Monday, July 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 29, 2013: Districts waiting for state to pay up on building projects

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2650 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

These daily emails are archived at
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PSBA is accepting applications from school directors to fill vacancies in NSBA's Federal Relations Network grassroots advocacy program.
Deadline to apply is Sept. 6.

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 29, 2013:
Districts waiting for state to pay up on building projects

Philly lags other cities in school funding
thenotebook by Patrick Kerkstra on Jul 27 2013 Posted in Latest news
We’ve done our part. And then some. Now it’s somebody else’s turn.
That seems to be the prevailing view of Philadelphia’s City Council members on the school funding crisis.  Two years ago, City Council swallowed hard and raised property taxes for the schools. A year later, Council did it again, while also upping the use and occupancy tax. And this spring, Council enacted (though Harrisburg failed to approve enabling legislation) a city cigarette tax to provide additional funding for the schools.
All these actions were taken as federal cash evaporated with the end of the stimulus and state funding for the state-run School District of Philadelphia plummeted.

The Charitable-Industrial Complex
New York Times Opinion by PETER BUFFETT Published: July 26, 2013
I HAD spent much of my life writing music for commercials, film and television and knew little about the world of philanthropy as practiced by the very wealthy until what I call the big bang happened in 2006. That year, my father, Warren Buffett, made good on his commitment to give nearly all of his accumulated wealth back to society. In addition to making several large donations, he added generously to the three foundations that my parents had created years earlier, one for each of their children to run.
Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.

“The thing is, you don't have to look very far to see this poverty machine in action. If you live in Philadelphia, it's probably grinding down your neighborhood public school as we speak. After decades of mismanagement and starvation at the state and federal level, Philadelphia's beleaguered schools are turning to the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates or Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad for any measure of salvation they can find.”
Attytood: Why philanthropy can't save Philly
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch POSTED: Sunday, July 28, 2013, 7:41 PM
To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway at the same time, philanthropists are very different from you and me. They have more money. They also have more power. Maybe it’s time to re-think where we’re going with this. Week by week, more people are coming to grips with the reality that income inequality is the monster that is devouring the American dream. President Obama recognized this -- in word if not in deed -- over the weekend when he told the New York Times that the wealth disparity and its crippling effect on the middle class is "not a future we should accept."

Districts waiting for state to pay up on building projects
Allentown Morning Call ‎- July 28, 2013
Pennsylvania Department of Education's system for public school construction and reimbursement is so backlogged 188 projects await 

Western Pa. school districts get creative to put stop to summer ‘brain drain’
TribLive By Kate Wilcox  Published: Sunday, July 28, 2013, 10:39 p.m.
Melissa O'Brien's 10-year-old daughter has plenty of fun activities such as sports camps lined up for the summer months.  But the Greensburg Salem School District mom wants to ensure that when her daughter returns to school next month, she hasn't forgotten the reading and writing skills learned during the past academic year.
O'Brien's concerns are rooted in a well-documented educational phenomenon known as “summer slide” or “summer brain drain.”
My children are getting a fine education in the Pittsburgh city schools
Post Gazette Letter to Editor by Tim Tuinstra July 29, 2013 12:12 am
Thank you to Nina Esposito-Visgitis for standing up for the students and teachers succeeding every day in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Her Perspectives piece on July 24 ("Stop Slamming City Schools") rebutted recent attacks on their accomplishments and educational quality.
As a parent of three students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, I assure readers that our kids receive outstanding education.

“By fueling charter expansion, TFA is undermining public schools
You wouldn’t know it from the heat of the debate but Teach for America has largely abandoned plans to expand into urban districts in any significant way. Instead, TFA increasingly serves as the designated labor force for urban charters. In Chicago, for example, where charter expansion is the real driver of public school closures and teacher layoffs, TFA has functioned as a placement agency for the fast-growing and politically connected UNO charter chain since 2010. In Philadelphia, where 23 schools were closed this spring and thousands of teachers and support staff laid off, TFA supplies hundreds of new teachers for charters in the city. Of the 257 corps members
 teaching in Philly in 2012, just 21 were in district schools.”
The Fight Ahead Posted on July 26, 2013
What we should be talking about when we talk about Teach for America
Teachers and students protest the closure of 50 public schools in Chicago. Teach for America increasingly drives the policies behind such school closures.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve no doubt noticed that the debate about Teach for America has ratcheted up considerably in recent weeks. Here’s the quick and dirty version: urban districts are closing dozens of schools and laying off teachers, even as they’re bringing in new Teach for America recruits. When news began to spread that a popular Chicago teacher had been laid off (the news delivered by his mother, no less), the back-and-forth reached a boiling point. How was it right for the Chicago Public Schools to axe a well-regarded teacher, one of 2000 let go, while expanding the number of TFA corps members, who’ll be entering the city’s schools this fall after just five weeks of training?
It’s a heated and emotional discussion but it also misses the larger point. TFA’s threat to urban teachers isn’t in these new corps members but in the policy of rampant urban charter expansion that TFA is driving. What’s more, the rancorous tone of the debate threatens to push away the growing number of alumni who have begun to question TFA’s mission and orientation. So what should we be talking about? Here’s a look:

K12’s $6.8M Deal Closes Book On Investor Class Action
Law360, By Kat Greene New York (July 26, 2013, 10:29 PM ET) –
A Virginia federal judge gave final approval to online educator K12 Inc.’s $6.8 million settlement with stockholders Thursday, ending a row over whether the company misled investors about its enrollment and student performance, according to a filing in Virginia federal court.  Investors led by the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System said K12 lied about students’ performance on tests and student enrollment, leading investors to believe the company was doing very well.

‘State-Led’ Common Core Pushed by Federally Funded Nonprofit
The Heartland Institute  by JOY PULLMANN April 24, 2013
A central defense of the new national education standards, now generating spirited public debates, is that the federal government did not mandate or create them.
“The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics,” the official Common Core websitestates. In 2009, two nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations called the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), convened government officials and dozens of consultants to write, rewrite, and, in June 2010, finally publish Common Core.

Perseid meteor shower set to put on a great show before dawn August 12
You can expect to see up to 100 “shooting stars” per hour when 2013’s best meteor shower peaks before dawn August 12.
Astronomy By Richard Talcott — Published: May 27, 2013

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 is accepting applications to fill vacancies in NSBA's grassroots advocacy program. Deadline to apply is Sept. 6.
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
>Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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