Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 10, 2013: Pa. school funding is game of guesswork

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 10, 2013:
Pa. school funding is game of guesswork

Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the nation without a fair and transparent education funding formula. Most other states use funding formulas to calculate and distribute education dollars considering factors such as an accurate per-student base cost, different funding variables that recognize student differences in all schools, and a funding goal that the state works towards in order to ensure adequate funding for all students.”
Pa. school funding is game of guesswork
Pottstown Mercury Editorial Tuesday, 07/09/13 12:01 am
Gov. Tom Corbett and leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature like to point to the state funding of public schools as an improvement over years past in terms of fairness and timing.
Other analyses differ.   A analysis released this week by the Education Law Center, a Philadelphia-based organization that supports school funding equity, said the budget approved June 30 “fails to address underlying, systemic inequities in the state’s public school funding, locks in the massive 2011 education funding cuts, and boosts funding to a few select districts.”

Last Monday I ran the following header comparing the cost of incarceration with the cost of educating a student:
82% of prisoners do not have a HS diploma.  It costs approx. $22,600/yr to house an inmate.  Approx. $9,644/yr to educate a student.
I received a couple of responses citing a higher annual cost of incarceration.  Here’s a source quoting over $42K/year…….
The Price of Prisons Pennsylvania - Avg Annual Cost per inmate: $42,339
This fact sheet and the report The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers were produced by Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and its Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit in partnership with the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States.

More bad news for Corbett
Delco Times Heron’s Nest Blog by Phil Heron, Editor Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Tom Corbett is in desperate need of some good news.  He didn't get it yesterday.
After a disastrous budget process that saw him go 0-for-3 in his push for three big legislative initiatives - liquor privatization, transit funding and pension reform - the governor is feeling the heat in his poll numbers.

Guess who's the "education governor?"
John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist POSTED: Monday, July 8, 2013, 8:49 AM
Okay, if you guessed Gov. Corbett, well, you just haven't been paying attention. I mean, come on, you know organized education awards are given for those willing to spend more money on education. And you know the only people willing to spend more money on education are Democrats and unions. So when the National Education Association, the union representing 3 million teachers and school staff members, named it's new "Education Governor of the Year," you just knew it would name some lefty big-spender in a Democratic state.

North Penn and Souderton going forward with Common Core Standards
Montgomery News By Jennifer Lawson July 08, 2013
Three years ago, Pennsylvania adopted a new, more rigorous set of educational standards, designed to better prepare students for college and the job market.
Since then, public school districts around the state, including North Penn and Souderton, have been overhauling curricula to align with the new guidelines, called the Common Core Standards.
The standards would specify what students nationwide in grades kindergarten through 12 are expected to learn in math and English at each grade level, with an emphasis on showing students the relevance of the material in the real world.
Pennsylvania is one of 45 states to adopt its version of the Common Core, and the implementation date had been set for July 1.  But in May, Gov. Tom Corbett postponed that date due to concerns from lawmakers and members of the public.

Penn. to Consider Common Core Repeal
The Heartland Institute by JENNI WHITE July 9, 2013
Pennsylvania will revert to its state tests rather than use national Common Core tests, according to Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller.
Concerns voiced by residents and the state legislature prompted the switch, he said. The state will use a combination of Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exams instead.  This switch will “likely be completed in fall 2013,” he said.  “This is the governor’s office playing politics,” said Peg Luksik, a former teacher and founder of Founded on Truth, which opposes Common Core’s national math and English benchmarks for K-12.

Common Core: Education Reform Movement Learns Lesson From Old Standards by CORY TURNER July 05, 2013 4:46 AM
Common Core — the new set of national education standards in math and English language arts — will take effect in most states next year. This move toward a single set of standards has been embraced by a bipartisan crowd of politicians and educators largely because of what the Common Core standards are replacing: a mess.

Protecting Educational Freedom This Independence Day: Cracks in the Common Core
The Heritage Foundation by Lindsey Burke July 4, 2013 at 10:57 am
Just in time for Independence Day, the foundations of the Common Core initiative are showing some cracks.  Common Core is an effort to establish national standards and tests to define what every child in public school will learn. It has been heavily incentivized by the Obama Administration and is an unprecedented federal overreach into local school policy. But recent moves in several states across the country could mean that curriculum freedom remains alive and well.

Education secretary working to meet with CUSD receiver
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp July 09, 2013
Pennsylvania acting Secretary of Education William E. Harner is working to schedule a meeting with Chester Upland School District Receiver Joseph Watkins to discuss the state of the district.
That meeting was thought to have been set for Monday, but Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said it is still being scheduled.

Grants for guards open to public and private schools
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 8, 2013 8:50 PM
Private schools will be able to compete for state grants to pay for armed security guards in Pennsylvania under a law recently signed by the governor.  Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati introduced the proposal in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. His spokesman, Drew Crompton, said the state already gives money to private schools, so allowing them to compete for the grants isn't so far removed from current practice.

Teach For America's Civil War
The American Prospect by JAMES CERSONSKY JULY 9, 2013
This summer, alumni and current teachers are launching the first ever national campaign against the organization.
Twenty-four years running, the rap on Teach for America (TFA) is a sampled, re-sampled, burned-out record: The organization’s five-week training program is too short to prepare its recruits to teach, especially in chronically under-served urban and rural districts; corps members only have to commit to teach for two years, which destabilizes schools, undermines the teaching profession, and undercuts teachers unions; and TFA, with the help of its 501(c)4 spin-off, Leadership for Educational Equity, is a leading force in the movement to close “failing” schools, expand charter schools, and tie teachers’ job security to their students’ standardized test scores. Critics burn TFA in internet-effigy across the universe of teacher listservs and labor-friendly blogs. Last July, it earned Onion fame: an op-ed entitled “My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids,” followed by a student’s take, “Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?”
Despite the endless outcry, no one has ever staged a coordinated, national effort to overhaul, or put the brakes on, TFA—let alone anyone from within the TFA rank-and-file. On July 14, in a summit at the annual Free Minds/Free People education conference in Chicago, a group of alumni and corps members will be the first to do so.

Senate Panel Approves Big Early-Childhood Education Boost
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 9, 2013 1:57 PM
President Barack Obama's high-profile push to expand prekindergarten programs got a big assist from a Senate Appropriations panel today. The panel, which is controlled by Democrats, approved a $1.6 billion increase for Head Start—the main federal program financing early-childhood education—plus $750 million in new money to help states bolster the quality of their preschool programs.

Grassroots Communities Plant the Seeds of Hope for Public Education
Annenberg Institute for School Reform by Keith Catone Published on June 28, 2013
Many current education reforms, with little input from the community, result in the dismantling of public education systems and programs. But grassroots organizers and activists are asserting their own alternative vision for improving their schools.
In spite of the lofty reform rhetoric about the Common Core State Standards and “twenty-first-century skills,” when public education is discussed today, what emerges is a portrait of a system in crisis. Massive budget shortfalls; shrinking investment in large urban public school districts; a lack of attention to the needs of low-income communities and communities of color; and toxic divides between new education reformers and teachers and communities, with young people often caught in the middle – something is amiss.

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst Missed Its Fundraising Goal, Tax Documents Reveal
By Posted: 07/02/2013 2:11 pm EDT
The national lobbying group that aims to spread the education-reform gospel of former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is hauling in significantly more cash but has so far failed to meet its own fundraising goals, recently filed tax documents obtained by The Huffington Post show.  When Rhee launched StudentsFirst in December 2011 in an appearance on "Oprah," she said her goal was to raise $1 billion in one year. StudentsFirst then adjusted its projection, saying it aimed to raise that hefty sum over five years.
The group still appears to be falling short. In the fiscal year starting August 1, 2011 and ending July 31, 2012, StudentsFirst raised $28.5 million, more than tripling its $7.6 million fundraising the previous year. During that period, the group's political 501(c)(4) arm raised $15.6 million and spent $13.4 million. Rhee herself drew a salary of about $300,000.
The lackluster fundraising news comes as Rhee faces a significant amount of staff turnover and questions about the group's effectiveness.

Progressive Charter School Doesn’t Have Students

The Onion NEWS IN BRIEF  Education  News  ISSUE 49•26  Jul 1, 2013
ATLANTA—One year into its founding as the purported “bold next step in education reform,” administrators on Monday sang the praises of Forest Gates Academy, a progressive new charter school that practices an innovative philosophy of not admitting any students.

Yinzers - Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm.  Location and details to come.

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

Know Your Child’s Rights! 2013-2014 Special Education Seminars
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia July 9, 2013
The Law Center’s year-long Know Your Child’s Rights! seminar series on special education law continues in 2013-2014 with day and evening trainings focused on securing special education rights and services.  These seminars are intended for parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and others who are in a position to help children with disabilities receive an appropriate education. Every session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability and is co-led by a Law Center staff attorney and a guest speaker.
This year’s topics include Tips for Going Back to School; Psychological Testing, IEEs and Evaluations; School Records; Children with Autism; Transition Services; Children with Emotional Needs; Discipline and Bullying; Charter Schools; Children with Dyslexia; Extended School Year; Assistive Technology; Discrimination and Compensatory Education; and, Settlements. See below for descriptions and schedules of each session.

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
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.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

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.

U.S. Department of Education Acting Deputy Secretary Confirmed for Building One America Summit.
James H. Shelton III is confirmed to participate in a White House panel at the Building One America Summit, to be held July 18-19 at Georgetown Law School in Washington D.C.  The summit will bring together mayors, local elected leaders, municipal, state, county and school officials with experts and federal policymakers from the White House and Congress to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools, and infrastructure facing America's metropolitan regions, with a particular focus on diverse middle-class suburbs. 

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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