Friday, April 26, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 26, 2013: Capitol Ideas Blog: Charter school reform, Bueller, Bueller.


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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



Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 26, 2013:
Capitol Ideas Blog: Charter school reform, Bueller, Bueller.

Charter school reform, Bueller, Bueller.
Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog By Steve Esack April 25,2013
Yo!
When got to Harrisburg in February, lawmakers acted really hot about reforming the 1997 state charter school law to beef up financial and academic accountability.
Several bills were introduced and hearings were held.
Then nothing.
All talk ended when the House debated and then approved liquor privatization and other stuff, and the Senate tackled transportation and other stuff.
But as this Morning Call story shows problems with the charter school law persist.

Philly School District: No charter expansion next year
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 25 2013 Posted in Latest news
Superintendent William Hite has decided not to recommend any charter school expansions for next year saying it would be irresponsible to do so given the District's dire financial situation.
"Given our dire financial prospects, we must ask for shared sacrifices from our partners," said Hite in a statement. "It would be irresponsible for the District to endorse charter expansion while asking our principals to do the impossible with school budgets."
Hite informed charter schools of his decision via conference call Thursday. Some 21 charters collectively sought some 15,000 additional seats, which would cost the District around $500 million over the next five years.

“Some charters are yielding very good academic results, but more needs to be done about those that are not. Too many charters are falling victim to gross mismanagement. Too many are succumbing to the type of outright corruption that has put some operators in jail.”
Inquirer Editorial: Be careful with charters
POSTED: Friday, April 26, 2013, 3:01 AM
The Philadelphia School District's motive to start its own cyber charter school is understandable - recouping some of the $60 million it sends to other cyber charters to serve city students - but that's not the road to take.  It's been only five months since the Education Law Center urged Pennsylvania to impose a moratorium on any new cyber charters, citing recent research showing cyber charters in the state are not educating students as well as traditional public schools.

 “Pennsylvania school districts also are required to pay for employer pensions at the other types of schools. The state, though, also reimburses those schools for up to 50 percent of their pension contribution, resulting in a "double dip" that costs taxpayers an additional $50 million statewide, according to the resolution.”
Bethel Park board asks state to update charter school regulations
Post-Gazette By Harry Funk April 25, 2013 5:22 am
Bethel Park school board is asking the state Legislature to update laws regarding charter schools and their cyber counterparts.  On Tuesday, the board approved a resolution calling for lawmakers to take action, contending that, in part, "more of the expense of charter school tuition falls to local taxpayers."

Corbett signs HB2, bill that will alter the way the state funds special education
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  April 25, 2013
Gov. Tom Corbett today signed legislation that will lead to overhauling the way future state funding for special education is distributed to school districts.
The legislation, which had strong support in the House and Senate, creates a 15-member commission to develop a special education funding formula to replace an archaic one that is more than two decades old. The panel has until Sept. 30 to complete its work and produce a recommendation for the Legislature and administration to consider.

Merger's benefits mulled at Antietam meeting
Reading Eagle by Becca Y. Gregg  4/25/2013
If the Antietam and Exeter school districts were to combine in some form, students from both could take advantage of a minimum of 42 new course offerings.  They'd also have access to 10 different buildings and added athletic facilities.  And have the opportunity to take part in up to 31 new clubs and activities.  "You'd have the capacity to do a lot more," Kerry Moyer told more than 150 parents and residents at Antietam's Mount Penn Primary Center Wednesday. "And you'd have the capacity to accommodate a large enrollment (increase) if it does happen."
Moyer is director of research and president of the Civic Research Alliance of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County. The findings he presented at a special school board meeting in the auditorium were the result of Civic Research Alliance's nearly seven-month feasibility study of a possible merger between the neighboring districts.

How low can you go? Leading schools into (or out of) ruin.
thenotebook by James H. Lytle on Apr 25 2013 Posted in Commentary
James H. Lytle is a practice professor at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and a former urban principal and superintendent.
The School District announced last week that its budget for next year would be cut by 25 percent. When coupled with the nearly 20 percent reductions the two previous years, school resources will have shrunk by at least 40 percent.  Next year, according to Superintendent William Hite, schools will have principals and teachers, and that's about it. No secretaries, no counselors, no music, art, sports, or extracurriculars. Definitely no afterschool programs. In these stripped-down conditions, every classroom would be filled to the maximum of 30 to 33 students.  That means schools, staffed at the lowest levels in 50 years, will still be accountable for meeting the performance standards that continue to grow ever more demanding.

Support those at risk of dropping out
Inquirer Opinion By Nathan Mains POSTED: Friday, April 26, 2013, 3:01 AM
Nathan Mains is president and state director of Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania.
Every school day in Pennsylvania, 82 high school students leave school after classes - and never return. That's more than 14,000 school dropouts last year across the commonwealth.  Fifty-four of Pennsylvania's 598 high schools are considered among the nation's lowest performers, meaning that fewer than 60 percent of freshmen progress to their senior year on time.

Communities In Schools of PA
Communities In Schools helps students stay in school and make the right choices by connecting schools with needed community resources. By bringing resources, services, parents, and volunteers into schools, we create a community of caring adults who work hand in hand with educators.  The resources and people that Communities In Schools connects with the school are often already in the community. More often than not, these vital resources and people are located outside of the school building, across town, or are only open during business and school hours. Communities In Schools is the connector, bringing this team of caring adults right into the school building where the children are and where the need is the greatest.
Communities In Schools helps communities and schools assess the needs of their youth. We then design plans for meeting those needs, using existing resources. This coordinated, individualized approach is what makes us an effective organization and why we are so successful.

Penn Manor is second county school district to outsource workers in reaction to Affordable Care Act
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Updated Apr 24, 2013 16:46
By BRIAN WALLACE Staff Writer bwallace@lnpnews.com
Another Lancaster County school district is "outsourcing" a large group of employees to avoid the cost of complying with the Affordable Care Act.  Penn Manor School District Monday approved an agreement with Substitute Teacher Service to have STS provide 96 special-education classroom aides at district schools next year.  Penn Manor also shifted its substitute teachers from the district's payroll to STS's.  Last week, Eastern Lancaster County School District approved a similar agreement to outsource 89 food service workers and classroom aides through STS.

Parents, educators press Pa. lawmakers for guidelines on bullying
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson, @marywilson April 25, 2013
Pennsylvania House lawmakers are struggling to find a way to help schools deal with bullying.
Rep. Dan Truitt, R-Chester, says he's not sure schools are taking bullying seriously, given the way they're responding to existing state mandates.  "Our current state law requires school districts to report incidents of bullying to the state just in terms of the numbers, how many incidents they had," he said. "And a number of them, about 200 school districts, report none at all.

“Kathy Swope, Lewisburg Area School District board president..... represented the Pennsylvania School Boards Association at the rally. Swope said the department of education has estimated Pennsylvania schools have done $7 billion in construction over the last decade. Using the 10 percent impact of prevailing wage, the law cost taxpayers an extra $700 million, she said.”
Prevailing wage law raises concerns
John Finnerty New Castle News  April 17, 2013
HARRISBURG — A state law that sets the rate paid to laborers inflates the price tag on government construction projects by 10 to 17 percent, local government and school leaders said at a rally in Harrisburg.  The prevailing wage law kicks in at $25,000, meaning almost every construction project qualifies.  The Pennsylvania prevailing wage ceiling was set in 1961 and has not been increased since. Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said that if the ceiling were adjusted for inflation, the prevailing wage would not be triggered until a project’s cost exceeded $190,000.

Parent group wins secret school-closing docs
Philadelphia Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch Thursday, April 25, 2013, 5:07 PM
Score one for transparency. Earlier this year, I wrote about efforts by parent groups, the NAACP and others to find out more about the tangled relationship involving the Boston Consulting Group -- which recommended a major overhaul of the Philadelphia School District, including massive school closures -- its funder the William Penn Foundation, and the district.

Public Ed Advocacy: Education is a Right Not A Privilege
Youth United for Change (YUC) is a youth-led, democratic organization made up of youth of color and working class communities, with the “people” and political power to hold school officials and government accountable to meeting the educational needs of Philadelphia public school students. 

Florida Investigation Criticizes K12 Inc. on Teacher Issues
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Sean Cavanagh on April 25, 2013 2:46 PM
A preliminary report issued by the Florida Department of Education's inspector general has found that the for-profit online provider K12 Inc. assigned teachers working with one district to classes outside their certified fields, and provided records of educators teaching students with whom they had no interaction.  The report, which was recently made public, is not final. The inspector general's office has since received responses to the document from K12 and the Seminole County school system, the district from which the complaints about the company's practices emerged, and those materials could affect the outcome of the inspector general's final report, a spokeswoman for the department of education said.


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

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