Friday, March 22, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 22, 2013: Chicago Says It Will Close 54 Public 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.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg                                                                     

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 22: Chicago Says It Will Close 54 Public Schools

If you support the items in this link you should join the Network for Public Education

“While Mr. Corbett had promoted his plan, which would siphon $1 billion in proceeds to education grants, as a way to invest in schools, the House bill diverts revenue into a dedicated fund. Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, said it would fall to the Legislature to determine how the money is spent.  The absence of a commitment for the revenue was one of many aspects of the bill criticized by Democrats.
"The bill now offers nothing to education, nothing to our children," said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery.”
Pa. House votes to privatize liquor stores
Governor hails bill, but Senate leaders say they plan to alter measure
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau March 22, 2013 12:06 am
HARRISBURG -- Citing years of efforts to end the state business in liquor, House Republicans on Thursday passed legislation that would allow private sales of wine and liquor while phasing out government stores.  Supporters lauded the vote as historic, saying it was the first time a liquor privatization bill had passed either chamber of the General Assembly. But the legislation now heads to the Senate, where prominent members support more gradual change.

“The governor is up for re-election in 2014. He also has campaigned hard on using privatized liquor sales to help fund education, which under his tenure has experienced big budget cuts — part of the reason that recent statewide polls show his approval rating is below 40 percent.”
House passes liquor privatization bill
But Senate leader warns that his chamber may not go along with dismantling state store system in favor of privately owned outlets.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau  11:05 p.m. EDT, March 21, 2013
HARRISBURG — Along party lines, the Republican-controlled state House approved a bill Thursday night that would end Pennsylvania's 80-year-old monopoly on the sale of wine and liquor.  The 105-90 vote marked the first time in the state's history that a bill to privatize liquor sales has made it out of a legislative chamber.
"Today the House of Representatives clearly made history," the bill's prime backer, Gov. Tom Corbett, said to applause from his fellow Republicans who gathered after the 8:32 p.m. vote following an 81/2 -hour session. "We are actually doing away with vestiges of the failed experience of Prohibition."  But House Bill 790, which eventually would replace the 600 state stores with 2,600 privately owned outlets, might be dead on arrival at its next stop, the Senate.

“- In the 2008-09 school year, there were $320,561.33 in charter school expenditures and the state reimbursement to the district was $60,107.01.
- In the 2009-10 school year, there were $577,901.80 in charter school expenditures and the state reimbursement to the district was $84,690.40.
- In the 2010-11 school year, there were $515,867.19 in charter school expenditures and the state reimbursement to the district was $119,723.77.
- In the 2011-12 school year, there were $1,714,430.23 in charter school expenditures, but there was no state reimbursement.
- In the 2012-13 school year, there was an estimated $1,600,000 in charter school expenditures, but there was no state reimbursement.”
Pottsville Area seeks state reimbursement for charter school costs
Published: March 21, 2013
Once upon a time, when the Pottsville Area School District used state subsidy to send a child to charter or cyber charter school, the state gave the district a bit of reimbursement, Superintendent Jeffrey S. Zwiebel said Wednesday.  "They would give us a little bit, not the full amount," Zwiebel said.  But while the district's been giving more and more state subsidy to send children to charter school in recent times, the state stopped giving such reimbursement two years ago, Zwiebel said.
At the school board's March meeting Wednesday, the board in a roll call vote decided to send a letter to lawmakers in Harrisburg to do something about it.

Allentown School Board adopts "worst possible scenario"
Despite outcry, school directors OK budget plan that cuts 144 teachers' jobs.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:57 p.m. EDT, March 21, 2013
Allentown School Board approved Thursday night what the board president called a "worst possible scenario" that slashes 144 teachers and eliminates the remaining art, library and physical education staff from its elementary schools if the district doesn't find more funding before June 30.  The curtailment of programs, which school board President Robert E. Smith stressed is "procedural" and not final, was approved about 11:30 p.m. in a 6-3 vote. Before that, parents, students and teachers spoke passionately against it for more than two hours.

Steelton-Highspire to cut pre-K, reduce kindergarten to half day
By Julianne Mattera |  on March 21, 2013 at 9:19 PM
Steelton-Highspire School Board members decided Thursday night to eliminate pre-kindergarten classes and cut the kindergarten day in half starting in the 2013-14 school year.  The change will layoff four elementary teachers and six para-professionals as of June 30 — saving about $350,000 in salaries, benefits and supplies, Superintendent Audrey Utley said.  But the changes are necessary, she said.  The school district is facing “severe financial crisis” as a result of a substantial reduction in available funds next year of about $1 million, as well as a limited ability to raise taxes based on the tax increase index, Utley said.
The district also has been placed on the state Department of Education’s financial watch list.

Testing doesn't improve student performance: As I see it
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Dave F. Brown on March 21, 2013 at 5:00 AM
Dave F. Brown is an author and education researcher. He lives in Ardmore, Pa.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Education recently approved regulations requiring students that graduate from high school by 2017 pass the Keystone examinations. On the same day the Allentown School District announced that it may eliminate 161 teaching jobs before next year. Both of these events occurred a mere six weeks after Governor Corbett revealed his education budget proposals and are inextricably linked by a common misconception--that testing students is more likely to improve learning than reducing class size. The most controversial aspect of the education budget, the $56 million proposed expenditure for testing Pennsylvania’s students, will not even be questioned by legislators or most taxpayers. Educators comprehend the fecklessness of these tests; as do children and adolescents; so why can’t reasoned adults?

Pittsburgh schools end 2012 with surplus, but tough times lie ahead
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 22, 2013 12:10 am
Although Pittsburgh Public Schools started 2012 with a projected operating deficit of $21.7 million, the district finished the year with a nearly $7.1 million operating surplus.
The year-end result, contained in documents provided at a school board meeting Wednesday, was strong enough to change the district's projection of when it will run out of money.

Chicago Says It Will Close 54 Public Schools
New York Times By STEVEN YACCINO and MOTOKO RICH Published: March 21, 2013
CHICAGO — After weeks of uncertainty, principals at 54 public schools here officially learned from city officials on Thursday that their schools would close, with 11 more to share space with other schools. The closings represent the largest group of campuses to be shut down at one time by a city in recent memory.

PA Senate Ed Committee Hearing seeks students’ views on state legislation
Staff Report Posted: Wednesday, 03/20/13 12:01 am
DOWNINGTOWN — State Sen. Andy Dinniman announced the Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing Thursday for local students to talk about their views on education in Pennsylvania.
The hearing is set from 3 to 5 p.m. March 21 at the Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy at 335 Manor Ave. in Downingtown.  The event will mark the first time that the committee has designated a hearing specifically highlighting students’ views, opinions and outlooks on their schools, curriculum and the overall direction of education in the commonwealth.

Stop the abuse: Rethinking the vending machine model of budget leadership By Dr. Harris Sokoloff
 Harris Sokoloff is the founder and director of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE) and the director of the Center for School Study Councils at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Dr. Sokoloff has designed and implemented numerous local and national community engagement projects, and is also responsible for working with school superintendents, school boards, and district staff to help them keep pace with state-of-the-art educational and management theory, research, and practice. 
Battles over school budgets have become increasingly vitriolic, with parents treating school administrators and boards like vending machines. Parents put their money in — pay their taxes — and when they don't get the program or service they want and the way they want it, they kick the machine, scream at it and then kick it again. If we are to maintain public support for our public schools, we need to find a way to cut through the acrimony. 
By now, administrators and boards of many public schools around the nation have cut as much "fat" as they possibly can, while also cutting some of the "meat" in the form of programs and services that support student learning. Next on the chopping block are essential instructional programs and services — programs and services that students and parents value. 
……It's time to break that cycle. 

Thanks to PA Congressman Pat Meehan and his staff!
Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act introduced in U.S. Congress
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised today’s introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.
…..This legislation, introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), would ensure that the U.S. Department of Education’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are educationally, operationally, and financially supportable at the local level. This would also establish several procedural steps that the Department of Education would need to take prior to initiating regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials. The legislation is also supported by the American Association of School Administrators.

Louisiana wants to link student funding to test scores
Washington Post  Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Just when you think there are no other ways to pervert the use of  high-stakes standardized test scores, school reformers show just how creative they are.
Its not enough, apparently, to judge students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and states, on test scores, not to mention the Education Department’sproposal to evaluate education schools based on the test scores earned by the students of their graduates. (Got that?) Now Louisiana Education Superintendent John White has come up with a novel idea: He wants to link the funding for students labeled “gifted” to how well they do on standardized tests. Really. Money for test scores.  The plan, already approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and set to be considered by the Louisiana legislature this spring, is part of an overall $3.5 billion school funding proposal.

Senate Republicans Push Federal Voucher Program in Budget Debate
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on March 21, 2013 4:04 PM
Parents would be able to take their child's Title I dollars to any school of their choice—including a private school—under a budget amendment written by two very high profile Republican senators: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a tea party darling, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate education committee.  Does the policy sound familiar? It should if you were following the presidential election. It's very similar to the policies Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, pushed during the 2012 election.
The amendment probably won't make much of a difference to the budget process—it's unlikely to pass the Democratic controlled Senate.

Tennessee Is Abandoning Public Education
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav March 21, 2013 
A reader in Tennessee comments on the steady advance of privatization in that state, starting with Memphis, then moving to other urban areas. And when the Legislature passes a voucher bill, the stage will be set to decimate public education and leave it as a remnant of what was once known as the portal to opportunity in America. Thanks to Governor Haslam, his compatriots in the Legislature, and Kevin Huffman, one of TFA’s finest products. Doing it “for the kids,” no doubt. Shameful. Shameful.

“Vendor-driven hype and wishful policy thinking over robots, increasingly sophisticated artificial  intelligence software, and expanded virtual teaching feed private and public fantasies about replacing teachers and schools. Taking a step back and thinking about what parents, voters, and taxpayers want from schools–the social, economic, political, and individual goals–makes magical thinking more of a curse in the inevitable public disappointment and cynicism that ensue after money is spent, paltry results emerge, and machines  become obsolete.”
Magical thinking about technology in education
Washington Post  Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 21, 2013 at 5:00 am
To hear some people talk, you’d think technology is going to save public education. Really? Here’s a caution post from Larry Cuban, a high school social studies teacher for 14 years, a district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, Va.), and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His latest book is “As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.” This appeared on his School Reform and Classroom Practice blog.

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.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Very long post but I like this post, let me share to my facebook profile. Keep it up :)



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.