Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 10, 2013: School Choices: Where’s the funding for Philly schools? In Pennsylvania $1.5 Billion in funding is now diverted from community based public schools that are required to educate all children....

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 10, 2013:
School Choices:  Where’s the funding for Philly schools?

In Pennsylvania $1.5 Billion in funding is now diverted from community based public schools that are required to educate all children:

  • $946 million on bricks & mortar charter schools, 71% of which did not make AYP
  • $366 million on cyber-charters, none of which met AYP
  • $200 million diverted by EITC program to support unaccountable private and religious schools.

We cannot afford four separate school systems
Hanger for Governor website Posted On August 09, 2013
Pennsylvanians must decide if we want to continue to support public education or if we will allow those who want to privatize education to prevail. Pennsylvania taxpayers are now supporting four separate school systems – our traditional community-based public schools, bricks and mortar charter schools, cyber-charter schools and private schools. We simply cannot afford it. The funding being diverted from our community-based public schools to charters and private schools is killing public education.
Pennsylvania taxpayers are spending $946 million on bricks and mortar charter schools, 71 percent of which did not meet the federal Adequate Yearly Progress standard (AYP), $366 million on cyber-charters, none of which met AYP. The Education Improvement Tax Credit program is diverting another $200 million from public schools to support private schools.
The Philadelphia public school crisis shows us the future for many public schools around the Commonwealth if we do not recommit to adequate funding for our school districts. 

“More than 40 years of research shows that children without high-quality early childhood education are likelier to fall behind academically, drop out of high school, abuse alcohol and drugs, require public assistance, and become tangled in the criminal justice system. Their absence from the workforce depletes the local talent pool.”
Business Forum: Quality early learning fills regional talent pool with capable workers
Post Gazette Opinion By James F. Glunt August 10, 2013 12:08 am
James F. Glunt is a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC, a national management-side labor and employment law firm.
When businesses hire, they draw most of their talent from surrounding areas. This is a lesson I've learned from my years in employment law. Whether a company is headquartered in Pittsburgh or brings a significant presence here, three quarters of its workforce probably lives within a 75-mile radius.  Viewed from that perspective, the region's economic health depends on a talent pool filled with capable, dynamic people. The deeper the pool, the more choices employers have to fill increasingly complex positions.
The need for top talent is sure to grow, which is why we must invest in high-quality early childhood education today. Decades of research confirms the benefits of investments. From birth to age 5, young brains need developmentally appropriate stimulation to build the capacity for learning.

Do you have questions on the Common Core for the Senate Ed Committee?
“Senate Ed Committee Chairman Mike Folmer has invited anyone interested in submitting questions for the committee to get answered to submit those questions through his website, Those submitting questions should go to the website and click on the "Education Committee" tab. Questions must be submitted by Wednesday, Aug. 21”
Second public hearing on PA Common Core standards to be held by Senate panel.
Capitolwire Under the Dome August 9, 2013
On the heels of its first hearing in May, the Senate Education Committee plans to hold a second public hearing on Common Core as it relates to the proposed Pennsylvania Core Standards. Earlier this week, the House Education Committee held an information briefing on the standards. Committee Majority Chairman Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, said his committee's hearing will concentrate on getting answers to Common Core questions from the state Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. Folmer has invited anyone interested in submitting questions for the committee to get answered to submit those questions through his website, Those submitting questions should go to the website and click on the "Education Committee" tab. Questions must be submitted by Wednesday, Aug. 21. He said he and other committee members will then pose the inquires to state officials at the hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, in Hearing Room One of the State Capitol Complex’s North Office Building.

Lebanon County Sen. Mike Folmer announces Common Core hearing
Lebanon Daily News Updated:   08/08/2013 01:39:21 PM EDT
Sen. Mike Folmer, Lebanon County's state senator and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has announced the committee will hold a second public hearing on Common Core as it relates to the proposed Pennsylvania Core Standards at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 29 in hearing room one of the state Capitol's North Office Building. The committee held its first hearing on the issue in May.  Recently, the state Board of Education released proposed revisions to the Chapter 4 regulations that, among other things, changes the name from Pennsylvania Common Core Standards to Pennsylvania Core Standards.

Philadelphia schools again on precipice
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Sunday, August 11, 2013, 3:01 AM Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite's stunning announcement that schools will not open on time unless the district is assured of $50 million from the city, raised alarms this week. But it was not the first time school operations had been threatened.

 “Pennsylvania budget secretary Charles Zogby gives the SRC credit. He said it did "yeoman's work" in shutting down dozens of the city's schools. But he also wants to see concessions from the district's labor unions, particularly the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, before the state opens up its wallet.  "[Labor changes] are necessary to put the district on sure footing going forward," said Zogby. "That, in everyone's mind here, is critical before any money flows to the district."
Philly state lawmakers to Corbett: Give promised money to schools now
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hotterbein August 9, 2013
Money is so tight in the Philadelphia school district that Superintendent William Hite said he may not be able to open schools on time if he is not assured soon that more city funding is on the way.
In light of the schools' massive budget shortfall, Philadelphia-area state lawmakers are trying to push Gov. Tom Corbett to immediately give the district millions of dollars that have been set aside.  But the Corbett administration argues that the district must make major changes before the cash is released.

Philly school principals appeal directly to parents for cash
By Kevin McCorry, @bykevinmccorry August 9, 2013
"Free" public education just got a bit more expensive for parents at Center City's Greenfield Elementary School.  Feeling a pinch from the Philadelphia School District's budget shortfall, Greenfield principal Dan Lazar has sent parents an "urgent request" asking families to contribute $613 per student.

Nutter, Clarke disagree on solution for schools
Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Saturday, August 10, 2013, 1:07 AM
At the heart of the impasse that Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. says is threatening his ability to start class on time this fall are two men - Mayor Nutter and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke - who have known each other for decades and rarely seem to agree. Their latest difference of opinion centers on part of a state bailout for the schools that calls for the city to borrow $50 million against future sales tax collections.

PFT President Jerry Jordan Responds to District's Update on School Openings
Jerry Jordan's response to the school district's announcement that schools may not open on time unless they get $50 million in funding.  PFT website 8/8/2013
For months, we have publicly voiced our concerns about the school district's ability to open schools on time in the wake of budget cuts, school closings and the layoff of the employees who provide vital services to students and parents. The district is now finally acknowledging the severity and scope of this reality.   We hope our elected leaders in the City of Philadelphia and Harrisburg are equally troubled by this situation, and will quickly live up to their obligation to adequately and sustainably fund our public schools.

Written by  The Philadelphia Student Union Friday, 09 August 2013 18:14
On August 8th, Superintendent Hite released a statement in which he announced that the School District of Philadelphia “will be forced to consider alternatives to starting the 2013-14 school year”. To Dr. Hite and all of the unelected decision-makers at 440, we have been warning you of this potential outcome. When we told you that we need strong support networks in our schools, you fired our counselors. When we told you that all students need access to arts, sports, and music, you eliminated those programs. When we told you that we need resources for our schools to succeed, you handed out pink slips to nearly 4,000 school district employees. And now you feel “deeply dismayed that we are here today”? Dr. Hite, Mayor Nutter, and Governor Corbett, you brought us here. The statement Dr. Hite released repeats back to us all the losses that we told you, months ago, we could not afford.

US News: Philadelphia Schools May Not Open Due to Budget Crisis
After laying off thousands of teachers and staff, school officials ask for money to hire them back
US News and World Report By ALLIE BIDWELL August 9, 2013 RSS Feed Print
More than 200 Philadelphia schools may not open for the first day of classes next month, unless the district receives an additional $50 million in city funding by next Friday, Superintendent William Hite announced Thursday.  The district started the fiscal year with a $304 million shortfall and was forced to cut about 3,800 employee positions in June to compensate. But officials say it would be unsafe to open the district's 212 schools, which serve more than 130,000 students, with significantly fewer guidance counselors, assistant principals, lunch aides and other support staff who help monitor children throughout the day.

City gets more than $19M for pre-k program
PhillyTrib Written by  Damon C. Williams Thursday, 08 August 2013 19:00
Gov. Tom Corbett, railed tirelessly by pro-public education groups wary over the governor’s continued cuts, seems to have offered those interests groups an olive branch in the form of an $84.5 million in funding for statewide pre-k programs and services.
The figure marks a 5 percent increase — or an additional $4.5 million — for the program.
This development marks a double win of sorts for the governor, as these funds — which Corbett announced in the spring as part of budget — had to be approved by a cranky General Assembly, as many statewide legislators, especially those representing rural communities, have taken the governor to task for inadequate overall public school funding.

Will Philly School District Be Next to Sue Banks Over Bad Swaps?
City Paper by Daniel Denvir Posted: Thu, Aug. 8, 2013, 12:00 AM
In July, the City of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit against Wall Street banks for illegally manipulating a major interest-rate index underpinning complex derivatives that have cost cities and schools billions of dollars. Now, the Philly School District may do the same. “The School District is currently in the process of analyzing whether or not the agency has a sufficient basis for pursuing claims against financial institutions which may have been involved in the manipulation of Libor,” a district spokesperson wrote in a statement issued to City Paper.

Distressed Districts: Harrisburg school officials considering layoffs after union rejects contract offer
By Emily Previti |  on August 09, 2013 at 5:19 PM, updated August 09, 2013 at 6:31 PM
Update: Union wants to vote again because about half of members couldn't get there the first time around.
HARRISBURG – As many as 20 more school custodial, food service and other non-educational staff could lose their jobs as a result of their union rejecting a contract that would have cut pay and increased healthcare costs.   But AFSCME Local 2063 leadership says their members weren't permitted to leave work to vote between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday - a date they'd cleared in advance with Harrisburg School District officials. 

PA’s Special Education Annual Performance Report, State Performance Plan Now Available
Gant August 9, 2013 at 6:00 AM by Gant Team · Leave a Comment  
HARRISBURG The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced that the state’s Special Education Annual Performance Report and the State Performance Plan, which are required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, are now available on the department’s website.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires all states to develop a State Performance Plan describing how the state will implement the requirements of the law and improve results for students.  Part B of the act covers children with disabilities ages 3 to 21. The State Performance Plan covers federal fiscal years 2005 (2005-06 school year) through 2012 (2012-13 school year).

“About 92% of traditional public schools had a library, but only 51% of charter schools did.”
The Void in Charter Schools
How can kids develop a love for reading without a library to nurture them?
American Libraries By Maria R. Traska June 2013
Linda Eschen began her first day as a library volunteer at Livermore Valley (Calif.) Charter School when the school itself opened in 2004, unpacking boxes and cataloging books. The newly formed school already had a library collection of sorts, says Eschen—an assortment of donated books in a teacher’s garage. Since then, she’s become the full-time librarian for 1,085 students while working online to earn a library certificate from Cuesta College. She has no clerk or aide. “I’m the sole person working in the library,” she says.

“In general, the average charter school went down by 51 percentage points compared to 34 percentage points for the average public school.”
“Stephanie Simon of was first to notice that some celebrated charters like KIPP and Democracy Prep did worse than the public schools.
Now Gary Rubinstein examined performance for all charters in New York City and determined that the sector as a whole did worse than public schools on the Common Core tests.
In fact, the score collapse of the charter sector dwarfed that of the public sector.”
Gary Rubinstein: Dramatic Collapse of NY Charter School Test Scores
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav August 9, 2013 //
The corporate reform movement has spun an elaborate narrative in which charter schools are the solution to our nation’s allegedly dreadful public schools. “Waiting for Superman” became their message, used to win new converts. And the Common Core tests were supposed to put the nail in the coffin, demonstrating the utter failure of public schools.

Attention States: NCLB Waiver Renewal Guidance Expected Soon
Education Week Politics k-12 Blog By Michele McNeil on August 8, 2013 10:53 AM
By the end of this month, states will likely know what kind of hoops they will have to jump through to get their No Child Left Behind Act waivers renewed.  That's according to a federal official speaking at a Title I conference recently, as chronicled by EdWeek freelancer Charles Edwards.

No moon: 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

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Keystone Exams
Monday, August 26, 2013, 9:30 AM, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District
105 W. Walker Rd. Wayne, PA

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Common Core
Thursday, August 29, 2013, 9:30 AM Capitol, Hearing Room 1, North Office Bldg.

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..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here at 10:00 a.m. on August 23, 2013

Yinzers - Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill. 
The lecture is being hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh, which is a new coalition of community, faith, and labor organizations consisting of Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.  Co-sponsors for the event include the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, the PA State Education Association, Temple Sinai, and First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh Social Justice Endowment.  More details to come.

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
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

PILCOP 2013 Symposium on Equality: Privatization
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Thursday, September 12, 2013
This year’s day-long Symposium will be held on Thursday, September 12th and will explore the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.  The Symposium on Equality annually convenes thought leaders and outstanding advocates  to engage in meaningful discussion and exploration of the day’s most pressing civil rights and social issues. This year’s event will foster conversation, collaboration and exploration of the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.

PILCOP 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:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at

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).

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?

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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