Friday, May 31, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 31, 2013: Yo – Pennsylvania, Michigan just increased preschool funding by $65 million!!!

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 31, 2013:
Yo – Pennsylvania, Michigan just increased preschool funding by $65 million!!!

Delay the cut in the capital stock and franchise tax
We urge the legislature to delay planned tax cuts rather than making additional budget cuts to schools, health care, and human services.
Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget

“With the dramatic cuts that school districts like Upper Darby are facing, the policymakers in the state need to look at the mandates placed on schools and start cutting them back instead of piling them on,” DeVlieger said. “Schools need to put the focus back on educating students, not providing every kind of imaginable social and medical need under the sun. So many of these mandates are areas that parents or the government should be handling, not schools.”
DeVlieger discussed the skyrocketing costs of special education, which has increased from $18 million in his district in 2008-2009 to a projected $32 million in 2013-2014, while the state has flat-lined the funding in each of those years.
“The costs fall directly on the local taxpayers through property taxes or result in the cutting of regular education programs,” he said.
School officials blast education funding formulas
Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
By DANIELLE LYNCH @dmlreporter
UPPER DARBY — Local school officials and education policy officials voiced concerns about problems with current public education funding formulas during a Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee hearing Wednesday.  The two-hour hearing, which took place at the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School Performing Arts Center, was requested by state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby. She was joined by 11 Democratic legislators from across Pennsylvania.

Another home run from Jessie Ramey @ Yinzercation blog…..
Budget Talk
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey, May 30, 2013
As we get closer to the end-of-June deadline, our legislators are finally talking about the state budget. Yesterday, the Republicans in the PA House proposed their own budget in response to Governor Corbett’s plan, announced in February. [See “Budget with a But”] Their version adds $10 million more for education, bringing the total increase to $100 million. [PA House GOP Proposed 2013-14 Budget] After two devastating years of cuts, any increase is good – but $100 million doesn’t get us close to the nearly $2 billion our kids have lost.
Perhaps most telling, the Republican plan counts on $85 million in “savings” from all the teachers who lost their jobs last year (since the state now won’t have to pay their portion of Social Security and pensions). However, rather than putting those “savings” fully back into education, the House GOP shifts $75 million over to other line items. Yet overall, this Republican budget spends $100 million less than even Gov. Corbett proposed, so there are plenty of cuts all around – including $32 million less for the Department of Public Welfare and a $3 million cut to child care services for the working poor. Meanwhile, the legislature would receive a $4 millionincrease for itself under this plan. [Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center analysis, 5-29-13]

Pennsylvania pension overhaul plan stands idle
By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau May 30, 2013 12:02 am
HARRISBURG -- Despite a push from Gov. Tom Corbett, pension overhaul appears to be the least likely of Mr. Corbett's major legislative proposals to be completed by the June 30 budget deadline.  Pension overhaul plans were not included in the House Republican budget proposals unveiled Wednesday in Harrisburg.  "As things stand today, it would be accurate to say the budget, transportation funding and liquor sales reform are farther advanced than pension reform," said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, referring to the governor's other major stated priorities.

Better Choices for PA Press Conference--Local Government Officials Raise Concern About Tax Cuts
Tuesday, June 4th at 1pm; Main Rotunda, State Capitol, Harrisburg PA
On Tuesday, June 4th, local government officials from across the state will gather in Harrisburg to make the case against new business tax cuts that are scheduled to take effect this year.  Citing the need to restore funding to local schools and county human services, officials will argue that Pennsylvania simply cannot afford new tax cuts this year.
Please RSVP to

“In the absence of new funds to cover a $304 million projected shortfall, schools will open in the fall without new books, paper, clubs, counselors, librarians, assistant principals, or secretaries.
Athletics, art, and music would be gone. There could be 3,000 layoffs, including some teachers.
Class sizes would be larger, and schools would have no aides to help manage them or support staff to monitor lunchrooms and playgrounds.”
Phila. SRC approves doomsday school budget
POSTED: Thursday, May 30, 2013, 9:59 PM
The Philadelphia School District's doomsday scenario moved a step closer to reality Thursday night.  Amid angry shouts of "disgrace!", the School Reform Commission approved a $2.4 billion budget that includes cuts that Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has said would be catastrophic for the city's schools.

Philanthropists stress importance of arts education on region's economy
by thenotebook on May 30 2013 Posted in Latest news
Philanthropists Carole Haas Gravagno and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, in calling for more school funding yesterday, emphasized the far-reaching effects that massive school budget cuts would have on the economy of Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Gutting school music and arts programs, they argue, would only hamstring students' ability to join and sustain a vibrant intellectual and cultural scene that's of vital importance to the city's economic activity. 
From a written statement by Haas Gravagno:

H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest Press conference remarks on  the Philadelphia School District Budget Crisis - May 29, 2013
“I’m telling you as a business leader and as an humanitarian - we cannot allow this destruction of the public education system. The consequences will be very grave. Our schools give us our future in every way. They determine the quality of life for all of us.”

Pottsgrove preliminary budget would raise taxes 2.2%
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt  Wednesday, 05/29/13 02:58 pm
LOWER POTTSGROVE — Although it took three different attempts, the Pottsgrove School Board managed to adopt a $61.5 million preliminary final budget Tuesday night that would raise property taxes by 2.2 percent, or $95 for the average household.

“A cursory examination of tax records revealed that out of 80 private properties occupied by charter and alternative schools, 13 were tax delinquent.”
Charter Schools, Landlords Owe City and Schools $762K
Why is Philly letting deadbeats keep their contracts?
City Paper by Ryan Briggs Posted: Thu, May. 30, 2013, 12:00 AM
This February, before turning its attention to begging the city and state to plug a $300 million budget deficit for the Philly School District, the School Reform Commission (SRC) announced a gesture of its own toward combating the city’s gaping tax-delinquency problem. The SRC ruled that tax deadbeats could no longer hold lucrative school contracts. 
“If you’re contracting with us, you must be up to date on your taxes,” says School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard, adding that the new regulations require vendors to obtain tax certification from the city’s Revenue Department.
That mandate, however, doesn’t extend to charter or alternative schools or the companies they contract with, despite the explosive growth of such institutions in recent years.

Separate and unequal treatment for cyber-charter students: As I See It
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Monica Allison on May 30, 2013
Monica Allison is president of PA Familes for Public Cyber Schools.
My child is a second-class student.
This school year, the budget for my child’s public education is almost a third lower than the education budget for his peers in our school district. That’s because my child attends a public cyber school.  My child’s public education, like your child’s, is funded by the school district in which I live in and pay taxes. At the beginning of each school year, the district determines how much money they can spend per child. 

If you follow the money going to cyber schools it is clear that the lack of a fair PA education funding formula results in “excess” tax dollars being used for purposes other than educating our kids:
Millions flow to Beaver County-based PA Cyber School's spinoffs
By Rich Lord and Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 15, 2012 12:04 am
The Beaver County-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which was searched by federal agents Thursday, pays tens of millions of dollars a year to a network of nonprofit and for-profit companies run by former executives of the state's largest online public school.

According to minutes from 12/18/12 Agora Cyber Board mtg, your PA tax $$$ paid for 19,298 local TV commercials
Keystone State Education Coalition April 17, 2013

As of February, 2013 Agora Cyber was serving 2,857 Philly students, the most of any PA cyber

Agora has never made AYP. Agora 2012 grad rate was 45%; Philly SD grad rate was 57%

In 2011, Agora parent company K12, Inc. CEO Ron Packard’s total compensation was $5 million

Early Childhood Education Caucus to discuss state budget at June 4 news conference
Rep. Phyllis Mundy’s website  May 30
The Early Childhood Education Caucus will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, 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-chairmen of the caucus;
  • Lloyd Lamm, regional banking executive for the capital region of First National Bank of Pennsylvania;
  • Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed;
  • Retired Army Brigadier Gen. Jerry G. Beck who 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, whose co-chairman is Peter Danchak of northeastern Pennsylvania.

With $65M increase, Michigan moves into national forefront of preschool funding
The Center for Michigan By Ron French/Bridge Magazine 30 May 2013
Michigan will move from middle of the pack to top of the heap when Gov. Rick Snyder signs off on a massive expansion of state-funded early childhood education in coming days.
The $65 million increase in funding for the Great Start Readiness Program, allowing at least 10,000 more 4-year-olds to attend high-quality, publicly funded preschool, is the biggest increase in the nation this year and leads an emerging trend to invest in children before kindergarten.

In Raising Scores, 1 2 3 Is Easier Than A B C
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: May 29, 2013
TROY, N.Y. — David Javsicas, a popular seventh-grade reading teacher known for urging students to act out dialogue in the books they read in class, sometimes feels wistful for the days when he taught math.
A quiz, he recalls, could quickly determine which concepts students had not yet learned. Then, “you teach the kids how to do it, and within a week or two you can usually fix it,” he said.
Helping students to puzzle through different narrative perspectives or subtext or character motivation, though, can be much more challenging. “It could take months to see if what I’m teaching is effective,” he said.
Educators, policy makers and business leaders often fret about the state of math education, particularly in comparison with other countries. But reading comprehension may be a larger stumbling block.

The number of high-poverty schools increases by about 60 percent
Hechinger Report by Jill Barshay May 29, 2013
Poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools was classified as as a “high-poverty” school in 2011 by the U.S.  Department of Education. To win this unwelcome designation, 75 percent or more of an elementary, middle or high school’s students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. About a decade earlier, in 2000, only one in eight public schools was deemed to be high poverty. That’s about a 60 percent increase in the number of very poor schools!  This  figure was part of a large data report, The Condition of Education 2013, released by the National Center for Education Statistics on May 23, 2013.  There’s a lot to chew on in it. But school poverty jumped out at me as a really depressing data point showing the growing income inequality in America.

This fits nicely with the Walton Family Foundation’s funding of $159 million per year to dismantle democratically governed American public schools staffed by professional educators….would you like some fries with your standardized test?
Low Wages at a Single Wal-Mart Store Cost Taxpayers about $1 Million Every Year, Says New Committee Staff Report
Committee on Education and the Workforce May 30, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – The price of Wal-Mart’s low wages and benefits at just one Wal-Mart store not only costs families in lost income and economic security, but it also may cost taxpayers about one million dollars in higher usage of public-assistance programs by Wal-Mart employees and their dependents, according to a report released today by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. 
While up-to-date data on Wal-Mart’s wage and employment practices are not always readily available, new demographic data released by Wisconsin’s Medicaid program provided the needed information to uncover the scope of the taxpayer subsidization of Wal-Mart. The report finds that a single 300-employee Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wisconsin may cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee. Wisconsin has 100 Wal-Mart stores, 75 that are Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Wisconsin Budget panel delays implementation of common standards for schools
High school students would need to take ACT test annually
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel May 29, 2013
Madison — The state Department of Public Instruction would potentially be barred from implementing new common academic standards until hearings are held and new findings issued under a provision a legislative committee tucked into the state budget Wednesday.
The Joint Finance Committee also voted to require high school students to take a suite of age-appropriate ACT tests twice their freshman year and once every year after that.

Why I Want to Choose the ‘Disadvantaged’ Local School (and Why I Might Not)
New York Times By ANDY HINDS May 30, 2013, 2:30 pm 36 Comments
When I ask other parents of preschoolers in my urban San Diego neighborhood where they’re planning to send their little ones to kindergarten, the name of our local K-5 virtually never comes up. Because of the “Choice Program” in our district, parents can apply to send their kids to almost any public school in the system. So parents in our neighborhood opt for magnet schools, charter schools or even the garden-variety public school a couple of miles away that gets better test scores than our “zone school” does. Or they skip the public options altogether and commute to schools with the words “Country Day” or “Our Lady” in their names.

Need to feel good about the Common Core and Keystone Exams?
What would it take for us to see similar events focusing on high quality early childhood education and community schools?  Generous sponsors?
“The Pennsylvania Education Summit is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Business Council Education Foundation, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Team Pennsylvania Foundation with the support of generous sponsors.”
Pennsylvania Education Summit
Harrisburg, PA Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM (EDT)
The Pennsylvania Education Summit: Building a Pathway to College and Career Success will gather business leaders, teachers, school superintendents, curriculum specialists, state lawmakers, legislative staff, executive agency professionals, workforce investment board members and staff, and other education stakeholders for a civil conversation on the public policy required to ensure our Commonwealth's young people are "college and career ready."  The Pennsylvania Education Summit will highlight and support the efforts of the Corbett Administration and Pennsylvania General Assembly to design and implement education reforms that increase student achievement and accountability in Pennsylvania's K-12 education system.
Agenda and registration here:

“What’s the least bad option going forward? Who should bear the brunt of this legacy of fiscal irresponsibility? Current retirees? Today’s teachers? New teachers? School districts? Taxpayers? The students themselves?”
No Way Out? How to Solve the Teacher-Pension Problem
Live or Webinar June 6, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EDT
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 1016 16th Street NW, 7th Floor Washington, DC 20036
America’s teacher-pension systems (with up to a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities according to some estimates) present a raging public-policy dilemma. Career teachers absolutely deserve a secure retirement, but lawmakers promised them benefits that the system cannot afford, as those promises were based on short-term political considerations and bad math. Now the bill is coming due, and someone’s going to get soaked.
  • Sandi Jacobs, vice president and managing director of state policy, National Council on Teacher Quality
  • Josh B. McGee, vice president of public accountability, Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Charles Zogby, secretary of the budget, Pennsylvania
  • Leo Casey, executive director, Albert Shanker Institute
Moderator: Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
This event will be webcast. Visit our website,, at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, June 6, to watch the proceedings live.
Register now to join the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality for a timely look at the teacher-pension crisis and various state efforts to address it.

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.

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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