Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 6, 2013: HB618: Why should charter schools have the same number of appointees to a funding panel as school districts?

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 6, 2013:
HB618: Why should charter schools have the same number of appointees to a funding panel as school districts?



Education Voters PA Statewide Call to Action for Public Education
Pennsylvania’s 1.76 million public school kids don’t care whether Rendell backfilled or Corbett cut stimulus money; they now have 20,000 fewer adults trying to maintain their constitutionally mandated “thorough and efficient system of public education” than they did a couple years ago.
Mark your calendar today for Monday, June 10th – remember it just takes 10 minutes to do three things to make a difference!



Here’s a dumb question regarding the composition of the proposed funding panel in HB618 from a school board member (me):

School districts educate more than 90% of the kids.  They are governed by 4500 locally elected volunteer school board members who are responsible for levying taxes on their neighbors in order to adequately fund the schools.

Charters receive their funding conveniently sanitized, shrink-wrapped and accountability-free; charter operators are not elected and never have to face taxpayers or voters.

So why should charter schools have the same number of appointees to a funding panel as school districts?

H.B. 618 Analysis
Education Law Center June 5, 2013
H.B. 618 is a major revision of Pennsylvania’s current charter school/cyber charter school law that would permit the unchecked expansion of charter schools throughout the state, redirecting  millions of dollars of public funding away from traditional public schools – without any examination of the fiscal impact on local public schools and communities.  A comprehensive funding study, which examines all of the fiscal implications of charter schools, including impact on local school districts’ ability to adequately serve all students, should be conducted before any further expansion of charterschools. 

Education Voters PA Statewide Call to Action for Public Education Monday June 10
Mark your calendar today for Monday, June 10th – remember it just takes 10 minutes to do three things to make a difference!
As we enter the final stretch of the 2013-14 budget discussions, it is critical that parents, voters, taxpayers, community members make one more push to ensure that our elected officials in Harrisburg are paying attention to input from real people. Here is where we stand: The Governor proposed a mere $90 million increase and did NOT propose improvements to the funding formula. House leaders proposed just a little more than the Governor (and when we say a little, we mean a little), proposing just $10 million more than the Governor (and by the way, they proposed more money for their own operations!)

“Over the past two years, school districts across Pennsylvania have reduced teacher and support staff by 20,000 through furloughs and unfilled positions, cut course offerings and extra-curriculars, increased class sizes, reduced tutoring programs and field trips and eliminated summer school programs because of tight funding, according to a report issued today by two school business officials' organizations.”
PASBO/PASA Report show sharp cuts in Pennsylvania school programs due to funding shortfalls
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 5, 2013 11:24 am
Over the past two years, school districts across Pennsylvania have reduced teacher and support staff by 20,000 through furloughs and unfilled positions, cut course offerings and extra-curriculars, increased class sizes, reduced tutoring programs and field trips and eliminated summer school programs because of tight funding, according to a report issued today by two school business officials' organizations. The trend is expected to continue for the 2013-14 school year with 75 percent of school districts surveyed statewide reporting they plan to reduce instructional programming, according to the survey done by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

Financial woes continue to take toll on Pennsylvania school districts
By Josh Fatzick|For PennLive.com on June 05, 2013 at 6:50 PM
Weakened financial conditions over the past three years has left dozens of school districts struggling to make ends meet and still provide an education to the children who show up at their school doors.  An annual survey released today by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators shows declines in financial conditions will force school districts across the state to make more cuts to personnel, course offerings, and other educational programs next year.

Here’s the PASBO/PASA Report noted above:
THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR OF CUTS TO STUDENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AS SCHOOL DISTRICT FINANCES CONTINUE TO WEAKEN
PASBO/PASA REPORT: JUNE 2013
For a third consecutive year, Pennsylvania’s public school finances continue to weaken, forcing school districts to once again cut course offerings, increase class size, delay textbook purchases, reduce tutoring programs for struggling students, eliminate summer school, reduce field trips, and cut extracurricular activities, including sports and close school buildings. The proposed, relatively modest increase in state basic education funding and continued stagnant local revenues are not keeping pace with substantially increased pension, health care and energy costs. With three-quarters of school districts having balanced their budgets in the past two years by using savings, as districts exhaust their savings, they have no choice but to continue to cut programs and staff. A recent survey of school districts shows these cuts will cause additional harm to already reduced educational opportunities available to Pennsylvania’s students.

Maine Legislature Enacts Moratorium on Virtual Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 5, 2013 //

Good News: Illinois Enacts Moratorium on Virtual Charters
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 4, 2013

Cerf Denies Approval for Online Charters in New Jersey
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 5, 2013 //
In a sign that informed opposition makes a difference, New Jersey State Commissioner Chris Cerf denied approval to two virtual charter schools.

Is Pennsylvania next?  It should be.
Fleck Bill to Place Moratorium on New Cyber Charter Schools Advances
News Talk 1240 WRTA June 5, 2013
Legislation authored by state Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin) that would maintain the current number of cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania until funding issues are addressed, was approved Monday by the House Education Committee.  House Bill 980 now heads to the full House for consideration.  “The appropriate manner of funding cyber charter schools is a complex issue on which there is significant disagreement.” said Fleck. “Allowing the number of approved cyber charter schools to increase before the General Assembly addresses this issue would only exacerbate the pressures on the funding system. My bill would give us ample time, to develop and consider funding solutions.”

 “The board consists of representatives from each of LCCC's sponsoring school districts, as well as two at-large members. Like Marcus, who co-chairs the Keystone State Education Coalition, some of the trustees also serve on their local school boards.”
Parkland school director Roberta Marcus joining LCCC trustees
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times 
on June 05, 2013 at 8:52 PM, updated June 05, 2013 at 8:53 PM
Parkland school director Roberta Marcus is replacing Robert Cohen on the Lehigh Carbon Community College Board of Trustees.

PennDesign plan puts vacant Philly school buildings to use
Penn Current By Jeanne Leong May 30, 2013
At the end of the school year in June, Philadelphia will have nearly three dozen vacant school buildings. Some are small- or medium-sized structures, while others are gargantuan, like Germantown High School, which is four stories high and more than 350,000 square feet.
PennPraxis, the applied research arm of PennDesign, has developed a model for how the City of Philadelphia can reuse vacant school buildings for purposes such as housing for senior citizens or recreational space.


“I am telling you all this because nothing major is going to happen for early-childhood education without an enormous groundswell of public demand.”
Power to the Preschoolers
New York Times OP-ED By GAIL COLLINS Published: June 5, 2013 15 Comments
 “Spread the word about President Obama’s plan to provide high-quality preschool for every kid in America,” twittered the White House on Wednesday. We all know that nothing on the planet compares to the awesome power of social media. But it may require more than a hashtag to bring this one home.  You may remember that earlier this spring, the president unveiled a budget plan that included a big initiative on early childhood education. Universal pre-K for 4-year-olds! More programs for low-income infants and toddlers! Big push for higher quality! And to help pay for it all, a new 94-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary Press Release June 4, 2013
Increasing Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education in Pennsylvania

What You Need to Know About President Obama's Plan to Provide High-Quality Early Education for All Children
The White House Blog by Megan Slack February 14, 2013
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”   President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 2013
The beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in life. Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades.  Children who attend these programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who don’t. 

TFA Grooms a Néw Elite
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav June 5, 2013 //
Teach for America began with a worthy goal: to supply bright, idealistic college graduates to serve in poor children in urban and rural districts.  But then it evolved into something with grand ambitions: to groom the leaders who would one day control American education.  This article describes the little-known political arm of TFA. TFA alums have begun the long march through the institutions, and the organization’s political goals are clear.  James Cersonsky, the article’s author, foresees “a massive proliferation” of Michelle Rhees, and wonders whether the political arm of TFA might actually be “the Trojan horse of the privatization of public education.”

Need to feel good about the Common Core and Keystone Exams?
What would it take for us to see similar events focusing on high quality early childhood education and community schools?  Generous sponsors?
“The Pennsylvania Education Summit is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Business Council Education Foundation, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Team Pennsylvania Foundation with the support of generous sponsors.”
Pennsylvania Education Summit
Harrisburg, PA Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM (EDT)
The Pennsylvania Education Summit: Building a Pathway to College and Career Success will gather business leaders, teachers, school superintendents, curriculum specialists, state lawmakers, legislative staff, executive agency professionals, workforce investment board members and staff, and other education stakeholders for a civil conversation on the public policy required to ensure our Commonwealth's young people are "college and career ready."  The Pennsylvania Education Summit will highlight and support the efforts of the Corbett Administration and Pennsylvania General Assembly to design and implement education reforms that increase student achievement and accountability in Pennsylvania's K-12 education system.
Agenda and registration here: http://educsummit.eventbrite.com/

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.

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.

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 (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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