Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 12, 2013: Longietti said he supports a bill calling for reform because he thinks “people would be astounded when they hear how much charter schools cost districts.”

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 12, 2013Longietti said he supports a bill calling for reform because he thinks “people would be astounded when they hear how much charter schools cost districts.”

State House passes bill to overhaul special education funding formula
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  on March 11, 2013 at 6:05 PM
The state House passed legislation today that would establish a 15-member commission to develop a special education funding formula to replace the existing one that is decades old.
The legislation, which passed 193-0, calls for the formula to factor in costs of providing services to students with special needs.

PA House Bill 2 (O’Neill) passed the House 193-0; on to the Senate (as SB 470)
House Approves O’Neill Bill to Create Fair Funding Formula for Special Education
PA House Republican Caucus 3/11/2013
HARRISBURG – The state House of Representatives today voted unanimously to send legislation that addresses current issues with the state’s distribution of special education funding to the Senate, said Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks), prime sponsor of the measure.
“Our state’s archaic formula for funding special education has been in place for 20 years,” said O’Neill. “This unfair distribution method starves areas with increasing populations of special needs students of the resources they need to succeed.”
Currently, state funding for special education is distributed based on an estimate that special education students make up 16 percent of the overall student population in each school district.

Pennsylvania is one of only three states that does not use a formula to determine basic education funding”
Advocate group wants Pennsylvania education funding formula reinstated
PA Independent By ERIC BOEHM March 11, 2013
Pennsylvania will spend nearly $5.5 billion on subsidies to school districts this year, but an education reform group says in a new report that the distribution of those funds is out of whack.
The Education Law Center, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that advocates for more equitable education funding, called for the restoration of a state-level educational funding formula along the lines of the one discontinued by the Corbett administration.
The group said Pennsylvania is one of only three states that does not use a formula to determine basic education funding.

Report: PA Education Funding Falls Flat
Public News Service by Tom Joseph March 11, 2013
PHILADELPHIA - A new report says education funding in Pennsylvania lacks transparency, accuracy and fairness, and falls short of the standards used in the vast majority of other states.
According to Rhonda Brownstein, executive director of the Education Law Center, which issued the report, her group found fundamental flaws in Pennsylvania's system, and the report demonstrates how the state fails to recognize distinct characteristics of certain districts and their pupils.  "Some school districts have high numbers of children who are poor, have high numbers of children with disabilities, have larger than average number of kids who are English language learners, et cetera," she pointed out. "And educating those children costs more money. That's one big issue."
Brownstein said Pennsylvania kicks in only about 36 percent of a district's education dollars, with a small amount also coming from the federal government.

Admission to Pittsburgh's charter and magnet schools becomes difficult
By Anya Sostek / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 11, 2013 12:11 am
Bathed in light from soaring windows, kindergartners huddle around a table, engrossed in individualized iPad lessons. Shrugging off 20-degree temperatures, first-graders bound across Forbes Avenue for a hike in Frick Park. In a glass-walled "Thinking Lab," second-graders build to-scale models they've designed for a treehouse-style playground to be built at their Park Place school.  For parents looking for a creative, outdoorsy education for their future kindergartners -- with beautiful food in a beautiful building -- the Environmental Charter School seems like a dream.
Increasingly, it's nearly an impossible one.

Longietti said he supports a bill calling for reform because he thinks “people would be astounded when they hear how much charter schools cost districts.”
Local school reps give lawmakers an earful
Sharon Herald By Sandy Scarmack Herald Staff Writer March 10, 2013
MERCER — While the final education budget won’t roll out until the end of June, local legislators and school district officials met Thursday night to talk about key issues curently affecting public education, specifically charter schools, pension reform and state funding.
Hosted by Mercer Area School District, Reps. Mark Longietti,  Hermitage, D-7th District,  Dick Stevenson, Grove City, R-8th District, Michelle Brooks, Jamestown, R-17th District, and Sen. Bob Robbins, Salem Township, R-50th District, talked with Mercer County school directors and superintendents about the pain charter schools are inflicting on public education, by siphoning off millions of dollars in funding while not being held to the same standards as public schools.

Morrisville School Board president addresses Pennsbury School Board on proposed merger talks
By Petra Chesner Schlatter BucksLocalNews.com Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013
PENNSBURY - In an unusual appearance, Damon Miller, president of the Morrisville School Board, addressed the Pennsbury School Board during public comment on March 7 regarding proposed merger talks between the two school districts.  Miller, who is requesting a meeting with Pennsbury officials on the issue, said he would not want to pursue the talks only with Allan Weisel, the Pennsbury School Board president. He also would like other Pennsbury officials involved.

Armstrong School District to decide on charter school’s fate 
TribLive By Tim Karan Leader Times Published: Friday, March 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
It'll be a tale of two schools on Monday evening when the Armstrong School Board is faced with decisions about its soon-to-be built high school in Manor Township and the proposed Everlasting Elderton Charter School.  Since the founding board of the charter school made its presentation to the board during a public hearing in late December, solicitor Lee Price said the Pennsylvania Department of Education gave ASD from Feb. 10 to March 12 to make a decision.
Pennsylvania Department of Education clears up confusion over PSSA training test
State admits confusion, says teachers don't have to pass quiz to give PSSA exams.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:35 p.m. EDT, March 11, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Education sent a statewide notice Monday clearing up confusion over its new online training module, which many teachers thought required them to pass a test in order to administer standardized exams this spring.
The department clarified that teachers do not have to score an 80 percent or better on the 10-question quiz, which comes at the end of a new, mandatory 45-minute training module.
The state will change the "self-check" assessment before next year and eliminate all references to passing and failing at the end of the module, according to the department's emailed statement.

Harrisburg School District Debt: $437.1 million.
Roxbury News, 8MAR
Dean Kaplan, Managing Director, The PFM Group, presents a power point presentation on the existing debt of the Harrisburg school district. The release of the financial information was part of the Chief Recovery Officer's advisory committee meeting held Thursday evening.

Charter Reform Now
Yinzercation Blog March 11, 2013
Charter schools are all over the news today. The Post-Gazette has not one but two articles, there is new legislation pending in the state House this week, and a new grassroots movement launched today aimed at reforming the broken state funding formula. Sounds like time to catch up on what is going on with our charter schools.

Philly Today, Pittsburgh Tomorrow
Yinzercation Blog March 8, 2013
Massive demonstrations. Eighteen arrests, including students, parents, and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. Tears and sobbing as entire communities learned they would no longer have a school. What happened in Philadelphia yesterday could be happening in Pittsburgh very soon. Last night the state-imposed School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to close 23 more schools in the city of brotherly love. Citing financial woes and population loss all too familiar to those of us here in the steel city, the SRC considers school closings its only option. No matter the devastation to neighborhoods. No matter that Philadelphia’s student population loss problem is largely due to charter schools siphoning students away.

Five Great Ways to Celebrate Pi Day on 3/14
US Dept. of Education Blog Posted on March 11, 2013 by Guest Blogger
March 14 (3/14), is only a few days away, which means it’s time to celebrate pi, everybody’s favorite irrational mathematical number (the 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday). Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and it’s an irrational number, so it can’t be expressed as a simple fraction of two integers. 3.14 is just the beginning of pi, which goes on for infinity.

Urban School Leaders Hear Federal Take on Early Ed., Turnarounds
Education Week District Dissier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on March 11, 2013 5:20 PM
Washington - The nation's school districts would be the main administrators, and in some states the main providers, of early-learning services in the expansion of preschool for 4-year-olds envisioned by the White House, administration officials told urban school leaders at a conference here on Monday. The White House also seems to envision a full-day preschool program to serve all low- and moderate-income families with 4-year-olds.

“The pervasive media mythology tells us that the fight over the schoolhouse is supposedly a battle between greedy self-interested teachers who don’t care about children and benevolent billionaire “reformers” whose political activism is solely focused on the welfare of kids.”
Getting rich off of schoolchildren
Stop pretending wealthy CEOs pushing for charter schools are altruistic "reformers." They're raking in billions
Salon.com BY DAVID SIROTA  MONDAY, MAR 11, 2013 11:36 AM EDT
Last week, Los Angeles provided yet another example of a cadre of anti-public-school millionaires swooping in to try (and in this case, fail) to buy a big-city school-board election. And once again, that sparked a round of Orwellian newspeak that distorts what’s really happening in education politics.  You know how it goes: The pervasive media mythology tells us that the fight over the schoolhouse is supposedly a battle between greedy self-interested teachers who don’t care about children and benevolent billionaire “reformers” whose political activism is solely focused on the welfare of kids. Epitomizing the media narrative, the Wall Street Journal casts the latter in sanitized terms, reimagining the billionaires as philanthropic altruists “pushing for big changes they say will improve public schools.”

PSBA discusses pensions on PCN Call-in Program Tuesday, March 12, 7:00 pm
PSBA 3/7/2013
On Tuesday, March 12, PCN will host a Call-In Program on pension reform at 7 p.m.
PSBA Interim Executive Director Stuart Knade will be on the program along with Richard Rowland, Executive Director of the PA Association of School Retirees. Viewers are invited to call (877) 726-5001 with their comments or questions. Check your local listings for station information.

“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

Children with Specific Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Calls for Reforming Special Education
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia March 19, 2013, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Session will take place from 12:00-4:00pm on the listed day at the United Way Building, located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Sessions also available via webinar.
Cost: Pay What You Can! (Minimum payment of $5 Requested)
This session is designed to address the legal aspects surrounding the needs of children with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities (ADHD, non-verbal learning disabilities). An expert in dyslexia will join Sonja Kerr to explain dyslexia/learning disabilities, the research and what we can do about it.

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.

Spaceweather.com 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 http://spaceweather.com 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.

Spaceweather.com 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 www.psba.org/about/psba/board-of-directors/officers/electing-officers.asp.

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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