Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 16, 2013: "How do we make sure we're not in a situation where we're begging for funds school district by school district, but actually working together to support a new school funding formula?"

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?
These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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More than 2250 PA education policymakers have the Education Policy Roundup from the Keystone State Education Coalition ready with their morning coffee.  If you have colleagues or coworkers who would like to be added to our list please have them send their name, title and affiliation.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 16, 2013:
"How do we make sure we're not in a situation where we're begging for funds school district by school district, but actually working together to support a new school funding formula?" 

"How do we make sure we're not in a situation where we're begging for funds school district by school district, but actually working together to support a new school funding formula?" 
Pa. House approves $45 million more for Philly's schools
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein July 15, 2013
The Pennsylvania House passed a budget-related bill Monday known as the "fiscal code." It includes funding for Philadelphia's schools. (Bradley C. Bower/AP Photo, file)
The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Monday that directs $45 million in additional state aid to Philadelphia's cash-starved schools, but only under certain conditions.  One of those conditions is that the money actually materializes.
The state has apparently persuaded federal officials to forgive a years-old debt, freeing up millions of dollars for public education.  However, Gov. Tom Corbett's office said that negotiations between the state and feds over the debt have not been finalized. Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni declined to provide more details.

Pa. House returns to approve fiscal code The final bill related to the 2013-14
Angela Couloumbis and Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writers July 16, 2013, 1:08 AM
HARRISBURG - They came, they voted, they left. So it went Monday in the Capitol, where the 203-member state House made a rare midsummer return to vote on a small but critical part of the state budget: the fiscal code, which had been in legislative limbo for two weeks because of a dispute between the two chambers of the legislature.
Read more at  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130716_Pa__House_returns_to_approve_fiscal_code.html#CBLG0OOGGwwkJriD.99

Commonwealth Foundation ignores pension data that don't support its agenda: PennLive letters
By Letters to the Editor by GEORGIA SMEE on July 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM
The Commonwealth Foundation tries to promote itself as an advocate for fiscal conservatism. So it’s strange that their president Matthew Brouillette actually promotes changes to public employee pensions which would increase costs to Pennsylvania’s taxpayers by at least $42.4 billion over the next 30 or so years.
That estimate isn’t mine; it comes from actuarial cost notes issued by two major national actuarial consulting firms: the Hay Group and Buck Consultants. These numbers were then reviewed and determined to be reasonable by Cheiron, a McLean, Va.-based firm with no ties to either the Public School Employees' Retirement System or the State Employees' Retirement System. Cheiron was working as consulting actuary for the Public Employee Retirement Commission, an independent commission responsible for analyzing the fiscal impact of pension legislation.

Crisis feared as pension costs skyrocket, education funding falls
Scranton Times-Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) Published: July 14, 2013
Northeast Pennsylvania school districts have a math problem to solve: How to absorb $143.8 million in funding cuts and pay $82.6 million more for pensions, a Sunday Times analysis reveals.
The sharp decline in state funding since Tom Corbett became governor and skyrocketing pension costs have districts depleting reserves, calling for reform and fearing more layoffs will be needed.

Database: School Pension Costs
Scranton Times Tribune DATACENTER Published: July 14, 2013
While school districts across Pennsylvania have seen state funding cut drastically since 2010-11, pension costs have skyrocketed. This database includes the total compounded amount of pension increases since 2010-11 (after reimbursement from the state) and the total loss in state funding over three years, compared to 2010-11 funding levels.

Dollars and Sense: Tax hikes down in Delaware County districts (With Video)
Delco Times By TIMOTHY LOGUE tlogue@delcotimes.com @timothylogue July 14, 2013
When Eric Zajac joined the school board in Radnor Township in December 2005, there was no question which way taxes were headed when it came time to vote on the budget.
“When I first ran for the school board, the historical pattern was pretty much a 5 percent tax increase every year,” he said. “There were exceptions to that; some years they were a little bit higher or a little bit lower, but if you look at the five to 10-year average before Act 1 they were roughly 5 percent tax increases.”
This budget season, the Radnor board was the only one in Delaware County that voted to cut taxes. The half percent reduction translates to about $108 on $100,000 of assessed property.

Tragedy of black education on display
Tribune-Review By Walter Williams  Published: Friday, July 12, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
As if more evidence were needed about the tragedy of black education, Rachel Jeantel, a witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman murder trial, put a face on it for the nation to see.
Some of that evidence unfolded when Zimmerman's defense attorney asked Jeantel, 19, to read a letter that she allegedly had written to Trayvon Martin's mother. She responded that she doesn't read cursive — and that's in addition to her poor grammar, syntax and communication skills.
Jeantel is a senior at Miami Norland Senior High School. How in the world did she manage to become a 12th-grader without being able to read cursive writing? That's a skill one would expect from a fourth-grad
Tom Quigley: Pa.’s budget and school property tax myth
Pottstown Mercury By Tom Quigley Guest columnist Posted: Sunday, 07/14/13 12:01 am
Tom Quigley, the former mayor of Royersford, represented the 146th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 2005-2012.
The 2013-14 state budget was recently approved by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett before the June 30 deadline and without an increase in state taxes. This budget establishes a record high of $10 billion total state dollars invested in K-12 education while also providing $22.5 million for distressed school districts. It continues the increase of $6.4 million for Head Start and Pre-K counts early childhood programs. This year’s budget is a balanced, fiscally responsible plan that lives within in its means, while addressing the most important priorities of Pennsylvania taxpayers who are responsible for paying the bill.
In the aftermath of this budget’s passage, some legislators who voted against it are citing as their primary reason, the notion that local property taxes will be increased at a greater rate due to the “inadequate” school funding contained in this budget. While the merits of the current funding formula for driving state tax dollars out to the school districts has been and will continue to be the subject of debate, the idea that more state funding will lead to a lower rate of property tax increase is flawed. A review of a report from the Independent Fiscal Office would indicate just the opposite.

Teachers or ‘Quantitative Learning Gains Facilitators?’
Washington Post By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 16 at 4:00 am
David Lee Finkle is a middle-school teacher in Florida who draws the comic strip “Mr. Fitz” for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. He is also the author of books for teachers on student writing and of three young adult novels: “Making My Escape” as well as “Portents” and “Portals” (co-authored with his son, Christopher). The comic strip can be found online at www.mrfitz.com and at the Facebook page Mr. Fitz Comic Strips, and you can follow him on Twitter @DLFinkle. He blogs at The Real Mr. Fitz, where a version of this appeared.
By David Lee Finkle
There is a myth going around our country that goes something like this: American schools have been dumbed down, bad teachers have been given free reign, our educational system is failing, and we will fail to be competitive in the new global economy.
Actually, American schools are more rigorous than they have ever been. What used to be high school topics and subjects have been moved into middle school (Algebra 2 in 8th grade, anyone?). High school students can take multiple college-level courses while still in high school for college credit, and even graduate with a two-year college degree along with a high school diploma.
Our educational system is not failing. When people compare our test scores to those of other countries, they fail to take into account that some “high-scoring” nations do not, as does the United States, test or even attempt to educate all their students. 

National School Boards Action Center July 2013
Join the Friends of Public Education and participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren.  Federal legislation has direct policy and financial impact on your local public schools and students, and federal legislators need to hear the local impact – directly from you, their constituent.  By becoming a part of the Friends of Public Education, you are joining a national campaign to support a strong public education for all students.  When you sign up, you will receive information on critical education legislation and NSBAC will ask you to contact your members of Congress at key strategic times during the legislative process.  NSBAC will notify you through calls to action and provide sample letters that you can personalize so you can easily communicate with your elected federal leaders.
So, join today.  (…And recruit your friends and family to do the same).
Thank you for your support for America’s schoolchildren.

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 www.psba.org. 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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