Friday, May 3, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 3, 2013: “We’re not saving kids; we’re creating institutions that are unaccountable to the public.”

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 3, 2013:
“We’re not saving kids; we’re creating institutions that are unaccountable to the public.”

Virginia’s first statewide virtual school likely to close
Washington Post By Michael Alison ChandlerPublished: May 1, 2013
The Carroll County School Board plans to end its partnership with (K12, Inc.) the contractor that operates Virginia’s largest full-time statewide virtual school, effectively shutting down a program that serves more than 350 students.

“virtual schooling in the U.S. reveals an environment much like the legendary wild west”
Nation’s Online Elementary and Secondary Schools Expand Rapidly, But Academic Performance Lags Behind Other Public Schools, New Report Finds
National Education Policy Center Study Tracks the Performance of 311 Full-Time 
Virtual Schools, Finds Lagging Academic Performance, High Dropout Rates,
Limited Oversight, and Excessive Costs that Drain Millions from Public Coffers
URL for this press release:
Boulder, Colo. (May 2, 2013) -- A national study, released today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), offers a comprehensive review of 311 virtual schools operating in the United States. It finds serious and systemic problems with the nation’s full-time cyber schools.
University of Colorado, Boulder Professor Alex Molnar, who edited Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence, summed it up this way: “Even a cursory review of virtual schooling in the U.S. reveals an environment much like the legendary wild west. There are outsized claims, lagging performance, intense conflicts, lots of taxpayer money at stake, and very little solid evidence to justify the rapid expansion of virtual schools.”

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

Quaker Valley board asks for cap on charter school costs
TribLive By Bobby Cherry  Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Quaker Valley leaders say the growing cost of cyber and other charter school tuitions from local school district funds needs to be capped.  Under a resolution adopted last week, board members and administrators are seeking changes to the state's school code that would alter how cyber and charter school tuition is calculated.
Inquirer Editorial: Be careful with charters
POSTED: April 26, 2013
The Philadelphia School District's motive to start its own cyber charter school is understandable - recouping some of the $60 million it sends to other cyber charters to serve city students - but that's not the road to take.  It's been only five months since the Education Law Center urged Pennsylvania to impose a moratorium on any new cyber charters, citing recent research showing cyber charters in the state are not educating students as well as traditional public schools.
In fact, not one of the 16 cyber charters operating in Pennsylvania is meeting the adequate yearly progress requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The law center said the state isn't providing sufficient oversight of the cyber charters, which have 35,000 enrolled students.

Communities in Schools gets grant to address dropout rate
By Deb Kiner |  on May 01, 2013 at 2:09 PM
Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania has received a $150,000 grant from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to finance the creation of the Pennsylvania Dropout Prevention Resource Center.  The center will serve as a clearinghouse for educators and community members to aid their shared efforts to help at-risk youth stay in school.
Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania will convene its 2013 Pennsylvania Dropout Prevention Summit at Harrisburg University on Thursday featuring first lady Susan Corbett and several leading education and dropout prevention experts.

Governor Corbett Announces Finalists for 2014 Teacher of the Year
PDE Press Release May 02, 2013
Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today announced the 12 educators who have been selected as finalists for Pennsylvania’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.  “I congratulate these outstanding educators for being selected as finalists to compete for this award,” Corbett said. “These individuals represent the thousands of excellent educators in classrooms across the state who are dedicated to educating children.”
The finalists are:
• Daryl Balseiro, Big Spring School District, Cumberland County
• Amy Alleman Burke, Cumberland Valley School District, Cumberland County
• Erin Cernuska, Bellefonte Area School District, Centre County
• Linda Coll, Northern Lebanon School District, Lebanon County
• Tracey Fritch, Rose Tree Media School District, Delaware County
• Carol Aten Frow, Belle Vernon Area School District, Westmoreland County
• Lori Gallagher, Hatboro-Horsham School District, Montgomery County
• Anthony Grisillo, Rose Tree Media School District, Delaware County
• Nicola Hipkins, Bethel Park School District, Allegheny County
• Jen Klobucar, Yough School District, Westmoreland County
• Nicole Miletto, Hatboro-Horsham School District, Montgomery County
• Kyle Norman, Brockway Area School District, Jefferson County
The finalists were nominated by students, parents, colleagues and members of the community who want to recognize their achievements both in and outside the classroom.

PA Department of Education Releases 2013-14 Referendum Exceptions Report
PDE Press Release April 30, 2013
Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Department of Education today released the Report on Referendum Exceptions for School Year 2013-14, which provides detailed information on the number of school districts throughout Pennsylvania that have applied and been approved for exceptions under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006.
For the 2013-14 school year, of the 497 school districts that operate on a fiscal-year basis and are subject to provisions of Act 1, 311 indicated they would not increase real estate tax rates above the index and 186 adopted a preliminary budget.

Slot play will lower tax bills for Pa. homeowners by an average $200
By Jan Murphy |  on May 02, 2013 at 2:49 PM
Thanks to people who visit the state’s casinos and play slots, homeowners will once again see a break on their school property taxes.  The amount of tax reduction homeowners will realize from this sixth distribution of slots proceeds for property tax relief varies by school district. It is based on a formula that favors districts with weaker tax bases, lower personal incomes and higher tax burdens.  Among 29 midstate school districts, the tax reductions will range from $57 in Cumberland Valley School District to $556 in Palmyra Area School Districts. The average is $167.  ….The amount available for tax relief next year from the state's 11 casinos is down by more than $4 million from this year’s more than the $782.5 million, the tax relief program's high-water mark.  

“We’re not saving kids; we’re creating institutions that are unaccountable to the public.”
Shaping Perception of Public Schools
American School Board Journal By Lawrence Hardy May 2013
…..Not so long ago, people who devoted much if not all of their professional lives to public education --  administrators, teachers and counselors, school board members --  could simply concentrate on the critical work before them, They knew the public, while not agreeing with everything they did, would be behind them. That time is now gone.
To win the fight --  and it is a fight --  for public education, school leaders must be more aggressive in standing up and confronting those who would privatize public schools, in some instances, with the expectation of considerable financial gain. That means changing, or not entering, the “no-win” conversations and not accepting the other side’s characterizations of “failing schools,” “incompetent teachers,” or what Louisiana State Superintendent John White, in describing opponents of yet another plan for state voucher expansion, labeled “entrenched interests.”

“Now, instead of the facilities belonging to the public, they will belong to the private sector organizations, for-profit and nonprofit, that own the charters. The entrepreneurs keep the public money. It is theirs.”
Florida Charters Score $91 Million from Public School Construction Funds
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 29, 2013 //
Remember when charter advocates said they could do a better job of educating kids with less money? You probably don’t remember, it was years ago.
The charters have forgotten it too. In Floridathe charter lobby just got $91 million from the Legislature. This is money taken from the public schools’ facilities fund. Now, instead of the facilities belonging to the public, they will belong to the private sector organizations, for-profit and nonprofit, that own the charters. The entrepreneurs keep the public money. It is theirs.

You'll Be Shocked by How Many of the World's Top Students Are American
The U.S. claims one-third of the developed world's high-performing students in both reading and science
The Atlantic by JORDAN WEISSMANN APR 30 2013, 2:00 PM ET
When you look at the average performance of American students on international test scores, our kids come off as a pretty middling bunch. If you rank countries based on their very fine differences, we come in 14th in reading, 23rd in science, and 25th in math. Those finishes led Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to flatly declare that "we're being out-educated." 
And on average, maybe we are. But averages also sometimes obscure more than they reveal. My colleague Derek Thompson has written before about how, once you compare students from similar income and class backgrounds, our relative performance improves dramatically, suggesting that our educational problems may be as much about our sheer number of poor families as our supposedly poor schools. This week, I stumbled on another data point that belies the stereotype of dimwitted American teens. 
When it comes to raw numbers, it turns out we generally have far more top performers than any other developed nation.

PA Early Childhood Education Caucus to discuss state budget at May 8 news conference
HARRISBURG, May 2 – The Early Childhood Education Caucus will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday May 8 at the Capitol Media Center where its members will voice support for adequately funding early childhood care and education programs in the 2013-14 state budget. Speakers will include:
  • State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, and state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh/Northampton/Monroe, co-chairs of the caucus;
  • Phil Peterson, senior vice president of Aon Hewitt and co-chair of ReadyNation;
  • Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed;
  • Retired Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Perugino of Kingston and retired Army Maj. Gen. William Burns, both of whom will represent Mission Readiness; and
  • Members of the caucus.
The 125-member Early Childhood Education Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral alliance of legislators who advocate for the continued funding and development of high-quality early childhood care and education programs in Pennsylvania.
The caucus has worked together on many issues with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, which is co-chaired by Peter Danchak of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Sweden has 100 percent of its 3 year olds in pre-K. We have 51 percent.
Washington Post by Dylan Matthews on May 2, 2013 at 9:00 am
One thing that’s been lost a bit in the discussion around President Obama’s preschool proposal is where, exactly, the United States stands compared to peer countries when it comes to subsidizing preschool and other early childhood education programs.
The answer, unsurprisingly, is that we’re among the stingiest countries when it comes to nursery school, as a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress makes clear (also, nice punny title CAP, well-played):

The United States Is Far Behind Other Countries on Pre-K
Center for American Progress By Juliana HermanSasha Post, and Scott O'Halloran | May 2, 2013
Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF version of this issue brief.
Early childhood education and school readiness is essential to preparing our children to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. Compared to other countries, however, the United States lags far behind on preschool, trailing a number of other countries in enrollment, investment, and quality.  In February 2013, however, President Barack Obama put forth a bold plan to significantly expand access to preschool. His plan would invest $75 billion in high-quality preschool, helping our nation catch up with other countries.

Why Invest in Early Childhood Education?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav May 2, 2013 
Here is a stunning infographic that demonstrates the value of early childhood education.
It appears on Julian Vasquez Heilig’s website called “Cloaking Inequity.”
We know how busy our elected officials are. They don’t have time to read research papers. Just show them this simple yet profound illustration of the benefits of early childhood education.

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:

Looking for PA Governor's School for the Arts Alumni
Pennsylvania Arts Education Network
For over 35 years, the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts was a robust summer program that provided over 10,000 students state-wide with extraordinary opportunities to develop their artistic talents, intellects, self-confidence, and leadership. Unfortunately, for budget reasons, state officials ended the program a few years ago. The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC)'s 2012 Arts and Education Policy Report recommended the school be reestablished and the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network is now urging that the Governor's School for the Arts be restored.
To support this effort, we would like to create a comprehensive list of alumni who attended the School. This list would be an important voice in supporting the reopening of the Governor's School for the Arts, and arts education in Pennsylvania, generally.
If you, or someone you know attended the Pennsylvania's Governor's School for the Arts, please complete this form and share with others. This list will be used internally, and will not be made public.   For more information about the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network and for news about the reestablishment of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, please visit

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.

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