Friday, May 24, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 24, 2013: How much is your school district spending on cybercharters?

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 24, 2013:
How much is your school district spending on cybercharters?

Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget
Contact your state legislators during the Memorial Day recess

At over 21%, the U.S. already has the highest poverty level of the developed nations.  One of the strongest correlations for student achievement test scores is poverty.
Study confirms poverty hits the suburbs, too
By Alfred Lubrano, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: May 21, 2013
Say poverty in the Philadelphia area, and it conjures images of North Philadelphia or Kensington, not the suburbs.  But the suburbs on both sides of the Delaware River are becoming steadily poorer, part of a national trend that confounds long-held beliefs that life is always better in greener pastures beyond urban limits.
"People have this cliched notion of poverty being based in the inner city," said Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, which has offices in Trenton and North Jersey. "But it's been moving into suburbia for some time.

Madonna Poll: Majority of Pennsylvanians give local schools A or B grade
PSBA News Release by Steve Robinson, Director of Publications and PR 5/23/2013
According to a recent public opinion poll, a majority of Pennsylvanians grade their local school with an A or B on performance.  The poll presents the findings of a survey of 807 Pennsylvania registered voters designed by G. Terry Madonna Opinion Research.

Educational policies for lawmakers to reconsider (Guest Essay)
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By SUSAN SPICKA May 23, 2013
An open letter to our state lawmakers who have supported Gov. Corbett's past two budgets.
I am a parent of two little girls who attend a public school in Shippensburg. In a few weeks, you will make decisions in Harrisburg that will have an impact on Pennsylvania's children for the rest of their lives.  I respectfully ask that you consider the following points before you vote on a budget.

Open Records chief flunks Pa. charter schools By Dennis Owens May 22, 2013 5:54 PM
The head of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records gives charter schools failing grades when the subject is compliance with the Right-To-Know Law.
"The number one violators are charter schools," said Executive Director Terry Mutchler.
She said her office has existed for five years and has handled 7,000 cases. Overwhelmingly, charter schools have been the most non-compliant group.
"In 87 percent of the cases, charter schools ignored citizens," she said. "In 76 percent of the cases, charter schools ignored us. That's brazen."
Charter schools in Pennsylvania have more than 110,000 students and collect more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars.

PennCAN: Follow the money……
Can or Con
Yinzercation Blog May 23, 2013
It must be all the spring rain – new corporate-style reform groups are popping up like weeds. The latest one just appeared in Pittsburgh on Tuesday with an Op Ed piece in the Post-Gazettepromoting teacher evaluation. [Post-Gazette, 5-21-13] Called PennCAN, this group is an off-shoot of the Connecticut based ConnCAN, which has started a national effort known as 50CAN. So who are these “cans” and what are they saying?

How much is your school district spending on cybercharters?
Great interactive map shows detail per district in 2010 and 2013 with % change:
Estimated payments to cybers, Cyber charter enrollment, % of students attending cybers
Per pupil payment to charters/cybers for regular ed student
Per pupil payment to charters/cybers for special ed student
Rising cyber charter costs fuel push for statewide reform [map]
WHYY Newsworks By Benjamin Herold May 23, 2013
Interactive map by Michelle Schmitt and Todd Vachon
Even as funding for Pennsylvania public schools has dwindled, the cost of sending students to independent, online charter schools has risen in more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania's 500 traditional school districts.  In many of those districts, the mounting financial impact of these "cyber charters" has been dramatic over the last four years. This had led to calls for the state legislature to rethink the rules for such schools.

State Rep. McCarter, joined by Roebuck, unveils the CLASS Act; legislation aimed at reforming Pa.’s charter and cyber charter schools law
GLENSIDE, May 23 – State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., today was joined by the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., to announce a new charter school reform proposal, the Charter Learning Accountability School Sustainability Act, or CLASS. The CLASS Act is aimed at achieving greater academic accountability, funding equalization and transparency within the charter and cyber charter school system.  McCarter’s legislation would offer several key revisions to the current charter school law to provide much needed relief to local taxpayers by creating one statewide cyber charter school district to be administered by the state Department of Education. It is estimated that this component of the CLASS Act could eventually save school districts approximately $230 million to $250 million annually statewide.

PCCY: More Effort, More Resources Needed To Address Issues In NCTQ Teacher Quality Report
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Press Release May 23, 2013
The recent report by the National Council for Teacher Quality is evidence that the School District of Philadelphia needs much more effort from its management and more resources to train, attract, support and keep quality teachers for Philadelphia children.
PCCY Executive Director Donna Cooper says, “It is impossible for the School Reform Commission and Superintendent Hite to carry out the report’s best recommendations if the District is forced to make $300 million in budget cuts.“  The well-researched report presents compelling data about the challenges the District faces with hiring, pay scale, evaluation and support for teachers. The report can be found at:

Philly Charter schools join Nutter, Hite in funding plea
Leaders from more than 20 Philadelphia charter schools today joined the school district's campaign to obtain more state and city aid to cover a looming $304 million shortfall.  "We have got to share in the advocacy and share in the fight to ensure Philadelphia's public schools are adequately funded," Lawrence Jones, president of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools," said at a rally at Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School in West Philadelphia.

Do we have the leaders to solve the Philly school funding mess?
WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies @DaveDaviesWHYY May 24, 2013
It's beginning to dawn on more of us that Philadelphia's school system could truly suffer a meltdown in the coming months -- fail to make payroll, fail to open schools in September, maybe see a federal judge take control of the district after things grind to a halt.
The school district's financial situation is as dire as the one the city faced in 1991, when Philadelphia was just a hop and a skip from being unable cut paychecks.

“The more the state moves away from carrying its appropriate share of school funding, the more it rolls the tax burden down the hill to the poorest communities.”
Who’s Still Killing Philly Schools?
The status quo is now state control and permanent crisis.
By Daniel Denvir City Paper Posted: Thu, May. 23, 2013, 12:00 AM
“Our young people will suffer under a devastating bare-bones budget,” Mayor Michael Nutter warned at a press conference last week. “The quality of education in Philadelphia will plummet and we will all suffer as a result: poverty, unemployment, crime, lost wages and lack of personal opportunity.”  Philadelphia, of course, already suffers from all of these maladies. But the School District of Philadelphia’s $304 million deficit, the most recent financial crisis in a district that has eliminated thousands of staff and teacher positions in recent years, threatens to make them all worse.

“The people in this room voted you in and I think everyone is saying now — raise taxes and stop cutting programs and teachers,” said Brian Owens, of Rosecliff Drive, Douglassville, repeating, “Since everyone voted you in to do your job — raise our taxes and stop cutting the programs.”
Daniel Boone School Board goes forward with cuts, ignores parent pleas
By Denise Larive 21st Century Media Posted: Tuesday, 05/21/13 12:58 pm
AMITY — Parents, teachers and taxpayers in the Daniel Boone School District told the school board Monday night that history keeps repeating itself as board members ignore their pleas and continue to cut programs.  While some programs were saved by using $2.4 million of the district’s fund balance in the preliminary budget of $52.45 million, many other programs were approved to be cut in June with the final budget.  The public made it clear to the board at the beginning of the meeting (as they have in previous years) that they want a tax increase to save their programs.

Corbett signs bill to devise a formula for funding special education services
The notebook by Brett Schaeffer Summer 2013 Edition
Brett Schaeffer is the communications director for the Education Law Center and a member of the Notebook’s board.
Pennsylvania’s long-broken system for special education funding and accountability is about to receive a major overhaul.  Gov. Corbett recently signed into law a bill that establishes a legislative commission to develop, for the first time in the commonwealth, a funding system for special education that uses accurate student counts and addresses actual student needs. It’s called Act 3, formerly known as House Bill 2.   The Education Law Center and advocates from 39 Pennsylvania organizations supported the new legislation and worked for years to see it enacted. 
“This is historic,” said ELC executive director Rhonda Brownstein. 
“The commission will outline a much-needed approach for funding special education in Pennsylvania, one that takes into account accurate data and real student needs.”

State Issues New Guidelines to Improve Early Education Access for Homeless Children
Education Law Center Press Release May 15, 2013
New policy guidance issued last week by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning improves access to early learning opportunities for homeless children under the age of six.  This policy sets new standards for interagency collaboration at state and local levels to identify young children experiencing homelessness across service systems and ensure access to quality early learning programs, such as Head Start and Early Intervention.
“We are so pleased that OCDEL has stepped forward to provide important vision and leadership that will help ensure that young children experiencing homelessness get the supports and services to which they are entitled and desperately need,” said the Education Law Center’s Nancy A. Hubley, Managing Attorney for ELC’s Pittsburgh office.

"Local and state leaders -- those who have direct interaction with parents and teachers in their communities -- are best positioned to determine policies that affect Alabama's students," she said. "Washington bureaucrats are not."
Alabama's common core fight makes its way to Congress
By Evan Belanger |  on May 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Alabama's fight over the use of common core curriculum standards in K-12 public education has reached the U.S. Congress.  Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, introduced legislation today that would prohibit the federal government from offering grants or policy waivers contingent on a state's use of certain curricula or assessment policies.
"The executive branch has exceeded its appropriate reach where state education policy is concerned, and it's time to rein it in," Roby said in a press release.  The Defending State Authority Over Education Act, Roby said, will "prevent undue influence by the federal government."

“We urge Congress to develop a plan that not only protects education as a civil right but also as a national security interest,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler, who added that while “federal dollars are going away, the mandates remain.”
Sequestration Gets Real: NSBA, Impact Aid districts warn of consequences of federal budget cuts
Federal budget cuts are coming for every school district this fall—but the reality of teacher layoffs and program cuts already are here for school districts that receive Impact Aid.
Two district officials who already have endured the first round of scheduled cuts shared their experiences in a teleconference organized by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS).
NSBA is continuing to lobby Congress through its grassroots network to stop or mitigate sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board cuts that took place when Congress failed to pass a budget in March.

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.

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.

Building One America 2013 National Summit July 18-19, 2013 Washington, DC
Brookings Institution to present findings of their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of the Obama Administration and Congress.  The summit will identify comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote sustainable, economically competitive regions.

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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