Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 18, 2013: If you were proud of making a contribution would you launder it 20 times?

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.

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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 18, 2013:
If you were proud of making a contribution would you launder it 20 times?

School Choices: If you were proud of making a contribution would you launder it 20 times?
One page follow-the-money graphic for 2012 PA’s Students First PAC

A once in 12 years opportunity for school board members!
National School Boards Action Center July 17, 2013
You can contact your House member of Congress today and urge them to vote YES on ESEA rewrite HR5 here: http://www.

Here’s the current status of the proposed legislation
House Lawmakers Set to Debate No Child Left Behind Act Rewrite
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 17, 2013 10:04 PM
On the eve of a possible vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on long-stalled legislation to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, the bill's road to passage is still somewhat bumpy. House leaders have scheduled votes for Thursday on a host of amendments to the proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision—26 of them altogether. But so far, a vote on final passage hasn't been scheduled, which gives leaders extra time to twist some arms, if they need to. The final vote could be Thursday, Friday, or later, if need be.

Here’s more detail on the bill:
NSBA urges House to approve ESEA bill this week
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min July 17, 2013
In anticipation of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives later this week, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has written to all House members to urge them to support the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. Specifically, NSBA is supporting an amendment that would  give school districts greater input in the development of federal regulations, and it would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from extending its authority to make regulations outside specific legislative authority.
NSBA also has concerns about the funding authorizations included in the bill, H.R. 5. It has urged House members to support the reinstatement of Maintenance of Effort requirements to ensure that schools receive adequate state funding in an era of tight budgets.
Finally, NSBA announced its opposition to an amendment that would require school districts to reallocate Title I funds on a per-pupil basis and set up a system of public school choice. “Title I portability would cause irreparable harm to high-needs schools and the students they serve,” the letter states.

UPDATE: It's official: The Obama administration has issued a veto threat. The White House argues the bill would not encourage states to adopt college-and-career ready standards, backs away from accountability for disadvantaged kids, would lock in sequester cuts, and would not reauthorize key Obama priorities, such as Race to the Top.
Where Does the NCLB Rewrite Stand in the House?
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 17, 2013 12:25 PM
The big question of the day: Is a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act headed to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week? There's been a lot of talk about conservative opposition, but, so far, it appears that the initial whip count looks pretty decent for the bill's chances, advocates say. (A "whip count" is the vote count, for you folks who aren't regular C-SPAN viewers, or fans of fictional whip Rep. Frank Underwood, D-Netflix's House of Cards.)  No official word from GOP leaders, but right now, the bill is likely headed to the floor on Thursday, advocates say. Of course, nothing is ever a sure thing on Capitol Hill, so don't bet the bank (or your Starbucks money) on House action this week, or not just yet. Something to look for: President Barack Obama is almost certain to issue a veto threat on the measure, possibly sometime today.

Corbett replaces 2 top aides after legislative disappointments
By James O'Toole / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 17, 2013 11:56 pm
Spurred by a frustrating legislative session and chronically anemic poll numbers, Gov. Tom Corbett has replaced his chief of staff as well as his top legislative liaison.
The administration announced Wednesday that its new chief of staff -- its third -- is Republican veteran Leslie Gromis Baker, who rose to prominence as a strategist for then- Gov. Tom Ridge. She replaces Stephen Aichele, who stepped in for Mr. Corbett's first chief of staff, Pittsburgh lawyer Bill Ward, in 2012 when he resigned to take a seat on Allegheny County's Common Pleas Court.

Corbett chief-of-staff Aichele headed for the exits: Wednesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 17, 2013 at 7:59 AM, updated July 17, 2013 at 8:25 AM
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you're ever asked to serve in the Corbett administration, double-check to make sure you're not also issued a red Starfleet security jersey as part of the deal.  Members of Gov. Tom Corbett's inner circle are becoming terrifyingly interchangeable these days, with Chief of Staff Steve Aichele being shown the door less than a year after coming on board, The Philadelphia Inquirerreports this morning.

With latest departures, is Corbett just rearranging deck chairs? John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 17, 2013 at 12:52 PM, updated July 17, 2013 at 4:45 PM
(*This story has been updated to reflect the official naming of Leslie Gromis Baker as the Corbett administration's new chief of staff and the departure of Legislative Secretary Christopher Carusone)
Late in the evening of June 30, with his legislative agenda in disarray, Gov. Tom Corbett stood at a lectern in his reception room and told reporters, “This is only the first quarter,” and that months remained for him to get his top priorities of liquor privatization and transportation funding signed into law.  Around him, state House Republicans grinned approvingly. Key staffers nodded. Senate Republicans were nowhere to be found. And as Corbett signed a $28.4 billion budget into law, there was a sense that the Republican governor wanted his words to be true.
But the fact is that Corbett is out of time.

“Insiders point to four Republicans who could replace Corbett: Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan, Mike Kelly, and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. Gerlach and Meehan, both from the suburbs of Philadelphia, ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination against Corbett in 2010.”
Pennsylvania Republicans Looking to Push Out Their Governor
Tom Corbett is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country. Now his own party is turning on him.
National Journal By Alex Roarty July 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.
Few Republicans think Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett can survive politically. (Chris Knight/AP)
The biggest question in Pennsylvania politics right now isn't whether Gov. Tom Corbett will win reelection. It's whether he'll even get the chance.  Beset by legislative failures and bleak poll numbers, the Republican looks like the country's most vulnerable governor heading into the 2014 election. And Republicans are questioning whether they should let Corbett face a near-certain defeat when they could find a ready replacement with a much better chance of winning.
Already, speculation among GOP operatives has shifted to a quartet of candidates the party might turn to, including several Republicans in the state's congressional delegation. Fearful of alienating a sitting governor, they've done little to publicly jockey for the potential opening. But all are said to be keeping a close eye on Corbett.

Pennsylvania's bond rating downgraded
Central Pennsylvania Business Journal By Jason Scott  July 17. 2013 10:42AM
The commonwealth's “failure to adequately address key fiscal pressures,” including pension reform, prompted Fitch Ratings on Tuesday to downgrade the rating on $10.9 billion in outstanding general obligation bonds.
Pennsylvania’s GO bonds were downgraded to AA from AA+.
“Continued budgetary structural imbalance, a failure to boost the adequacy of pension funding and the lack of a reserve cushion signal an inability or unwillingness on the part of political leaders to make difficult fiscal decisions,” the credit rating agency said in a news release.

“However, before anyone starts doing victory laps and campaign commercials are written using words like "savior" and "hero," this fact must be underscored: In three Pennsylvania budgets, the governor has walked away from new recurring state dollars for Philadelphia and other low-income school districts with over $1 billion in reductions in state funding. The sales-tax option would never have been necessary if the governor had prioritized basic education funding as opposed to more than $1 billion in tax giveaways to Pennsylvania's wealthiest corporations.”
Pa. must respond to the school crisis Opinion by SEN. VINCENT HUGHES POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 12:18 AM
AS THE various elements of the imperfect funding package for the Philadelphia School District come into place, it is important to understand the context in which it was cobbled together, its specifics, the one silver lining and what must be done about education funding in Pennsylvania going forward. Here's the context: Gov. Corbett, playing out his part in the national attack on public education, cut over $1 billion from education funding statewide in his first three years. These cuts caused a drop in test scores, over 20,000 jobs being eliminated, classroom and extracurricular programs being reduced and over 70 percent of the school districts in Pennsylvania raising property taxes to make up for the loss in state funding.

“In order to make up for the lost funds, Clarke's plan counts on the state anteing up an extra $45 million annually in future years, perhaps by reinstating charter school reimbursements. That state budget line item, which once sent $110 million to Philadelphia, has been eliminated for the past two years.”
State budget secretary questions Clarke's idea on school funding
by thenotebook on Jul 17 2013 Posted in Latest news
by Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook and Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The tug-of-war between the city and the state over how to keep the Philadelphia School District solvent heated up on Wednesday, with City Council President Darrell Clarke announcing that he is not on board with a key piece of the funding package worked out in Harrisburg -- dedicating $120 million to the schools in future years by extending a 1 percent local sales tax.
Instead, Clarke wants to direct just $70 million of the sales tax revenue to the schools, and use the rest of it for debt service and the city's chronically underfunded pension system.

“The charter schools are sucking resources and students from Chester Upland, which loses $7,900 for every child who attends a charter school - $34,400 if they are in special education - say school officials and education advocates. With Shannon leading the charge, Chester is fighting to get some of those students back.”
Chester schools have a tireless advocate
Kathy Boccella, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 1:07 AM
With a salesman's charm and snappy patter, Gregory Shannon stood in the blazing sun Tuesday in Chester's business district and pitched a product that customers have been shying away from in recent years: Chester Upland schools. Sweating in a pinstripe suit and tie, and clutching a handful of school application forms, the superintendent of the struggling district approached anyone who looked like a parent or grandparent and launched his spiel. He touted Chester's new middle school science and technology program (STEM) program; improved school safety; the child-care center; and advanced-placement courses at Chester High and ramped-up special-education services.

Should merit matter in deciding which Philly teachers to lay off?
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry @bykevinmccorry July 17, 2013
Jacqueline Bershad loved everything about the way her son's second grade teacher ran her classroom at Greenfield Elementary School in Center City Philadelphia.
She was "exactly what you would hope for in a teacher," Bershad said — warm, yet firm, giving kids just the right mix of academic rigor and fun.   "My son's teacher was the one who was at the Halloween party at night, and the picnic at night and really became involved in the community," she said. "There's some teachers who choose to do that, and some who don't."
That's why Bershad became so upset when she learned this summer that this teacher was one of the 676 being laid off by the district because of a $304 million budget shortfall.

Fund education now, avoid problems later
Luzerne County Citizens Voice Editorial Published: July 17, 2013
Every year the state budget is broken down by category - education, human services, Medicaid, corrections, environmental protection and so on.  That's fine for accounting purposes but life doesn't operate by category. It cuts across all of those budgetary line items, yet it's rare for lawmakers to analyze public policy that way.

Softball Questions: Community wondering whether axing a successful sports program was the right play at struggling Sto-Rox 
"I feel really bad for the girls left behind."
Pittsburgh Citypaper by Dan Sleva Julyy 17, 2013
Softball is Josie Buckley's life.
The game, she says, kept her out of trouble, made her go to class and made her more competitive on the field, in the classroom and in life.  "I probably wouldn't have gone to school as much," she says now. "I know a lot of the girls on my team wouldn't have gone to school as much.
"It taught me to be more competitive. I wanted to get into first or second place in my class."
By the time she graduated this past June from Sto-Rox high school, she had actually finished third in her class — two spots behind her teammate, the valedictorian. In the fall, Buckley will attend La Roche College in the North Hills, and she'll play softball for them next spring. The friends and teammates she's left behind at Sto-Rox, however, won't have that same luxury.
At its June meeting, the Sto-Rox school board voted 8-1 to eliminate both the softball and baseball programs in an attempt to cut costs at the financially strapped district.

Yinzercation Blog July 17, 2013
Lights! Camera! It’s time to take action! You may be hanging out this summer enjoying the latest blockbuster films, but it’s time to make an appearance in the next scene of our movement. Perhaps even take a starring role. Are you ready for your close-up?
Yinzercation has been hard at work the last couple of months with our new coalition, Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh. This is the group that sponsored the Rolling Rally in May and the bus trip to Harrisburg in June. Founding partners include Yinzercation, PA Interfaith Impact Network, One Pittsburgh, SEIU, Action United, and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. We will launch a new web site very soon detailing our vision for public education and how we can fight together for great community schools.
Right now we are planning an exciting series of events for the next two months. This is where we need your star power.

The Charter School Vs. Public School Debate Continues by by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ July 16, 2013 5:02 PM
Charter schools turn 21 this year. In that time, these privately run, publicly funded schools have spread to 41 states and enrolled more than 2 million students.  But one key question lingers: Do kids in charter schools learn more than kids in traditional public schools?
There have been lots of skirmishes over charter school data over the years. But few have created as big a ruckus as the 26-state study of charter schools released recently by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO.

Philadelphia: Corporate Reform Takeover Nears
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav July 17, 2013 //
As Rahm Emanuel once memorably said, when he was President Obama’s chief of staff, never let a crisis go to waste. Naomi Klein surely agreed in her book “Shock Doctrine,” which showed how crises, both natural and man-made, are used to achieve other goal unrelated to the crisis. Hurricane Katrina made it possible to wipe out public education and the teachers union in New Orleans. The budget cuts and imposed austerity will soon make it possible to crush the teachers union and privatize Philadelphia’s schools.

Phila. school group plans $4.7M in grants
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 1:08 AM The Philadelphia School Partnership will announce Thursday grants totaling $4.7 million to help high-performing charter schools expand and a nonprofit develop a new high school with the School District. "What is exciting about this [funding] round is that it shows the many different ways that the fund is available to invest in expanding access to great schools," Mark Gleason, the partnership's executive director, said Wednesday.

“Would you prefer a system that motivates your children to succeed on tests or one that engages and inspires them to find areas of interest and passion? Which is more important to your child’s future, following rules or learning to become a confident independent thinker?”
Key questions begging for answers about school reform
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 18 at 4:00 am
Here is a thoughtful piece about school reform and the march toward privatization of public education. It was written by Arthur H. Camins, director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.  His writing can be accessed at
By Arthur Camins
The New York Times editorial board has been a staunch supporter of the trifecta of current reform policy: high-stakes testing, performance pay and closing public schools, while opening new charter schools.  Now in this editorial it is hedging one of its bets, the overtesting of students.  However, it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle.  Neither Congress, nor the U.S. Department of Education appear ready to change course.

Better Teachers and Better Tests
New York Times Letters to the Editor Published: July 16, 2013
Responses to  “The Trouble With Testing Mania” (editorial, July 14):

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 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.

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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