Friday, May 17, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 17, 2013: PA Budget – got $695 million? (plus $120 million more for PHL)

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 17, 2013:
PA Budget – got $695 million? (plus $120 million more for PHL)

To help close the budget gap, some lawmakers — and even the Corbett administration — are considering a delay in the phaseout of a corporate tax that has already been cut by 85%.
Harrisburg Update: Will There Be New Cuts in Pa. House Budget Bill?
PA Budget and Policy Center May 16, 2013
Pennsylvania House leaders plan to introduce a 2013-14 budget bill on May 28, with a vote to follow the week of June 10.  Balancing the budget without new deep spending cuts will be difficult, as lawmakers have to make up for a $518 million shortfall projected by the Independent Fiscal Office. The task will be more complicated as House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph announced the bill will NOT include $177 million in savings from changes to the state's public pension systems proposed by Governor Corbett in his February budget.

"Somehow, we've got to get this educational industrial complex that we created under control," said Folmer. "
State, teachers' union reluctant on more money for Philly schools
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold, @BenjaminBHerold and Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein May 16, 2013
Yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter announced his plan to raise $95 million for the city's struggling School District, mostly through tax hikes on cigarettes and alcohol.
But even if that money comes through, city schools will still be looking for an additional $120 million from Harrisburg and $133 million in givebacks from the local teacher union.
Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), who chairs the Senate's education committee, said the unions have to go first.  "Philadelphia is trying to care of their business at home," Folmer said. "They're looking at concessions and such. Get that done, and then we'll see what needs to be done in additional [state] funding."  Not surprisingly, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan has a different view.

Hite proposes ending teacher seniority
William R. Hite Jr. knows it's a tough ask: $120 million from a state that historically views Philadelphia and its public schools "as a cesspool."  So, the superintendent figures, the only way the nearly-broke Philadelphia School District is getting the cash it needs from state coffers is to end teacher seniority.
"If we stand any chance to get money from Harrisburg, it's going to have to support something that is different from what we have now," Hite told the Inquirer Editorial Board on Thursday, adding that legislators are unlikely to support a system where "individuals get another increase just because they're remaining on the job another year."

“But Tomalis quickly earned and could not shake a reputation as anti-public school, despite recent attempts to shut down two low-performing, mismanaged cyber charter schools.
He presided over Corbett's unpopular cuts to public and higher education in 2011-12. He backed laws that protected and enhanced charter schools and private schools while putting more restrictions on traditional public schools and teachers.”
Tom Corbett to replace education secretary with mid-state superintendent
Ron Tomalis to be adviser with same pay. Cumberland Valley superintendent tapped.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:23 p.m. EDT, May 15, 2013
HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett came into office in 2011 as an unabashed supporter of school vouchers, charter schools and other forms of school choice.
When it was time to name an education secretary, he picked someone with the same mind-set: Ron Tomalis, who lacked teaching experience but had worked to expand school choice as a state and federal government official before moving into the for-profit education sector.

New Education Secretary on Deck in Pennsylvania to Replace Tomalis
Education Week State EdWatch By Andrew Ujifusa on May 15, 2013 4:20 PM
Reports that Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis is headed out the door appear to have been on the mark, as Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, announced today that he will nominate William Harner, the superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District, to replace Tomalis, the Associated Press reports. If confirmed by the state Senate, Harner would officially take over on June 1. Tomalis, meanwhile, apparently will move into an advisory role in Corbett's administration, so he isn't leaving the ship entirely.
A former Army officer, Harner has broad experience in education. He previously worked as a school administrator in Georgia, South Carolina, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, and he said that he grew up going to school in a district outside the City of Brotherly Love. Mr. Harner also attended the Superintendents Academy at the Broad Foundation in 2005 as a fellow, according to his biography at the Cumberland district and the foundation.

Charters' pension double dip
Post-Gazette Letter to the Editor by Steve Robinson May 16, 2013 12:07 am
STEVE ROBINSON is Director of Public Relations for the PA School Boards Association
In response to the May 7 letter "Wrong Reform" by Robert Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, an important clarification must be made. The "double dip" referenced in the letter certainly does exist. However, it is the charter schools that are receiving a windfall as a result of this pension double dip, and it is the school districts and taxpayers across the state who are paying the price.

Common Core in the Crosshairs, Across Party Lines
PoliticsPA Written by Carl Feldman, Contributing Writer May 16, 2013
Harrisburg — For different reasons, Senate Democrats and Republicans both appeared skeptical of the PA Department of Education’s Common Core Curriculum Standards. Devised in 2010 upon recommendation from the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, these are set to be implemented in fall of this year.

PA Special education funding commission organizes. Under The Dome™ email Thursday, May 16, 2013
A commission examining how the commonwealth funds special education programs held an organizational meeting Wednesday, where Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, were elected as co-chairmen of the commission. Both lawmakers led the recent effort to pass legislation to establish the 15-member commission tasked with developing a funding system that recognizes the real number of physically and mentally challenged students, as well as the level of their needs. The next meeting is scheduled for June 13. Browne said the Sept. 30 deadline for reporting to the governor will be pushed back to Nov. 30.
The commission picked Baruch Kintisch of Pathways Solutions LLC (formerly with the Education Law Center) to assist with data collection.
House members on the commission include: O’Neill; Reps. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer; Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster; Mike Peifer, R-Pike; and the two House Education Committee chairmen, Reps. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, and James Roebuck, D-Philadelphia.
Senate members include: Browne; Sens. Ted Erickson, R-Delaware; Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny; Judy Schwank, D-Berks; and the two Senate Education chairmen Sens. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, and Andy Dinniman, D-Chester.
The three administration appointees include the Education Secretary, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby and Carolyn Dumaresq, deputy secretary of elementary and secondary education.

New Chester Upland super chosen to help turnaround
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013
By VINCE SULLIVAN @vincesullivan
CHESTER — At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Chester Upland School District Receiver Joe Watkins announced a giant leap forward in getting the struggling district back on track.  Watkins introduced Gregory G. Shannon, who was chosen to be the district’s superintendent after an exhaustive search. Shannon has agreed to a five-year contract.

York superintendent resigns, will take job in NY by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Thursday, May 16, 2013, 8:56 AM
YORK, Pa. - The superintendent of the York School District in central Pennsylvania has resigned to take a job on Long Island.  Superintendent Deborah Wortham announced her resignation Wednesday, after the presentation of a financial recovery plan for the district. Wortham says she's accepted the position of superintendent in the Roosevelt Union Free School District in Long Island, N.Y.

Forum takes on standardized testing
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on May 16 2013 Posted in Latest news
Two icons of the progressive education movement spoke in Philadelphia on Wednesday night to decry standardized testing and urge that a “justice-oriented framework” drive school reform instead.  “Test score gaps are used to label schools as failures without providing resources or strategies to eliminate the gap,” said Stan Karp of Rethinking Schools, an education journal and publisher.  Michelle Fine of the City University of New York (CUNY), who once taught at the University of Pennsylvania and helped drive Philadelphia’s small schools movement 20 years ago, said that high-stakes testing was “corrupting and curdling” education in New York City and elsewhere.

Sea to Shining Sea
Yinzercation Blog May 16, 2013
Did you know that we organized Sunday’s Rolling Rally here in Pittsburgh to coincide with public education actions all over the United States? Starting tomorrow with an information picket line and student walkout in Philadelphia and running for six straight days there will be major actions in cities from coast to coast. Local organizers designed these events to show solidarity with the terrible situation in Chicago, where students are facing a tidal wave of 54 school closings. At all of these rallies you will likely see banners proclaiming:
Our City. Our Schools. Our Voice.
We Stand with Chicago!
Here’s how Pittsburgh fits into the national scene:

Illinois: Lawsuits Filed Over Chicago School Closings
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: May 15, 2013
Parents in Chicago have filed two federal lawsuits opposing proposed school closings. In March, the Chicago Public Schools identified 53 schools that it planned to close to save $560 million over 10 years. The school board will vote on the proposal next Wednesday. The suits, filed Wednesday in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, say the closings would violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. In a complaint seeking to postpone them for a year, three parents seeking class-action status allege that the closings would pose “significant disruption” to special-education students. The second suit, which seeks to stop the closings altogether, alleges that they would “needlessly uproot, transfer and destabilize the children.” The suit further says the closings would violate Illinois civil rights law because the schools fall disproportionately in areas where the vast majority of students are black.

“Evaluating teachers on student test scores will inevitably prove once again that low income students do not test as well as affluent students and that effective teachers who want good evaluations will move to schools with higher income students.”
There is Only One Effective Teacher Evaluation
Education Week By John Wilson on May 16, 2013 6:30 AM
How much longer are we going to continue down the path of absurdity seeking the promised land of teacher evaluations? Spending millions of dollars on complicated and convoluted systems that only demoralize teachers will eventually result in backlash from taxpayers and voters. Evaluating teachers on student test scores will inevitably prove once again that low income students do not test as well as affluent students and that effective teachers who want good evaluations will move to schools with higher income students. Coupling test scores of students to the evaluations of teachers who never taught those children will never hold up in court. The irony in all this is that there is an effective system for teacher evaluations, one that has been around since the 1980's.
Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) programs have been the exemplar for strong teacher evaluation systems. Teachers trained to evaluate their peers are able to distinguish the inexperienced from the ineffective---a significant difference from other evaluation systems---and can help teachers improve their practice. 

How to Earn Gigabucks Through Charter Schools
A very interesting article in Alternet on how hedge fund managers and other millionaires and billionaires are making enormously profitable investments in the charter-school bubble.
Here are two paragraphs from a long article:

The revolution is here
Washington Post By Valerie Strauss, Published: May 17, 2013 at 4:00 amE-mail the writer
I’ve written a lot about growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing and other corporate-driven school reforms. In the following piece, the argument is made that the revolution against the reform movement is here. It was written by Jeff Bryant, an Associate Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and the owner of a marketing and communications consultancy. It serves numerous organizations including Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, PBS, and International Planned Parenthood Foundation. He writes extensively about public education policy at The Education Opportunity Network.Follow Jeff on Twitter: jeffbcdm

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

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.

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

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight Keystone State Education Coalition (updated May 2, 2013)
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars
rgin-b� �!m . `E xm� i style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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