Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 30, 2013: A bunch more on the Common Core…..


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.

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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 30, 2013:
A bunch more on the Common Core…..

“We haven’t had a meeting of substance on the budget yet and it’s almost May,” Scarnati said. He noted such a meeting is past due compared to prior years.”
Scarnati frustrated by the fixation on liquor privatization instead of the state budget
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  on April 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM
It’s two months and a day away from the June 30 deadline for getting an on-time state budget as so many lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett pledged to do.
But revenue growth has slowed. And Corbett’s 2013-14 budget proposal of $28.4 billion could be rendered out of balance as a result. That is even without adding in the legislative priorities that annually get restored during the budget negotiations.  Barring a sudden spurt of revenue growth, lawmakers could face some difficult decisions in bringing that spending plan into balance.
But all people seem to want to talk about is liquor privatization, a frustrated Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, told the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon crowd today.  And that’s not the only meaty issue that Corbett has put on the Legislature’s plate that he wants done by June 30. He also wants a transportation funding plan and pension reform enacted as well.

Leading Dems beat Corbett in new Quinnipiac poll: Monday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on April 29, 2013 at 7:56 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The gray skies and unremitting rain today set a pretty appropriate note for the start ofGov. Tom Corbett's morning, which brings with it nothing but bad news from a new Qunnipiac University poll.  That's because the incumbent Republican comes out at the wrong end of head-to-head matches from each of the three leading Democrats looking to challenge him in 2014. They all lead him by margins of 9 percentage points or more.

Harrisburg School District financial recovery plan: Raise taxes, sell buildings, restructure schools
By Emily Previti | epreviti@pennlive.com  on April 27, 2013 at 12:31 AM
HARRISBURG — The tax increase, salary cuts and continued annual $20 million debt payments suggested to avert financial ruin for the capital city’s public school system sounded good to, well, close to no one, judging by the community’s response Friday night.
More than an hour of questions, pleas, crying, shouting and heckling were heard from some of the 100 or so people who attended Harrisburg School District Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno’s presentation of the financial recovery plan.

Why the School District of Lancaster is financially thriving when similar districts in Pennsylvania are failing
Lancaster Online By BRIAN WALLACE Staff Writer bwallace@lnpnews.com Apr 28, 2013 06:00
Times are tough for urban school districts in central Pennsylvania.
Saddled with stagnant tax bases and serving large numbers of low-income and special-needs students, they're struggling to stay afloat in the face of steep cuts in state and federal education funding.  But School District of Lancaster isn't experiencing the economic woes of its neighbors.

DN Editorial: Disenfranchised: State needs to support crucial business tax
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 3:01 AM
WE ALL KNOW the school district is in bad shape. But it could actually get worse, because Gov. Corbett's assumptions about revenue coming into the state have not panned out. That could jeopardize the $120 million in state aid the schools are counting on to help fill its own $300 million hole.  Unlike the schools, though, the state has an easy fix for the revenue shortfall - though whether it is willing to act is another story.
Corbett assumed a $250 million budget surplus that has not materialized. It is too early to tell for sure, since there are still three months of revenue to come, but it could dwindle to $50 million.
Corbett also counted on $175 million savings in state-pension payments based on the notion that the Legislature would approve changes he wants to make in the state employee and teacher pensions plans. So far, his proposals landed with a thud in Harrisburg, and legislators are wary about tampering with the existing pension-benefit packages. That means the $175 million may go poof.  There is a relatively painless way, though, to add money to the pot either with additional subsidies or a partial return to the aid the state once gave districts with charter schools.

Hite to Philly City Council: $60M would simply fill a hole
Troy Graham and Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 10:47 AM
Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. presented to Council today the "cold, harsh scenarios" facing the district unless the city and state contribute $180 million in new money and the teachers' union agrees to enough concessions to cover a $304 million budget shortfall.  He said the district would have to ax such fundamentals as athletics, guidance counselors, librarians and summer programs. He noted that he was asking for funds to fill "a hole, a gap."
"They will not allow us to provide the education that our young Philadelphians deserve," he said. "It will not allow us to fully invest in our teachers and principals, and improve their working conditions."

School District at brink of collapse
Inquirer Opinion by Senator Anthony Hardy Williams Monday, April 29, 2013, 3:01 AM
The School District of Philadelphia is tipping toward the brink of absolute collapse. That's reality.
Yet that hasn't jostled most of us from our assumptions about the district's budgeting process as a Chicken Little-style extortion attempt that will feature a miraculous recovery. That's unconscionable.  Still, the respective corners - City Hall, Harrisburg, and the union halls - remain as ideologically entrenched as ever. But we all will bear responsibility if the district goes belly up.

Philly: The big budget book: 10 things to consider
The notebook by Paul Socolar on Apr 29 2013 Posted in Latest news
With City Council convening Monday morning for its annual hearings on the School District and its finances, at least a few journalists and local activists spent part of the beautiful spring weekend preparing by trying to make sense of the District’s just-released 350-page “consolidated budget” for the coming year.  It’s dense and dry, but the document does give a detailed picture of what the District looks like now and what’s ahead. A somewhat easier read is the District's "budget in brief," but that got posted online too late on Sunday to be previewed.

Under the microscope: How special education is funded in Pennsylvania
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era
By BRIAN WALLACE Staff Writer  bwallace@lnpnews.com Apr 28, 2013 17:24
Local school officials say they're pleased the state is taking a closer look at special-education funding, but they are leery about whether a new bill signed by Gov. Tom Corbett will produce results.  Corbett last week signed into law House Bill 2, which will create a commission to recommend a new formula for distributing special-education funds to Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.  The funds currently are distributed based on 16 percent of students in each school district requiring specialized instruction. Funding based on that formula has been essentially frozen for the past six years.

Two Steps Forward, One Back
Yinzercation Blog April 29, 2013
This is how you make progress. One step at a time. Last week, we saw two steps forward, and one giant step back for public education. The good news first:
On Thursday, Governor Corbett signed a much-needed new law that will help to fix the state’s special education funding formula. Sponsored by Republicans Rep. Bernie O’Neill and Sen. Pat Browne with strong bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate, House Bill 2 creates a new commission that will develop a formula taking into account actual numbers of special education students and their needs. Rhonda Brownstein, Executive Director of the Education Law Center, called the legislation “historic.” [Education Law Center, 4-26-13]

Pa. secretary of education takes tour of Springfield School District
By SUSAN L. SERBIN Times Correspondent Tuesday, April 30, 2013
SPRINGFIELD — When Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis met with Delaware County superintendents recently, Springfield’s James Capolupo issued an invitation.
“Come to Springfield. We have a story to tell,” Capolupo said.
Tomalis spent several hours in the school district to hear about success on several levels, achieved by a unified effort of administration, staff, students and the overall school community.
The Springfield School Board room held a gathering of federal, state and local officials, including U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, township commissioners President Jeff Rudolph, Delaware County Community College President Jerry Parker, and several other school board members.

Per-student pre-K spending lowest in decade
Delco Times By Philip Elliott Associated Press Published: Monday, April 29, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Here’s the link to more info on the report covered in the above article….
The State of Preschool 2012
NIEER - The National Institute for Early Education Research
The 2012 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of our annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2011-2012 school year as well as documenting a decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. Tracking trends long term is key to understanding the progress of early childhood education across the country and improving educational opportunities for America’s children.
Twenty-eight percent of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2011-2012 school year, the same percentage as the year before. This stagnation in enrollment growth was compounded by an unprecedented funding drop of $500 million nationwide. The findings in this Yearbook raise serious concerns on the quality and availability of pre-K education for most of American young learners.

Report: The State of Preschool 2012
The National Institute for Early Education Research – Rutgers Graduate School of Education

The PA Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Common Core on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.  Several pieces follow with varying perspectives on the Common Core. 
If anyone can tell me how diverting resources to address the Common Core will help students in our struggling urban districts – I’m all ears; please enlighten me……..
The Common Core Standards: Truths, Untruths and Ambiguities
Huffington Post by Patte Barth Director, Center for Public Education 04/25/2013 5:58 pm
Educators in 46 states and DC are deep in the process of implementing new "common core" standards into their classrooms. But an emerging anti-core backlash may render their efforts moot in several states.  For readers who may not know, the common core state standards are intended to define the knowledge and skills in English language arts (ELA) and math that high school graduates will need for success in college and 21st century jobs. The standards were drafted by associations representing the nation's governors andstate education chiefs through a process involving experts and stakeholders and included a two-part public review. They have been endorsed by business leadersteachers unions, and a bipartisan array of policymakers including President Obama and Jeb Bush. Within two years of their finalization, they were voluntarily adopted by all but four states.
Despite their high-profile supporters, not everyone is feeling the common core love and a handful of early adopting states are experiencing second thoughts. 

Bill to 'Pause' Common Core in Indiana Heads to Governor
Education Week State EdWatch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on April 29, 2013 8:29 AM
Opponents of the Common Core State Standards have scored a significant victory—an Indiana bill that would slow down implementation of the standards pending a series of public hearings this summer has been approved by the state legislature. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, for his signature.

Growing corps anti-Common Core
Naysayers seek to nullify new nationwide education standard
Cinncinnati.com by Denise Smith Amos Apr. 28, 2013 6:46 PM
New Common Core reading and math standards are heading to a classroom near you. And trailing along is a growing chorus of critics and skeptics.  These opponents are hosting public forums, organizing phone trees and emailing elected officials. They’re texting and tweeting and signing Internet petitions.
And they’re having some impact:

Jeb Bush: Students need challenge of Common Core standards
Columbus Dispatch Opinion by Jeb Bush Saturday April 27, 2013 6:26 AM
Despite bold reforms and critical progress made by governors such as Ohio’s John Kasich, America’s education system remains in a state of crisis. That is the staggering, painful reality, backed by statistic after statistic, that should concern every single individual concerned about the future of our country’s economy and national security and the quality of life our children and grandchildren will enjoy.  For decades, the entrenched establishment, which dominated K-12 public education for far too long, enabled a status quo that dumbed down expectations for students — even as government spending on schools increased exponentially year by year. As a result, American students are falling further and further behind their peers in countries across the world as they languish in classrooms with mediocre standards and minimal accountability.

Critics join common cause to block latest school reform
The Washington Times By Deborah Simmons Sunday, April 28, 2013
Education Secretary Arne Duncan would be a very wise man if he started paying close attention to the sticks being poked in the eyes of the Obama administration regarding those one-size-fits-all Common Core State Standards.  Not all states and localities bought into his “absolute game changer” claim — and for absolutely good reasons, including a “very large, very permanent federal footprint.”  Common Core was and is being sold as a set of academic standards that would improve teaching and learning and better prepare young people for college and careers.
“There are very legitimate reasons for very reasonable Americans, conservative and liberal, progressive and libertarian, to be concerned about increasing top-down control of Education.”
Paul Horton: Of Common Core, Conspiracies and Coups d'Etat
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on April 26, 2013 12:00 AM
Guest post by Paul Horton.
To those defending the Obama administration's Race To the Top and Common Core Curriculum initiatives, opponents tend to be placed in one very tidy box: "conspiracy theorists."
Long a critic of overzealous federal intervention in education, Chester Finn, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that promotes educational excellence and supports the president's education agenda, charged opponents of these initiatives as conspiracy theorists and flippantly suggestedthat the United Nations might be behind the Common Core as a part of its efforts, apparently, to create a one world government .
As if taking his cue from Finn, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has recently made similar accusations in a Department of Education Press release: "The idea that the Common Core Standards are nationally imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy."

“While improved reading skills would lower the need for remedial classes in college, there is no evidence that giving elementary students more difficult tests will make them better readers.  Giving students access to excellent literacy-rich pre-school experiences and intensive, research-based reading programs in the first years of schooling, on the other hand, will.”
Have standardized tests really helped kids learn more?
Washington Post  Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 30, 2013 at 4:00 am
An award-winning principal looks at the growing resistance to standardized testing in NEw York and beyond. This was written byCarol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals.
By Carol Burris
How have New York parents greeted the new Common Core-aligned tests that were just given to their children? With skepticism, doubt, and in some cases, outright resistance.
This year, ‘opt out’ parent groups popped up across the Empire StateLong Island Opt Out did not exist a month ago; now its Facebook group has nearly 9,000 members, among them many who told their children to say “thanks but no thanks” to the recent Common Core exams. During the first days of testing, 135 students at the Icabod Crane Elementary and Middle School opted out—by the end of  testing, the number exceeded 200.  Twenty percent of Grade 3-8 students in the Rockville Centre School District did not take the exams, while a school board member in Rochester announced that her child would not be tested.  Local school boards are passing resolutions of concern regarding high stakes testing, and the Niagara Regional PTA submitted an anti-testing resolution to the New York State PTA.
Oddly, however, there appears to be little interest by the press in investigating why this growing rebellion is occurring.  Instead, New York editorial boards from the conservative New York Post to the liberal New York Times echo the argument that tougher testing is a public good.

LETTER: ‘No Child Left Behind’ cheating children in public education system
Delco Times Letter to the Editor by Joseph Batory Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Joseph Batory is former Superintendent of the Upper Darby School District
During the past 13 years, since the adoption of the No Child Left Behind legislation, elected officials at state and national levels have relentlessly argued that standardized test score results are the keys to improvement for American education. And this political pressure has crumbled the educational resistance from far too many school districts which have now bought into testing preparation rituals and teaching to the test as the number one priorities for public education.

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 atwww.psba.org/about/psba/2013_psba_bylaws.pdf.

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 PSBA@divsearch.com. Interested parties should email their resume and cover letter to PSBA@divsearch.com. Please apply by June 1, 2013 for best consideration.

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:  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6252177431  by May 7, 2013.
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Janet Galaski at 412.394.5753 or janet.galaski@aiu3.net.

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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