Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 9, 2013: PA Education Budget: Funding for a Few - Handful of selected schools get a boost, but most left out

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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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for July 9, 2013:
PA Education Budget: Funding for a Few
Handful of selected schools get a boost, but most left out

"The General Assembly and the Governor have delivered education dollars in a way that cherry-picks a small group of school districts for additional funding, but ignores the remaining 479 school districts,” said Rhonda Brownstein, Education Law Center Executive Director.
PA Education Budget: Funding for a Few
Handful of selected schools get a boost, but most left out
Education Law Center Press release July 8, 2013
The Pennsylvania education budget adopted June 30, 2013, fails to address underlying, systemic inequities in the state's public school funding, locks in the massive 2011 education funding cuts, and boosts funding to a few select districts, according to an Education Law Center analysis.
"The General Assembly and the Governor have delivered education dollars in a way that cherry-picks a small group of school districts for additional funding, but ignores the remaining 479 school districts,” said Rhonda Brownstein, Education Law Center Executive Director.

Pa. charter students skills fall short: Monday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on July 08, 2013 at 7:58 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Although it didn't get much in the way of attention during the recently concluded budget debate, the Corbett administration has never made any secret of its support for school choice and charter schools.  But even as charter school kids nationwide surpassed the gains made on standardized tests by their public school comrades, Pennsylvania's charter school students were falling behind, The Tribune-Review reports.

Pa. charter students’ skills fall far short, study reveals
TribLive.com By Kate Wilcox  Sunday, July 7, 2013, 10:20 p.m.
Nationally, charter school students surpass gains made on standardized tests by students at traditional public schools but, on average, Pennsylvania's charter students fall behind their public school peers, according to a recent study of charter schools by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University. The study looked at traditional and cyber charter schools.
Nationally, the study found, charter school students posted reading gains equivalent to an additional eight days of school, compared with traditional public school students. In math, the two groups were even.  In Pennsylvania, the study indicated charter students lost the equivalent of 29 days of learning in Pennsylvania System of School Assessment standardized test reading scores and 50 days of learning in PSSA math scores, according to the study.

Final bill narrows business tax loophole
Scranton Times-Tribune BY ROBERT SWIFT (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF) July 6, 2013
HARRISBURG - A bill to narrow the scope of a large state business tax loophole starting in 2015 won final approval this week from lawmakers.  The measure awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett's anticipated signing targets the Delaware loophole, the fate of which has been heavily debated during the past several years with the drain on state finances due to the recession.
The loophole allows businesses headquartered in other states to avoid paying the state corporate net income tax on their operations here. Businesses use this loophole to shift assets to an affiliated company in another state where they are not subject to tax. It derives its name from neighboring Delaware - considered a corporate tax haven. The fiscal code bill would require businesses, even if headquartered in other states, to comply with an expense add-back provision - a requirement they pay taxes on profits.
By targeting very specific business transactions among close business affiliates, the add-back provision affects businesses using the loophole to avoid paying taxes, said Rep. David Reed, R-62, Indiana, the bill sponsor.

Allentown School Board uses extra funds to restore positions, lower tax rate
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on July 08, 2013 at 9:47 PM
The Allentown School Board has used an $8.2 million windfall from the state to restore 26 cut positions and reduce the tax hike from 8.2 percent to 5.54 percent.  By a 6-3 vote, the board also voted to restore $4.2 million to district reserves, which officials warn are still dangerously low and insufficient to cover future budget deficits.  Fifteen of the restored positions were elementary intervention specialists, who work with students in areas of improvement as determined by state exams, particularly in reading.

Legislature effectively part-time
Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial Published: July 2, 2013
America's most expensive state legislature worked through the weekend to pass the state budget by the constitutional deadline of June 30 - but also to be off for most of the summer.
When Pennsylvania lawmakers hustled out of Harrisburg on Sunday night and Monday, to head for the beaches and mountains, they left behind some of the state's most important business. They didn't pass a badly needed transportation bill, took a pass on the long-overdue privatization of the state government's booze monopoly, and couldn't bring themselves to reform their own bloated pensions and those for every other state and public school employee - the costs of which adversely affect every taxpayer and every public school student in Pennsylvania.

GOP poll shows Corbett re-election at historic low of 24 percent.
Capitolwire.com Under the Dome July 8, 2013
In another new OFF THE FLOOR column, Capitolwire Bureau Chief Peter L. DeCoursey writes that a new poll conducted by Harper Polling, run by GOP veteran Brock McCleary, shows Gov. Tom Corbett with an awfully steep hill to climb if he plans to win reelection. 
CLICK HERE (paywall) to read the column.

Only a quarter of state voters in new poll say Corbett deserves re-election
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  on July 08, 2013 at 10:22 AM
There's some serious bad news for Gov. Tom Corbett in a new Harper poll out today: Barely a quarter of state voters (24 percent) say the Republican governor deserves a second term, compared to 56 percent who say it's time to change horses.  And two key demographic groups, independents (40 percent) and somewhat conservative voters (45 percent) also say they'd like to see a change at the Governor's Mansion. The poll of 844 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.44 percentage points.

WATCHBLOG: First post-budget poll paints dim picture for Corbett
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent July 8, 2013
HARRISBURG – The latest poll of Pennsylvania voters shows fewer than one-quarter of residents think Gov. Tom Corbett deserves to be re-elected, some of his lowest numbers yet.
Harper Polling, a Republican polling firm, found 24 percent of voters said Corbett deserves re-election, and 56 percent of voters said it’s time to give someone else a chance.

“Federal efforts to reform public education during the Obama administration have furthered the Bush legacy of delegitimizing the classical ideal of universal education, while forcing public schools that once made room for arts, music, and social studies to funnel their dwindling resources into standardized test preparation.”
Liberal arts fight to survive
Philly.com Opinion POSTED: Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 1:08 AM By Christopher Moraff
Last month a special commission wrapped up the first national assessment of the liberal arts since 1980. It called a vibrant culture of liberal arts education "instrumental to understanding the past and the future," and recommended increased government funding for the humanities and social sciences. The report to Congress couldn't come at a better time. Each year more students abandon the study of history, philosophy, English, and languages in favor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, fields that they believe - rightly or wrongly - will offer them lucrative business, technology, and engineering jobs. Statistics show that nationwide, less than 8 percent of bachelor's degrees were awarded in the humanities in 2010, half as many as in 1966. In a report issued in June, Harvard University reported that last year, 18 percent of incoming freshman planned to concentrate on the humanities, compared with 27 percent a decade ago.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/inquirer/20130709_Liberal_arts_fight_to_survive.html#k4kmjqZeWrXfexJ7.99

Awesome story on the congressional politics of Common Core by CQ-Roll Call's awesome edu-reporter @laurenonthehill
Common Core Concerns
Congressional Quarterly by Lauren Smith July 8, 2013 – see pg 1154 in this pdf

Exit Exams Boost the School to Prison Pipeline
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on July 6, 2013 10:28 AM
A new study sheds startling light on a strong connection between high school exit exams and rates of incarceration. The authors of the study, Olesya Baker and Kevin Lang, compared states with exit exams to those that did not, and found that roughly one percent of students failed their exit exams and were denied diplomas as a result. This population of young people had a 12.5% increase in their rate of incarceration. The study found no particular benefits, in terms of employment or wages, from the exit exams.

“In 2011-2012, her group spent $533,000 on over 60 local politicians, outspending the main teachers’ union by a third and becoming Tennessee’s biggest source of campaign money outside of the party PACs, according to election filings. Added to the $200,000-$300,000 that allied groups like Stand for Children and the Tennessee Federation for Children paid out, the result has been a gush of education-reform money taking over the state's politics.
"They've become like the gun lobby in Tennessee," a former aide to a top Nashville politician told me. "Everybody is scared of the NRA. It's the same way with these education reform people." 
Reforming Michelle Rhee: Running the show in D.C. didn't work out. Now in Tennessee, she's hoping cash is king.
The New Republic BY JEFF GUO July 8, 2013
John DeBerry Jr., a veteran House member in Tennessee, has never been fond of fundraisers. Handshakes, not dollars, make the difference in his stretch of Memphis, where he has been campaigning the old-fashioned way for nearly 20 years. DeBerry’s low-budget operation collects about $20,000 each election and centers on door-to-door visits. The past year's redistricting, which forced him into a tough primary with a colleague, didn't change any of that, he says.
"I'm 62 years old," DeBerry says. "I walked, in one-hundred-degree heat, from nine to five with a crew of five people. We rolled around with my Suburban with the car filled with water and juice. And we knocked on every door in every district."
But he also had backup. Michelle Rhee’s education lobbying group StudentsFirst dropped $110,000 on canvassing and phone banking to ensure that DeBerry, a rare Tennessee Democrat who supports vouchers and charter schools, would prevail. It was a record-setting sum, locals said, and even DeBerry called it “flabbergasting.” He defeated his rival 4,084 to 2,125—that is, Rhee spent $27 per vote—and went on to win the general election uncontested.

Affordable Care Act Delay Means Reprieve for Districts
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Jackie Zubrzycki on July 3, 2013 6:10 PM
School district administrators are breathing a collective sigh of relief: The Obama administration announced yesterday that reporting and implementation requirements of some parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be delayed from 2014 until 2015.
Employers will have an additional year before they are required to report on employees' health care enrollment status, and those with more than 50 employees have an additional year before they must either pay for full-time employees' health insurance or face a penalty. The administration had received complaints that the requirements were too complex to implement by 2014.

Why schools aren’t businesses: The blueberry story
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: July 9, 2013 at 5:00 am
Larry Cuban’s 2004 book “The Blackboard and the Bottom Line: Why Schools Can’t be Businesses,” is nearly a decade old but still highly relevant to the education reform debate.
In the introduction, Cuban introduces readers to Jamie Vollmer, a former ice cream company executive who became an education advocate and author of the book ” Schools Cannot Do It Alone.” He quotes Vollmer about “an epiphany” he had in the 1980s: “If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn’t be in business very long!

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.

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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