Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 14, 2013: Charter schools flout open records law, state official tells Senate panel

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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PSBA Region 15 Members (Delaware and Chester Counties) May 30
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 14, 2013:
Charter schools flout open records law, state official tells Senate panel

“They ignore the citizens. They ignore us. They ignore the courts,” Mutcher told the Senate State Government Committee. “They just play by their own rules.”
Charter schools flout open records law, state official tells Senate panel
TribLive By Brad Bumsted Monday, May 13, 2013, 4:45 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Taxpayer-funded charter schools are a “cancer” on the state's Right to Know law, because they routinely ignore citizens' requests for records, the state's open records director said Monday.  In response to a question at a Senate hearing, Terry Mutchler said charter schools are the No. 1 violator of the law.
So is there an enterprising reporter out there who might ask Ms. Mutchler for some specific examples that prompted her statement above?  Here’s one that comes to mind…
Vahan Gureghian, whose management company runs Chester Community Charter School, the state’s largest brick and mortar charter, has been fighting a right to know request for several years.  The request sought information on the use of taxpayer dollars - finances, which Mr. Gureghian claims are a trade secret.  Coincidentally, Mr. Gureghian was recently able to purchase two beachfront lots in Palm Beach Florida for $28.9 million.  He also happens to be Governor Corbett’s largest individual campaign donor.  Last year he sought to have language placed in the state’s charter school law that would have exempted management companies like his from Pennsylvania’s right-to-know laws.

“At Julia de Burgos, close to 90 percent of our students are Latino, and about 25 percent are classified as ELL. Our special-education population is 14 percent. Half of my class is either ELL, special-ed, or both.”
The wrong way to test schoolchildren
Inquirer LTE By Hillary Linardopoulos POSTED: Monday, May 13, 2013, 10:47 AM
Another round of PSSA testing has come and gone. The 26 students in my third-grade class took six days of intense exams intended to measure their grade-level proficiency in reading and math.
State guidelines require that "ethical testing practices must be maintained during the administration of a test ... to ensure test results reflect actual student learning."

Suit against Kensington charter can proceed

Common Pleas Court judge Monday removed a stay that had kept a whistle-blower's suit against a Kensington charter on hold for three years and said the suit could move forward.
The case involves Adorable Harper, a former administrator at Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School, who alleges she was wrongfully fired the day after the school was raided by federal agents in August 2009.

$ 300 Million Education Common Core Mandate Threatens Graduation
Senator Jay Costa, Minority Leader’s website On May 13, 2013
No Legislative Oversight, Lack of Financial Backing Panned by Senate Democrats
Harrisburg, May 13, 2013 – A new unfunded education mandate now being quietly pursued by the Corbett administration will soon saddle school districts with a $300 million expense and threaten graduation for thousands of students across Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats said today at a Capitol news conference.
Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) Democratic chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Sens. Judy Schwank, John Blake and Jim Brewster all expressed their displeasure and concerns about the proposed changes.
“We are not opposed to the implementation of Common Core standards for Pennsylvania’s students,” Dinniman said. “But we are opposed to Common Core standards without adequate state financial resources for our schools so that all of our students have the opportunity to succeed under those standards, including those in financially distressed school districts.

"This is an unfunded mandate, anywhere between 300 million or 500 million (dollars) or more," Black said. "This is about corporate education getting millions of dollars to produce tests and to produce evaluations of those tests with no meaningful expectation of improvement in education."
Common Core: PA State Senate Democrats Denounce Proposed Standardized Tests
WESA (Pittsburgh’s NPR Station) By NOAH BRODE May 13, 2013
Calling it "phony" and a boon to "corporate education," a handful of Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate blasted Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to implement new standardized tests that would determine students' high school graduation status based on knowledge of Common Core academic benchmarks.  Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, led the charge against the proposals at a news conference Monday. He argued two main points: first, that the higher standards require increased state funding; and second, that the governor added the tests without consulting the Legislature.

Controversy surrounds Pennsylvania Common Core Standards
A controversy is brewing in Pennsylvania over a new set of academic standards that will undergird all instruction in public school classrooms, starting this fall.
Common Core standards, and high-stakes graduation exams, are headed to public school classrooms in Pennsylvania under State Board of Education regulations that are on track for final approval.  Called the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards, this initiative provides a framework for what students should be taught at each grade-level in English and mathematics.
School districts’ curriculum must be aligned with the state’s version of the Common Core standards starting next school year.

Gates gives $150 million in grants for Common Core Standards
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: May 12, 2013 at 9:42 am
For an initiative billed as being publicly driven, the Common Core States Initiativehas benefited enormously from the generosity of the private philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates. How much? About $150 million worth.  Take a look at this list of grants, obtained from their foundation’s Web site. Note not only the amounts but the wide range of organizations receiving money. Universities. Unions. State education departments. Nonprofits. Think tanks. The grants were given for a range of reasons, including developing materials aligned to the standards and building support for the standards.
You can see how invested the Gates Foundation is in the success of the Common Core. What kind of Core support do these grants buy from the organizations that receive them?

House Education Committee to Receive Informational Briefing on Common Core Standards
PA House Repuplican Caucus 5/13/2013
WHAT:        The House Education Committee, led by Majority Chairman Paul Clymer (R-Bucks), will hold an information hearing on Common Core standards being implemented in Pennsylvania.
WHO:          Providing an update to the committee will be Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis.
WHEN:        Tuesday, May 14, at 9 a.m.
WHERE:      Room G-50, Irvis Office Building, Capitol Complex, Harrisburg.
LIVE WEBSTREAMING: The hearing will be streamed live on Clymer’s website at www.PaulClymer.com.

House Informational briefing on the Common Core Standards from PA Dept. of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 9:00 AM Room G50 Irvis Office Bldg.

Senate Public hearing on Common Core
Wednesday, May 15, 1:00 PM, Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg

Indiana halts Common Core implementation
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: May 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Indiana, one of the most education reform-minded states in recent years, is postponing implementation of the Common Core initiative so that there can be more discussion on the quality and impact of the standards.  Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Saturday that halts implementation as of Wednesday, a compromise between forces that want the Common Core to go forward because they say they will raise academic achievement, and forces who believe the standards are not as good as Indiana’s old ones and want education decisions to be local.
New public hearings on the Core will be held, and by the start of 2015, the State Board of Education will have to vote again to go ahead with it, as it did in 2010, or stop it permanently, according to the Indianapolis Star. There will also be a cost analysis done on core implementation.

"What else could the district do to create this kind of revenue?" Board President Charles Ballard said, noting that inflation means East Penn can only cut so much before seeking out tax dollars to balance the budget. It's better to get that money from commercial rather than residential property owners, he said.”
East Penn school directors OK plan that could bring Costco to region
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times 
on May 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM, updated May 14, 2013 at 12:59 AM
East Penn school directors tonight approved a tax-increment financing planthat could bring Costco and another Target to Lehigh County.

Philly schools gets tough with two charters over money dispute
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold @BenjaminBHerold May 13, 2013
Philadelphia School District officials are recommending that Discovery Charter School in West Philadelphia be shut down, due to a high-stakes dispute over enrollment caps and $406,000.
Confronted with a similar threat, Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter in Kensington last month repaid the district more than $435,000.  
The School Reform Commission could vote on the school's future later this week.

Got Data?
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children May 13, 2013 6:20 PM | Posted By : PPC
Do you know how your county compares to other Pennsylvania counties when it comes to child poverty, health insurance coverage, educational opportunities and other important measures of children's well-being?  You can find those answers quickly and easily with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children's newest data creation: county-based "State of the Child" profiles. These profiles provide a snapshot of each county's data, alongside statewide data and information on counties with similar demographic profiles.
For each of the commonwealth's 67 counties, you can find:
- Child population and poverty statistics;
- Information on how many children are uninsured, and how many benefit from coverage through Medicaid or Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program;
- Data on how many children benefit from subsidized child care and publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs;
- The number of children in foster care or receiving other child welfare services; and
- Academic performance data for school districts, charter schools and cyber charter schools.
Whether you're a parent, policymaker, journalist, activist, children's advocate or just someone who likes to stay in the know, our "State of the Child" profiles can help you get timely, reliable information on how Pennsylvania's 2.7 million kids are doing.

“The House’s focus is on the nine out of 10 kids in a traditional classroom setting,” he said. “I’m very pro-charter, pro-home school, pro-private school, pro-all of the above. But my focus as chair of public education has been trying to find good policy for those nine out of 10 kids.”
Texas Advocacy Group Wields Charter-Policy Power
New York Times/Texas Tribune By MORGAN SMITH May 11, 2013
“This is not a voucher bill. This is not a vendor bill,” said Mr. King, Republican of Canadian. “I’m the last guy on this floor that’ll ever vote for a voucher.”  That did not reassure several of his colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, who objected to allowing profit-making companies to offer online courses to public school students.

How the Walton Family Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Day | Diane Ravitch’s blog
Network for Public Education Newsbrief 13 May 2013   by Diane Ravitch –
“Imagine that you are possessed of the surname “Walton” and happen to be sitting on mad coin—say a cool $90 billion. How do you celebrate the occasion that is Teacher Appreciation Day? Do you chip in to give the nation’s teachers a raise, knowing they’ve been hard hit by the recession? Do you send them gift cards to Walmart, the store that hath so enrichethed you? If you are a teacher in Massachusetts, the Waltons have an extra special treat in store for you: a fully-funded gala at the Statehouse urging the replacement of the state’s many non-excellent teachers with fresh new innovators who will share their excellence one renewable year at a time. Happy Teacher Appreciation Day, xoxo Walmart!”

Navigating School Funding Decisions in Harrisburg |
Webinar for School Boards & Superintendents Wed, May 22, 2013 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
This spring marks the third year that superintendents and school boards are struggling to put together budgets with deeply reduced state funding levels. So what is Harrisburg doing about it?
Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Wednesday, May 22nd at 3pm for a webinar on the latest in the state budget debate and what it means for education funding in Pennsylvania

PSBA Region 15 Members (Delaware and Chester Counties)
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.
Penns Grant Region 15 -- Thursday, May 30 ; 5 p.m. Region 15 meeting; 6 p.m. dinner; 7 p.m. Legislative meeting; Garnet Valley HS, 552 Smithbridge Rd., Glen Mills, 19342; registration is required

Panel: Striking Back on High Stakes Testing hosted by Rethinking Schools
Panel Discussion Hosted by Rethinking Schools
Arch Street United Methodist Church, 55 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
Wednesday, May 15, 2013  4:30pm until 6:00pm
Join CUNY Professor Michelle Fine and Rethinking Schools editors Stan Karp and Helen Gym for a conversation on fighting back against the testing industry's dismantling of public education. Suggested donation $10, or $20 for panel plus your copy of Rethinking Schools' newest book: "Pencils Down: High-stakes testing and accountability in public schools."
Space limited! RSVP: parentsunitedphila@gmail.com

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 atwww.psba.org/about/psba/2013_psba_bylaws.pdf.

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 PSBA@divsearch.com. Interested parties should email their resume and cover letter to PSBA@divsearch.com. Please apply by June 1, 2013 for best consideration.

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 March 2013

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