Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 7, 2013: Students in Allentown, Philly rally against school budget cuts

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 7, 2013:
Students in Allentown, Philly rally against school budget cuts

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.

More than 100 parents, students hold midday rally protesting Allentown school budget cuts
District says parents should have kept their students in school, not taken them out for rally.
By Daniel Patrick Sheehan, Of The Morning Call 11:15 p.m. EDT, May 6, 2013
Long before they arrived at the Allentown School District administration building Monday, you could hear them coming along Hamilton Street — roughly 175 protesters, among them scores of children and teens who were, at that early afternoon hour, supposed to be in school.
They hooted, hollered, whistled and, above all, chanted, making themselves heard above the supportive blaring of horns from passing cars: "Save our schools! Save our schools!"
And when they converged on the administration building, they turned up the volume, making sure the officials inside know how angry they are over proposed school district budget cuts that threaten staff and programs, including the arts.
Allentown faces a $22.5 million deficit, and Superintendent Russ Mayo has proposed cutting 144 teaching positions and 12 administrators to save about $11 million. The deficit is driven by expiring federal grants and increases in pension costs, salaries and medical expenses, among other factors.

Hundreds of students to rally on North Broad over school cuts
Brian X. McCrone, PHILLY.COM POSTED: Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:41 PM
A couple hundred students from several Philadelphia high schools will protest outside the city school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon in the wake of news that devastating "doomsday" cuts face the district unless $300 million is found, according to one of the student organizers Monday night.  About 200 students, including many planning to march from the High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) in South Philadelphia, will rally at 4:30 p.m. outside the district headquarters on North Broad Street, according to Masterman High School sophomore Anea Moore.
"This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and with the budget cuts next year, we’ll be cutting a lot of teaching jobs and music, arts, and sports programs. So we decided that this week would be the right time," Moore said. "I don’t believe ever once have school district representatives asked students what they want."  The school district declared two weeks ago that it needed to fill a $300 million deficit in the 2013-2014 budget through emergency funding from the city — $60 million — and state — $120 million — along with labor union concessions if it wanted to avoid drastic cuts to staff and programming.

Are charter schools actually better?
Lancaster Online By GIL SMART  Staff Writer May 05, 2013 06:00
In theory, I like the idea of charter schools.
I like that students who don't do well in a traditional classroom setting might have an alternative, like at-home learning on the computer. Likewise, I suspect charter schools have lots of opportunity to innovate. Already, they've pushed some school districts, including a few here in Lancaster County, to develop their own cyber-schools. Would that have happened without "competition?" Maybe, but maybe not so quickly.
But I've also had plenty of reservations about charters, both cyber-charters and the brick-and-mortar kind. Given the relatively lax state oversight, the opportunity for graft would seem to abound. Earlier this year a report by Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. James Roebuck Jr. documented a good bit, including suspiciously high executive pay, huge fees paid to management companies — more on that in a moment — and "charters operating as if they were 'family businesses' with leadership positions being passed down," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Reforms for next Philly school contract
Cynthia Figueroa and Darren Spielman Monday, May 6, 2013, 8:02 AM
Cynthia Figueroa is president and CEO of Congreso de Latinos Unidos. Darren Spielman is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund. Both are members of the Coalition for Effective Teaching, www.effectiveteachingphilly.org.
It's not every day that we can point to a labor negotiation as a great opportunity for children.
We are members of the Coalition for Effective Teaching, a coalition of the city's education, business, and community leaders who want the public to know that, while the discussion about the Philadelphia School District contract likely will focus on money and budget issues, the negotiations also present a unique opportunity to boost the effectiveness of teaching and learning in our schools.
By committing to new union and management practices, including those that reward teachers and principals based on the success of their students rather than only their time on the job - especially for students in the city's most disadvantaged schools - we can make real progress. We are calling on the parties to seize this opportunity to put children, teaching, and learning first.

Auditor: Kensington charter school had longtime money woes
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 3:01 AM
A Philadelphia School District auditor testified Monday about long-standing financial issues at a Kensington charter school during a district hearing to determine whether the school should remain open.  Mayer Krain, a certified public accountant from the district's auditing office, said Community Academy of Philadelphia failed to maintain adequate financial reserves; ended some years with deficits; and had written off the debts of a related nonprofit that owns its building on Erie Avenue.
"When you talk about an overall view . . . I'm really concerned. I'm concerned with the financial management," Krain told hearing officer Rudolph Garcia.  "This is a charter school that's been in business since 1997, so we're talking about a school that's been in business for 15 years. It's not a start-up."

Please consider sharing and discussing the Executive Summary with your elected officials and other education policymakers.
Community Schools: A Handbook for State Policy Leaders
Improving Student Learning/Strengthening Schools, Families and Communities
Coalition for Community Schools
This handbook is designed to help state leaders—Governors and their policy advisers; State legislators and their staffs; State Boards of Education; Chief State School Officers and staff in State Education Agencies; and directors and staff in state agencies that serve children, youth, and families—to form vital connections between schools and communities to improve student learning. It also will be useful to the work of policy leaders in cities, counties, local school districts, and philanthropy.

“Across the country, teacher pay did not increase significantly over the last decade. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average teacher salaries increased less than 1 percent, in inflation-adjusted terms, from 2000-12.  What’s more, average teacher pay — $56,643, according to the Department of Education — is lower than the average pay in many other professions that require college and graduate degrees.”
Teacher Pay Hurt by Recession, Report Says
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: May 6, 2013
During the recession and its aftermath, public schools took a hit as both state coffers and local property taxes shriveled. That showed up in shrinking employment, but also in teacher salaries.
According to a report being released Tuesday, the vast majority of teachers in the nation’s largest school districts took a pay cut or saw their pay frozen at least one year between 2008 and 2012.
The report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates for tougher teacher standards, looked at salary data across 41 of the country’s 50 largest school districts. Average annual teacher pay increases, which included cost-of-living and contractually negotiated raises as well as increases awarded for extra years of experience, dropped from 3.6 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 1.3 percent in the 2011-12 year. (The report did not include increases that teachers may have received for extra degrees or certifications.)

The Neglected Purpose of Education
Huffington Post by Jack Jennings Founder, and former President, Center on Education Policy 05/05/2013 12:12 pm
"To prepare all citizens to become responsible members of a democratic society"
"To develop socialization and citizenship skills in children"
"Preparing students for responsible, productive citizenship and imbuing them with values common to one democratic society"
These similar phrases were developed by diverse groups of citizens in three communities -- Berwyn, Illinois; Chicago; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, respectively -- to describe what they saw as a basic mission of public education.  These conclusions emerged from 72 citizens' forums held in all regions of the country in 1996 through 1998 by the National PTA, Phi Delta Kappa, and the Center on Education Policy. Their purpose was to encourage local residents to discuss the purposes of public education, the effectiveness of their schools, and ways to improve public education

Long-Lost Memo Stirs Allegation Of Cheating In D.C. Schools
NPR by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ May 06, 2013 3:00 PM
Washington, D.C., school officials are under fire once again for not thoroughly investigating an unusual number of erasures on standardized tests that took place in dozens of schools beginning in 2008. Allegations of cheating have cast doubt on the district's impressive gains and sullied the reputation of former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee
For years now, Washington, D.C., school officials have been under pressure to fully investigate allegations of inflated test scores, cheating and possibly a cover up. At the center of it all is Michelle Rhee. She's the fiery former school chancellor who based much of her success on dramatic gains in kids' reading and math scores. Those gains are now suspect. And as NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports, questions about what really happened just won't go away.

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: parentsunitedphila@gmail.com

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 ArtsEducationPA.org.

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 atwww.psba.org/about/psba/2013_psba_bylaws.pdf.

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 PSBA@divsearch.com. Interested parties should email their resume and cover letter to PSBA@divsearch.com. 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:  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6252177431  by May 7, 2013.
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Janet Galaski at 412.394.5753 or janet.galaski@aiu3.net.

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

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