Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 27, 2013: “42 percent of cybers and 30 percent of brick-and-mortar charters paid management companies to manage their schools”

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1900 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
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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 27, 2013:
“42 percent of cybers and 30 percent of brick-and-mortar charters paid management companies to manage their schools”

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


“The contracting out of Pennsylvania charter and cyber charter schools to management companies has increased significantly -- 42 percent of cybers and 30 percent of brick-and-mortar charters paid management companies to manage their schools. However, lack of transparency and oversight has led in many instances to excessive management fees increasing schools’ administrative costs and result in less money being available to educate students.
Charter schools were meant to be schools of innovation, not tools for corporate profit.”
GUEST COLUMN: Support charter school reform to save money

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Delco Times By JAMES ROEBUCK Times Guest Columnist

State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., is Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee.

Pennsylvania can generate $365 million for public schools -- without raising taxes. This is more than four times what Gov. Tom Corbett proposes to restore, after his first budget cut school funding by about $900 million two years ago.  The General Assembly can produce these savings by passing my bipartisan charter and cyber charter school reform bill, which will soon be introduced as H.B. 934.

There is no more stark example of the need for such legislation than in Delaware County, where $29 million of public tax dollars intended for the classrooms of Chester Upland, one of the most impoverished school districts in Pennsylvania, may have instead found its way to Palm Beach Florida, where the Governors’ largest individual campaign donor is building a 20,000 square foot mansion.

Founder of Pocono Mountain Charter School faces tax charges

The Rev. Dennis Bloom faces charges of tax evasion, filing a false tax return.

By Peter Hall, Of The Morning Call 10:23 p.m. EDT, March 26, 2013

The former head of an embattled Monroe County charter school investigated for allegedly misusing public money is charged with failing to report a substantial amount of income on his 2006 tax return.  The Rev. Dennis Bloom, 58, of Mount Pocono, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Scranton on charges of tax evasion and filing a false tax return.

According to court documents, Bloom filed a tax return for 2006 that stated his taxable income was $93,227, when he knew that it was substantially more.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Education inspector general's office.,0,2664893.story

Time for Fair and Meaningful Ed Funding Reform

Education Voters PA March 2013 ACTION ALERT

Mark your calendar for the next Call to Action Day on Wednesday April 10th - where thousands of Pennsylvanians will take 10 minutes to call their State Senators and House members.
State budget negotiations are heating up and state legislators need to hear from us!  Since you’ve been following the issues, you know where we are: nearly $1 billion in cuts to education (in each of the last 2 years), increased class sizes, programs and positions have been cut.  Pennsylvania’s way of funding schools is badly flawed, causing and compounding problems and creating unfairness to children, communities and taxpayers.  Quite simply, it is inadequate and unfair.  Pennsylvania must adopt and implement a schedule to provide adequate financial support and allocate that funding through formulas.

Duquesne, Pittsburgh to discuss transferring K-6 pupils
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  March 27, 2013 12:12 am
The chief recovery officer for the Duquesne School District will meet with Pittsburgh Public Schools officials today to discuss the possibility of transferring Duquesne students in grades K-6 to Pittsburgh schools.

Does Head Start work? Quality pre-K helps a bit short-term but works wonders long-term
Post-Gazette By Robert B. McCall March 24, 2013 12:10 am
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed a package of early care and education programs that included pre-Kindergarten for most children.  Head Start is the largest government program for young children, and opponents of publicly funded early care and education have taken Head Start as a model of what the president is proposing.

Simplifying Government Part II: Pennsylvania's Pension Crisis

Governor Tom Corbett Youtube video runtime 3:!3

Phillipsburg School District strengthens religion policy due to substitute who gave student Bible
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on March 27, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Three months after barring a substitute from teaching in Phillipsburg for giving a student a Bible, school district officials have given more teeth to policies about religion in schools and special interest groups.  The school board Monday formally approved new policy language stating a teacher or substitute can face disciplinary action, up to and including termination, for violating those policies.

East Penn school director's Twitter post prompts call for his resignation
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times   on March 26, 2013 at 6:42 AM
A parent called on East Penn school director Julian Stolz to resign Monday night over a tweet that disparages public education.  On March 8, former South Carolina Republican Party head Todd Kincannon tweeted, "There is nothing more brain rotting than public schools. God, I pity the proletariat for having to send their inferior crotchfruit to them."
In response, Stolz tweeted, "As a school board director, I wish I could disagree. As a sentient being, I cannot."

Indiana court upholds broadest school voucher program
Reuters By Stephanie Simon  Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:31pm EDT
(Reuters) - The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the nation's broadest school voucher program, which gives poor and middle-class families public funds to help pay private school tuition.  Opponents, including the state teachers' union, had sued to block the program on grounds that nearly all the voucher money has been directed to religious schools.

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Nation's Broadest School Voucher Program
Education Week By The Associated Press Published Online: March 26, 2013
The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the law creating the nation's broadest school voucher program, clearing the way for a possible expansion.
In a 5-0 vote, the justices rejected claims that the law primarily benefited religious institutions that run private schools and accepted arguments that it gave families choice and allowed parents to determine where the money went.

“Bottom line: If the city’s Department of Education were to renew the school, it would be saying that it is enough for a school to be no worse than surrounding schools or to succeed with less than half its students.  If that is the standard for charter schools, then it is not clear why we need them in the first place or why we would think that charter schools would be able to spur improvements in traditional public schools. Far from being exemplars, they would simply become just another group of mediocre institutions.”
Why Failing Charters Must Be Closed
Schoolbook By JAMES MERRIMAN Jan. 11, 2012, 8:16 a.m.
James Merriman is C.E.O. of the New York City Charter School Center, a non-profit that helps new charter schools get started, supports existing schools and builds community support. Follow the organization on Twitter @charter411
At their core, public charter schools are about one simple trade-off: a charter school receives more autonomy to operate in the way its staff thinks will provide the best results for students.
In return, it accepts greater accountability for the results it achieves academically and operationally — with the understanding that if a school fails, it will be closed. That is why charters get a license to operate for five years at a time — and have to make the case that they should be renewed.

Phoenix Charter Schools Under Fire For Program Linked To Scientology
WHYY Newsworks NPR by PETER O'DOWD from KJZZ March 27, 2013 3:32 AM
Audio for this story from Morning Edition will be available at approximately 9:00 a.m. ET.
A group of Phoenix charter schools is facing criticism for using a teaching tool based on the work of L. Ron Hubbard, best known for founding the Church of Scientology.  Teacher Katie Donahoe says that shortly after she was hired in 2010, she went to a memorable training session on the teaching method, called Applied Scholastics. The session was held at the Applied Scholastics headquarters near St. Louis.  "They didn't start off talking about instruction. They started off talking about L. Ron Hubbard," says Donoho, who was there at the urging of her new superintendent. Later that fall she would start teaching English at Robert L. Duffy High School in Phoenix. But first, she was asked to get familiar with Hubbard's methods.

What does one of the funders of the inBloom database project have to say about it?
Privacy, big data and education: more about the inBloom databases
The Hechinger Report Education By The Numbers Blog BY Jill Barshay March 18, 2013
A new national database of personal student information understandably has parents and privacy advocates alarmed. As reported elsewhere, the new inBloom database houses information on millions of school children from nine states and includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, disciplinary records and learning disabilities.
One of the states is New York. Naturally, the mommy listservs in Brooklyn, where I live, are going wild with “opt-out” letters. My first reaction was surprise. Could it really be true that inBloom was going to release this private information to any ap developer who asked? (Disclosure:  inBloom, a non-profit organization, is funded by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which are also among the funders of The Hechinger Report).

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013: Setting the Stage for a Global Conversation
Edutopia, The George Lucas Education Foundation MARCH 26, 2013
The PennFinn13 team has been in Helsinki, Finland this week learning about education in Finland. They have been asking critical questions about core values in place, curriculum, professional development, student voice and culture, governance, finances and leadership. Learning from the likes of Finnish leaders Pasi SahlbergJari Lavonen, Arto Kallioniemi, Heidi Krzywacki and Atso Taipale, the team is providing an opportunity for the rest of the world to explore teaching, learning and leading in a top-ranked educational landscape.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 3/27 at 9AM PDT/12PM EDT, we're bringing together current students, parents, teachers and leaders from both the United States and Finland to have an open and transparent dialogue on the unique insights of the Finnish system. You can be a part of this conversation as we host a speciallive global Google Hangout. 

A group from the Penn Graduate School of Education is visiting Finland to see their education system.  Follow their blog…..

MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2013
Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education
Book Review: Finnish Lessons
Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg
For years, educators have been hearing about the exemplary reading teachers in Finland. Their highly regarded literacy program has been in place for more than 30 years; in fact, many reading specialists from the United States (and other countries) have observed their schools and studied the Finnish reading curriculum. Since 1988, as evidenced by their high PISA scores (an international student assessment test), Finnish students have been top performers in math and science, as well as reading. Now the world is asking what can be learned from this educational change in Finland.

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.

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