Monday, March 4, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For March 4, 2013: PA House Ed Committee Public Hearing on Cyber Charter Funding Reform Thursday, March 14

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For March 4, 2013: PA House Ed Committee Public Hearing on Cyber Charter Funding Reform Thursday, March 14

Roebuck Seeking Co-sponsors for Comprehensive Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Legislation

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For March 2, 2013: Capitalists for Preschool: “for every dollar invested today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.”
Here’s our weekend posting if you missed it…….

PA House Education Committee Public Hearing:
Cyber Charter Funding Reform
Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:00 AM Room 140 Main Capitol
HB 618 (Emrick) and HB 759 (Reese)
Here’s some background on these two bills:
Charter and Cyber Charter Funding Reforms Proposed
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s website 1/25/2013
HARRISBURG – The House Republican Caucus today unveiled a legislative package aimed at reforming charter and cyber charter school funding.

A look at a scary walk by students
To explore worries on getting to a new school if Peirce is shut, Hite and others walked the route.
Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer Sunday, March 3, 2013, 6:48 AM
Sylvia Simms pointed out the drug corners. She noted the halfway houses, boarded-up buildings, where the registered sex offenders live. She paused briefly near the schoolyard where, in 2004, a third grader caught in a shootout between rival gang members was killed.
At one point, a resident spotted a police car slowly cruising down Indiana Street and angrily shouted, "You've got to clean up the drugs up here!"
"This," the newest School Reform Commission member said, "is my community."
Walking beside Simms, School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. took it all in.

“Schwartz is one of several Democrats thinking of taking on Republican Gov. Corbett in 2014 - among them state Treasurer Rob McCord, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, State Sen. Mike Stack 3d of Philadelphia, former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, and former Philadelphia mayoral candidate Tom Knox. Only the former state environmental secretary, John Hanger, has formally announced a run.”
U.S. Rep. Schwartz to set up political panel, a key move in run for governor
Thomas Fitzgerald, Inquirer Politics Writer Sunday, March 3, 2013, 10:15 AM
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) said Friday that she would establish a state political committee in the next few weeks, an important procedural precursor to her expected run for governor of Pennsylvania.

School reform finds a home Opinion by Larry Platt Sunday, March 3, 2013, 3:01 AM
The very day that about 100 angry citizens stormed a meeting of the School Reform Commission, chanting "SRC, not for me!" in protest of the plan to close 29 schools, I was wondering just how we define reform in Philadelphia. Doesn't it feel as if we've seen this movie before?  One side predictably talks about downsizing and closing schools; the other seems intent on defending a clearly failing status quo. Slogans are shouted, intentions called into question. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.'s plan for the city is no doubt necessary, but where's the innovation? Where are the disrupters with new ways to improve education?
Three of them, wearing hard hats, were at the corner of Oxford and Howard Streets in Northern Liberties the day of the SRC meeting. Local developers Gabe Canuso and Greg Hill, along with their Baltimore-based partner Donald Manekin, had just walked me through the construction site of what will be Oxford Mills, a mixed-use residential and commercial development that will offer Philadelphia teachers a 25 percent reduction in rent (a 700-square-foot one-bedroom will go for less than $1,000 per month) and house a dozen nonprofit education-oriented start-ups - purposefully creating a vibrant ecosystem of reform.

Time is on their side, pension fund leaders tell Pa. lawmakers
WHYY Newsworks  By Mary Wilson March 3, 2013
The heads of Pennsylvania's two public pension funds are putting a good face on their underfunded status.  At a hearing before the state House Appropriations Committee, the director of the State Employees' Retirement System encouraged lawmakers to put the state's $41 billion pension debt in perspective.  David Durbin says the systems were even more drastically underfunded in the 1980s, and as the economy began to rebound, so did the funds.
"Time is probably our greatest ally," Durbin said. "The reason we came out of the underfunding in the 1980s is not just the investment program but the compounding nature of time.

Consider those opposing pension reform
Post-Gazette Letter to the Editor by JAY PAGNI, Harrisburg Governor's Budget Office March 3, 2013 12:25 am
The Post-Gazette's news report on a joint press conference by state Treasurer Rob McCord and the Keystone Research Center ("Corbett's Pension Overhaul Disputed," Feb. 27) leaves the misimpression that the Corbett administration has not fully briefed legislators and the public on the details of our pension reform plan.
The fact is that the administration has carefully charted out the prospects for taxpayers with and without a switch from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan for new state employees.
Without reform, taxpayers will be on the hook for an exponentially growing debt that will have to come from the annual general budget while crowding out the budgets for education, social services and public safety. This crowding out would likely take place even with hefty tax increases simply to cover a pension system that has become unsustainable.

Op-ed: Leveraging Marcellus shale to pay for pension reform
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Brendan Finucane on March 04, 2013 at 12:00 AM
As discussed in last week's PennLive editorial, Pennsylvania faces unfunded public sector pension obligations of $41 billion. And proposals are proliferating to reform pension parameters in ways which are likely to face protracted legal challenges.  Also, we are confronting harsh budgetary trade-offs in which education, infrastructure, health care and public safety are underfunded due to the budgetary pressure from longer term liabilities.

Georgia’s EITC story below sounds pretty familiar.  Here’s a reminder on the provisions of the Pennsylvania constitution, which is also quite clear:
PA Constitution, Article 3, Section 14. Public school system.
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.
PA Constitution, Article 3, Section 15. Public school money not available to sectarian schools.
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.
PA Constitution, Article 3, Section 29. Restrictions on Legislative Power.
No appropriation shall be made for charitable, educational or benevolent purposes to any person or community nor to any denominational and sectarian institution, corporation or association.
EITC: Georgia Religious Schools Skirt Constitution to Access Taxpayer Funds
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on March 2, 2013 2:46 PM
"No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly, or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution."
In 2008, state legislators passed the Qualified Income Tax Credit, which allowed married couples to make deduct from their state taxes contributions up to $2500 to go into bank accounts managed by what are called "Student Scholarship Organizations" (SSOs). These SSOs then distribute these funds to private and parochial schools, many of which openly discriminate against gays and lesbians.  This is now costing the taxpayers of Georgia $50 million, and there are proposals in the legislature that could divert an additional $30 million, at a time when Georgia's schools are already suffering from budget cuts. It appears that about 70% of these funds are now going to explicitly religious schools.

‘Neovouchers’: A primer on private school tax credits
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 3, 2013 at 11:30 am
Some people, not surprisingly, weren’t thrilled with my post titled “Welfare for the rich? Private school tax credit programs expanding.” Here Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, looks at the criticism and gives us a primer on private school tax credit programs, which he calls “neovouchers.” He’s the author of the 2008 book “NeoVouchers: The Emergence of Tuition Tax Credits for Private Schooling.

Interactive Map: Voucher Schools Teaching Creationism
Moyers & Company by John Light March 1, 2013
This week on Moyers & Company, 19-year-old education activist Zack Kopplin joins Bill to talk about his campaign to get creationism out of science classes in publicly funded schools. He discovered that students attending private and parochial schools in states with school voucher programs were taught creationism in addition to — or, in some classrooms, instead of — the theory of evolution.  Using data* compiled by Kopplin, this map shows private schools that accept state vouchers and teach creationism. Hover over each dot to read Kopplin’s findings on that school. To zoom in, double click on the map or use the map tools that appear in the upper left corner.

Teacher standoff stokes debate over standardized tests
Reuters By Eric M. Johnson SEATTLE | Sun Mar 3, 2013 8:37am EST
(Reuters) - A boycott by Seattle teachers a widely-used standardized test has attracted national attention and given new momentum to a growing protest movement that seeks to limit standardized testing in public schools.  The revolt by Seattle public school teachers and students elsewhere comes at a time of bitter political wrangling over how best to reinvigorate a $525 billion public school system that leaves American children lagging their counterparts in countries like Finland and South Korea.

Obama to nominate Walmart's Burwell as White House budget chief
Reuters By Steve Holland and Richard Cowan and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON | Sun Mar 3, 2013 5:05pm EST
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to nominate Walmart's philanthropic head Sylvia Mathews Burwell to become director of the White House budget office on Monday, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.  Burwell, 47, is a veteran of Bill Clinton's White House and for the past year has been president of the Walmart Foundation at the corporation's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. The charity organization in 2011 gave out nearly $1 billion in corporate contributions to projects around the world such as fighting hunger and empowering women.

Tennessee Education report by ZACK BARNES MARCH 01, 2013
The voucher debate now looks like campaign season with a huge advertising purchase by the American Federation for Children, a DC based education group that promotes vouchers. The Tennessee Journal (not available online) first reported on Friday that the Federation was buying ad spaces.

National Attention and Cash in Los Angeles School Vote
New York Times by JENNIFER MEDINA Published: March 3, 2013
LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, voters in Los Angeles will go to the polls for a mayoral primary. But much of the attention will also be on the three races for the school board, a battle that involves the mayor, the teachers’ union and a host of advocates from across the country — including New York City’s billionaire mayor — who have poured millions of dollars into the races.

Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers
New York Times By ANNE EISENBERG Published: March 2, 2013
MILLIONS of students worldwide have signed up in the last year for MOOCs, short for massive open online courses — those free, Web-based classes available to one and all and taught by professors at Harvard, Duke, M.I.T. and other universities. But when those students take the final exam in calculus or genetics, how will their professors know that the test-takers on their distant laptops are doing their own work, and not asking Mr. Google for help?

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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