Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 20, 2013: IDEA: It’s the law, but nobody wants to fund it…….

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 20, 2013:
IDEA: It’s the law, but nobody wants to fund it…….

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

Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the May 21st primary election
By Deb Kiner |  on April 19, 2013 at 8:16 AM
The deadline to register to vote before the May primary election is Monday.

EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, April 19, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Special Ed Update (notes from EPLC)
House Bill 2 (Rep. Bernie O'Neill, R-29 was passed unanimously in the Senate on April 9.  It has since been signed by both chambers and is awaiting Governor Corbett's signature.
HB 2 would establish a Special Education Funding Commission to develop a funding formula for the distribution of any increase in special education funding above the 2010-2011 funding level.  In identifying the factors used in the formula, the Commission may determine the parameters for three cost categories based on level of service needs, and determine how those categories are weighted in the formula; consider a student count averaged for each of the three most recent years for each category so that school districts do not overidentify eligible students; and make adjustments for geographic price differences and the three year averages of the market value/personal income aid ratio and equalized millage rates for each district.  Any formula developed by the Commission would not go into effect unless enacted by the General Assembly. 

The Commission, a fifteen member panel, must issue a report of its findings and recommendations no later than September 30, 2013.  In addition, the Commission is charged with receiving public input and gathering information on charter and cyber charter school funding reimbursement related to special education students, and to draft proposed regulations and legislation based on its findings.

HB 2 is identical to Senate Bill 470 (Sen. Patrick Browne, R-6) which passed in the Senate on March 12 and was referred to the House Education Committee on March 14.

Senate Resolution 71 (Sen. Mike Folmer, R-48) would call upon the President and the Congress of the United States to fully fund all federal special education mandates imposed upon State, county, municipal or local providers of educational services to students in Pennsylvania.  Noted in the resolution is that costs for children with disabilities have increased while federal appropriations have not, and that appropriations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act would require a 130% increase before the mandates of the act are fully funded.  The resolution was reported as committed.

During the meetingMinority Chairman Andrew Dinniman (D-19) said that while he supports this resolution, "we should also understand the state has not paid its share as well", as special education funding at the state level has been flat-funded for the last five years.

There is no additional special ed funding provided to PA school districts under HB2.  Not only has Pennsylvania flat-funded special ed for the last five years, but the Governor’s proposed budget would actually slightly reduce special ed 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.

In addition, the White House projects that under sequestration Pennsylvania will lose approximately $21.4 million in IDEA funds for about 260 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

GOP Senator Grassley: No More Federal Money for Common Core
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 19, 2013 10:20 AM
Congress wouldn't pump another penny into encouraging states to adopt the common core standards, or overseeing their implementation, at least if Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has his way.
Grassley sent a letter April 18 to Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who also hails from the Hawkeye State, asking him to include language in the bill that funds the U.S. Department of Education prohibiting the education secretary from using any of the money in the measure to oversee state implementation of the standards, develop tests to go along with the standards, or give a leg up in any federal competition to states that adopt the standards. Harkin, who will retire after this Congress, is the chairman of the panels overseeing K-12 policy and spending—Grassley isn't a member of either of them. The letter was also sent to Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the top Republican on the K-12 spending panel.

The Economist Apr 16th 2013, 14:49 by S.M. | NEW YORK
EVERY child in the third through eighth grade in New York’s public schools will be asked to sit this week for three days of testing in the English Language Arts, to be followed by another three days of mathematics assessment next week. This has been the ritual in New York for some time, a sign of spring as sure as the first daffodils. But this year promises greater anxiety than usual: students will encounter much more challenging questions when they open up their test booklets, and some of the items will include material their teachers haven’t covered in class.
New York is one of the first states to revamp its annual exams to match up with the new Common Core Standards, a comprehensive set of academic expectations designed with the goal of better preparing American children for “college and careers”.

New York: A Tough New Test Spurs Protest and Tears
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ and AL BAKER Published: April 19, 2013
Students at the Hostos-Lincoln Academy in the Bronx blamed the English exams for making them anxious and sick. Teachers at Public School 152 in Manhattan said they had never seen so many blank stares. Parents at the Earth School in the East Village were so displeased that they organized a boycott.  As New York this week became one of the first states to unveil a set of exams grounded in new curricular standards, education leaders are finding that rallying the public behind tougher tests may be more difficult than they expected.
Complaints were plentiful: the tests were too long; students were demoralized to the point of tears; teachers were not adequately prepared. Some parents, long skeptical of the emphasis on standardized testing, forbade their children from participating.

How Pearson Cheats on State Tests
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 18, 2013 //
A teacher in upstate New York wrote me to say that the state English language arts test for 8th grade (written by Pearson) contained a passage that his students had read a week earlier—in a Pearson 8th grade textbook! The story is “Why Leaves Turn Color in Fall,” by Diane Ackerman. The story appears on page 540 of the Pearson textbook.
Moral of the story: if you want your students to succeed on the state tests written by Pearson, be sure to buy the Pearson textbooks.

Network for Public Education News Volume 1, Issue #5
Welcome to the fifth edition of the NPE News! We have a new Note from Diane, and some other news of upcoming grassroots activities. Please share this newsletter with friends, so we can build our network of those working to support our schools. If you would like to make a donation, or become a member, you can do so here. And don't forget to "like us" on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

Arne Duncan: Universal preschool is a sure path to the middle class
Washington Post Opinion By Arne Duncan, Published: April 18
Arne Duncan is secretary of education. Source information about studies mentioned in this column has been posted at
President Obama put forward a plan last week to make access to high-quality early learning a reality for every 4-year-old in America by making full-day preschool available to families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
Parents, teachers and principals nationwide agree that we need to do more to ensure that children from disadvantaged families begin kindergarten at the same educational starting line as do children from better-off families. The president’s plan includes a cost-sharing arrangement with states, with the entire federal investment of $75 billion covered by anew cigarette tax, and with incentives for states to make programs available for even more middle-class families.

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

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)

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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