Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 24, 2013: Online petition calls on PA policymakers to restore education funding to 2010 levels

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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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 24, 2013:
Online petition calls on PA policymakers to restore education funding to 2010 levels

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

Online petition calls on PA policymakers to restore education funding to 2010 levels:

PA Students are Waiting: Fund Public Ed

By Shanee Garner PCCY April 23, 2013
To be delivered to: The Pennsylvania State House, The Pennsylvania State Senate, and Governor Tom Corbett
PETITION STATEMENT: PA has an obligation to fund a thorough and efficient system of education for children. Stop shifting the burden to local communities and RESTORE education funding to 2010 levels.

Cumberland Valley School Board approves budget with no tax increase
The Cumberland Valley School Board voted 5-3 on Monday to adopt a proposed 2013-14 budget that does not call for an increase in taxes.  The millage rate will stay at 8.715 mills.  The board discussed their views before a roll call vote.
….No topic drew more heat than potential cuts to school programs. Nine positions will be cut through attrition from music, physical education, technology, business and social studies programs. Reductions will also be made to elementary swimming and drivers education programs.

Sequestration bites Lebanon School District
Lebanon Daily News By JOHN LATIMER 04/22/2013 10:55:45 PM EDT
Sequestration - the fancy fiscal word that means indiscriminate across-the-board federal funding cuts - is creating a budget crisis for the Lebanon School District by creating a nearly $334,000 shortfall that could cost nearly 20 people their jobs.  Lebanon school directors learned Monday night that the biggest impact will likely be felt by elementary-school teacher aides who are slated to lose their positions because the Title I federal programming that pays their salaries is being slashed as part of the automatic federal funding cuts resulting from Congress' inability to come to a budget compromise. Two literacy teachers will also lose their positions, although that is expected to occur by attrition.

Quakertown Community School District Blazes a Trail for Blended Learning Programs
Alliance for Excellent Education - High School Soup by Cyndi Waite April 23, 2013
Quakertown Community School District(QCSD) in Bucks County, Pennsylvania has seen an increase in student achievement, test scores, advanced placement course enrollment, and engagement among students since implementing a blended learning program in 2008. The program combines online learning with traditional classroom instruction, and fosters a flexible environment in which students learning needs are met on an individual level. The Alliance for Excellent Education, along with Public Impact, talked with students, school and district leaders, and analyzed achievement results and compiled their findings in an innovative, interactive video profile. The report, "Quakertown Community School District: A Systematic Approach to Blended Learning That Focuses on District Leadership, Staffing, and Cost-effectiveness,” is the first in a series of interactive video profiles highlighting school districts that utilize digital learning to improve teaching and learning.

Phila. cyber charter fights state bid to close it
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 3:01 AM
A Philadelphia-based cyber charter school that the Pennsylvania Department of Education wants to shut down as allegedly not providing cyber education is fighting to survive.
The Solomon Charter School filed a complaint in Commonwealth Court on Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the state's 2002 cyber charter law and the way it was applied.

A coalition for effective teaching that didn't consult teachers?
The notebook by Timothy Boyle on Apr 23 2013 Posted in Commentary
The School District of Philadelphia needs all the help it can get, so I’m happy to see a number of local nonprofits band together to offer their advice.  The member groups of the recently launched Coalition for Effective Teaching are calling for reforms to the teachers' contract. As I looked over their list of recommendations, I saw a mix of ideas, some already happening and some that would be helpful. But many of them are misguided. The coalition would have greatly benefited had the members bothered to talk to rank-and-file educators during the planning process.

Four Pennsylvania Schools Receive National Green Ribbon Schools Honors, One School District Awarded District Sustainability Award
PDE Press Release April 22, 2013
Gov. Tom Corbett today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has selected four Pennsylvania schools for the national 2013 Green Ribbon Schools award, plus one school district for the District Sustainability Award.  “These award-winning schools serve as a model for all of Pennsylvania by incorporating innovative technologies and strategies to use resources effectively and efficiently,’’ Corbett said. “I congratulate them.’’  
The schools are: Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School, Philadelphia School District; Broughal Middle School, Bethlehem Area School District, Northampton County; Nazareth Area Middle School, Nazareth Area School District, Northampton County; and Westtown School, Chester CountyLower Merion School District, Montgomery County, was awarded the first-ever District Sustainability Award for applying energy conservation initiatives across multiple school buildings throughout the district.

States Pull Back From Common Core Standards
US News and World Report By KELSEY SHEEHY April 22, 2013 RSS Feed Print
Lawmakers in some states hope to halt the transition to the Common Core State Standards, even as school districts across the country are rolling them out.

Is the Common Core Standards initiative in trouble?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 24, 2013 at 5:00 am
Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently met with Chamber of Commerce leaders and urged them to be more vocal and forceful in defending the Common Core State Standards. Why?
Duncan made the appeal, which was reported by Education Week, because the initiative — a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement — has come under such withering attack in recent months that what once seemed like a major policy success for the Obama administration now looks troubled.

Education Week COMMENTARY A Nation at Risk: Where Are We Now?
Education Week Published Online: April 23, 2013
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk by the National Commission on Excellence in Education formed by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell. The landmark report declared that "the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people." Pointing to what it said were flagging test scores, diluted curricula, and weak teacher-preparation programs, among other issues, A Nation at Risk argued that an "incoherent, outdated patchwork quilt" of instruction was creating a culture of passive learning in which students could advance with minimum effort.
The commission recommended "five new basics" for students seeking a high school diploma: four courses in English, three in mathematics, three in science, three in social studies, and one-half credit in computer science. Two courses in foreign language were proposed for students planning on attending college. Other recommendations included taking steps to improve teacher quality, allowing for more classroom time devoted to the new basics, increasing academic rigor, and raising standards for college admission.
A catalyst for the academic-standards movement, the report was widely circulated and its findings strongly influenced policymakers and opinion leaders.

They Shall Overcome
Meet the K–12 reform donors who strategically balance charitable giving, legislative advocacy, and direct political engagement.
Cover Story from Spring 2013 issue of Philanthropy Magazine By Christopher Levenick
John Kirtley smiled. It was March in Tallahassee, and the morning sun was already warming the immense crowd before him. Some 5,600 people had gathered in front of the Leon County Civic Center—more than 1,000 of whom were arriving after a 14-hour overnight bus ride from Miami. Still, the energy in the air was palpable. Excited schoolchildren clutched hand-lettered signs: “Don’t Take Away My Dreams,” “Education Through Choice.” Parents chatted with teachers as clergymen greeted newcomers. It was a diverse crowd, predominantly black and Hispanic. Kirtley knew it had gathered for a single purpose: to convince the 2010 Florida legislature to strengthen the state’s school choice program.

How private money is driving public education policy
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 24, 2013 at 5:00 am
In this era of school reform, private foundations and wealthy philanthropists have used their money to play a big role in helping to shape public education state and federal policy. Here’s an interesting piece that describes the history of  such giving and considers whether it is a good idea. It was written by Stanley N. Katz, who teaches public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University and is president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies. This essay appeared in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2013, and on Larry Cuban’s School Reform and Classroom Practice blog.

The New Markets Tax Credit program which provided significant financial incentives for charter school development projects expired on 12/31/11.
FY2014 Federal Budget Proposes Permanent Reauthorization of New Markets Tax Credit
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC April 12, 2013

AFT Wants to Keep Teachers' Pensions in the Hand of Pro-Pension Fund Managers By Matthew Yglesias Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 12:13 PM
One of the ironies of 21st-century financial capitalism is that one of the biggest sources of income for mega-rich fund management types is the pension funds of public sector workers. At the same time, "education reform" groups are one of the favorite causes of the hedge fund set. And reform groups generally want to replace defined benefit pensions with defined contribution schemes, as either part of an effort to reduce labor costs or else to reduce the tendency of teacher compensation plans to overweight seniority. Consequently, you have teachers investing their defined benefit pensions with people who give money to groups that lobby against defined benefit pensions.

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)

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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