Monday, June 17, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 17, 2013: NYT: Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools

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 June 17, 2013:
NYT: Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools

Send an email to Harrisburg on school funding
Education Voters PA

As the budget process continues please consider contacting the legislative leadership listed below regarding the education budget ; here’s part of their job description:

PA Constitution - Public School System Section 14.

“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
PA Legislature Republican Leadership 2013
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman
Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai
House Appropriation Committee Chairman William Adolph
House Speaker Sam Smith
Governor Tom Corbett 
717-787-2500, Fax: 717-772-8284

“You’re not even looking at a school that any of us went to,” said Lori Shorr, the mayor’s chief education officer. “It’s an atrocity, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves if the schools open with these budgets.”
Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools
New York Times By TRIP GABRIEL Published: June 16, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — When a second grader came to the Andrew Jackson School too agitated to eat breakfast on Friday, an aide alerted the school counselor, who engaged him in an art project in her office. When he was still overwrought at 11, a secretary called the boy’s family, and soon a monitor at the front door buzzed in an older brother to take him home.  Under a draconian budget passed by the Philadelphia School District last month, none of these supporting players — aide, counselor, secretary, security monitor — will remain at the school by September, nor will there be money for books, paper, a nurse or the school’s locally celebrated rock band.

Another round of layoffs for city schools
As the Philadelphia School District continues to grapple with a financial crisis, it announced layoffs Friday of 76 employees.  The new cuts, expected to save $32 million, affect 63 staffers at the district's headquarters at 440 N. Broad St. and 13 employees in regional offices, most working in early childhood education.  This round follows last week's announcement of 3,783 layoffs, including noontime aides, assistant principals, counselors, teachers, and secretaries.
Combined, the job losses represent a 19.9 percent decrease in the 19,530-member workforce.

Springboard takes a big leap
WHEN I INTRODUCED you to Alejandro Gac-Artigas in March, the former charter-school first-grade teacher hoped to take his innovative summer-reading program to a bigger stage. Now, he has done so.  Gac-Artigas, 24, of Southwest Center City, founded the nonprofit Springboard Collaborative to close the literacy gap among low-income K-3 pupils in Philadelphia public schools. As a teacher, he noticed that reading levels fell in summer when "his kids" weren't in school.  The Springboard business model combines targeted student instruction with parental training and learning bonuses (books, supplies) given to families in proportion to the reading gains made.

Corbett Signs Education Bill at William Tennent
The legislation formed a commission that will analyze the special education formula used to determine how much funding school districts receive.
Warminster Patch By James Boyle Email the author June 14, 2013
Governor Tom Corbett took the stage at William Tennent High School Friday afternoon for a ceremonial signing of legislation designed to take a hard look at the formulas used to determine special education funding in the state budget.
“This legislation marks another step in our journey toward providing a full and equitable education for our students with intellectual and physical disabilities,’’ Corbett said. 

Corbett Defends Impact Fee Over Severance Tax
NPR StateImpact BY SUSAN PHILLIPS JUNE 14, 2013 | 5:06 PM
While making a stop in Philadelphia to tout the benefits of natural gas development to the Delaware Valley, Governor Tom Corbett defended his insistence on imposing an “impact fee” rather than a “severance tax.” His remarks made at the industry sponsored Keystone Energy Forum came just a day after the Public Utility Commission announced the distribution from 2012 impact fee payments. Corbett has faced criticism about the impact fee, which some say results in much lower revenues than the more common severance tax imposed by other gas producing states.

Students, others laud Achievement Project at Chester High School
By KATHLEEN E. CAREY  Sunday, June 16, 2013
SWARTHMORE — The statistics present a bleak outlook for students at the Chester Upland School District, which one program, celebrated Saturday for its success, has been able to overcome.  According to a Pennsylvania Auditor General’s report of the 2011-2012 school year, 58 percent of the students dropped out with 42 percent graduating and at least 30 professional employees were not certified.  The district, under the state Board of Control, was unable to account for $277 million during a four-year period and the district had seven superintendents, six assistant superintendents and seven business managers since 2005.
Compare that to the 54 students who have completed The Achievement Project program.

How about if instead of charters only taking kids whose parents are involved enough in their kid’s education that they complete the application process, they only took the kids who are not proficient on PSSA's or have been suspended more than 3 times?  The regular public schools would suddenly be pretty successful.
Karen Heller: An Academic Turnaround
Seeking a respite from the relentless drumbeat of dire city school news, I headed to far South Philadelphia, in the shadow of the stadiums.  Thomas was a lousy neighborhood school, an institution of last resort, when Mastery Charter took control for its first turnaround project eight years ago. Today, Thomas is a gem, ranked the state's fourth-best charter high school, with a waiting list of nearly a thousand students.
Reading scores have tripled, and math more than doubled. The school, now grades seven through 12, has 619 students. Members of the class of 2013, all 56 who graduate Thursday, were accepted to postsecondary programs, the majority to four-year colleges.

The National School Boards Action Center advocates for public education in coordination with the National School Boards Association
Are you following NSBAC on twitter?

Teaching Board denies Teach for America group variance, wants individual evaluations
MinnPost  by Beth Hawkins 6/14/13
The Minnesota Board of Teaching meeting was packed for Friday's decision about Teach for America's licensure variance.  Despite the pleas of numerous education advocates, school leaders, a state senator and even a fired-up grandmother, the Minnesota Board of Teaching voted 9-2 Friday to end a licensing arrangement that has made it easier for Twin Cities schools to hire Teach for America (TFA) corps members.
Unsatisfied that the group’s recruits meet its standards despite evidence presented by TFA and its supporters, the board decided it would prefer to screen each individual potential teacher, a process that will take six to eight weeks.

Schooling Ourselves in an Unequal America
New York Times Opinion By REBECCA STRAUSS June 16, 2013, 9:07 pm 45 Comments
Averages can be misleading. The familiar, one-dimensional story told about American education is that it was once the best system in the world but that now it’s headed down the drain, with piles of money thrown down after it.  The truth is that there are two very different education stories in America. The children of the wealthiest 10 percent or so do receive some of the best education in the world, and the quality keeps getting better. For most everyone else, this is not the case. America’s average standing in global education rankings has tumbled not because everyone is falling, but because of the country’s deep, still-widening achievement gap between socioeconomic groups.
And while America does spend plenty on education, it funnels a disproportionate share into educating wealthier students, worsening that gap. The majority of other advanced countries do things differently, at least at the K-12 level, tilting resources in favor of poorer students.

New Florida law: Teachers can’t be evaluated on students they don’t have
By Valerie Strauss, Published: June 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm
In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff category: Florida just passed a law making it illegal to evaluate teachers on standardized test scores of students they never taught. If you are wondering why such a law would be necessary, here’s why:
For two years, many teachers were actually being evaluated by the test scores of students they had never even seen much less taught, under a school reform law that included a requirement that Florida teachers be evaluated on student test scores.

CAPS Forum on Community Schools Saturday June 15, 9 am1:30 pm
Kensington CAPA High School, Front & Berks Streets, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS)
Over the past year, in forums, workshops, listening sessions, and through surveys, thousands of students, parents, community members and school staff voiced their desire for an educational system that provides a well-rounded education parallel to what affluent districts offer, but that also addresses the challenges that come with poverty. We understand that all of our schools must provide:
·          A rigorous academic curriculum
·          Enrichment activities such as sports, art, music, drama
·          Coordinated supports and services that address the social-emotional as well as the academic needs of students and their families.
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) has done our research! After meeting with experts from around the country, we have concluded that the most equitable, effective, financially sound strategy for our city is one that embraces community schools for all children.
Please join us on Saturday, June 15th for the Community Schools Conference (9am-2pm) at Kensington CAPA High School (Front & Berks St.) to learn more from national experts and work with others on a strategy to make this a reality for our city.
Please encourage your networks to attend and feel free to bring a friend! Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at

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.

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

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