Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 14, 2013: PA 1 of only 2 states in booze biz; 1 of only 3 states without an education funding formula

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 14, 2013
PA 1 of only 2 states in booze biz; 1 of only 3 states without an education funding formula

I attended the Governor’s press conference yesterday at the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.  It was good to see the Governor on the ground in Delco and to hear him say that education is a core function of state government.  He mentioned that 48 states do not have state run liquor stores.
If education is a core function we should fund it that way.  Forty-seven states have funding formulas that provide predictable and sustainable funding for their schools.  Pennsylvania is one of just three states that do not.  Such a formula would account for the number of students and the additional costs of educating special needs students, students in poverty, English language learners and gifted students.
Gov. Corbett pitches sale of liquor stores to Chamber of Commerce
Delco Times By KATHLEEN E. CAREY  March 13, 2013
SPRINGFIELD — Surrounded by education and business representatives at the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Tom Corbett outlined how the sale of Pennsylvania’s liquor system will reap $1 billion in benefits for school districts across the state.  Districts in Delaware County stand to gain $33.8 million from the liquidation of the state store system, according to statistics provided by the governor’s office. The amounts local school districts would receive ranges $527,185 to the Marple Newtown School District to $8.7 million to the Upper Darby School District.
“It is clear that selling liquor is not a core function of the government,” Corbett said this morning, “but, education is a core function of the government. So, I think it’s time that we get Pennsylvania out of the outdated system of alcohol once and for all, and reinvest those proceeds we will get and reinvest in the future.”

PDE PRESS RELEASE March 13, 2013
Governor Corbett, along with Delaware County Area Business and Education Leaders, Discuss Plan to Get PA out of Liquor Business, $1 Billion Passport for Learning Block Grant Program
Springfield, Delaware County – Governor Tom Corbett today, joined by local business and education leaders, talked about reinvesting $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of the state liquor store system into an educational block grant for Pennsylvania’s schools. 
This Passport for Learning Block Grant is in addition to Corbett’s proposed $90 million increase in the upcoming budget’s Basic Education Funding line item. This year’s proposed $5.5 billion state investment in education is the highest in state history.
“Let’s get Pennsylvania out of this outdated system of selling alcohol once and for all, and reinvest the proceeds into Pennsylvania’s future - our children,’’ Corbett said. “Selling liquor is not a core function of government; education is.”

Funding, Formulas, and Fairness in Practice
Education Law Center March 2013
Pennsylvania is one of only 3 states that do NOT have a school funding formula.  This 2 page pdf shows what a school funding formula might look like and how it might work in Pennsylvania.

A Vision for Great Public Schools
Yinzercation Blog March 13, 2013
What is your vision for great public education? If you could wave your magic wand today and create the perfect public school in your neighborhood, what would it look like? At the Rally for Public Education last month, over 320 people from our grassroots movement thought about just this as they filled out postcards addressed to Governor Corbett, answering the questions, “I came to the rally today because …” and “If our priorities were in the right place, and everyone paid their fair share, our public schools could/would …”
From those postcards, messages on Facebook, the blog, Twitter, and in conversations with others in our movement, a common vision for public education has begun to emerge. We shared some of our insights with the coalition that produced the Vision Statement for Pittsburghschools, distributed Monday evening at the PIIN town hall meeting. Today, A+Schools released its own Vision Statement focused on the city school board races.  The grassroots vision is broader than these two, more detailed, and includes elements relevant to schools both in and outside the city of Pittsburgh.  Having a vision statement is useful as a framework for guiding our work. It identifies our shared priorities and reminds us of what we are working towards. Here is what our movement’s shared vision for great public schools is starting to look like. What would you add?

Budgets are statements of values and priorities
Pittsburgh’s Community Alliance for Public Education
A+Schools Blog March 13, 2013 10:08 am
Advocates, the public and the state legislature have now had a month to review the various proposals in Governor Corbett’s budget that touch upon public education.  We at A+ Schools have some concerns [Money, money, money - February 11, 2013 Eblast] about the choices being made in this budget.  While there are some modest increases to basic education funding, real questions exist about needed resources for special education students, funding our pension obligations and one time funding from the sale of state liquor stores.  We thought we’d share some additional thinking on the budget from statewide partners who like us, are fighting to ensure that there is a more equitable distribution of resources to our students with the greatest needs.

Our Kids Deserve Better – Allentown School District

YouTube Video (runtime 2:08) by Miss Rarick Published on Mar 11, 2013
Our Kids Deserve Better: Music teacher's moving response to Allentown SD budget plan to cut music, arts, ESL
Allentown School District is proposing to make drastic cuts this year. Please share with others to raise awareness about what is happening to our students' education in ASD.

Nutter unlikely to seek a cash increase for Philly schools
Kristen A. Graham and Miriam Hill, Inquirer Staff Writers  March 13, 2013, 6:52 AM
The Philadelphia School District borrowed $300 million just to pay bills through June. School officials are demanding up to $180 million annually in givebacks from teachers and other staff. And they just voted to close 23 schools.  But as Mayor Nutter prepares his budget address for City Council on Thursday, it seems unlikely that he will ask for another big-check, tax-hiking infusion of cash to help keep the School District afloat, like the ones approved by Nutter and Council the last two years.

Philly charter school lottery shows effects of district closures
6ABC Action News Kenneth Moton Wednesday, March 13, 2013
WEST PHILADELPHIA - March 12, 2013 (WPVI) -- A thousand kids applied to get in, but there's only room for a little more than 100.  On Tuesday night, Global Leadership Academy Charter School in West Philadelphia held its lottery for grades kindergarten through 8.
Parents were on the edge of their seats because they know what's at stake.
Parent Kevin Hite of Southwest Philadelphia explains, "You try to do the best for your kids and the best situation as far as school, for her starting kindergarten you want her to start in one of the better schools in the area."
About 500 more parents joined the gamble this year. GLA believes it's because of the controversy surrounding Philadelphia School District closures.

Phila. School Partnership to announce $3.4 million in grants for 2 charter groups
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer  Thursday, March 14, 2013, 3:01 AM
The Philadelphia School Partnership will announce grants totaling $3.4 million Thursday to help two charter organizations with long waiting lists expand in the northern and western parts of the city.  Scholar Academies will receive $1.8 million to help add 600 to 900 seats, while KIPP Philadelphia will receive $1.6 million to serve 700 to 800 more students.
Mark Gleason, the partnership's executive director, said Wednesday the two nonprofit groups were chosen because of strong academic performance in the city and elsewhere.

Pennsylvania Pension System Reform
Pennsylvania Office of the Budget March 12, 2013
Pension Media Walkthrough Presentation (49 slides); an overview of the administration’s proposed pension reforms

PA State Pensions on PCN
PCN (1 hour video) By Francine Schertzer on Mar 12, 2013 with Comments 1
Pennsylvania currently faces $41 Billion in unfunded state pension liability.  Gov. Corbett has proposed addressing this issue, in part, by moving future employees from a defined benefit plan, to a defined contribution (401K- style) plan and by changing the formula for current employees’ future benefits.  PCN had Richard Rowland, Executive Director of the PA Association of School Retirees, and Stuart Knade, Executive Director of the PA School Boards Association, on hand to discuss the potential implications of changing the state pension system.
View here     |     CC – view here

“It would be like a mechanic whose boss has said, ‘I want you to use the cheaper version of the breaks even though they are not as good. I want you to use that.’ And the mechanics finally stood up and said, You know this is bad for customers, right? You know that the breaks are going to give out sooner. ‘ And I feel so strongly that is the wrong thing to do that I’m going to turn to my boss and say, ‘No.’”
The day some Seattle teachers said ‘no’ to standardized tests
Posted by Valerie Strauss on March 13, 2013 at 11:00 am
Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle recently banded together to boycott mandated standardized district tests called the Measures of Academic Progress because, they say, the exams are bad measures of student learning. The action has served as a flashpoint in the growing revolt against high-stakes standardized tests around the country.
Here’s a great video, by Storyline Research & Productions, that explains why the teachers did what they did at Garfield,  the moment that it all started, and the problems with the Measures of Academic Progress.  The video starts with a teacher who explains why she finally took a stand against the MAP.   The video (runtime 21:27) goes into detail about the events that led to the boycott. It’s worth the time to watch.

Anthony Cody and Diane Ravitch Talk About the new Network for Public Education @TheChalkface
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 11, 2013 //
Tim Slekar and Shaun Johnson are fearless education activists who operate on many fronts to support public education. They write, they blog, they make videos, they spoof the loony ideas called “reform.”  On March 11, Anthony Cody and I were interviewed @TheChalkface about the new Network for Public Education. We described how we hope to provide a means for grassroots groups to get connected to one another; to supply them with information and research on important issues; and to let them know that they are not alone. We will oppose the misuse of testing to punish or reward teachers, and to close schools.
When we clear away all legal issues, we hope to be able to endorse candidates and to let voters in state and local elections know which candidates truly care about strengthening their public schools. We even intend to have a Seal of Approval for our allies.
Listen in here. Audio runtime: 40:43

How to Join the Network for Public Education
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 13, 2013 
Several readers have contacted me asking how they can join the Network for Public Education.
Some read about it but don’t know how to find the website.
Here it is:

Cantor, Rubio, Other Key Republicans in Congress Focus on Choice
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on March 13, 2013 11:14 AM
Could school choice legislation be coming to a Congress—or at least to a GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives—near you?  Vouchers, which are seeing some fresh momentum in states, aren't a new idea, politically—many Republicans in Washington have long been fans. (For instance, U.S. Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the House speaker, has long been a big champion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.)  And now Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the second-top-banana in the House, is getting in on the act. 

“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

Teachers Lead Philly Spring Dinner/Workshop
Thu, Mar 21, 2013 ~ 5pm-7pm Franklin 1075 @ SDP/440 N. Broad Street
Register HERE!

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.

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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