Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 11, 2013: PA Ed Budget increases tied to having powerful legislators; 3rd-grade reading matters

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 11, 2013:
PA Ed Budget increases tied to having powerful legislators; 3rd-grade reading matters

“In all, just 21 of the state's 500 districts were the beneficiaries of 12 different supplements added this year to the state's basic education funding awards. According to an analysis by the Notebook and NewsWorks, $22 million of that money is going to areas represented by eight of the highest-ranking lawmakers in the General Assembly, five of them Republicans.
And of the 37 lawmakers representing the districts that benefited from extra aid, 33 are majority/minority committee chairs, vice chairs, secretaries or in some other leadership position. Only two of the 21 Districts have no Republicans among their legislators.”
Increases in state education aid carefully targeted select districts
by Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook and Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks Jul 10 2013
When Pennsylvania's Republican-led legislature added a bit more than $30 million in education aid to Gov. Corbett's proposed budget in its final negotiations last month, legislators decided to target $14.5 million of that money to districts with high numbers of English language learners and $4 million to districts with high concentrations of students in charter schools.
But they managed to devise the formulas for these supplements in such a way that Philadelphia's school district, which has nearly half the charter students in the state and one-quarter of the English language learners, got none of these funds. This in a year when it was desperately begging the governor and legislature for additional state aid just to remain solvent.
In fact, the money for districts impacted by charters and ELL students went to only six districts around the state -- most of it, perhaps not coincidentally, in the areas represented by powerful legislators.

Missed 'Live from the Newsroom' talking Pennsylvania budget? Here is a replay (video)
Delco Times Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013
'Live From the Newsroom,' tackled all the issues swirling around the state budget with some of the people who were up to their necks in the process.
Joining us was state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester; House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield. Also on hand will be two legislators a little newer to the process to offers their view of how things are done in Harrisburg, Rep. Joe Hacket, R-161, of Ridley, and Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby.

“While the funding increase is welcomed, it is still less than the approximately $160 million needed for mandated pension cost increases at the school district level in 2013-14 – meaning fewer dollars for classrooms. Overall, the plan retains 81% of the state cuts to public school classrooms enacted in 2011.
A quarter of the basic education increase, the $30 million added by the General Assembly, will be distributed to only 21 school districts, while the rest of the increase will be allocated to all 500 school districts.”
PBPC Detailed Budget Analysis: Pa. Legislature Passes $28.376 Billion Plan
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center July 9, 2013
The Pennsylvania Legislature has approved a 2013-14 state budget (House Bill 1437, PN 2198) that spends $28.376 billion, roughly $645 million (or 2.3%) more than in the current fiscal year. Governor Tom Corbett signed the budget into law late in the evening of June 30, 2013. Overall, the plan is $64 million less than the Governor proposed in February, reflecting nearly $113 million in reduced spending for public school pensions and school employees’ Social Security payments along with a shift of $90 million in General Fund spending off budget to other funds.
The plan includes a small increase to basic education funding, $122.5 million overall, with $30.2 million allocated to 21 school districts through a supplemental allocation, on top of the $90 million increase in the Governor’s proposal.

Third-grade reading matters
PENNCAN blog posted by Lauren Robertson on Wednesday, July 10, 2013
In the first grade, I was unable to read or write. I was one of a few students selected to participate in a supplementary tutor program. For an hour twice a week, I met with a retired teacher to practice reading, writing and spelling. By the end of first grade, I was reading on level. By second grade, the extra nudge of my tutor had allowed me to excel in reading and I was reading two levels beyond my grade level. Nearly thirteen years have passed since my reading tutor helped me learn to read and I truly believe that being proficient in reading by third grade has allowed me to be successful academically.
Last month, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a follow-up report to its 2010 report  “Early Warning! Why reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” This report, along with another report entitled “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” showed the strong link between proficiency in reading in third grade, high school graduation rates and poverty. According to research, students who did not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school than those students who are proficient. In addition, 83 percent of low-income students were not proficient in reading by the end of third grade.

Special education funding revisited
By Megan Rogers / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau July 11, 2013 12:24 am
HARRISBURG -- A state commission is crafting a revised special education funding formula to account for school districts' individual needs, an overhaul touted by lawmakers and education advocates.  Though the commission was created with unanimous support from both the House and Senate, lawmakers are not obligated to move forward on any of its recommendations, which will be released by Nov. 30.

"The biggest sin Pennsylvania did was to name the standards 'Common Core,' " board Chairman Larry Wittig, a CPA from Tamaqua, told the crowd.  Common Core has good concepts the state is keeping, he said, such as creating a more defined set of math principles students need to know as opposed to trying to teach them everything.
"You don't throw the baby out with the bath water," Wittig said.
But you can rename the baby. The standards are now called the Pennsylvania Academic Standards.”
Residents urge state to drop Common Core school standards
Residents describe Common Core as federal intrusion and a Bill Gates money grab. They argue against adoption in Pa.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 10:31 p.m. EDT, July 10, 2013
HARRISBURG — For many, Bill Gates is the glasses-wearing businessman who has used his wealth as co-founder of Microsoft to help improve society.
For a growing number of people, however, he is a shark with glasses, and he's swimming in Pennsylvania's educational waters in search of his next meal ticket: their children.
Lots of Superintendents Are Common Core Skeptics Too, Survey Finds
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on July 10, 2013 10:51 AM
Thirty percent of superintendents serving in some of the nation's smaller school districts said they don't think the Common Core State Standards will have any effect on the quality of education in their communities.  That's a healthy dose of skepticism.
But many of their colleagues expressed more optimism about the promise of the new standards in English/language arts and math adopted by most states: 58 percent said the common core will make schooling better.  When asked if the common-core standards would provide more consistency in the quality of schooling across districts and states, 75 percent said they would.
Those sentiments were captured in a first-ever survey of superintendents conducted jointly by Education Week and Gallup, the Washington-based polling organization. For the survey—conducted in March and April—the Gallup pollsters conducted online surveys of more than 12,000 district superintendents around the country.

Sequestration Pushes Head Start Families To The Precipice (UPDATE)
Huffington Post by Sam Stein Posted: 07/09/2013 6:01 am EDT  
The Huffington Post set out to tell the story of another slice of sequestration: the damage being done to Head Start. The 5.27 percent reduction to the $8 billion program is having a devastating effect on families with children in the program, according to interviews with parents across the country. Not everyone has experienced the loss of a child's Head Start slot or a teary living room conversation. But parents have been left fearful and scrambling, worried that the cuts are shredding an already frayed social safety net upon which they depend.

Pension Proposal Aims to Ease Burden on States and Cities
New York Times Dealbook BY MARY WILLIAMS WALSH JULY 9, 2013, 12:01 AM
As states and cities wrestle with mounting pension woes, some even seeking refuge in bankruptcy, Washington has mostly stayed on the sidelines.
By law, the 50 states are sovereigns, so even though federal officials have regulated company pension plans for decades, they have had little interest in telling the states how to run theirs.
Now, one United States senator wants to change that. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has devised a way for states and cities to exit the pension business while still giving public workers the type of benefits they want. It involves a tax-law change that would enable governments to turn their pension plans over to life insurers.

Washington Cooks Up a Fix for State Pensions
The American Interest Via Media Blog by Russell Mead July 9, 2013
The public pensions crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing the states today, but thus far it has mostly met with silence from Washington. This may be about to change. Mary Williams Walsh, who has been all over the pensions story for the New York Times, is now reporting that Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is preparing a bill that would allow states to transfer the management of public pensions to private insurance companies. The details are still sketchy, but the basic idea is simple enough:

Teach For America critics gathering to organize resistance
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 10 at 10:00 am
Teach For America alumni and students of corps members who are critical of TFA are holding this weekend what amounts to the first national assembly aimed at organizing resistance to the organization that is popular with school reformers.

An Open Letter to New Teach for America Recruits
At The Chalk face blog JUNE 30, 2013 BY KATIE OSGOOD
Dear New TFA Recruits,
It is summertime, which for those of you newly accepted into Teach for America, means you are enduring the long hard days of Institute.  I congratulate you on being accepted into this prestigious program.  You clearly have demonstrated intelligence, passion, and leadership in order to make it this far.
And now I am asking you to quit.

We now must transform NSBA’s external advocacy and outreach to meet challenges at the federal, state, and local level. Chief among these are efforts to privatize our nation’s public schools through charter school expansion and taxpayer-funded school vouchers.
NSBA: Join our army of advocates
The following is NSBA President David Pickler’s column from the July/August issue of American School Board Journal.
This is a particularly exciting year to take the reins as NSBA President. I am excited and energized to work with our new Executive Director, Tom Gentzel, and see his vision for this organization take hold.  We are living in exponential times of change in NSBA, and the opportunities that lay ahead are incredible. You’ve probably already heard about what we’re calling the New NSBA in this column and at NSBA events. The NSBA Board of Directors has worked to restructure and recreate our organization. Under the leadership of Tom and our new Chief Operating Officer Marie Bilik, we are transforming NSBA’s internal operations to establish structure that is efficient, effective, and fiscally viable.

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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