Monday, March 11, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 11, 2013: Cyber special: more than you ever wanted to know about PA cyber charter schools.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1875 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 March 11, 2013Cyber special: more than you ever wanted to know about PA cyber charter schools.

Saturday, March 9, 2013
Here’s our weekend posting if you missed it:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 9, 2013: Cyber tuition - Remember the $600 toilet seat and $100 hammer? “Total cyber charter tuition would have been $714K; instead our taxpayers are spending just $27K for ALL 35 students. “

Recent Pennsylvania legislation overhauls charter school funding
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 11, 2013 12:06 am
A new legislative session in Harrisburg has brought a renewed effort at charter school overhaul.
Both Republicans and Democrats have introduced legislation in recent weeks, and school officials are hoping some progress is made this session after the effort remained unfinished at the end of last year.  Proposals by the state House Republican Caucus two weeks ago focus largely on changes in how cyber charter schools are funded.
A wide-ranging bill proposed by state Rep. James Roebuck, D-Philadelphia, last week is more far-reaching, addressing costs at both bricks-and-mortar charter and cyber charter schools and including changes in the way charter schools handle their finances.

PA House Education Committee Public Hearing:
Cyber Charter Funding Reform
Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:00 AM Room 140 Main Capitol
HB 618 (Emrick) and HB 759 (Reese)
Here’s some background on these two bills:
Charter and Cyber Charter Funding Reforms Proposed
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s website 1/25/2013
HARRISBURG – The House Republican Caucus today unveiled a legislative package aimed at reforming charter and cyber charter school funding.

In advance of Thursday’s PA House Education Committee hearings on cybercharters here are three collections of articles/prior postings that will give you a pretty broad overview of Pennsylvania cyber charter schools:

Cyber special: Lancaster Online: 10 pieces on PA Cyber Charters
This posting from November 2012 includes a great Lancaster Online series on cybercharters by Mary Beth Schweigert and Chip Smedley.  If you are new to this issue this is a great place to get a handle on it.

Cyber special: K12, Inc. Profits and Questions
This is a collection of current and prior postings on K12, Inc. from February 14, 2013

Cyber special: Collection of articles on Pennsylvania cybers and charters, followed by some additional history on K12, Inc. and Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby’s involvement with them.

As I See It: Sequester kids from budget cuts
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Joan Benso on March 10, 2013
Joan Benso is the the president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in Harrisburg.
One of the wonders of early learning is a young child’s ability to soak up hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of new words in the span of a few months. Who could’ve predicted one of those new words might be “sequester?”  Yes, those deep, across-the-board federal spending cuts finally have hit, and their impact could be devastating to our kids if Congress and President Obama cannot reach a compromise this month to undo the sequester and adopt a “continuing resolution” (there’s another term for your vocabulary, kids) to keep the federal government from shutting down. If the gridlock continues, it’s going to take a harmful - and potentially irreversible - toll on our youngest Pennsylvanians.
About 2,300 commonwealth children will lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start services, depriving them of critical early learning opportunities they can never get back. Up to 1,800 disadvantaged Pennsylvania children could lose access to subsidized child care, impacting them and their working parents already struggling to make ends meet. Children with disabilities will lose hundreds of teachers and aides because of the loss of $21.4 million in education funding to Pennsylvania, and about 5,280 fewer commonwealth children will receive vaccinations against the flu, measles, mumps and other preventable diseases.

Editorial: City schools need to adapt to competition from other institutions
Philadelphia daily News Editorial POSTED: Monday, March 11, 2013, 3:01 AM
THE DEED is done. Amid some of the most well-orchestrated and well-attended protests from parents and activists in recent history, the School Reform Commission last week voted to close down nearly two-dozen schools and consolidate a dozen others.  The next question: What can the SRC and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. do to prevent more closings in the future? More to the point, what can parents, teachers and public-education advocates do to prevent them?
Before we get to answers, we have to look at the problem. The reality is that in 2013, district schools are losing the competition for students to a variety of other providers, especially charter schools.

School closings moving ahead, but ...
Kristen A. Graham and Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writers
POSTED: Sunday, March 10, 2013, 5:22 AM
Now that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has ordered 23 schools shut, the heavy lifting begins.  Literally.
After a tense school-closing vote Thursday night, the city School District shifted gears as it prepares to deal with practical questions: How do you shut and eventually sell 23 buildings? How do you move 23 schools' worth of textbooks and computers into new locations? Manage new assignments for 9,000 students? Transfer or, in some cases, shed employees affected by the closures?

EITC: Pennsylvania has diverted millions of taxpayer dollars each year — and taxpayers deserve to know where that money is being spent – for education tax credit programs (EITC) that have virtually no fiscal or student performance accountability.
Last year’s budget increased the original Education Improvement Tax Credit program funding by $25 million and LEGISLATION THAT REP. CHRISTIANA SPONSORED created a new $50 million EITC 2.0 supervoucher program.  Ironically, the EITC legislation specifically LIMITS public information on this spending.
Both EITC programs get an “F” for total lack of transparency.
GUEST COLUMN: Pa. shines bright for government transparency, accountability
Delco Times Opinion By JIM CHRISTIANA Times Guest Columnist March 11, 2013
The start of 2013 brought about good news for Pennsylvanians interested in transparency. According to the 2013 Transparency Report from the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency, Pennsylvania earned an “A-” in state government transparency. This was fantastic news for citizens of this state, who “pay the bills” and deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent.

EITC: Coming to NH: Education tax credit scandals from around the nation and around the world!
Advancing New Hampshire Public Education by Bill Duncan March 2014
Oops…not from around the word, actually.  Only in the United States do some people assert that the way to improve education is to privatize it.  From Finland to Singapore, the high performing education systems are public school systems working hard to get better.
But we’ve got enough scandal in the U.S. to forecast the future of education tax credits (vouchers) in New Hampshire.  Based on the experience in other states, here’s the equation for bad results:

Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy connects with students on Twitter
As soon as the weathermen start talking about snow falling, the pleas start popping up onJoseph Roy's Twitter feed.  "Is there a possibility of a delay?" "Are we getting out early?"  "Give me an excuse not to do this English project and give us off tomorrow."
"Sorry, no decisions until early morning," the Bethlehem Area School District superintendent replied. "Do the English project, you'll feel good when it's done."

‘Storm of reform’ — principal details damage done
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog posted by Valerie Strauss on March 11, 2013 at 5:00 am
Principal Carol Burris’ recent post on why she is no longer a fan of the Common Core stirred wide interest and lively debate — enough that Carol decided to follow up with a piece that addresses some of the questions voiced in the comments following the piece, as well as in the emails she received after its posting. Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York, was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals. Here’s her first post.

“Lessons from the Heartland” Barbara Miner book signing and discussion Thursday, March 14th, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Defending Public Schools, Defending our Democracy
Interviewed by Helen Gym
Hosted by Media Mobilizing Project, TAG-Philly, Philadelphia Student Union, and Parents United for Public Education
Media Mobilizing Project, 4233 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. More specifically, we will support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, and we will support candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation’s children. Comet PanSTARRS: Sky map looking west after sunset on Tuesday, March 12
BRIGHT COMET: This weekend, bright Comet Pan-STARRS is making a close approach to the sun inside the orbit of Mercury where fierce solar heat is helping the comet reach naked-eye visibility. Observers in the northern hemisphere are making their first sightings now as the comet emerges from solar glare low in the western sky after sunset.  Soon, the comet could be widely visible to casual sky watchers--no telescope required.  Visit for images, sky maps and observing tips.  Dates of special interest include March 12th and 13th when the comet passes not far from the crescent Moon. Comet PanSTARRS: Sky map looking west after sunset on Wednesday, March 13

Honoring Valor: National History Day Student Competition
Letters of intent due by April 1, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Army Heritage Center Foundation, and the Pennsylvania State Museum are pleased to announce a competition for students in Middle and
High School to demonstrate how and why societies honor valor. Inspired by the valor exemplified by Soldiers at Gettysburg in 1863, citizens on September 11, 2001, and the responses of individuals battling disease or injustice, the competition will recognize students who demonstrate
excellence in identifying and describing how and why societies honor their valiant men and women.

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!
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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