Monday, April 29, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 29: PA School Funding Campaign Budget Press Conference April 30 10 am Capitol Rotunda

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.

The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

These daily emails are archived at
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The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign will hold a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda at 10:00 a.m. on April 30 to let the legislators and the Governor know that they should prioritize support for public education in the 2013-2014 state budget and make a commitment to restore the nearly $900 million of cuts in state support for K-12 education during the next three years.   

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 29, 2013:
PA School Funding Campaign Budget Press Conference April 30 10 am Capitol Rotunda

EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, April 26, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Missed our weekend posting?

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 27, 2013: PA School Funding Campaign seeks commitment to restore student funding

Lawmakers need to cash out their $140.7 million surplus: Editorial
By Patriot-News Editorial Board   on April 26, 2013 at 10:55 AM
What would you do if you were sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars of someone else’s money?  You’d give it back, right? It’s only commonsense.
But that very basic rule of conscience does not apply to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 
Already one of the nation’s largest and most expensive law-making bodies, the 253-member Legislature ended the 2011-2012 fiscal year with an eye-watering $140.7 million in surplus funds, according to an audit released this week.

As I See It: Eliminating prevailing wage will make government more efficient
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Matthew Rousu on April 28, 2013
Matthew Rousu is an associate professor of economics at Susquehanna University
In Pennsylvania, we have a “prevailing wage” law. While a reasonable definition for a prevailing wage would be “whatever wage we can pay in which someone will accept the work,” that’s not what the law says.   Prevailing wage laws require government entities to pay union-scale wages on any project for any job that costs more than $25,000. Legislators are considering changing the law to minimize its impact. That is a great idea that should receive bipartisan support.

“Last April, the programs that had set up these students for musical and academic success in high school were under siege thanks to statewide budget cuts against our public schools,” Kennedy wrote. “This, combined with our country’s obsession with testing above any meaningful learning opportunity, were a direct harm to students across the commonwealth and the country, and our community rose up to protect the programs that helped students the most.”
….Kennedy invited citizens to get involved by going to the website, to view the video and take the SUDA Pledge at
Upper Darby SD facing tough decisions on budget
Delco Times By LINDA REILLY Times Correspondent Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013
UPPER DARBY — Taxpayers were already told there will be a tax increase from the Upper Darby School District business manager but they won’t know what will be affected until the tentative 2013-2014 budget is revealed Tuesday.  Business Manager Ed Smith previously announced the certainty of a tax hike in February when preliminary figures and a $9.7 million shortfall were announced with his “best-guess estimate.”
“This preliminary budget has been developed with the goal of maintaining our current programming,” Smith said at the meeting earlier this year.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Banging the drum for music at Upper Darby
By PHIL HERON Published: Monday, April 29, 2013
It was just about this time last year that all hell was breaking loose in the Upper Darby School District. Now we know why.  As usual, the school district was swimming in red ink. The balance sheet was only slightly off — $13 million to be exact.
Tough decisions had to be made. Jobs would be cut. Curriculums would be juggled. Priorities would be adjusted.  The administration knew the proposal would not be well-received. They weren’t wrong about that. People went ballistic.

Philly District releases detailed budget proposal
by thenotebook on Apr 26 2013 Posted in Latest news
As City Council's school budget hearings approach, the District has released its detailed financial plan for next year, showing line by line the withered financial health that the city's schools are in. 

How do you fix the District's budget crisis?
by thenotebook on Apr 26 2013 Posted in Commentary
Craig Robbins, executive director of ACTION United
Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education
State Rep. James Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee
The School District is in bleak fiscal straits. Staring at the possibility of a deficit of $242 million by the end of 2013-14, District leaders are looking to the city and state to contribute $180 million in aid while also looking to reduce labor costs by 10 percent.
As City Council prepares for school budget hearings next week, the Notebook asked prominent folks in Philadelphia education to offer their take on what else could be done to address the gap. What solutions to the District's budget crisis are there, beyond the plea to the city and state for more funding and the plan to cut employee salaries and benefits? We received the following four responses. 

Philadelphia School District to seek $60 million more
Troy Graham and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers
POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 5:04 AM
School District of Philadelphia leaders are expected Monday to ask Council to open the municipal wallet again - this time for $60 million - two months before the members have to pass a budget.
That request - or "ask," in political parlance - could spark bruising negotiations over school funding for the third year in a row, as Council is already grappling with taxpayer angst over Mayor Nutter's property-tax reform.

Hearing to probe Philadelphia's oldest charter school
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 3:01 AM
Community Academy of Philadelphia opened in 1997, but the School Reform Commission said in January the school's operating charter should not be renewed because of low test scores and financial problems.  The hearing, set to begin at 9 a.m. at the district's administration building, was scheduled after the SRC voted, 4-0, in January to take the first step toward revoking the charter. A second session is expected to be held May 6.

LTE: PSSA pressures
Post Gazette Letter to the Editor by Joe Tighe April 28, 2013 12:15 am
The writer is a teacher.
Despite what "Practical Tests" (April 14 letters) argues, the PSSAs are nothing to "lighten up" about. Depending on how a district preps for and administers them, the PSSAs can take months, not a week, to complete. Furthermore, the PSSAs determine a school's Adequate Yearly Progress: how much funding it receives and, potentially, whether its staff will be retained. The pressure districts feel from these tests is enormous. This pressure is transferred directly to the students.

Broad school bully?
WILL BUNCH, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-2957
POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 4:55 AM
IN 1939, a 6-year-old boy moved to Detroit with his working-class parents - Lithuanian Jewish immigrants - and walked into the remarkable engine that propelled so much of America's prosperity in the 20th century, his neighborhood public school.  That kid, Eli Broad, graduated from Detroit Central High School in 1951 and went on to become one of the world's richest people, a billionaire who made his fortune first in the post-World War II housing boom and later in insurance.
Today, the 79-year-old Broad (it rhymes with "road"), who lives in Los Angeles, is spending a good chunk of his fortune on education reform - steadfast in his belief that applying the same data-driven, free-market principles that made him so wealthy can also make U.S. schools great again.  Yet a small but growing band of critics say his Broad Foundation could actually destroy the kind of schools he's trying to save - the public schools that once trained first- and second-generation Americans like him.

“Over the past two years, Science Leadership Academy has already lost a librarian, a science teacher and a Spanish teacher. Now, the school is looking at losing a quarter of the staff it has left, its gifted program, and all of its extracurriculars. Lehmann, who has coached everything from basketball to Ultimate Frisbee, says that last one would be particularly painful for his kids.”
Philly principal urges pro sports teams to save school athletics
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold, @BenjaminBHerold April 29, 2013
Philadelphia School District officials are headed to City Council today to plead for more money.
With the district staring down a $300 million budget deficit, one high school principal says it's time for everyone, including the city's four professional sports teams, to chip in.
"We really are at a moment where there's no fat being cut," said Christopher Lehmann, principal of the nationally renowned Science Leadership Academy in Center City. "This is the very fabric of our schools that are being put in jeopardy right now. And I think when you're talking about that kind of moment of distress, it requires creative solutions and it requires everyone who see a way to help, to help."

“The district was losing more than $1 million each year because about 150 former Easton students enrolled in nondistrict cyber schools. It costs the district about $10,000 for each regular-education student who attends a cyber school and about $20,000 per special-education student.
The district paid a one-time fee of $16,750 for professional development and marketing and now pays about $5,000 per student for its in-house cyber school. There are 21 students enrolled, Furst said.”
Easton teachers union files complaint over cyber school employees
By Peter Panepinto | The Express-Times  on April 28, 2013 at 7:30 AM
District teachers aren't being employed by the cyber school recently contracted with the districts, union officials say.Express-Times File Photo
The Easton Area School District teachers unionpresident says the district broke an agreement to hire district teachers to staff its cyber school.
A court date is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 8. before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in Harrisburg to argue the unfair labor practice complaint filed Jan. 11 by the teachers.

“State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, attended the final Origins class to announce his support for such a bill. Afterward, he said legislators are being recruited to sponsor the bill.”
Is evolution missing link in some Pennsylvania high schools?
Some 20 percent of science teachers in survey say they believe in creationism
By David Templeton / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 28, 2013 12:25 am
During an Advanced Placement biology course in Easton Area High School, Jennifer Estevez's teacher sped through the large chapter on evolution, focusing on one formula for the AP exam and the basics: survival of the fittest and natural selection.
In those high school years in Northampton County, she also would attend a Baptist leadership retreat where a speaker denounced evolution as false, unproven science.
Seemingly unimportant and even discredited, evolution fell off her radar. So the Easton student, who is a Baptist, arrived at Duquesne University last fall considering herself a creationist, a person who generally believes God created the world as described in the Bible.
But a college biology course convinced her that evolution was valid science with overwhelming evidence that all living things, including humans, evolved most likely from a common ancestor -- over a period of millions, even billions, of years longer than that described in Genesis.

PSBA Bylaws amendment proposals due May 15
PSBA website 2/15/2013
As stated in Article XII, proposals for amending the PSBA Bylaws must be submitted "in writing, mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA headquarters prior to May 15 of each year."  Proposals should be addressed to the Bylaws Committee Chair or the Executive Director and sent to PSBA headquarters by the May 15, 2013, deadline.
The procedures for submitting proposed bylaws changes are outlined in Article XII and can be found online

Search underway for PSBA Executive Director
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the commonwealth.  Founded in 1895, PSBA has a rich history as the first school boards' association established in the United States. Pennsylvania's 4,500 school directors become members by virtue of election to their local board -- the board joins as a whole. Membership in PSBA is by school district or other eligible local education agency such as intermediate unit, vocational school or community college……..
Search by Diversified Search, 1990 M St NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC. Questions may be directed to Interested parties should email their resume and cover letter to Please apply by June 1, 2013 for best consideration.

NY Parents File Class Action Lawsuit Against State Testing
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 28, 2013 
Parents in Rochester, New Yorkfiled a federal class action lawsuit against the state and their son’s school, which punished him for refusing to take the tests in accordance with his parents’ wishes.  The school not only punished the boy, but sent the sheriff’s office to the ballfield to make sure he was not allowed to play baseball.
Good for them! I would sue too.

No Rich Child Left Behind
New York Times Opinion By SEAN F. REARDON April 27, 2013, 6:15 pm
Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.
Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.
What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

Obama’s big second-term education problem
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm
President Obama has a big problem in his second term in terms of education policy: his first term.
Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, pushed hard in their first term to have a major impact on changing public schools with a larger-than-ever  federal role in school policy issues that affected every single classroom in the country. And they did, with rare bipartisan support.

State spending per preschooler hits lowest level in decade, programs face questions on quality
Washington Post By Associated Press, Published: April 28 | Updated: Monday, April 29, 3:25 AM
WASHINGTON — State funding for pre-kindergarten programs had its largest drop ever last year and states are now spending less per child than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Monday.  The report also found that more than a half million of those preschool students are in programs that don’t even meet standards suggested by industry experts that would qualify for federal dollars.  Those findings — combined with Congress’ reluctance to spend new dollars — complicate President Barack Obama’s effort to expand pre-K programs across the country.

Superintendents, Business Managers, School Board Members, Union Leaders, Any Others interested in PSERS and wanting to learn more about Pension Reform . . .
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Registration: 6:30 p.m.  Presentation: 7:00 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit  475 East Waterfront Drive  Homestead, PA  15120  McGuffey/Sullivan Rooms
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Schools Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.  Mr. Clay’s presentation will review the increases in retirement contributions and the Governor’s proposal on pension reform.  As one concerned about public education, we are sure that you will find this meeting enlightening and a valuable investment of your time.
In order to accommodate those attending and prepare the necessary materials for the meeting, please register using the following link:  by May 7, 2013.
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Janet Galaski at 412.394.5753 or

NAACP 2013 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania
A Call for Equitable and Adequate Funding for Pennsylvania's Schools
Media Area Branch NAACP Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00 am2:30 pm (8:30 am registration)
Marcus Foster Student Union 2nd floor, Cheyney University of PA, Delaware County Campus

Sign Up Today for PILCOP Special Ed CLE Trainings
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Spots are filling up for the final three trainings in our 2012-2013 Know Your Child’s Rights series with seminars on ADAAA, Pro Se Parents and Settlement Agreements.
April 30, 2013: ADAAA, 504 and Chapter 15: Services Needed, Discrimination Avoided
May 29, 2013: PRO SE Parents: Doing It on Your Own
May 30, 2013: Settlements: Signing on the Dotted Line (OR NOT)

Turning the Page for Change celebration, June 11, 2013
Please join us for the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change celebration on June 11, 2013, from 4:30 - 7 p.m. at the University of The Arts, Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad Street. We will be honoring a member of the Notebook community for years of service to our mission as well as honoring several local high school journalists. Help us celebrate another year of achievement that included two awards from the Education Writers Association and coverage of other critical stories like the budget crisis and the school closing process.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

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