Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 18, 2013: City schools get national attention

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 18, 2013:
City schools get national attention

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

City schools get national attention
John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist Monday, June 17, 2013, 8:47 AM
One of the reasons I suggest in a Monday column that the fiscal puzzle to funding Philly schools isn't as unsolvable as it might seem is played out in Monday's New York Times.
The national newspaper brings national attention to the "doomsday budget" approved by the School Reform Commission that lays off thousands of employees, shuts down programs and athletics and threatens to leave the district a virtual hull of education come September.
I believe the more attention the issue gets from the media the more likely the issue gets attention from the governor and the Legislature.

Schools' friend in Harrisburg
Philly.com Opinion By William E. Harner POSTED: Monday, June 17, 2013, 3:01 AM
William E. Harner is Pennsylvania's acting secretary of education.
Gov. Corbett and his administration are attuned to the Philadelphia School District's $304 million budget shortfall. Finding a long-term solution that is student-centered and fiscally responsible is paramount.
I and other members of the Corbett administration recently met with Mayor Nutter, Superintendent William Hite, and other school and community leaders to discuss the district's fiscal challenges. I subsequently traveled to Philadelphia to learn more firsthand.
This kind of fiscal crisis has occurred several times before in the School District. Unfortunately, though, there has never been a long-term solution. To their credit, the city, the School Reform Commission, and the superintendent have such a solution this time around.

Lawmakers, Corbett continue work on budget and related issues
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  on June 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Legislative leaders are meeting with Gov. Tom Corbett this morning to get an update on where things stand following a weekend of work on attempting to resolve differences on various issues that have become attached to the 2013-14 budget.  According to House and Senate leadership sources, discussions continue on all four fronts: the budget, liquor reform, transportation funding, and pension reform.

State revenue picture grows brighter, according to Independent  Fiscal Office forecast
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com   on June 17, 2013 at 5:25 PM
The state’s Independent Fiscal Office released its official revenue projection for 2013-14, predicting the state’s tax collections will grow by 1.2 percent over this year.
That projects the state’s general fund revenues will bring in more than $29 billion, barring any changes in law. That is $147 million higher than the office’s preliminary revenue growth estimateof $28.9 billion issued last month because revenues came in higher than anticipated.
It estimates the state will end the fiscal year this month having collected $28.7 billion from general fund revenue sources. That amounts to an anticipated $144 million revenue surplus. 

City schools, state money: annual tug of war
A FEW FACTORS - present and emerging - should help Philly's ever-embattled public schools, and by that I mean help wring more money from a tight-fisted Legislature.
And, yeah, I know it's an annual game: cries of crises, days of doubt.
But this time, there are differences.  For one, Philly isn't the only district in distress.
York teachers face 40 percent pay cuts over the next four years. Allentown just canned 100 teachers. Other districts are eliminating kindergarten and school nurses, cutting programs and closing buildings.  So there's pressure for targeted school aid, no matter who caused the need.
Also, high-ranking Corbett-administration officials privately say that for the first time in a long time, numbers detailing Philly's needs are actually believable.
As such, the administration is serious about finding funding solutions.

Williams continues pushing Pa. for more Philly school funds
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson @marywilson June 17, 2013
One Democratic state lawmaker is warning that poor schools are being overlooked as the Pennsylvania Legislature gets down to the final two weeks of budget negotiations.
Sen. Anthony Williams points to the Philadelphia School District, which is laying off nearly 3,800 workers, and says other financially distressed districts will join it soon if the state doesn't send more money.  Lawmakers are too busy trying to find consensus on policy issues orbiting around the budget, he said.  "Pensions, transportation, liquor, they're being resolved as we speak. Education has not been resolved," he said Monday. "And it can actually affect whether we get a budget or not."

Deathly ill public ed needs state meds
Philly.com Opinion by REP. DWIGHT EVANS Monday, June 17, 2013, 3:01 AM
Dwight Evans represents the 203rd legislative district in Philadelphia.
I'M CALLING IT the Harrisburg Syndrome: the chronic and costly practice of refusing to invest responsibly in education.  Symptoms far exceed the number of schools closed - roughly two dozen or so in Philadelphia alone - and probably approach the 20,000 school employees furloughed statewide since Gov. Corbett cut almost $900 million from public education two years ago.  A physician would look at the condition of public education in Pennsylvania and call for broad-spectrum antibiotics in the form of money. Not just your garden-variety antibiotic, but consistent, broad-based funding - similar to what's advancing in California - to provide for the "thorough and efficient" education system called for in our state constitution.
There, I said it - taxes. Taxes dedicated to public education and not subject to political whims.

Bethlehem Area School Board increases tax hike in final budget vote
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on June 17, 2013 at 9:01 PM
The Bethlehem Area School Board tonight opted to increase taxes 2.7 percent next year to expand full-day kindergarten and restore seventh-grade team teaching.  The amended $225.27 million 2013-14 spending plan passed in a 5-4 vote despite warnings from Superintendent Joseph Roy that he wasn't comfortable with adding 11 new employees.
While the tax hike this year covers the salary and benefits of those workers, those costs rise about $50,000 each year, creating a structural deficit as expenses outpace revenue increases, Roy said.

Hunger strike against school closures begins in Philadelphia
Ned Resnikoff@resnikoff 11:11 AM on 06/17/2013
The fight over public education in Philadelphia escalated Monday, when two local parents and two school district employees initiated a hunger strike to protest the closure of 23 schools and firing of 3,783 education professionals.
The four hunger strikers camped out on the steps in front of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Philadelphia office, where they say they will remain without food until the city and state governments do something to reduce layoffs and improve student safety.

Corbett Submits Letter to Pennsylvanians Supporting Pension Reform
June 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM by Gant Team · Leave a Comment  
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has sent an open letter to Pennsylvanians in support of pension reform.  The letter was submitted to newspapers statewide.
It reads: To the People of Pennsylvania:

Support cyber schools, or Internet learners will be made second-class students
WHYY Newsworks Opinion By Pat Parris June 17, 2013
The following is in response to a letter from Rhonda Brownstein, titled "The true costs of unchecked charter growth," published May 29.
Virtual schools are schools of the future. They provide the ultimate level playing field for students living in poverty or affluence. The phenomenal growth of Internet learning is happening across the education spectrum. This has been played out in the growth of massive open online courses.
In 2012, one Internet platform provider had 300,000 students. Also, 6.7 million or a third of all college students now learn online, according to the Babson Survey Research Group. The 200,000 students already enrolled in K-12 virtual schools are only about 3 percent of this number. At this rate of growth, virtual learning has surpassed the number of K-12 students in public schools in the United States. In light of these developments, perhaps, there are too few initiatives in Internet learning. 
I work at an independent cyber charter school in Pennsylvania. We live in a changing world that is requiring our students to change with it. Cyber schools are schools of choice. Parents who have a negative experience at a cyber school can choose another form of education.

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

Pittsburgh schools to clarify codes of conduct
New policies due before city board
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 17, 2013 12:11 am
Refusing to remove a baseball cap in school or being in the hallway after the late bell rings are not offenses one might expect would land a student in the court system.
But under the current definition of "disorderly conduct" in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Code of Student Conduct, that's what has happened, said Nancy Potter, a staff attorney at the Education Law Center.

Program at Kensington CAPA guides seniors toward college
IT WAS ONE of those busy days at Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), the kind of day where you can't even get to a computer, senior Angel Hardy said.
Upon finally checking her email, the 18-year-old from Germantown received some highly anticipated news and actually screamed. A counselor rushed back into the room to investigate the yelp, saw the email, hugged Hardy and ran to the principal's office. Before Hardy could utter a word of the news to anyone, she heard it broadcast over the school's loudspeaker.
Hardy had earned a $25,000 college scholarship.
"I was excited and at the same time it was like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders," she said.
Hardy, who will attend Bloomsburg University, about two hours northwest of Philadelphia, credits her success in part to Kensington CAPA's College Access Program, which helps students achieve a college education through counseling, college-related events and help filing forms, plus support and encouragement.
She and nine others who also will attend Bloomsburg after spending their senior year in the program agree that without it, most of them wouldn't have gone to college.

PA School District Statistical Snapshot Database 2011-12
Scranton TIMES Tribune DATACENTER Published: June 16, 2013
View a statistical snapshots of any PA School District.
Data used in the Grading Our Schools analysis is from the 2011-12 school year, with the exception of graduation rate data which is from the 2009-2010 school year. The state Department of Education is generally one year behind in collecting and releasing data from school districts.

PBS Blog: Common Core Has Fatal Flaw
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 17, 2013 //
On the PBS blog, economist Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute and American University expresses skepticism about the one-size-fits-all academic nature of the Common Core.
Lerman strongly supports youth apprenticeship programs.
Lerman is skeptical of Common Core for two reasons: One is that it lacks any evidence. In other words, as I have written repeatedly, Common Core has never been field-tested and we have no idea how it works in real classrooms, and how it will affect the students who are currently struggling.
The other is the dubious assumption that college and career skills are the same.

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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