Monday, May 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 20, 2013: Pennsylvania contributes only 36% of the funding for the state's public schools. The average among the states is 48%

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

On the Common Core:
IMHO, standards are great, but if kids come to school having never been read to, and are not reading on grade level by third grade, new standards aren’t going to make much of a difference for the kids who need the most help, and standardized tests aligned with the standards (and used to evaluate teachers) will continue to correlate perfectly with poverty levels.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 20, 2013:
Pennsylvania contributes only 36% of the funding for the state's public schools. The average among the states is 48%

…the earlier we provide these services, the bigger the change will be in the students' lives”…. Our efforts with midsized cities such as Syracuse and Buffalo have allowed us to devise strategies that bring public and private community partners together to help children and their families overcome what are often roadblocks to success: academic, social, and emotional readiness; health and well-being; and financial resources”
Learning from the Belmont 112 Letter to the Editor by George Weiss Sunday, May 19, 2013, 3:01 AM
George Weiss is chief executive officer of Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers and founder of Say Yes to Education.  Contact George Weiss via
Twenty-six years ago, I did something in Philadelphia that many believed was misguided. I promised all 112 sixth graders at Belmont Elementary School in West Philadelphia that I'd pay their college tuition.  The reasons my commitment attracted such judgments were plain enough: These were kids from one of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods. Many were reading at a second-grade level. Nearly 40 percent of them had been classified as learning-disabled. In other words, they seemed to have no chance. To many, I was wasting my money raising the hopes of the hopeless.

“Ralph and Ruben are the 10th and 11th Philadelphia Futures students to graduate from Haverford.  Mazzotti is proud of the statistics for Futures students who, like Ralph, were in the 2009 high school class. Of the 47 - all graduates of neighborhood high schools - 28 are earning degrees this year, with an additional 11 still in school. Students have attended community colleges, state universities, small private colleges, and Ivy League schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.”
For Philadelphia Futures director, this college success story was personal
For the last 13 years, Joan Mazzotti has made a public career of helping low-income, first-generation students from Philadelphia's public high schools get into and through college.
Quietly, she and her husband, Michael Kelly, also have made it a personal mission in the case of two Haitian-born orphans, who received their degrees Sunday at Haverford College, a selective, liberal arts school on the Main Line.

Here’s our weekend posting in case you missed it…..
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 18, 2013:
Virtual School Profits Far Exceeding Performance

Criticism flares around new Pa. graduation tests
PA State Wire AP by MARC LEVY Published: May 19, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - It seemed to hit the Capitol like a brick: a sudden groundswell of criticism over a move by Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education to toughen academic achievement standards and tie them to graduation tests for the state's roughly 1.7 million public and charter school students.  After hours of legislative hearings on the tests this week, top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature are trying to figure out what to do about the criticism.  "We are now running into bumps in the road very quickly that we didn't anticipate," House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, said Wednesday after listening in on a Senate committee hearing.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, seemed similarly surprised by the criticism, which came from teachers' unions to conservatives who back public school alternatives. His office, he said, had received a deluge of requests from people wanting to testify.
"It took on a life of its own," Folmer said.

Common Core: PA education standards running into resistance
A new set of educational standards based on Common Core has run into late-in-the-game opposition along unusual political lines
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau May 19, 2013 12:10 am
HARRISBURG -- After years of development, a new set of educational standards for Pennsylvania has run into late-in-the-game opposition along unusual political lines.
In a Capitol hearing room last week, a Democratic state senator, Andy Dinniman of Chester County, waved a copy of the state and federal constitutions at a Corbett administration official as he asked for a delay. Representatives of business and military groups, which support the standards, looked on, while members of the York 912 Patriots, attired in matching "Pennsylvanians Against Common Core" T-shirts, applauded.

“Estimates about common core's implementation costs vary. One study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (which support the common core) pegged the dollar amount in Pennsylvania at $128 million for a "bare bones" version, $220 million for a "balanced" approach, and $543 million with a "business as usual" approach to education spending in the state. But the anti-common-core Pioneer Institute estimates $250 million in costs for Pennsylvania for professional development alone.”
New Attack on Common Core From Pennsylvania Democrats
Education Week State EdWatch By Andrew Ujifusa on May 14, 2013 3:54 PM
Upset about what they see as the "sham" the Common Core State Standards will become without adequate funding to support it, a group of Pennsylvania Democratic state senators are claiming that the new standards will only bring misery, in the form of greatly damaged graduation rates, if major changes aren't made.
The claims were made in a May 13 press release by six Pennsylvania Democrats, including the ranking Democrat on the the Senate Education Committee, as well as the top Democrat in the Senate (which is controlled by the GOP). The lawmakers also claim that the common core has "no legislative oversight" and demand a full legislative review of what the standards are and what the state education department will expect under the standards. In the first line of their statement, they make a partisan play by calling the standards a $300 million "unfunded education mandate" for districts that is being "quietly pursued by the Corbett administration," a reference to GOP Gov. Tom Corbett. They note that Corbett's decision to slash $900 million two years ago from the state's K-12 budget has only made matters worse.

An Interview with Joy Pullmann: What to say to the Pennsylvania Senate?
1) Joy, I understand that you are about to testify before the State of Pennsylvania Senate. How did this come about ?
Some local Pennsylvania organizations suggested my name to Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Folmer, who was holding a hearing on Common Core, and he asked me to testify.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a big fan of the Common Core.  Standards are great, but if kids come to school having never been read to, and are not reading on grade level by third grade, new standards aren’t going to make much of a difference for the kids who need the most help, and standardized tests aligned with the standards (and used to evaluate teachers) will continue to correlate with poverty levels.

If all of the folks (Tucker, Gates, Achieve, National Governor’s Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, PA Partnerships for Children, PA Business Council) spending huge amounts of time, energy, political capital and money pushing the Common Core had spent it on advocating for high quality early education it would make a huge difference.

What if Race to the Top money or NCLB waivers had been dependent upon states implementing high quality early ed programs instead of adopting the Common Core and test-based teacher evaluations?

Marc Tucker is a leading national evangelist for the Common Core.  I guess nobody told him that Pennsylvania had begun implementing a funding formula which was wiped out by the current administration.  Pennsylvania is now one of only three states that does not have an education funding formula.
The Common Core and Disadvantaged Students
Education Week Top Performers Blog By Marc Tucker on May 18, 2013 11:21 AM
A group of Democratic state senators in Pennsylvania has now joined the revolt against the Common Core State Standards, saying "...we are opposed to common core state 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."  Which leads me to ask the following question of these Democrats: How is it that countries that spend substantially less per student than the United States also produce student achievement way above ours?  Why do we need even more money to produce results like theirs?  How much is enough?

Here’s some Common Sense on the Common Core from Yong Zhao….
Yong Zhao: More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker
Yong Zhao’s Blog 17 JANUARY 2013
I have been waiting for a serious conversation about the sensibility of the Common Core State Standards Initiative with its staunch supporters. I am thus very pleased to read Marc Tucker’s response to my five questions about the Common Core. I am honored that Tucker considers my questions worth responding to. His response, while thoughtful and more nuanced than the usual slogan-shouting, emotion-arousing, and fear-mongering evidence-deprived commercials put forth by some instigators and supporters of the Common Core like this one, did not really answer my questions.  But it did give me the opportunity to come up with more questions. I hope Marc and or other Common Core proponents would find these new questions worth responding to again.
Before I raise more questions, let me restate my main point: it is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault). I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

“Starting next school year, more than one million students in 22 states are expected to take the tests, in an effort to help develop a national exam modeled on the new standards, known as the Common Core.”
Schools Add to Test Load, Just to Assess the Questions
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: May 19, 2013
English tests? Check. Math tests? Check. Summer vacation? Not so fast.
Students in New York State sweated their way through some of the toughest exams in state history this spring. Now hundreds of thousands of them will receive a reward only a stonyhearted statistician could appreciate: another round of exams.  As school districts across the country rush to draw up tests and lesson plans that conform to more rigorous standards, they are flocking to field tests — exams that exist solely to help testing companies fine-tune future questions.

Long hearing – worth watching…..
Video: PA Senate Education Committee May 15 hearing on Common Core standards
Video runtime 233 minutes

Charter schools accused of ignoring Pa. Right to Know Law
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson May 17, 2013
The head of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records is pointing a finger at public charter schools for being the biggest violators of the commonwealth's Right-to-Know law, now 5 years old.

Philadelphia isn't the only district suffering. State allocations over the past two years have left school districts with less money, causing many to increase class sizes and shut down academic programs. Gov. Corbett's cuts are even harder to swallow when you consider that Pennsylvania contributes only 36 percent of the funding for the state's public schools. The average among the states is 48 percent.”
Inquirer Editorial: Stand up for city schools
POSTED: Sunday, May 19, 2013, 3:01 AM
Their silence was deafening. Mayor Nutter invited the 17 City Council members to stand with him Wednesday when he announced a plan to give Philadelphia's destitute public schools more tax money. But none of them spoke up for the proposal.

Charters ready to work with district
Inquirer LTE By Lawrence F. Jones Jr. Monday, May 20, 2013, 3:01 AM
Lawrence F. Jones Jr. is president of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
A flurry of media activity has swept the city in the wake of the School District of Philadelphia's fiscal crisis. This activity has produced some misinformation regarding charter schools. It's time to set the record straight.  Charter schools are funded by taxpayer money that is passed through the home school district of each student choosing the charter option.

Bethlehem Area School District hopes grant can restore school resource officers
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  May 19, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Bethlehem and Bethlehem Township, Pa., police officers once worked out of bothBethlehem Area School District high schools and all four middle schools.  The seven school resource officers were all grant-funded, but as grants expired and the district's budget tightened, officers were lost. The district cut its second school resource officer at Liberty High School in 2010 and then its remaining two middle school officers in 2011.

Quakertown Community School District: A Systematic Approach to Blended Learning That Focuses on District Leadership, Staffing, and Cost-effectiveness April 2013
Alliance for Excellent Education FROM THE FIELD
This interactive video profile is the first of a series providing the reader with a real-life, practical story about how district and school leaders are working to improve student learning outcomes through the effective use of digital learning, defined as “any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience.” Much more than “online learning,” digital learning encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practice. Critical elements include an emphasis on high-quality instruction and access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessment, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and individualized instruction to ensure that all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career. It’s important to note that the strategies will look different in each district setting, and that they are constantly evolving.

Clairton High School robotics team gets into national quarterfinals
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 19, 2013 5:05 pm
The Clairton High School robotics team, who made it to the National BotsIQ Competition in Indianapolis thanks to numerous donations from the public, made it to the quarterfinals of the meet before being knocked out Sunday.

Editorial: Pension crisis requires action now
Delco Times Published: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Gov. Tom Corbett is trying to get some traction to avoid a looming fiscal crisis in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, his solution could wind up exacerbating the problem.  The only thing that is clear is that this state can no longer dodge what Corbett refers to as the “tapeworm” in the state budget — $47 billion in unfunded liability in its two large public employee pension plans.
Corbett is right to put a spotlight on this issue. Whether or not his plan will fix the problem or make things even worse is debatable. What is not is that this can’t be put off any longer.

Gov. Tom Corbett receives cool reception as speaker at Millersville graduation
By Jeff Frantz |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM, updated May 19, 2013 at 12:54 AM
MILLERSVILLE — No one booed.
But the graduates of Millersville University didn't exactly cheer Gov. Tom Corbett either Saturday.  In introducing Corbett as the class of 2013's commencement speaker, Michael Warfel, chairman of the Council of Trustees, explained the difficult fiscal conditions the governor has faced, highlighting the state's looming pension crisis. He noted that Corbett has signed two budgets on time.  Warfel didn't mention education funding.

Delaware Raises Teacher-Prep Admissions Requirement
Education Week Teacher Beat Blog By Stephen Sawchuk on May 17, 2013 12:40 PM
Delaware lawmakers have passed a bill that would raise admissions standards for entry into the state's teacher-preparation programs, among other changes. Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, is expected to sign it.  The bill would require prospective teachers to hold a grade point average of at least 3.0, or a GPA in the top 50th percentile for coursework completed during the most recent two years of education, whether in high school or college. Alternatively, they could achieve a minimum score on a standardized test normed to the general college-bound population. (Many teacher exams are set at the secondary level for content knowledge.)

EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program – Apply Now
Applications are available now for the 2013-2014 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 350 graduates in its first fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation in June 2014.

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

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