Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 25, 2013: “Read by third grade, or face consequences”

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, 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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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 25, 2013:
“Read by third grade, or face consequences”

School Choices: Are your PA tax dollars, intended for the classrooms of Chester Upland, funding this 20,000 sq.ft. mansion on the beach instead?

School district pension costs soar
Luzerne County Citizen’s Voice BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) July 21, 2013
Northeastern 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 Times-Shamrock newspapers 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 cuts to programs and teaching positions will be needed.
Though called for by the governor in his budget proposal, pension reform failed to come to a vote last month. Legislators feared the costs of reform would be more than the cost of the current crisis. More revenue streams must also be explored, lawmakers and advocates say. Educators say action is needed now.

“Most county school officials interviewed by the Sun-Gazette agreed with Grantier, saying the lack of movement on cyber school regulations was "frustrating."
Locals: State education budget fails
Williamsport Sun-Gazette By JOSEPH STENDER (,  July 21, 2013
The recently passed state budget failed to address the financial burden cyber schools are placing on local school districts, according to area school superintendents who, while not surprised by the final allocations, criticized the governor for not doing enough.

Pennsylvania Special Education Funding Commission of 2013
PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA Thursday July 25, 2013 10 a.m.
Hearing will be streamed live barring any unforeseen technical difficulties on
Buck’s County Intermediate Unit #22
705 N. Shady Retreat Road
, Doylestown
Special Education: Why Special Education Costs More to Educate
10:00 a.m.       Welcome by Commission Co-Chairs
10:05 a.m.       Introduction of Commission Members
10:10 a.m.       PA Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU)
Dr. Barry Galasso, Executive Director of Bucks IU 22
Dr. Anthony Grieco, Executive Director of Luzerne IU-18
Dr. Jacalyn Auris, Director of Student Services at Chester County IU 24
Dr. Maria Edelberg, Assistant Executive Director at Delaware County IU 25

11:40 a.m.       PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
David W. Matyas, PRSBA  Business Administrator Central Bucks School District
Dale Scafuro Director of Student Services Central Bucks School District

York Academy Charter works on expansion
The regional charter school continues to grow by a grade each year.
Daily Record/Sunday News By ANGIE MASON 07/24/2013 04:05:59 PM EDT
York Academy Regional Charter School is working to expand its building, as the school continues to grow by one grade each year.  The school - which is chartered by the Central York, York City and York Suburban school districts - opened in 2011 with kindergarten, first and second grades. Third grade was added last year, and fourth grade will open in 2013-14.
The long-term goal is to serve kindergarten to grade 12, but only kindergarten to eighth grade will fit on the current site, said Dennis Baughman, board president.

Chester Upland School District receiver paves way for magnet high school
By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp July 25, 2013
The Chester Upland School District is collaborating with a pair of charter schools to establish a magnet high school that will serve as a district school but be managed by the Chester Charter School for the Arts.  Receiver Joseph Watkins approved a resolution last week paving the way for the creation of the magnet school, tentatively slated to open in September 2015.

Wilkinsburg fears state control of school district
By Alex Zimmerman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 25, 2013 12:26 am
They don't want to be the next Duquesne.
That refrain echoed through a Wednesday afternoon state House Democratic policy committee hearing attended by about a dozen state legislators, district officials and around 40 community members.  "We don't want to see the state come in and tell us what to do," Tracey Evans, a Wilkinsburg council member and executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp., said in her testimony.

Pittsburgh school board approves 36 furloughs
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 24, 2013 10:03 pm
The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight approved 36 new school-based furloughs, significantly less than last year when it furloughed 280 school-based employees.

“In the last five years, the program sent more than 4,000 urban youth to college, half of whom have an expected family contribution in their financial aid packages of zero.  I have a feeling that they would not say that the Pittsburgh Promise is a failure.”
In rebuttal: Pittsburgh Promise head says Jake Haulk singing the same old song
The Tribune-Review by Saleem Ghubril Published: July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In his “Struggling Promise” commentary of Sunday, Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, declared the Pittsburgh Promise “a failure” because enrollment in Pittsburgh Public Schools has continued to decline since the program's inception — and because SAT and PSSA scores fell in that time period.  Mr. Haulk closed his commentary by suggesting that instead of making higher education accessible to urban youth, we ought to use our resources to send our children to private schools.
Growing coalition pushes for new kind of Philly teachers contract
WHYY Newsworks By Tom MacDonald @tmacdonaldwhyy July 24, 2013
A group calling itself the Coalition for Effective Teaching is calling on the Philadelphia School District and the city teachers' union to think about more than dollars and cents when negotiating the next contract. They're pushing to pick teachers not just based on seniority.
There are four new members to the Coalition for Effective Teaching, including the Urban League and Congresso.

Pa Supt: State Funding Is Criminal Negligence
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav July 24, 2013 //
At a discussion of equity and excellence in education in Pennsylvania, John Sarandrea, the superintendent of the Néw Castle district, said:  “I don’t have any problems saying this, because it’s true: Poor kids are getting the shaft right now,” he said to loud applause from the audience.  “How can you possibly not invest in these children early, knowing what will be the outcome if you don’t?” Sarandrea wondered. “It’s negligence. It’s criminal.”

Hite: PA Needs an Equitable Education Funding Formula
Keystone Politics Posted on July 24, 2013 by Jon Geeting #
William Hite nails it. State education aid should be based on the specific needs of the student population. And it was, before Tom Corbett and the Republicans quietly abandoned Ed Rendell’s fairer formula without explanation in their first budget:
Superintendent William Hite on Tuesday publicly decried the lack of a reliable education funding formula in Pennsylvania, noting that Philadelphia, with many of the Commonwealth’s neediest students, still doesn’t know whether it will have enough money to operate full-service schools this year [...]  “I do think that, as a Commonwealth, we have to collectively think about how do we make sure we are meeting the needs of students regardless of where they attend school. And the only way to deal with that through a lack-of-basic-education-funding perspective is through a formula,” Hite said.

“Third-grade reading level was shown to be significant predictor of eighth-grade reading level and ninth-grade course performance even after accounting for demographic characteristics and how a child’s school influences their individual performance. Third-grade reading level was also shown to be a predictor of graduation and college attendance, even when demographic characteristics were included as controls.”
Read by third grade, or face consequences
Charlotte Observer By Fannie Flono Associate Editor Posted: Monday, Jul. 22, 2013
This fall, North Carolina launches a new assault on reading proficiency – or rather the lack of proficiency by too many N.C. third graders. N.C. lawmakers hope to change that through a plan that relies a lot on testing and has the controversial mandate that third graders who fail the end-of-year reading test won’t go on to fourth grade.
The focus on third grade reading is important. Study after study shows that failure to read on grade level by third grade often significantly hobbles academic achievement thereafter.

“The report, called “Poverty and Education, Finding the Way Forward,” says that 22 percent of the nation’s children live in relative poverty, with only Romania having a higher rate in the group of 35 nations”
New ETS Report - The cost of child poverty: $500 billion a year
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 25 at 6:00 am
The United States has the second-highest child poverty rate among the world’s richest 35 nations, and the cost in economic and educational outcomes is half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new report by the Educational Testing Service.  . 

Changing Leaders No Panacea for Failing Schools
Education Week Reality Check Blog By Walt Gardner on July 24, 2013 7:19 AM
Purported success in leading schools in one district doesn't assure duplication in another, as Paul Vallas is finding out. Despite his ballyhooed record in Philadelphia, Chicago and New Orleans, Vallas is fighting to hold on to his job in Bridgeport, Conn. ("Change Agent in Education Collects Critics in Connecticut Town," The New York Times, Jul. 22).
Vallas claims that the court ruling early in his tenure directing him to report to the locally elected school board rather than to a state-controlled panel is largely to blame. But the reasons are more complicated than that. In the short time he has been at the helm, Vallas has managed to alienate parents, union officials and community activists. Moreover, Bridgeport, like all troubled districts that have been involved in outside takeovers, is overwhelmingly composed of poor black and Hispanic students.

“Here is the conundrum: teachers see technology as a tool to inspire student learning; entrepreneurs see it as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money and to market new products. Which vision will prevail?”
Diane Ravitch: 3 Dubious Uses of Technology in Schools
Technology can inspire creativity or dehumanize learning
Scientific American By Diane Ravitch July 18, 2013
Technology is transforming American education, for good and for ill. The good comes from the ingenious ways that teachers encourage their students to engage in science projects, learn about history by seeing the events for themselves and explore their own ideas on the Internet. There are literally thousands of Internet-savvy teachers who regularly exchange ideas about enlivening classrooms to heighten student engagement in learning.
The ill comes in many insidious forms.

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.

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

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: Influence public education policy at the federal level; join NSBA's Federal Relations Network
The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in filling vacancies for the remainder of the 2013-14 term of the Federal Relations Network. The FRN is NSBA's grassroots advocacy program that provides the opportunity for school board members from every congressional district in the country who are committed to public education to get involved in federal advocacy. For more than 40 years, school board members have been lobbying for public education on Capitol Hill as one unified voice through this program. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start!

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:

2014 PSBA Officer Slate of Candidates
PSBA website 7/24/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. More details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video will be available soon online.

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

"They don't feel they should be subject to this law, or, candidly, subject to you," Mutchler told senators on the state government committee, which is considering legislation to amend the five-year-old law. "They are a cancer on the otherwise healthy right-to- know-law."
Pa. official: Charter schools flout public-records law
By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau POSTED: May 15, 2013
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's 180 charter schools routinely ignore the state's Right-To-Know Law even though as publicly funded institutions they are bound to comply with it, the chief of the state's Office of Open Records told a Senate committee on Monday.  Executive director Terry Mutchler said her office had received 239 appeals in cases in which charter schools either rejected or failed to answer requests from the public for information such as budgets, payrolls, or student rosters. She said her office ruled in favor of the schools on just six of those appeals.

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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