Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 27, 2013: PA School Funding Campaign seeks commitment to restore student funding

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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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 27, 2013:
PA School Funding Campaign seeks commitment to restore student funding

PA School Funding Campaign Challenges Lawmakers to Use 2013-2014 Budget to Promote Opportunities for Students and Make Commitment to Restore Funding for Student Programs and Services
Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign Press Release April 26, 2013
WHAT:   Representatives of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign will explain the
              Campaign's Policy Agenda for the 2013-2014 State Budget, reporting on the effects
              of the nearly $900 million cut in annual state support for K-12 students, and
              describing steps the Governor and General Assembly should take to begin to restore
              the cut and reduce certain charter school costs to school districts.  They also will
              discuss the need for state lawmakers to make a 3-year commitment to completely
              restore lost funding to districts for student programs and services and to use a state
              funding distribution formula that promotes an equitable education opportunity for all
              students in all districts.

              The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign is an unprecedented coalition of more
              than 30 statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations representing
              hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators, school board members,
              administrators, and other concerned citizens advocating for adequate and equitable
              funding of Pennsylvania's public schools 

WHERE: Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg     WHEN:   Tuesday, April 30 - 10:00 a.m.
WHO:     Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair, NAACP Pennsylvania
              Deborah Dunstone, President, Pennsylvania PTA
              Joe Bard, Executive Director, PA Association of Rural and Small Schools
              Michael Churchill, Of-Counsel, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
              Rhonda Brownstein, Executive Director, Education Law Center
              Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
              Others to be Announced 

East Lycoming reviews cyber school tuition
By SAVANNAH DEMPSEY ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette April 26, 2013
HUGHESVILLE - Outreach for behaviorally challenged students and cyber and charter school tuition were topics of discussion at the East Lycoming School Board meeting, held Tuesday evening.  …Cyber school and charter school attendees also place a heavy financial burden on the school district. According to Superintendent Michael Pawlik, the district spent an estimated $400,000 on charter and cyber school tuition in the 2012-13 school year.  During the meeting, the board adopted a resolution that calls for the reform of the state's charter and cyber school funding formula. The resolution asks that the state come up with a cyber and charter school funding formula "based on the actual cost of educating students ... at the charter school."

Dim the lights: No musical for CAPA
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Friday, April 26, 2013, 6:41 AM
Money is so tight in the Philadelphia School District that the unthinkable has happened. For the first time in 17 years, CAPA - the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, the district's arts gem on South Broad Street - cannot afford to put on a musical.  "I was shocked and upset," said Jack Schmieg, a freshman vocal major at Oberlin College in Ohio who starred as Jean Valjean in CAPA's production of Les Misérables last year. "I couldn't imagine not having a musical. . . . I was in the musical every year at CAPA, and it was the highlight of every year for me and everybody else that participated."
Senior Daniel Wisniewski was disappointed, too. He played Javert in Les Mis and had expected to audition for an even bigger role this spring.  "I feel bad for all the other seniors," he said. "This was going to be our year."
But disappointment turned to disbelief when they heard that a new performing-arts charter high school that the School Reform Commission approved last year planned to buy GlaxoSmithKline's former North American headquarters at 16th and Vine Streets for $29 million.
"Really?" said Wisniewski, who will major in theater at Ithaca College in the fall. "And we can't get a musical?"

Philly school funding from city could be tied to state commitment

WHYY Newsworks By Tom MacDonald @tmacdonaldwhyy April 25, 2013
Could the city of Philadelphia's contribution to the struggling school district be tied to the state's? 
Even though there isn't yet a formal request for $60 million from the city for the schools, Council President Darrell Clarke says district representatives will ask officially in May.
In addition to asking the city for $60 million, the School District District of Philadelphia is seeking $120 million from the state to help fill the its $300 million budget shortfall.

Derry Area officials consider slightly lower tax hike
TribLive By Jeff Himler Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
…..Koluder said a 3-mill hike would raise the average Derry Area property owner's tax bill by $35.49.  Koluder said salaries and benefits account for the largest anticipated increase in expenditures, at $772,700. Most of that, $608,580, is attributed to spiking costs for retirement benefits.  According to Koluder, the district will spend about $70,000 less than was originally planned for health benefits because it obtained a better-than-expected rate for coverage through an area consortium. He said installation of new energy-efficient lighting will create additional savings.  With anticipated decreases of $447,000 in state funding and $138,000 in federal funding, the district is looking to draw about $1.4 million from its fund balance in order to balance the 2013-14 budget.
Fixing the 'Opportunity Gap' to Close the Achievement Gap
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on April 25, 2013 5:00 PM
What would it really take to close the achievement gap?
The answer, according to a cadre of education scholars who have just published a new book, is to fix the "opportunity gap" that exists between children born into middle class and affluent families and those who are not.  Thirty years after the release of the seminal A Nation at Risk report ushered in an era of academic standards and standardized tests to measure how students were mastering those, "Closing the Opportunity Gap," argues that until federal and state governments, as well as local school districts, devote as much time and attention to making investments in broad access to quality preschool, health care, good teachers, and rich curricula as they have to driving up test scores and graduation rates, the academic gaps between upper and middle-class kids and their low-income peers will never disappear.

Network for Public Education Newsletter Volume 1, Issue #6 April 26, 2013
Welcome to the sixth edition of our newsletter. There is a lot happening in our movement! This week we launched the NPE Newsbrief, which brings you news from all over the country. You may not agree with everything you read -- but that is part of what makes things dynamic. We have also added several new items to our activist Toolkit -- at great place to find ideas for how you can get organized and make a difference. You have a role to play, and we are doing our best to give you tools and information to help you get involved. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

We Are Winning! The Coming Revolution in American Public Education!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 26, 2013 //
Dear Friends, Never despair! We are winning.
John Tierney of the New York Times just published an article about “The Coming Revolution in Public Education.”  Tierney sees what we see. The insane obsession with bubble-guessing is out of control. The profiteers have over-reached. The Billionaire Boys Club do not own us nor can they buy our schools. They are losing. We are winning. We are winning because we are fighting for children and for better education for all. We are not fighting for profits and test scores.

The Coming Revolution in Public Education
Critics say the standardized test-driven reforms pushed by those like Michelle Rhee may actually be harming students.
The Atlantic by JOHN TIERNEYAPR 25 2013, 11:01 AM ET
It's always hard to tell for sure exactly when a revolution starts. Is it when a few discontented people gather in a room to discuss how the ruling regime might be opposed? Is it when first shots are fired? When a critical mass forms and the opposition acquires sufficient weight to have a chance of prevailing? I'm not an expert on revolutions, but even I can see that a new one is taking shape in American K-12 public education.

The dominant regime for the past decade or more has been what is sometimes called accountability-based reform or, by many of its critics, "corporate education reform." The reforms consist of various initiatives aimed at (among other things): improving schools and educational outcomes by using standardized tests to measure what students are learning; holding schools and teachers accountable (through school closures and teacher pay cuts) when their students are "lagging" on those standardized assessments; controlling classroom instruction and increasing the rigor of school curricula by pushing all states to adopt the same challenging standards via a "Common Core;" and using market-like competitive pressures (through the spread of charter schools and educational voucher programs) to provide public schools with incentives to improve.

Critics of the contemporary reform regime argue that these initiatives, though seemingly sensible in their original framing, are motivated by interests other than educational improvement and are causing genuine harm to American students and public schools. Here are some of the criticisms: the reforms have self-interest and profit motives, not educational improvement, as their basis; corporate interests are reaping huge benefits from these reform  initiatives andspending millions of dollars lobbying to keep those benefits flowing; three big foundations (Gates, Broad, and Walton Family) are funding much of the backing for the corporate reforms and are spending billions to market and sell reforms that don't work; ancillary goals of these reforms are to bust teacher unions, disempower educators, and reduce spending on public schools;standardized testing is enormously expensive in terms both of public expenditures and the diversion of instruction time to test prep; over a third of charter schools deliver "significantly worse" results for students than the traditional public schools from which they were diverted; and, finally, that these reforms have produced few benefits and have actually caused harm, especially to kids in disadvantaged areas and communities of color.

Hedge Funders Say It's 'A Badge Of Honor' To Be Targeted By 'Thuggish' Teachers Unions
Business Insider by Julia La Roche | Apr. 25, 2013, 9:36 AM | 4,668 | 48
The American Federation of Teachers, a labor union that represents teachers, is going after a bunch of hedge funders who support education reform.  Last week, the AFT released a "watch list" of hedge funds they think are "attacking" their defined benefit plans (DB plans) through their support of various educational reform groups.

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

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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