Friday, April 5, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 5, 2013: Join Education Voters PA for the Statewide Call to Action next Wednesday April 10th!

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?

These daily emails are archived at
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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 5, 2013:
Join Education Voters PA for the Statewide Call to Action next Wednesday April 10th!

 “…there is encouraging momentum among lawmakers who recognize the need to promote more sensible funding, quality in planning and governance, better fiscal and educational accountability, and more transparency in operations. Various legislative proposals have recently been introduced that would address key shortcomings of existing law. Some would quickly produce dramatic fiscal benefits for school districts and their taxpayers. For instance, eliminating the pension double-dip -- charter schools now receive pension reimbursements from both school districts and the state -- would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years.”
Fix Pennsylvania's charter school law now
Post-Gazette Opinion By Stuart L. Knade April 4, 2013 12:19 am
Stuart L. Knade is interim executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
When Pennsylvania's charter school law was enacted in 1997, it was difficult not to like the concept -- independently operated public schools, freed from many of the regulations constraining traditional public school systems, would be laboratories for educational innovation, producing new approaches that could benefit students in all schools. But the actual experience over the ensuing years has highlighted significant flaws in that law and its companion cyber charter school law that prevent the promise from becoming reality.

Take 5 minutes and join Education Voters PA for the Statewide Call to Action next Wednesday April 10th!
Education Voters PA
Join thousands of parents, students, teachers and community members from across the state to SPEAK UP in support of our public schools on Wednesday, April 10th!  Harrisburg has cut almost $1 BILLION from public education in EACH of the last two years, and we are seeing increased class size, deep programs cuts and the elimination of vital positions like librarians and counselors in all corners of the state!
Negotiations for the 2013-14 state budget are heating up, and the Governor and state legislature need to hear from us that we want them to support public schools.  We know that just 10 calls in one day to one legislator will put this issue on the radar!  Mark your calendar today for Wednesday April 10th – and do 3 things in 10 minutes to make a difference!

The Keystone State Education Coalition is a member of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign……
Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget
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.

Quaker Valley sees budget problems ahead with pension obligations
Beaver County Times Online By Justin Criado For The Times  Thursday, April 4, 2013
SEWICKLEY — Nearly $3.2 million of Quaker Valley’s projected $42.2 million budget for the 2013-14 school year will go toward pension obligations, and that figure will likely only increase in the years ahead.  John Sheline, director of finance and operations, reviewed a 30-year pension payment projection with the 20-member public budget committee Tuesday night. It showed that the district will pay as much as $9 million to the state Public School Employees Retirement System in 2034-35, before dropping significantly to just over $5 million in 2036.

“No central listing of Philadelphia charter school boards, their members, or their meeting schedules is currently available.”
Mayor's education office seeks to lift the veil on Philly charter board meetings
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold @BenjaminBHerold April 4, 2013
Seeking to better understand the operations of Philadelphia's 80-plus public charter schools, Mayor Michael Nutter's Office of Education has launched an effort to get boots on the ground at charter board meetings all across the city.  Lori Shorr, the Mayor's chief education policy adviser, has directed members of her staff to begin attending several such meetings a month.  "We put a lot of public dollars into these schools, and they're serving a lot of kids in this city," said Shorr. "How they're governed is important."

Nutter Wants Money For Schools, No Plan To Find It Yet by Troy Graham @troyjgraham POSTED: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 4:24 PM
Mayor Nutter said this afternoon that he wants to fulfill the School District of Philadelphia’s request for $60 million in additional city funding, but he did not offer any specifics on how – or where – to find the money.
“We don’t have all the answers today. We don’t have a plan today,” he said. “What I’m committed to is high-quality education for children here in Philadelphia.”

Ex-charter official testifies on school's shortcomings
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Friday, April 5, 2013, 3:01 AM
During a hearing to determine whether Truebright deserves to have its charter renewed, Susan Farley-Ellison detailed the North Philadelphia school's academic shortcomings.
Farley-Ellison, the school's supervisor of curriculum and instruction in 2010-11, said the school had textbooks but lacked a curriculum because the charter's chief executive told her the school could not afford one. She said the school did not have a program for students whose first language was not English.  And, she said, many of the courses Truebright listed in its renewal application filed in November 2011 had never been offered.

First Lady Susan Corbett, Department of Education Team Up to Help Struggling Students
PDE Press Release April 04, 2013
Harrisburg –First Lady Susan Corbett and the Pennsylvania Department of Education have teamed up to develop an early warning system to identify middle school students who are at risk of dropping out of school. The goal is to provide an appropriate intervention to keep the students on track to graduation.  The first phase of the state’s early warning system is expected to be launched in the fall in several school districts. The participating school districts will be chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The system is expected to be available to all Pennsylvania’s schools in the future.

Why renowned educators — and new teachers — are ‘occupying’ Ed Dept
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Today teachers, students, parents, researchers and other activists are starting the second annual “Occupy the DOE” event  on the grounds of the U.S. Education Department to protest corporate-based school reform.
Among those attending the four-day event, sponsored by United Opt Out, an organization dedicated to the elimination of high-stakes standardized testing in public schools, are Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, veteran educator Deborah Meier, early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige and language acquisition expert Stephen Krashen. There is a scheduled march to the White House on Saturday.
In the following post, a new teacher explains why she is attending. She is Amy Rothschild, who teaches prekindergarten in a public school in New England.

Texas House Goes Big Against School Vouchers
Texas Observer by Patrick Michels Published on Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 6:34 CST
House Speaker Joe Straus has made it clear that his chamber won’t be passing any school voucher bills this session.  But just to be sure, Rep. Abel Herrero figured he’d seal the deal. He attached an amendment to the budget this afternoon guaranteeing Texas can’t spend public money on private schools.

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

PBPC Launches New Policy Webinar Series
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center April 3, 2013
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is launching a new webinar series that will connect you — direct from your computer — to the latest policy debates in Harrisburg. From education funding to expanding health care coverage to constructing a fair tax system, our webinar series will provide you information you need to know and show you how you can shape the debate in the State Capitol.

Here’s the first one in the PBPC webinar series:
Webinar: Selling Snake Oil to the States: ALEC’s State Tax and Budget Agenda at Work in Pennsylvania Tuesday April 9, 2013, 4-5 p.m.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC — a leading voice for state Voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws — is a driving force behind state budget and tax policies that benefit the wealthy and corporations at the expense of public investments. ALEC’s hand is evident in legislative proposals in Pennsylvania to cut taxes for profitable corporations at the expense of schools, health care and human service programs.
Join Greg Leroy, Director of Good Jobs First, and Dr. Peter Fisher of the University of Iowa for a webinar that will debunk ALEC’s myths about taxes, employment policies and economic growth. Learn about new efforts in Pennsylvania to divert state resources to pay for a new round of tax cuts to profitable corporations.

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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