Monday, August 12, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 12, 2013: Are Cincinnati Community Schools a Model for New York? Philly?

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 12, 2013:
Are Cincinnati Community Schools a Model for New York? Philly?

Did you miss our weekend postings?  Philly status, updates, responses; Common Core Hearing……
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.

Pa. Republicans flex muscle on transportation, gun control, education
PennLive By The Associated Press  on August 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM
Unlike the Timber Caucus or the Italian-American Caucus, the more conservative Republican members of the Pennsylvania House aren't formally organized, but they have something better: raw numbers and political power.  Their ranks constitute a controlling portion of the House Republicans' 111-seat majority, giving them enough leverage to put the brakes on a transportation and transit funding initiative this summer even though it was supported by their natural ally, Gov. Tom Corbett.

Despite having multimillion-dollar budgets, intermediate units fly ‘under the radar’
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Bill Vidonic Saturday, August 10, 2013, 7:44 p.m.
Audits failed to catch problems at three Pennsylvania intermediate units embroiled in financial scandals since 2011, even though budgets for such organizations can exceed $100 million and spending is subject to local, state and federal reviews.
A judge sentenced one executive director in Northeastern Pennsylvania to federal prison for stealing money. Officials with the Grove City-based Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV question whether a former director spent thousands of agency dollars on herself. School districts accused an IU in Meadville of overcharging them by millions of dollars.
Philly schools: Up the creek without a paddle
Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch Sunday, August 11, 2013, 10:14 PM
So Gov. Corbett has a paddle, but the Philadelphia schools don't. That's a problem. What's happening with #PhillyEducation has been a slow train wreck to watch. It starts with a $304 million hole in the amount of money that's needed to open safe schools. Then Harrisburg came up short in a rescue package, including nixing a cigarette tax for no apparent reason except to show that they could. Then the whole Jenga structure started to come apart. A $50 million advance on Philadelphia sales tax is being held hostage to a dispute between Mayor Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke. Another $45 million piece may depend on what's happening with the teachers and their expired contract. What's happening with the teachers? Nobody seems to know.

“The bottom line is that the people who don't care what happens to public education in Philly are people who think they have no skin in this game. But we're all connected. Philly's woes will become their woes. Maybe not right away, but in time. Bet on it.”
Philly schools go on your report card, too
Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist POSTED: Sunday, August 11, 2013, 3:01 AM A READER CALLED to complain about the coverage the Daily News gave to Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite's announcement that our dead-broke schools might not open on Sept. 9. "I'm sick of reading about the schools," he bitched. (Yes, I just used the word "bitched." I am that angry.) He no longer has school-age kids, he said. Besides, he sent his children to parochial schools, so the state of public education has never meant anything to him.

Education Advocate Speaks Out On Philadelphia School Budget Crisis
CBS Philly By Tim Jimenez August 10, 2013 4:00 AM
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia School District’s budget crisis has many familiesworried as summer draws to a close with the beginning of the school year up in the air. But a parent and education advocate says this is more than just about the $50 million to get schools open on time.  Helen Gym is a mother of three and long-time advocate, as co-founder of Parents United for Public Education. She’s hoping city, state and school district officials somehow come up with a long-term funding solution, this $50 million band-aid not being enough.

Lawmaker tries again on measure mandating Holocaust study in Pa. schools

By Amy DiPierro for NewsWorks, @amydipierro August 9, 2013
The sponsor of a bill mandating that Pennsylvania schools teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides will continue pushing the legislation in the fall.
Legislation that passed the House in June asks the Department of Education to develop curriculum guidelines for Holocaust education, but stops short of requiring that all schools teach it.  State Rep. Brendan Boyle's amendment to HB1424 requiring Holocaust education was rejected by the House in a narrow 99-99 tie.
Some legislators opposed the bill during the first vote on principle, Boyle said, because they believe Pennsylvania should not place any more mandates on schools, period.

“The LMSD administration cites the need for reinforcement of the core curriculum and for additional teacher preparation and reflection time as impetus for these changes.  In addition, they say, the more rigorous benchmarks of the Common Core Curriculum Standards and Keystone exams (which are slated to replace the PSSA’s for 11th graders), through a backward domino effect, have increased the amount of material to be covered at the elementary school level.”
A Huge Misstep: Lower Merion SD's Proposed Cuts to Music, Art, and P.E.
The LMSD proposes for its elementary schools to reduce the amount of annual class time in Music, Art, and P.E., Foreign Languages and Library by over 15%. Here's why it's a bad idea.
Posted by Jacqueline Faiman , May 21, 2013 at 12:59 AM
My older child attends elementary school in Lower Merion Township.  I, like many of us, moved here for the public schools.  We cherish the teaching quality, resources, and richness of subject offerings.  Maybe we even took these things for granted.  Well, no more.  It appears the Lower Merion School District administration has been quietly aiming to pass a scheduling change that would significantly reduce class time allotted to “Specials”—music, art, physical education, foreign languages, and library—at the elementary school level. 

“Despite its relatively small size, Cincinnati, with roughly 30,000 students, has become a lodestar for big-city school systems across the country. Superintendents and union leaders looking for an alternative to a high-stakes, data-driven movement in education have showered the community schools model with praise, noting that it has expanded access to health care and social services, tackling problems thought to be causes of academic failure.”
Candidates See Cincinnati Community Schools as Model for New York Schools
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: August 11, 2013
CINCINNATI — In search of a cure for ailing schools, educators and politicians from around the world have descended on this city’s poorest neighborhoods, hearing of a renaissance.
They are told stories of schools that escaped years of dysfunction by becoming “community learning centers,” replete with dental clinics, mental health therapists and mentors from local banks and churches. They hear of sparkling new libraries, over-the-moon teachers and too many volunteers to count.  Among the many visitors have been several candidates for mayor of New York City, who walked away so impressed that they have made replicating Cincinnati’s model a centerpiece of their campaigns.

More info on Community Schools:

More STEM, more STEM!
Everybody wants more kids learning STEM, but what is it? RON BAILLIE and ANN METZGER of Carnegie Science Center offer a working definition
By Ron Ballie and Ann Metzger / Special to the Post-Gazette August 11, 2013 12:18 am
Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear or read a news story about the importance of STEM education to our future economic prosperity and global competitiveness. The term STEM was first used by the National Science Foundation in the early 2000s, and now most members of the general public understand that it refers to science, technology, engineering and math.

When Charter Schools Are in Churches, Conflict Is in the Air
New York Times/Texas Tribune By MORGAN SMITH Published: August 10, 2013
Three years, 5,000 door hangers and several garage sales after its opening, Beta Academy has a long waiting list but an empty bank account.
But if the school’s founder, Latisha Andrews, has her way, Beta, a private elementary school that operates out of the Houston Christian Temple Assembly of God Church, will soon transform into a new operation: a publicly financed charter school.
If the state approves Ms. Andrews’s application this fall, Beta Academy will join the many charter schools that have partnerships with religious institutions that have cropped up in cities across Texas since the charter school system was established in 1995. In the past three years, 16 of the 23 charter contracts the state has awarded have gone to entities with religious ties.
While charter school advocates say the practice often reflects no more than smart budgeting, some educators and others question whether the schools receive the proper oversight to ensure that religious groups are not benefiting from taxpayer dollars intended for public school students — or that faith-based instruction is not entering those classrooms.

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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