Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 1, 2013: Public education groups call for restoring $900 million in school funding cut two years ago

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 1, 2013:
Public education groups call for restoring $900 million in school funding cut two years ago

Public education groups call for restoring $900 million in school funding cut two years ago
By Jan Murphy |  on April 30, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Public education groups are calling on Gov. Tom Corbett and state lawmakers to make a three-year commitment to restore the $900 million cut from public school funding two years ago.
The groups say they can start next year by approving a $270 million increase in the basic education subsidy districts receive to cover operating costs.
At a news conference today in the Capitol Rotunda, representatives from groups that have mounted what they call the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign lamented the toll the funding cuts have had on districts.

School Funding Campaign Calls for Restoration of State Funding for Student Programs and Services and Long-Term Plan for School Funding Fairness
PA School Funding Campaign Press Release April 30, 2013
HARRISBURG—(April 30, 2013)—Members of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign said
today that legislators need to prioritize funding for K-12 student programs and services by approving a $270 million increase in basic subsidy for 2013-2014, and also make a commitment to a three-year process to restore nearly $900 million cut from school district funding in each of the past two years.

“One speaker after another criticized Gov. Corbett and the Legislature for reducing state aid to basic education by nearly $1 billion in the last two years and diverting dollars to charter schools.
Bottom of Form
"It seems that in the last 10 years, our schools have been like a medieval village that has been encircled by an outside army, put under siege, and steadily starved of resources and support personnel until we have been weakened for a final assault," said Ken Derstine, who retired in 2011 after 37 years as a public schoolteacher, most recently at Meredith School in Queen Village.”
Parents: Besieged Philly schools in dire need
Bob Warner, Inquirer Staff Writer Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:37 PM
Even assuming that the city comes up with another $60 million requested by the Philadelphia School District, the projected budget for the next school year will be a disaster for the city and its schoolchildren, a series of parents, teachers, civic groups and students told City Council on Tuesday.  "People are the backbone of our school," said Alison Stuart, a fifth-grade teacher at McCall School near Washington Square, who bicycled to City Hall after school to testify as the last of about 50 witnesses at a Council budget hearing.
"I felt compelled to come out for all the librarians, all the secretaries, all the band teachers, everybody who makes our community what it is," Stuart said, beginning to cry as she described the school nurse cleaning tables in the lunchroom.

Despite parent, teacher pleas, City Council still not moved on District budget woes
thenotebook by Bill Hangley on Apr 30 2013 Posted in Latest news
Day two of City Council’s education hearings was a long string of bleak predictions and passionate calls for funding from public school supporters faced with the prospect of what one parent called “trying to do the impossible with nothing.”
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell called the day’s testimony “disheartening” but gave little indication that she and her colleagues are eager to move on meeting the Philadelphia School District’s request for $60 million in additional funding.
“The governor cut all this money,” said Blackwell, a co-chair of Council’s education committee, who along with Council President Darrell Clarke presided over the day’s testimony. 

“The gap in the budget was primarily due to an increase in special education costs of $3.2 million, net pension liability increase of $1.7 million, and additional charter school costs of $746,000, said business manager Ed Smith.”
Upper Darby schools unveil $165M budget by Kathy Bocella Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 8:33 PM
The Upper Darby School District released a $165 million budget that closes a $9.7 million shortfall with staff reductions, transportation cuts, and other savings, many of them reflecting priorities suggested in a series of community forums.  Residents still face a 2.94 percent property-tax increase, much less than the 6.6 percent that could have been levied before going to a referendum, said Superintendent Louis DeVlieger.
"No school district programs will be cut, no employee will lose a job, and kindergarten, art, music, and sports will all remain intact while still reaching our goal of $9.7 million," he said in presenting the budget to the board Tuesday night.

Over 2000 people have signed this online petition – have you? 
Fund public education, not corporate tax breaks!
Pennsylvania needs to support our public schools! The Governor and Legislature should adopt a good funding formula and restore $270 million in FY 2014 - (about 1/3 of the $1 BILLION that has been cut from schools) instead of giving out corporate tax breaks.

Over 1000 people have signed this online petition – have you? 
PA Students are Waiting: Fund Public Ed
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.

Comparing York City to other schools in similar financial straits
York Dispatch By ANDREW SHAW 505-5431 / @ydblogwork 04/30/2013 10:45:51 AM EDT
York City School District's fate will start to be delineated Thursday when members of its financial recovery committee reveal their individual preferences for the district's future.  "It's time now to put words into actions. No more excuses," said Margie Orr, a committee and school board member.  The committee is aiding state-appointed Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley as he crafts a recommendation to fix city schools' financial, academic and safety shortfalls.
The two options are converting to all charter schools starting in the 2014-15 school year, or allowing the district to do an immediate internal transformation using ideas such as salary cuts, the addition of pre-kindergarten classes, and the creation of themed magnet schools.
But York isn't the only Pennsylvania district in this position.
Harrisburg, Chester-Upland, and Reading school districts are all in various stages of the financial recovery process set forth by the Department of Education last year as a way to turn around each district with a structured, state-approved model.

29 Pittsburgh-area school districts get state OK to exceed cap on tax increases
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Tony LaRussa May 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
State education officials have given more than a third of Pennsylvania's school districts — including 29 in the Pittsburgh area — permission to raise property taxes higher than a predetermined cap would allow.  A 2006 law — Act 1 — requires districts to keep tax increases within a so-called “index” that limits the amount they can levy based on a formula calculated by the state.
Fewer Pa. school districts seek to exceed tax limit
WHYY Newsworks: The Feed By Associated Press April 30, 2013
Fewer and fewer Pennsylvania school districts are seeking approval to raise property taxes beyond a state-imposed inflation index without voter approval.
A state Department of Education report released Tuesday shows 171 of the 497 districts in the report were granted exceptions from a requirement that local voters approve tax increases that exceed the index. Officials say this is the third straight year in which those requests have declined.  Department spokesman Tim Eller speculated that the trend reflects boards' reluctance to raise taxes and more innovative methods for holding down expenses.
Of the remaining districts, 311 approved resolutions declaring they would not increase taxes above the index, and 15 others left open the possibility that they would seek voter approval for larger increases in the May 21 primary.

Tomalis touts Corbett's education efforts
The Greater Reading Chamber hosted an event to highlight workforce issues.
By Teresa McMinn Reading Eagle correspondent 4/30/2013
Finding and keeping skilled workers is top of mind for just about any employer. The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry invited the state's top education official and a panel of experts to offer insights on education and workforce development during an event April 23 at the Green Valley Country Club in Lower Heidelberg Township.
Education Secretary Ron Tomalis hit on several topics, starting with No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education reforms enacted in 2001 under President George W. Bush.

“This much is clear: A key Senate committee chairman effectively pulled the plug on the House's version of privatization just two months before a June 30 deadline for a new state budget.
"I am on record saying I will not support the House bill," Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, said after the hearing.”
Corbett's liquor privatization plan on life support
As key Senate panel holds hearing, its chairman pulls plug on House version.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 11:47 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2013
HARRISBURG — First came the cops. Then came the drug-and-alcohol counselors. Next up was the moms. And finally, the kids.  All of them told a state Senate committee Tuesday they oppose a plan to privatize wine and spirits sales and make beer more readily available under a House-approved bill supported by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Yinzercation Blog April 30, 2013
They’re heeeeeere! Yes, we’ve been watching the astroturf groups set up shop in Pennsylvania, and now they are here in Pittsburgh. Astroturf groups are fake grassroots organizations. They are funded by deep pockets, manipulated to look like local efforts to give the impression that they represent real community opinion. But they are as authentic as a field of plastic grass. (For a great example, see this explanation of Parent Revolution, an astroturf group in California funded by venture capitalists interested in charterizing public schools through parent trigger laws.)
The first astroturf group popped up here like a weed last month just as the weather started to warm. Called “Shepherding the Next Generation,” this Washington D.C. based group received money from the Gates Foundation to start working in Pittsburgh. They’re not hiding that fact – it’s right there in small print at the bottom of the flyer they are passing out to local churches in an effort to recruit them (though it’s not on their web site). They call themselves an “alliance of Pittsburgh religious leaders who strongly support community efforts to make sure our children have the best chance at succeeding in school and later in life.” So far, sounds good, right?
Well, first of all, there is no alliance. 

Teachers at Philly charter unionize
Inquirer Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham April 30, 2013, 12:37 PM
After a significant two-year battle, teachers at the New Media Technology Charter School in West Oak Lane have voted to unionize, the Pennsylvania American Federation of Teachers said Tuesday.  The vote was 26 to 3, and is significant because of how it occurred.  New Media's teachers had asked to be recognized under public labor law, but the school contended that New Media was a private entity - even though it receives more than $5 million in public money. 
The New Media vote was the first in the state to be held according to private labor law.  It was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

Not a word from Obama (or White House press corps) on education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 30, 2013 at 11:43 am
At his Tuesday news conference, held 100 days into his second term, President Obama spoke about the following:

“The fund, which has invested about $260 million over 15 years, receives financing from high-profile education donors like the Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation. On its board are Silicon Valley leaders including John Doerr, partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Dave Goldberg, chief executive of Survey Monkey (and husband of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer).”
NewSchools Fund Attracts More Capital
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: April 30, 2013
NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that started out channeling philanthropic donations to charter schools and that now invests in a range of education groups and businesses, is entering into a partnership with a new venture capital fund that could result in millions more in financing.

Common Core: Union Chief Recommends Delay in Use of Test Scores
By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: April 30, 2013
Warning that a new set of academic standards was on the verge of falling into the “dustbin of history,” the leader of a national teachers’ union called on Tuesday for school systems to postpone using new tests to evaluate teachers and promote students.
The leader, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said teachers needed at least a year to master a new curriculum and review test materials before schools should be held accountable for results.

‘Parent trigger’ legislation fails in Florida Senate
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm
For the second straight year, significant parent opposition to “parent trigger” legislation in Florida has led to defeat in the legislature despite powerful supporters, including former governor Jeb Bush.  The “parent trigger”  is intended to give parents with children at low-performing schools the legal right to petition the state or district for a change in school structure, with the parents getting to pick from a list of options (which include turning the school over to a private management company).  Proponents say it gives parents more options and power in their children’s education. Opponents say it is a stealth way of turning traditional public schools into charter schools and that it will lead to more privately run schools

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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