Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 8, 2013: "….if you ask teachers and principals what [are] the most important things that can be done, new standards would not even make the top 20.”

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 8, 2013:
"….if you ask teachers and principals what [are] the most important things that can be done, new standards would not even make the top 20.”

Louisiana Supreme Court rules 6-1 that voucher funding violates the state Constitution
By Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune  May 7, 2013
The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the current method of funding the statewideschool voucher program is unconstitutional. Act 2, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's 2012 package of education reforms, diverts money from each student's per-pupil allocation to cover the cost of private or parochial school tuition. The act authorizes both the Louisiana Scholarship Program and the new Course Choice program. 
The vote was 6-1, with Justice Greg Guidry dissenting. The plaintiffs in the case include the Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana School Boards Association.

“We are pleased that the Louisiana Supreme Court has reaffirmed a basic tenet of the state Constitution: that taxpayer money should go to public schools that are open to all students,” said LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard. “We hope all state residents can understand the dangerous precedent that a voucher program has set and how such a program undermines our local community schools.”
Louisiana Supreme Court strikes down voucher law, NSBA praises ruling
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min May 7, 2013
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) applauds the ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court that finds the state’s school vouchers unconstitutional.
The Louisiana voucher law has diverted taxpayers’ money from public schools to private individuals and schools that are not subject to academic, operational, and accountability standards.  “NSBA stands for strong public school system for all students. Vouchers undermine that fundamental principle and, as the court concluded, violate constitutional principles, too,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler.

Louisiana Supreme Court rules school voucher funding unconstitutional
Washington Post  Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on May 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm
The Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled 6 to 1 on Tuesday that the way the state funds its school voucher program is unconstitutional and that public money now being used to pay private and religious school tuition should instead be going to public schools.

Corbett Supports Landmark Legislation for Pension Reform
PA Department of Education Press Release May 7, 2013
Harrisburg –Governor Tom Corbett today joined Senator Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) and Representative Chris Ross (R-Chester) as they introduced a comprehensive pension reform plan that stems skyrocketing pension costs and provides significant taxpayer and budgetary relief for Pennsylvanians, now and well into the future.
The legislation mirrors the governor’s proposal introduced during his February budget address.
“I commend Senator Brubaker and Representative Ross for their leadership in supporting Pennsylvania taxpayers through pension reform and I strongly encourage the legislature to follow suit,” Corbett said. “New calculations show that our unfunded liability has risen to a staggering $47 billion; we can no longer ignore our debt to Pennsylvania. We must take action now.”

“Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said the Senate may limit its focus to new hires because of questions about the legality of Corbett's far-reaching proposal on current employees.  Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Twp., who headed a House Republican task force looking at the pension issue, is convinced a better solution is out there.”
Corbett's pension reform plan now in the mix but it has key detractors
By Jan Murphy |  on May 07, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett and two Republican lawmakers paint a picture of dire consequences that lie ahead if the pension overhaul they are proposing doesn’t become law.
Teachers will face layoffs. Class sizes increases. School property taxes increasing by double digits every year. State government services being curtailed.
If the bill for the state and school employees’ pension systems’ $45 billion unfunded liability were called due, Corbett said it would require a payment of nearly $9,500 per Pennsylvania household.
“Ready to write your check?” he said.

Corbett: Pension liability now $9k per Pa. household - and rising
One legislator predicts double-digit increases a school district level
Eric Boehm, PA Independent POSTED: Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 4:53 PM
HARRISBURG — There is little disagreement that Pennsylvania’s $47 billion-and-growing public pension debt represents a serious threat to the financial future of the state, its school districts and taxpayers.  But there is little in the way of agreement when it comes to how that debt can, or should, be addressed.

PSBA Region 15 Members (Delaware and Chester Counties)
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.
Penns Grant Region 15 -- Thursday, May 30 ; 5 p.m. Region 15 meeting; 6 p.m. dinner; 7 p.m. Legislative meeting; Garnet Valley HS, 552 Smithbridge Rd., Glen Mills, 19342; registration is required

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

New F&M Poll: Corbett's job approval still stuck in the mud
Scranton Times-Tribune BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK (STAFF WRITER) Published: May 8, 2013
Despite months of higher visibility aimed at boosting his image, Gov. Tom Corbett remains stuck with low approval ratings, a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released Tuesday found.
That could endanger his re-election chances if he doesn't rebound, said the poll's director G. Terry Madonna, Ph.D.
Only one in four (25 percent) of Pennsylvania registered voters rated Mr. Corbett's job performance as excellent or good. The same number believe he deserves re-election; only about three in 10 (29 percent) view him favorably.
Dr. Madonna said Mr. Corbett has been unable to shake the fallout from the ongoing economic slump, his cuts to education and social services programs, his handling of the Penn State sex abuse case as state attorney general and his pursuit of an agenda - privatization of state liquor stores and the lottery - that is not a priority with voters.

Breaking: Castor Rules Out 2014 Run
PoliticsPA Written by Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor May 7, 2013
Tom Corbett won’t have to watch his right flank next year. Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor Tuesday said he would not challenge the Governor in a GOP primary.

Pa. House passes proposal to lower business taxes
MARK SCOLFORO , The Associated Press Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 8:46 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A proposal to eventually cut business taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars a year easily passed the Pennsylvania House on Monday amid heated debate over how much it would help the state's economy, if at all.
The Republican-sponsored proposal would cut the corporate net income tax rate from 10 percent to 7 percent over 10 years beginning in 2015. If passed by itself and enacted this year, it would cost state coffers an estimated $600 million to $800 million a year.
Supporters said the bill's set of changes would make Pennsylvania's business climate more favorable and produce more jobs.  "We finally have the opportunity to put Pennsylvania back into the competition," said Rep. Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County, who joined all fellow Republicans and 21 Democrats to pass the measure.
Democratic opponents, however, described it as a massive giveaway to big corporations, and linked it to Republican policies they blame for the state's anemic employment situation.

Third and State Blog Posted by Sharon Ward on May 7, 2013 10:37 am
The Pennsylvania House voted 129-65 Monday to approve legislation enacting hundreds of millions in new corporate tax cuts in the years ahead. This chart (see link below) shows how much this bill will cost over time, coming at the expense of investments that matter to our economy and communities, including schools, safe streets, and infrastructure.
Below is a statement I issued late yesterday afternoon:
We are disappointed that the House missed an opportunity to close corporate tax loopholes and level the playing field for all Pennsylvania businesses. Pennsylvania residents and businesses are no closer to having a fair tax system than they were when they woke up this morning.
This bill will enact tax cuts that the commonwealth cannot afford, giving away $7 for every $1 it brings in to state coffers and continuing the shift of responsibilities and costs to local governments. The irony is that this bill will increase property taxes for seniors and working families, and for the very businesses that proponents are trying to help.

WATCHBLOG: House to tee up budget proposal next week
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent May 6, 2013
HARRISBURG – After a “positive” meeting between Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday, the state House is ready to take the next step in the budget process early next week.  House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said Monday evening that the House was getting ready to introduce their version of a state budget, and could do so as early as next Monday.

Senator Hughes: Report Backs Benefits of Medicaid Expansion Making Dollars Available for Schools
HarrisburgApril 23, 2013 – A new report by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) says that more than $620 million in budget savings will be available to Pennsylvania if Medicaid is expanded — a portion of which can be used to better fund schools including the Philadelphia School District, according to Senate Democrats.
“The dollars identified by the IFO can be used for a variety of purposes including the investment in public schools, such as the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District,” state Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee said today at a news conference in Philadelphia’s City Hall.

“There is good news at the core of all of this. Since 2002, Philadelphia has increased its four-year graduation rate by 20 percentage points, and decreased the number of persistently dangerous schools from 28 to 6. These changes are the product of improved practices in district schools and good results at a number of charter schools.”
Ramos: Build on Philly district's improvements Opinion By Pedro A. Ramos May 7, 2013, 3:01 AM
Pedro A. Ramos is chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.
With a $304 million budget gap, the School District of Philadelphia faces a financial crisis. Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission have requested a combination of new revenues and savings. But these requests are about more than closing a deficit. They are about giving every child in Philadelphia the chance to be ready for college or work. We want to build on promising and difficult steps already taken, so that new funding truly becomes an investment to make every school a great place for learning.

On public-school budgets and Gandhi
WHYY Newsworks By Tony Auth @bytonyauth May 7, 2013
Unless an unforeseen infusion of money materializes for Philadelphia's public schools, they won't resemble schools at all come September.  No books. No paper. No counselors. No library services. No sports. No clubs. No music. No art. These cuts are fatal.
It's not just Philadelphia. Urban school districts across the nation are struggling with the same issues.  I'm reminded of something Gandhi said: "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."  Is there any question how we'll be judged?

New Ed Law Center Report: School Nurse Shortage Jeopardizes Student Health and Safety
Education Law Center Press Release May 7, 2013
The health and safety of Philadelphia's public school students is in jeopardy following the elimination of more than 100 school nurse positions, according to a new report from the Education Law Center conducted with assistance from the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Currently, 195 nurses are serving approximately 200,000 public school students. That's one nurse per 1,025 students. National research recommends one nurse per 750 healthy students, according to the ELC report.

PA Is Losing Ground On Pre-K
PA Partnerships for Children Blog  May 7, 2013 4:13 PM | Posted By : PPC
We know that quality early childhood education is an effective investment in our future, benefiting our children, our families and our economy. Yet across the country – including here in Pennsylvania - "the state of preschool was a state of emergency" last year, says Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
Last week, NIEER issued The State of Preschool 2012 report that found Pennsylvania is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to supporting early childhood education programs. Consider these troubling trends:

Easton school security upgrades to cost $1.4 million
District hoped the work would run $500,000, but new estimates top $1.4 million.
By JD Malone, Of The Morning Call 11:01 p.m. EDT, May 7, 2013
Nothing is as simple as it seems.
Security upgrades for the Easton Area School District will take longer and cost more than estimated — maybe three times as much.
The school board Tuesday night reviewed proposals from D'Huy Engineering for new doors, waiting rooms and key card-access to be added at seven schools. The price was a little more than $1.4 million. In March, district officials hoped to upgrade security for $500,000.

Plum school directors mull teacher cuts to eliminate deficit
TribLive/Plum Advance Leader By Karen Zapf May 7, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
Plum School Board's education committee on Tuesday recommended cutting 21 teaching positions to eliminate a projected deficit of nearly $1 million in the 2013-14 budget.
The committee recommended cutting 14 positions at the high school, six at the junior high and one in the elementary school. The cuts would eliminate the following programs: ROTC, television production, family consumer science and business education at the high school; and computer instruction and French and Spanish at the junior high. Technology education at both schools would be eliminated.
Charter school option not completely off the table in York
WITF Written by Marie Cusick | May 6, 2013 3:56 AM
(York) -- The man charged with overseeing the struggling York City School District has proposed a plan to allow the district to reform from within.  David Meckley, the state-appointed chief recovery officer for York’s schools, wants the district to reorganize itself, instead of switching the district to an all-charter model.

Big $
Yinzercation Blog May 7, 2013
The way some of them throw around the green stuff, you’d think corporate-style education reformers were made of money. Oh wait. Some of them are. As Big Money plays a bigger and bigger role in shaping public education, it can be hard to keep all the players straight – from wealthy individuals, to foundations, superPACs, astroturf groups and corporations. Here’s a handy reference guide.

Wall Street ♥ charter schools
Muckety By Laurie Bennett May 5, 2013 at 9:37am
Call them cynical, but the widespread involvement of financial firms in the charter school movement raises suspicion among many public school advocates.

"….if you ask teachers and principals what [are] the most important things that can be done, new standards would not even make the top 20.”
Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.
Education Week By Michele McNeil Published Online: May 7, 2013
In statehouses and cities across the country, battles are raging over the direction of education policy—from the standards that will shape what students learn to how test results will be used to judge a teacher's performance.  Students and teachers, in passive resistance, are refusing to take and give standardized tests. Protesters have marched to the White House over what they see as the privatization of the nation's schools. Professional and citizen lobbyists are packing hearings in state capitols to argue that the federal government is trying to dictate curricula through the use of common standards.
New advocacy groups, meanwhile, are taking their fight city to city by pouring record sums of money into school board races.  Not since the battles over school desegregation has the debate about public education been so intense and polarized, observers say, for rarely before has an institution that historically is slow to change been forced to deal with so much change at once.

PISA scores and Poverty
An Educator’s Re-education Blog by Christine McCartney Posted on May 6, 2013
Christine McCartney, a Fulbright Scholar in Finland did a great job summarizing PISA scores and poverty for all of you visual learners…..

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.

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

1 comment:

  1. I like to study very much. I have learnt lot of things with the help of education. And would also like to learn more.
    --Francois Sainfort


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