Thursday, May 2, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 2, 2013: Less Rosy Revenue; More Business Tax Cuts?

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 May 2, 2013:
Less Rosy Revenue; More Business Tax Cuts?

State's revenue picture not looking as rosy as Gov. Tom Corbett had hoped
By Jan Murphy |  on May 01, 2013 at 7:03 PM
State revenue streams for the month of April, one of the fiscal year’s biggest collection months, raised $3.6 billion, according to the Department of Revenue.  That is nearly $32 million more than was anticipated when the budget was enacted last June.  It brings the fiscal year-to-date collections to $23.9 billion, or $67 million above estimate, to support the $27.7 billion state general fund budget.  But based on revenue projections released today by the state's Independent Fiscal Office, that $67 million is likely to disappear by the time the fiscal year ends on June 30. That is mostly because of slumping sales tax collections.  …..The less rosy revenue outlook had Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, urging lawmakers to hold off on Corbett’s proposed business tax cuts, which the House is expected to consider next week.


Pennsylvania fiscal office projects $520M revenue shortfall

By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau May 1, 2013 6:53 pm

HARRISBURG -- An estimate released Wednesday by the state's Independent Fiscal Office shows a $520 million shortfall between projected general fund revenues and Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget through the end of the next fiscal year.

Read more:


PBPC Revenue Tracker: April Collections Come in Above Estimate But Sales Tax Remains a Drag

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center May 1, 2013
Pennsylvania General Fund revenue collections came in $32 million above projections for April, putting the fiscal year-to-date surplus at $67.

A copy of this posting is being faxed to all members of the PA General Assembly this morning.  Ask your State Senator and State Representative if they think that our tax dollars for education should be spent on advertising and corporate bonuses.
According to minutes from 12/18/12 Agora Cyber Board mtg, your PA tax $$$ paid for 19,298 local TV commercials

IMHO….I respectfully disagree with Mr. Eller’s comments in the article below.  Districts will in fact have to make sure that their curriculum, including textbooks is aligned with the Common Core and that their teachers are properly trained.  There will be considerable expense at the district level.  I am a 13 year school board member in a relatively affluent school district.
If any of you listened to the hearings with the Philadelphia School District before City Council, the notion that somehow we are going to just test these kids into success is a fantasy.  Higher expectations are great, but in underfunded urban schools with little support services somehow the Common Core implementation does not strike me as the best use of scarce resources.
Proponent calls Common Core the 'great equalizer of education'
VICKI ROCK Daily American Staff Writer 2:16 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2013
Pennsylvania's Common Core standards are academic standards, not a curriculum.
Common Core State Standards are intended to make sure that high school graduates are prepared to succeed in higher education, the military or the workforce regardless of where they live, Tim Eller, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said in a telephone interview.

Panel: Level the playing field for traditional schools, cyberschools
Observer-Reporter By Mike Jones Staff Writer Mjones@Observer-Reporter.Com  April 30, 2013
State legislators and school officials from around Southwestern Pennsylvania met Saturday morning to discuss the future of public education and the growing presence of cyberschools.

"Education doesn't always happen in the classroom," said Hardy. "We live in a city that has all these places where students can learn, and we want to make sure we utilize them."
Boys Latin now serves almost 500 students — all boys, almost all African-American, many of them poor.  The school does just so-so on standardized tests, but Hardy says that's only part of the equation.
"Over the past three years, we've gotten guys into over 120 different colleges. Not one of them asked about the state test," Hardy said.  "We need to spend more time on SAT prep. We need to spend more time on critical thinking. We need to spend time on things where these kids are going to have practical knowledge that they can apply when they go to college or on their jobs. That's what education is."

At Boys Latin Charter, a lesson in watching Philadelphians

WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold, @BenjaminBHerold May 1, 2013

Download Audio File » Listen to the story as featured on NewsWorks Tonight.
Sixteen-year-old boys aren't typically thought of as quiet observers of the world around them.
But that's exactly what the students in Carly Ackerman's 10th grade composition class at Boys Latin Charter High School in West Philadelphia are learning to become.

Computer Problems in Three States Hamper Student Proficiency Tests
New York Times National Briefing By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS May 1, 2013
School districts in Indiana, Oklahoma and Minnesota are rescheduling high-stakes proficiency tests because of technical problems involving the test administrators’ computer systems. Thousands of students have been kicked offline multiple times during testing in recent weeks. School officials say there is no room for error on the tests, on which states are spending millions of dollars and for which teachers and students are held accountable. The stakes are even higher in Indiana, where teachers’ merit pay is tied to student performance on the tests. CTB/McGraw-Hill administers the tests in Indiana and Oklahoma and says it is fixing the problems.

Computer Glitches Derail School Tests in 4 States, Including Minn.
By: Scott Theisen 05/01/2013 5:22 PM
School districts across several states are rescheduling high-stakes tests that judge student proficiency and even determine teachers' pay because of technical problems involving the test administrators' computer systems.  Thousands of students in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota and Oklahoma have been kicked offline while taking tests in recent weeks, postponing the testing schools planned for months and raising concerns about whether the glitches will affect scores.

Not much data available on school turnaround models, new CPE report finds
NSBA’s School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min May 1st, 2013
Turnaround strategies for low-performing schools are getting a lot of attention from states and the federal government—which are spending billions of dollars on those efforts. But do these strategies work?  The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE)  finds that while there have been some successes there’s not much evidence yet that many of these strategies will work on a larger scale.
The report, “Which Way Up?  What research says about school turnaround strategies,” reviews numerous methods of school improvement to determine which, if any, hold the most promise, but finds that in most cases it’s too early to tell.

Walton Foundation giving $8 million to Rhee’s StudentsFirst — plus 2012 donations
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on May 1, 2013 at 11:07 am
The Walton Family Foundation is giving $8 million to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst to add to the scores of millions of dollars it hands out each year to support the public education reform agenda of Walton family members.

Here’s a prior Keystone State Education Coalition posting….
Follow the Money: In the past four years the Walton Family Foundation has invested well over half a billion dollars to privatize democratically run American public schools.
Are you still shopping at Walmart?

Arne Duncan's address to U.S. education writers to be webcast live
Stanford Center for Opportunity policy in Education (SCOPE) April 30, 2013 
Who: Arne Duncan
When: Thursday, May 2, 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
You're invited to tune in to a live webcast by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan is a keynote speaker for the Education Writers Association's (EWA's) 66th National Seminar. He will be addressing conference participants and the speech will available via live webcast to a national audience.  Secretary Duncan will discuss the future of federal education reform and the new directions the Department of Education will take during President Obama’s second term. Topics include federal No Child Left Behind Act waivers for states and the outlook for congressional reauthorization of that law. Following his speech, reporters attending the event will participate in a Q&A with the secretary.

PSBA Bylaws amendment proposals due May 15
PSBA website 2/15/2013
As stated in Article XII, proposals for amending the PSBA Bylaws must be submitted "in writing, mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA headquarters prior to May 15 of each year."  Proposals should be addressed to the Bylaws Committee Chair or the Executive Director and sent to PSBA headquarters by the May 15, 2013, deadline.
The procedures for submitting proposed bylaws changes are outlined in Article XII and can be found online

Search underway for PSBA Executive Director
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the commonwealth.  Founded in 1895, PSBA has a rich history as the first school boards' association established in the United States. Pennsylvania's 4,500 school directors become members by virtue of election to their local board -- the board joins as a whole. Membership in PSBA is by school district or other eligible local education agency such as intermediate unit, vocational school or community college……..
Search by Diversified Search, 1990 M St NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC. Questions may be directed to Interested parties should email their resume and cover letter to Please apply by June 1, 2013 for best consideration.

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 two trainings in our 2012-2013 Know Your Child’s Rights series with seminars on ADAAA, Pro Se Parents and Settlement Agreements.
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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