Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 20, 2013: Corbett signals he'll try to help Philly schools; PennCAN school "reformers" want Corbett to use Philly crisis for political gain

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 20, 2013:
Corbett signals he'll try to help Philly schools; PennCAN school "reformers" want Corbett to use Philly crisis for political gain

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

Corbett eyes $108 million debt for Philly school funding
GOV. CORBETT'S administration is attempting to get new funding for Philly schools by convincing the federal government to let the state off the hook for a $108 million debt, according to city, state and federal sources.
All parties involved cautioned that the plan is far from a sure thing, as the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which is owed the money, has not indicated whether it will go along. An HHS spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Corbett signals he'll try to help Philly schools
Associated Press, By MARC LEVY and KATHY MATHESON
Updated 2:15 pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday signaled that he is engaged in efforts to help the financially troubled Philadelphia School District, which is in the midst of shedding 20 percent of its workforce, but he made no promise that he would fight for more money for the district.  Corbett, a Republican who has championed public school alternatives and private school vouchers while being heavily critical of school boards and teachers' unions, stressed that any help must yield long-term solutions "with an expectation that we will not be back at the drawing board again next year with another fiscal crisis."

State leaders raise hopes of Phila. school rescue
LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 10:49 PM
HARRISBURG - With the clock ticking down to a doomsday budget for Philadelphia schools, state leaders signaled Wednesday that they might ride to the rescue.  Gov. Corbett said he is determined to help solve the district's financial crisis, even as a top Senate Republican outlined a concerted, behind-the-scenes push in the Capitol to assemble a bailout package.

Leach: 'Public schools are the glue that holds a neighborhood together' Opinion SEN. DAYLIN LEACH POSTED: Thu Jun 20 00:01:00 PDT 2013
AS NEGOTIATIONS, legislation and rumors fly fast and furious around Harrisburg (as they do every year at budget time), there is one particular proposal that emerged recently and is particularly troubling. We have been hearing about the possibility of turning every last one of Philadelphia's public schools into charter schools. This would be bad for children, bad for teachers and, in a fundamental way, bad for society.

Sims: Real Solutions to Our Education Funding Crisis
Huffington Post by Brian Sims Posted: 06/18/2013 5:52 pm
Pennsylvania State Representative in Philadelphia's 182nd District
If you've been paying attention to the national news lately, you've certainly caught wind of the catastrophic budget problems that the Philadelphia public school system is currently facing. This isn't only happening in Pennsylvania, but other areas across the country that view budget cuts as an option to "fix" public schools. Perhaps even more ironic, in a week when even some Republican members of Congress have come out in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, Pennsylvania's Republicans, led by entrenched Governor Tom Corbett, have created a budget that should be entitled the Unsafe Schools Creation Act by maintaining nearly $1 billion in drastic cuts to education funding.

Plan to move to a defined contribution pension plan for public employees draws mixed reviews
By Jan Murphy |  on June 19, 2013 at 5:50 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett sees theSenate Finance Committee's approval today of a defined contribution pension plan for most future school and state employees as positive step.
 “The introduction of a defined contribution plan for future employees protects the future of our pension systems by shifting investment risk away from taxpayers, while also providing a best-in-class plan for future employees," Corbett said in a statement reacting to the committee's vote.

Pennsylvania pension overhaul advances
Under a measure narrowly OK'd by a Senate committee, new state and school employees would get a 401(k)
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 20, 2013 12:09 am
HARRISBURG -- Months after Gov. Tom Corbett called for pension reform, his proposals got a first legislative vote Wednesday when a Senate panel removed changes for current workers before narrowly approving a defined contribution plan for new hires.  Sen. Mike Brubaker, chairman of the Finance Committee, had introduced legislation mirroring Mr. Corbett's proposal to divert new state and public school employees from the traditional pension systems while changing how current workers accrue benefits during future years of service. But Mr. Brubaker, R-Lancaster, said he concluded the proposal lacked enough support to clear his panel.

Pa.’s Marcellus Impact Fee Comes Up Short
PA Budget and Policy Center June 18, 2013
Fee revenue fails to keep up with rising value of gas production
As the economic value of natural gas production increases in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, the local impact fee created by Act 13 of 2012 is failing to keep pace. While the total value of the gas produced in Pennsylvania has increased substantially between late 2010 and late 2012, fee revenues remained flat. On June 13, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reported that drilling impact fee revenue for wells drilled in 2012 was $202 million, essentially unchanged from the prior year.
Over the next decade, the value of natural gas produced in Pennsylvania will grow much more quickly than impact fee revenue. This is largely because of the unusual structure of Pennsylvania’s impact fee, which is based on the price of natural gas and the year in which a well is drilled. This means the fee revenue varies based on the number of wells drilled each year and the price of natural gas, rather than the value of gas production.[1] Over time, total production and the value of gas produced will increase, but the effective rate[2] of the impact fee will decline. 

Cyber studies lead Latrobe grad to West Point
TribLive By Stacey Federoff   Thursday, June 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The intense physical fitness test for the U.S. Military Academy was the least of 17-year-old David Henderson Jr.'s worries when he considered applying.  He will graduate as valedictorian Thursday from Agora Cyber Charter School with many accolades, including leading the Greater Latrobe Senior High School swim team as captain.
Henderson of Latrobe will be among the first of his peers to have completed his entire education in cyber charter schools when he joins the West Point corps of cadets July 1.  Mike Brantley, a spokesman for West Point, said, “It is rare that we would admit someone from a cyber school,” but he could not provide enrollment statistics.
In Philly schools fight it helps to know your numbers
IN THE FIGHT OVER money for Philly schools, it's easy to get lost in numbers that aren't always what they appear to be.  Take something as simple as the number of students.
The school district says it's 149,535. The state Department of Education says it's 201,694.
Can't Harrisburg and Philly agree on anything? Not even how to count kids?

Corbett speaks out on schools; leaked poll suggests that he take on teachers' union
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 19 2013 Posted in Latest news
For the first time, Gov. Corbett has issued a formal statement on Philadelphia's school-funding crisis, saying he is "committed to finding a solution ... that is focused on students and is fiscally responsible for taxpayers."  His statement came minutes after Daniel Denvir of City Paper published a leaked poll, conducted by a prominent national Republican polling group, Public Opinion Strategies. The poll of Pennsylvania voters concludes that Corbett can increase his popularity -- and chances for re-election -- by taking on the Philadelphia teachers' union, especially on the issue of teacher seniority. 
PennCAN, a chapter of a national education reform organization that emphasizes school choice and "better measures of teacher effectiveness," paid for the poll, said its executive director, Jon Cetel.

School "reformers" want Corbett to use Philly crisis for political gain
Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 8:50 PM
You have to wonder if the corporate school reformers are overplaying their hard. Daniel Denvir is reporting tonight in the City Paper that a major "education reform" group called PennCAN hired a leading GOP pollster and commissioned a secret report urging Gov. Corbett to attack the Philadelphia teachers' union  and use the current schools crisis to whip up political support going into the 2014 election.
The report commissioned by PennCAN urges Corbett to use the school situation -- which has already caused considerably anguish for 3,900 workers who've been handed pink slips and for parents and kids watching their schools close for good this week -- as a "wedge" issue to rally his voters.

Secret Corbett poll proposing teachers union attack funded by PennCAN
A secret report, based on a poll of Pennsylvanians, proposing that Gov. Tom Corbett mount a high-profile attack on the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers was funded by the self-described school reform group PennCAN, according to pollsters at Public Opinion Strategies.
The secret poll, which suggested that Corbett exploit the Philadelphia schools crisis to attack the teachers union in an effort to boost his faltering reelection prospects, was first reported by City Paper Wednesday afternoon.  Notably, PennCAN supports school vouchers, which use taxpayer dollars to pay for private school tuition.
PennCAN, which has not yet responded to requests for comment, is part of an expanding universe of corporate-inspired "school reform" groups in Pennsylvania. PennCAN, like many such groups, has deep-pocketed donors.

SRC delays Renaissance conversions, renews charters for five schools
by thenotebook by Connie Langland on Jun 20 2013 Posted in Latest news
Strong-armed into agreeing to enrollment caps, five charter schools won five-year operating renewals in votes Wednesday night by the School Reform Commission, but five others still have not come to terms with District officials determined to contain costs in the midst of its fiscal crisis.
And funding uncertainties also spurred a decision by Superintendent William Hite to delay the conversion of three low-performing elementary schools—Alcorn, Kenderton and Pastorius—into the Renaissance charters under the District’s school turnaround initiative.  The SRC had been scheduled to approve assignment of Alcorn to Universal Companies, Kenderton to Scholar Academies and Pastorius to Mastery Charter Schools.

EITC: State Judge Strikes Down N.H. Tax Credit for Private Tuition Aid
Education Week By Mark Walsh on June 18, 2013 6:35 PM
A New Hampshire judge has struck down the state's year-old program of tax credits for businesses that contribute money to organizations offering tuition scholarships at private schools.
Presiding Justice John M. Lewis of Stratford County Superior Court held that the program violates the state constitution because it diverts state tax payments to religious schools.
"New Hampshire students, and their parents, certainly have the right to choose a religious education," the judge said in his June 17 ruling in Duncan v. New Hampshire. "However, the government is under no obligation to fund 'religious' education. Indeed, the government is expressly forbidden from doing so by the very language of the New Hampshire Constitution."

The Philadelphia school funding crisis
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane June 19, 2013
Guests:  Tom Ferrick and Kate Shaw; audio runtime: 52:00
"A building with teachers and principals, but no other supports? That's not a picture of a school to me." That's how Philadelphia school superintendent William Hite described the dire funding situation facing the City’s schools this September. With a $304 million budget shortfall, there may be no assistant principals, 646 fewer classroom teachers, support staff, and almost no school nurses or counselors. Also on the chopping block are athletic programs, new textbooks, arts and music programs and librarians. The District is calling on the city, the state and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to share the burden but so far little progress has been made. And while the crisis is extreme in Philadelphia, school districts around the state are also facing similar funding challenges. In this hour of Radio Times we'll talk about the consequences for Philadelphia’s school children, educators and the city-at-large, what it will take to remedy the crisis and who is responsible for fixing it. Our guests are long-time reporter and Axis Philly contributor TOM FERRICK and education policy researcher KATE SHAW from Research for Action.

House Committee Passes Partisan NCLB Renewal Bill
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 19, 2013 3:33 PM
Another markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education, another totally predictable partisan vote.  Last week, the Senate education committee passed an ESEA bill with just Democratic support. This time, it was the House Education panel's turn to consider a bill to revise the No Child Left Behind Act.
Everyone agrees the law is in desperate need of a makeover, but partisan divisions continue to get in the way. And today's debate on the bill, which was written by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the committee, was no exception.

NSBA: Dems Support Federal Control of Education
Diane ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 19, 2013 //
On a party-line vote, Democrats on the Senate committee reported out a bill that expands the role of the federal government in education and makes the Secretary of Education the national superintendent of schools. The National School Boards Association describes the legislation here, which NSBA opposes.

Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm.  Details to come.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

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

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

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

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