Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 19, 2013: House Ed Committee Minority Chairman Roebuck will release a 38 page report Tuesday cataloging instances of fraud, financial irregularities, mismanagement, and test-score cheating at charter schools across the state

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.

These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 19, 2013: House Ed Committee Minority Chairman Roebuck will release a 38 page report Tuesday cataloging instances of fraud, financial irregularities, mismanagement, and test-score cheating at charter schools across the state

“No classes this week due to state assessments. 
We resume your child’s real education in 2 weeks.”
From Cloaking Inequity blog

Answer Sought for PA School Funding
Public News Service - PA by Tom Joseph | March 18 2013 | Download audio (runtime 1:49)
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania is well below the national average when it comes to state funding of schools, with local taxation having to pick up the slack. That's been a persistent sore point for education advocates who would like to see funding, and funding distribution, that was more equitable.   According to Susan Spicka of Shippensburg in south-central Pennsylvania, mother to a third-grade and a fifth-grade pupil, the sweeping education cuts of the past two years have had damaging effects in her community.
"One school district had to eliminate all its music classes, other districts have cut reading teachers and intervention specialists, and these are the skilled professionals who provide a safety net for our youngest students, who are often struggling the most," she said.

“Overall, Roebuck's report documented cases of charter school boards appointed by founding CEOs and acting as their rubber stamps; inappropriate business ties between charter schools and related entities; excessive salaries paid to charter executives; charter schools guaranteeing loans of related nonprofits; exorbitant fees paid to management companies; and charters operating as if they were "family businesses" with leadership positions being passed down.”
Advocate of Pa. charter overhaul to release report on abuses
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 3:01 AM
To bolster his argument that Pennsylvania's laws covering charter schools and cyber schools need overhaul, the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee will release a report Tuesday that catalogs instances of fraud, financial irregularities, mismanagement, and test-score cheating at charter schools across the state.
State Rep. James R. Roebuck's 38-page report details 37 examples of serious problems that have emerged at charter schools and cyber charters in the last seven years, including cases of charter officials being sent to prison and allegations of cheating on statewide standardized tests. Twenty-seven of those cited occurred in Philadelphia.

Related prior Keystone State Education Coalition posting of Saturday, March 9, 2013
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. “ Plus cyber special: more than you ever wanted to know about PA cyber charter schools.

Could Corbett take a pension lesson from Rhode Island?
By Donald Gilliland | dgilliland@pennlive.com  on March 18, 2013 at 10:24 AM
PROVIDENCE - Gina Raimondo, General Treasurer of Rhode Island, acknowledged the picketers outside the Omni Hotel in downtown Providence, but said the pension changes she championed in the state are bearing fruit.  "You can see outside this morning not everyone did agree," Raimondo told a Symposium on Distressed Municipalities, but added, "Our public employees deserve a pension that will actually be there, despite the stock market's ups and downs."  Similar to the move Pennsylvania's Gov. Tom Corbett is attempting to make, Rhode Island changed current employees' pensions, telling them what they had earned to date would remain, but would be different going forward.

Bill sets up funding panel on special education
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 16, 2013 12:11 am
Legislation calling for an examination of how the state funds special education advanced in the House and Senate this week.  The matching bills would establish a commission to develop a formula for distributing special education funds. The formula would have to distribute a funding increase proportionally among the school districts, based on factors such as the number of students requiring more or less costly services.  State funding is based upon the estimate that 16 percent of the students in each district require special education.

Editorial: A fast fix to special education funding that makes sense
By Patriot-News Editorial Board  on March 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM
If you spend any amount of time speaking to an educator or local school board member about the biggest drag on their budgets, the chances are good that that the conversation will soon drift around to personnel costs or the mammoth expense of educating children with special needs.
Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts face a myriad of state and federal mandates when it comes to providing services to these students. A major problem: state law has not kept pace with the challenges inherent in providing those services.  Last week, the state House took a good first step in tackling the funding question. The chamber approved a bill establishing a 15-member commission that would develop a new funding formula to replace one now decades old and unresponsive to current needs.

Let’s ‘Sequester’ Our Kids from Harmful Cuts
PA Partnerships for Children Blog Posted At : March 18, 2013 1:15 PM | Posted By : PPC
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.

“The students who will lose out will be the ones we should be most careful to protect: children from poor families and special needs kids.”
The Worst Victims of the Education Sequester: Special-Needs Students and Poor Kids
The Atlantic by Laura McKenna MAR 18 2013, 8:45 AM ET 
The sequester's guillotine has little regard for good or bad programs as it unselectively slices spending across the country, but perhaps nowhere does its indiscriminate blade fall more harshly than within education. The students who will lose out will be the ones we should be most careful to protect: children from poor families and special needs kids.  Federal funding for education will be slashed by 5.1 percent, until Congress can agree on a new budget. Though the federal government only makes up about 10 percent of the total education spending, this share is significant in every town budget. Schools need Washington's money to provide basic services for its students, as states and localities have faced their own budget crises in recent years.

TAMSA responds to charter proponents in WSJ
Cloaking Inequity Blog March 18, 2013 | Julian Vasquez Heilig 
A few days ago I discussed a WSJ editorial that critiqued the Texas Legislature’s attempt to reduce the testing in Texas. They had called less testing “lowering the bar.” I also quickly analyzed the author’s charter chains college readiness data— which showed, not surprisingly, that their chain was underperforming the state by wide margins. Well, TAMSA has responded in the Wall Street Journal. Following a high-stakes testing cartoon that my sister posted on Facebook, I have pasted their response for your viewing pleasure.

U.S. Department of Education Announces 10 States Will Receive Funding to Turn Around Their Lowest-Performing Schools
US DOE Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov  MARCH 18, 2013
Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that 10 states will receive funding to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools through the Department's School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Four of the states will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model. The states receiving new awards are: Indiana—$9.2 million; Nebraska—$2.6 million; Colorado—$5.2 million; and Louisiana—$9.6 million. The states receiving continuation awards are: Alaska—$1.5 million; Iowa—$3.0 million; North Dakota—$1.2 million; Oklahoma—$5.5 million; Texas—$49.7 million; and Wyoming—$1.1 million.

ALEC Releases Model Education Bills; Foes Not Satisfied
Education Week State EdWatch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on March 18, 2013 9:01 AM
For those of you who always wondered what exactly was in the American Legislative Exchange Council's model bills, your time is now.  ALEC hasn't been quite as much in the news as it was just over a year ago, but it is still considered a force in state policymaking circles. The conservative Washington policy shop and think tank is celebrated by right-leaning politicians and advocates not only for its wide-range of forceful legislative proposals, but for its effectiveness. Those on the left side of the spectrum loathe it, charging that it conducts lawmaking in secret and serves as a front group for corporations that engage in illegal lobbying. In education policy, ALEC has advocated for things like private-school vouchers, parent-trigger laws, and virtual education.

WellPoint and Bristol-Myers Squibb Cut Ties to ALEC, Making 44 Corporations Out
Center for Media and Democracy PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce — March 18, 2013 - 11:12am
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), a New York pharmaceutical company with $17.6 billion in annual revenue, andWellPoint, an Indiana health insurance company with $61.7 billion in annual revenue, are cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 
This brings the tally to at least 44 corporations that have cut ties to ALEC in the past year.

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: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org

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

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
PSBA website 3/15/2013
The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 21, 2013.
In 2011, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBAs Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 21, 2013. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October.

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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