Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 27, 2013: As sequestration looms, leaders in Washington are intently focused on……

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 27, 2013: As sequestration looms, leaders in Washington are intently focused on……

Roebuck Seeking Co-sponsors for Comprehensive Charter and Cyber Charter SchoolReform Legislation

As sequestration looms, leaders in Washington are intently focused on not taking the blame…..
Obama, Boehner still talking but not to each other
By JAKE SHERMAN | 2/26/13 7:29 PM EST
It’s seems like we’ve been here before.
It’s midweek in Washington, a budget deadline looms on Friday that’s sure to cause some measure of havoc around the country and both sides are busy posturing in front of inanimate or human props.  But this fight is different from other fights: There is no urgency to solve it.
No all-night bargaining sessions that have leaders whipping votes over boxes of freshly delivered pizza. No eleventh-hour breakthrough in closed rooms in the Capitol basement.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner haven’t spoken since Thursday. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid haven’t met since Jan. 21.

School boards prepare for layoffs, program cuts as federal deadline looms
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min February 26th, 2013
School boards across the country will be forced to lay off thousands of teachers and teacher aides in coming weeks as they create their budgets for the 2013-14 academic year because of the federal budget cuts scheduled to take place March 1.  The sequester, which will require across the board budget cuts for all federal programs on March 1, will eliminate about 5 percent of funding for K-12 programs and Head Start. However, representatives from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) pointed out in a press conference call this week that those cuts disproportionately affect school districts that are educating large populations of disadvantaged students

Public Education Could Take Big Hit From Sequestration
February 25, 2013 5:32 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sequestration is a fancy name for across-the-board federal budget cuts — and just about everything is affected.  “Police and firefighters that get money from the federal government, infrastructure, health care programs, environmental programs, anything that receives federal money will be impacted by sequestration, including defense programs,” said Jamie Baxter, Director of legislative policy and advocacy for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which represents school districts in Allegheny County. 
Among the hardest hit will be public education, Baxter told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
“With sequestration, there are no winners or losers, only losers and bigger losers,” she said.
Every local school district will lose tens of thousands of dollars, but the biggest losers will be:
  • Pittsburgh, $3.4 million in cuts
  • McKeesport Area, $400,000
  • Butler Area, $368,000
  • Woodland Hills, $363,000
  • Uniontown, $319,000
  • Penn Hills, $229,000
  • Hempfield Area, $228,000
  • North Allegheny, $201,000
  • Wilkinsburg, $186,000
  • and Aliquippa, $172,000

“And, finally, if our elected leaders - who got us to this point - impose cuts and furloughs harmful to even some citizens, don't forget that salaries of the president and all members of Congress are exempt from sequestration.”
John Baer: Congress' $85 billion cut won't crush us
John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist  Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 3:01 AM
SEQUESTRATION is coming! Sequestration is coming!
The government, assuming Congress remains true to its moribund self through Friday, won't be able to spend in its usual thoughtful, responsible way.
And this is bad?

Corbett plan would cut Pa. pensions by $12 billion Pittsburgh By PETER JACKSON The Associated Press 7:45 p.m. Feb. 26, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. — State and school employees would be forced to forgo nearly $12 billion worth in pension benefits over the next 30 years if Gov. Tom Corbett's pension reform plan is approved, according to an administration analysis released Tuesday.
The itemized summary marked the first time the administration has publicly disclosed estimates of the savings and costs associated with the multifaceted pension reform plan Corbett unveiled in his budget address this month.

McCord Blasts Corbett Pension Plan
PoliticsPA Written by Connor Kurtz, Contributing Writer February 26, 2013
Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord continued his criticism Tuesday of Governor Tom Corbett’s proposal to reform the commonwealth’s pension system. The plan is a key part of Corbett’s budget plan.  McCord hosted a conference call with leaders of the Keystone Research Center, a left-leaning think tank based in Harrisburg. Many of its donors and supporters are affiliated with labor unions that represent state employees.

Governor’s Pension Plan Will Cost the State and Taxpayers More
Keystone Research Center releases first in a series of pension primers
HARRISBURG, PA (February 26, 2013) – Key components of Governor Tom Corbett’s massive pension restructuring plan would actually increase costs for the state, school districts, and ultimately taxpayers, according to the Keystone Research Center, which released the first two in a series of “pension primers” today.

In Philly, District wants up to 13% salary cut, other big changes

Inquirer Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham Tuesday, February 26, 2013,
It's going to be a long summer.
The Philadelphia School District wants its teachers to lengthen their workdays, give back up to 13 perent of their salaries, and forego pay raises at least until 2017. It wants to reduce the money paid out to departing employees, weaken seniority and give principals full authority over hiring and firing teachers.  Philadelphia Federation of Teachers officials on Tuesday confirmed some details of the district’s initial contract proposal, which the Inquirer has obtained. School officials have been saying for months that they need up to $180 million in labor givebacks annually to avert a five-year deficit of more than $1 billion.

“McDaniel said that he also used the Progressive Agenda PAC to disguise the source of a $5,900 contribution to Fatimah Muhammad for her Democratic primary-election challenge to state Rep. James Roebuck. The money originated from the Students First PAC, a pro-school-voucher group.”
A little city ethics cleansing
Brown aide admits to campaign-finance fibs
CHRIS BRENNAN, Daily News Staff Writer
POSTED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 3:01 AM
JOHN McDANIEL, the former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, has admitted he violated the city's campaign-finance law.

“Here’s where Students First may have violated the law: A woman named Fatimah Loren Muhammad ran for Pennsylvania’s 188th state congressional district last spring, representing West Philadelphia (she lost the Democratic primary to Jim Roebuck). Students First PAC gave her $25,000 directly. But according to McDaniel, they also gave her at least $5,900, using Progressive Agenda PAC as a conduit. That would appear to be a violation of Section 1634 (25 P.S. § 3254) of the state campaign finance reporting law, which bars people from using middlemen to make contributions.”……The McDaniel donation might not be the only potential violation here. According to information compiled by City Paper and West Philly Local last spring, no fewer than four other groups appear to have made similar conduit donations to Friends of Fatimah on behalf of Students First PAC.”
Students First PAC, Powerful School Privatization Group May Have Violated State Law in Connection to John McDaniel Affair [Updated]
Phillymag The Scoop by Simon van Zuylen-Wood 2/26/2013
Students First PAC, a moneyed pro-school privatization group, may have violated state election law. Backed by Bala Cynwyd hedge fund managers and national pro-voucher advocate American Federation for Children, it donated close to $5 million to State Senator Anthony Williams around the time of his 2010 gubernatorial bid, and has contributed to several smaller state and city races since. Its main goal is to promote publicly-funded private school vouchers.

“In the meantime, though, the governor's current budget proposal exacerbates the inequities of the broken system. His proposal would cut special education funding for all 43 of Allegheny County's school districts by taking money from the existing special education budget -- which has been flat-funded for five years, despite inflating service costs -- and put it into the Contingency Fund.”
Gov. Corbett's special education proposal exploits a broken system
Post gazette Opinion by Sandy Zelno February 26, 2013 12:06 am
For more than two decades the state has distributed special education funding based on an outdated calculation that 16 percent of the students in each school district receives special education services.  In reality, some districts serve nearly twice that percentage and some serve half. Calculating a more accurate number of special education students in each district and then directing funding based on those calculations is a basic, commonly accepted budgeting concept. Yet the Corbett administration and the General Assembly have now twice failed to pass recent legislation that would implement such a system, fixing the current broken system and providing accuracy and accountability for special education funding.

“The Duquesne school board voted that plan down Thursday, an action that requires Mr. Tomalis to petition the court to appoint a receiver under the guidelines of new state legislation created to deal with the academic and financial problems of the state's poorest school districts.”
Pa. education secretary petitions Court of Common Pleas to appoint Duquesne schools receiver
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 26, 2013 11:23 am
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis has petitioned the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to appoint Paul B. Long as the receiver for the Duquesne City School District.
Mr. Long already serves as chief recovery officer for the district and as such drafted a financial recovery plan that calls for asking 11 surrounding school districts to voluntarily take Duquesne students in grades K-6 on a tuition basis.  If appointed receiver he and not the elected school board will operate the district and move forward with his recovery plan.

KIPP students show major improvement, study finds
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 3:01 AM
A Princeton-based research firm's analysis of the KIPP national network of charter schools found KIPP middle-school students made substantial gains in core subjects over a three-year span.
Mathematica Policy Research was scheduled to release a report Wednesday based on what it called its "most rigorous large-scale evaluation of KIPP charter schools."

“The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.”
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 26, 2013 //
I have thought long and hard about the Common Core standards.  I have decided that I cannot support them.  In this post, I will explain why.

Resistance to Common Core standards growing
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog  by Valerie Strauss on February 26, 2013 at 5:00 am
Nearly all of the states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math and are in the process of getting ready to implement them by 2014. In a number of states, however, the standards are meeting with growing resistance for reasons including questions about who was behind the initiative and whether they are better than previous standards. Alabama, for example recently said it was pulling out of the two consortia that are working on creating standardized tests aligned with the standards. In this and the next two blog posts, we explore some of the issues surrounding the standards. (And you can see more here and here and here and here.)

N.M. Bill Seeks to Curb Private Companies' Role in Schools
Education Week Marketplace K-12 Blog By Sean Cavanagh on February 25, 2013 9:36 AM
Legislation has emerged in New Mexico that would bar the state, individual charter schools, and traditional public schools and districts from contracting with private entities to manage or oversee a school's operations.  The measure, introduced by state Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat, comes in the wake of state secretary-designate of education Hanna Skandera's decision to overrule a state panel and allow a for-profit online provider, Connections Academy, to open a virtual school in the state.

PhilaSoup March 2013 - Sunday Get together
Sunday, March 3, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EST) Philadelphia, PA
Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall (2nd Floor)
3417 Spruce Street, PhiladelphiaPA 19104
Philasoup is a monthly microgrant dinner meant to bring innovative and dynamic Philadelphia-area educators together, highlight the great work they are doing and fund some terrific projects. The vision for PhilaSoup is to be a monthly microgrant dinner that starts and ends with educators but is an access point to education for the whole city.

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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