Monday, May 6, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 6, 2013: ..the only PA cyber that made AYP for 6 of the past 7 years is the only one that was founded by, and is governed by professional educators

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 6, 2013:
..the only PA cyber that made AYP for 6 of the past 7 years is the only one that was founded by, and is governed by professional educators

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.

Are you familiar with Community Schools?  This Sunday special edition provides a good introduction……
PA Ed Policy Roundup Cinco de Mayo Special Edition: Community Schools: real reform without vouchers, charters, tax credits or closing neighborhood schools
Keystone State Education Coalition Sunday, May 5, 2013

Here’s our weekend postings from Saturday…….
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
Keystone State Education Coalition Saturday, May 4, 2013

As Ms. Rile notes below, the 21st Century Cyber Charter School is the only PA cyber that made AYP for 6 of the past 7 years.  Coincidentally, it is the only one that was founded by and is governed by professional educators – superintendents from school districts in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties.
21ST Century reportedly has a $3 million fund balance of excess tuition that it would like to refund to sending school districts but is unable to because of restrictions in Pennsylvania’s charter school law.
Virtual shout-out for cyber schools
They're not for everyone. But they can be excellent for the right students. Opinion by Karen Rile POSTED: Sunday, May 5, 2013, 3:01 AM
Karen Rile teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania
I get shocked faces whenever I reveal that two of my daughters graduated from a Pennsylvania cyber charter school. Maybe I seem as if I should be a better parent than to let my kids morph into lazy, pajama-clad, screen-addicted slobs sliding downhill toward a life of failure at taxpayer expense.  That's the problem with stereotypes - peek a little closer and they dissolve. To be honest, the prospect of Internet-based education was not intuitive to me at first, either. And if fate had given me different kids, or no kids, or enough cash to send my kids to private school when the going got tough, I'd probably be part of the shrill chorus decrying the use of public funds for cyber school.

In defense of the Common Core
Pennsylvania high schools must graduate students who are prepared for the world
Post-Gazette Opinion by Joan Benso and David Patti May 5, 2013 12:21 am
Joan Benso is president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children ( David Patti is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council (
Almost a decade ago, governors from across the country got together to have a long-overdue discussion about why so many students were graduating from high school ill-prepared for college. The business community was sounding the alarm about good-paying jobs going unfilled because high school graduates lacked basic math and reading skills, as well as good work habits.

Common Core academic standards igniting controversy
Fourth grade for many years didn't look the same in a Phillipsburg classroom as it did in a Bethlehemclassroom.  Students could move either way across the Delaware River and find themselves covering old ground or behind.  That's changing with the implementation of theCommon Core State Standards Initiative that lay out what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level. 

Philly pols' empty rhetoric leaves city's kids behind
WHYY Newsworks Editorial By Chris Satullo May 5, 2013
If they ever make hypocrisy an Olympic sport, I think Philadelphia City Council has a real shot at the gold.  It's budget hearing time in Council chambers. So last week William Hite, the new city School Superintendent, showed up with other school leaders for their annual verbal pistol-whipping. This year the projected schools shortfall runs to a cool $304 million. The school system has asked the city to kick in an extra $60 million to help close it.
This little public chat had a special edge this year. All spring, Council members have been styling and profiling on Twitter, wailing about the district's decision to close 23 schools.   "What will become of my old alma mater?" they lament.
And they demand to know who allowed this sorry state of affairs to develop. Apparently, Council offices, while lavishly endowed with staff and slush funds, do not come equipped with mirrors.

'Speciality' courses may be cut to focus on basics in high-achieving Lower Merion schools
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry, @bykevinmccorry May 6, 2013
It's well known that when school districts come up against budget shortfalls, some of the first things to go are specialty classes including art, music, and gym.  But a proposal by the Lower Merion school district would reduce time for these specialty classes despite being very financially secure.

Military charter high school plan in the works for Bethlehem
A military charter high school could open in Bethlehem as early as fall 2014.
Organizers plan to apply to the Bethlehem Area School District for a charter for the Advanced Military Aerospace Science Academy.  It would be the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps-based charter school in the state and only the fourth of its kind in the United States, organizers said.  Charter schools are tuition-free public schools funded by taxpayer dollars. They are meant to be a unique alternative to what school districts offer.

This NYT article fails to mention that this project is specifically for Teach for America recruits, not for “new teachers”
With an Old Factory, Philadelphia Is Hoping to Draw New Teachers
New York Times By JON HURDLE Published: May 4, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — A Victorian-era dye factory is taking on a new role to help this city’s troubled public school system attract and retain teachers.  Two redbrick buildings in the up-and-coming but still gritty South Kensington section of Philadelphia are being converted into apartments and offices intended to house teachers and nonprofit educational organizations in what the developers hope will become a cohesive community.

New Housing for TFA, Subsidized by Your Tax Dollars
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav May 5, 2013 //
The New York Times reports today about construction of new apartments in Philadelphia, meant specifically for teachers. The development is made possible by state and federal tax credits.
But not for any teacher. Not for the teachers who live in the community. Not for veteran teachers who have put their hearts into the community schools for 10-20 years. They already have a place to live.  No, these are below-market apartments built for Teach for America recruits, those great kids with five weeks of training who plan to leave after two years.  The project will set aside office space for TFA along with a gym and coffee shop. That way, the kids may not burn out so fast.
There is a similar project for TFA in Baltimore and Newark.

A smaller Pa. Senate GOP may be stronger, too
York Daily Record By MARC LEVY Associated Press 05/04/2013 12:11:51 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa.—A crush of high-profile issues that Republicans who control the Pennsylvania Capitol have pledged to tackle this summer will converge almost at once, but the path to accomplishing those goals faces the least certain landscape since Gov. Tom Corbett took office.
That's because the June 30 end of the Legislature's long spring session will be the first test of the Senate Republicans' smallest majority in nearly two decades after losing three open seats to Democrats in the November election.  Still, that smaller majority may give Senate Republicans—who are generally viewed as less aligned with Corbett on the major issues than House Republicans—a stronger hand in driving final compromises.
Now, if just three members of the Senate GOP refuse their support for a bill favored by Corbett or House Republicans, it may become necessary to secure support from Democrats.
And Democrats hope they will benefit as a result.

“Sister John Mary said the issue was a top priority of Harrisburg Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Catholic Education, who died May 2 while attending a meeting of Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops.  The bishop supported scholarship tax credit programs in Pennsylvania, where companies or individuals receive credit for donating to nonprofit groups that provide students with scholarships.”
Catholic News Service: School-choice movement gains slow but steady momentum
By Carol Zimmermann Catholic News Service WASHINGTON LETTER May-3-2013
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- School-choice initiatives -- akin to the quiet students in the back of a classroom -- have kept a relatively low profile in recent years while steadily working their way to the front.The movement was given a big boost in late March when the Indiana Supreme Court upheld one of the country's most comprehensive school-choice programs. The state court backed a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said that because school vouchers primarily benefit families, they could not be viewed as an unconstitutional state support for religion.
Currently, there are 30 school-choice programs in 17 states and the District of Columbia, serving more than 250,000 students. School-choice programs -- primarily vouchers and tax-credit scholarships -- have continued to grow since 1990, when the first school-voucher program started in Milwaukee, followed close behind by similar programs in Ohio and Florida.

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.

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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