on what sequester will mean to Pennsylvania residents
Delco Times Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts—called the sequester—will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.  If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts, according to the White House,  on Pennsylvania this year are:
Teachers and Schools: Pennsylvania will lose approximately $26.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 29,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 90 fewer schools would receive funding.
Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Pennsylvania will lose approximately $21.4 million in funds for about 260 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Pennsylvania will feel effects of sequester
By Tracie Mauriello / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 24, 2013 8:46 pm
WASHINGTON -- Children won't be vaccinated, airport security lines will grow, federal workers and government contractors will lose their jobs, drug addicts won't get treatment, schools will lose funding, civilian military personnel will have their hours and wages cut, and the state will be more susceptible to pollution and infectious disease.  The White House warned Sunday that Pennsylvania will feel those effects and more because of the impending cuts on every area of federal spending that will go into effect Friday if Congress can't agree on a plan to avoid the so-called sequestration.

Sequestration: 18 Local News Front Pages On How Looming Budget Cuts Will Hit Their Communities
By Andrew Kaczynski BuzzFeed Staff Posted on February 21, 2013 at 6:04pm EST
Communities that would be hit hard by the sequestration are talking notice as Americans wait to hear if a deal will be reached or they will furloughed from work.

This weekend my 90 year old mother emailed asking me this question…….
What is Sequestration?  Definition of Federal Budget Term
By Tom Murse,
The Congressional Research Service defines sequestration this way:
"In general, sequestration entails the permanent cancellation of budgetary resources by a uniform percentage. Moreover, this uniform percentage reduction is applied to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account.”

Pittsburgh school district spent $23 million on now-closed buildings
$79 million used to expand, change, add to current schools
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 24, 2013 12:33 am
The former Pittsburgh Reizenstein Middle School was once so crowded that large closets had to be turned into classrooms and some students were housed in an annex.
Now the Shadyside school, which was opened in 1975, is being torn down to make way for an expanded Bakery Square, purchased for $5.4 million -- enough to cover the outstanding debt but less than the $6.27 million the district had spent on it since 2007.
The school symbolizes the millions of dollars expended on schools no longer open as Pittsburgh Public Schools has struggled to decide which schools to keep open or reopen, which to close and which to renovate in the face of declining enrollment, increased charter school choices and deficit budgets.

Hite: Status quo can't continue
Inquirer Opinion by WILLIAM R. HITE JR. Monday, February 25, 2013, 3:01 AM
WE ALREADY know what will happen to the School District of Philadelphia if no school closures happen this year.  We only have to look to the past: Shaky budget forecasts, draconian job cuts, and borrowing to pay the bills amid dismal academic performance.  Even so, it is understandable why there's been little movement to close schools in Philadelphia over the years.

"If all three of these schools are shut down, the neighborhood would be deprived of anchor institutions that have stabilized the neighborhood over the years," 
Northwest Philly community fights to keep three 'anchor institutions' open in Germantown
WHYY Newsworks By Aaron Moselle February 22, 2013
The Philadelphia School District's plan to close 29 schools at the end of this academic year has been a tough pill to swallow for residents in central Germantown.
Under the district's Facilities Master Plan, Roosevelt Middle School, Fulton Elementary School and Germantown High School would close, a fact that has left many parents and community leaders scratching their heads.
Their number one question: where are students going to go to school in the neighborhood?

“Poverty is a long-term problem for millions of Americans, rural as well as urban, and rates have grown in recent years due to the Great Recession. The U.S. Census reported that 46.2 million Americans—15.1 percent—were living in poverty in 2011, the highest rate since 1993 and the highest total number ever.”
Op-ed: Poverty must be fought wherever it exists
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Sandra L. Strauss on February 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM
The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss is Director of Public Advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.
Despite the problems that create or occur because of poverty, our federal and state budgets and policies do little to protect our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.  The Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians (CLIP) and others concerned with poverty have long bemoaned the lack of public conversation about U.S. and Pennsylvania poverty. It was nearly absent from last year’s presidential campaign, and has received only minor attention from the president since his reelection.

High School Graduation Rate In U.S. On Pace To Reach 90 Percent By 2020: Powell Report
Posted: 02/25/2013 12:01 am EST  |  Updated: 02/25/2013 12:37 am EST
Despite the constantly gloomy rhetoric about the state of America's schools, U.S. students are steadily improving by at least one metric -- for the first time, the nation is making enough progress in graduating from high school to reach the goal of 90 percent graduation by 2020, according to a new report to be released Monday.  "This is our fourth annual update," said John Bridgeland, an author of the report, titled "Building a Grad Nation." "Previously we've been able to focus on school districts making double-digit gains but we always have to pivot and say the pace of progress is too slow. Now, we have hopeful news."  The report will be released by America's Promise Alliance, an advocacy group founded by Colin and Alma Powell. "We're cautiously optimistic," Bridgeland said. "The pace of progress really rocketed forward right at a time when high school reform efforts were strongly under way."
Last year Pennsylvania diverted an additional $25 million in tax dollars to its original EITC program and added $50 millionmore for the new EITC 2.0 voucher program that sends diverted tax dollars to private and religious schools that don’t have to accept ALL students and that have virtually no public accountability for either the money or for student performance…here’s a piece on Marco Rubio’s proposal for a federal level EITC program….
“This is a tea partier's dream come true. It starves the federal treasury of tax revenue, funnels children into religious indoctrination, erodes support for public schools by having parents abandon them and, perhaps sweetest of all, harms all those progressives who have chosen to be public school teachers as well as their unions.”
EITC: Rubio's stale school plan
Saturday, February 23, 2013 3:30am
Sen. Marco Rubio has so much star power at the moment his teeth seem to gleam when he smiles. With his Cuban-American heritage and youthful visage Rubio was the natural choice to deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech. But his performance illustrates a point that Republicans don't seem to get: A new face doesn't improve bankrupt ideas.  One of those ideas is the undermining of public schools. Under the guise of helping lower-income parents, Rubio is offering the Educational Opportunities Act to move students from public to private schools, most of which are church-affiliated, at taxpayer expense. To get around church-state separation problems his plan would give taxpayers dollar-for-dollar federal tax credits for "donating" money to designated scholarship funds that would pay for private school education. Some would call that money laundering.

Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a Billionaire Boys Club
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on February 24, 2013 6:14 PM
The second largest school district in the nation, Los Angeles Unified, is in the midst of what must surely be the costliest school board race ever.
This month we have seen report after report of billionaire donations rolling in, totaling almost $3 million. First we learned that Eli Broad and former Univision head Jerrold Perenchio had each pitched in $250,000. Then New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped a cool million into the effort. Most recently, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst lobby has added in their own quarter million.
The billionaire's money is being spent to pay for what the usually staid Los Angeles Times calls"junk ads," and "serious exaggeration and distortion."
The big concern among these "reformers," is apparently that the pace of charter school expansion might be slowed. They are also very focused on eliminating or weakening due process and seniority protections for teachers. And most of all, they want board members who will offer strong support to Superintendent John Deasy, a favorite of the Gates Foundation.

Bill and Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children has contributed millions towards dismantling public education in Pennsylvania.
Aww, come-on. Are private school vouchers really about dismantling our public education system?
The purpose of vouchers, including voucher tax credits, is to privatize our public schools.  Here is economist Milton Friedman, who invented the voucher concept:

WaltonCAN  – Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education noted in this report has been a steady beneficiary of Walton Family Foundation dollars: $600,000 in 2009, $1,692,000 in 2010, $1,550,000 in 2011 and $1,000,000 in 2012.  Save more, live better, eradicate public education….
K12, Inc. Profits and Questions – this is a link to more background on K12, Inc.
“A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.
K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Education, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of education publishing giant Pearson, are both seeking to expand online offerings and to open full-time virtual charter schools in Maine, with taxpayers paying the tuition for the students who use the services.”
September 13, 2012
Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine
Documents expose the flow of money and influence from corporations that stand to profit from state leaders' efforts to expand and deregulate digital education.
Maine Sunday Telegram/Press Herald By Colin Woodard Staff Writer This story originally was published on Sept. 2, 2012.
Stephen Bowen was excited and relieved.
Maine’s education commissioner had just returned to his Augusta office last October after a three-day trip to San Francisco where he attended a summit of conservative education reformers convened by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which had paid for the trip.

“In a working paper by Columbia University’s Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggers, they lay out findings from their study of half a million online courses taken by more than 40,000 community and technical-college students in the state of Washington. What they found is that students who have a harder time in traditional offline higher education are no better served by online courses. Xu and Jaggers, who is the assistant director of the Community College Research Center, found that all students, no matter their race, age or gender, who took online courses were actually less likely to finish their degree. But males and black students and those who came to their courses with less academic preparation than their classmates were less able to adapt to online course formats.”
The Latest Online Education Craze Could Very Well Worsen the Achievement Gap by Julianne Hing, Friday, February 22 2013, 5:15 PM EST
Online education is just about the hottest new trend in education these days. In 2007, more than a million K-12 students took an online course; that number was itself a 47 percent increase over the previous two years. And the numbers are increasing rapidly as legislators tout online learning plans as a cost-effective answers to budget woes. But while the jury’s still out on the academic efficacy of online education programs, new research suggests that these trendy education programs may well be exacerbating very old racial inequities in education.

Charter schools and disaster capitalism
Friedmanites have created a market-based system of charter schools in Chicago, forcing many public schools to close BY KENZO SHIBATA SUNDAY, FEB 24, 2013 08:00 AM EST
In public policy circles, crises are called “focusing events” — bringing to light a particular failing in government policy.  They require government agencies to switch rapidly into crisis mode to implement solutions. Creating the crisis itself is more novel.
The right-wing, free market vision of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman informed the blueprint for the rapid privatization of municipal services throughout the world due in no small part to what author Naomi Klein calls “Disaster Capitalism.” Friedman wrote in his 1982 treatise Capitalism and Freedom, “When [a] crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”

“Research has shown that testing doesn't make students smarter or improve the educational outcomes for those at risk. It just makes test-makers wealthier.”
Guest Column: The trend in education is away from standardized, high-stakes tests
Arizona needs to spend its money on proven, researched-based strategies.
February 20, 2013 12:00 am by Robin Hiller Special To The Arizona Daily Star
Research has shown that testing doesn't make students smarter or improve the educational outcomes for those at risk. It just makes test-makers wealthier.
Between 2010 and 2012, Arizona gave Pearson, an international company providing curriculum materials, multimedia learning tools and testing programs, nearly $12.9 million. In 2013, in just one Tucson district, Pearson has made another $6 million with SuccessMaker to make sure third-graders pass their new high-stakes test. Other Arizona districts followed because our state, defying research and education experts, believes that testing is the solution to our educational woes.  But across the United States there is a growing swell of resistance to our national obsession of standardized testing.

Texas Weighing Prospect of Changes in Graduation Requirements
Texas Tribune By MORGAN SMITH Published: February 21, 2013
Following backlash over the rocky institution of a new student assessment system last spring, Texas lawmakers are scrambling to scale back the requirements they passed four years ago. As the Legislature tackles such reform, attention is also focused on another area of education policy: high school graduation requirements.  Wrapped up in legislation that reduces the number of state-mandated standardized exams are several measures that redefine the curriculum prescribed for a high school diploma in favor of loosening the required courses for graduation.

It Pays to Invest in Early Education Says a Nobel Economist Who Boosts Kids' IQ
PBS Newshour BY: PAUL SOLMAN February 22, 2013 at 10:29 AM EDT
Paul Solman interviews economist James Heckman, who researches the value and effects of early childhood enrichment programs.

Duncan Press Secretary now Working for Rupert Murdoch
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 23, 2013 //
Justin Hamilton, who recently stepped down as Arne Duncan’s press secretary, has accepted an executive position at Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. This division, headed by Joel Klein, sells technology to the schools.

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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