Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 4, 2013: PA cybercharters average cost of $10,145 per student was $3,500 more than national average of $6,500

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 4, 2013:
PA cybercharters average cost of $10,145 per student was $3,500 more than national average of $6,500

PA cybercharters avg cost of $10,145 was $3,500 more than national average of $6,500.
PA charters spent avg $13,411 per student, about $3K more than national average of $10K.
Fixing PA’s Charter School Formula Could Save $365 Million a Year in Taxpayer Money.

“Now is not the time to vote on costly new tax cuts for profitable corporations as the House plans to do next week. Instead, lawmakers should consider delaying the phase out of the capital stock and franchise tax.  “As IFO Director Matthew Knittel noted today, recent economic activity in Pennsylvania has not translated into new jobs. We all want to see new jobs created, but 10 years of corporate tax cutting has not worked.
“Lawmakers should allocate scarce tax dollars carefully. New corporate tax cuts will come at the expense of investments that really matter to our economy and local communities, including schools, safe streets, and infrastructure.”

Statement: IFO Revenue Report Should Raise Red Flag for Lawmakers

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center May 1, 2013
HARRISBURG, PA (May 1, 2013) — Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, issued the following statement on the Independent Fiscal Office’s preliminary 2013-14 state revenue outlook:

York's charter school model nixed by recovery board
Posted: May 02, 2013 10:55 PM EDTUpdated: May 03, 2013 5:26 AM EDT
YORK, Pa. (WHTM) - By Alexandria Hoff - bio | email
A proposal to turn the York City School District into a "charter school only" program was overwhelmingly rejected by a recovery board Thursday night, 19 to 1.  In December, the York City School District was declared "financially distressed" by the state. A chief recovery officer was appointed and two options were put on the table; a full internal transformation or a move to become "charter school only."  
"It sets up a system that is separate but might not be equal," said Kevin Schreiber (D), a candidate running to represent the State House's 95th District.  He feels that city students should not be forced into charter schools in order to receive education equivalent to other places in York County. "I think we need to look at the data and the data shows that they really don't do any better than public schools," said fellow 95th district candidate Bill Swartz (G). 

Pa. auditor general report blasts Reading schools for weak leadership
By The Associated Press  on May 03, 2013 at 5:07 PM
READING (AP) — State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a scathing assessment of the Reading School District in a Friday report that alleges that weak leadership has exacerbated academic and financial problems in one of the state's largest and poorest school districts.
The report, which focuses mainly on a two-year period ending in February, says officials had failed to adequately educate students. It cited a 2011-12 graduation rate of 61 percent that was 24 points shy of the state goal and standardized-test scores that similarly lagged state targets.

Central High School RoboLancers compete in FIRST World Championship
Technically Philly By Juliana Reyes / STAFF May. 2, 2013 10:30 am
It’s been a crazy few weeks for the Central High School RoboLancers: a World Championship, a 750-student Robotics Expo and a marathon week of fundraising.  Last week, the robotics team competed in the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Miss. It was the student-led team’s first time, in its 13-year history, to qualify for the championship. But before the RoboLancers could board the bus to St. Louis, they had to  raise $29,000 for trip expenses.
They did it in five days.

Knade, Crossley to discuss pensions on PCN Call-In Program Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. on PCN.
PSBA 5/3/2013
Stuart Knade, PSBA interim executive director, will join Mike Crossey, president of PA State Education Association, to discuss pension reform in the Commonwealth -- Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. on PCN.  Viewers may call (877) PA6-5001 with questions during the program. Check your local listings for station information.

How Public Education Is Funded - EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program  Wednesday, May 8 at 9 p.m. on PCN.
Education Policy and Leadership Center May 3, 2013
Next Wednesday, May 8, tune in to the next episode of EPLC's "Focus on Education" series,which will cover How Public Education Is Funded In Pennsylvania and air at 9:00 p.m. on PCN television.  The panel will include: 
  • Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center;   
  • Corinna Vecsey Wilson, PCN Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
  • Joe Bard, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools;
  • Dr. Paula Hess, Former Senior Education Advisor, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; and   
  • Laura Cowburn, Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and Assistant to the Superintendent for Business Services and Board Secretary with the Columbia Borough School District.
EPLC and PA Cable Network (PCN) have partnered for a monthly program focusing on education issues in Pennsylvania.  The first episodes aired during February, March, and April and covered school safety issuesstudent testing, and the work of school boards.   
"Focus on Education" will be broadcast on PCN at 9:00 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, now through June, and then again this fall in September through December.
To learn more, visit PCN's "Focus on Education" web page.

Thanks to PA Congressmen Meehan, Gerlach and Barletta who have co-sponsored so far; how about your House member?
More lawmakers sign on to NSBA bill
NSBA School Board News Today By Joetta Sack-Min|May 3rd, 2013
The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) legislative proposal which would establish a framework for improved recognition of local school board authority when the U.S. Department of Education acts on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (H.R. 1386), has now garnered 16 co-sponsors.
Introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-lll.) on March 21, the bill had as original co-sponsors Reps. Schock, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and David Valadao of California. Since then, 11 more members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on: Reps. Lou Barletta (PA), Jo Bonner (AL), Kevin Cramer (ND), Jim Gerlach (PA), Bob Gibbs (OH), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Kenny Marchant (TX), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Stevan Pearce (NM.), Ted Poe (TX), and Marlin Stutzman (IN).
School board members are encouraged to contact their House members to become co-sponsors. Increased focus is now being directed to urge senators to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, and school board members also are encouraged to contact their senators and urge them to sponsor similar legislation.

Justice Department Says State Voucher Programs May Not Discriminate Against Students With Disabilities
DOJ Finding Was Prompted by ACLU Complaint
American Civil Liberties Union Press Release May 2, 2013
NEW YORK – In a letter released this week, the U.S. Department of Justice affirmed that Wisconsin must ensure that students with disabilities who seek to attend or are currently enrolled in private schools through the state's taxpayer-funded voucher program "do not encounter discrimination on the basis of their disabilities."
The DOJ letter was prompted by a 2011 complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Disability Rights Wisconsin that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The state cannot, by delegating the education function to private voucher schools, place students beyond the reach of the federal laws that require Wisconsin to eliminate disability discrimination in its administration of public programs," DOJ officials wrote in the letter to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers.

Full Committee To Examine State and Local Accountability Systems
House Education and the Workforce Committee Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 3, 2013 -
On Tuesday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Raising the Bar: Exploring State and Local Efforts to Improve Accountability.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The challenges facing our nation’s elementary and secondary education system are clear: fewer than 40 percent of 4th graders are proficient in reading and math, and only about three-quarters of students graduate from high school. Many students who do graduate from high school lack the knowledge or skills they need to succeed. Instead of working with Congress to change the nation’s K-12 education law (known as No Child Left Behind),  the Obama administration imposed a temporary waiver scheme that merely exchanges a few of the law’s most onerous mandates for new requirements dictated by the Department of Education.
As the committee renews its efforts to rewrite No Child Left Behind, a top priority will be granting states and school districts the flexibility necessary to develop their own accountability plans that provide parents more accurate and meaningful information about school performance.
Tuesday’s hearing will offer members an opportunity to examine the appropriate federal role in accountability and explore innovative state and local efforts to hold schools accountable for student performance. To learn more about this hearing, visit:

A raw deal on virtual schools
Carroll County saw weaknesses in its contract with a virtual school company. Will the state do the same?
Roanoke Times Editorial Friday, May 3, 2013
When Virginia’s first statewide virtual school opened in 2009, it looked to be a good deal for the private operator and its host, Carroll County, but a bad deal for state taxpayers.  Now the Carroll County School Board has concluded it’s getting a raw deal, too, and voted to end its contract with the for-profit K12 Inc.
It’s no surprise that K12 was the only party thriving under the arrangement. The company had a seat at the table when Gov. Bob McDonnell and lawmakers drafted a law allowing virtual schools in the state. It also has given $140,500 in campaign gifts to state politicians since 2007, including $55,000 to McDonnell, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Carroll County leaders have shown they can take care of themselves. Now state officials must step in to make sure Virginia’s students don’t fall through the cracks because of their failure to ensure full accountability for virtual schools.

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.

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 . �� `� 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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