Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 10, 2013: Take 5 minutes today and join Education Voters PA Statewide Call to Action

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?

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Education Voters PA – Statewide Call to Action day April 10th

Download 1 page pdf with information about the April 10th call-in day.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 10, 2013:

Calling on Harrisburg to fix education funding
by thenotebook on Apr 09 2013 Posted in Latest news
by Charlotte Pope
Education stakeholders across Pennsylvania are being asked to speak up to influence negotiations for the state’s budget.  Education Voters of Pennsylvania, an advocacy group focused on public education policy, has issued a call to action, scheduled for April 10. Callers are encouraged to contact their state senators, representatives, and Gov. Corbett and ask them to reinstate $270 million in K-12 education funding in this year’s budget and adopt a funding formula to provide sustainable and predictable funding for school districts.

Take 5 minutes today and join Education Voters PA for the Statewide Call to Action Wednesday April 10th!
Education Voters PA

This bill will not impact special ed funding for the coming year.  Special ed has been flat funded in PA for several years and this budget would actually cut funding for every district in the state by  shifting about $4.7 million from the basic special education subsidy to bolster the state's special education contingency fund.
Special education funding overhaul goes to Corbett's desk
By Jan Murphy |  on April 09, 2013 at 5:55 PM
School districts that have been struggling with paying their special education bills may see some relief on the horizon.
The Senate on Tuesday voted to send legislation to Gov. Tom Corbett that would establish a 15-member commission to develop a special education funding formula to replace an archaic one that is more than two decades old. Corbett has said he would sign it if the bill reached his desk, a key lawmaker said. A call to the governor's office to confirm that this afternoon was not returned.
The bill passed by a 50-0 vote in the Senate. It also drew no opposition in the House, which passed it in March by a 193-0.
Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, who along with Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, championed the bill through their respective chambers.

“But PCCY's Cooper wants the district to take a much harder line.
She said the district's dire financial straits have prevented the expansion of successful traditional schools. She said charters should be no different.  "We saw tremendous parental demand to expand Penn Alexander Elementary School only a month ago, but the district was unable to find the resources," said Cooper, who served as former Gov. Ed Rendell's policy director for eight years, playing a major role in that administration's approach to public education.”
Advocate urges no 'blank check' for Philly charters seeking to expand
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold @BenjaminBHerold April 9, 2013
The Philadelphia School District's two main priorities – balancing its books and expanding the number of "high quality seats" in city schools – are poised for a head-on collision, perhaps as soon as next week.  Twenty Philadelphia charter schools, including some of the most sought-after schools in the city, are seeking to expand.  If granted, their requests to add students would almost certainly put the cash-strapped district many millions of dollars deeper into the red.

“The projected $984,000 deficit will be made up by using $688,449 from the district's committed fund balance and $295,551 from the unassigned fund balance. “
Mechanicsburg Area School Board endorses 2013-14 budget with no tax increase
By Roger Quigley | Special to PennLive  on April 09, 2013 at 10:06 PM
For the first time in several years, Mechanicsburg Area School District taxpayers are not going to pay higher property taxes in the new budget year.  The school board Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to a 2013-14 budget of nearly $55 million that holds taxes at existing rates. The owner of a property assessed at the district average of $177,138 would pay $2,177 in taxes.
The school board was faced with the decision of dipping into its fund balance to close a nearly $1 million budget deficit or raising taxes by 1 percent.  The deficit would have been more than $500,000 worse if the Mechanicsburg Education Association had not agreed to a pay freeze for 2013-14, the first year of a new teacher's contract negotiated last year.
School board President Dawn Merris said the teachers' decision to forego a salary increase in 2013-14 made possible the decision to hold taxes steady.

Easton schools must cut 23 positions, raise tax
District administrators said tax hike would have to accompany staff reductions to balance next year's budget.
By JD Malone, Of The Morning Call 11:01 p.m. EDT, April 9, 2013
The Easton Area School District has a big hole in its 2013-14 budget and plans to fill it with a tax hike and staff reductions.  In a continuation of a months-long debate, district treasurer Michael Simonetta walked school board members through three possible budget proposals Tuesday night. The first calls for a 2.1 percent tax hike and 23 position cuts, including 12 teachers and an assistant superintendent. The second asks for a 1.7 percent tax hike with six additional staff cuts.
The third option skips a tax hike but cuts 13 staff on top of the second plan, for a total of 42, and deletes music programs and middle school sports.

Op-ed, Opt Out, Occupy
Yinzercation Blog April 9, 2013
The O’s had it this past week. First, Kathy Newman’s terrific op-ed piece on why she is not letting her son take the PSSAs went completely viral. Over 41,000 people shared the story on Facebook from the Post-Gazette’s site – and we know it spread much, much farther from there. Even more importantly, it generated a nationwide discussion of the consequences of high-stakes-testing with hundreds of people posting comments (the vast majority of which were extremely supportive).
The public response created its own wave of media attention as the story of our Opt Out action continued to race around the country. We wound up having a public dialogue with Gov. Corbett’s administration in the letters-to-the-editor section of the paper, as well as radio interviews and print articles ranging from the Washington Post to the San Francisco Chronicle.Here’s a run down of the media timeline:

Philly mom talks about ‘opting out’ of state standardized tests
by thenotebook on Apr 09 2013 Posted in Latest news
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Last month, Jo-Ann Rogan started noticing a big change in her 9-year-old son, Ryan.
"As the PSSAs came closer, he was becoming extremely anxious and stressed," Rogan said. "They were sending home practice packets, and it was just getting worse and worse."
So Rogan joined the small but increasingly visible group of Pennsylvania parents who have decided to opt their children out of taking high-stakes state standardized tests.

Philly mom, others, 'opt out' kids from PSSAs
WILL BUNCH, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-2957
POSTED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 3:01 AM
STUDENTS at Greenfield Elementary in Center City joined thousands of kids across Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning as they sharpened their pencils for six days of PSSAs - the grueling, high-stakes standardized tests that Pennsylvania educators use to evaluate schools and their teachers.  At that moment, parent Tomika Anglin was at the front office pulling her daughter Simone and a fifth-grade classmate out of school for the two hours that the PSSAs took place. Instead of proving their math and reading skills, the two children visited the nearby Free Library and toured the Ben Franklin Parkway. "We took some pictures, and we talked about the elements of the arts," Anglin said.  They also joined what a small but growing number of parents and education activists are calling "an act of civil disobedience."

“The NSBA is focusing on increasing the impact of its advocacy work, while NASBE hopes to find a leader who is more connected to state school boards to succeed one whose expertise was at the federal level.”
Leadership Shifts at Top of Education Associations
Education groups rethinking strategy to stay relevant
Education Week By Jaclyn Zubrzycki April 2, 2013
As groups representing local and state education players struggle to remain relevant in a policy conversation often dominated by foundations, think tanks, new advocacy groups, and political and business figures, a shift in leadership has been under way at major associations.
Most of the changes have come as part of the natural churn; former directors retire or move on. But at the National School Boards Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education, the shifts have come hand in hand with changes in organizational goals.

New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education
New York Times By JUSTIN GILLIS Published: April 9, 2013 257 Comments
Educators unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States — including, for the first time, a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school.  The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century, but one that still provokes a backlash among some religious conservatives.
The guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.

National Review discussion of the Common Core continues…….
Common Core: Response to Joy Pullman
National Review Online The Corner Blog By Sol Stern April 8, 2013 5:27 P.M.
Americans have a right — indeed a duty — to make reasoned, fact-based criticisms of the Common Core State Standards. But the critics don’t have a right to invent their own facts. Unfortunately, Joy Pullman’s attack on the article about Common Core by Kathleen Porter-Magee and myself is riddled with errors of fact and logic.
Pullman starts out by claiming that Common Core is “a threat to the American tradition of individual liberty and limited government” and harks back to that claim at the end of her piece, yet she produces not a shred of evidence to support that incendiary charge. 

“Companies and political committees promoting alternatives to traditional public schools poured more than $2 million into Florida campaigns last fall, mostly to GOP lawmakers, according to an analysis by The Palm Beach Post.”

Florida online education companies poised to spring forward with receptive lawmakers

By John Kennedy Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau April 6, 2013
After spending heavily on ruling Republicans last election, charter schools and online education companies are poised to gain a major push forward this spring from the Legislature.
But financial and family bonds that link top GOP lawmakers to this rapidly growing industry also have given it outsize advantage, raising concerns from those feeling threatened by this shift, and renewing calls for stricter ethics standards in Tallahassee.  “The charter and virtual school lobby thinks it has taken control of this Legislature and they’re getting plenty of help from some members to do this,” said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.

K12 Has Returned 17.7% Since SmarTrend Recommendation (LRN) By Nick Russo Written on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 10:20am
SmarTrend identified an Uptrend for K12 (NYSE:LRN) on February 12th, 2013 at $20.91. In approximately 2 months, K12 has returned 17.74% as of today's recent price of $24.62.
K12 share prices have moved between a 52-week high of $26.40 and a 52-week low of $15.83 and are now trading 56% above that low price at $24.62 per share. The 200-day and 50-day moving averages have moved 0.26% higher and 2.22% higher over the past week, respectively.

How do shareholders interests compare with student and taxpayers interests?  Here is K-12’s Agora Cyber Charter School AYP results from 2006 – 2012 from PDE:

PA Cyber Charter PSSA AYP 2006 - 2012 from PDE
School Name
AYP Proceeding Level 2012
AYP Proceeding Level 2011
AYP Proceeding Level 2010
AYP Proceeding Level 2009
Proceeding Level 2008
AYP Proceeding Level 2007
AYP Proceeding Level 2006
Corrctv Actn 2 (3rd year)
Corrctv Actn 2 (2nd year)
Corrctv Actn 2 (1st year)
Corrctv Actn 1
Schl Imprvmt 2
Schl Imprvmt 1

PCN Call-In Program Wednesday April 10 at 7pm: Charter Schools

Rep. James Roebuck, who is the Democratic Chair of the House Education Committee, says his bill that addresses Charter and Cyber school funding and oversight, could save school districts $365 million per year.  Rep. Roebuck and Lawrence Jones, President of the PA  Coalition of Public Charter Schools, appear Wednesday night to discuss this and other proposals to revise Charter School regulations.

PCN Focus on Education: PA School Boards Wed April 10 at 9:00 pm
School Boards Discussion - EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN
This Wednesday, April 10, tune in to the next episode of EPLC's "Focus on Education" series, which will cover School Boards and the Work of Board Members and air at 9:00 p.m. on PCN television.  EPLC President Ron Cowell and PCN Host Corinna Vecsey Wilson will be joined by Marcela Diaz Myers, President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA); Pamela M. Price, Director of Board Development Services, PSBA; and Roberta M. Marcus, Master School Board Member, Parkland School District.
EPLC and PA Cable Network (PCN) have partnered for a monthly program focusing on education issues in Pennsylvania.  The first episodes aired during February and March and covered school safety issues and student testing topics.   "Focus on Education" will be broadcast on PCN at 9:00 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, now through June, and then again this fall in September through December.
To learn more, visit PCN's "Focus on Education" web page.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting from Monday, May 21, 2012
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

Network for Public Education
Webinar: How to Organize a Grassroots Group; Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 pm EDT
Many of those who have joined our network want to get involved in grassroots work to change the direction of education in our communities. We are now planning a series of web forums to share concrete ways to do just that. The first will focus on how to organize grassroots groups.
Phyllis Bush and members of the North East Indiana Friends of Public Education will share their experiences in getting organized. Formed just two years ago, this group helped elect teacher Glenda Ritz as state superintendent of education.
The webinar will take place on Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 pm Eastern time, 11:30 am Pacific time. You can register here. You will be emailed a link to the webinar a day or two before the event.

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