Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 9, 2013 - Editorial: Here we go again on school funding?

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 9, 2013

Budget Note: Although special education is flat funded (for the sixth consecutive year) in Governor Corbett’s Proposed 2013-14 Budget, school districts are slated to see a ½% decrease in their special ed allocation that will be used to increase the State’s special education contingency fund from $10 million to $20 million.

Public school administrators voice concerns at legislative forum in Homestead
McKeesport Daily News by Patrick Cloonan 412-664-9161Staff Reporter
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013, 4:51 a.m.
Public school administrators said on Thursday in Homestead that “adequate, consistent, fair and equitable” state funding is a top priority.
“We need funding that is reliable,” Pennsylvania School Boards Association interim executive director Stuart Knade told a legislative forum at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's offices.
The second annual AIU forum brought together a panel of 13 that included state senators and representatives and legislative staffers.
Overhaul of Pennsylvania teachers’ pensions critical, officials say
By Kari Andren Tribune-Review  Published: Friday, February 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Public school teachers are calling an effort by Gov. Tom Corbett to cut their pension benefits disrespectful and say it breaks a promise made to them when they were hired.
But state officials and local school board members said this week that overhauling state employees' and public teachers' pensions is crucial to stem a $41 billion pension funding shortfall and ease sharp increases in state and school district contributions to the retirement plans.
Editorial: Here we go again on school funding?
By Patriot-News Editorial Board  on February 08, 2013 at 10:55 AM
In the $28.4 billion budget he presented to a joint session of the state House and Senate last week, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a $90 million, or 1.7 percent increase, in basic education funding for Pennsylvania’s cash-strapped public schools.  If approved by lawmakers, the increase would bring state support for basic education to nearly $5.5 billion, an amount the administration says is the highest level of funding ever provided to the 500 districts statewide.
There’s been perhaps no topic more hotly debated than the amount of state spending that Corbett shaved from public education during the first two years of his administration. The Republican has vigorously disputed claims that he cleaved $1 billion in state funding during his first year in office.

Corbett's budget falls short on education, health care and taxes
Post-Gazette By Sharon Ward February 8, 2013 12:03 am
After a long economic downturn, the people of Pennsylvania are clamoring for better days -- more jobs, greater job security and a brighter future for our children. In his budget address Tuesday, Gov. Tom Corbett said Pennsylvania's best days lie ahead, but there is little in his spending plan that would improve the lives of ordinary Pennsylvanians.
Mr. Corbett's budget would do little to undo the damage done by the deep cuts to education and health care enacted during his first two years. It also fails to take advantage of an opportunity to expand health care coverage that would strengthen our economy. Instead, it would waste taxpayer dollars on corporate tax breaks that have no track record of creating jobs.
One of the governor's first acts in office -- a nearly billion-dollar cut to public schools -- remains largely intact. These spending reductions have led to the loss of 20,000 teachers, counselors and other school personnel, and have contributed to declines in student performance, reversing several years of progress. Schools cannot help students prepare to enter a global economy when cuts have increased class sizes in 70 percent of districts, reduced elective courses in 44 percent and cut tutoring in 35 percent.

Op-ed: Corbett budget rings hollow
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Daniel Denvir on February 07,
Governor Tom Corbett now confronts the awkward reality that most Pennsylvanians don't like him. And come 2014, his anemic 36-percent approval rating may prove to be a serious obstacle to his reelection. It's notable that President Barack Obama's approval rating in Pennsylvania stands at 51-percent. Go figure.  It seems that Corbett finally understands that his massive and unpopular cuts to education and the safety net are, next to the Penn State sex abuse scandal, his greatest political liabilities. So on Tuesday he proposed a budget that came across heavy on floral notes, including $90 million in new schools spending and a critical $5 billion over five years for roads and transit.

The School District of Philadelphia  Open Data Initiative
The School District of Philadelphia (SDP), along with Open Data Philly, is publishing data sets for public use. We are publishing four sets of data initially:
  • SDP school information- including demographic and enrollment data about each SDP school, going back five years.
  • Charter school information - including school location details.
  • PreK school information - including school location details.
  • School catchments - including geographic data about each school's catchment or feeder pattern.
Each data set is provided as a ZIP file; within each ZIP file is a README describing the data, the date the data was extracted and other relevant details.

Quakertown Superintendent Andrejko honored for digital learning Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:00 am By Amanda Cregan Staff Writer
Quakertown School District’s leader has been honored for advancements in digital learning.
Nationally, the Upper Bucks County district is leading the way when it comes to implementing technology for 21st century learners, according to eSchool News.
Quakertown Superintendent Lisa Andrejko is one of eight recipients of the 2013 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award, sponsored by NetSupport and eSchool News.  Andrejko is among the nation’s top K-12 executives recognized for outstanding ed-tech leadership and vision, according to eSchool News.  She credits her team of administrators and teachers, who have worked hard to implement digital learning for students.
Andrejko and Tom Murray, Technology and Cyber Program director, will be interviewed live during the Digital Learning Day’s Digital Town Hall, which will be broadcast over the Internet on Wednesday. The two will travel to Washington, D.C., along with Freshman Center teacher Dan Wallace, to participate.

“The technology initiatives that Andrejko has put in place for Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) provide a technology integration model for other schools nationwide.”
Meet the winners of our 2013 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards
eSchool News FEBRUARY 1, 2013 BY ADMIN
These eight superintendents were chosen by eSchool News for their outstanding ed-tech leadership and vision From staff reports eSN’s 2013 TSSA winners are dedicated to student learning and ed-tech implementation.

Good News! Texas Republicans Turning Against Testing Fever
Diane Ravitch’s Blog February 8, 2013
Texas Republicans are hearing from their constituents–in the grocery store, at the barber, wherever they go.  People think that testing in Texas is out of control.

Waivers and ESEA Renewal Get Hard Look From Senators
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 7, 2013 2:50 PM
Now that the Obama administration has issued more than 30 waivers to help states get relief from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act, should Congress decide to get moving on the long-overdue reauthorization of the law, or step back for a while and allow waivers to take hold in states, and then learn from them? And which policies put in place by the waivers should lawmakers incorporate into a new version of the law?
Those were the central question facing lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at hearing on the waiver plans today.

Teachers' Ratings Still High Despite New Measures
Changes to evaluation systems yield only subtle differences
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk Published Online: February 5, 2013
The figures are resoundingly familiar.
In Michigan, 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or betterRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader under new teacher-evaluation systems recently put in place. In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or betterRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader .  Principals in TennesseeRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader judged 98 percent of teachers to be "at expectations" or better last school year, while evaluators in GeorgiaRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader gave good reviews to 94 percent of teachers taking part in a pilot evaluation program.
Those results, among the first trickling out from states' newly revamped yardsticks, paint a picture of a K-12 system that remains hesitant to differentiate between the best and the weakest performers—as well as among all those in the middle doing a solid job who still have room to improve.

“This is what people need to understand. Using standardized tests to measure student performance in a few subjects distorts the whole picture of education, confuses test scores with real education that prepares competent and responsible citizens, and reduces education to test preparation. These simplistic accountability measures distract policy makers, educators, parents, and students from addressing what really matters in education, waste precious political and financial assets, and unfairly blames educators for societal problems. The lack of faith in public education could lead to the demise of the great American tradition–a decentralized public education system that strives to educate all children in their local context.”
Yong Zhao in Conversation: Education Should Liberate, Not Indoctrinate
World Observer Online MAY 23, 2012 5:03 PM 
I am honored to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon. He is a fellow for the International Academy for Education. Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province and is author of Catching Up or Leading the Way (ASCD, 2009), a book I highly recommend others to read. He has a new book coming out next month: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students.

Pittsburgh Feb. 10th Rally for Public Education!
Yinzercation Blog January 28, 2013
Come RALLY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION on Sunday, February 10, 20133PM at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty (5941 Penn AvenuePittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206). This is about equity, social justice, and a great public education for all our children.

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.  Next month, Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his 2013-14 budget proposal. 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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