Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 14, 2013: PSP/PennCAN Chutzpah: that quality in a man who, having killed his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan……

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 14, 2013:
PSP/PennCAN Chutzpah: that quality in a man who, having killed his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan……

Peter Dewitt does a great job in this piece nailing what I see as the primary issue with the Common Core: it does nothing at all to help high poverty early learners.  LAF
“If the children are entering deficient in vocabulary and in the area of reading, how will more advanced curriculum level the playing field?  CCSS without providing access to better resources, way before they enter school, will just help them feel like failures earlier than ever before.”
Can the Common Core Fix Poverty?
By Peter DeWitt on August 13, 2013 6:41 AM
Too many people talk about the CCSS as if they will be the silver bullet to end our poverty issues.
We are surrounded by the illusion of quick fixes. We can deny that we want quick fixes...but we would be lying. If my computer isn't working properly I always believe that if I press Ctrl+Alt+Delete it will come back on and be as good as new. Many times I have even pressed that combination of keys five times...every time believing that I won't have to call tech support...and then I call tech support.

Read the Common Core standards for kindergarteners
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 14 at 4:00 am
The new Common Core State Standardsare being implemented — with a lot of controversy — in most states, and there’s a great deal of discussion about them. But it is unclear whether everybody who is opining for or against them has actually read them.  To get an idea of what they say, below are the English Language Arts and math standards for kindergarteners. You should know that some early education experts have criticized the English-Language Arts standards, arguing that they do not square with what is known about early childhood development.

Corbett administration: No PFT concessions, no $45 million Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 12:00 PM Sean Collins Walsh
Unlike Gov. Corbett, Philly school kids appear to be up the river without a paddle this year. (LUKE RAFFERTY/Staff Photographer) Another day, another press conference, and still no solution in sight for finding the $50 million the School District says it needs to open schools Sept. 9. Just as Mayor Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke and much of the city’s delegation to Harrisburg gathered in City Hall today to call on the Corbett administration to release a $45 million grant for Philly schools, the governor’s budget secretary issued a statement saying that ain’t happenin’ - at least not until the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers agrees to a contract with “substantial progress toward achieving the fiscal savings and academic reforms.”

Countdown, Day 27: Philly's elected officials want $45 million now; Zogby says 'No dice'
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 13 2013 Posted in Latest news
The city's legislative delegation, Mayor Nutter, and City Council leaders joined Tuesday in urging the state to immediately release $45 million in state-authorized dollars to the District so that schools can open on time.  They sent to Gov. Corbett a list of reform accomplishments they believe fulfills the state's requirements for release of those dollars. In passing the fiscal code in June, state legislators stipulated that the School District must implement "operational, educational and fiscal reforms" deemed by the state's education secretary to be sufficient before money appropriated by the state for city schools can be released.
But state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby immediately said that wouldn't happen. He issued a statement that notwithstanding the nine specifics outlined in the letter, major changes in the District's contract with the teachers' union are required.

“At the same time the delegation was making its pitch to reporters, state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby issued an email saying that the $45 million won't be released until the teachers union, or PFT, renegotiates its contract to the state's liking.”
Dispute over meaning of 'reform' stalls for $45M in aid for Philly schools
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry @bykevinmccorry August 13, 2013
A $45 million pot of money destined for Philadelphia's public schools right now is just sitting in Harrisburg.  What's the catch? The money won't be delivered until the state secretary of education decides the school district has implemented a "reform" agenda.

Chutzpah: that quality in a man who, having killed his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan
PSP. PennCAN, their boards and supporters have been leading advocates for charters, vouchers and tax credits – policies that have defunded neighborhood public schools.  PSP also advised Governor Corbett to hold the Philly teachers union hostage as a political strategy to boost his reelection prospects.
Philadelphia School Partnership and PennCAN call for “$120 million to guarantee that city schools open safely and on time”
Open Letter to Mayor Nutter, Council President Clarke and Members of City Council
Mark Gleason Executive Director Philadelphia School Partnership
Jonathan Cetel Executive Director PennCAN
"Our kids deserve to go to safe, high-quality schools next month. In a city with many challenges, there is no more important or immediate crisis."
Dear Honorable Michael A. Nutter, Honorable Darrell L. Clarke and Members of City Council:
We applaud your commitment to ensuring that Philadelphia schools open on time, with enough staff and resource to provide a proper education for the city's children. We know you also share our conviction that securing the long-term sustainability and improvement of public schools is just as important.

“The secret poll, which suggested that Corbett exploit the Philadelphia schools crisis to attack the teachers union in an effort to boost his faltering reelection prospects, was first reported by City Paper Wednesday afternoon.”
Secret Corbett poll proposing teachers union attack funded by PennCAN
A secret report, based on a poll of Pennsylvanians, proposing that Gov. Tom Corbett mount a high-profile attack on the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers was funded by the self-described school reform group PennCAN, according to pollsters at Public Opinion Strategies.

Faith-based community organization may seek to boycott schools
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 12:16 AM
IF STATE AND CITY political leaders aren't able to secure $180 million in funding for the School District of Philadelphia, then a group of local congregations may seek to boycott schools when they open Sept. 9, the coalition announced earlier this week. POWER, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild, a faith-based community organization representing 41 congregations, is calling on the state and city to provide a "safe and quality environment on the first day of school," said a spokesman for the group, Bishop Dwayne Royster. ….The group is calling for $180 million to be given to the district "immediately with no strings attached" as well as an equitable funding formula for the state so that all children have access to quality education, he said.

Pennsylvania is included in this piece by Ben Herold, formerly with the notebook, now at EdWeek…..
Florida Virtual School, Other E-Schools Face Difficult Times
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Benjamin Herold on August 13, 2013 4:14 PM
Virtual schools in Florida, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are facing enrollment challenges and tough questions. Here's a roundup of some recent news reports.

Distressed Districts: Harrisburg schools to furlough more employees yet hires cyber school director
By Cate McKissick | Special to PennLive  on August 12, 2013 at 10:51 PM
The Harrisburg School District announced 15, and possibly more, furloughs for non-teaching staff to help save up to $687,000 as part of its recovery plan — if the union contract isn't approved. 
“We’re not playing here,” Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno said Monday. “This is about recovery — financial recovery.”  With tensions already high from recent teacher resignations and furlough notices, they further escalated when the School Board voted to hire a director for the district’s cyber charter school at an uncertain salary.

Reading School District's bond rating dropped
Reading Eagle by David Mekeel 8/13/2013
The Reading School District has faced some major financial challenges lately, and it's not going unnoticed.  Citing budget struggles and a $15 million accounting mistake discovered last year, Moody's Investors Service, a major credit-rating firm, has lowered two district bond ratings by two levels.  Moody's announced last week the district's underlying general obligation rating was lowered to Baa2 from A3, and its enhanced rating was lowered to A3 from A1.
The outlook for both ratings, a release from Moody's says, is negative.

Foundation to assess city schools' summer academy
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 14, 2013 12:08 am
As part of a $50 million investment in summer K-12 programs including one in Pittsburgh, the Wallace Foundation is taking a close look at whether those programs work.  Wallace has been one of the funders for Summer Dreamers Academy operated by Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Two Philly school-based clinics seeking insurance payments for effective, low-cost care
WHYY Newsworks By Taunya English, @taunyaenglish August 13, 2013
The ideas behind two school-based health clinics in Philadelphia are gaining wider attention — and support from at least one city politician.  A group of nonprofit agencies partly funds the clinics at Pan American Academy Charter School and Belmont Charter School. Each site has a dedicated nurse practitioner, a step up from the level of care that most school nurses can provide.
After two years of success — better attendance and fewer emergency room visits — project leaders want insurance companies to reimburse the school clinics when kids come in for a visit.

Centennial SD is proud to announce that Mark B. Miller, one of our School Directors, has been appointed to the Board of Network for Public Education
Diane Ravitch announces four new members to the Board of Directors of advocacy group The Network for Public Education.

School boards push for ESEA reauthorization
NSBA School Board News Today by Alexis Rice |August 13th, 2013
National School Boards Association (NSBA) and our state school boards associations are continually advocating for the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization in the U.S. Congress.

First Five Years Fund Summer 2013

Obama bus tour: Mr. President, come see for yourself how your Race to the Top policies are destroying public education & neighborhood schools……
Obama to make 2-day bus tour through Pennsylvania, New York
By The Associated Press  on August 12, 2013 at 3:22 PM
EDGARTOWN, Mass. — President Barack Obama will spend the latter part of next week riding a bus through two Northeastern states to talk about the economy and building the middle class.
The White House says the president will make stops next Thursday and Friday in New York and Pennsylvania. Further details were not released.

Obama administration presses forward on early education
Politico By CAITLIN EMMA | 8/13/13 5:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama has found a way to cater to his obsession with pre-K programs while the rest of his education agenda stalls: Skip Congress and spend the money anyway.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary funding for early learning are funneling into states although Congress hasn’t seriously considered paying for President Barack Obama’s universal preschool proposal. Race to the Top early learning awards and Affordable Care Act money are helping states carry out their pre-K and early childcare plans. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is traveling the country to deliver what amounts to an early childhood stump speech, and the administration just hired a new leader for its Office of Early Learning.

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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